Thursday, January 29, 2015

It’s not always as easy as it seems: Reflections on testing new recipes

I have been on an unintended hiatus from blogging recently. Yes, things have been busy. Yes, I added one more thing on my plate (but also cut down on some). But that was not the reason…

Since it is the middle of winter, I had plans on blogging on soups from the Philippines. I remember enjoying a lot of soups when I was growing up. My mom would make soup in the afternoon, and I would sample it until dinner. Loved it!

I wanted to recreate two or three of my favorites this month, Maddify it, then blog about it. It turns out that these soups can be more complicated than expected. Also, if you modify it a bit, the flavor may change – a bit or a bunch. It was not bad, just different.

I also wanted to work on some Filipino sweet goodies. Again, similar result: the flavors are right, the consistency is not exactly correct. I guess the practice makes perfect applies here.

So, instead of blogging, I decided that I need to develop these new recipes and make it blog-worthy.  That may mean that I need a bit more time… good thing about being my own boss (at least as far as this blog is concerned), I set my own deadlines.

My boss can be demanding though…

Here’s my current hit list. If you are familiar with these recipes, please give me some suggestions on how to improve it or make it healthier, and I’ll incorporate it in my Maddification.

Pansit Molo: A light chicken broth based soup with pork or chicken wontons. I remember my Mom making these and there would be wontons lined up for the soup. Oh, the anticipation… I’d sneak in a wonton or two (after it’s cooked, of course) before dinner: really yummy. This brings me back to Mom’s kitchen.

What I came up with: Leek, Kale and Mushroom Soup with Pork Dumplings. I think the mushrooms added earthiness to the dish, which was not in the original. This soup was good and I will definitely make it again. If I make it like Pansit Molo, I would not add mushrooms in the broth to retain the original flavor. The dumplings have kale and mushrooms though, and I can still taste the pork.

Leeks, kale and mushroom soup with pork dumplings

Working with new ingredients also inspired me to make variations. Working with wontons also inspired me to make wonton "raviolis" with cream cheese, kale and quinoa. I've seen these before in cooking shows, and I have always wanted to try it. I would have used ricotta, but this was a last minute inspiration.

cheesy kale and quinoa wonton raviolis in butternut squash sauce

Misua with Meatballs: Very delicate noodle soup with meatballs often made with a Filipino vegetable called patola. I have not seen patola (yet) here in California, so I may opt for a local alternative (or what I am calling Kale-lifornication).  The meatballs often suffered the same fate as the wontons from the Pansit Molo, i.e. some of them become my appetizer before dinner. Maybe that is why Mom made extras. It helped growing up as an only child (No! I am not spoiled!)

What I came up with: Lots of ideas but nothing tangible yet. I think I am leaning towards a quick and easy version for weeknight cooking and a more involved one for the weekend.

Bibingka: Sweet coconut cakes served with butter, salted egg, cheese or any combination of thereof, popular around Christmas time (or the Holidays, if you prefer).  I’ve seen a recipe using wheat flour, but I truly believe this should be made with rice flour. 

What I came up with: Something close to it. My first attempt was made with glutinous rice flour, but the cakes did not get the browning that I was expecting. Since baking is right in my wheelhouse, I am planning part two soon, and hopefully a blog post (Whew).

bibingka crosssection

To add to this, my husband said he wanted to make samosas from scratch. I forwarded him a samosa recipe, and now he is having second thoughts. I did say that I will help. Making samosas sounds really exciting.

Through this experience, I learned that things are really not as simple as it looks, and it makes you appreciate the effort that went into these recipes. Before this, I had dreaded making pansit molo because of the thought of folding all those wontons and sure enough it did take time, but it was not as bad as I thought. I am also dreading the effort in making the meatballs from scratch, but am looking forward to the results.

I also may be a bit homesick since I’ve been focusing on recipes from my childhood.

It is also very enlightening to work with ingredients that one is not used to. For this adventure, I worked with wontons and glutinous rice flour. In my day-to-day cooking, I also worked with Marsala wine, rapini, oyster mushrooms and possibly 2 or 3 more that I had forgotten.

So, watch out for a new post (hopefully) soon… I want to give my readers something really good, so I am becoming really picky.

Meanwhile, I’m still eating and experimenting, so follow my tweets and instagrams.


  1. Wow This is a Good article and Nice recipe. Thanks for Writing and Sharing.

    Swapnil Kharche

    1. Thanks Swapnil and apologies for the late response. I've been traveling and studying (unfortunately, something not food-related, but equally fun). I am working on a new post right now as we speak. Hope you enjoy it!