Sunday, December 21, 2008

my super-patok chocolate chip cookie balls

My experimentation with various recipes has rewarded me this Christmas month.

For my birthday this year, my friend DAEI gifted me with a small, handy cookbook containing recipes for edible gifts, i.e. food that can be prepared and shared as gifts for family and friends. Browsing through the recipes, I found several that I thought were quite easy to prepare, but unique and would be appreciated by its recipients. That's where I discovered the recipe for cookie balls. The magic word in the recipe? It's "no-bake". (Archie gifted me with a table oven for my birthday as well but I haven't gotten around to trying it yet ~ but I will one of these days. At the time, however, when DAEI gave me the cookbook, I didn't have one yet.)

So I thought, why not give out these cookie balls to my barkada for Christmas?

First, however, I had to do my usual taste-test. I made a batch for Archie, my personal food critic a.k.a. taga-tikim. ;-) What do you know? For someone who doesn't have a sweet tooth, he found that he liked it a lot (and it's not just because he really loves me, OK) and immediately coined a name for it, calling it "Archie's Cookie Crunchie". It's not at all crunchy, mind you, but he says it's because of the nuts!

I also gave one apiece to my other personal taste-testers, Roge and Devery at the office, to see how my experiment would fare. Roge says she loves it, because it's so rich, and Devery thought the same, as well. My mom and Venice, between the two of them, have eaten all but one container-full of cookies in record time. With all the positive feedback, what else did I need? I immediately bought the ingredients and prepared an entire batch, not for my barkada, but for Archie's lawyer-officemates, to be given at their office party.

This is how I packaged it. I put the cookie balls inside decorated sandwich bags like this, tying them up with festive ribbons or abaca twine ~

... and then placed them in Christmas mug boxes like this, which can be bought in Quiapo ~

So as not to hide the poinsettia effect when the box is sealed, I punched holes on gift tags and a personalized "Keep Cookies Chilled" notes, with "Foodie-at-Law" and my number printed on them, then threaded them through abaca twine to hang by the side of the box. Cute, di ba?

When I gave the cookie balls to Archie's officemates, I was all too pleased with the feedback. Minnie, Mark's wife, texted in the morning just to say that her hubby ate practically all of the cookies, and Myra told Archie how she loved it, even leaving a comment on my Friendster account simply to tell me that she, her fiance Lowell, and her brother fought for each piece. My heart can't help but swell, knowing that people liked what I made!

The following week, I prepared another batch for my lawyer-barkada's, which I gave at our get-together/dinner at Noy's house. The following morning, Bunny sent a message saying that the cookies were good and "super-chewy". That same weekend, Mau texted me telling me that he loved the cookies as well and he's placing orders for 10 boxes, saying that I should start a business... Then come Monday morning, Angie, my best friend, asks if it I really made the cookies ~ masarap daw kase at pwede na akong mag-asawa. :-) She also placed orders for 10 boxes... and here come email messages from Chai and Dyegs, asking me if there's a 2nd batch of my yummy cookies!

To make a long story short, I've begun a small, private business with these cookie balls, which I merely experimented with after seeing how easy it was to follow the recipe. I modified the recipe a bit, not finding it necessary to add the chopped nuts as the cookie itself is already so creamy and rich with all the lumps of chocolate chips that I've used.

So, to My-my, who's been, as I heard, asking for the recipe for these cookie balls, my sincerest apologies...! Maybe I can teach you how to make them later... But for now, it will remain a trade secret of my small enterprise. :-)

Now. Would you like to buy? A box of 12 pieces each costs a very cheap P125.00, and I also sell them in plastic containers of 20 pieces each ~ they can be for personal consumption, or decorated as well if you're planning to give them away as presents. The 20-piece containers cost P225.00 only.

And I'm not even factoring in the cost of labor. I only use the most sumptuous, semi-sweet branded chocolate chips, not the generic ones you can get for wholesale. So I guarantee the creaminess and richness of these cookie balls ~ need my previous recipients' testimonials? ;-)

Congratulate me and buy these cookies, OK?

Check back for more goodies for sale! :-)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Are you looking for:

a restaurant with wonderful ambience, with a magnificent view of the Taal Volcano and Lake, and the tastiest, juiciest steaks ever?

The answer is here: FIRE LAKE GRILL in CLIFFHOUSE, Tagaytay City.

Archie took me here for my birthday dinner. :) The moment we saw the place, we fell in love with it! Quiet, romantic, classy, and definitely a far cry from the tumpok that is Starbucks, Hen Lin, Pancake House and Cafe Lupe nearby. As for Fire Lake Grill itself, grabe. I was never a fan of steak, but when I had a taste of their house specialty, I knew I'd gladly eat a whole slab anyday. Ang sarap! Our very gracious host, Gilbert, recommended our dinner: Archie had the porterhouse steak, which had a red-wine demiglaze sauce, and "made it a meal" together with potato wedges for siding, and pumpkin soup. At first, Archie wanted the steak well-done, but Gilbert offered that the beef would be juicier and tastier if it were made medium-rare. I, on the other hand, wanted to try their pasta: Gilbert recommended the new pasta their chef made, which was linguini in cream sauce with white truffle (OMG!) and mushrooms...

Wow. Wow wow wow. Wow.

The only downside for those who would like to dine on a budget, however, is that the food is a bit expensive. I won't mention how much our dinner cost that night but all I can say is, it was worth every cent. :) Also, parking's a bit expensive if you're going to just park and enjoy the not-so-crowded area: it's P100 per hour, and a fraction of an hour is considered an hour, anyway. But if you dine in any establishment, parking's for free. :)

Need I say more? Super-duper, very highly recommended!

Friday, October 31, 2008

cookbook magazine

I'm no chef, really, to attempt to make an original recipe from my own gastronomic imagination. Unlike my classmate and friend Ana, who makes her own original recipes, I usually just copy or lift recipes that I come across with on magazines, or cooking shows, or, as in the case with her Potata a la Ana, those that were given to me because I very much liked the taste of the food.

The last couple of months, I bought 2 back issues of Rachael Ray's "Everyday" magazine, which featured a lot of recipes. However, when I inspected some of these recipes, I realized that either (1) the ingredients she used are not available in the Philippines, or if available, may prove to be difficult to find, or (2) the dish was too complicated for a beginner like me. I tried one that I thought was fairly easy to do called the "Orange Beef and Broccoli" which was a sort of stir-fried dish using sirloin strips, broccoli with a hint of orange flavor. I modified the dish a bit which, I realized, should not have been so. I'll give the dish another go next time so I can feature it here and you can copy it out.

I haven't bought another copy of "Everyday" since then because out of sooo many recipes, I only saw one that was not too complicated and made use of easy-to-find ingredients. (For example: know what a halibut is and where I can find it? Don't know about you but that was the first time I ever heard of that. Second time was in Iron Chef America where I learned that it's actually a fish.) That was when I realized that it would probably be a lot wiser to buy the local cookbook magazines. It should be easier to work with something closer to home.

So last night, while Archie and I were browsing through the stuff at Booksale in MOA, I inspected the food magazines rack and saw this "FOODIE" magazine.

I bought a copy because I was intrigued by the 75 "fast, delicious recipes for sharing" which supposedly includes comfort food like arroz caldo, fried chicken, and some potato dishes (love potatoes!) too. I was, of course, hoping to find some recipes that I could replicate and modify to make them my own.

"FOODIE" didn't disappoint. Aside from the easy recipes, it also featured how-to's, such as making basic stocks and sauces, and pickling and jamming. It also has one entire page featuring the very informative "words of comfort", listing down culinary words you probably always hear, but don't even know the meaning. (I'm sure you love braised beef but know what "braise" means?) Best of all, it had an adobo recipe in it which I want to try out ~ I'm on a mission to find the best way how to cook adobo because so far, my adobo, in my opinion, is merely passable.

Check out this latest issue of "FOODIE" magazine. You won't be disappointed. :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

notes on making empanada

I made my first batch of empanadas over the weekend, and here are a few notes for future reference, just in case you find yourself craving for them and want to make some:

1. It would be a good thing to invest in a measuring cup, a set of measuring spoons, a wooden board and a rolling pin. You'll need it not only for making empanadas, but for cooking and baking in general.

2. Make sure that you have the correct measurements for the ingredients especially when making the dough. In my case, I completely forgot to buy a measuring cup, so I had to make do with what was available to me. The result was not really disastrous, but the consistency of the dough was not exactly what I had imagined it would be. I think it was short of the flour, because my dough was so sticky, it stuck all over the rolling pin and was very difficult to work with.

3. Don't think that you can dispense with the rolling pin, because it will largely affect not only the aesthetic value of the finished product, but it's also necessary so that the thickness of the dough will be uniform on all sides. When I made the dough, and because it stuck to my rolling pin, I thought I could just pat the dough flat using the palm of my hand. Of course it flattened, but I wasn't able to make good dough circles and there were portions that were either too thick or too thin.

4. Deep fry them! Make sure they're completely submerged in oil so that the empanadas will cook evenly. And don't let them stay too long in the oil, they cook easily and besides, the filling is already cooked. Just let the dough slightly brown.

Hopefully, the next batch I make will be a lot better. Tomorrow I'll go get myself the necessary props for a better empanada dough. :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh yeah. Your eyes are not deceiving you.

Aren't I the domesticated one? Haha!

Yep, that's a rolling pin you're seeing right there. And I just bought it for 167 pesos tonight at SM Hypermarket in MOA.

And this Saturday, for the very first time in my entire life, I'm going to:

mix flour

knead dough

and play with the rolling pin.

I'm still not baking, though. I don't have a good oven yet for that purpose. All I'm going to do is make the dough for my experimental empanada ~ I cooked the filling last night with the help of my mom, who chopped the carrots and cheese for me. Empanadas are deep-fried, so I won't have to worry about the preheating and all that complicated stuff that baking entails. :-) If this batch is a success, or at the least, needs very minimal modification as to flavor, I'm going to make another batch for her birthday come November 1st.

Our baon going to the cemetery. :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


The lull in posting was caused by a broken desktop, a busy couple of workweeks, and delay in the recipes I was supposed to post.

Check back for Devery's humba.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

(The Overdue) EMPANADA

It's been weeks since my friend Rogelyn's birthday bash at the office ~ same time I promised to post her very special empanada recipe, as well. The delay was caused by too much work but don't worry, here's the recipe. Now I haven't tried this one yet, but over the weekend I plan to. Why don't you and I try it at the same time and compare notes, huh?



For the Filling:
Carrots, cubed
Potatoes, cubed
Green peas
Cheddar cheese
3 pieces chicken breast fillets, boiled in salt and ground pepper)
Oyster sauce (this is the secret ingredient)

For the Dough:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 butter (melted)
1/4 cup water


Empanada Filling:

1. Sauté garlic and onion.
2. Add cubed carrots, potatoes, and the green peas. Mix well.
3. Shred the chicken breasts into small pieces and add to the mixed vegetables. 4. Season with oyster sauce.
5. Add raisins and cubed cheddar cheese.
6. Let stay in the fridge for at least 3 days. (Roge says the longer the filling stays in the fridge, the better it tastes.)

Empanada Dough:

1. Mix the flour, white sugar,and baking powder in a bowl.
2. Beat the eggs and add the water and melted butter.
3. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny.
4. Cut into 20 equal portions.
5. Roll out dough into perfect (if possible) rounds, about 3.5 - 4 inches in diameter each.
6. Place a generous amount of filling in the center. Fold in half, forming a half-moon.
7. Crimp around the edge of the empanada.
8. Fry in deep hot oil. Be sure to drain out excess fat!

The recipe is, admittedly, a bit labor-intensive. Roge says she even cuts the raisins into halves! But you needn't do that, really. Just follow the instructions as faithfully as you can and I can guarantee, you'll make mouth-watering empanadas just the way Roge does. ;-)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Archie's Do-It-Yourself Tacos

My sweetie has his own "hidden talent" in the kitchen. ;-)

He made tacos for me, a family favorite, from what I reckon from his stories. (This cousin can finish this much and that other cousin can finish more.) An aunt can even make taco shells from fried lumpia wrapper. Now I haven't seen anyone do that but from what Archie says, taco shells are hard to come by in the province so they make improvised shells from lumpia wrappers.

The only thing you need to cook for these tacos is the ground beef. For the other ingredients, except for the cheese and sauces, all you'll need is a chopping board and a good knife, and you're all set.

Archie's Do-It-Yourself Tacos


Taco Shells ~ these can be bought from supermarkets or grocery stores
1/4 kg ground beef
3 medium sized tomatoes
1 small white onion
1 small cabbage
Cheddar cheese
Sweet chili sauce ~ Jufran is a recommended brand ;-)
Garlic sauce
1/4 clove garlic
1 small red onion
Salt and black pepper


1. Chop the red onion. Crush the garlic and remove
the skins. Saute in a pan.
2. Add the ground beef and cook well. Add salt
and pepper to taste. You can also use half a packet of ginisa
flavor mix (like Aji) that are available in groceries, or a tablespoon of
soy sauce.
3. Chop the tomatoes and white onion into small pieces. Chop
the cabbage into short strips.
4. Grate the cheese.


1. In the bottom of each taco shell, put a generous helping of cabbage.
2. Add the cooked ground beef and the grated cheese. Layer with sweet chili sauce and garlic sauce.
3. Add the tomatoes, white onions, and more cheese.

Of course, it's up to you to add more chese or put in less onions, according to your taste. Archie says you can also use salsa, or add some chopped mushrooms on the ground beef if you like. Or, instead of ground beef, you can cook shredded chicken. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Apple French Tart

My boss took us out to lunch at this lovely restaurant in Pasig, near Tiendesitas, called PANCITERIA DON JACINTO.

We had the most sumptuous Chinese lunch, consisting of El Nido soup, salt-and-pepper spareribs, pancit canton, roast chicken, steamed lapu-lapu, yang chow fried rice, and their specialty, camaron rebosado. THese were cooked in very thin batter and right on top of the tiger prawns are thin, delectable slices of ham. Very good indeed!

TO top off this delicious feast, we had Apple French Tart, and one bite immediately sent us to dessert heaven.

I swear I'm going to find out how this is made.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken Cheesemelt

There's this small, family-owned restaurant near my workplace which I and a couple of friends often visit for a lunch-out. My personal favorite dish is their chicken cheesemelt, with buttered vegetables for sidings and a dollop of tasty garlic rice to match.

A few weeks back, I lingered by the tomato sauce and ketchup section of the supermarket I frequent when I chanced upon (serendipity!) a shelf full of canned tomatoes: chopped, crushed, whole, and whatever-else-you-may-think-you-can-do with tomatoes. I immediately thought of the chicken cheesemelt and imagined how I could imitate the dish...

Fortunately, my first attempt was a success. It may not be the exact same recipe, but it sure does taste like the one I buy! And it's the easiest thing to do really. All you need is a can of chopped tomatoes, and you're good to go.

For Myra and Liezl, who were one of my first guinea pigs for this dish, here's:

Monique's Chicken Cheesemelt


6 pieces chicken breast fillets
1 can, chopped tomatoes
Quickmelt cheese, or any other easy-to-melt cheese ;-)
Bread crumbs
2 eggs
Dried basil
Olive oil (though any other cooking oil will do)


1. Clean the chicken breast fillet and pat dry. Since the fillets
may be too thick for frying, you can slice them by the flaps or pockets and
flatten them so they would be easier to cook. Season generously with salt and
pepper. Add a dash of dried basil.
2. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl.
3. Drain the liquid from the chopped tomatoes. You'll only need the chunks
and pulps.


1. Heat a large pan or skillet. Pour 4 to 5 rounds of oil and wait until hot enough.
2. Dip the chicken breast fillets on the eggs and dredge on a bed of bread crumbs. Fry each fillet until crispy and golden brown.
3. Drain excess oil.
4. Top each chicken with the chopped tomatoes.
5. Grate a chunk of cheese on top of the tomatoes.
6. Sprinkle with some more basil.

When the dish is done, I would recommend heating the chicken for a minute in the microwave so that the cheese would easily melt. Also, as it has become a favorite, it goes well with vegetable sidings and garlic rice. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

lack of measurements

I just noticed that the ingredients on the first 2 recipes I featured on this blog didn't have exact measurements. I had been surfing the net and reading some food blogs when I realized how difficult it would be to follow a recipe, especially for experimenting beginners like me, if the ingredients didn't have proper measurements specified on them.

If you've already copied out or tried the Potata a la Ana or Mother's Quail Eggs in Cream of Mushroom, I hope the finished product turned out well. I didn't indicate the amount of ingredients to use because I didn't measure them, either - almost all of them were mere estimates. Now if you're having a difficult time following the recipes and find that you need exact amounts, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

New recipes will be up this week: my talented friend Rogelyn's super-special Empanada, and Devery's equally delicious Humba, a Visayan dish. They cooked up a batch each of their own specialties for Roge's birthday last week and I simply had to feature these recipes here. As early as late August I already arranged for a photo and their permission. Do check back later.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mother's Quail Eggs in Cream of Mushroom

My mother cooks this creamy recipe every once in a while. I love quail eggs, and I love how Mama flavors it the way she does. It's one of my comfort foods, if you will.

The recipe is pretty simple. Here it is:

Mother's Quail Eggs in Cream of Mushroom


Quail eggs, at least a dozen
1 can cream of mushroom
1 small can,
evaporated milk
Diced carrots, green peas, and corn bits (you can get the
pre-packed ones in supermarkets)
Garlic, crushed
Olive oil
Prawns, shelled


1. Boil the quail eggs and remove the shells. Set aside.
2. In a pan, sautee the crushed garlic in olive oil. Don't burn the garlic!
3. Add the mixed vegetables and a small chunk of butter.
4. Mix in the prawns.
5. Pour in the cream of mushroom first, and then the evaporated milk.
6. Finally, add the quail eggs and cook until the cream and the milk thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cream Puffs by Dulcinea

Yup, churros and paella aren't the only specialties offered by Dulcinea. Their cream puffs are also to-die-for, with its delectable cream filling and caramelized honey on top.

Great with a tall glass of iced tea, even more wonderful with a steaming cup of brewed coffee. I could use the pairing just about now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Potato Salad a la Ana

Or, as my friend Ana succinctly calls this bestselling recipe of hers, "Potata a la Ana".

I first had a taste of this creamy potato salad last December, when she brought a batch to another friend's house for our annual Christmas dinner/get-together. Just one bite, and it was enough to make me ask for the recipe.

Minus the basil (the supermarket was scarce of it) and with the excess dash of cayenne pepper, my first attempt to replicate her dish was, well, alright. Considering that Ana's recipe didn't have the appropriate measurements per ingredient, I had to make guesses as to the amount that I had to put in. Considering further that I've had practically zero experience cooking with herbs, I wasn't sure how each one would taste, or what it would do to the dish, so again, I could only cross my fingers and pray that I wouldn't overdo anything. After this first try, I know better.

Want to try? Here's the recipe.



Marble potatoes, boiled and seasoned with salt
Olive oil
Bacon bits (if you can't find the pre-chopped ones, you can always chop them yourself)
Parmesan cheese
Cheddar cheese
Cayenne pepper
Garlic, chopped (lots and lots of it)
All-purpose cream


1. Heat the olive oil over medium-low fire. (You can use two rounds of it on the pan.)
2. Add the butter. A small chunk would do.
3. Sautee the garlic until golden brown, but not burnt. Add the bacon bits until they get crispy. Be careful not to burn the garlic and the bacon.
4. Add the boiled potatoes. You can halve them if you like.
5. Sprinkle some oregano, cayenne pepper, and basil.
6. Pour in the all-purpose cream. Bring to a boil until the cream is almost dry.
7. Grate some cheddar cheese and add a generous helping of parmesan cheese. Cook until the cheese dissolves in the sauce.
8. Add a pinch of salt to taste.

Let me know how it turns out!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Portuguese Egg Tarts

My cousin Kat and I went on a trip to Macau late last year. Aside from taking in the sights - the Ruins of St. Paul, The Venetian Macau, the Macau Tower, and the numerous churches and museums, among others - we also had the time of our lives sampling Macanese cuisine Portuguese egg tarts became our favorite.

These egg tarts are made with a puff pastry casing, with caramelized custard centers. One store which sells them in Macau makes exceptionally good ones, with a very generous sprinkling of cinnamon to add to the flavor. This lovely pastry originated from Lord Stow's in Coloane island in Macau, established by Andrew Stow, a British, who modified the original Portuguese recipe to make the ones which are now commercially sold.

The Lord Stow's branch in Mall of Asia has since then become a haven. Archie is himself a convert. You probably will be, too.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Honeyed Squash Muffins

On a recent trip to Bohol, I discovered this unique, tasteful, and organic pastry specially made in Bohol Bee Farm. My friends and I had our first taste when we were each served a piece right after we had checked in. To go with this delectable pastry as our welcome snack was their special blend of lemongrass juice, also a resort specialty.

A friend of a friend, to whom I gave a few pieces when I got back home, liked it so much that she searched the Internet for a similar recipe. I say "similar" because I knew that even if asked, the people at Bohol Bee Farm would never give out the recipe, being a trade secret and all. This friend, however, only managed to get ahold of a zucchini muffin recipe. I told her that maybe she can try to substitute the zucchini with squash, as the recipes would probably have the same concept. Not sure if she'll give it a go but I told her I'm a willing guinea pig, just in case.