Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Treat: Polvoron

Polvoron, a soft and powdery dessert, is traditional candy from the Philippines. It's adapted from the Spanish shortbread cookie made with flour, lard or vegetable shortening, powdered sugar and cinnamon. The Philippine version is made with a combination of toasted flour, powdered milk, sugar, and melted butter. The mixture is then molded into oval or round shapes with a polvorera, a special mold or press which allows the formed sweets to be discharged easily without crumbling. Once molded, polvoron is wrapped in cellophane or parchment paper.
Did you know: Polvo is Spanish for "powder".
Polvoron is one of my favorite desserts growing up and I nostalgically remember helping my mom mold and wrap her homemade renditions. If you're new to the Philippine polvoron, it's sweet and milky and when you bite into it, the powdery dessert slowly melts into a thick pool of creamy goodness in your mouth.

You can find polvoron at Filipino markets and bakeries but I've recently learned it's super easy and cheap to make at home. There are only four main ingredients plus no baking involved! A huge time saver especially during the busy holiday season. So add polvoron to your holiday dessert tray, your family and friends who will sure to love this tasty dessert. Masarup!
Did you know: Traditionally polvoron is milk flavoured but sometimes nuts like cashews or peanuts and pinipig, toasted and flattened glutinous rice, are added.
- 1 cup plain all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar

- ½ cup powdered milk
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1. In a large skillet over low to medium heat, toast the flour until light
brown. Remove from heat and add the sugar and powdered milk. Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly in skillet.

2. Transfer flour mixture to a plate and compact mixture with polvorera or a polvoron press. Place moulded polvoron onto a flat baking tray/cookie sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. To wrap, cut tissue or soft parchment paper into 5" x 5" squares. Place polvoron piece onto the middle of the paper and fold over top and bottom sides, tuck in edges into the middle and twist.
Try this: Make chocolate polvoron by adding 2 tablespoons of your favorite hot chocolate milk powder into the mix.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweet Bulgur Wheat Salad

Bulgur, a traditional ingredient found in Middle Eastern or Greek cuisine, is a quick-cooking form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried and/or ground into particles. It's commonly used in tabbouleh, a traditional Lebanese salad, made of bulgur, chopped parsley, mint, tomato and spring onion then seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil.

In this version, there's a splash of sweetness
from the sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers. Try this recipe as a healthy lunch or hardy side dish for dinner.
Did you know: Often confused for cracked wheat, bulgur is ready to eat with minimal cooking and after soaking in water or broth, can be mixed with other ingredients without further cooking.
- 1 cup bulgur
- 1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes soaked in olive oil, chopped (reserve 2 tbsp oil from sun-dried tomatoes)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 2 cups baby spinach

  1. In a small saucepan heat 1/2 cup oil over medium-high. Working in batches fry chickpeas until golden brown and lightly crispy, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and season immediately with salt.
  2. Meanwhile, soak bulgur in 2 cups boiling water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh sieve to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Transfer to a bowl; stir in roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach, oil from sun-dried tomatoes and lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy, darlings!!
Did you know: Due to its high nutritional value, bulgur makes a good substitute for rice!
  • 1 cup of bulgur contains 25.6 g dietary fiber, 17.21 g protein and 574 mg potassium.
  • 1 cup of rice contains 0.6 g dietary fiber, 4.2 g protein and 55 mg potassium.
Recipe adapted by Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

Monday, November 8, 2010

PanDa Fresh Bakery

Candice's Cusina visited PanDa Fresh Bakery, a cute yellow school bus converted into a mobile bakery, serving stuffed, freshly-baked croissants. Owned and operated by the Ip brothers, this little slice of golden baked heaven sits on the heart of Yaletown, the east corner of David Lam Park.

When we asked how they came up with their innovative food vending concept, Michael Ip said they were influenced when his brother, Derek, visited Japan and was inspired by the Japanese' creative approach to food.
Derek found a shop in Japan that served soft serve ice-cream in waffle cones with a freshly baked croissant tucked inside the cone. This sparked their much loved green tea ice-cream croissant.

There are many stuffed croissants to satisfy your food cravings from recognizable comfort foods like turkey dinner, ham and cheese, PB&J, and mac and cheese.

Michael suggested that I try his favorite, the cheesecake croissant, stuffed with a crispy lady finger and a slice of vanilla cheesecake. It was delicious! The croissant was warm and buttery while the cheesecake was delicate and creamy. An easy favorite and would highly recommend that you visit PanDa to try it for yourself!

Panda Fresh Bakery
South East corner of Drake Street and Pacific Blvd.

Open 11am-6pm, everyday
Follow PanDa at

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cucina Manila!

I visited Surrey's Cucina Manila last week and enjoyed a huge almusal (breakfast in Filipino) consisting of two meat dishes with rice, at 10:30am! Traditional almusal features:
  • Sinangag (fried rice with salt and garlic)
  • Egg (fried or scrambled)
  • Desired meat: pork tocino (sweet cured pork), longganisa (sausage), sauteed corned beef, fried spam (yikes!), well the list goes on.
A light almusal traditionally consists of homemade hot chocolate with toasted ensaymada (cheese-topped pastry) or pan de sal (small Filipino bread roll) with butter.

It was a rainy morning so I opted for my favorite childhood comfort foods, kare kare (ox tail stew in peanut-based sauce) and caldereta (spicy beef stew) on white rice. These dishes are usually for a heavier lunch or dinner but I was treating myself and there are no time restrictions when eating Filipino food! The moment I sat down and started drizzling the sauces on the rice, the fragrant aromas reminded me of my mom's home cooking and immediately started digging in.
Did you know: Caldereta is derived from the Spanish word caldero (cooking pot).
I enjoyed the caldereta, which in my opinion, the boeuf bourguignon of Philippine cuisine. It’s made from simple ingredients, but the way they come together elevates simple beef and vegetables to tasty new heights!

One of my favorite Filipino blogs is Burnt Lumpia by Marvin where he features a recipe for spicy beef caldereta (scroll down half way down the page). In this version he adds chicken livers but if you're not a fan of livers, like I'm not, feel free to use a more subtle liver pâté that will give the added richness in the stew.

Stay tuned for my mom's recipe for kare kare in an upcoming blog post. So, what's your favorite comfort food?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Simple Grilled Asian Salmon

It's been proclaimed the biggest Sockeye salmon run in 100 years for B.C. with salmon spawning all the way to November! So here's an Asian twist on a delicious and easy meal that can be enjoyed all year round.
Did you know: The name sockeye comes from an attempt to translate the word suk-kegh from B.C.'s native Coast Salish language. Suk-kegh means red fish.
- 1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)


- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons good
olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
-1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds (option garnish)
- 1/4 cup of chopped green onions (optional garnish)
Did you know: Ginger is an amazing power food that helps to boost our immune system. Since we're nearing the cold and flu season, ginger root tea (mix 1 tsp fresh ginger root in hot water) is a good natural way to combat chills and fever as well as ease soar throats.
1. Lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces.
Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

2. Place the salmon skin side down on the BBQ or a greased cast iron grill pan; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.

3. Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin then garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Enjoy over rice or a lightly tossed olive oil and vinegar green salad!

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tibetan Beef Momo

Momo, a tasty Tibetan delicacy, usually enjoyed home cooked or as street food in regions like West Bengal (predominantly Darjeeling), Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya. Typically, these dumplings are made in the round shapes, patterned neatly into folds, then steamed to perfection.

I was invited to my good friend, Shenpenn's Thanksgiving dinner where I was lucky to have tasted
authentic momos handmade by his Mom, Tenzin. Her momos are delicate, juicy, rotund beef dumplings best eaten steaming hot and dipped in chili sauce. Try this scrumptious finger food at your next cocktail party!

Did you know: Momos originated as hardy food fare consumed after a long day of meditation or long hikes up steep mountains.

- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cups water

1. Mix the flour and water very well by hand and keep adding water until you make a smooth ball of dough.

2. Knead the dough very well until the dough is flexible. You can keep your dough in the pot with the lid on while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or on the counter with a damp kitchen cloth. This will prevent your dough from drying out and making it hard to work with

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp grated ginger
1-2 tbsp water
salt to taste

1. Mix all your filling ingredients together.
When your dough and filling are both ready, it is time for the best part, making those cute round dumpling shapes!

2. Place the dough on a chopping board and use a rolling pin to roll it out thinly. After you have rolled out the dough, you will need to cut it into little circles for each momo. The easiest way to do this is turn a small cup or glass upside down to cut out circles about the size of the palm of your hand. This way, each one will be the same size and shape.

Try this: You can also make the dough circles traditionally by pinching off a small ball of dough and rolling each ball in your palms until you have a smooth ball of dough. Then, use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough into a circle, making the edges thinner than in center. The thicker center allows the momo dough to hold more filling!
3. Place one circle of dough in your left hand, and add a tablespoonful of filling in the middle of the dough. With your right hand, begin to pinch the edge of the dough together. You don't need to pinch much dough in the first pinch -- just enough to make a small fold between your thumb and forefinger.

4. Continue pinching around the circle little by little, keeping your thumb in place, and continuing along the edge of the circle with your forefinger, grabbing the next little piece of dough, and folding and pinching it down into the original fold/pinch being held by your thumb. Basically you will be pinching the whole edge of the circle into one spot.

5. Continue folding and pinching all around the edge of the circle until you come back around to where you started and then close the hole with a final pinch. Make sure you close the hole on top of the momo, so you don't lose the juicy part of the momo!

Did you know: The little crowns on the momos help hold the filling inside the dough while giving the dumplings they're unique shape.

6. Repeat until you have used up all your filling and dough.

7. Boil water in a large steamer. (Tibetans often use a double-decker steamer, to make many momos at one time.)

8. Oil the steamer surface lightly with non-stick spray before putting your momos in, so they won't stick to the surface. Then place as many as you can without touching each other. Add the momo's after the water is already boiling.

9. Steam your momos for 15-2o minutes. Serve them pipping hot, with soy sauce or hot chili sauce of your choice. Enjoy!!

Try this: The filling in momos can be made with a variety of ingredients but it is traditionally made with yak, Tibetan wild ox. You can try this same recipe with pork, shrimp or vegetarian (substitute meat with tofu and mushrooms).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spice Curried Wontons

This fusion recipe of Indian flavours delicately wrapped in Chinese wonton cups, make the cutest little appetizers. They're easy and take no time make but will surely be an instant hit with your family and friends at your next house party.

The background to the recipe's key spice, curry powder, was developed by British manufactu
rers in an attempt to provide a ready-made spice mixture similar to the kari podi (podi means “powder”) that British colonists became accustomed to in southern India. Essential to the fiery cooking of southern India, kari podi is the combination of spices that evolved into British-style curry powder.

The other star ingredient, wontons, are Chinese dumplings made
from wheat flour and eggs. There are many variations of wontons but the most common type of wonton, known to North Americans, is the Cantonese version made with a minced pork filling and served boiled in soups. So try making these tasty bite-sized treats, they will be your new go-to "appie" for many parties to come!

Did you know: Cantonese wontons were introduced to Hong Kong after World War II as street food and later to indoor eateries.
- 24 wonton wrappers (Preferred brand: Double Happiness Foods Wonton Wrappers)
- canola oil
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup mango chutney (or any chutney of choice)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped green onions or cilantro (optional)
Did you know: Curry is actually a mix of spices and commonly includes ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, dry mustard, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and red chili peppers.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. To make the wonton cups, press wonton wrappers into mini muffin cups, pressing any folds firmly to the sides. Bake for 5-8 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

3. For the filling, heat a teaspoon of canola oil in a frying pan and saute the onions for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and ginger, cool for another minute. Add the chicken, curry, coconut milk , chutney, lime juice, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring often, until filling is bubbly and thickened. Cool slightly or chill before spooning into wonton cups and sprinkle with chopped green onion or cilantro. Now, put on your party dress and serve to hungry guests!!
Try this: For a lighter version, use light coconut milk or 2% evaporated milk.
Recipe adapted by Julie Van Rosendaal's Grazing

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Shumai (Pork Dumplings)
The origins of Shumai, a traditional Chinese pork dumpling, date back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Its filling is typically made with seasoned ground pork, chopped shrimp and Shiitake mushrooms then wrapped with thin wonton wrappers to be either steamed or fried. Shumai is one of the most popular dishes served during Dim Sum, a Cantonese term meaning dishes of small individual portions of food, usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate.

A huge lover of all things Dim Sum, I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to make these luscious dumplings from my boyfriend's father. He typically comes up with his recipes, like this version of Shumai, from the availability of ingredients from his fridge and pantry. A lesson on how to be resourceful and be confident to try new ingredients in familiar dishes to shake things up! A unique ingredient in this recipe is Chinese sausage, also known as Lap Chong.
Did you know: The Dim Sum cuisine originated with Cantonese farmers who would take a midday break after an exhausting morning tilling the fields to enjoy afternoon tea. Soon entrepreneurial tea-house owners began serving farmers small snacks with their tea. These "small snacks" would eventually evolve into the culinary art of Dim Sum!
- 1 lb ground lean pork
- 1 cup Chinese sausage (Lap Chong), finely chopped
- 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup Shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup onion, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- ground pepper
- wonton wrappers
Delicious Tip: Wonton wrappers dry out easily so always cover both unused and completed Shumai under a damp dish cloth.

1. Combine the pork, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, green onion, onion, garlic, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and ground pepper, and mix well until it forms a paste.

2. Place about a tablespoon of pork filling on each wonton wrapper, and crimp up the sides to form ripples, leaving the center open. Flatten the bottom of the dumpling on the counter so that it will stand up. Then top with a whole shrimp. When all the Shimai dumplings are filled, steam in a bamboo steamer for about 5-6 minutes, until cooked. Served with soy sauce or other desired dipping sauces.
Oh so tasty!
Try this! Be creative with your dipping sauces and try these simple recipes for your next Shumai fix! Creamy mustard sauce: In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons of mustard, 1 teaspoon of water, 1/4 teaspoon of sesame sauce and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Soy-vinegar sauce: In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of minced ginger and 1/4 cup of finely chopped green onion.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicken and Yam Hand Pies

Hand Pies (meat pies or pasties)
Hand pies are a triangular shaped pastry with either a sweet or savory filling, formed by placing a dollop of filling onto a square piece of pastry then folded over and crimped shut to be either baked or deep-fried. Hand pies date back to the 19th-century England, where they were portable lunches for tin miners in Cornwall, located south-west of England . The pastry casing is known to be a convenient way to keep the filling warm and free of dirt where miners would hold the edges, eat the inside and discard the pastry when they were done.

The thought of throwing away the pastry seems nonsensical because it's part of the delicious experience! Perhaps the dough was made much tougher back then. Not in this recipe. I fell in love with it because it uses precooked filling ingredients (or left overs) and store-bought puff pastry for a q
uick and stress-free meal. The hand pies are so yummy, you can't have just one! Enjoy.

- 2 cups of leftover roasted yam or sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or 2% milk
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley
- coarse salt & ground pepper to taste
- all purpose flour for rolling
- 1 box of Tenderflake frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 cups of leftover roasted chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella, sliced into bite-size pieces
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Did you know: Hand pies are a traditional meal in commonwealth countries and each country tends to have different crusts for their hand pies. In England the crust tends to be much lighter and flakier, like a puff pastry whereas Australia and New Zealand uses margarine rather than butter, giving the pies a different flavor.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl mash sweet potatoes with a fork and add cream, coriander, cumin and Italian parsley. Stir to combine and add salt & pepper to taste.

2. On a floured work surface, roll out puff pastry into two 12 inch squares, cut and divide into 8 squares. Divide sweet potato mixture among bottom halves of squares, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top each with 1/4 cup chicken and few pieces of mozzarella the brush edges of squares with some egg. Fold top halves of squares over filling to make a triangle, then crimp edges with a fork. With a sharp knife, cut ventes in pastry and brush with remaining egg.

3. Transfer pies to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let pies cool for 10 minutes or serve at room temperature. So tasty!!!
Delicious Tip: Don't overfill hand pies, or they'll burst at the seams. Save any leftover filling for another use -- or another round of hand pies!
Recipe adapted by Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Bannock (fry bread)
Bannock made its way over to North America in the mid 1800's when large numbers of laborers came to work for the Hudson's Bay Company from Scotland. As a result, these Scottish laborers brought the traditions of making bannock with them. The fry bread is usually made of barely and oatmeal but the North American First Nations adopted bannock by preparing it with white or whole wheat flour, baking powder and water then baked or fried over fire.

Last week I visited my boyfriend, Jaeger, in the Klondike Gold Rush Capital, Dawson City. I've been missing him terribly because he has been traveling across the Yukon and B.C. for the past month. It was at Dawson City's Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre where we got to try the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Han
Nation's version of bannock. Kylie of the Han Nation, prepared us our scrumptious pan-fried raisin bannock. It had a crispy golden crust with a sweet and hardy doughnuty center. A true taste of Yukon golden heaven!
Did you know: Due to the depletion of large game because of the fur trade, First Nations people turned to food alternatives like Bannock for survival. The Hudson's Bay Company even sold flour below cost in some parts of Canada to discourage hunting. In turn, bannock became a staple food for the First Nations people.

6 cups flour (white or whole wheat or mix)
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tbsp sugar
dried fruit or fresh berries of choice (optional)

2 -3 cups water
3-4 cups vegetable oil
Did you know: Bannock became popular with trappers and voyageurs because it was a long-lasting travel food that was easily portable while they were on the trail.

1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and desired dried fruit or fresh berries then thoroughly mix the dry ingredients.

2. Start adding water a little at a time and stir to form a soft dough.

3. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy sauce pan (cast iron preferred) to 350 degr
ees F. Form soft dough into cakes approximately 3 " in diameter and 1/4" thick. Fry 3 or 4 bannock at a time for about 4 or 5 minutes per side, turning once until lightly golden brown. Serve with butter, jam and tea! Bannocklicious!
Delicious Tip: For a healthier version, bake the bannocks in a greased pan at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Pancit Canton (noodle stir fry)
Pancit, a term for "noodles" in Filipino cuisine, was introduced by the Chinese centuries ago. Filipinos have adopted and improvised the Chinese noodle recipes, and integrated them into our own cuisine using locally-available ingredients. As a result, various parts of the Philippines have created their own version of pancit, using different noodles, ingredients, toppings, and cooking methods.

There are over 25 pancit varieties! So I'm sharing my Mom's version of pancit canton, the Filipino version of chow mein. This is one of the most popular kinds of pancit and is stir-fried in a soy sauce mixture with toppings of vegetables, meats, and seafood.

Did you know: The word itself "pancit" is derived from the Hokkien word "pian i sit", meaning "something conveniently cooked fast".

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, julienned
(cut into thin strips)
1 cup snap peas, sliced on a diagonal
1/2 of a napa cabbage, shredded
2 cups of chicken broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp patis (fish sauce), or to taste
1 pkg (1 lb) pancit canton (Chinese egg noodles)


1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
1/2 lb cooked shrimp, peeled
1/2 cup small whole peas
2 boiled eggs, sliced into rounds
1/4 cup fried garlic

1/4 cup green onions, sliced
Crushed pork rinds
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Did you know: Pancit is commonly served at birthday celebrations because noodles represent long life and good health.

1. In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat and saute the garlic for a minute then add the carrots and 1 cup of the chicken broth . Cook until carrots are tender. Add snap peas and napa cabbage, cook until all veggies are tender but crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add soy sauce, patis (fish sauce) and pepper, stirring to flavour. Remove a cup of mixture for topping.

2. Add noodles and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, cook until liquid is absorbed and noodles are cooked, 10 minutes.

3. Remove from heat, pour remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth and season with black pepper and patis. Place noodles in a Pyrex dish and garnish with the cup of reserved cooked topping, shredded chicken, cooked shrimp, whole peas, sliced boiled eggs , fried garlic, green onions, pork rinds and lemon wedges. Dig in!!

Did you know: Patis is a pungent-tasting flavoring sauce and condiment made from salted, fermented fish. The history of patis came from early Chinese fishermen who would layer their catch of small fish in barrels with salt for preservation, which in turn produced a protein-rich sauce, patis!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chocolate Pavlova

Chocolate Pavlova (meringue-based dessert)
This dessert was created by a Kiwi chef who named it after Russian ballet dancer, Ánna Pávlova, during her world tour visit to New Zealand in 1926. Commonly known as the "pav", it is a meringue-based cake with a crispy crust and marsh-mellowly soft inner centre.

Ever since I've started making this chocolate variation over six years ago, it has consistently been a crowd pleaser and have to give credit to Nigella Lawson for this gorgeous creation.
Fabulous in both presentation and taste, it is a lovely summer dessert because you can dress it up in seasonal berries and fruits, enjoy!
Did you know: Pavlova and meringue are very similar in the ingredients and how it is baked but the main difference between Pavlova and meringue is the internal consistency. Pavlova's centre has a softer marshmellow texture, yummy!

Pavlova base

6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups mixed fruit (I love using berries for this dessert!)
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, grated
Did you know: The world's largest Pavlova was baked in 2005 by students of New Zealand's Eastern Institute of Technology. The giant "Pavkong" stretched 210 feet and used 5,000 egg whites, 150 kilograms of sugar and 150 litres of cream. Wow!
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

3. Mound on to the lined cookie sheet in a fat circle approximately 9" in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and cook for 1 hour. When it’s ready, the Pavlova should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the marshmallow centre beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate Pavlova cool completely.

4. When you’re ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the sugar and vanilla extract into the whipping cream then pile it on top of the Pavlova. Scatter y0ur choice of fruit over the whipping cream. Coarsely grate the chocolate over the fruit. Serve immediately and get ready to receive loads of compliments for this delectable treat!

Recipe adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gỏi Cuốn (Summer or Fresh Roll)

Summer or Fresh Roll
Vietnamese summer rolls served cold are refreshing appetizers on those hot summer days (here's hoping we get some soon!). The rolls hold fillings that typically consist of shrimp, chicken, pork, fruit, herbs and vermicelli rice noodles all tightly rolled in rice spring-roll wrappers. Paired with peanut dipping sauce, spicy Hoisin sauce or Thai sweet chili sauce (available in most grocery stores in the Asian section), these rolls are a tasty no-cook meal.
Did you know: Rice spring-roll wrappers just need to be quickly soaked in cool water to be tender and easy to work with. Over soaking makes them mushy and more likely to tear. For the best results, work with one wrapper at a time, rolling it up snugly so that the roll stays firm and tight.

Shrimp & Mint Summer Rolls

120 grams of vermicelli rice noodles
rice spring-roll wrapper
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, de-veined, cooked and halved lengthwise

1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 bunch of chives

Vegetarian Summer Rolls
120 grams of vermicelli rice noodles
rice spring-roll wrapper
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks

1 small ripe mango, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil
Delicious Tip: Make sure you have ample counter space and all your ingredients are ready and easily accessible when you start to roll. This way you can assemble your rolls quickly and enjoy them that much faster!

1. Pour boiling water over the vermicelli rice noodles and soak for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse. Divide into 8 equal portions. Fill a wide, shallow bowl with cool water. Working with one 8-inch rice spring-roll wrapper at a time, soak until pliable (20 seconds). Transfer to a smooth and flat surface.

2. Place a layer of desired fillings (suggested: Shrimp & Mint or Vegetarian Summer Rolls) on bottom third of wrapper. Top with a portion of noodles and another layer of fillings.

3. Fold bottom of wrapper tightly over fillings.

4. Roll over once, tuck in sides, and finish rolling. Transfer roll to a plate and cover with a slightly damp towel. Repeat to make 8 summer rolls. Serve immediately with dipping sauces (suggested: Peanut or Spicy Hoisin Sauces), or refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Peanut Dipping Sauce (Makes 1 1/4 cups)
In a medium cup, whisk together 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter and 1/2 cup warm water until smooth. Whisk in 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 4 teaspoons sugar. Sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts over sauce before serving.

Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce (Makes 1 cup)
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 3 tablespoons chili sauce (i.e. sambal ulek), 2 teaspoons white vinegar, and 1/4 cup water until smooth.
Try this: For a party, try making bite-size summer rolls with smaller wrappers so they can be easily snacked on by your guests.
Recipes adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Celebrating Philippines Independence Day!

This was a "must-attend" Filipino event of the year, where Vancouver celebrated the 112th Philippines Independence Day with a large gathering at the Waterfront Park in North Vancouver. It was an opportunity for Filipinos to share and promote our culture, food, heritage, and traditions among our fellow Canadians.

Throughout the day, there was an estimated attendance of over 3,000 families and friends who enjoyed delicious Filipino and international cuisine, multicultural performances, fantastic raffle prizes, games and a morning parade!

Candice's Cusina joined in with the festivities and interviewed a local chef, Tony, from Fiesta Filipino Restaurant about their empanadas and enjoyed every bite of it! Now you can make these delicious, crispy empandas at home by trying out my empanada recipe, below. "Masarap!" (tastes good!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beef Empanada

Beef Empanada (Sweet stuffed pastry)
The Filipino empanada was introduced by the Spaniards made by folding a sweet pastry dough around filling that usually contains ground beef or pork, chopped onion and raisins. Baked and flaky fried versions of empanadas can be also found in cultures like Portugal, the Caribbean and Latin America. I love the crispy fried empanadas most and sharing this recipe for you to enjoy!
Did You Know: Empanadas are great as appetizers and snacks on the go! There are over 25 countries that have an empanada version of their own from Argentina to Nigeria to Portugal.

Makes 20-22 pieces


Beef filling:

1 lb lean ground beef

1 medium onion chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup green onion, chopped into 1/8" pieces

1 large potato, chopped into 1/4" cubes

1 carrot, chopped into 1/4" cubes

½ cup sultana raisins

1 tbsp soya sauce

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt & pepper


  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic, then add potatoes and carrots, cook till soft. Add beef and soya sauce. Keep stirring to break up clumps, cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the sultana raisins and sugar, cook for 2 more minutes. Add salt & pepper and taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Drain all excess liquid from beef filling. Let mixture cool completely in the fridge before using as filling in pastry.
Delicious Tip: Customize your empanada! Try using pork or chicken breast (cooked & shredded) instead of beef, or add frozen peas, sliced boiled egg, and/or mozzarella cheese.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tspn baking powder

1/2 tspn kosher salt

250 grams cold butter, cubed

1/4 cup cold water

1 egg

vegetable oil for deep frying


  1. Combine all the dry pastry ingredients into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse a few times to mix. Add cold cubed butter. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until dough resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the machine running, pour in the egg and ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
  2. Dump the dough onto a floured board, knead until you have a smooth dough ball. The texture should feel like smooth play dough. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 60 minutes.
  3. Remove cold dough from fridge and divide into 1/4 cup size pieces, place on a floured baking paper. With a rolling pin, flatten each piece into a circle about the size of a small saucer.
  4. Place 1/8 cup of cold filling on the upper side of the pastry. Fold the lower side of the pastry over the filling and make sure you firmly press the edges to seal the encased filling.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you finish your dough. Place the uncooked empanadas in ziplock bags and place in freezer. Freezing the empanadas before frying will keep the dough staying crispy.
  6. Heat vegetable oil in medium saucepan to 350 degrees. Fry 3 pieces at a time, making sure to keep flipping the empanadas so they do not burn. Cook until golden brown and drain cooked empanadas on paper towels.

Delicious Tip: You can freeze cooked empanadas, tightly sealed in a ziplock, for up to 2 months. Simply take out the frozen empanadas and bake on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree heated oven. Great way to have yummy appetizers on the ready before guests arrive!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo (Braised Chicken)
Chicken Adobo is viewed as the national dish of the Philippines. Adobo is both a specific dish and a method of braising meat, seafood or vegetables in soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, crushed garlic and peppercorns.

This dish was the first Filipino recipe I mastered because of its simplicity and short ingredient list! This basic recipe combination allows for many variations and I'm sharing my Mom's version of her chicken adobo. She includes brown sugar for added sweetness and finishes the chicken by browning it in a frying pan for desired crispness.

Did You Know: Adobo is a borrowed Spanish word meaning marinade or seasoning. In the 1500s, it was the Spaniards who introduced vinegar to Filipino cuisine as a way to preserve food due to the lack of refrigeration.
4 servings


3lbs of chicken thighs bones-in or cubed pork
3 tbsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of kosher salt
1 tbsp of whole pepper corns
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups of soy sauce
1/4 cups of dark soy sauce
2 bay leaves
4 tbsp of vegetable oil
Delicious Tip: When cooking adobo style, use ceramic, glass, stainless steel or wrought iron sauce pans - anything but aluminum, which interacts chemically with vinegar and impairs the flavour.

1. In a 3-4 liter sauce pan, put the chicken, garlic, salt, peppercorns, sugar, vinegar, water, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and bay leafs. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove any impurities that float up to the top of the stew.
2. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot, and allow any excess liquid to drain off them. The flesh of the chicken should be very tender and cooked.
3. Allow the stock to reduce by half.
4. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown and crispy.
5. Transfer the chicken back into the adobo sauce and place onto a serving platter. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and cooked veggies, if desired.
Delicious Tip: The flavour of this dish improves when it sits for 1-2 days. Great for leftovers!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Candice's Cusina meets Rob Feenie!

My boyfriend, Jaeger Mah, surprised me with a ticket to the 2010 EAT! Vancouver Food & Cooking Festival. From May 28-30, the festival brings together foodies, celebrity chefs, local restaurants, wineries and food manufacturers together for a 3-day extravaganza!

Candice's Cusina met up with Vancouver's very own "Iron Chef", Rob Feenie, during EAT! Vancouver where he cooked us a dish made of cured salmon served with potatoes and pickled beets on the Food Network Celebrity Stage.

Chef Feenie is most recognized for claiming the title "Iron Chef" after defeating Chef Masaharu Morimoto on the Iron Chef America. Now he is the Food Concept Architect at the Cactus Club Test Kitchen and shares some of his culinary favorites with Candice's Cusina.
CC: What's your three favourite go-to ingredients?

CF: I love sea salt, good olive oil and mushrooms!

CC: What's your favourite comfort food?

CF: Mmm, roast chicken for sure.

CC: What's your favourite junk food?

CF: Pizza! Oh, but don't tell anyone.
From Mac & Cheese with Lobster to Duck & Chicken Confit, you can learn more about Chef Feenie's featured Cactus Club recipes here.