Watermelon Mint

Summer Fruit Water

Melon sa Malamig is a Cantaloupe drink from the Philippines. Sa Malamig means “cold” in Tagalog. I like to call it Melon Water, because the recipe is very simple: shredded or blended cantaloupe, sweetener, and water. Its kinda of like a Agua Fresca except without the blended seeds. This makes a great drink for a hot weather. I got to thinking a few weeks ago, why not use other fruits? Why not add herbs for an extra dimension. So I came up with a few combinations to make Fruit Herb Water:

Combo 1: Strawberry, basil, honey, water
Combo 2: Blackberry, sage, lemon zest, honey, water
Combo 3: Watermelon, mint, honey, water
Combo 4: Pineapple, lemon balm, honey, coconut milk, water

I didn’t really measure anything, I just put a couple handfuls of fruit, a few sprigs of herb, few spoonfuls of sweet, and water into the blender hit the on button. So far Strawberry-Basil combo was the surprisingly tasty, I was inspired by a gelato flavor found at my local gelato shop and tried to mimic it in a drink. Watermelon-Mint was extremely cooling, while the Blackberry-Sage deliciously dark. Pineapple-Lemon Balm-Coconut tastes just like a pina colada.

Coffee in saucer

Drinking from the Saucer

Today I learned that a saucer is a small dish originally intended for holding sauce. But in the 18th century, it was acceptable to pour tea or coffee into a cup’s saucer to cool the beverage before drinking it.

I was only able to find once reference about it in Google Books in a 1800s Peterson’s Magazine, but it talks about coffee.

But then I found this in a 1920s book how drinking from the saucer is considered “old” or “passé”:

Years ago, it was not simply permissible to drink out of the “sasser” it was an accomplishment. To see a man pour his tea into his saucer and cool it off and then lift it with firm touch and sip it with a long, soothing, sibilant, gurgling, fugue-like cadence that could be heard in the next county, was to see and hear the proper thing. The louder noise he could make, the more desirable dinner-guest he was considered. If he wanted to do a little fin-de-siecle flourish, he dipped his gingerbread in the tea in his saucer and then played a solo in double-bass with it thru his mustache. And then if he were a true artist and could wipe his mustache on his coat sleeve daintily — daintily, mark you? without the slightest suggestion of coarseness but with that infinite considerateness that betokens the saving of napkins, he was worth while; for napkins were rarely given out except to the minister.

Konstantin Makovsky (1839-1915). drinking tea

18th century drinking from saucer

Hazel Nut Spread

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread



  • 2 cups (8 oz) hazelnuts
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar or honey or splenda
  • 1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until fragrant and dark brown, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through roasting. Transfer hazelnuts to medium bowl. when hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, place a second bottom side up medium bowl on top and and shake vigorously between the two bowls to remove skins.
  2. Process peeled hazelnuts in a food processor until their oil is released and they form smooth, loose paste, about 5 minutes scraping down bowl often.
  3. Add sugar or honey or splenda, cocoa powder, oil, vanilla, and salt. Process until fully incorporated and mixture begins to loosen slightly and becomes glossy,, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  4. Transfer spread to jar with a tight-fitting lid. Chocolate-hazelnut spread can be stored at room temp or refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Candied Nuts for the Holidays

Candied Nuts



  • 4 cups (12 ounces) pecans halves, unsalted
    OR roasted almonds
    OR walnuts
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a flat baking pan with parchment.
  2. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cayenne to a large bowl. Whisk until evenly combined. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg white in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add pecans and egg whites, and gently toss until combined and the nuts are evenly coated.
    Add in the sugar mixture, and toss until combined.
  4. Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Remove from the oven, and let the baking sheet cool on a cooling rack until the nuts reach room temperature.



  • 1 1/2 cups whole almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a flat baking pan with parchment.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk powdered sugar, lemon juice, orange peel, lemon peel and nutmeg.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg white with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add almonds and pecans with the egg whites. Gently toss until combined and nuts are evenly coated.
  4. Add in the sugar mixture, and toss until combined.
  5. Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes.
  7. Turn off oven and let nuts stand in oven 15 minutes more.
  8. Immediately remove nuts from pan to sheet of foil and cool completely.

Bleeding Hearts for Halloween


  • Heart-shaped gelatin mold
  • Large pot or kettle for boiling water
  • Medium bowl
  • Large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Plastic bag, such as one from he grocery store in the produce isle. This will hold the blood.
  • Measuring cup


  • 4 cups water
  • 4 (3 ounce) boxes strawberry or cherry gelatin dessert mix
  • 4 (1 tablespoon) envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 (12 ounce) can unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup grenadine
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 fluid ounce red food coloring
  • 3 drops blue food coloring

The Heart Mix

Boil the water. Put the packaged flavored gelatin dessert and unflavored gelatin in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it, whisking constantly. Cool to room temperature (NOTE: this is very important or the next step may present problems).

Stir in the condensed milk. Watch how the mixture is already is acquiring the color of freshly skinned flesh.

Coat the inside of the mold with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Set the heart mold in a bowl. This is to steady it as you pour and for when the gelatin sets.

Pour the mixture into the mold. Cover just the bottom of the mold (this will be the top when you serve it) with a half inch thick layer of gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until it gels firmly.

The Blood Bladder

Meanwhile, prepare the bladder of blood. Stir together the corn syrup, grenadine, and food colorings

For the bladder (the bag that keeps the blood together inside the mass of gelatin) take the gallon-size food-storage bag and turn it inside out.

Pour the blood mixture into one corner of the bag and twist it closed so that no air bubble is caught between the sauce and the twist. Tie a knot in the twisted plastic.

Adjust the position of the knot so that when the bag lies on the counter, it’s about 1 1/2 to 2 inches high, and tighten the knot. With a pair of scissors, snip off the frilly extra plastic outside the knot.

When the gelatin on the bottom of the mold is stiff and firm, position the bladder of blood in the mold, with the point of the bag just inside the point of the heart.

Make sure there is at least 3/4″ of space between all sides of the bag and the walls of the mold (this will ensure that your guests don’t see clues ahead of time).

Complete the Heart

Pour in the remaining gelatin until the mold is as full as you can handle.

Don’t worry if you see a little of the blood-bladder grazing the surface of the gelatin, as longs as it doesn’t project too much; the side you are looking at now will be the bottom when you serve it.

Refrigerate until gelled firmly to the texture of fine, lean organ meat. It takes about 4 hours.

To unmold, put about 2 1/2 inches of hot, but not boiling water in your sink.

Set your mold in the water so that the water comes just below the edge of the mold for 15 to 20 seconds; the time depends on the thickness of the mold pan.

Remove the mold from the water, and run the blade of a knife around the edge of the gelatin.

Invert your serving platter, ideally a white pedestal cake plate, on top and hold it firmly in place.

Then use both hands to turn over the mold and the plate. Remove the mold; you may need to tap or shake the mold slightly to free the gelatin.

Trim any excess gelatin to make it more heart shaped.

Extra Touches

You will need purple, red, blue and black Food colorings

Now we apply some food coloring with a brush to make it look more realistic.

Of course, we’re only making look “realistic” in a comic-book sense. The colors won’t really be much like a real heart fresh from a ribcage would look – but it will look like what most people expect a heat to look like.

Use purple for the ridged areas shown. Try to paint darker near the bottoms and sides, and lighten up on the tops. You can paint a little red on the top part as a highlight. Just don’t overdo it and you should be fine.

Finally, color in the holes we made in the arteries with black

Now go over each vein with red. Just a little should do it. Color some parts of the heart’s surface with a bit of red too to bring out color.

Serving Ideas

The blood looks prettiest when it flows over white plates, doilies, and table linen, which it may stain permanently–but what the hell, it’s the effect that matters.

To serve, use a nice, big Psycho-style chef’s knife and stab the side of the gelatin about one third of the way up from the pointed end of the heart. Twist the knife slightly, and blood will start to ooze out.

Bare your teeth like a Marine jabbing with bayonet, and widen the wound. When the blood is coming at a good slip, grab a dessert plate, and cut a slice from one of the lobes of the heart. Flip it onto the plate, and drizzle it with blood by holding it under the edge of the pedestal. Add whipped cream and serve.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SAFETY: Be careful not to serve pieces of the food-storage bag to your friends. They could choke to death. We want to help you become a more exciting host, not a criminally negligent klutz.

Compound Butters

In modern French cuisine, prior to 1950, compound butters had a much greater purpose then they do today. If you’ll visit this French Cooking Terms page you’ll see several French recipes that instruct you to finish their preparation with this or that kind of butter.

Compound butters are prepared by adding any number of flavorings to the whole butter by either chopping in the items or using a food processor. The following recipe is only an example and today’s cooks use compound butter for dessert as well as entrees. Spices, herbs and protein can be added to compound butters and they are especially useful when using herbs that otherwise would turn black after being cut and exposed to air.

The kinds of compound butters you can make are without limits. Use berries for French Toast or pancakes. Wasabi for broiled meats and sea foods, cranberries for turkey and the list goes on and on. Adding hard chilled butter to finish a sauce is called monter or monte au beurre which gives the sauce an added flavor and sheen, and when you’ve incorporated some additional flavoring agent into the compound it just increases the gustatory profile. So you could add truffles, lobster, shrimp, saffron, herbs or caviar to just name a few.

My favorite is the classic Garlic Herb Butter


  • Mixer, for best consistency
  • Plastic wrap


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt


Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and salt and beat for a couple of minutes, or until fluffy. Add the garlic and parsley, stir to combine well. Transfer the the garlic herb butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, roll up to form a cylinder shape. Twist both ends tight and keep it in the refrigerator. They are ready to use when the butter becomes cold and solid.

Compound Butters


Valentine’s Day

For South Koreans Valentine’s Day is when women shower men with chocolates! Japanese women also gift chocolate to all men around them ranging from love interests to co-workers and bosses. In the Philippines, V-day is celebrated in the same way as their western counterparts, greeting loved ones with “Maligayang Araw ng mga Puso” — literally translating to “Happy Day of the Hearts”.

Since before we were married, we’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day the way the Japanese and Koreans do: me making sweets for Sig and planning a special day just with him. Come March 14th, Sig will have his turn.

If you’re single you can celebrate Black Day (블랙데이) on April 14 by gathering your single friends and eat jajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce) and celebrate your singledom.

vday cookies

Sushi Tuna Lean

A Foodie’s Map

Last August, Sig and I experienced an amazing dinner at the Herbfarm with Jeff and Kate. I was asked at some point about “how many restaurants I’ve been to in the Seattle area?” and “which ones where good?” That’s a question which would result into a very complex answer, especially for a foodie like me. My solution was to create a map, this map not only contains places I’ve been, but where I want to go. I’ve also included a layer with notes. Click on the little square at the top right corner of the map to go full screen; believe me you’ll want it that way. Click on an item in the list or a location on the map to view the info. Not all items have notes because I haven’t visited that location yet.

I’ll up date this as time goes on, maybe blog about it…soon-ish.  Read more below the cut.

Continue reading…


Paneer Paradise

Paneer is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids. Its really similar to fromage but not as creamy and you don’t use a starter. I really love paneer because you can make yummy things with it such as mattar paneer (paneer with peas), saag paneer (paneer cooked in a leafy sauce), shahi paneer (paneer cooked in a rich, mughlai curry), paneer tikka (a vegetarian version of chicken tikka, paneer placed on skewers and roasted) and paneer tikka masala (paneer cooked in a spicy creamy sauce). You can also use it just like any fresh farmer cheese such as in salads or on brioche with tapenade.

Mind the Milk

The main thing about making paneer is to focus on the quality of milk, its fat content, and the type of acid you use for curdling. Fresh whole milk is the best. You can use pasteurized, but stay way from ultra pasteurized milk. For acid, buttermilk is best and gives paneer a nice tang.

Beware the Buttermilk

Be careful when selecting your buttermilk. What you find in most grocery stores is a commercially-made or “cultured” buttermilk, which is created by adding bacteria cultures to milk, then heating the mixture to give it that tart, slightly fermented taste. You want traditional buttermilk: the liquid left over from extracting butter from churned yogurt or from churning butter from cultured or fermented cream. If you can’t find traditional buttermilk, go for Bulgarian buttermilk, which is a version of cultured buttermilk in which the cream cultures are supplemented or replaced by yogurt cultures, and then fermented at higher temperatures for higher acidity. It can be more tart and thicker than traditional buttermilk, and most importantly it has almost right amount of acidity as “real” buttermilk. You can also attempt to make your own cultured butter, thus producing traditional buttermilk, but that would be another recipe.

Easy Paneer

makes 12 oz


  • colander
  • butter muslin or triple layer of cheesecloth
  • dutch oven pot
  • rubber spatula
  • 2 large plates
  • digital thermometer


  • 3 quarts of fresh whole milk, pasteurized (never ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2.5 tsp salt
  • 3 cups of traditional buttermilk

1) Line the colander with butter muslin or triple layer of cheesecloth and place in the sink.

2) Bring milk and salt to a rapid simmer in the Dutch oven over med-high heat. Stir frequently with the rubber spatula to prevent burning. You want the milk heated to about 200 degrees F.

3) Remove from heat. slowly….very slowly…pour the butter milk until fully incorporated and mixture curdles. This should take about 15 minutes. Let it it for about 1 min afterwards.

4) Pour the mixture into the muslin lined colander and let drain until whey no longer runs freely from the bottom of the colander – about 10 min. Tilt the colander and lift the corners of the cloth occasionally to allow more whey to drain out.

5) Pull the edges off the cloth to form a pouch, then twist the edges together. Firmly squeeze curds until all the whey stops running out form the pouch.

6) Place the taut, twisted cheese pouch between 2 large plates and weigh down the top with a heavy dutch oven pot or a pot filled with something heavy. You want to compress the cheese into a cake.

7) Let it sit at room temperature until cheese is firm and set. This will take about 30 min.

8) Remove the cloth, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

9) When ready to use in a recipe or serve for eating, cut into about 1 inch into cubes. Paneer can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, but I doubt that it will last that long!


Paneer Cake



Phở Me! Phở You!

Phở was invented almost a hundred years ago in northern Vietnam, just southeast of Hanoi. It may have some earlier origins from more rural villages, but it most assuredly gained popularity during the French colonial days.   Back then, Phở was sold at dawn and dusk by roaming street vendors, who shouldered mobile kitchens on carrying poles. From the pole hung two wooden cabinets, one housing a cauldron over a wood fire, the other storing noodles, spices, cookware, and space to prepare a bowl of Phở .

 9195328 Pho 2

There are generally two types of Phở:

Hanoi Style

  • Only uses beef bones to make the stock.
  • Stock tends to be clearer
  • Tends to have more seasonings (more star anis, cloves, soy sauce, etc)
  • More salty than Saigon style
  • Lots of cillantro and lettuce for garnish
  • Hot Chili sauce  is a preferred option
  • Some times served with a kind of fried bread stick

Saigonese Style

  • In addition to beef bones, use chicken bones and dry squid in the stock
  • Stock tends to be cloudy
  • Tends to use sugar in the stock
  • More sweet than Hanoi style
  • Lots of bean sprouts and basil
  • Hoisin sauce is a preferred option

I prefer my Phở very simple and usually with beef. I add Daikon  (Asian radish) for flavor and prefer it salty rather than sweet. I also prefer a thick rice noodle over the thin ones, which means a longer blanching time. I’ll sometimes add Sriracha if I want it hot and spicy.

Beef Pho Noodle Soup

Makes 5-6 satisfying (American-sized) bowls

For the broth:

  • 2 lbs of oxtail beef
  • 1 lb of beef brisket or some other cheap cut of beef
  • 2.5 quarts of water
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 whole star anis
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of Chinese radishes (also known as Daikon), cut into chunks
  • 2 tbls fish sauce (also known as nuoc nam)

For the soup:

  • 2 cups (10 oz) of flat rice noodles
  • 1/2 lb of beef steak very thinly sliced (also known as sukiyaki beef)
  • 2 spring onions (also known as green onions) finely sliced

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbls fish sauce
  • 1 tbl lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 red chilies, seeds removed & finely diced
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the garnish:

  • 1 cup of bean sprouts
  • 3 tlbs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp of mint, chopped
  • 4 springs of basil
  • 2 limes, cut into quarter wedges
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1) In a large stock pot, bring to boil water, oxtail and brisket. Meanwhile, dry fry ginger and onions until they are almost burnt. Afterwards, add ginger & onions to the stock along with star anis, cloves, cinnamon and radishes.

2) Partially cover stock and lower to a simmer for 1.5 hours. You’ll want to skim fat from the top frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 min, and skim the fat from the top again. Add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, more if you like it salty. Drain the stock and retain it in stock pot. Discard the other components, but keep the meat. Slice the brisket meat. Shred to oxtail meat with your fingers and discard the bones.

3) In a medium pot, blanch the rice noodles in boiling water to soften and then divide evenly among six bowls. In each bowl, put the cook beef and the raw sukiyaki beef.

4) Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together and divide into four small bowls. Set aside all garnish ingredients on a large plate.

5) When ready to serve, heat up the stock to a rapid boil. Pour heated stock over each serving of noodles and beef. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions. Diners can pick and choose which garnishes to go in their soup. If you want your beef more well done, push it to the bottom of the bowl where it will cook the rest of the way.