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!




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.

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.


Baked Brie In Brioche


I just love Baked Brie and I make it every chance I have, which is mostly when we have company. Instead of  the traditional puff pastry, this time I used a brioche dough.  I also used every kind of dried fruits available in the  pantry. By the reaction of our guests, I’d say this is a hit.

I followed Julia Child’s recipe from a book Baking With Julia, Brie in Brioche. The recipe used baked onions with the Brie. Instead of onions I substituted my favorite nuts and dried fruit filling.

The Brioche

  • 1 T   active dry yeast. I used SAF instant yeast as suggested. I use the instant yeast in all my baking. I love it that  I can skip the proofing process.
  • 3 T non-fat dry milk
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 3  1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 c water
  • for the egg wash, use 1 large eqq
  • 1 round  wheel ripe Brie

The Nuts and Dried Fruits: Mix all and  ensure  each bit of nuts and fruits are well coated with maple syrup.

  • 1 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c chopped dates
  • 1/2 c chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 c maple syrup

Chilling the Dough

  • Mix and knead the dough and let rise for 1 hour. Put in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.
  • The recipe suggested to start the brioche at least 24 hours or up to 36 hours ahead. Well, I didn’t have the luxury of time as I just decided to make this last night.  I only chilled for a total of 12 hours.
  • Take the dough from the refrigerator at least 4 hours before you want to serve it. The resulting dough felt buttery so I also skipped buttering the  spring form pan.

Assembling the Pastry

  • Turn the cold brioche dough on to a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll into a cylinder and cut into 3 parts .
  • Roll a piece into a 12-inch diameter
  • Fit the dough into the bottom of the pan covering the sides about 1 inch around
  • Put the Brie in the middle and pour the nut mixture on top and sides of the cheese. Leave enough room around for the top and bottom dough to connect
  • Roll the second dough  12-inch diameter and cover the cheese. Pinch around to connect to the bottom dough
  • Roll the remaining dough into 30 by 3 inches rectangular strip. Make 2 cuts along the length trying not to separate the top end.
  • Braid the dough.
  • Put the braid around the  pan.
  • Let it rise at room temperature for  1 hour

Baking the Brioche

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  • Bake the brioche for  15 minutes, then lower the temperature to  375F and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Tent it with a foil to prevent it from browning too fast.
  • Cool for 30 minutes before serving.




The braids didn’t come out as good as it should be but the brioche itself came out good despite the short chilling period. I will definitely try the 24-hour chilling according to the recipe and  see if it does make a big difference.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my guests did on our 4th of July BBQ held on the 3rd!


Food of the Gods

Food of the Gods

I would like to know why this is called Food of the Gods and more so, how it became to be popularly known as Filipino Food of the Gods. First of all,  the main ingredient is dates. Dates are fruits of a variety of palm called date palm,  is not grown in the Philippines.  I have looked up some recipes and they mostly use walnuts and pecans, both of which are not grown in the Philippines, they are imported into the country and the cost is probably prohibitive to most Filipinos.

It so happened that we just came back this week from an 18-day visit to Manila. My younger sister whose husband works in Saudi Arabia happened to be visiting Manila as well. I requested her to bring some dates for me. So it is just right that I  try to make this sweet.

Here’s my own version.

  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter. The  only liquid used on this dish is butter, I suggest to use a good brand.
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped preserved dates
  • 1 1/2  cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup  cashew nuts. We brought cashew nuts from Coron, Palawan,  so it is just but fitting to use this.
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 T bourbon vanilla. This is my homemade version where I have been soaking vanilla beans in a bottle of bourbon. Or use 1 T  store-bought vanilla.


  • Set the conventional oven at 350 degrees or convection oven to 325 degrees.
  • Melt the 3 sticks of butter in the microwave using microwaveable bowl about 2 minutes. Cool.
  • Using the butter wrapper, grease a square glass pan. I used a shallow square Corning dish.
  • Chop the walnuts, cashews and dates.  Put the dates-nuts mixture in a bowl, add 1/2 cup of flour  and mix using hands making sure the dates are not sticking together.
  • In a stand mixer, beat the eggs until foamy.
  • Alternate the addition of 1/3 of the cooled butter,  1/3 of  flour and 1/3 of sugar. Continue beating after each addition. Repeat 2 times.
  • Add the vanilla
  • Using the lowest mixer setting, fold the dates-nuts mixture into the batter.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.
  • Let it cool before  attempting to cut.  This is quite rich so cut in small pieces.

Share them with your friends or neighbors as I did and store the rest in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.

Bermuda Rum Cake

Rum Cake
We welcome the year 2013 with a cake to toast and eat!

It was a last-minute plan to bake rum cakes. I needed a dessert to bring to a neighbor’s dinner and another one to give as a present to a niece’s New Year countdown party.   I looked at my cookbooks and searched the Web for  a recipe calling for ingredients available in my pantry. There are lots of posts calling for yellow cake mix, I don’t keep cake mixes but I always have different kinds of flour. I ended up using a basic pound cake recipe with a little sugar tweaking. I used the dark Goslings Black Seal Rum we purchased when we cruised to Bermuda.  I thought of making the Bermuda Rum  Swizzle Cake but of course, I don’t have all the ingredients required.

So here  is the list of the ingredients for my rum cake.

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, soak in 1/4 cup of rum
  • 3 cups self-rising flour.
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar. Most of the recipes I found call for 2 cups.
  • 1 tsp baking powder. If using all-purpose flour, add 2 tsp of baking powder.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks of butter, room temperature or defrost in microwave for 2 minutes.
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream plus 1/4 cup water. The recipe usually calls for 1/2 cup milk but there is left over heavy cream in the refrigerator that I do not want to waste.
  • 1/2 cup rum


  • Pre-heat the oven to  325 degrees.
  • Oil and flour a bundt pan. Spread the nuts on the bottom.
  • Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • Beat the butter until creamy,
  • Add the eggs, milk and rum and continue beating until smooth.
  • Put the mixer on slow. Add the dry ingredients slowly and mix until the batter is smooth.
  • Pour into the pan.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or test with a cake tester.

Fifteen minutes before the cake is done, make the glaze.

Heat until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. The glaze usually has butter but I chose to skip the butter. I think 1 cup of butter on the cake is more than enough to make it moist.

  • 3/4  cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup of rum. Mix.

As soon as the cake is done, no need to cool:

  • Loosen the sides of the cake and invert the hot cake pan into a serving plate carefully.
  • Using a fork, carefully prick all around the cake.
  • Spoon the rum syrup on top and sides of the warm cake. Brush the cake with the syrup dripping on the bottom of the plate.

I think that the warm cake absorbs the warm syrup evenly. As the cake cools, the syrup forms a thin layer of dry glaze on top which firms the cake making it easy to pack.

Decorate with your favorite glazed fruits like maraschino cherries or nuts.

What I used is walnuts roasted and glazed with Rose Uozo. I accidentally broke the bottle of my rose uozo and of course, I have to find a use for it. This is the perfect time. It gave the nuts a nice pink haze with sweet floral taste.

Happy New Year!

Rum Cake