Archive for Sauces and Side Dishes

More Than A Lasagna Post



This is more than a lasagna post. Read on ūüôā

The Quickest Lasagna You’ll Ever Make.


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Our Kinilaw Will Never Be The Same Again

This isn’t the first time I’ve made sinamak or spiced vinegar. I’ve made it before for the purpose of having it with Filipino dishes and just as a staple condiment. This time, I’m making it for a dish that has already become a weekend habit. Our favorite, kinilaw.

For this bottle, I added all the usual spices – garlic, shallots, ginger, pepper, and chillies. The only thing I did different was that I added the zest of one lemon. I am hoping that echoing all the ingredients in the dish will intensify the flavors even more. I’m going to let the flavors marinate for about two weeks before I use it and am hoping that there will be a noticeable difference with our usual weekend meal.

Since we have been using vinegar so much in our diet, I did some research and tried to see what it’s health benefits are. The results were quite interesting.


I am now savoring the last few hours of my weekend. I am extremely exhausted as the weekend was spent moving, cleaning, sorting and organizing all my things into my new address. Considering how small my previous apartment was, I was surprised to see how much I had accumulated in a year. I realized that I might be time to down size.

It’s going to be a long and busy week ahead and inasmuch as I would like to babble on, I should really be getting some shut eye soon. Tata, for now folks!

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Quality Time and Quality Eats

Salad ingredients sans the lemon

Since I arrived in California, I’ve been preoccupied with only two things – family and myself. I am loving every moment of my slow-paced holiday as I catch up with my brother, sister and all their kids. I could not be happier about being here and am filled with¬†gratitude¬†and contentment.

I am also thrilled that I am able to focus on myself. I’ve been catching up on sleep (aka jet lag), eating healthily and working out. I am happy to report that I have already logged in two runs and intend to work out five times a week. Since there isn’t any work to do, I don’t see why it can’t be done. I am also making a conscious effort to try to eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.

Speaking of healthy eats, have you tried eating quinoa? Quin-what, you say? Quinoa is a grain that originates from South America. It looks a lot like couscous but has a different texture. Unlike couscous, it is not filled with starch and is in fact, very high in protein. I made a quinoa salad yesterday to accompany my sister’s fried¬†fish and it was absolutely delicious! It’s always a delight to discover such delicious and simple food and I’ve been very excited to share it with everyone. So here it is…

Quinoa salad with fish. Yum!

Quinoa Salad

1 cup, cooked quinoa 
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
fresh lemon juice, according to taste
1 tbsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate. I find that the longer it marinates, the more delicious it becomes.
This salad can be eaten on its own or as a side dish. 

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Easy Green Shrimp Curry

I don’t like shrimp. I’m not allergic to it, I just don’t like the taste and texture. The only time I can eat shrimp is when it’s completely disguised as something else, like tempura. Oh, and shrimp cocktail. I can eat that. Any other shrimp dish you put in front of me just ends up in the doggy dish.

But last Saturday, as I was walking around the weekend market, I chose to look out for something other than our usual purchases and ended up with a half a kilo of shrimp. I try not to be a selfish cook so I surrendered to the idea of having to ingest my least favorite seafood. There’s always a can of tuna in the pantry, in case things don’t go well. At home, I had a few stalks of lemongrass so it seemed like it was the perfect time to make curry paste. So shrimp curry it was.

I combined some coriander, garlic, green chillies, ginger, red onion, and lemongrass in a food processor hoping that this would quickly give me a green curry paste. The result was nothing paste-like but more like a mirepoix of some sort. I had a feeling that this wouldn’t hold as my curry’s base so I pulled out some green curry paste just in case.

Although I don’t eat shrimp. I know better than to throw it’s head and shells away. So I gathered all the heads and shells, fired up a small pot and made some shrimp stock. With this, I added some of my lemongrass mirepoix and within a few minutes, the kitchen was filled with a wonderful aroma, very¬†reminiscent¬†of tinolang manok. The result was a flavorful stock that, if combined with some tom yum powder, would have been the perfect soup dish. But we’ll save that for another day.

In a separate pot, I sauteed what was left of my lemongrass mirepoix with a little oil. 5 minutes later, I added my sliced eggplant, shrimp stock, 1/2 cup of coconut milk and about 3 tablespoons of the green curry paste. On a low flame, I allowed this mixture to simmer until the eggplant was cooked. I noticed that when you stew eggplant long enough, the meat separates from the skin and actually acts as a thickening agent. I personally like this but some people might prefer the eggplant not overcooked.

After simmering for about 20 minutes, add some chopped cauliflower and the shelled shrimp. Boil for no more than 2 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink. Overcooking your shrimp will make it turn rubbery so be careful. Turn the heat off and add about a cup of basil leaves into the curry. It will add a nice, fresh flavor to a very spicy dish.

Serve it with a side dish of pickled cucumbers.

If you’re wondering if I ate the shrimp curry, I did. I took one bite of the succulent shrimp and then almost instantly started fishing for the shrimp in my bowl, knowing that there’s was no way I could eat it. The sauce was delicious, but there’s just no way I could take the shrimp without gagging. Sorry, food. I was still happy with just the curry sauce, eggplant and cauliflower but I think Mike was secretly ecstatic that he had all the shrimp to himself.

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Deconstructed Beef Stroganoff with Potato Cauliflower Mash

Sounds fancy, right? Looks fancy too, but this recipe is so simple that any newbie can make it. Promise.


This meal was unintentional. I really planned on making the regular stroganoff recipe, using pasta as my carb. But as I mulled over how to go about it, I realized that the recipe was a little too blah. So I tried to change it up a bit by marinating my beef strips in some wine. I have to admit that it wasn’t good wine but I really just wanted to get rid of it. It’s been in the ref for over 24 hours, marinating nicely with a few fresh sprigs of thyme. I was actually getting worried about over-marinating, so I pan fried a piece this afternoon and I tasted a lot of potential! The plan is to drain the meat, dredge it in flour and fry to give it a nice crunch. With my meat ready to go, up next was the sauce.


This Russian dish always comes with a cream-based sauce. Some recipes mix tomato paste or mushroom sauce with it. I decided to make a red wine roux (rue?) infused with thyme. To make this, I used some of the marinade and sauteed a teaspoon of minced red onions in it. After which, I added a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of organic rye flour (any flour will do). You want to incorporate these two ingredients with a whisk to prevent clumping. Mix in 1/4 cup of milk and whisk away! I, again, added a few sprigs of thyme to echo the beef’s marinade. The roux tasted good but it needed something more. It was just too rich and one dimensional. So I decided to add a teaspoon of white wine vinegar and I think it tasted pretty good. Roux experts, what do you think? Am I even using the term correctly?


Last but not the least, the starch. Beef stroganoff is usually served with noodles but since I was on a roll, might as well reinvent the entire recipe. Rather than the simple mashed potatoes, I made a potato cauliflower mash. It’s basically a combination of both, adding a different texture to your regular mashed potatoes. Taste wise, you do get the cauliflower taste but that also depends on your proportions. I still wanted mine to be predominantly made of potatoes so the ratio must have been 1 part cauliflower and 3 parts potato. I also added 2 bulbs of boiled (not roasted) garlic to add more flavor.

I’ve been patting myself on the back for this dish. I conceptualized it all on my own, only to find out through Google that about 10 other people had thought of it before. Oh well, I still think mine rocks ūüôā

Can you tell which is which?


Everything turned out as expected except for the beef strips. I planned for it to be crunchy but I may have overdone the dredging. The 2 tablespoons of oil that I used for frying may have affected the texture of the beef, too. It turned out saucy and creamy from the flour but it still had good flavor to it. I also remembered why I stopped making Beef Stroganoff. I always end up with tough meat! Considering that the cuts are thin, they never come out tender. I only cooked it for about 10 minutes on a low flame so, should I have cooked it much longer? Maybe.

I was extremely happy with the sauce/roux. I loved the hint of vinegar in it and the sweetness from the onions. That recipe is a keeper!

Will be incommunicado for the next four days as I will be out of town. I will be getting certified for my advanced diving course in Dumaguete. Woot! Woot!

Have a restful and peaceful holy week, everyone!

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The Best Filipino Side Dish

Growing up, I would always eat kamias. ¬†I remember picking this extremely sour fruit from our backyard and running to the house for some rock salt so I could enjoy it’s extreme sourness. ¬†I never knew how else to eat this fruit until I was introduced to an amazing side dish at my Tita’s beach house in Batangas. This kamias side dish was always served with grilled fish or limepo and it just made people eat twice as much as they normally would.

This morning, as I went for my morning run, I noticed that our kamias tree had a lot of fruit. So using my shirt as my basket, I picked as much as I could and excitedly planned on making this side dish for dinner.

Fresh ingredients, all (except for the onions) from our garden

To make this side dish, you will need tomatoes, onions , ginger, green¬†chili and bagoong balayan. The original recipe didn’t have this but since they’re in season, I decided to throw in some¬†indian¬†mangoes as well. Saute the onions, tomatoes and ginger in some oil until tender. Pour about 1/4 cup of bagoon balayan and simmer for 10 minutes. You can actually put less since the bagoong is extremely salty and can be overpowering. I made the mistake of pouring the contents of the whole bottle and I am now drinking as much water as possible to flush away the salt. ¬†After simmering the bagoong, add the indian mangoes, kamias, chilies and turn the heat off. This dish is best served at room temperature.

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Apple Tamarillo Chutney (Part 2)

Some of you may ask, “What do I do with this chutney?” A lot! It’s only 11:39 am and I’ve already tried two dishes using my apple tamarillo chutney. Why can’t I be one of those cooks who doesn’t eat what they cook?

pork and chutney are a good combination

pork and chutney are a good combination

Whenever I eat porkchops, I always have to have something sweet to go along with it. Sometimes, UFC Banana Ketchup will suffice but when my tastebuds are feeling more sophicticated, I look for chutney. I had this for brunch and was utterly pleased with the combination of savory and sweet flavors that were swirling in my mouth. Pork and chutney make for a wonderful marriage and truly deserve a happily ever after.

grilled cheese with apple tamrillo chutney

grilled cheese with apple tamrillo chutney

This second dish is truly a great find and should be a staple in people’s list of comfort food – grilled cheese sandwich with apple tamarillo chutney. Again, the combination of the salty cheese,¬† sweetness of the chutney and the crunchiness of the toasted bread is juts to die for. I know chutney in a sandwich sounds a bit strange but this is one of those ‘don’t-knock-it-until-you’ve-tried-it’ moments. They say that a good dish needs to have 3 T’s – Taste, Texture and Temperature. This sandwich has got them all. Insanely delicious and dangerously addicting.

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