Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mini Pink Cheesecakes

I usually make these Mini Cheesecakes for Heller's Bakery. Since I have lots of fresh strawberries, I decided to puree and cook them instead of decorating my cakes with fresh ones. They tend to dry quickly which is not attractive on the shelf. I would normally brush them with Apricot glaze for shine but it's not enough to keep for a few days. Plus, converting them into a sauce helps keep longer in the fridge or freezer. To give it a bright pink shade, I used a drop of red food coloring. I used some of the sauce mixed with a little gelatin in the center of the cake for flavor and contrast. I found these colorful sprinkles at Marshall's in their food aisle.

I used the same "Basic Cheesecake" recipe. For the pink whipped cream, I folded in some of the strawberry sauce and red food coloring.

Pumpkin Cheesecakes

I've made these Pumpkin Cheesecakes for Halloween for the first time. I just used some autumn and Halloween sprinkles over whipped cream for the decoration.


Graham Crackers, ground
Melted butter, some
Granulated sugar, some

Blend all together and spread on bottom and sides of a spring form pan. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Cheesecake filling

2-8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup Granulated sugar
2 Tbsp All purpose flour or cornstarch
2 Large eggs
3 Tbsp Lemon juice or 2 tsp Lemon zest
1/2 cup Sour cream
Variation: I omitted the sour cream when I added 1 cup of Libby's Pumpkin filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whip cream cheese with sugar until blended. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pour on the prepared crust and bake in a hot water bath for about 50 to 1 hour or until set. Let it cool and refrigerate.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mariano's Buttered Chicken

(With Chefs Benjie & Mariano to my left)
My colleague Mariano is the other Instructor Chef at Carlos Rosario. I've been working with him for the past 3 years. He's originally from Mexico (Chiapas) but grew up in Maryland. During those years working with him, i've learned some authentic Mexican dishes. We would use fresh tomatoes for Roasted Tomato Sauce instead of using the ones in the jar. I learned how to make Tomatillo Sauce, Chilaquiles and so on. These are the dishes that I never heard of back in Asia. He doesn't like the idea of using chicken or beef base in making sauces or soups. I know that most kitchens use instant ingredients to expedite the process but Mariano believes in developing flavors naturally. I'm so glad to be working with him coz it really expanded my repertoire in the kitchen. He's very aggressive and got great ideas. He also recognizes mine which I really appreciate. Although at times, he can be overbearing but it doesn't bother me anymore. I think we really make a great team.

Here's one of the dishes I learned from him, so simple yet delicious. Everybody at the holiday party loved them.


1 lb Butter, melted and cool a little bit
2 Cups Distilled Vinegar
5 Garlic cloves
3 Tbsp Salt
3 Tbsp Whole Peppercorn

5 lbs Chicken

In a blender, pour in vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. With the motor running, pour melted vinegar slowly until well blended or emulsified.

Pour emulsion on chicken and marinate overnight.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Birthday Cake

I made this cake using the Williams-Sonoma Dessert recipe...We had gallons of buttermilk and I had to find a way to get rid of them...The first time I made this, the cake turned out to be very sweet...So, for this birthday cake, I reduced the amount of sugar to one and a half cup and it came out just right...I just used sweetened whipped cream for frosting and some sprinkles for color coz it's what the celebrant wanted...


2 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour plus extra for dusting, sifted
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Unsalted butter, room temp. plus extra for greasing
1 1/2 Cups Granulated sugar
3 Large Eggs, room temp.
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 1/4 Cups Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 deg.F. lightly grease pans and line with parchment paper. Grease paper and dust with flour. In a bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk together until well blended. In a mixer on medium speed, beat butter until smooth. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time just until incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Turn mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with buttermilk in 2 batches.

Pour batter on pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean, 25-3o mins. Let it cool completely before frosting.


2 Cups Cold Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Good Vanilla Extract

Just whip the cream until soft peak stage, add sugar and vanilla. Don't over beat or else it'll turn to butter and would be harder to frost the cake coz of the coarse texture.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

After the Party Success

As what I had predicted, everybody loved my Chili...T'was a huge success at the party, got a lot of compliments esp. from people who really know about Chili...I'm glad we served it on a crockpot, so it was the only hot item on the buffet table...The Grilled wings were also a big hit, people just tore 'em up...Most of them brought store-bought dishes, bagged chips were ubiquitous, as well as, pizzas...It was a fun evening, all the drinks were gone and people are still having a great time...I've never met most of them but they're cool...We had to roll out coz it's getting late...Had a long day and our neighbors were also having a shindig...My poor little Ruby was a bit scared of the noises they make...That's alright, we're home now...

Off to a Holiday Party!!!

What a busy Saturday! Got up early at 7:30am coz I have to deliver my goods to the bakery, yeah, the only bakery (so far) who gave me the opportunity to supply them my cheesecakes, samosa and some pastries...Had to go home asap coz I have to start cooking for my husband's office holiday party tonight...Yes, we're bringing Chili with sides, Grilled Buttery Wings and Nachos with Pico de Gallo...I used 2 kinds of Chili mixes (Ortega and ShotGun Willie's) on 6 lbs of ground Chuck, 80/20...Thanks to Mariano, my colleague, for marinating my wings the other night which I had pre-grilled yesterday at work and pop it in the oven later...There's nothing like freshly fried corn tortillas, quite addictive and tastes far better than any bagged chips...I've already made the fresh salsa...I wonder how they will like the food, to think that none of these food I grew up eating and cooking...I never used to like Chili when I first had it in Hong Kong, thought it tasted weird...But later on, I began to love it esp. when we go skiing, Chili keeps me warm and satisfied after a long day out in the snow...So far, the Chili is coming along well...It needed to be doctored up, that's where I step in...Not all prepackaged mixes are perfectly seasoned, I always have to add some personal touches of this and that...And Voila! My Chili is ready to go...I'm pretty sure they'll love this...We'll see how it goes...

Here's my own version or my own recipe for Chili. It's not that complicated to make but it needs to cook ahead of time in order to develop the flavors. To me, the longer it's simmering, the better. I guess, that applies to anything that's been braised or stewed. You have to cook it atleast 3 hours for a better taste or the day before. I finished this Chili with a dark chocolate coz it needed that deep flavor. I like my Chili a little bit watery, unless, i'm serving it on a bread bowl. Then I like to garnish it with sour cream, shredded cheddar, chopped cilantro and dices of Avocado. The result was slightly rich and creamy which was perfect on a snowy day. It's actually a winter dish. I don't really have the exact measurement for the spices, I just trust my judgment like I always do. That's the beauty of cooking, unlike baking, you can estimate or eyeball the ingredients to your liking. I only use recipes as my guide, otherwise, I would doctor it up, if needed. Some recipes are quite accurate, oftentimes, they're not. But not all palates are the same. I always stay in between and I don't mind if people add salt to my dish, it's better than being salty and there's nothing you can do about it. I haven't gone to that point yet, I must admit. Hopefully, someday I can cook just like the French.


1 lb Ground Beef chuck
1 med. Onion, small dices
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Red Bell peppers, small dices
3 Tbsp Dark chili powder
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1 can (14oz) Tomatoes, dices
Some Been stock
Some Brown sugar
Some Masa harina for thickener
Some Dark chocolate at the end
1 can Dark red Kidney beans, drained


Sour cream
Shredded Cheese
Chopped Cilantro or Scallions/Onion dices

Some Saltine crackers or Tortilla chips

Heat pan until smoking hot. Brown the meat and drain the excess fat in a strainer. Wipe off the fat from the pan, add a little oil and saute onion, garlic and peppers just until the onion turns translucent. Put the ground meat back to the pan and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Add all the spices, dried oregano and sugar, stir together. Add the tomatoes and some stock. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low heat. Adjust seasoning by adding more spices and salt. Adjust consistency depending on your preference. Add beans 10 mins. before serving.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cookie Cook-off

The other night, my husband came home asking me if i'm ready, "Ready for what?" I asked. Ready for a Cookie Cook-off, he replied...Hmmm, he handed me this piece of paper about the cook-off at his workplace this coming Thursday, Dec. 17...I seldom bake cookies although I have a couple of Cookie books...I'm planning to bake 3 types of cookie for his entry, probably The Ultimate Chocolate Chips Cookie, Lemon Poppy Seeds Cookie and a Short Bread Cookie...It would be a shame if none of them makes it...Well, better than nothing...He can claim that he baked them all and I just helped him...If he wins, he gets the credit and I get the prize, ha-ha-hah! That would be my deal with him, see what he says...I'm excited about this coz i've never joined any cook-offs before...This will be the ultimate test if I can make good cookies or not...Whether the entries win or not, atleast we've tried...Wish me luck...

December 19,2009, Saturday

I actually ended up with Sugar Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies. I started making the cookie dough on monday Dec. 14 coz I wanted to frost 2 doz. cookies and be finished by wednesday night. I only have 5 christmas cookie cutters which I had bought in Stowe,Vermont in October. I never thought I would ever use them coz I had never baked a cutout cookie in my life. So when my husband told me about this cook-off, I didn't think twice. I could finally use my cookie cutters! I even urged my colleague at work to bake some sugar cookies to give away to the kitchen staff's kids. So back to the cookie cook-off, they all turned out nice. It's time consuming though and labor intensive but the result was worth it coz they look so pretty. I didn't expect them to win coz I know that with the sugar frosting, it will taste really sweet. They're just nice to look at. Atleast, I stick to the theme or holiday season. My husband was really proud eventhough we did not win but we got a lot of compliments and some thought they were store bought. He took some photos of me while frosting them just to prove they're homemade. We're just happy to be a part of it. My first ever cookie cook off. What an experience and i'll do it again. why not? Happy Holidays to all!!!

ULTIMATE SUGAR COOKIES (Adapted from The Cookie Bible)

1 1/4 Cups Granulated sugar
1 Butter -Flavor crisco Stick or 1 Cup Crisco Veg. shortening
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Light corn syrup
1 Tbsp Vanilla
3 Cups plus 4 Tbsp All-purpose flour
3/4 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt

1. Beat on medium speed the sugar and shortening until well blended. Add eggs, syrup and vanilla. Beat until weel blended and fluffy.

2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add gradually to creamed mixture at low speed until well blended. Divide dough into four parts and keep in refrigerator for 30 mins. to an hour.

3. Heat oven to 375 deg.F. Place wax paper on counter top. Dust with flour and place dough. Dust dough with flour and top with a sheet of wax paper. Flatted slightly with hands. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove top sheet.

4. Cut out cookies with floured cutter. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet. Place 2 inches apart. Roll out remaining dough. Re-roll the trimmings. Sprinkle with granulated sugar or decorate when cooled.

5.Bake for 5 to 9 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown. Don't overbake. Cool completely before frosting.


2 Cups Powdered or Confectioner Sugar
3 Tbsp Milk (Lemon Juice for flavor)
Food coloring (Few drops at a time)

Combine all and adjust consistency by adding liquid if it's too thick to spread.

I used disposable piping bags coz I needed to make 7 shades and it's easier to make the borders first to prevent the frosting from running to the sides. I've also used the pointed offset palette knife (Ateco) for spreading the frosting to corners.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I always wanted to experiment on some recipes but I don't get enough motivation...The only time I get motivated is when I read blogs and see their creations...I love looking at their photos especially the ones that look professionally taken...They inspire me so much that make me want to replicate them all...But I don't just have the time...I wonder how much time they spend in their kitchen...Do they have full time jobs during the day? I know that some of them are doing it for fun but still, it requires a lot of time in the kitchen...How do they do that? I really admire the works of Tartelette, Joe Pastry, Gattina, Happy Home Baking & etc...They really do a great job...I always go to their sites and still look at the same photos...I've tried the Elephant ears and they really look cool...There are so many I want to try...Guess, I have to keep trying and probably take photos and post it here...Til next ish...