Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken inasal empanaditas

by @mrfredbriones

I've always thought that being Filipino American was something to be proud about. My parents shared their rich culture and traditions with me throughout my childhood and I've never lost touch with my roots. My favorite memories were the many family gathering and parties where we shared traditional dishes that really couldn't be found at any restaurants at the time.

This month’s theme for the Kulinarya Cooking Club is “Only in the Philippines”. Pretty challenging for me to come up with a unique dish only because here in the SF Bay Area, we have so many authentic dishes that many of our restaurants and chefs share with us already. Although there is a dish that I rarely see on anyone's menu...with the exception of my fellow KCC member's posts.

I decided combine two of  my favorite dishes into one unique party snack. My goal was to infuse the unique flavor of chicken inasal and make some empanaditas.


  • 1 lb of ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup lemongrass, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon or calamansi juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of achuete oil
  • egg wash - to help seal your wrappers
Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. In a wok or a large heat 2 tbsp of achuete oil and completely cook your ingredients. Once you are done, transfer your cooked filling into a bowl and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

For my wrapper, I used simple dumpling wrappers that are easily found at most Asian groceries. You can make authentic empanda dough like this from If you have kids, make sure to let then fill the wrappers because it's pretty fun and definitely makes for a great family activity.

Use about a large spoonful of filling and place it on one side of the wrapper. Now using your egg wash dab your finger and lightly rub the outer edges of your wrapper. Next, fold your wrapper over to for a half circle. With small fork, crimp your edges to create a seal like the image above. Once you finish they are ready to fry. I used my trusty deep fryer for these because using my large frying pan would mean more clean up for me. Remember when frying anything, make sure that you reach temperature before starting to cook your food. Since the filling is already cooked, you only need to flash fry these for about 2 minutes using a deep fryer. I recommend taking the basket out and flipping the empanaditas after a minute of frying.

This recipe should yield over 40 empanaditas but I really lost track because the kids kept eating them once each batch was finished. Pick up two packages of wrapper just in case. You can also freeze your batch and save them for a later date.

Crispy empanaditas fresh from the deep fryer
I know that chicken inasal is normally a grilled dish, but once you bite into these crispy bite sized treats, the flavors will explode in your mouth and you won't be disappointed. You don't need any sauce for the empanaditas but you can play around with aiolis. I played around with a Sriracha Aioli which actually worked well with the sweetness of the empanaditas. 

Like most Filipino food it's meant to be shared and you'll definitely have enough to go around. For more delicious recipes, please visit my other Kulinarya Cooking Club member's blogs:

Palitaw  from Day of Chef by Day 
Tapsilog from Cherrie of Sweet Cherrie Pie
Kare-kare from Adora of Adora's Box
Kulawong Talong from Elizabeth of Asian In America

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Longganisa pandesal pizza

Talking about your first love is something that could pose as a challenge for most folks. It could be embarrassing, bring back bad memories, or even spark up some much needed romance for some people. For me, my first true love was the art of filmmaking and video. I got inspired to make videos when I was in elementary school when I saw my tito Rey making wedding and cotillion videos from VHS tapes. Pretty high tech back in the 80's. So my dad bought me my first 8mm camera and I never looked back. I enrolled at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, which was like going away for college, since it was all the way on the other side of the Bay. Riordan was the only school in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the first in California to offer television and film production as a fine art elective. It was the perfect place for me.

Fast forward a couple of years later and I was accepted to San Francisco State's Radio and Television program. Hundred's of television projects, short films and documentary projects would keep me busy for the next couple of years. My late late nights and early mornings as an art student kept me awake and away from home. We did have Mr. Pizza Man, who nicely enough, delivered to us on campus even after hours. I can't even remember how much pizza we consumed on a weekly basis, but it was a lot! College students probably make up most of the business for most pizzerias and I'm sure we kept Mr. Pizza Man busy during our college years.

For March, the Kulinarya Cooking Club came up with a theme inspired by "your fist love". This month's hosts, Abigail of Nappy Tales and Marni of Kensington Kitchen, couldn't  have came up with a better challenge. I had a few ideas of how to connect a dish to a relationship but I didn't want to write up a Telenovela (even though it's starting to read like one). Later, I'll connect the dots and explain how filmmaking and pizza actually brought me to my true true love!

So since pizza was a big part of my filmmaking career, I thought it was fitting to share an original pizza recipe with you. Of course since my blog is focused on Filipino food and healthier alternatives, I had to throw in a twist the classic college campus staple. My version combines longganisa and the ever so popular pandesal. But, I'm not slicing up pandesal and throwing some sauce and meat and calling it a day. My version uses a simple whole wheat pandesal recipe for the pizza dough. Don't be intimidated by making your own dough because it's easy. If I can make it, you can too.

Plan your steps accordingly. You can start with your pizza sauce, get your dough ready, then cook your longganisa. Total time is about 2 hours and 30 minutes. If you have your pizza sauce prepped already, you'll cut your time in half.

Pizza sauce ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cans tomato paste (about 9 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 tbsp of cane vinegar
Mix together the tomato paste, water, and olive oil. Mix well. Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste, oregano, basil, and rosemary. Mix well and let stand for 2 hours to let flavors blend. No cooking necessary, just spread on dough.

 Pandesal ingredients (you can subtract the sugar for a more authentic pandesal)

  • 2 cups all purpose whole wheat flour (use regular flour if desired)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (I used Splenda instead)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 5/8 cup fresh milk, warm
  • 1 1/8 tsp rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 piece raw egg
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
Combine the yeast, 1 tbsp sugar from your 1/4 cup, and warm milk and stir until the yeast and sugar are fully dissolved. Let it stand for 10 minutes. You should notice that the yeast is active if it doubles in size. Combine the flour then the sugar, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl and mix until you achieve a consistent texture. Now add the egg, melted butter, cooking oil, and yeast-sugar-milk mixture in the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients then mix again until a dough is formed.

On a flat dusted surface, knead the dough for 8 minutes to achieve a smooth elastic dough. Mold the dough into a round shape and place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 1 hour.

  • 1 package of longganisa
  • 2 cups of fresh mozzarella shredded
  • 1 large portabella mushroom sliced
Longannisa Prep 
I  won't go into the proper way to cook your longganisa because there are so many variations to choose from. Go to your Asian grocery or even some Lucky's and Whole Foods I believe, try a brand and follow the directions. I used Orientex Sweet Longganisa for this recipe. The entire package was used for our carnivore pizza but you can save a few links for breakfast.

Once you are finished cooking your longganisa, let it rest for a few minutes and then cut them into thin slices and set aside.

pile on your toppings for a carnivore pizza

Final assembly  (Preheat your oven at 425)
After an hour, your dough will be ready and should have more than doubled in size. Now you can roll out your dough and try to achieve something that resembles the shape of a pizza. I'm sure some of you have some skills at pizza dough tossing so please send me your tips. Roll or toss your dough until its round and about 1/2" thickness all around. Next, place your dough on a lightly greased pizza or cookie sheet. Place the dough in the bottom rack of your oven for about 5 minutes to ensure even cooking.

If you have planned accordingly, your sauce is ready to pour onto your dough. With a spoon, pour enough sauce in the middle of your dough and spread it evenly. Next, add your cheese, then your mushrooms, and last but definitely not least...your longganisa. Now, put your pizza in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

Longganisa pandesal pizza
It was really hard to take photos of this pizza when I took it out from the oven. My family wanted me to skip the photo shoot and dive right in. After a few dozen photos, the carnage began. This pizza was definitely a meat lovers pizza, but very different. The distinct aroma of the pandesal crust is quite different from normal everyday pizza crust. Combine that with the savory sauce, flavorful mushrooms, cheesy mozzarella and of course your sweet'll be sure to have someone falling in love with you.

Too pretty to eat
So I said that I would connect the dots between filmmaking, pizza and my true true love which happen to be my wife. It was in early 2000 and my documentary "Tagumpay" was screening at the 2000 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival. I need a date for opening night and I was happily single at the time. I ran into Tina, who I knew from school, at aTuesday night hip-hop spot called Storyville.(which later became the famous Polenge Lounge previously graced by Chef Tim Luym) One thing led to another, and I had a date for opening night. So the evening went well and we decided to head to North Beach and have a bite to eat at Calzone's Italian Restaurant. We shared a bottle of wine, a margherita pizza and a romantic evening. 11 years later, were are still together. Who would have thought that pizza and my love for filmmaking, would somehow align the stars and bring us together?

I hope you enjoy my recipe and my love story. I know it was a bit long but it's a story I don't mind sharing. #truelove #fate

A short clip from my documentary "Tagumpay" 1999.

Enjoy these awesome entry's for February
Aprodite's Baked Oysters by Chef Day of Chef by Day
Shrimp and Tofu Lumpiang Sariwa  by Tina of Pinay in Texas
Arroz a la Cubana by Jun Belen of Jun Blog
Tiramisu Sandwich by Oggi of Oggi I Can Do that
Lechon Manok by Adora of Adora's Box
Avocado-Calamansi Sorbet by Pearl of My Sassy Chef
FruitCompote a la Jacques Pepin by Malou of Skip to Malou
ChiliCrab by Felix of Reel and Grill
Pork Menudo by She of Senorita Sisa
Lomi by Isabel of My Expat Mommy

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vegan Bistek and Quinoa

January is probably one of my favorite months of the year. It signals new challenges and brings me and my family new adventures to add to our exciting lives. This year I will be working on a few film and documentary projects which will definitely require me to be in great shape and perfect health. I'm really excited to be working on Director Matt Abaya's feature film project, Vampariah

So eating healthy is very important to me and my family, especially since the past few months, our eating habits kind of veered from our normal healthy eating routines. But, I was very excited when Pearl of My Sassy Chef and Thea of Words and Nosh gave us the perfect theme to start the year for the Kulinarya Cooking Club. Our challenge was to create a Filipino dish that was a bit more healthier. Now, would I share a dessert, an appetizer or a main? I had a ton of ideas and thought of different takes on Filipino cuisine that would be lower in sugar, carbs, sodium and overall healthier for all. It wasn't that hard for me because I have been on a low sugar/carb, high protein diet for the past 2 years. My doctor tested me for diabetes a few years ago and the tests showed that I was pre-diabetic and my doctor challenged me to change my lifestyle a bit. Ouch! I never really though about being a diabetic and really didn't know much about the disease. So right away, I changed my diet, worked out everyday and became more aware of what I was doing with my body. In a matter of 30 tests showed no signs of being close to diabetic! Awesome right! Well, I decided that it wouldn't stop there. Today, my family  continues to stay on our diets and exercise plans. 

TJ's vegan bistek slider courtesy of

Because of social media, it's a bit easier to find healthier alternatives to dishes. This Christmas, TJ and RG of www.astigvegan invited my family to an wonderful potluck where we shared a few vegan dishes. TJ shared an awesome take on vegan bistek which was served as sliders. Totally delicious and worth trying again. So I decided that my dish for the Kulinarya challenge was going to be inspired my TJ's awesome sliders. I chose to make vegan bistek with quinoa. Why quinoa and not brown rice? Well, brown rice is a healthier alternative to white rice, but it will still spike a diabetics blood sugar and has a higher gylcemic load. It is higher in protein and has a lower carb count per serving. For more info visit 

All of the ingredients can be purchased at your local Asian grocery, farmers market. Luckily for me, my family grows most of their vegetables and I can pick directly from their backyard. 

4 cups of sliced shiitake mushrooms (you can use the dried variety found at most Asian markets)
1/2 large white onion sliced
1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp of coconut vinegar
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice - you can use calamansi - (because of the harvest)
2 cups of quinoa
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Vegan Bistek
If you are using the dried variety, rehydrate your mushrooms in water for about 30 minutes. Take them out of water a set aside to drain. Slice your mushrooms evenly and place in a medium bowl.Next, add your wet ingredients to your mushrooms and allow 15 minutes to marinate.  Now slice your onions into medium sized rings and set aside.

In a wok over medium heat, add your oil. Next, saute your onions for a few minutes until soft and clear. Now add the mushrooms and rest of your ingredients. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Vegan bistek
Place your quinoa in your rice cooker and add 4 cups of water and turn your rice cooker on. That's it! In about 15-20 minutes
( Depending on your quinoa, you might need to rinse it before cooking. Quinoa is very easy to make and can be done way faster than white or brown rice. It might be very bland for most so definitely season and add whatever herbs you like. For my recipe, I add 1 tbsp of vegan butter and a pinch of garlic salt. The butter seems to prevent any burning on the bottom of my rice cooker)

Like always my little one comes to the kitchen to see what's cooking. I told her it was bistek and didn't bother to mention it was shiitakes instead of beef. A few servings later, it really didn't matter right? I love the favor of shittake and the texture feels a bit like meat. The flavor from the lemons and the coconut vinegar perfectly satisfies my need for sweet and sour. Hope you have the chance to enjoy this recipe and try more healthier versions of your favorite foods.

Vegan bistek and quinoa

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Say No to Censorship

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

from Google
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.
The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

Sign the Petition

Thank you!