Ube or Not Ube-that is the question- Crinkles


Ube crinkles are magical, purple caky cookies that make your eyes momentarily roll to the back of your head upon first bite.  Imagine the velvetty, pillowy give of a red velvet cake but with the rich moistness of ube. Ube  is a Filipino dessert made of mashed and sweetened purple yam and is often used in other desserts like ice cream and cakes.


These cookies are easy to make and are a beautiful shade of purple.

Ube Crinkles, adapted from Bake Happy

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12-16 cookies


1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup ube jam, recipe here or buy at your local Filipino grocery
1 teaspoon ube flavoring
1 cup powdered sugar


Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cream butter and sugar with your mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.  Add in ube jam and ube flavoring then gradually add in the dry ingredients.  Cover the bowl with saran wrap and chill for 2-4 hours.

Using a regular ice cream scoop, scoop out about 1/2 a scoop of batter.  Roll the cookie dough into balls and coat with powdered sugar in a bowl to ensure even coverage.  Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes.


Ube and ube flavoring with creamed butter and sugar mixture


Batter up




Chocolate ‘Chia’mporado


Growing up in the Philippines, I lived on champorado.  My mom made it a lot mostly because it was sweet, filling, cheap and good.  Champorado is a sweet chocolate rice porridge, which Mom usually made from a boxed mix.


It’s even better when she tops it with tuyo, a salty dried fish.  What.  Don’t judge–Filipinos made that sweet-savory thing before it was a thing.  Tuyo is like bacon–just as crunchy and salty–except it’s fish and smells really bad when you cook it indoors.

I wanted a different take on my favorite childhood merienda and decided that I would make a healthy version with chia seeds.  Chia seeds when soaked in liquid become pudding-like in texture, kind of like a rice pudding.  It’s so easy to make and chances are, you’ll have most of the ingredients on hand.

And the bonus is, it makes a really great pun.

Chocolate Chiamporado


3/4 cup soy milk or almond milk (avoid non-dairy milk to keep low fat)
1/4 cup chia seeds
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1t vanilla extract
4-5 T maple syrup
1/2 t grated orange zest
3T orange juice
*1 packet of Splenda (optional)


Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. Seeds gel when they come in contact with liquid so you’ll wake up to a creamy pudding with a slightly nutty texture. Top with a sprinkle of grated orange zest, slivered almonds and chocolate chips.

*I happened to have Splenda on hand so I added a packet.  Feel free to omit and instead adjust the amount of maple syrup to your desired sweetness.


Ube Wan Kenobi


Ube, a dessert made of purple yam, makes a frequent appearance at Filipino family parties.  I would see my aunts and mom scoop heaps of it into the corners of plates after mounds of rice and adobo and lumpia, as if it were an afterthought. It often winds up atop some rice or near the chocolate meat (not ever gonna post a recipe for that here, sorry).  It’s so easy to make, I’m not sure how it made its way into this blog.  But not one to ever resist an opportunity to pun, this recipe proves you don’t need to be a jedi knight to make ube.

You need three ingredients:

1 lb purple yam, grated and mashed which you can buy frozen in Asian grocery stores

1 can condensed milk

1/4 c. melted butter

You mix all three over medium heat until the whole liquidy things turns into a solid purple jammy consistency.

That’s it.  It’s almost as easy as converting oxygen into carbon dioxide.  But then you can make amazing things like:



Tortang ‘Talong for the Ride’


My mom was and still is a very resourceful woman.  We lived in the Philippines before coming here and back then, we didn’t have much.  The running joke was that Mom can make a dinner out of two chicken legs that can feed 4 people.  Over two meals.  That’s a slight exaggeration but I do distinctly recall being told on more than one occasion that it was rude to reach across the table in an attempt to grab the bigger piece of chicken before my Dad got to it.  I was 7 at the time.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that.

Tortang talong or eggplant omelet is a meal that’s hearty, healthy and inexpensive, so my mom made this often.  Chinese or Filipino eggplant (the skinny variety) and eggs are all you need; ground meat is optional.  You can’t use the regular fat eggplant for this dish and you’ll see why in a minute.

  1.  Char the eggplant on all sides by grilling until its skin turns black.  Peel the skin off when the eggplant is cool enough to handle.



2.  Use your fork to flatten the eggplant to a wide, oval shape.  This helps increase the surface area to house your ground meat.  If you had used the obese by comparison eggplant, your tortang talong would be the size of manholes.



3.  Dip the now flattened eggplant into your egg batter, making sure to coat both sides.  Coat the ground meat with the egg batter as well.  This makes the meat moist, sticky and allows it to adhere to the eggplant which is critical during the flipping phase.



One bit of cautionary tale on the flipping of the tortang talong: it took me multiple tries and 24 eggplant, to flip it just right so that the ground meat filling doesn’t collapse into a shapeless mess like this.



The best way is to hold the eggplant by its stem and flip vertically from top to bottom and not side to side.  This is the best YouTube tutorial I’ve found on how to accomplish this.  Girlfriend’s voice is annoyingly high pitched and painfully nasal but skip to 4:06 and you’re all good.  It’s also all in Tagalog.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.53.34 PM


      • 1 lb ground pork
      • 1 c salsa
      • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 medium onion, minced
      • 4 eggplants
      • 4 large eggs
      • salt to taste
      • ground black pepper to taste
      • vegetable oil


    1. Grill eggplant until skin turns black; peel off the charred skin. Keep the crown and stem. Flatten the flesh and set aside.
    2. Saute garlic and onion until tender about 5 minutes.  Mix in ground pork and brown until cooked.  *Combine salsa with cooked ground pork and heat through, another 5 minutes.
    3. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.
    4. Remove from pan, transfer to a bowl and cool.
    5. Once the mixture has cooled down, add the beaten egg and mix well.
    6. Dip flattened eggplant in beaten egg and coat both sides.  Cook the eggplant omelet in a well oiled, heated pan.
    7. Spoon 3-4 tbsp of ground pork and egg mixture spread it all over top of eggplant.
    8. Cook for about 3 minutes until eggplant can be easily lifted and without sticking on the pan.
    9. Carefully flip to other side by holding the stem on one hand and a spatula on the other and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

*Salsa is a twist on the traditional tortang talong.  It adds flavor, depth and an unexpected yet welcome kick to your tortang talong.  You can use any jarred kind, my favorite is Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Chipotle Salsa.

Tortang Talong

BAEbingka: Bibingka in Muffin Tins


Celebrating Christmas as a kid in the Philippines was very different than it is here.  My earliest memory was of my grandmother standing over baked hams and chickens hours before our midnight feast or ‘media noche’ as celebrated by many Filipinos, tending to them with love and careful attention.  My family didn’t have much, so it was not about counting the number of shopping days left, tons of presents under the tree, scanning the Black Friday ads. In short, it wasn’t about stuff.

What it was about was family, food and the ‘exchange gift’ or White Elephant but much kinder because there was no stealing involved. What I remember most about Christmas though is the bibingka, a Filipino rice cake baked in banana leaves and topped with cheese and salted egg. I believe Filipinos started combining the salt/savory thing before it even became en vogue and this is evidenced by our love for the bibingka.

My grandmothers made their own versions of bibingka and I no longer remember which was better but it was always this great combination of salty bites of duck egg and the sweet softness of the rice cake. It was the crowning glory of our media noche, which began with pork barbecue sticks, longanisa and lechon and ended with the bibingka.  Lechon by the way is roasted suckling pig and proclaimed by Anthony Bourdain as the best pork product ever. The Filipinos, we love our pork.

But I digress.

For portion control purposes, I decided I would make my bibingka in muffin tins.

Recipe adapted from Panlasang Pinoy


1 cup rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh milk
1 piece salted duck egg, sliced
1/2 cup grated cheese
3 pieces raw eggs
Pre-cut banana leaf


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine rice flour, baking powder, and salt then mix well. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter then gradually put-in sugar while whisking.
  4. Add the eggs then whisk until every ingredient is well incorporated.
  5. Gradually add the rice flour, salt, and baking powder mixture then continue mixing.
  6. Pour-in coconut milk and fresh milk then whisk some more for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Use the bottom of a glass as a template to cut banana leaves in circles slightly larger than the  size of your muffin tin openings.  This allows for a nice overhang and ample size to hold the bibingka batter.
  8. Line muffin tins with your pre-cut banana leaves.
  9. Pour batter into lined muffin tins.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven then top with sliced salted egg and grated cheese (do not turn the oven off).
  12. Put back in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top turns a medium brown.
  13. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  14. Brush with butter and sprinkle some sugar on top. You can also top this with grated coconut.


If you’re thinking about omitting the banana leaf liner, don’t.  The banana leaves give your bibingka a fragrant and authentic look and smell.

If you’re thinking about omitting the salted egg, by all means do.  It’s an acquired taste and also hard to find outside Filipino groceries.  I would, however, include the grated cheese to balance out the sweet and savory.