10 October

Brac de Gitano

(Andorra Cake Cream Roll)

October: National Dessert Month

Islander’s Mommy and Auntie Maria B. would make Filipino pianono (cake rolls with filling) for the family on special occasions, like birthdays and the holidays. The dessert seemed so fancy to make that Islander never created a cake roll until now—and discovered that it was not that difficult to do! She already had all the ingredients in the pantry and decided to try a cake roll recipe from Andorra called brac de gitano (gypsy’s arm). Since the Philippines and Andorra have Spain as a common country in their histories, the cultural cuisine and cake roll recipe and technique are similar. This Andorra version has an apricot jam and cream filling. Feel free to experiment with other fillings.

Home chefs can challenge themselves and make a surprisingly simple cake roll like brac de gitano. Impress family and friends on special occasions and try this recipe during National Dessert Month.


(Adapted from Coil.com)

For the cake

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ cup flour, all purpose
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with sugar until pale. Add the flour, butter and salt.

Add the almond extract. Continue to mix well. Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the flour mixture.

Line a 9×13-inch lipped pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the edges to use as “handles”. Lightly grease the paper. Pour the batter in the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Pick up the cake by the “handles” and place in a cotton towel. Roll from the short end. Leave in the towel to cool. Meanwhile, make the cream filling.

For the cream filling

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 tablespoons plus ½ cup apricot jam (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds


In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold 5 tablespoons of apricot jam into the cream and mix well. Unroll the cake and spread the remaining ½ cup apricot jam on the cake, leaving ½ inch edges. Then carefully spread the cream mixture on top of the jam.

Roll the cake back into shape, using the towel as a guide. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours. When ready to serve, dust powdered sugar then cocoa powder on top and sprinkle with almonds. Slice and serve cold.


  • Search our blog for more dessert recipes.


Inihaw Na Liempo

(Filipino Grilled Pork Belly)

October: National Pork Month

A Filipino fiesta is incomplete without pork: lechon, pata, adobo, sinigang and inihaw! So October is an even more popular month for Filipinos as it is National Pork Month. Whenever we go over to Islander’s relatives’ homes, there is always a Pinoy pork dish of some sort. If there is a family gathering outdoors, and there is grilling going on, then everyone gets to feast on meat sticks and pork belly (this makes sense as both recipes use similar ingredients of mafran/banana sauce and calamansi juice for the marinade). One of Islander’s favorites is inihaw na liempo. The marbled meat looks charred but is still moist and tasty. Grilled pork belly is simply served with hot steamed rice and a vinegary dipping sauce to sop up the flavorful fat. Because it is so rich, inihaw is a rare indulgence now for us. But when we eat it, it is a special treat at those family gatherings and during National Pork Month.


(Adapted from Ang Sarap!)


  • 2-2 ½ pounds pork belly
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup calamansi juice (or lemon juice)
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup banana sauce/ketchup (or tomato ketchup)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil


In a medium bowl, make the marinade by combining the soy sauce, calamansi or lemon juice, garlic and brown sugar.

Season with black pepper. Place pork belly in a zipper top plastic bag and pour the marinade in the bag. Seal well and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the pork belly to a plate and pour the marinade in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for a minute to kill off any pork bacteria. Let cool in another bowl and mix in banana sauce and oil.

Preheat the outdoor grill. Cook the pork belly for about 10 minutes on one side, basting with marinade frequently. Turn over on the other side and continue to baste until cooked through (do not overcook or the pork will be tough). Put pork belly on a plate or pan and let rest for about five minutes. Slice into bite-sized pieces. Serve with vinegar dipping sauce.

Bonus Recipe:

Sawsawan (Vinegar Dipping Sauce)


  • 1 cup vinegar (we use a combination of ¾ cup cane sugar vinegar and ¼ cup mirin/sweet rice vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (may omit if using sweet rice vinegar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 dried chili peppers or ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes


In a mixing bowl, stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onions and peppers. Store remaining sauce in a jar, refilling with a little vinegar if needed. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.


  • If mafran/banana sauce/banana ketchup is unavailable, substitute with tomato ketchup. If calamansi juice is unavailable, substitute with lemon juice.
  • Search our blog for more Filipino and pork recipes.

Kabocha Salad

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Our local library’s culinary club once had a potluck theme about pumpkins. Members brought in a variety of sweet and savory dishes—pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin soup, pumpkin hummus….. But Islander’s friend, Yukiko H., brought in something slightly different than the usual pumpkin recipes. Her contribution was a salad/side dish made out of Japanese pumpkin, a squash called kabocha. It was kind of sweet and savory at the same time and it was Islander’s favorite of all the other potluck pumpkin dishes. Thankfully, Yukiko shared her recipe with us and we are happy to feature her kabocha salad recipe on our blog for National Pumpkin Day.


(From Yukiko H.)


  • Small kabocha squash, cooked until tender
  • ¼ cup onion
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 slices of bacon
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil


Cut the kabocha squash into wedges or large chunks. Scoop out the seeds. Peel off the skin. Cook by baking (first toss in a little cooking oil, spread on a baking sheet and heat in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes) OR boiling (simmer in a pot of boiling water for 20-30 minutes until soft, then drain). Place in a bowl and mash a little bit, leaving some chunky pieces.

In a large bowl, grate the onion and sprinkle a little salt to get rid of its sharpness. Add vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in the same bowl and mix them well.

Chop the bacon roughly. Fry the bacon pieces in the canola oil until they become crispy. Put them in the bowl, including the grease, in the onion mixture. Toss in the kabocha pieces. Dish out and serve warm.


  • Arigato (thank you) for sharing your recipe for our blog, Yukiko!
  • Don’t forget to check out all of our other pumpkin recipes under the Theme Menus tab.

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