Pasta with Ham and Peas

There is a limit to just how much sliced ham you can eat during the Holiday season. As always we have a lot of leftover honey baked ham day after Christmas. I’ve always tried to think of ways to add it to various dishes or create new ones with it.

This time, I made creamy pasta with ham, peas and mushroom.

First, cook your pasta (spaghetti) according to package directions, drain and set aside. Note: Add 1/2 cup frozen peas in the last 2 minutes of cooking.

Heat a pan and add 2 tbsp. olive oil and pat of butter and saute one medium chopped white onion and cook until translucent. Then add a handful of sliced white mushrooms and continue cooking until it has released it’s juices. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, add a cup of honey baked ham cut into thin strips and fry until just brown on the edges and set aside.

Get a medium sized skillet and heat 1/4 cup butter until melted. Stir in 1/4 cup all purpose flour and cook for 1 minute until bubbly. Then gradually whisk in 2 cups milk. Continue cooking under low heat until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and white pepper. Add in your mushroom/onion mixture and your ham and stir until well combined. Place your cooked pasta with peas into the sauce and gently stir everything together.

Arrange pasta into serving bowls and grate some parmesan cheese on top before serving.




Filipino Ice Cream Sandwich (Ube Ice Cream on Bread)

I can still remember the days when my “lola” or “titas” would get us ice cream from carts that peddle these on the streets of our hometown. The sorbetero would only have either cheese or ube flavored ice cream. My choice would always be cheese but topped with sweet red beans served in small cones that tasted like barquillos – the cigar shaped wafer roll.

Eventually they offered pandesal or monay as an alternative to serve your ice cream in. Eating ice cream in this manner is not soley “Pinoy”. Countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have been known to do the same thing and are also popular street food snacks.

Recreating this childhood treat is not that difficult at all. I used a brioche which is a kind of sweet bread to serve as the base. Cut the bread in half and place two generous scoops of ube ice cream then finish it off by placing a dollop of macapuno (sweetened coconut strings) on top.



Ube Ensaimada

The reason why I made ube halaya last week is so I could make Ube ensaimada. Ensaimada is quite time consuming to prepare that is why I only make it during the Christmas season.

This is not only a favorite of mine but my whole family as well. One of my girls helped me prepare these which made it far easier. I served these on Christmas eve dinner and for Christmas day brunch as well.

Recipe can be found of my previous blog post. The only difference from the original recipe is spreading ube halaya instead of butter on the dough before twisting it into a cone.






Pakam na Manok (Chicken stewed in Ginger)

I know that not a lot are familiar with Pakam. I believe this is a regional dish from the province of Bulacan. However, this is also well known in the Navotas/Malabon area where my family comes from. The reason maybe because of its proximity to Bulacan. My grandparents from both maternal and paternal side makes this dish using either chicken or beef.

It is fairly simple to prepare. First, heat a pan and add 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Then saute 1 thumbsized piece of ginger cut into slivers, 1 medium sized finely chopped onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and aromatic. Add 2 chopped roma tomatoes and cook until softened and has released its juices. Then add your chicken pieces (I used 1.5 lb bone in chicken thighs). Stir until the chicken are coated with the aromatics. Season with 2 tbsp. white vinegar preferably cane vinegar and 2 tbsp. fish sauce. Lower the heat, cover and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. You will know when its done when the sauce is reduced and has considerably thickened.

Ladle into bowls and serve with rice.



Ube (Purple Yam) Halaya

Ube or Purple Yam is a uniquely Filipino ingredient. I don’t know of any culture who uses and eat this as much as Pinoys. Aside from the ever popular halaya, these have been made into ice cream, hopia, ensaimada, puto, tart, cheesecake – the list could go on. However, ube has recently taken the world by storm. It has suddenly become so popular and sought after food here in the United States when New York’s Manila Social Club created the Golden Cristal Donut.

For me Uba Halaya is synonymous to Christmas. This is always present on our table during the holidays. Our family would make it but we would always receive these as food gifts from friends and relatives. My family knows how much I love ube halaya since I was known to have finished off a tin (llanera) of it one Christmas. I was a teen back then, mind you.

As I have mentioned before Ube is not Purple Sweet Potato or even the Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato. I have seen a lot of people even food bloggers interchange and confuse these two. This website was able to explain the difference between the three. Fresh ube is not locally available here in the Northeast. You can get frozen grated ube sold in plastic packs at most Asian stores.

To make you will need 1 pack frozen grated ube, 1 can condensed milk and 1 can coconut cream. First, defrost your ube and pass this through a sieve to remove any fibrous meat. Then combine all three ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture becomes thick and dark purple in color. This can take around 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a container and let cool. I did not use any Ube flavor extract as what is commonly used in most recipes I see on the web. The ingredients listed on it are not natural and is mostly food coloring.



I didn’t want to just place the ube in bowl or llanera (tin mold) as customary. For a more elegant presentation I piped the ube halaya on a small dessert glass using a star tip. You can also top it with macapuno (sweetened coconut) strings before serving.



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Ensaimada reminds me of Christmas. This is one my favorite Filipino holiday food. This however is not soley served or available during the holiday season. You can buy this anytime anywhere back home in Manila. It’s just one of those gifts that almost everyone receives and enjoys the most.

My standard for the best ensaimada is the one sold at The Peninsula Manila Bakery. I discovered this during the late 80’s as this was my go to place for artisan or whole grain breads, they have the best selection then. Mind you this was a time when it’s hard to find decent stores that carry artisan or good quality breads. They have humongous size ensaimada that is covered with sugar and grated edam cheese and comes in two varieties: regular and ham. The ham was my favorite since it has generous ham pieces baked in the ensaimada. Sadly during a visit to Manila in 2013, I discovered that they don’t make it like they used to and the size significantly became smaller.

I researched the best recipe that would recreate the ensaimada closest to the one I remember from Manila Pen.

I got this recipe awhile back, I just can’t remember where so forgive me if I don’t have any credit/source for it.

2 tsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup lukewarm evaporated milk

Measure into bowl lukewarm water. Sprinle yeast over water. Stir until dissolved. Stir in lukewarm evaporated milk, sugar and flour. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth. Cover bowl with a clean towel. Set the bowl into a pan of warm water until the mixture doubles in size (about 20-25 minutes).

5 egg yolks(plus 1 egg white), beaten
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar

Mix the beaten yolks, sugar and flour. Beat well. Add to the above mixture. Knead and shape into a ball. Cover and let rise again in a pan of warm water until double in bulk (30-40minutes).


5 egg yolks (plus 1 egg white) beaten
3/4 cup creamed butter
2 cups bread flour
1/2 sugar
2 cups grated edam or gouda cheese

When above dough is double in volume, add beaten egg yolks and white sugar, flour and creamed butter. Mix. Place in a greased board. Knead until satiny and smooth (about 10 minutes). Shape into smooth ball. Place ball of dough into greased bowl. Cover and let rise double in size (40-60 minutes). Punch down. Divide the dough into seperate pieces. Roll each piece thinly on a greased board. Spread butter and sprinkle grated cheese on rolled out dough. Starting from one end twist to form a cone. Grease molds and put in the twisted dough. Cover and let rise in a pan of warm water until dough has doubled (about 40-60 minutes. Remove from baking molds and let cool for 5 minutes. Top with creamed butter, sugar and grated cheese(if preferred sprinkle with more sugar).

Bake at 375F

Note: I let my dough rise by placing it inside the middle rack of oven with the pilot light on and a bowl of warm water below it

This recipe gives a bread like ensaimada that is dense and not the soft kind that is very popular nowadays. You could say this is the more traditional kind of ensaimada which I personally prefer. I only bake this during the Christmas season since this is really time consuming to make but well worth it.



Smoked Salmon and Egg Toast

I guess you know by now how much I love smoked salmon and avocado. I have had several blog post on these the past months. There are endless possibilities on what and how you can combine it with other ingredients.

This egg and salmon combo is one of the most common or popular one out there.

Simply toast your choice of bread. Then slather a good portion of smashed avocado on top. Then layer in your smoked salmon and top it off with a fried egg.

This is not just simply elegant but so delicious as well.



Pasta with Garlic Oil and Tuyo

I wrote a blog post on tuyo awhile back. As I have mentioned Filipinos almost always eat this with rice. However, in the past decade Filipinos have been very open and adventurous when it comes to food. Pasta tuyo is nothing new, have seen restaurants back home offering it on their menu and housewives making it in their own kitchen.


This recipe was adapted from epicurious. I made some changes on the ingredients and measurements used.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions (I used half of a lb box). Drain pasta and set aside about a quarter cup of pasta water.

Heat a pan and place 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil. Then add 2-3 cloves thinly sliced garlic and 4-5 pieces of dried herring. Stir and break your fish a bit using your wooden spoon, cook until garlic is fragrant. Then add 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley and about 1 tsp. red pepper flakes and stir until just combined. Remove from heat. Note: I did not add salt since tuyo is already salty as is

Add your cooked pasta to your garlic oil and stir until pasta is coated with the sauce. You can add your reserved pasta water and continue stirring until everything comes together and sauce becomes a bit creamy. I place the pot back on medium heat just to help the sauce set.

Arrange your pasta in a wide bowl and sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese and lemon zest on top. Note: I also recommend a squeeze of lemon over your pasta before serving as this helps brighten the taste/flavor.




Bistek Tagalog (Filipino Beef Steak) Sandwich

I love to think of non-traditional ways to serve Filipino food. This is one of those, a creative way of serving Bistek or Filipino Beef Steak which is usually eaten with rice. I got the idea from the Vietnamese Banh Mi and just knew this would work. Using a baguette would be ideal since this would hold up the fillings and give that perfect crisp crust but you can always use hoagie rolls.

I made the meat filling by using the traditional recipe that my family has been using for Bistek. In a container place 1 lb of thinly sliced beef (I used a package of thinly sliced ribeye used for bulgogi), 1/4 cup soy sauce (use Filipino brand soy sauce for best results), the juice of one lemon, generous sprinkling of ground black pepper and a dash of worcestershire sauce. Let this marinate for one hour or more.

Next heat up a pan and add some oil, then fry some thinly sliced onion rings until just brown around the edges but still crisp and set this aside. In the same pan, add some more oil and fry your marinated pieces of meat until brown on both sides. Fry your meat in batches if necessary. Place back into the pan all your cooked meat and your leftover marinade. This may sound unpleasant but this is what my family has been doing. You can however make the sauce by mixing 1/4 cup soy sauce, juice of half a lemon and 1/4 cup water. Let this come to a gentle boil then add in your fried onions and cook until just heated through. You can adjust the taste by adding more soy sauce or lemon juice to your sauce.


To assemble, slice your baguette in half and arrange some greens and cucumbers on the bottom half then a generous amount of bistek last. Serve hot. P.S. You can also add some cilantro and atchara in addition to the veggies I used.




Filipino Sopas from leftover Turkey

The day after thanksgiving I always make soup from the turkey carcass. It’s always the Filipino style chicken noodle soup or what we call “Sopas”. I just place the bones in a big stock pot and cover it with water and add celery, carrots and onion and let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Then I strain the broth and set this aside. Before throwing away the the bones make sure to pick the meat from it.

In another pot saute 2-3 cloves minced garlic and 1 medium chopped white onion in some olive oil. Cook until translucent and vegetables are soft. Then add 1/2 cup diced carrots and a cup of diced leftover turkey meat (I use white meat) and the meat picked from the bones. Stir until just combined. Place half a box of pasta, I like to use elbow macaroni but I didn’t have any, so I used penne or whatever you have on hand. Shell shaped pasta is also a good choice and my mom’s preference. Stir again until pasta is coated with the oil and then add enough water to cover everything approx. 5-6 cups. Let this come to a boil then lower the heat and let simmer until pasta is done around 9-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add 3/4 – 1 cup milk and some shredded napa cabbage. Simmer until the milk is heated through and vegetable is crisp tender.