Category: Food Preparation Tips

Pansit-pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) Medicinal Herb

Pansit pansit herb, photo by JMorton

Pancit pancit, photo by JMorton

Pansit-pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) Medicinal Herb

This was the herb given to us by the Lady of Necodemos, the manghihilot (healing massager) when we consulted her for stomach aches which seems to have afflicted our whole family in the Philippines after going for an overnight swim at Club Manila East.

She said to make a drink of tea from this herb.

She gave the following instruction:

Chop the herb and then boil in plenty of water.  Leave to simmer for at least 10 to 15 minutes with the pan uncovered.

Turn of the stove and leave this herbal tea to steep for at least 10-15 minutes.

Strain and drink half a cup every four hours.

This herb will settle your stomach and digestive system.

Remaining tea can be stored over a couple of days in a clean jar in the fridge.

Stuffed Milkfish (Rellenong Bangus)

Stuffed Bangus, Photo by PH Morton

Stuffed Bangus, Photo by Arnold Gamboa

This recipe is suitable for special occassion or celebration.  It is extra delicious bursting with goodness.

Stuffed Milkfish (Rellenong Bangus)


  • 1 large sized bangus ( milkfish )
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sized carrot, small cubes
  • 1 box raisins ( optional )
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 raw egg, large
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce (or light soy sauce)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp. Flour
  • cooking oil for frying
  1. Ask the fish-monger to clean and remove the scales of the fish or using a knife, scrape fish by going against the scales.   This is fairly easy to do. Gently pound the fish using flat side of a heavy spoon or Chinese knife.  Pounding will loosen meat from the skin. Ensure that the skin is not damaged or broken.
  2. Carefully cut the big bone that run through the fish, from the tail end up to the head. Then pull this out.
  3. Insert a long spoon or spatula through the bangus neck.  Gently prise out meat away from the skin. Scrape as much of the flesh throughout the whole fish but always be aware not to break the skin.
  4. Make the marinade for the skin by mixing the soy sauce and calamansi (lime) juice. In a large dish arrange the fish skin flatly and pour and marinate by pour the soy sauce mix all over.  Leave for 10 minutes or so.
  5. Simmer the fish meat in a little water, once opaque, drain and remove any visible bones as you flake the meat.
  6. Using a wok or frying pan, sauté the garlic until golden brown. Add onion and tomatoes. Stir in carrot, and pepper as well as the fish meat. Season well with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce or light soy sauce.
  7. Add raisins.
  8. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.
  9. Now open up the marinating fish skin and fill  it up with the cooked fish meat/tomato/onion mix.  Stuff until the skin has ballooned into a fish-like shape once again.
  10. Beat the egg and then pour it into the stuffed fish and then roll the fish into the flour.
  11. Finally wrap the fish with banana life or aluminium foil and roast for 30-40 minutes at 180ºC.  If using aluminium foil, remove at the last 10 minutes.  This recipe can also be cooked by deep-frying using a large wok.  There is no need to wrap the fish with anything!
  12. Serve immediately.

Enjoy with tomato ketchup.  Sarap (delicious)

Prawns Vs Shrimp

Shrimps, photo by PH Morton

Prawns Vs Shrimp

Having grown up in the Philippines, we call these delicious crustaceans as shrimps rather than prawns.  Apparently prawns is the term used in the UK and Australia while in the USofA they tend to use the term shrimps.

I further found out that both the words: prawns and shrimps are English in origin.  The prawns are supposed to be larger than the shrimps. But to really tell a prawn from a shrimp is to look at their legs.  The first three pairs of legs in prawns have pincers while in shrimps, only the first two pairs are claw-like.

Well I don’t think I would be really bothered whether I was eating a prawn or a shrimp as they are both manna from heaven. They are both a cause for taste-buds jubilation. 😉

 Prawns and shrimps, raw and frozen, should be rinsed in very salty water and then in plain water with lemon juice.  This would remove any unpleasant smell as well as any preservative used.

Every Kind of Nuts


Nuts, iphone photo by JMorton

Shelled Nuts

Every Kind of Nuts

Each year, during Christmas, Peter and I ensure that we have nuts for nibbles. 🙂

Of course, some nuts have hard casing that they need special kind of nut cracking implement. We have this special tool in our kitchen cupboard, they should really.  I say this because it is rather curious; you see them often when you don’t need them during the course of the year – but once they are needed they can’t be found.  (Totally nuts.  An utter nutty sod’s law.)

In desperation, often Peter and I would resort to anything that has a bit of weight to it, from hammer and ornaments.  Time and again, Peter would scold me when he sees me using one of his rock collection (Peter & rock … geddit?) to crack a nut.  He goes totally NUTS 😉 lol

Nuts contains a good source of nutrients; unfortunately some people are allergic to nuts.  Just be aware.

Nuts to be had:

Pistachio nuts



Brazil nuts

Cashew nuts



Macadamia nuts

Pecan nuts

Things to look out for with nuts:


  • They are an excellent source of vitamin E
  • They are also a good source of vitamin B like thiamin and niacin
  • Some nuts like walnut will help reduce the risk of heart disease. 3oz helping of walnuts daily can lower blood cholesterol.

Cons (Beware)

  • They can make you gain that unwanted weight as they are high in calories.
  • Some nuts which are still immature can contain toxic element like cyanide producing compound
  • Peanuts, like rice, are prone to contamination. They should be stored in cool, dry condition to prevent moulding.
  • Peanut allergies can be deadly
  • Children can choke on nuts.

 To prevent nuts from going rancid, due to its high oil content, they should be shelled and stored in a ziplock or airtight plastic bag and placed in the freezer until needed.

Colander – Kitchen Utensil

Colander, photo by JMorton

Colander, photo by JMorton

Colander, photo by JMorton

Colander, photo by JMorton

Colander – Kitchen Utensil

This folding colander by Joseph Joseph is a fun and colourful addition to modern kitchen.  I saw the colander in John Lewis and I was captivated by how it looks as well as the design.  Very funky looking, and updated version of the 70s Tupperware, much loved by housewives and homemakers. 🙂

A colander is every cook’s gadget in food preparation.  It is a perforated bowl that is useful in straining and draining food like pastas, beans, boiled vegetables prior to cooking and after cooking.  It is also used to drain washed vegetables and salad.

I would love the above colander for Christmas, it would be a lovely addition to my growing collection of Joseph Joseph kitchen utensils.

The above colander is made from plastic but they can also come in metal.  Some come with base and some don’t, which look like a sieve.

Jellied eel – a traditional Eastend Recipe

Jellied Eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel – a traditional East-end Recipe

Peter had been wanting jellied eel  – made to a traditional East-end recipe, for ages.

On his birthday, just before Christmas last year, he had his wish granted at Manze’s pie and  mash & eel shop (known as shops as opposed to being called a restaurant or cafe). The shop is adjacent to the Chapel Market in Islington North London.

We visit Chapel  Market around Christmas time every year for our fresh vegetables, meat etc., for the festive family meals.

Anyway,  it was rather lucky that Manze had not run out of the eel delicacy yet when Peter enquired as usually eels are off the menu by lunchtime!

Jellied eels are served as a side dish to  pie & mash.

The traditional pie  is normally made of suet based pastry pie containing  minced beef. The  mash  is mashed potato.

The delicious green tinged liquor served as a gravy with pie & mash  was traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels,  but nowadays mainly from the parsley used with cooking of the jellied eels.

Peter said he enjoyed the jellied eel but I am not too sure as I think I saw his face turned rather green at some point. 🙂

When I was still a little girl, eels were quite a delicacy in our province in the Philippines.  It was fun trying to catch them because they were so slippery; it was almost impossible to catch them without a net. The eels used to live in dykes around our ricefield.

photo from

photo from

The dykes were so clean, that you can drink from them if you are desperately thirsty but we used to go up further afield to the waterfall, which sourced our farm.

With a feat of engineering, my father was able to harness the water directly from the waterfall using a course of bamboos which carried the water not only into the field but to my mother’s huge water clay jars as well, giving us fresh, cool drinking water.  The taste was definitely better than any bottled mineral water that are on sale nowadays.

Anyway, I digress!  When we caught enough eels after much screaming and hilarity, my mother would salt them liberally to remove the slime and then she would cook it with sprouts from vines (not sure of the name of the plant, will find out) growing near our farmhouse which give a very sour taste; perfectly delicious.

Eel is delicious eaten hot but I am not too sure about cold jellied eel.  I couldn’t really comment too much because I turned down Peter’s generosity to taste his eel meal. 🙂

Anyway, he said it was good and that is good enough for me.

If you happen to come across some eel to cook here is the recipe for the jellied eel.

900g eel
1/2tsp Grated nutmeg
Juice and zest from a lemon
handful of fresh herbs such as parley, thyme an coriander, chopped finely
Fish stock – 600 ml (1 pint)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped finely
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
Bouquet garni
15g Gelatine

Method of Preparation:
1. Skin and bone the eels but do not cut them up. Lay them on the table, skin side down and sprinkle with grated nutmeg, a little grated lemon zest and the chopped herbs.
2. Cut the fish into pieces about 4 inches long. Roll up each piece and tie with strong cotton or fine string. Put the stock, vegetables and bouquet garni into a saucepan and bring to he boil. Add the eels and simmer very gently until tender, for about an hour.
3. Lift out the fish take off the cotton or string and place the eels in a basin. Measure the stock and make up to 450 ml (* pint) with water.
4. Add the gelatine to the lemon juice to dissolve the gelatine, then add this to the hot stock. Stir until completely dissolved. Strain this over the fish and leave to set.
5. Turn out when cold and serve with a green salad and sliced gherkins.

IKEA’s Meatballs with Cream Sauce

Swedish Meatballs, IKEA iphone photo by JMorton

Swedish Meatballs, IKEA
iphone photo by JMorton

Swedish Meatballs, IKEA iphone photo by JMorton

Swedish Meatballs, IKEA
iphone photo by JMorton

Below is from a recipe card from IKEA of their famous Swedish meatballs with cream sauce.

The following ingredients will yield about 30 – 40 meatballs enough to feed 4 hungry mouths 😉

IKEA’s Meatballs with Cream Sauce

250 g minced beef
250 g minced pork
1 egg
2-3 dl cream (or milk) and water
2 1/2 tbsp fine chopped onion
1/2 dl unsweetened rusk flour or toasted bread crumbs
2 boiled potatoes, cold
4-5 tbsp butter, margarine or oil
salt, white pepper, (allspice)

Method of preparation:

Heat the onion till golden in a couple of tbsps of lightly browned butter, mash the potatoes and moisten the rusk flour in a little water.

Mix all the ingredients into a smooth farce of the right consistency and flavour generously with salt, white pepper and (optional) a little finecrushed allspice.

Using a pair of spoons rinsed in water, shape the farce into round balls and transfer to a floured chopping board, then fry them quite slowly in plenty of butter.

For the Sauce
1 dl cream
2 dl water or beef stock
Chinese soy
(1 tbsp white flour)
salt & white pepper

Method of Preparation:

Swirl out the pan with a couple of dl boiling water or meat stock.

Strain the pan juices and dilute with cream.

Thicken with white flour if preferred.

Season well, and serve this and the meatballs with freshly boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, a green salad and salted or pickled gherkins.

Meringue, Know the Basics

Meringue, know the basics

Meringue is a taste of heaven.  Crunchy at the outside and can be meltingly soft in the inside.  To make a perfect meringue we have some top tips that can be incorporated to your meringue cooking experience. 😉

The mixing bowl should be 100 per cent totally grease-free.

The eggs should be at a room temperature. Take out the eggs at least 30 minutes from the fridge before beating the egg whites into a froth.  Ensure there is an even a smidgen or trace of yolk into the egg whites.

A tiny amount of salt dropped into the egg whites will make them easier and faster to bring to a froth and will yield a greater volume; the salt will not affect the taste.

A copper bowl is an ideal mixing bowl for meringue.  The copper has a catalytic effect which help the egg whites to fluff up.

Meringue, photo by JMorton

Meringue, photo by JMorton

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