Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most delicious pasta dishes the Italians make. With just four main ingredients, it’s a breeze to prepare. People worry about having raw eggs in the sauce, though I think the eggs cook with the heat from the spaghetti.I’ve never had a problem, but if you’re really concerned, you could use pasteurized eggs or omit the eggs altogether.
Traditionally, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is made with guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian bacon made from pork cheeks or jowls. It’s delicious, but unfortunately, I can’t get guanciale where I live. Thankfully, you can substitute bacon or pancetta. Half a pound of bacon is good for a pound of pasta, but my family likes lots of bacon so I use a whole pound. I never have leftovers when I make this dish.
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
1 lb. spaghetti noodles (can also use fettucine or linguine)
1 lb. bacon (or pancetta or guanciale), sliced into ½-inch strips
½ small onion, diced
3 large eggs
1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt, plus extra for the boiling water
¼ tsp. pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy; then remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
In the same pot, sauté the onions in the bacon grease until the onions become translucent; remove pot from heat and add the bacon back in with the onions.
When the water in the first pot is boiling briskly, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
While the spaghetti is boiling, prepare the sauce. It’s important to make the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the noodles will be hot when the sauce is done. The heat from the noodles is what cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
To make the sauce, beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork; then stir in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Drain the cooked pasta well, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Slowly drizzle the reserved hot pasta water into the egg mixture, mixing well. This tempers the eggs, so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pot with the bacon and onions; then pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss until the noodles are well-coated with the sauce.
Taste the spaghetti and adjust the seasonings. Depending on the pork you used, you may need to add more salt.
I was watching The Kitchen on Food TV last week and I saw Katie Lee make this pulled pork recipe. It looked delicious so I decided to try making it for Superbowl Sunday. It was really good. I served it in dinner rolls topped with coleslaw for yummy sliders. I liked it because it was different from the usual barbecue pulled pork. I think this recipe will become a family favorite. I’m definitely going to be making it again!
SLOW COOKER HAWAIIAN PULLED PORK`
5 lbs. boneless pork butt or shoulder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 can (8 ozs.) crushed pineapple
½ cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
In a small bowl, mix the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Rub the mixture all over the pork.
Put the pork in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Shred the pork with 2 forks, removing any large pieces of fat.
Pour the broth into a fat separator or skim off the fat.
In a bowl, whisk 2 cups of the skimmed broth with the crushed pineapple, hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, and vinegar.
Put the pork back in the slow cooker and stir in the sauce.
Cook on low for 1 more hour.
Serve the pulled pork on Hawaiian buns topped with coleslaw.
My sister-in-law, Anna, loves Biscuits and Gravy. It’s one of her favorite American breakfasts. Whenever she comes to visit, we always make sure to go out for breakfast and invariably, that’s what she orders. Biscuits and Gravy is an old American favorite, especially down south. It’s literally a biscuit topped with sausage gravy, sometimes also called Sawmill Gravy. For this recipe, instead of just baking my biscuits in the oven, I cooked them in a waffle iron. The little wells made by the waffle iron made perfect little pockets to catch more of the savory gravy. Yum! Added to that, they looked so darn cute! If you don’t have a waffle iron or you’re feeling lazy to pull it out, just bake your biscuits in the oven like normal.
WAFFLED BISCUITS AND GRAVY
1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried sage, optional
1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
8 biscuits, homemade or purchased refrigerated biscuit dough (like Pillsbury)
butter for greasing the waffle iron
Brown sausage in a medium pot, breaking up with a spoon, until completely cooked.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir till flour is all absorbed.
Pour in the milk, stirring well.
Add green onions, sage, pepper, and salt. If using refrigerated biscuits, you may want to omit the salt because store-bought biscuits are pretty darn salty.
Continue to cook, stirring until thickened.
Cover and keep warm over low heat.
Preheat waffle iron on medium-high heat. Brush center lightly with melted butter.
Place 1 biscuit round into waffle iron and gently close without pushing down.
Cook halfway, then close lid completely and continue cooking until biscuits are golden and cooked through.
Repeat with remaining biscuits.
To serve, place a biscuit on a plate and top with sausage gravy.
At work a couple of weeks ago, two of my friends and I were reminiscing about Spam. Verna is Hawaiian-Filipino and Kaileigh is Mexican-Filipino. Besides having Filipino blood in common, we all share a love of Spam. Anyway, Kaileigh was telling us about this really easy dish she makes called Chili con Spam and she shared her recipe with us.
Fast forward to today. School is officially over and 3 of my kids came home this morning. I decided to fix a late breakfast to feed everyone…. bacon, eggs, hash browns…. and then I thought it would be a perfect time to try the Chili con Spam recipe. I searched everywhere but couldn’t remember where I saved it! I decided to google it, but only ONE recipe for Chili con Spam came up. It was a recipe submitted by a lady in Guam named Jane Certeza who apparently took 2nd Place for it at The Great Spam Cook-Off Island Style. I looked at it but it had way more ingredients than I remembered Kaileigh’s recipe having so it couldn’t be the same one.
I decided to text Kaileigh and ask her for her recipe again which she promptly sent off to me. Ah…. that was the one I remembered! Super easy with just 4 ingredients. But then another obstacle came along. Kaileigh’s recipe called for yellow wax chilies which I didn’t have. Great. I didn’t want to drive all the way down the hill just for chilies and none of the kids did either. So with wails of, “But I just drove hours to get here, Mama. You want me to drive some more?!?” ringing in my ears, I turned back to the Guamanian recipe which I happened to have all the ingredients for in my pantry.
Guess I’ll have to save Kaileigh’s Chili con Spam for next time. Sigh……. By the way, the Guamanian Chili con Spam was a hit. Everyone loved it and it quickly disappeared.
CHILI CON SPAM
1 can (12 oz.) spam, cubed
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin (I only used 1 Tbsp.)
dash of black pepper
1½ tsp. sugar
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
In skillet, fry spam until light brown on all sides.
Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are softened.
Stir in stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and sugar.
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add tomato sauce and kidney beans.
Simmer over low heat for an additional 10 minutes or so.
Every year, when Thanksgiving would roll around, I would try a new stuffing recipe to serve with our turkey. I tried making chestnut stuffing, cornbread stuffing, caramelized onion stuffing, ciabatta stuffing, cranberry nut stuffing, sundried tomato stuffing, you name it. The kids never liked any of them! Then came the year when I finally gave up and said, “I’m not making stuffing this year.” Strangely enough, everyone went up in arms when they heard that. So at the last minute, I sent Old Goat to the grocery to buy some Stove Top “instant” stuffing. Well wouldn’t you know it, for the first time in years, there wasn’t a lick of leftover stuffing in the bowl!
Well I’m nothing if not a quick learner. Stove Top was the key! Since then, I’ve made Stove Top stuffing every year. I just doctor it up with a few ingredients to make it fancier and no one ever guesses that the stuffing wasn’t made from scratch. The empty bowl each Thanksgiving is a testament to how yummy this stuffing is. And my big smile is the testament to how easy it was to actually make.
The amount of stuffing you make depends on how many people you’re having over for dinner. I usually make 6 boxes for our family shindig, but we have a large family. I’ll post the ingredients for one box of stuffing and you can just multiply it as you need to.
EASY SAUSAGE APPLE STUFFING
1 box (6 oz.) Stove Top stuffing
½ lb. bulk sausage
¼ medium onion, diced
½ stalk celery, sliced
½ – 1 apple, peeled and cut in cubes
Prepare stuffing according to package directions in a large pot.
In a skillet, brown sausage with onion and celery.
Stir in the apple and continue to cook until apple is beginning to soften but isn’t mushy. You can use a half to a whole apple, depending on how much you want.
Drain and discard any grease rendered by the sausage.
Pour sausage mixture into the pot with the prepared stuffing.
This recipe makes a delicious breakfast casserole. If you’re looking for something filling and easy to prepare, you need look no further than this rich and creamy dish. The recipe is very good as is, but I’ve often thought I would like to try adding some sliced mushrooms or diced red bell peppers to it. I might still try doing that one of these days.
CRESCENT SAUSAGE BREAKFAST SQUARES
1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage (pork or turkey)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, cut in pieces
2 stalks green onions, chopped
2 packages crescent rolls
In a small pot, brown sausage; drain well.
Stir in cream cheese and green onion, and continue to cook until cream cheese is completely melted.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Unroll one package of crescent rolls and place in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
With your fingers, gently pinch and press the seams together to seal them.
Spread the sausage mixture evenly over the crescent dough in the baking dish.
Unroll the remaining package of crescent rolls, place on top a sheet of wax paper, and pinch and press the seams together to seal.
Flip the wax paper with the crescent dough over the sausage mixture and carefully peel the wax paper away.
Filipinos eat a lot of pork. They’re really good at cooking it, too. Lechon is one of the national dishes of the Philippines. It’s basically a whole roasted pig. The pig is skewered on a bamboo pole and slow roasted over hot coals while being continuously hand-turned like a giant rotisserie till the skin turns a crisp, reddish-brown and the meat becomes juicy and tender.
Lechon Kawali is made from pork belly that’s boiled until tender, then dried overnight, and the next day, is deep fried in a kawali (Filipino wok) till the skin is puffed and crunchy. However, cooking lechon kawali can be a dangerous endeavor. The pork belly pops and can splatter hot oil (or make “talsik” as they say) quite violently and can cause some pretty serious burns if you’re not careful. Not to mention making a greasy mess. Few are the Filipino cooks who have escaped unscathed from a bout with a slab of frying pork belly.
Enter Lechon sa Hurno (Oven Roasted Pork Belly). Lechon sa Hurno is prepared similarly to Lechon Kawali except instead of being fried, the pork belly is baked in the oven. No oil splatters, no greasy mess, and no visits to the urgent care clinic. Just some tender pieces of pork topped with a delicious crunchy skin.
This recipe differs from traditional Lechon sa Hurno in that you don’t boil the pork first before roasting. My cousin, Ana, has a business in the Philippines selling crispy pork belly and she said she uses lemon grass and bay leaves for “aromatics.” Meanwhile, I’d heard of roasting pork belly with a salt crust, kind of like the way they do with prime rib or whole fish, and decided to try the salt crust method of roasting the pork belly with aromatics underneath it for flavoring. Success! The meat was so tender and tasty. And the skin was to die for! Nicely seasoned and so crisp, you could hear the crunch across the kitchen as you sliced it.
LECHON SA HURNO (OVEN ROASTED CRISPY PORK BELLY)
2½ – 3 lbs. boneless, skin-on, pork belly
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks lemon grass, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 sprigs fresh oregano
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
½ cup water
1 cup salt
The day before you plan to roast your pork belly, wash it in cold water and dry it very well with paper towels. Then put it on a platter, skin side up, and place the pork, uncovered, in the fridge to dry overnight.
The next day, take a long sheet of foil, fold it in half so you have a double thickness, and press it into your roasting pan.
Lay a bed of chopped onions, lemon grass, and garlic on the foil, then place the oregano, thyme and bay leaves on top. These are your aromatics. If you’re not sure how to work with lemon grass, you can read about it here.
Place the pork belly, skin side up, directly on top of the aromatics in the pan.
Look at your pork belly skin. If one portion of it seems to dip lower than the rest, take a piece of foil, scrunch it up, and tuck it under the lower part to raise it. You want the skin on top to be as level as possible so that it crisps evenly. (I learned that the hard way after the sides of my pork belly starting browning faster than the center portion which was lower.)
Pull up the foil to enclose the bottom and sides of the pork belly, pinching the corners to fit the foil around the meat. Leave the top open to expose the skin.
Carefully pour water against the foil along one side of the pork belly so it runs underneath the meat and mixes with the aromatics. This helps keep the aromatics from burning. If any water gets on the skin, dry it quickly with a paper towel.
Pour the salt on top of the skin and pat it smooth to make a salt crust.
Bake at 350ºF for 1½ hours. Remove from oven and raise oven temperature to 425ºF. Pull foil open to expose the sides of the pork.
Using a pair of tongs, carefully lift off and discard salt crust.
Usually, the salt crust lifts off in one piece. If it breaks like mine did, don’t worry about it. Just throw away the broken piece and carefully remove what’s left.
After discarding the salt crust, pick up the pork belly with the tongs, hold it over your sink, and brush off any excess salt that may have spilled onto the skin.
Place a wire rack over the pan and place the pork belly on the rack.
Return pork to oven and bake an additional 30 minutes more.
Turn off oven, turn on broiler to low, and broil for about 15-20 minutes or until skin is completely puffed up and golden brown all over. Watch carefully that it doesn’t burn!
Slice into 3/4-inch strips. Then cut the strips crosswise into 1-inch pieces and serve.
Hamburger sandwiches are not native to the Philippines. That being said, hamburger joints abound everywhere and we ate burgers all the time growing up. But when it came to making burgers at home, unlike American burgers which are usually plain meat patties simply seasoned with salt and pepper, our cook would add all kinds of stuff to our burgers and boy were they good! Give this recipe a try and you’ll see what I mean.
In a bowl, combine beef, pork, onion, bread crumbs, milk, egg, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
Divide meat mixture into four balls and flatten into patties.
Grill or fry until burgers reach desired doneness.
Serve on toasted hamburger buns, with condiments and toppings on the side for people to build their own burgers.
NOTE: If you want, you can make your burger patties with a pound of pure beef and leave out the ground pork. Our cook always used a mixture of half beef and half pork, but that was probably because beef was more expensive in the Philippines.
I felt like having Chinese food for dinner tonight and started thinking about P.F. Chang’s restaurant. We haven’t eaten there in years, but I remember how much I loved their chicken lettuce wraps. Well, I didn’t have any chicken, but I did have some ground pork so I thought, why not? Couldn’t I create something using pork as a substitute? Here’s what I came up with. The family loved it! I called the dish “Asian” because it was inspired by the wraps from a Chinese restaurant, but teriyaki marinade is Japanese, the noodles are Filipino, the peanut sauce is Indonesian, and the Mae Ploy sauce is Thai. LOL! A delicious blend of Asian flavors!
ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS
Prepare the Meat:
1 lb. ground chicken or ground pork (I used ground pork)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bottle Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade & sauce (or use your favorite brand)
Brown ground meat and garlic in a medium saucepot.
Drain excess oil, if any.
Stir in 1/2 cup teriyaki marinade and let cook for 2-3 minutes, then taste the meat. If it seems lacking in flavor, add more teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon at a time, until the flavor is to your liking. Be careful not to add too much or it will be too salty! I like Soy Vay teriyaki marinade but you could really use whatever brand you like.
Stir in grated ginger, cook for a minute more, and then taste the meat again. Just like with the teriyaki sauce, you can add more grated ginger, a teaspoon at a time, till the flavor is to your liking.
Stir in the water chestnuts, green onion, shitake mushrooms and jalapeño. Depending on how big your shitake mushroom caps are, you can add more or less, or omit them entirely if you don’t like them at all. Same thing with the jalapeño. You can add more than one if you want the dish spicier, or omit it altogether.
Make the Peanut Sauce:
1 can coconut milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup water
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1½ tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. grated ginger
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepot and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended.
The sauce thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, till it reaches the consistency you want.
Prepare Remaining Ingredients:
1-2 heads butter lettuce
1 pkg. bean thread or cellophane noodles
1 carrot, julienned
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 bunch basil leaves, chopped
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
1 cup peanuts, finely chopped (optional)
Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce
Carefully separate larger, outer lettuce leaves and wash and dry them well.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and let boil just until softened, about 2 minutes or so. Drain into a colander, run cold water over them, then allow to drain and cool completely.
Place all the condiments in separate little serving bowls.
Have everyone assemble their own wraps.
Place a lettuce leaf on your plate.
Top with some noodles, then meat, carrots, and herbs.
Pour a little peanut sauce over the top.
Add a little Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce.
Then finally, sprinkle top with chopped peanuts if desired.
If your lettuce leaf is big enough, you can roll it into a little log and call it a lettuce wrap. If not, just serve it open-faced with a fork and knife and call it a lettuce cup like I did! A rose by any other name, right?
NOTE: If you don’t like ground chicken or ground pork, you can make this dish with whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Mix the teriyaki marinade and grated ginger together (omit the rest of the ingredients). Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki-ginger mixture for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Grill the chicken or bake it in the oven. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips. Then continue with the recipe.
I originally saw this recipe on the Martha Stewart website and thought it would be fun to try making it. My family loves the Chinese sausage known as “lap cheong” and I love anything made with puff pastry. Lap Cheong wrapped in puff pastry sounded like a match made in heaven. These little bites were so easy to prepare, besides being tasty and addictive. Don’t forget to serve them with spicy Chinese mustard. It pairs perfectly with the sweet sausage bites.
CHINESE SAUSAGE BITES
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
flour, for dusting
4 Chinese sausages (lap cheong)
1 scallion, thinly sliced on the bias
1/4 cup Chinese mustard
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Whisk egg and water together in a small bowl.
On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to about 10 x 12 inches.
Cut into four 5 x 6-inch rectangles.
Brush egg wash along one long edge of a puff pastry rectangle.
Lay one sausage along opposite edge and roll up, pressing seam to seal.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down, and brush with egg wash.
Repeat with remaining puff pastry and sausages.
Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake until puff pastry has cooked through and is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let cool slightly, then slice into rounds using a serrated knife.
Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with sliced scallions for garnish.