Yelly Reads

The Cake Book Challenge!

I am doing a Julie Powell!  This challenge that I’ve taken on is getting more and more daunting as I think about it.

I have decided to cook through this book:

The Cake Book

It’s a book from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube series (I also have the BBQ Book too which is excellent!) published by Penguin Books.  The book is called The Cake Book.  The recipes are written by Jemma Wilson who is the wunderkind behind Crumbs & Doilies.  If you’re into street food, you’ll know that C&D offers a really good range of lovely (heavy on the lovely) cupcakes.  I love the mini cupcakes that they offer the most because they are bite-sized pieces of heaven!  And they look so cute and dainty, almost too good-looking to eat.  Almost.  I thought to myself, well, if these are Cupcake Jemma’s recipes, well, they are definitely worth making!

There are 50 recipes in The Cake Book.  There are 26 weeks left in the year.  If I manage 2 recipes each week, I will have cooked through the entire book at the end of the year!  I am thankful that I can bring the cupcakes to work or share them with friends.  Because my blood sugar would not appreciate the increase in sugar intake!

I like that I am in the same situation as Julie Powell was when she started the Julie/Julia project.  I have a full-time job and a long commute at both ends of the day (mind you, I’m not sure how long Julie Powell’s commute was!)!  Am I crazy?  Definitely.  Is this self-inflicted project bigger than I think it is?  Probably.  But am I excited?  You betcha!  There are so many interesting recipes in the book.  I am looking forward to making brittle!  If Julie Powell can do it, so can I!

Yelly Eats

Weekend Pudding: Amaretto Cake

This was made on Something For The Weekend before the show went off air.  Angela Hartnett was filling in for Simon Rimmer as the resident chef.  I wanted to try this because months ago, I bought a bag of amaretti biscuits from Gunton’s.  It has been there ever since!  When I saw this recipe, I thought it would be a great way to use the biscuits (before they go past their best before date!).  I have a few tweaks planned for it, but it’s come out quite beautifully, if I may say so myself 🙂

The recipe is on the BBC website 🙂  And if you look at the photo featured on the BBC website and you look at my attempt at the cake, I think I may have done a super job!  Haha!

Something For The Weekend: Angela Hartnett's Amaretto Cake

Yelly Eats

Machang Time!

I’ve always loved Chinese food.  Mainly because Filipino food has deep Chinese cuisine roots and most Filipinos can claim some sort of Chinese ancestry.  One of my favourites is dim sum.  I love siu mai, or what we call siomai, char siu pao or siopao asado in Filipino and pancit, which is, essentially chow mein.  But one of the things I missed the most is what is called machang.  It was a curiousity for me when I was little.  It was this little pyramid that stood on the counters of the Maxim’s restaurants we used to frequent.  I thought they were little packages wrapped up in banana leaf.  Later on, when I worked up the courage to ask the waiting staff at Maxim’s, they kindly explained to me that it wasn’t a banana leaf wrapped around this delicious sticky rice triangle, but lotus leaf.

When I moved to London, it was fairly easy to get them…if I travelled to Chinatown in London.  And as was the case most of the time, it necessitated my learning how to cook this little dish that I loved so much.  I found a recipe that boasted that it was leafless lotus-leaf rice.  I thought it would be great to try it because if it tastes the same without the lotus leaf, well, then it would be definitely worth learning as lotus leaf wasn’t the easiest thing to come by in these parts of Blighty!

After several attempts, I am proud to say that I’ve managed to perfect my version of machang rice.  So if you’re one of the glutinous rice fans as well but can’t find them nearby, you’ll find that this is a dead-easy version.  If I remember my mother’s cupboard stocks, the only probably difficult thing to get is the Chinese rice wine and maybe Chinese sausage.  But the rest are relatively accessible.  Hey, if I can get these things in England, am sure you can get it in Manila! 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

Leafless Lotus-Leaf Glutinous Rice with Chicken and Chinese SausageIngredients

  • 300g glutinous rice
  • 400g chicken skinless thigh fillets, deboned and cubed
  • 200g chinese sausage, cut into small disks
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 2 cloves garlic crushed)
  • 75g dried chinese mushrooms
  • 3 liters chicken stock
  • 1 liter boiling water


  1. Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and soak for 3 hours.  The mushrooms will expand and soften.  Once the water is cool chop the mushrooms into slivers.  Put aside.  Save the water as well.
  2. Saute the chinese sausage until the edges crisp up slightly.  Add the chicken and sautee until chicken pieces become white in colour.  Add garlic powder, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine, sugar and pepper. Allow chicken pieces to absorb the flavours and add the mushroom water.  Cover pan and simmer for 10minutes.
  3. Add the glutinous rice.  Allow the rice to absorb the liquid.
  4. Transfer the rice mixture to a rice cooker and mix in the chicken stock.  Cook until the rice has expanded and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish.

Yelly Eats

Pecan pie!

Pecan pie has always been something that I loved but never really learned to make until quite recently (thank you to Hummingbird Bakery for sharing their secrets! If you haven’t got their books yet, you should go because the books have foolproof, easy to follow recipes!).  I love how it looks when you’ve lined your flan pan with the pie crust and arranged the pecan nuts for decoration on top of the filling.  Then you wait for 55 minutes or so and bring out the beautifully toffee-coloured cake.  I’m smiling right now, just thinking about it.

So I’m sharing the love and the joy of baking and sharing my favourite pecan pie recipe.

For the pie crust:
260 g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
110 g unsalted butter

Directions for the pie crust:

  1. Put the flour salt and butter in an electric mixer and beat on slow spead until you get a sandy consistency.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon water and beat until well mixed.  Add a second tablespoon of water and beat until you have a smooth, even dough.  If the dough is still dry, add another tablespoon of water, but be careful not to add too much water.  It is safer to beat the dough at high speed to bring the ingredients together.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest of 1 hour in the fridge.

For the pecan pie filling:
Pecan Pie - pre-baking200 g caster sugar
250 ml corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
60 g unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g shelled pecan nuts, chopped, plus extra pecan halves to decorate

Directions for the pecan pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC (325ºF).
  2. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin.  Line the prepared pie dish with dough and trim the edges with a sharp knife.
  3. Put sugar and corn syrup and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and leave to cool down slightly.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs briefly with a balloon whisk until they’re mixed.  Slowly pour the warm–not hot as this will scramble the eggs!–syrup into the eggs, stirring briskly.  Add the butter and vanilla extract to the syrup and eggs mixture and stir until all the butter has completely melted.
  5. Put the chopped pecan nuts into the pie crust and then pour the syrup-egg mixture over the nuts.  Arrange the pecan halves gently on the top of the filling.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 mins (in a fan oven about 55-57.5 minutes will be perfect) or until the filling is a dark, caramel colour with a slightly crusty surface.

Pecan pie - post-baking

Yelly Eats

Egg custard tarts

I’ve tried several recipes for the egg tarts because there are two variations that I’m familiar with: the Chinese egg tarts and the Portuguese ones (like the yummy, flaky pastry ones that you get from Nando’s).  I’ve had them from a bakery from Chinatown, and I’ve seen Ching He Huang make the tarts on telly.  Ching made it look so simple so I thought I’d try it.  The egg tarts are a reminder of the egg pie slices that I used to eat in the Philippines.  They are SO simple to do (and believe me, when I say simple, I MEAN SIMPLE! :))…well, maybe if you make the puff pastry yourself, it may get slightly more complicated.  But making it with store-bought pastry is an excellent shortcut!

There’s something to be said about truly following a recipe to the letter.  I usually do that the first few times that I cook something I haven’t learned from my mother.  But for some reason, I seemed to have thought that I could wing this particular recipe.  I couldn’t, it had to be said.  But finally, tonight, because there was puff pastry in the fridge and I had eggs that needed using.  I really planned to make the tarts on the weekend but things got on top of me (really bad time management, but then again, weekends are for taking things more slowly, aren’t they?).

The tarts aren’t food magazine pretty (YET!  I shall keep practicing until I get them right!)—my excuse was that the fan oven had a really overactive fan—but they sure tasted good! 🙂

So, here is the recipe!


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 350ml evaporated milk
  • 375g ready rolled puff pastry


  1. Heat oven to 200°C.  Roll out the pastry sheets and cut out 12 circles and line the muffin pan with the pastry circles.  Set aside, preferrably in a cool place.
  2. Beat eggs and add sugar. Add milk and beat lightly until smooth.  Pour the filling into the pastry-lined muffin pan, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top.
  3. Bake the tarts for 5 minutes at 200°C and then reduce heat to 170°C for another 10 minutes.  Switch off the oven and allow the tarts to stay in the oven for another 10 minutes, so that they cook in the residual heat.
  4. Take them out from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.  You can ease the tarts out with a spatula and ENJOY! 🙂
Yelly Eats

Arroz con Chorizo

Rice meals have always been comforting and very filling for me.  I love the paellas, congees and all sorts of rice-based meals.  My Tita Mila, one of my dad’s younger sisters, has been an inspiration for me to learn so many dishes.  I have fond memories of coming to their house for parties.  Her cooking was phenomenal!  I think it was at one of her parties that I first tasted paella.  And ever since then, I’ve tried to practice my way into duplicating what she did.  I’m not quite there yet as I’m not quite brave enough to cook with actual pieces of seafood (YET!), but I’m getting there.

About a decade ago, maybe even more, I joined the Del Monte Kitchenomics Club.  It was a recipe club established by Del Monte in the Philippines.  I think it was a good marketing coup since the recipes mostly contained Del Monte ingredients.  But I have them to thank for because it was through a recipe that I got in the post that I learned my shortcut paella recipe.  It was a chicken skillet paella recipe.  Over the years, I’ve improved on how short the shortcuts were and I’ve been working on improving the recipes.

I can’t quite call my rice dish a paella but I guess you could call it that because it has chorizo, chicken and seafood.  But I won’t call it a paella until I can cook with actual seafood pieces.  It’s really a rice with chorizo dish with seafood, so it’s really an Arroz Con Chorizo recipe.   But for anyone wanting to try the shortcut recipe, here it is:

300 grams chicken thighs cubed
125 grams chorizo sliced into rounds
250 grams arborio rice (you can always use ordinary rice, the shorter the grain the better)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion chopped
1 large green bellpepper chopped
200 grams frozen peas
1 tsp garlic granules (or 2 fresh large garlic cloves minced)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
800ml chicken stock (1 L water with 2 stock cubes boiled until it’s reduced to 800ml)
225 grams frozen seafood mix (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or shallow sauce pan.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and sautee until the onions are slightly transluscent.  Add the chorizo and sautee until the chorizo releases its oils.  The onion-chorizo mixture should turn slighlty orange (*NOTE: add the garlic at this point if you’re using fresh garlic, but only if you’re using fresh garlic).
  2. Add the chicken pieces and sautee until the chicken slices lose its pinkness.  Add all the spices: garlic, paprika, turmeric, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper.  Mix until the spices are well-incorporated.  Lower the heat to medium and allow chicken to cook under a lid for 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and replace the lid and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the arborio rice (I usually wash the rice once before I cook it, if I’m NOT using arborio).  Mix well until all the rice grains are covered with the juices.  Add half of the chicken stock and cover the lid.  Allow mixture to reach a slow boil, stirring occassionally.
  4. When most of the stock has been absorbed, add the remaining stock.  Add the frozen peas, green bellpepper and seafood pieces (the seafood pieces are optional).  Cook on low heat for a further 20 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  You may have to add a little more water if the rice requires more cooking (depends on how hot your stove gets).
  5. This will serve 4-6, depending on how generous your portions will be.
Yelly Eats

Wannabe Domestic Goddess Pancakes

When I was growing up, hotcakes, or pancakes, were a breakfast staple.  For some reason, my mom would almost always cook them on a Saturday.  It was pancakes out of a packet but I thought it was the bees’ knees!  How my mom could make so many pancakes from one egg and a smallish looking packet of dry ingredients was beyond me.  I think all you had to add was either water or fat…I can’t remember now.  But I know that the brands we used to have at home were Maya and White King.  Eventually we did try to use Pillsbury…but I think Maya or White King was still the best.

When I was older, and fancied myself the capable cook, I experimented and tried making apple pancakes.  It was a DISASTER with a capital D.  My baby sister, Duckie, was ever so polite and she said it was okay…I don’t know if she remembers that day, but it was the first time I had given Duckie something to eat that she didn’t immediately finish (well that and anything aubergine!)!  So for a while I stopped experimenting with pancake recipes.  I’d given it up as a lost cause…for the meantime.

My favourite TV Chef is Nigella Lawson (stay with me, I’m not digressing! mentioning Nigella will eventually serve its purpose!).  While a lot of her recipes are absolutely rich and wonderfully calorific, some of them are absolutely practical and really quick to do.  Forever Summer is the Nigella series that, I think is, my favourite.  It’s where I got 2 of my favourite recipes.  A tamarind-based fish curry that’s absolutely deeee-vine over rice (ayayayayay!!  over rice again!  but then again, I am Filipino!) and pancakes from scratch.  Here’s my version of her recipe.  I’m finally learning to cook in smaller portions.  Hurrah!

This version is made with cream cheese.


Makes 8 – 10 6-inch pancakeswannabe domestic goddess pancakes

  • 150 grams cream cheese (you can use full fat, low fat, non-fat)
  • 200 ml skim milk (the fattier the milk, the richer the pancake! butter milk is the best! yum yum!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar (you can add more, but if you’re topping pancakes with syrup this is enough)
  • 2/3 cup self-raising flour (I use this so I don’t have to add baking powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (the better the vanilla, the better the pancakes 🙂 also, I’m very liberal with the vanilla!)
  • butter for greasing the pan


  • Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, and set aside.
  • Add the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until the egg yolk and sugar mixture turns very pale yellow.  Add the vanilla.  Add the cream cheese and mix until well-incorporated.  Add the flour slowly, making sure that there are no lumps.  Add the milk.  Set aside.
  • Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until well incorporated and then fold in the rest of the egg whites gently
  • Grease a non-stick pan with a little butter (don’t put too much butter as this will FRY the pancake—you don’t really want that).  Ladel pancake batter.  Wait until the larger bubbles burst before flipping over, this should take 1-2 minutes, depending on how hot the hob is.  The pancake is relatively ready if you shake the pan and the pancake moves around relatively easily (if you’re not using a non-stick pan, you may have to check if the pancake’s bubble-side is cooked).
  • You can garnish with whatever fruit tickles your heart strings and drizzle whatever flavoured syrup you want.
  • You can also cook a non-cream cheese version and just do away with the cream-cheese.  It still works! 🙂
Yelly Writes

Cookbook cooking

I started cooking when I was probably 8 years old.  I was left to my own devices one afternoon and I wandered into the kitchen.  I saw green beans.  I saw eggs and I saw pink food colouring.  And voila!  Pink scrambled eggs and crunchy beans were created!  It was horrible.  It had no salt or pepper.  I had no idea that you had to sautee beans with garlic, onions and tomatoes for it to taste nice.  But that was the (disastrous) beginning of my adventure in gastronomy.

My first adventure in cookbook cooking was creating what we Filipinos call “palitaw” which loosely translated means “to float”.  It’s essentially like a gnocchi made from rice flour and water, covered in sugar and coconut and and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.  It was a recipe from my fifth grade home economics textbook.  My parents had gone and bought my books a month ahead of school starting (so that we could cover my books in protective plastic and get me all sorted out for the first day of school).  Being the voracious reader that I was, I couldn’t stop my curious nature and I started looking through the books.  I had finished my English and Reading books already.  I’d read my Science book twice and the Maths, well, I was confident I’d be able to deal with things when school started (I wasn’t too interested in Maths!).  The last book that I hadn’t leafed through was my home economics text book.  It was then that I fell in love with cooking.  I read the recipe for palitaw and then begged my nanny to come with me to the  market so that I could buy the ingredients.  I surprised my parents that afternoon with a snack and coffee when they came home from the office.

And so my cooking journey began.

I rarely looked at books after that.  My mom was an excellent cook, but she was more instinctive and relied on tasting her food, instead of measuring everything out.  Everything I’ve learned, the basics, I learned by watching my mom and following her instructions.

My parents have got several cookbooks but none that I can really say I poured over in the way that I do the cookbooks that I’ve managed to adopt since I’ve moved to England.  I remember my bestfriend Maries having this amazing collection of cookbooks that I secretly coveted.  She cooked coq au vin from one of the books and I thought, wow, I’d love to do that.  Since I moved to England though, I think  To date, I have a collection of 27 cookbooks (which includes Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and  Delia Smith’s Delia’s Complete Cookery Course).  Mostly baking cookbooks as I seem to be better at baking more than anything else.  But I do have proper cookbooks that have recipes for mains and soups and such.

This blogging about food idea came about because of my friend Rhoda.  I talked to her about this book that I was “writing”.  She said why not have the (imaginary) readers of my (so-called) book (in the making) blog about their experiences about using my recipes.  A lightbulb switched on in my head.  Since I’ve got cookbooks, why don’t I blog about my cooking experiences?

And here we are.  I’ve begun this new and exciting journey.  The next thing to do is to decide which cookbook recipe to start with!