Home-made Mini Bibingka (Rice Cake)

IMG_0988.JPGAh, the memories of warm, freshly-made bibingka on chilly Christmas season mornings, sold near church premises during the traditional dawn masses – Simbanggabi. Or dining out with family and friends at Filipino restaurants specializing in popular cuisine and delicacies.

Now, in home kitchens, modern technology has replaced traditional cooking implements like claypots and charcoal-fired grills.

How about an inexpensive pancake maker to enjoy your bibinka anytime at home? Mini bibingkas to be exact.

Mini bibingkas are great for family gatherings.  You can definitely impress your guests with these home-made replicas of that favorite “coconutty” Filipino delicacy!

(Use of banana leaves to hold the mini-cakes optional)


1 cup rice flour (available at most Asian grocery stores)

2 tsps baking powder

4 tbsps butter, melted

A couple pinches of salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup coconut milk

¼ cup fresh milk

3 eggs

1 salted duck egg (itlog na maalat, sliced)

6 slices, cheddar cheese

1/2 cup  grated coconut


In a mixing bowl, combine rice flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, butter, sugar, coconut milk and fresh milk.  Whisk and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the pancake maker. Top each cake with a slice of cheese and salted egg. Cook until mixture is set and lightly browned. Remove from pancake maker.  Transfer to a plate and top with grated coconut and, if desired, some extra butter.



Salmon, Worthy Crab Cake Proxy

imageWith California’s dungeness crab season vitually put on hold by health authorities due to some toxic contamination of the shell fish (November, 2015), it’s time to turn the spotlight on salmon as a worthy crab cake proxy.

Salmon cakes are surprisingly easy to prepare and only the crab connoisseur will insist that “there is nothing like the real thing.”

This recipe is made from canned Alaskan wild salmon which makes making these delicious cakes even more of a breeze.

I usually add raisins to my salmon cakes, but I skipped them this time, but that is no reason for you not to add this sweet option.


1 can, Alaskan Wild Salmon, 14.75 oz

3 eggs

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1/3 cup bread crumbs, plus more for dredging

Olive oil for frying

Mayonnaise for dressing


Place the drained salmon in a medium bowl and mash.  Add eggs, bread crumbs and green onions and mix well.  Make round patties using your hands and dredge either side of each patty with the rest of the bread crumbs.  Healt Olive oil over medium-high heat.  Fry the patties in batches, making sure both sides are nicely browned but not burnt.  Remove from heat and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.  Serve warm with a side of tomato and cucumber slices and some wild rice.  Squeeze some mayonnaise on top of each salmon cake.

Chocolate Haupia Pie

imageAfter a hearty Hawaiian meal — lau lau or kalua pig — one has to have sweet dessert.  Not just any sweet dessert, but haupia, the traditional coconut-based pudding Hawaiian cuisine connoiseurs have come to love. But let’s put a little twist to it.  How about a chocolate haupia pie?   The next time you bring dessert to a potluck, surprise the guests with this made-in-paradise concoction. Umbrella is optional!


One 9-inch Graham cracker crust

1 can (13 oz) coconut milk

1 cup, fat-free milk

1 tbsp, coconut extract

1 1/2 cups, white sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup cornstarch

3/4 cup, 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate baking bar

Whipped cream for topping

Small piece of dark chocolate, shredded, for topping


Heat cracker crust according to package instructions, then set aside to cool. In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, coconut milk, coconut extract, and 1 cup sugar. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in water. Bring coconult milk mixture to a boil.  Reduce head and let simmer.  Slowly add in and whisk cornstarch over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and divide evenly into two bowls. In another bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Mix chocolate into one of the bowls of coconut pudding, then pour mixture into the pie crust, spread, and let sit. Pour the remaining bowl of coconut pudding on top of the chocolate-coconut pudding mixture and spread smooth, being careful not to mix the two layers. Refrigerate the pie for an hour or more. When ready to serve, top the pie with whipped cream and garnish with shredded chocolate.

Rice Cooker Banana Walnut Bread

imageI’ve said it many times before.  I love to cook, but baking cakes and breads is not in my league. But guess what, using the very same rice cooker I use to prepare rice and some steamed dishes, I can make me some sweet and nutty banana bread.  You read that right — a rice cooker bread! Once you’ve tried preparing this recipe, you will open yourself (and your rice cooker) to endless possibilities.


3 large bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cups brown palm sugar

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup melted butter

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Cooking oil


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until the ingredients are well mixed. Add the bananas, butter, milk, and egg. Mix well to form a nice batter. Add walnuts. Using a paper towel, coat the inside of the rice cooker pot with Olive oil (this will prevent the bread from sticking to the pot). Pour the batter into the pot, cover, and turn the rice cooker on. Cook until the rice cooker automatically turns off. (Depending on your rice cooker, you may need a couple or more cycles.  If the cooker turns off, wait a few minutes for it to cool down before turning it on again.) Remove from heat and turn the pot upside down against a large plate to release the bread. If desired, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of the bread before serving.

Shrimp Potato Pancake

imageIt’s amazing what can do with powdered mixes that come right off the supermarket shelves. I’ve always been a fan of the potato pancake mix because it makes it so much easier to prepare this favorite dish of mine. But there are times when I veer off the simple directions on the package and add a thing or two to simulate something gourmet.

For this recipe, I added shrimp to the pancake mix and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.


1 packet (3 oz) vegetable potato pancake mix (Streit’s brand)

1 egg

1 cup cold water

10 pcs, fresh shrimp

Olive oil for fryingimage

1/4 green onions, chopped, for garnish

Your favorite sauce for dipping


Peel 5 pcs. shrimp, leaving the tail on. Run a small knife along the center of each shrimp (lengthwise). Run the knife diagonally to flatten each shrimp. Set aside. Completely peel the remaining shrimp and slice them into very tiny bits. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg the add the water, mixing thoroughly. Add in the packet of pancake mix and shrimp bits and mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes. Heat Olive oil on a medium pan over medium-high heat. Drop 1-2 tablespoons of the pancake mix into the pan and flatten to form a round or oblong shape. Place one shrimp towards one end of the pancake, making sure the shrimp tail is protuding. Press the shrimp with a spatula onto the cake mix. Fry both sides of the pancake mix until golden brown, carefully turning it over with a spatula to avoid breaking up. Remove from heat and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.  Repeat process for the remaining mix and shrimp, adding more Olive oil as needed.  Serve warm and garnish with green onions, with your favorite sauce or dip on the side.

Baked Salmon Cake, Gefilte Fish-style

IMG_5487Gefilte fish is a Jewish dish made from a poached mixture of ground boned fish which is typically eaten as an appetizer.  The dish is popular on Shabbat and Holidays such as Passover, although they may be consumed throughout the year. One of the more interesting versions of Gefilte fish I found is a recipe that is baked in a Bundt cake pan.  It makes for great presentation during family dinners and holiday or other gatherings.  Gefilte is usually made with white fish but I chose to use salmon. For this particular recipe, I also substituted Matzo meal with bread crumbs. The finshed product looks really appetizing with the pinkish color of the salmon, the green from parsley and the orange from the carrots.  Garnishing it with cherry tomatoes adds even more color to this recipe.

Oh, and don’t worry about leftovers.  They’d make good salmon sandwiches!



2 lbs. salmon fillet, sliced into 2-inch pieces

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

3 eggs, beaten

3 tbsps Matzo meal (or bread crumbs)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp parsley spice or two tbsps fresh chopped parsley leaves

1 cup, shredded carrots

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsps Olive oil

1 cup cherry tomatoes

Mint leaves for garnish



Preheat over to 325 degrees.  Heat Olive in a medium pan and saute the onions until fragrant and tender.  In a large bowl, combine salmon, sauteed onions, eggs, bread crumbs, sugar, carrots, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Using an electric mixer, mix ingredients on medium speed. Transfer mixture into a slightly-oiled Bundt pan . Flatten the top using a spatula.  Cover with aluminum foil. Place Bundt pan in a large shallow, oven-safe glass cake pan half-filled with water. Place in oven and bake for about an hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Place a large flat round plate over the Bundt pan.  Turn it over carefully. Refrigerate the baked salmon for several hours.  When ready to serve, garnish with cherry tomatoes and mint leaves.



Green Onion Potato Pancake

imageAs far as I am concerned, nothing beats the flavor and aroma of fresh green onions (scallions) .  I make it a point to always include this spice in most of my cooking, especially with sauteed dishes.

I also love omelets and fried cakes of all types, whether they’re made with carbs, meat, fish or vegetables.

This recipe combines these two favorites.  I could eat them all day – breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not to mention appetizers with cocktails.



5 medium potatoes

1 cup chopped green onions (reserve about 2 tbsps for garnish)

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsps all-purpose flour

1 cup Olive oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste


Peel and grate potatoes. Drain off any excess liquid.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add in potatoes and green onions.  Add flour, salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Heat part of the Olive oil in a medium pan over medium high heat. Drop about 1/2 cup of the potato mixture into the pan and flatten to form pancakes.  Fry both sides until golden brown.  Remove from heat and place on  a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.  Repeat process for the rest of the potato mixture.  Serve warm and garnish with fresh green onions, with a side of ketchup, mayonnaise or sour cream.