Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kaldereta Beef using Mama Sita’s Caldereta mix cooked in a Slow Cooker

We call it Kaldereta, others call it beef stew. However one wants to call it, we call it yummy in our house. I use Mama Sita's Caldereta mix in this recipe. I also cooked it in a slow cooker. The meat is so tender when it is cooked in a slow cooker, and it doesn't lose its shape as well. Unlike if you simmer it for a long time in the stove or oven top. Since my friend Jing told me to buy a slow cooker, it's been an important gadget in my kitchen eversince. One can make a cheap cut of meat into something classy if one cooks it in a slow cooker. And I find, when I use the slow cooker, the meat absorbs all the ingredients around it.
I used Mama Sita's mix because it is quite handy, and it gives that certain Kaldereta smell. I did not put liver spread or any liver ingredient in this version because my family does not like it. Some might say it's not Kaldereta without the liver spread but it works fine with us. I substituted grated cheese instead to make it thicker towards the end of the cooking. Oh, the pictures does not have green peas, I've run out ... hehehe.

1 kilo of beef, cubed
3 tbsp of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 medium onion, sliced finely
½ tsp of salt or to taste
3 – 5 medium potatoes, cubed in big pieces (1 inch by 1 inch)
2 medium carrots, chopped round or diagonal
1 capsicum (bell pepper) sliced the same size like the carrots
a handful of frozen green peas (or fresh if it is handy)
2 tbsp of tomato paste
½ cup of grated cheese (optional)
1 cup of water

  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan.
  2. Sauté garlic in the olive oil until fragrant
  3. Add the onions, stir until translucent.
  4. Add the beef. Cook the beef until it turns a different colour, greyish.
  5. Season it with salt, and then add the carrots, capsicum and the potatoes. Mix it through.
  6. Mix the Mama Sita Caldereta mix.
  7. Put the tomato paste and add the water.
  8. NOW transfer everything into your slow cooker.
  9. Set the slow cooker in automatic and cook for about 4 hours. Stir it occasionally.
  10. Add the peas when you have been cooking it for 3 hours.
  11. Half an hour before serving it, add the grated cheese.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ginisang Ampalaya (Sautéed Bitter melon/gourd)

It's only once in a blue moon that I get to cook ampalaya or bitter melon, sometimes called bitter gourd. They won't grow in this part of the world, at least, I can't grow them. I tried. Very seldom that they sell them in the supermarket or in the asian shop, and when they do, it's like buying gold. That's how expensive they are. But since they're good for our health, and my honey knows I love them, we buy them, although it's like buying gold or maybe silver. When we buy ampalaya, we pick the lighter coloured ones. I believe they are less bitter than the darker green. Don't take my word for it, but I've never been wrong (in this theory). I don't like putting meat with it, maybe few shrimps, but most of the times I just cook the ampalaya by itself, then I will have fish on the side, in this case some smoked herrings (tinapang tawilis). So, here goes ...


2 medium size ampalaya
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
1 medium onion, sliced finely
3-4 big tomatoes, chopped
3-4 eggs, depending on the size
fish sauce to taste


Slice the ampalaya (lengthwise) then scrape the seeds in the middle. Sliced them very thinly/finely. Put the finely sliced ampalaya in a bowl of water with salt. Leave it soaking in the salted water while preparing the other ingredients. Don’t squeeze the ampalaya when you take it out of the water, I don’t. Just drain the water and wash it again in running water.

1. Sautee garlic in the olive oil
2. Add the chopped onion, stir until translucent.
3. Add the tomatoes; cook until tomatoes are very soft.
4. Season with fish sauce.
5. Add the drained ampalaya, and mix it through. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT stir the ampalaya, once it’s mixed through. When it’s half-cooked, add the beaten eggs, then you can stir it until the beaten eggs is mixed through. Remove from the heat and serve with rice.

I had fried smoked fish with it. I bought them in the pinoy shop in Melbourne.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Coconut Crème Caramel (Recipe best made a day ahead)

Leche Flan is an all time favourite in our home. Whenever I bake this dessert, it's guaranteed to be eaten up to the last morsel. I was so proud of myself the very first time I ever baked this. I always thought it is a very difficult dessert to tackle. The leche flan I used to eat was the one steamed and only with egg yolks and condensed milk. Ohhhh cholesterol! Luckily, I found this recipe in "Australian Women's Weekly" published in August 1994, and it's been my version of leche flan ever since. With a bit of adjustment of course. It's also very popular with friends because it's not very sweet.


½ cup (110 g) caster sugar
½ cup (125 ml) water
6 eggs
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar, extra
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup milk
1 can (400 ml) coconut cream


  1. Combine sugar and water in medium pan, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Boil uncovered, without stirring, until mixture turns golden brown. Keep your eye on it, because it might burn. Pour caramel over base of deep 20 cm round cake pan.
  2. Whisk eggs, extra sugar and essence in medium bowl until combined. Bring milk and coconut cream to boil in pan, allow bubbles to subside.
  3. Gradually whisk milk mixture into egg mixture; strain into jug then pour over in pan with caramel. Place pan in big baking dish (roasting pan or a bigger round cake pan is ideal) with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of pan.
  4. Bake in a moderately slow oven (160 C) for about 40 minutes or until the centre is just set.
  5. Remove pan from water, cool; cover, refrigerate overnight. Invert onto rimmed serving plate.