European-Style Hot Chocolate

We love the hot chocolate from Max Brenner at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. It’s just like eating a chocolate bar in liquid form. We usually get it during the Christmas holidays, but we stopped going for the past several years now because it’s just become way too crowded.

If you like this kind of hot chocolate, one you can eat with a spoon it’s easy to make it at home. First you need to get good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate bar with at least 70% cacao content. I used Ghirardelli 70% dark chocolate bar.

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To make, roughly chop 2 dark chocolate bars which amounts to around 8 oz of dark chocolate and set it aside. In a medium saucepan, place 1 1/2 cups whole milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream and about 2 tsp. powdered sugar. Whisk until combined and let this heat over low fire until bubbles form on the side of the pan. Note: Do not allow the milk to boil. Then remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.

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Immediately pour into cups and place a big dollop of cream on top. I added some chocolate shavings to make it more decadent.

It was such a welcome treat on a cold and damp winter afternoon.

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Longanisa, Kale and Ricotta Quiche

I love to experiment with flavors and use Filipino ingredients in western cuisine. This is what makes cooking fun and exciting for me. I like to surprise my family with new and unfamiliar dishes, and being adventurous, they more than welcome anything I serve.

This was something I came up with for a weeknight dinner. We wanted something light, so I thought of making a quiche.

First, make your crust. You can do this ahead of time. In a bowl, place 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. Salt and 7 Tbsp. Unsalted cold butter cut into small cubes. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender until it resembles cornmeal. Then gradually add 3 tsp. Iced water and continue mixing until the dough comes together. Transfer dough onto a clean work surface and form into a disk. Place it on a sheet of cling wrap and refrigerate for about 1 – 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured board, roll your dough into an 11″ circle. Carefully roll them out on a 9″ fluted tart pan. Gently press the dough on the pan and the edges of its fluted side. Using a knife or a rolling pin, cut off excess pastry. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pastry and fill it with dried beans or rice. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large bowl, combine 7 eggs, 2/3 cup milk (I used skim), and 2 Tbsp. Grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt and 2 cups baby kale. Pour the egg mixture into the pre-baked pie shell.

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In a small bowl, place 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used skim ricotta), 4 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese, and mix until just incorporated. Spoon the mixture all over the pie shell. Dot about 3/4 cup of cherry tomatoes that has been sliced and about 1/2 cup of crumbled cooked longanisa all around the ricotta mixture. I used chicken longanisa patties, or you can take the meat out of the casing of any packaged longanisa of your choice. Place your pie pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 50 – 55 minutes. Note: you can wrap the edge of the pie with foil to prevent burning.

Cool slightly before cutting. The quiche can be served warm or at room temperature.

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Asparagus Tart

Asparagus is available all year round, but it’s best during spring. It’s the vegetable that heralds the arrival of this season. It’s also so versatile and easy to prepare that you can serve it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

April is its peak. I made this Asparagus Tart last Easter, and it became the star of our brunch.

To make you need a sheet of puff pastry; you can get this frozen from any grocery store. I bought the Dufour brand from our local Whole Foods. Keep in mind that you must defrost it for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator for the easiest handling.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Roll out your pastry crust into a rectangle roughly 10 x 16 inches on a lightly floured surface. Make sure to trim uneven edges. Carefully place this on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Then, lightly score your pastry dough with a sharp knife all around one inch from the edge. With a fork, prick dough inside the marking you just made. Then bake it for around 12 minutes, and use a timer. When done, cool slightly.

Wash your asparagus and trim and cut the lower fibrous end. Blanch your asparagus for 2-3 minutes until they are bright green, then drain and quickly immerse in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry and set aside.

In a bowl, mix 1 cup grated fontina, 1 cup grated gruyere cheese (you may substitute Swiss or Emmental), two large egg yolks, 3 Tbsp. Milk, 1/4 tsp. Salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Pour the cheese mixture evenly on your puff pastry. Meanwhile, drizzle your asparagus with some olive oil and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Arrange your asparagus on top of the cheese mixture, then sprinkle with lemon zest. Bake for another 15-18 minutes until golden, and the cheese is puffy. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Three Ways to Use Figs When in Season

Fig season is somewhat short-lived. It runs from August thru October but you are lucky if you find good ones in your local grocery store during this season. I immediately grab a pack when I saw some at Trader Joe’s. It was quite a steal, it was less than 10 dollars for a 2 lb pack.

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It’s so versatile you can serve it as a savory or sweet treat. I made some figs stuffed with mascarpone as an appetizer. Wash and pat dry your figs. Cut off the stem and make a “X” cut on top of each fruit. Using a piping bag stuff your figs with mascarpone cheese, alternatively, you can use ricotta or goat cheese. Arrange on a platter and drizzle some honey on top.


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I also added figs to make a salad. Just cut into quarters and add to some baby lettuces, sprinkle walnuts and blackberries and some cubed cheese and add your favorite dressing.

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For breakfast, I added it to greek yogurt and drizzled honey to sweeten.


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Goto (Congee with Beef Tripe)

I would describe Goto as a downright hearty and unpretentious food. It’s rice porridge with some kind of ofal or beef tripe added as a key ingredient. For me what distinguishes it from Arroz Caldo is the kind of meat that is added, goto has beef or ofal and arroz caldo uses chicken.

I haven’t had this in literally ages and I thought my girls would enjoy it since they are adventurous when it comes to food. I made this for dinner, though Filipinos usually have this for mid afternoon snack.

To make you will need beef tripe or beef honeycomb tripe. These are sold in Asian stores already cleaned and I’ve heard sometimes bleached. What I learned from my mom and grandma is boil it for a few minutes in water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Then you rinse it well in running water. Place in a pot and cover with water and add several garlic cloves, peppercorn and bay leaf and let this boil then simmer until tender.

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For the porridge, in a pot saute a medium sized finely chopped onion until transluscent. Then add 3 cloves of garlic minced and cook until fragrant be careful not to burn it. Then add a thumsize piece of ginger cut into slivers. I personally add more because I really want the strong flavors of ginger in my porridge. Then add 1 1/2 cup (I used my rice cooker measuring cup) combination of jasmine and glutinous rice. This is a personal preference, you may just use either one of the two. Then add 5-6 cups beef broth. I made my own beef broth using beef neck bones. I also added a pre-packed ox-bone broth that I got at a Korean grocery. Let it boil then lower heat and simmer until rice is cooked and has broken down. Continue stirring it while cooking to prevent the bottom from scorching. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of fish sauce.

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To serve, ladle into bowls and top with some sliced beef tripe, hard boiled egg, pork cracklin or Chicharon and green onions. I just added some meat from my neck bone broth for a heartier porridge. Serve immediately.

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Avodogs (Hot Dogs with Avocado)

So the family has decided we are having hot dogs for Memorial Day dinner. I bought the necessary supplies buns, hotdogs, dill pickles, yellow mustard and chips. I was thinking of making just the classic dog.

But the day before, I had an idea of adding avocado to the hot dogs to make it somewhat healthier. I love avocados and felt it would give it a new twist to the American classic.

For the avocado topping, mash an avocado and squeeze half a lime. Season with salt.

To make, take a pan and add enough water and let it come to a boil. Then drop in your hotdogs and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Then take it out and transfer to a pan lightly coated with oil. Fry until evenly browned or if your prefer a bit blistered.
Using a tong, take your hot dogs and place in between the buns. Place big spoonful of the smashed avocado on top of your hot dogs and add some diced tomotoes that has been seeded.

Serve with a side of chips.

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Homemade Strawberry Milk

This recipe is adapted from Hanse a youtube vlogger I accidentally discovered. She has great recipes but it’s all in Korean so I really can’t recreate her dishes. For this recipe I just kind of eyeballed the amount needed since it can easily be adjusted to one’s taste.

Just a note this will not yield a smooth milk but this would have bits and pieces of berries that would probably suit adults more than children.

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To make you need to have strawberry syrup. First, clean and hull about a cup of strawberries. Place it in a bowl or container and mash (I used a 2 cup glass measuring cup), then add 1/2 cup sugar and stir until well combined. Cook this mixture in a saucepan and let it come to a boil. Then lower heat and cook for 3-4 minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit before transferring to a glass container.

Get a glass, add a couple of tablespoon of strawberry syrup and about 2 tablespoon chopped strawberries. Pour in your milk to the top of the glass and stir. You can substitute non-dairy milk like almond or soy for this.

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Skinless Longanisa (Filipino Sausage)

This skinless longanisa is so easy to make, you won’t ever buy the pre-made ones at the store. Making homemade lets you control the ingredients you put in your sausage thus making it a healthier option for your family.

I do have a recipe for longanisa which I used for my Filipino Burger, you can definitely use that too to make skinless longanisa.

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For this recipe, I used 1 lb ground pork to which I added the following: 1 Tbsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. white vinegar or cane vinegar, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 4 Tbsp. sugar (you can adjust the amount if you like it sweeter) and 2-3 cloves finely minced garlic (again you can add more if you want it more garlicky). Mix everything until well combined.

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Take a spoonful of the mixture and form into logs. Repeat until you use up all your ground meat. Wrap the longanisa individually in wax paper and place in freezer bags. Store in your freezer until ready to use.

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To cook, get a non-stick pan and place over medium heat. Add a scant amount of oil, you don’t need a lot if you are using a non-stick pan plus the meat will release it’s own grease. Cook until brown on all sides while turning occasionally.

We like to serve it with rice, preferably garlic rice and a dipping sauce of vinegar, salt and pepper.

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Grilled Ham and Cheese with Avocado and Arugula

Spring has come really late for us this year. We still had snow beginning of April and frankly I am tired of the cold weather. That is why I wanted to create a dish that would remind me of the season. Something light, bright and refreshing is what comes to mind.

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First, get two slices of sourdough bread or whatever kind you fancy. Then spread both slices with dijon mustard. Layer the following on one side: couple of slices of swiss cheese, ham and a handful of arugula. Top with the other slice of bread. This is actually good enough as is but I wanted to take it to another level.

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Heat a non- stick pan and add a pat of butter, lay your sandwich and cook until golden brown, flip and add another pat of butter and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until brown and cheese is melted.

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Slice in half before serving.

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Spam Onigiri

A visit to Mitsuwa always turn into a food trip for our family. We love that there is a variety of food to choose from their concessionaires. One of these is Omusubi Gonbei, they offer a mouth watering array of rice balls with various fillings. I was inspired to make this Spam Omusubi after seeing their various omusubi on display.

I have already featured several omusubi a.k.a onigiri recipes in this blog which shows how just how much we love it.

It’s easy to make this specially if you have an onigiri mold.

First, prepare your filling by frying several slices of spam until brown and crisp on the edges. Then cut to size that will fit inside your rice mold.

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Take your onigiri mold and lay it on a plate. Add a couple of tablespoons of steamed white rice inside. Then place your spam filling in the middle. Add more rice on top of your filling and smoothen the top a bit. Place the lid on top and press down hard. Carefully remove your mold before releasing the lid. Sprinkle some furikake on top of your onigiri before wrapping with nori (seaweed).

You can place some pieces of spam bits on top of the rice ball for presentation.

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