Avocado and Feta

August 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

I am obsessed with avocados at the moment.  Partly because it is in season and I see them everywhere but mostly because I am loving its über creaminess on almost everything.  It makes for a wonderful dessert when combined with condensed milk and have been greatly enjoying it for decades now.  Some experimenting led me to a new discovery.  Buttery avocado, sharp Feta cheese and peppery Arugula mingle well together.  Finish off with some sliced fresh button mushrooms and honey-mustard dressing and they end up very good friends.

I’ve been occupied lately and I’m afraid I’ve neglected this blog a bit.  But I’ve been working up a storm in my kitchen despite my absence here.  In between work and travelling, I’ve been entertaining on the side so may this whet your appetite, as salads always do, for what’s to come.

Arugula, Avocado and Feta Salad

What You Need:

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

For the Salad

  • Baby arugula
  • 1 medium avocado, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese marinated in oil
  • 4-5 pieces fresh button mushrooms, sliced

What You Do:

In a small bowl, combine mustard, vinegar, honey and salt.  Whisk to blend well.  Add olive oil and whisk vigorously to emulsify.  Adjust according to your taste.

Mix salad ingredients together and toss with vinaigrette.  Makes 3-4 serving.

Note: I like using baby arugula but if this is hard to find, the regular ones are good too.  Feta cheese can be substituted with goat cheese.  Left over roast chicken torn into bite-sized pieces goes well with the salad, as is tuna from the can.


An Adult Take on a Childhood Favorite

March 23, 2012 § 12 Comments

We used to live in a compound.  It has four houses, the main house was my lola’s (grandmother’s), one was our house and the two others were my father’s siblings’.  We lived there most of my life until we moved house after college.  There were so many memories in that compound but summers (as a child) were especially memorable as the days were spent playing with cousins in that compound – patintero, touch-taya, Chinese garter… there even was a baseball phase.  I remember catching tadpoles at the canal outside our house. Yeah those were carefree times.  I can’t imagine any parent allowing their kids to play in a canal today.   😯  We’d climb and pick santol and indian mangoes from the tree in my lola’s garden, devouring it with salt or toyo (soysauce).  I’d always look forward to my uncle’s treats to Sunshine Market, our neighborhood grocery.  I’d go straight to the snack section and pick-up Carol-Ann’s potato chips.  Oh how I love that greasy but crispy, thin chips seasoned only with salt.  To this day, nothing beats Carol-Ann’s and you don’t find them anymore.  I love Choco vim — I’d shake it till the chocolate at the bottom dissolves, such a thrill .   And there was Magnolia’s Twin Popsies, I like both the chocolate and the orange variant.  A perfect heat quencher.  Childhood memories… always make me smile.

The Kulinarya Cooking Club is a club that showcases Filipino dishes by way of a monthly challenge among the members.  And this is my first attempt on a fairly easy but so much fun challenge this month, thanks to Arnold of Inuyaki and Jun of Jun-blog.

The theme is “ice candy” or popsicle treats, which aptly signals the start of summer.  In spite of the heat, summer is always a favorite time of the year.  It means I get to soak up the sun in some remote island with some frozen delights on hand.  I usually go for fresh shakes nowadays but ice candy brought back so many memories that I feel like having twin popsies right now.

My take on the theme is an adult version of a childhood favorite.   I made 2 versions in honor of the 2 Magnolia Twin Popsies variants.  One is a delightful orange and mango flavor with a hint of ginger while the other is a chocolate popsicle made of native cacao balls and since I love a hint of orange in my chocolate, I added some orange zest to give it a twist.

Mango-Orange-Ginger Popsies

What you need:

  • 3-4 pcs.  Navel oranges
  • 2-3 pcs. Ripe Philippine mangoes
  • 3-4 slices of ginger
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • A dash of Cinnamon powder or stick

What you do:

  1. To make the ginger syrup:  In a pot, dissolve sugar with ½ cup water.  Add ginger slices and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile make into juice all the oranges and 1 mango*.  Combine orange/mango juice and the ginger syrup in a pitcher (for ease in pouring).
  3. Slice the rest of the mangoes into bite-sized pieces distribute in popsicle molds**.
  4. Pour the juice mixture.  Place popsicle sticks over the mold and freeze.


* You may use ready to drink juices too if desired.  About 2 cups of orange juice to 1 cup of mango.

** The frozen mango makes a lot of different so fill it to the bream and then pour the juice.

Orange-flavored Choco Frozen Delight

What you need:

  • 10 balls or more of native chocolate*
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • A dash of cinnamon powder or stick

What you do:

  1. Dissolve choco balls in water, adding more depending on desired thickness.**
  2. Add a dash of cinnamon or place the stick of cinnamon while cooking the chocolate.
  3. When chocolate is ready, add the zest before turning off heat.
  4. Strain into a pitcher and let cool.
  5. Pour into popsicle molds, place popsicle sticks and freeze.


* Native chocolates are made differently; it is best that you know what kind you’re using or follow instructions if it they have it.

** The thicker the chocolate, the richer the popsicle.  If you make it thick enough, it is like biting into a frozen chocolate bar.

Both were delightfully refreshing.  At the last-minute I decided to add the mango on the orange version and did a happy dance when I bit into the finish product.  It really made a lot of difference biting into frozen mangoes.  The ginger is a great twist to a familiar flavor.  Makes sure though not to overdo the ginger or it will overpower the light fruity flavor.

The chocolate version, on the hand is less sweet and much richer than that of Magnolia’s.  The orange zest added a fruity dimension to dark chocolate.  I intentionally didn’t add milk or cream, as I wanted it dark.  If milk chocolate is the preference, go ahead and add a bit of cream.

If you don’t have a popsicle mold, you may use disposable cups.  To hold the sticks in place, tape over a plastic wrap and bore a hole in the middle where the stick will go.  This will make the stick stay in the middle.

Stay cool everyone!

Blueberry Trifle

June 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

I gravitate towards desserts that have fruit on it and blueberries are an absolute favorite.  On my recent trip to Sagada, they were in season and I got around 4 cups worth of blueberries and wished I got more.   These wild berries lack sweetness and the skin is on the tart side when eaten fresh.  Make them into a jam or in my case, compote and they are to die for.  Lovely on yogurt or pancakes.

With the remaining compote, I made trifle.  I initially used store-bought rum cake in lieu of sponge cake.  It was either the cake was too dense and didn’t soak up the blueberry sauce or pound cakes are just too heavy for a trifle.  It was dry and heavy.  I also omitted the Grand Marnier because I didn’t have any.

Credits:  Quickpage by K Pertiet

So on my 2nd attempt, I used broas, our local ladyfingers, which is airy and light.  I liked this version better.  Lighter and fruitier.  I remembered that I had a 2 cl bottle of Kirsch, it was fabulous.  It added a dimension to the trifle and actually brought out the flavor of the berries.   What came out was a light enough fruity dessert to end a similarly light meal of fish or chicken.

Blueberry Trifle

(Adapted from Joy of Baking)

What you need:

  • 8-10 ladyfingers (depending on its size)
  • 1 tablespoon Kirsch
  • 1 cup Blueberry compote or sauce
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 2/3 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4-5 crushed Amaretti cookies

What you do:

 For the Mascarpone Cream: 

  • Place the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Whip until soft peaks form.

 To Assemble: 

  1. Arrange ladyfingers in the bottom of a clear glass bowl or trifle glass (if you have).
  2. Sprinkle ladyfingers with about 1 teaspoon of the spirit.
  3. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the blueberry compote/sauce on top of the ladyfingers.
  4. Cover the sauce with a few of the fresh blueberries.
  5. Place a large dollop of the mascarpone cream mixture on top of the berries.
  6. Repeat the layers, starting with lady fingers.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours to allow the flavors to mingle.
  8. Just before serving, sprinkle with some crushed Amaretti cookies.  It will give it a good crunch.

Serves 4-6

Blueberry Compote

May 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

They were in season and I asked the guide to reserve me 3 paper plates – that was how they sell them at the Saturday Market in Sagada.  A plateful is about 1 cup.   It was market day but we were also on our way to Bomod-ok falls hence the need to reserve or run out.  These wild blueberries are grown on the slopes of Mt. Ampacao usually during the months of April and May.  Due to the short season, these local berries go fast.  The locals usually make pies and jams from it.

I made a sauce, more like a compote actually that went well with pancakes, ice cream and even a trifle, which will be for another post.

Local blueberries are not only found in Sagada but are usually gathered from the pine forest of the entire Mt. Province.  Compared to their cooler climate cousins, these berries are a bit tough on the skin.  Also a bit more sour but packed with more flavor, me thinks.  While stewing the blueberries, the fragrance filled up my entire kitchen.  The blend of sour to the sweet sauce added a welcome dimension, bringing out the blueberry tang.

What you need:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon or throw in a bark
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice (depending on your preference)

What you do:

  1. Place the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and water in a medium-sized saucepan.  Stir until smooth.
  2. Stir in the blueberries and place the saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Cook the sauce until the liquid thickens and becomes clear.
  4. Taste to see if there is a need to add more sugar or more water if a thinner sauce is desired.
  5. Let cool and then cover and refrigerate.

Makes about 1 cup.

Squash & Figs

April 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Although dried figs are available anytime of the year, there is nothing like the distinct taste and texture of fresh figs.  Such a treat is rare since it does not transport well, and is hard to come by in my part of the world.  Soft and sweet with many seeds, this fruit is great topped with yogurt or eaten as is.  Recently on a trip to the US, I learned that it goes well with savory dishes too.

When I was visiting friends last October, I managed to pack some figs in a plastic container to bring home with me.  It survived and enabled me to whip up this easy recipe the friend I was bunking with made one dinnertime.

This is best with pancetta but unfortunately my local deli didn’t have it at that time.  I settled with some left over farmer’s ham.  Bacon is a good substitute too.

What you need

  • A few pieces of figs, halved
  • 1 cup squash, peeled and cut to 1” cubes
  • ½ cup pancetta, bacon or ham, chopped
  • a few sage leaves, chopped or 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do

  1. Cook the squash in a little oil.
  2. Add the pancetta/ham.
  3. When the ham is a bit toasty or the pancetta/bacon has rendered its fat, toss in the figs and sage.
  4. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

The result was sweet and savory with different textures from the figs and squash.  Sage, I found out is perfect partners with squash.


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