Feb 25, 2013

Oven Roasted Lechon

Ask any Pinoy what they would like to see served in any fiesta or celebration and for sure, majority will tell you --- LECHON! That's pork roast for you - but it's not just your ordinary pork roast - it's an entire pig roast. It's not so much the meat that everyone goes crazy for, although it's definitely what I love, - it's  actually the crispy skin (like a pork crackling) that everyone wants to get hold of first. And you better be first in line or it's gone before you know it. :-) If you've ever had lechon - you'll know why. The skin is just crispy and crunchy when you bite it and is so full of flavor too (not to mention the fat and cholesterol -- so beware!!!). Of course, no lechon is complete with out the "sarsa" and traditionally, we rely on Mang Tomas (see photo) for the sauce to dip your lechon skin or meat in. I don't have a homemade sauce yet so for now I have been using Mang Tomas as my sauce but you can always just make an ordinary pork gravy to go with your lechon too.

While Lechon is not for the faint-hearted - well there's a lot of calories and fat in it for sure - I'd like to enjoy it on special occasions, after all even in the Philippines you don't eat this on a daily basis but usually for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries...etc. I have tried a lechon recipe before and though I was happy with it - the skin was not crispy at all. It was soft and not what you expect in a lechon - no crunch at all....

After scouring the internet, I found this super-simple recipe for Lechon sa Hurno (Oven Roasted Pork) and decided to give it a try hoping that as it promised it will give me the crispy skin that I desired. And, wow did it deliver! The skin was super-crispy - like a perfect pork-crackling and even after the next day - after I had placed the left-over roast in the fridge the skin retained it's crispness! How about that?

The only thing I wish to note is the high temp (450F) that it requires  towards the end of cooking - it may be a little too high - my oven was smoking after about 10 minutes so perhaps I will  try 425F next time to see if I can achieve the same results. Or perhaps I will shorten the time from 20-30 minutes (as the original recipe recommends) to only about 15 minutes or less so I don't burn the skin. But apart from this - it is a wonderful and very simple recipe that truly made a great Oven-roasted Lechon. Thanks to Filipino Recipe Site for a great and easy Lechon sa Hurno (Oven-roasted Pork) recipe. Next time you get a picnic ham, try this!

1 (3 to 5 lbs.) fresh boneless shoulder picnic ham (uncooked)*
Salt, to taste

*I used a 3-pound shoulder picnic ham.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a roasting pan.

Clean the pork ham/roast with running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub generously with salt all over. Note: If your roast has been pre-seasoned or enhanced then go a little easy on the salt. Eyeball it.

Transfer to a roasting pan and bake skin-side up. The length of time will depend on the weight of your roast. Generally, it's about 40 minutes per pound and that is what I followed for my picnic ham. For a 3 lb ham (give a take a few more ounces) it's about 120 minutes or 2 hours.

During the last hour, brush the entire skin/roast with fat drippings from the pan every 15 minutes. Do not skip this because this is what will help make the skin crisp. The original recipe mentions every 10 minutes but I only did about every 15 minutes and still came out great.

Thereafter, increase the oven temperatur to 450°F and continue to roast for another 15-20 minutes or until the skin has blistered and has turned golden brown. I only used a 3-lb ham so 15 minutes was sufficient but it would probably be longer for a bigger ham. The skin should be crispy.  The internal temperature reading using an instant-read meat thermometer should reach about 170°F.

Remove from the oven. Cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes.
Here is the roast left standing for a few minutes. I actually forgot to cover it with foil but it still came out well.

Cut into serving pieces and place into a serving platter. Serve with the sauce of your choice and if you're pinoy - have it with some Sarsa ni Mang Tomas! You can also make a gravy using the drippings. Just add a little flour to thicken the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Delish! 

Perfectly cooked picnic ham roast! For the Pinoys, what they covet is not so much the meat but the delicious crispy pork skin! Enjoy your homemade Lechon!

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This recipe is featured at Weekend Potluck.


Feb 20, 2013

Coconut Chicken Curry

Having grown up surrounded by coconut trees in our little island, called Marinduque, in the Philippines I love anything with coconut flavors. And we do use coconuts (tree and fruit) for everything that you can imagine. I don't know how our country will survive without this towering plant from the Palm family. We use its logs to build houses, leaves for roofing, oil for cooking and making our hair shiny, coconut husks for charcoal and of course it's meat for snacking, baking and plain eating. In the midst of a heatwave in the Philippines, nothing can be more refreshing than fresh coconut juice from a freshly opened young coconut! The possibilities are truly endless and I haven't even mentioned coconut milk!


Feb 18, 2013

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Bolognese

When company's coming and I want an easy but delicious comfort food, I always rely on Baked Bolognese. I didn't think it would work the first time I tried it but people who had them seemed to like them and I always had good feedback. So I thought, it's about time I share this delicious baked pasta to all of you. For the Bolognese Sauce, here's the recipe. It is absolutely indispensable for this dish. So if you don't want the same old recipe for Baked Pasta - try this!

Ok I must add that this is not very diet-friendly so serve this only occasionally, like when company's coming. It makes a huge batch (9x13 casserole dish) so you can still manage with some portion control! It's so good though that every calorie is worth it! :-)


1 recipe for Bolognese sauce*  
1 block of Cream cheese, softened at room temp
1 (8 oz) tub of  Sour cream
12oz - 1 lb Spaghetti, cooked al dente
2 cups, shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or your favorite Cheese)*

*To ensure that your Baked Bolognese won't be greasy, try to drain the extra drippings from the sauce, if you're bothered by it anyway.

*I use Parmesan cheese, too. You can adjust the amount to taste.


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the softened cream cheese and sour cream.

Using a 9 x 13 baking dish, layer the ingredients in this order - place half of the spaghetti on the bottom, spread evenly on the pasta half of the cream cheese mixture and then on top spread out the bolognese. 

Repeat the layer.

For the final touch, sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 mins or until the cheese is melted and the pasta layer is heated through. Enjoy with some Salad and Garlic Bread!

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print-friendly icon at the end of the post. Click on the "remove images box" for easy printing.

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Feb 16, 2013

No Bake Chocolate Marquise

For the ultimate sweet treat this Valentine's Day - No Bake CHOCOLATE MARQUISE! Easy, yummy and perfect for the chocolate lover in you! | manilaspoon.com

If there is one chocolate dessert that my husband truly loves it is Chocolate Marquise - a classic French chocolate dessert that requires no baking (just chilling) but the result is sublime and is the ultimate chocolate lover's dream! I honestly cannot think of any dessert that's more chocolate-y than this - bittersweet chocolate, egg yolks, butter and sugar are beaten together then lightened with some egg whites. To give it even more intensity - a little coffee is added to the mix! Wow! This is seriously only for the ultimate chocolate lovers and admittedly, my hubby and I are huge chocolate fans, especially of the dark and bittersweet variety so this is right up our alley.

Though chocolate marquise is fairly simple in its ingredients, it can be turned into a very elegant dessert as it can be molded into various shapes (depending on what pan you use) and served with fresh fruits and for me the best pairing would be some sugar-dusted sweet-tart raspberries!
This recipe came from my mother-in-law and she often makes this when we visit England and because fares for a family of 4 are always sky-high we don't get to see them that often. I think my hubby misses this great dessert so much that For Valentine's Day he requested me to make this for him. I was naturally scared because I know that his mom makes the best Choco Marquise and I don't know if I can duplicate it but since it's a special day I thought I ought to at least give it a try. It was amazing!!! Even though my mixer did not cooperate well (it broke down) so I wasn't able to totally reach the stiff peak for the egg whites, the chocolate still came out great. If you don't want a very strong coffee taste - use mild coffee granules - I used the Starbucks ready brew and that was intense.  However, I discovered that after the cake has rested for 1 day - the coffee taste actually mellowed and the taste was even better - that is if you can wait for another day! Also, make sure that you use the best chocolate you can buy - a serious chocolate dessert like this demands a seriously excellent chocolate too!

For the ultimate sweet treat this Valentine's Day - No Bake CHOCOLATE MARQUISE! Easy, yummy and perfect for the chocolate lover in you! | manilaspoon.com

This recipe can easily be doubled too if you want to make it for guests but since we are not a huge family I only made half a batch. If you are doing this for company do a double batch (just double the ingredients) so that when you place it in the loaf pan, it's much taller in height and not flat. Below is what it looks like when you just do a half-batch, like I did. It will look more like a big chocolate slab rather than a chocolate loaf. I think I used a big loaf pan too that's why it wasn't very tall. The good thing about this is that you can cut them into small squares and serve them in individual cups. As I mentioned this is an intense chocolate dessert so you don't need a huge piece to serve it, unless that's what you want. It's quite more-ish though so be aware that you've been warned! :-)

You can serve this dessert in small individual squares as shown below. Enjoy!

For the ultimate sweet treat this Valentine's Day - No Bake CHOCOLATE MARQUISE! Easy, yummy and perfect for the chocolate lover in you! | manilaspoon.com  

Note: This recipe uses raw eggs, so beware that raw eggs may not be safe for the very young, pregnant women, the elderly, the ill, and those with immune-system disorders. For more details on egg safety, check out this link.

For the ultimate sweet treat this Valentine's Day - No Bake CHOCOLATE MARQUISE! Easy, yummy and perfect for the chocolate lover in you! | manilaspoon.com


American and Metric

225 gm (8 oz) Bittersweet Chocolate

100 gm (4 oz) Unsalted Butter (softened or room temp)

175 gm (6 oz - 3/4 cup) Icing or confectioner's Sugar

3 Eggs (separate the yolks from the whites)

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water
For the Chocolate sauce
100 gm (4 oz / 1/2 cup) caster or super-fine baking sugar
50 gm (2oz  / 1/4 cup) Cocoa Powder

Line an (8 x 4 x 2 in) loaf tin with clear film (saran wrap), allowing it to overlap the sides and ends. Break the chocolate into a small heat-proof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (not boiling) until melted. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and allow to cool slightly.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and the confectioner's sugar until soft and smooth. Separate the eggs, beating the yolks into the creamed butter one at a time. Beat in the dissolved coffee granules, add the chocolate and mix well. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold one third of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remainder.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and spread evenly. Chill until firm for at least 4 hours.

Meanwhile, measure 1/4 pint water (about half a cup) and the caster sugar for the chocolate sauce. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is boiling. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Cool and refrigerate. (I used only about 1/4 cup water and the chocolate sauce was thick).
Lift the Chocolate Marquise and invert onto a plate. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes in room temp after you've taken it out of the fridge to soften it a little (so it won't crumble when you cut it). For easier cutting, use a non-serrated knife that's been dipped in warm water. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce and top with some sugar-dusted raspberries. Glazed apricots, fresh strawberries can also be served with this sweet and chocolatey dessert for sharpness of flavour and colour contrast.

For the ultimate sweet treat this Valentine's Day - No Bake CHOCOLATE MARQUISE! Easy, yummy and perfect for the chocolate lover in you! | manilaspoon.com

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Feb 14, 2013

Cinnamon and Orange Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze

It's Valentine's Day and instead of offering another sweet treat I thought for a change I'll offer you dear readers something savory and simple yet elegant enough for a Valentine's Dinner - Cinnamon and Orange Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze. This is really a simple recipe and yet the meat comes out so flavorful and looks so pretty too! The sweet tangy flavors of the Balsamic Glaze add extra flavor dimension that works really well too. The bonus - while you are baking this your whole house will smell so nice - my little boy sad - "That's a lovely cinnamon smell mom, are you baking a cake?" He was surprised to find out it was actually pork! My whole family loved this and hope yours too!

If you wish to make two tenderloins - just double the recipe. I have a small family so even a small pork tenderloin is more than enough for us.

Without further ado - here's Cinnamon and Orange Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze. It's as tasty as it looks lovely!

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1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon mild Chili powder
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
1 teaspoon dried Orange Peel
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 - 1 1/2 lbs Pork tenderloin
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix together the olive oil, chili powder, coriander, cinnamon, salt and orange peel in a small bowl. Rub this paste all the over the tenderloin.

Bake the tenderloin in a preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches about 150F-155F (roughly 40-45 minutes) or to your desired doneness. I go for 155F 'cause am a medium-well done kind of person! It still comes out tender and easy to slice as you can see below so don't worry! :-) Remove the pork from the pan and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Transfer the pan juices into a small sauce pan. Or if you have an oven and stove-top safe pan, you can use that for baking and then for making the glaze too, for convenience.

Make your Balsamic Glaze while the meat is resting. In the sauce pan where the pan juices have been transferred - pour in the Balsamic Vinegar. Use medium to high heat and stir the mixture continually. Once the vinegar begins to bubble, add the orange juice and the sugar and continue to stir until the mixture has thickened and has a syrupy consistency - roughly - 6-8 minutes.

Slice the pork diagonally into medallions. Arrange in a serving platter and then drizzle with the Balsamic Glaze. Enjoy immediately! 

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Feb 11, 2013

Spaghetti All'amatriciana (Spaghetti with Bacon and Onion)

When it's wintry and cold nothing sounds more comforting than a big plateful of pasta! I specially love it when the pasta sauce has some extra kick in it with the addition of some chili peppers...sure to keep you fired up and warmed up. Here's an easy Italian style pasta dish - Spaghetti All'amatriciana (Spaghetti with Bacon and Onion) that's great for these chilly days!


1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 ounces / ½ cup pancetta or guanciale (or bacon), chopped
1 onion, chopped finely
1 lb. tomatoes, fresh or canned, diced
4 fl. oz. / ½ cup white or red wine
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tsp. red chili flakes (or your desired heat level)
½ lb. / 8 oz. spaghetti or any desired pasta
Grated parmesan cheese, to pass around


Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add the chopped onion and bacon and cook in medium heat until onion is tender and the bacon gives up its fat about 10 minutes. In the meantime, boil the water in a big pan for the spaghetti to cook in.

Add the wine to the bacon and onion and raise the heat and cook until the liquid boils off. Place the rest of the ingredients in the pan except the chili flakes, pasta and cheese and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or just until slightly thickened. Stir in the red chili flakes during the last 5 minutes of cooking. You can add the chili flakes earlier with the other ingredients - I add it towards the end 'cause I don't want a very spicy sauce since I have kiddies to feed. If you don't want a spicy sauce at all, then you can omit this.
Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


Feb 8, 2013

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake


I have always been a fan of molten chocolate cake but had always been intimidated to even try making one. However, one day I saw these beautiful heart-shaped molds from one of our thrift stores and that gave me the idea that I should at least give it a try. I immediately purchased these pretty little cups 'cause not only were they so cheap, they were also brand new. I thought to myself, these would come in handy someday.

I searched on the web for a recipe for chocolate lava cake and found this very easy recipe from Tasty Kitchen. When I read it, I thought, I can do that. I didn't have a Baking Chocolate but I have always used regular chocolate when baking anyway 'cause I think it tastes much better so I substituted it with what was available in my pantry - a 70% Dark choco bar - pretty intense but that's how we like our choco here - bittersweet. I would say - it's quite a good recipe for the cake turned out very well.  It really worked - the center was soft and when I cut into it - the gooey chocolate center flowed out like a hot lava (it is actually smoother than what the photo shows).  What's more it's so easy to make and you don't even need a mixer to do it.  I have to say though that the edges of the cake are a bit crusty though the center was truly soft. I don't know if it's the baking time that made the edges a little crusty. Original recipe called for 13-14 minutes which I think is a little too long. I have seen other recipes which only call for about 10 minutes or less. I used 12 minutes exactly but I will try doing only 10 minutes next time so it will definitely be gooey in the center and hopefully not too crusty on the edges. But if you're not so fussy --- this is a very good recipe to try! Who cares about the crusty edges when you can put some vanilla ice cream on top of this cake and see it melt with the gooey choco lava! Yum!


4 pieces (squares) Bitter-sweet or Semi-sweet or just plain sweet Chocolate (this is a matter of preference)*
½ cups Butter, chopped into several pieces
1 cup Confectioner's or Powdered Sugar plus an extra 1-2 Tablespoon for dusting, separated
2 whole Eggs plus 2 Egg yolks
6 Tablespoons Flour
*Note: You can use Baking chocolate if that is what you prefer for easier measurement, but trust me real chocolate is much better. Do not be scared if you are off by an ounce or so. I don't think it would matter much. This is the chocolate I used because my hubby and I prefer dark and intense chocolate flavor...but your cake won't be so sweet so follow your sweet cravings. I used about 4 pieces (they are individually wrapped). You can find this at Aldi's and they are cheaper than Ghirardelli's but oh so good too!


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease/spray about 4 custard molds/cups or small ramekins with a non-stick spray and then place them on a baking tray (cookie sheet).

The next step requires melting the butter and chocolate. You can use the microwave to do so but I don't have one so I use the double boiler method to melt my choco and butter. If doing the double boiler method, place the butter and chocolate in a stainless steel bowl above a saucepan with barely simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Let the choco and butter melt.

Stir as the choco and butter melts and has become smooth in texture. A spatula is handy with this.

Add 1 cup powdered or confectioner's sugar then whisk together until smooth.

Add the 2 eggs and the 2 egg yolks then whisk together again until smooth.

Stir in the flour just until combined.

Divide the chocolate batter evenly among the 4 custard molds. Since it's Valentine's Day I used heart-shaped molds. 
Bake in the preheated oven for about 11-12 minutes, or until the sides are firm but still soft in the center. See photo below.

Let cool for about 2 minutes (set the timer so you won't forget!). Thereafter, invert the cakes onto serving plates. They should release very quickly. Dust with the remaining powdered sugar. Serve with some fruits on the side, if desired.

Serve immediately! Enjoy all that gooey chocolate goodness! And, yes this is so perfect with vanilla ice cream, too or even plain whipped cream!

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This recipe is featured at Ladies' Night Linky Party.

Feb 5, 2013

4-Ingredient Nutella Cookies

Before I have ever made my 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies, I never much believed that it was possible to make cookies with such a few ingredients. How could it be? But then I was proven wrong and yes, it was indeed possible to make the loveliest cookies with only a few ingredients. In fact, because there are only very few ingredients - the flavor is more concentrated (pure chocolate bliss in these Nutella Cookies) not to mention - it becomes so simple to make too!

I have been wanting to try making these Nutella cookies for the longest time but for some reason never got the chance to do so. But since today is World Nutella Day (who knew there is such a day?) I thought I ought to give it a try....after all I have some Nutella sitting on my counter top and waiting to be enjoyed.

The verdict - these Nutella Cookies are heavenly!!! Not only are they easy to make, they are so yummy too and amazingly not overpoweringly sweet! Moist, chewy and fudgy - pure chocolate deliciousness at it best! You really ought to try this!

I will give credit where credit is due....for this recipe I am totally indebted to Kirbie's Craving. I have adapted her Easiest Nutella Cookies for this recipe. And I would say --- it is a total winner!


1 cup Nutella
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips


Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the nutella, flour and egg.

Using a wooden spoon, mix until the dough comes together and no flour lumps remain. 

Stir in chocolate chips until they are all incorporated into the dough.

For the next step, I used a rounded tablespoon to help shape the cookies into dough balls. It's actually a rounded measuring tablespoon for a tea pot so it's slightly larger than your usual measuring spoon but the latter should work well too. I managed to make about 18 dough balls.

Place the cookie balls on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. I pressed the cookie balls slightly to flatten them a little bit. I think I will just leave them rounded next time. If you want perfectly rounded edges on your cookies, then smooth out the cracks on the cookies. I wasn't bothered so I just left it as is, cracks and all!

Bake for about 10 minutes. Cookies would still be slightly soft but that's fine. Leave in the cookie sheet for about 3-4 minutes or until it has hardened just a little bit to make it easier to transfer to a wire rack. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack until completely set.

Enjoy the cookies while still warm-ish and the choco chips are still soft and quite meltingly tender.  Or serve it after it has totally cooled too - the cookies still retain their yummy chewiness! Chocolate perfection defined!

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