Eggplant Parmigiana with Beef Bolognese

This version is using the Asian eggplant variety. They are more tender and takes shorter time to cook. Assuming that you already have the sauce ready, this literally takes half an hour to prepare. In this version, I used my own beef bolognese instead of the usual marinara sauce. On the side, is pasta with kale.


  • 2 pieces  Japanese Ichiban eggplant
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese
  • Bolognese sauce
  • Pasta 
  • Kale, cut in pieces


  • Heat the water for the pasta. The kale needs 15 minutes to cook so if the pasta of your choice takes 10 minutes to cook al dente, put the kale in the boiling salted water 5 minutes earlier, then add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is cooked al dente following the box instruction. 
  • Cut the eggplant in half. Slice each piece into four without cutting though the end, opening the slices like a fan. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper. Note that it is not necessary to salt the eggplants to remove the water and some bitterness as usually done with the big Italian variety. 
  • In a pan, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil, fry the eggplant, opening the slices like a fan. Set aside.
  • Turn on the the oven to broil. Set a rack about 6 inches from the top.
  • To assemble, using a Pyrex dish or metal pan, spread about ½ cup of sauce on the bottom, arrange the eggplant pieces. Top with some sauce, slices of mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Put under the broiler for 10 minutes until the cheese melts. 

Plate with the pasta-kale and some sauce.  

Buon appetito!

Grilled Bone Marrow with Rosemary and Lemon

 This is a simple but tasty way to start a meal.

Allow 1 or 2 pieces of marrow per person. Select marrows about 3 inches long or have your butcher cut it.

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.

Cut a 4-inch foil and wrap the bottom of each marrow and stand in a baking pan.

Chop fresh rosemary.

Finely zest 2 lemons, preferably, Meyer lemons.

On top of each marrow, put a ½ tsp each rosemary and lemon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Drizzle with olive oil. 

Bake for 20 minutes.

Slice a French bagette thinly. Arrange in a baking pan and put in the oven, bottom shelf, in the last 5 minutes to crisp.

Serve with lemon wedges.

To enjoy, spoon the marrow on toast. 

Whole Wheat Pandesal

Pandesal is a Philippine bread typically made of four basic ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water. Hence, the name pan de sal or bread with salt. It’s baked like dinner rolls only topped with bread crumbs. 

A bit healthier than white flour, here’s a whole wheat version.

  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flour. This makes the whole wheat flour dough soft. 
  • 1/4 cup non-fat powdered milk
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup or 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • Bread crumbs for dusting


  • If using a bread maker to make the dough, load all the ingredients in the order listed. Set to Whole Wheat Dough setting.   
  • If kneading using a stand mixer, mix using dough hook at low speed for 5 – 7 minutes until it forms a soft ball. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let rise for 2 hours.
  • When complete, cut the dough in 16 pieces and arrange in a baking pan. Using store bought bread crumbs, sprinkle generously on top of the shaped rolls. Let rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Bake in the middle rack for 15 minutes.  If using white whole wheat flour, the color of the baked bread is golden. 

This is really good right out of the oven with butter or cheese. 


Kaffir Lime Shrimp

IMG_4782IMG_4783 IMG_4776IMG_4777
My kaffir lime tree has a story.  I ordered this plant from a Florida citrus nursery about 15 years ago while still living in a suburb of New York City. Its home was a pot that got bigger and bigger to accommodate the growing  plant. It stayed indoors except for the short Northeast summers. We retired and moved to Florida in 2012, this kafir plant came with us. It is now permanently planted in the garden. My kaffir lime tree has come home.

For years, this plant has provided our kitchen with the leaves for flavoring some of the Asian dishes we enjoy. I just love the fresh smell of kaffir lime.


  • 1 lb shrimps, head-on
  • 1 lb Asian long beans, cut about 2-3 inches long, or substitute the regular green beans.
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 5 pieces kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 T   Fish sauce, add more to suit your salty palate. Substitute salt if preferred.
  • ¼ C white vinegar
  • 1 T oil


  1. Using a kitchen shear, cut the shrimp’s whiskers.
  2. Heat a pan. Add oil. Sauté garlic until light brown. Add the sliced onions and Kaffir lime chiffonade. Cook   until the onions  become translucent.
  3. Add the beans. Pour the vinegar. Stir, cover the pan and cook for  2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimps, fish sauce and coconut milk.
  5. Make sure the shrimps are covered with coconut milk. Cook until most of the coconut milk is absorbed or oil is rendered.  This may take about 10 minutes. Check occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.

Sumang Cassava (Cassava Steamed in Banana Leaves)

The beautiful banana leaves in the garden made my husband think of eating ‘suman’. Suman is a Filipino dish, usually sweet, made of rice or cassava wrapped in banana leaves and cooked by steaming.
When I make this type of Philippine sweet, I always go back to the basic recipe in the old, ripped, yellowing pages of a manual I saved decades ago.
Fresh cassava root is widely available now in supermarkets or Asian provision stores if you live in the West, East and South coasts of the Unites States. Frozen cassava can be substituted.
As with the cassava, the coconut and banana leaves are also available fresh or frozen.
To prepare the banana leaves, cut about 12 – 6 inch pieces. Then pass each pieces over a hot stove to wilt the leaves. This will prevent from ripping when wrapping.
3 cups grated cassava, fresh or frozen
1 cup grated coconut, fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
1 cup jackfruit, cut in pieces. I added this for flavor and aroma.
This recipe will make 12 pieces of suman.

To grate the fresh cassava, I use a food processor. A manual grater can also be used.
Measure all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until thoroughly mixed.
Alternately, just mix everything by hand.
To wrap, put 3 tablespoons of the mixture on one side and roll. Tuck the ends under. Set aside while making a second piece. Using a kitchen twine, tie the two pieces together on both ends with the folds facing each other.
What I like to do when I make suman is use a smaller pieces of banana leaf and position the layers with the grains in opposite directions.
Using a steamer, cook for 30 minutes. Make sure that there is enough water on the bottom pan at all times.
Unwrap, enjoy while warm!

(The rest can be stored in the refrigerator up to a week or freezer bags in the freezer for a month. To enjoy, thaw and microwave for a minute.)





Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Homegrown anything is just amazing! We recently harvested these beautiful bananas from our garden. How cool is that.




Banana bread is just one way we enjoyed this bounty. I adapted this recipe from King Arthur’s Flour.  Double the recipe to make two flavors from the same batter.


  • 2 cups ripe bananas, about 4 medium size
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾  cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½  cup chopped walnuts  or ½  cup chocolate chips

Cinnamon Topping:

  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • ½ cup walnuts

Chocolate Espresso Topping. Make sure to use a good instant espresso coffee because this tastes absolutely delicious.

  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 T espresso coffee
  • ½ cup chocolate chips


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the loaf pan.
  • Put bananas, oil, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla in a food processor with plastic blade, pulse until combined. Or using a large bowl, mash the bananas and mix the above ingredient stirring to combine.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients and continue mixing/pulsing  until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour half of the batter in a separate bowl. Mix nuts on one and chocolate on the other.
  • Pour the batter into the pan.
  • On one pan, spread the walnut on top, then spread the mixed brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • On the other pan, spread the chocolate chips on top and then with the mixed brown sugar and espresso coffee.



  • Bake for 60 minutes.  Test with a cake tester. Bake an additional 10 minutes if not done.
  • Remove from the oven, cool in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer to a rack to completely cool.

With walnut and cinnamon brown sugar topping.









With chocolate chips and espresso brown sugar topping.


Slice and enjoy! Just another way to spell H-O-M-E!




After months of waiting, our banana fruits finally showed sign of yellowing. Time to take it down. That’s Rey, my husband,  as he tried to cut the banana with his  Philippine made machete which he brought to the United States 30 years ago when it was still allowed on a luggage in the plane.  And we all know times have changed.


Banana Chips

We are so excited as this is the first  home-grown bananas we harvested from our little garden. The banana bunch was so heavy that when it fell to the ground, several green and very firm bananas separated from the bunch.  So I decided to make some banana chips. Using a Japanese mandolin,  slice the bananas lengthwise. Wipe each slice dry with a paper towel.  In a frying pan, add about ½ inch of cooking oil. I use peanut oil. Fry each side for, oh maybe 3 minutes. Drain in paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt.  I tell you, they are so much better than those store-bought banana chips. This is organic too!

News splash! The bananas are yellowing fast before our eyes!  And this is before I even had a chance to post what is originally all about making banana chips.  Now this post will simply be called bananas.

Just this morning I decided to make and freeze bananas in egg roll skins. We call this turon. Basically we wrap a slice of banana with some brown sugar and jackfruit (which is optional) in egg roll skins.  I usually freeze them for later use. These are then fried and eaten as snacks or dessert.



All natural banana ice cream! What can be better than this. Blend frozen banana in Vitamix and presto, instant banana ice cream!IMG_2017


I am sure,  in the coming days I will be forced to come up with more things to save our precious harvest from rotting and going to waste heaven!


Last Friday was my turn to host the neighbors’ monthly get-together.  Inspired by the Chinese New Year celebrated this year on January 31, I decided to make it a dim-sum night.  These are the items I prepared.

Beef Sio-mai on spinach wrap

Beef Siomai on spinach wrap


  • ½ lb ground sirloin, I purchased the pack with the lowest fat content
  • ¼ cup chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 t sesame seed oil
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 1 t sugar
  • ¼ cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 25 pieces spinach wonton wrapper.  The package suggests to use this type of wrapper to make vegetable dumplings, but I thought it would add some color and I decided to use green peas to complement the  spinach wrap.

Mix all the ingredients and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai


  • ½ cup boneless chicken breast, chopped
  • ¼ c chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ c Chinese black mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame seed oil
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 15 pieces shrimps, shell and slice in the middle to remove the black vein
  • 25 Siomai wrapper

Mix all the ingredients, except the shrimps and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Wrap the siomai using 1 T of chicken top with half the shrimp. Make a circle using the index finger and the thumb. Put the siomai on the hole and lightly grab the ends to make the siomai pockets.

Chicken Siopao

Chicken Siopao

I have posted the recipe for Chicken Siopao. For this occasion, I just made them smaller, about 2 inches diameter.

Turkey Dumpling

Dumpling with Turkey

This is actually called Peking Kuo-Tieh Dumplings.

Dough Skin:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cup boiling water
  • 5 T cold water

Sift flour in a bowl, mix in the boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, then add the cold water. Transfer into a mixer or knead manually until it forms a soft ball.


  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • 1 T chopped  fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 1 T rice wine

Cut the dough into round the size of a pecan nut. Using a rolling-pin, flatten each and put 1 T of filling.  Make pleats on one side of the round and pinch on the other side to form the dumpling. This process really takes time but it is worth it.

Boil water in a pot. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water few pieces at a time. The dumpling will first sink into the bottom of the pan and then rise to the top when cooked. Scoop out each floating dumpling and set aside. Spray some oil to prevent from sticking to each other. Store in the refrigerator. This can be done the day before.

On the day of the party, fry the dumplings in a hot pan with little oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan. This takes about 3 minutes on each side.



Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor

Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor


  • 2  lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs, If you buy the ones with bones, simply cut around the bones. Cut in bite-size squares.

Marinade overnight in:

  • ¼ c vinegar
  • 1 whole clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric, finely chopped or 2  t turmeric powder if fresh is not available
  • ½ cup chopped lemongrass
  • 2 T salt

On the day of the party, put 3 or 4 pieces in small bamboo skewers.  With little oil to prevent sticking, cook the sticks in a pan for 5 minutes each side. Start with a really hot pan.

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing


  • 1 lb egg noodles. udon noodles will work too
  • 4 pieces scallions, the white part only, slice lengthwise
  • 3 pieces of kirby cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers, or equivalent measure of English cucumbers
  • 1 sweet red pepper, slice into strips
  • 1 cup carrots, cut in sticks
  • Dressing: 2 t sesame  oil; 1 T peanut oil, 1 T peanut butter, 2 T rice vinegar, 1 T miso, pepper to taste .

Boil water in a pot and cook the noodles according to package directions.  Rinse and drain when done.

Make the dressing and toss everything. Serve immediately or keep cool in the refrigerator.

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling


  • 1 can sweet red beans. I cooked mine using dried azuki beans, sweetened with little sugar
  • 1 cup  Philippine sweet coconut or macapuno, optional

Use the same dough as for siopao. Put 1 T filling inside and steam for 10 minutes.

Egg Custard Tart

Egg Custard Tart


  • 1 ½ c hot water
  • ½ c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t white vinegar
  • Dissolve sugar in hot water. Allow to cool and add the remaining ingredients. Strain and set aside.


  •  1 ½ c all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 stick, plus 2 T cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Combine flour and sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Combine the egg and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Transfer into a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  • Divide the dough into 18 or 20 pieces and press into 2 ½: tart pans. Since I don’t own the small  tart pans, I used the mini muffin pan.
  • Stir the custard mixture and pour into each tart. Bake in pre-heated 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Can be served hot or cold.

I offered different sauces to go with the dim-sums.

  • Soy-Vinegar.  ¼ cup soy sauce,  3 T rice vinegar, ½ t black pepper, finely sliced 1 scallion. Mix together. This is good for the dumplings. For variation, instead of scallions use, 1 T finely diced fresh ginger.
  • Hoisin-Sesame:  3 T hoisin sauce, 1 t sesame oil. Mix. This is good on Chicken Siopao.
  • Worcestershire: Also good used in the chicken siopao.

For drinks I served lychee juice,  jasmine tea and chilled sake.

Making each dumpling requires patience.  It’s been my habit to turn the TV on while I work in the kitchen. This time I tuned in to Netflix for my favorite old movies. I figured since I already saw the movies several times,  there is no need to pay attention much to the dialogues while making the dumplings.

Dim-sum night was a hit. My friend Isabel said to me, ‘this is over the top, you know I can’t match this’,  while her Italian husband said, ‘I am serving pizza on my turn!’.

To that I responded, ‘I would like that since I have been saying that the day I meet a pizza I like, is the day I become a true Floridian’.

Because right now, when it comes to food,  my heart still belongs to New York!

By the way, I completed the preparation of these good morsels while two of my favorite old movies played on the TV: School Ties and Last Holiday.  It provides me with the proper rhythm. Try it, it’s fun.

Laing (Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk)


Freshly harvested taro corm and leaves

I decided my taro plant is ripe for harvesting.  The plant was from a corm I obtained from an Asian store.  This member of the potato family is called many names in different places.  The most famous variety is the Hawaiian taro. In the Philippines, it is known as gabi. In the Caribbean countries, it is called malanga. And yet in other places like Japan and India, it is known as eddoe.

I know that in the Philippines, the leaves and stalks are eaten as well and in Hawaiian cooking, meat or fish are wrapped and cooked in taro leaves.  I have never learned to cook the  gabi leaves and so I posted to my Facebook friends and asked for suggestions as to what to do with the leaves. Apparently, there are two schools of thought on the matter: one is to cook the leaves and stalks when fresh and the other, is to dry them first.  Only one friend, who hails from the Bicol region which I believe is the home of this dish gave a detailed instructions on how to prepare  the fresh leaves.  A good number of friends, said that the leaves should be dried.

To seize the opportunity, I decided to try to cook them fresh first.  I’ll try the dried ones, the next harvest time.

My ingredients:

  • 10 stalks of gabi or taro
  • 2 cans of coconut milk. But since I was out of canned coconut milk, I extracted the cream from freshly grated coconut that I keep in the freezer.  I extracted a total of 2 cups of liquid.
  • 1 T sliced  garlic
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 T thin strips of fresh ginger. My ginger also came from my garden.
  • fresh hot peppers.
  • 3 T fish sauce.  I decided to make it a vegetarian dish so that it can be eaten as a side dish to fish or meat.  Everyone suggested to sauté with either smoked fish or pork.
  • 1 t oil


  • Peel the stalks and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Cut the leaves in small pieces, about 1/2 inch squares
  • Heat the oil in a pan, stir fry the garlic, ginger and onions for about 3  minutes enough to release the aroma of the garlic and ginger.
  • Add the taro leaves and stalks, coconut milk and fish sauce. Cover and bring to boil.
  • Lower the heat. Simmer  to slowly cook the leaves. Check and stir once in a while to make sure that the bottom is not burning.
  • Cook until the coconut oil is rendered. This takes a good hour.
  • Add the hot pepper any time  you desire to control the spiciness.

The resulting dish resembles creamed spinach. The taste,  non of that bite on the throat that everyone says would result when the leaves are not dried first.  This dish was never prepared in our home in the Philippines. I probably ate this no more than 3 times in my entire life. So I can’t be an expert on this dish.

But my laing is tasty. We just had it for lunch as a side to grilled fish.

Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk

Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk

Lavender Flan


A few years ago while still attending New York University, my daughter decided to walk to DUMBO from her dorm to go to Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop . (DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is a neighborhood in the New York City, New York, borough of Brooklyn.)  Fortunately for me the man himself was at the store. And so she talked to him and mentioned that I am big fan of him. She got his book where he signed,  ‘ To Evelyn , eat dessert first’.  Jacques Torres.

It’s funny because that’s what I always wanted to do on every meal. And that’s exactly what you would want to do with this Lavender Flan!

I decided to prepare a lavender dinner for my husband’s youngest sister,  Mel who visited us recently from Las Vegas with her life long friend  and our good friend too, Florence from San Diego. Actually both of them as young college students were in a group who sang at our wedding 35 years ago.

The menu.
Appetizer.  Goat cheese rolled in lavender and crushed walnuts drizzled with raw honey. Served with crackers.
Salad of romaine lettuce, originally planned with lavender vinaigrette but decided that it might overwhelm them and ruin their taste for the main dish so I just decided to use a simple white balsamic with a rather good extra virgin olive oil.
Main dish. Broiled Short lamb chops season with Herbes de Provence with a side of sautéed garden fresh yard long beans and okra with slivers of almonds. I purchased this really good rosemary olive bread and everyone enjoyed dipping in olive oil and my balsamic reduction. I usually refer to this as liquid calories.

Finale. Lavender Flan. I adapted the recipe from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America.  But instead of butter,  I decided to use a little caramelized sugar, just like the way we do with the Philippine flan we call, leche flan.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 t dried lavender which I decided to grind instead of chopped as instructed.
  • 3 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • strawberry or mint to garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 325˚.
  • In a small saucepan, caramelized 1/4 cup of sugar. Put 1 tsp of the caramelized sugar on the bottom of 6 4-oz ramekins.
  • Bring a kettle of water to boil.
  • In another pan, mix the milk, sugar and lavender. Bring to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and steep for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a bowl beat the eggs and yolks. When the milk mixture has completely cooled, add it to the eggs and beat lightly . Do not over beat.
  • Using a very fine-mesh sieve, strain the mixture into a clean container.
  • Carefully ladle into the 6 ramekins, about three-fourths full.
  • In a deep baking pan lined with kitchen towel, arrange the ramekins, add boiling water to come halfway of the ramekins.
  • Bake until the edges have set, the center slightly jiggle, about 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove the ramekins from the water bath. Let them cool for 30 minutes.
  • Wrap each ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 3 days before serving.
  • To unmold, run a sharp knife around the edges of each cup. Turn the flan out onto individual dessert plates.
  • Garnish.