Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Reminder

Pinned from

Homemade Pork & Beans and the Joy of Eating My Family's Cooking

Yesterday, I learned that my father finally shared his Arroz Valenciana recipe with my brother Angelo. 
The bright yellow sticky dish made of sticky rice is one of his most guarded recipes. He will show us how to make it but never discussing measures and cooking procedures. The Arroz Valenciana you see below was made by my brother under  my father's guidance. It's a sign that he trusts my brother in the kitchen and that makes me proud of Angelo.

Cooking is a traditional art form for my family, though there are no professional cooks in ours. We just take our food seriously.

My father is the master visionary, his cooking style set and his kitchen requiring a workshop-like set-up. He requires only to smell to determine the ingredients of a dish set before him.  In his tattered shirt and house shorts, he will peel, slice, grate and grind each piece of ingredient to perfection. Once he is ready, he sets the fire and his favorite wok in place. Using only the aroma of a dish to guide him,
he adds one ingredient after the other.  His aging hands deftly stirring the dish as the aroma changes, becomes richer and turns into perfection ready to be served.With him, there are no short cuts and no excuses.
Papa's Crabs with Garlic, Chilies and Oyster Sauce

My mother is the skilled artisan. Often under appreciated but always prolific. My best home-cooked recipes come from her. She is the creative kusinera, making do with what is available in the kitchen but never letting you know it. Her soups are what I miss the most every time I get sick. Her ingredients are common and her style is steeped in home-cooked tradition.  Her food always fills the stomach and the heart.
Mama's classic Macaroi salad
Angelo is the one who wants to make a living out of cooking. As a young kid he's had many interests- RPG, basketball, swimming and opera singing (at seven he was a fan of Luciano Pavarotti). Once he hit his teen years, he became interested in girls and cooking. We all thought that  he would eventually lose interest in both. But apparently he still hasn't. He remains the messiest kitchen user but the most natural one. it is always a joy to experience something new and weird with him. I hope he becomes an internationally known chef who will gift his supportive ate (older sister) with an Italian villa in the Lake Como neighborhood one day.
Lifted from Gina Tynan;s pinterest board, originally from
It is my family's love for good food made from fresh ingredients that has led me to figure out how to create home-made recipes of canned goods we love so much. After the home-made corned beef, it's pork and beans but this time I made use of the perennial Pinoy pork part favorite- Pata. Dig in!


- 8 cups water
- 400 grams white kidney beans, soaked overnight
- 0.800 kg, pork hocks or pata (around 4-5 pieces)
- 1 kg fresh native tomatoes (or 1 can whole peeled, stewed tomatoes)
- 250 ml. tomato paste
- 1/3 cup celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 pc. carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick circles
- 3 pcs. onions, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. ground oregano
- 1 tsp. dried, crushed basil
- 1 tsp. dried, crushed thyme
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tbsp. muscovado (brown) sugar
- 1/2 cup light Japanese soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon crushed peppercorn


Soak the beans overnight, drain and boil in 4 cups of water for 4 hours. 

Parboil the tomatoes. Then peel, seed and set aside.

Prepare everything once you have been boiling the beans for 2 1/2 hours.

On the third hour of boiling the beans, add in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and pata. Once the dish comes to a boil, add the tomatoes and tomato paste. As much as possible, use tomato paste as it is sweeter. I also use pata because the  boiled cartilege surrounding the bone helos create a jelly-like texture that won't be present if you use other cuts.

Add in water from time to time, making sure that the pata and the beans are submerged in water all the time.

Mix and let it simmer for about 45 minutes or as long as the pork hocks have reached the level of tenderness you want (mine is usually from 45 minutes to one hour and fifteen minutes).
Mix in all the remaining ingredients and let it the dish simmer for another 15 minutes.

Let it cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8 people who are not terribly hungry.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On TED TALKS- An 11-year old kid talks about what's wrong with our food

This kid can make you feel guilty about the food you're eating but he's got a point.

Click on the photo to go to the website

His profile from the TED TALKS website:
11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food -- far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production.

Bonchon Chicken at the Ayala Triangle Gardens

 When  A. and I  stepped into the Ayala Triangle compound, I had no idea that I was looking for this non-descript chicken joint with a signage that looks like  it belongs to a bank. The BonChon Chicken was recommended to me by co-workers and fellow foodies V. and R.

The modest space seats about a dozen or so tables and when we got there on a Saturday afternoon, half the place was occupied. Upon the recommendation of the service staff, I ordered the Chicken Combo with chicken wings and drumsticks, the ginger and tofu salad, rice and two cokes.
While we waited for our food, I took the time to snap a few photos of  the Ayala Triangle Gardens, a haven for me in my corporate work years. This was where I snuck off to whenever  needed a quiet moment to absorb of all the figures and strategies trapped in my head. The trees and quiet provided the perfect respite from the concrete high rise cages of the country's central business district.
The view from the restaurant

The trees now share space with metal sculptures by National Artist Arturo Luz,  and the quiet has been replaced by the steadt  murmur of pedestrians milling around looking for a place to eat.

This Christmas season, at night the spectacular view is even made more breathtaking with the Symphony of Parols, a lights and sound show designed by Voltaire de Jesus. Here's a link to one of the YouTube uploads of the said show.

After my moment of corporate recollection, the food arrived.

And we dug in to the small chicken pieces and the rice. After a few bites, we decided to get rid of the spoons and forks and as we say, galit galit na (ignore the company so you can focus on the food).

The chicken skin was crispy and moderately flavored with garlic and soy while the meat was tender. Since our taste buds tend to favor salty flavors, we felt it could still kick up the soy flavor a notch but just the same, it got our nod of approval.

The salad was nothing exceptional but we realized we came here for the chicken, anyway.

It was tempting to ask for more rice, but we decided we'd come back to check out the Hot & Spicy chicken combo next time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Leftover pandesal and Banana Raisin Pudding

I recently noticed that everyday, that there's always two pieces of left over pandesal from our daily ration. And trying to be a conscientious homemaker, I tried to make pudding out of these leftover. And to my dismay, I discovered that Pudding requires milk- whole, filled or evaporated. 

Not wanting to be derailed by this sticky problem, I decided to use an alternative - coffee creamer. And the resulting experiment turned out rather well. This recipe also uses a simple oven toaster, one that can get the heat up to at least 250°. I figured this is something that even a bachelor living in a condo unit can make since all the ingredients are available from the neighborhood convenience store.

So here it is ...the BANANA RAISIN PUDDING.

-       1 banana, mushed up
-       1 egg
-       5 tablespoons coffee creamer diluted in 1/2cup hot water
-       2 pieces pandesal, cut into cubes
-       2 tbsps raisin
-       ¼ cup condensed milk (add as needed)

Add the raisins to the diluted coffee creamer as you let  it cool. Mix the mushed up banana with the diluted coffee creamer and raisins. Lightly beat 1 egg in a bowl. Add in the colled down coffee creamer, banana and raisin mixture. Add the pandesal cubes. Mix gently until the bread is soaked and has become mushy.

Pre-heat an oven toaster for 5 minutes (180-200 degrees).  Place your mixture in a foil pan. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Once cooked, pour condensed milk as desired.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Charlie's Grind & Grill

A few weeks back, I got the chance to unwind with my co-workers and meet some new acquaintances. And over our Italian meal, guess what we talked about? Food, of course.

They were gushing over a newly opened burger place, Charlie's Grind & Grill. And when they mentioned chicken wings, I made an appointment with myself to visit the Ortigas Avenue branch (the other one is in Shaw Boulevard extension).

The Classic Buffalo Chicken Wings did not disappoint, blue-cheese dip included. I ordered it to be just mildly spiced. I think, this is the heat level that non-chili enthusiasts can enjoy. The chicken skin was crispy while the flesh inside was tender and cooked to the bone. The dip had just enough blue cheese and non of the greasy mayonnaise base.

The veggie sticks that came with it were a bit too dry, though.

The Angus beef cheeseburger was juicy and tender  but lacked the woodsy grill taste that sticks to your palate. The serving was big and definitely filling, making you think that the pricey meat is all well worth it.

The pasta was a visual feast but proved to be less memorable in the taste department. I don't even recall which one we ordered.

I would go back to Charlie's for the chicken wings and if  I'm hungry enough, maybe the burger, too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gusto Mo Bang Mag-Pakwan...Sa Sinigang?

Whilst surfing the net for interesting fruit-based meat dishes, I came upon several articles about sinigang (sour, fruit-based soup) using Pakwan (watermelon). Bloggers and food enthusisasts wrote about it as a native dish of Pampanga and Laguna. I think the area of San Miguel Bulacan and Candaba, where watermelons abound is a logical area of origin for this dish. That theory is unfounded of course. 
Another interesting  bit of cooking technique adapted for this sinigang was to pre-cook the pork so the watermelon will not disintegrate. Interesting, 'no?
Although the recipe calls for the use of unripe watermelon, using a slightly ripe one will do, just make sure to include the pale green flesh of the fruit. I also use the seedless watermelon variety you can buy from the supermarket.
And instead of using a tamarind cube, you can use stock made from fresh unripe tamarind boiled and strained to remove the solids. I think you can even make the dish prettier if you add in the rarely available tamarind flower (which has a subtler sour taste).


3/4 Kg seedless watermelon (pakwan mura- hilaw), peeled, cut into chunks
1 Cup sliced tomatoes
1/2 Kg pork spareribs, cut into chunks
1 pc large taro roots (gabi), peeled, sliced into small bits
1 large onion, quartered
2 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 pcs finger chillies (siling haba)
1/2 bundle string beans (sitaw), cut into 2" long
1 bundle  water spinach (Kangkong), trimmed, washed
1 small bundle okra, sliced into diagonal 1inch pieces
1 small labanos, sliced into 1 cm-thick pieces
Salt or fish sauce (patis) to taste
1 tamarind cube, softened in 1 Cup water

1. Blanch the pork spareribs in a pot of boiling water. Skim top to remove impurities.
2. Dilute the tamarind cube in 1 cup of the water used for blanching the pork spare ribs.
3. In another clean pot, place the watermelon at the bottom. Then add in the onions, tomatoes, taro roots, then the blanched spareribs. Add in the tamarind mixture and around 5 cups of water. Cook over high heat until boiling, then simmer until meat is cooked and the watermelon are soft and mushy. This will take around 1 hour. Add water if you want to adjust the sourness of the soup.
4. Start adding the vegetables starting with the finger chillies and the string beans. Cook until the vegetables have changed color (brighter) but remain crisp.
5. Add in the water spinach. Cover the pan. After about 1 minute, add in the leaves of the water spinach.
6. Season with salt or preferably fish sauce to taste. Serve hot with rice.

Caramelized Danggit

I tried to caramelize danggit (dried rabbit fish) but it was a fail as the dried fish moistened and refused to get crispy.

The sweetness of the muscovado (brown, unwashed sugar) I used was too subtle to counter the saltiness of the fish. Well, this won't stop me from experimenting, though.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Puto Calasiao with Cream Cheese

This is a really yummy quick fix that you can serve guests on a Sunday afternoon or just enjoy by yourself.

You can get the Puto Calasiao from most weekend markets.  There are also stalls  along the road leading to White Plains and Katipunan that exclusively sell this Pinoy delicacy and kutsinta (sticky rice cake). They source it mainly from the barangay in Calasiao, Pangasinan that produces this bite-size steamed rice cake.
Photo by Jes Fenol of "Tara Let's Eat!"
Photo by Jes Fenol of "Tara Let's Eat!"
Photo by Jes Fenol of "Tara Let's Eat!"
 Get the unflavored, white kind. Lay the puto pieces on a plate and smother one by one with soft cream cheese. Make sure to almost cover the smooth mound of the rice cake.

The creamy, salty cheese is complemented by the slightly sweet soft cake. Take a bite, it's alright ;)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Singapore Chicken Rice

Been shopping at Shopwise Cubao for several years now and have seen food establishments around it  come and go. The latest food place to spring up is Singapore Chicken Rice, inconspicuously located  near the parking lot entrance and service delivery bay of Shopwise.

The first order of the day was of course the White Chicken Rice which, at P95 per set meal complete with soup and yogurt drink, makes you feel like you've hit the jackpot. Wel,, a P500 peso lotto win anyways ;)

Also took the risk of ordering the pungent Mee Goreng and not the favorably reviewed Pancit Chino. The fried spicy noodles tasted as hot as they look. The only downside to it was it was too overly spiced for my Pinoy palate and smelled like feet.

Instead of trying the usual dessert, I ordered the kaya toast. It's something I could eat everyday for breakfast of someone made it for me everyday. The coconut jam was perfectly complemented by the warm salted butter on the toast. 
I will definitely come back here and take my Kaya toast with the chocolate Dino drink and try the Pancit Chino.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Once a week, A. and our long-time friend E. usually eat out. We share a new experience and E. dishes out the latest showbiz chismis (gossip). A few weeks back, we made to it a small but cozy place along the booming Maginhawa street, Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace.

Black Soup Cafe
As I already had dinner, I got myself one of the more intriguing dishes on the menu, Hot Balut.  Although Balut has been featured in many shows as a curious (red: weird) Filipino food, it is quite common in other Southeast Asian countries. In Thailand it is called Khai Luk, Pong Tea Khon in Cambodia and Trung Vit Ion in Vietnam.

The boiled duck egg  is served, shelled chopped and sauteed. If you have a distaste for the unborn ugly duckling, then this dish will be a challenge for you to look at.
Hot Balut
Spiced with siling haba (green chili), garlic and onions, the balut remains tasty but after finishing it, I missed the experience of cracking the egg, drinking the hot salty liquid inside and putting salt before you open the egg fully and biting into the feathery flesh of the duck embryo.

As our friend dished out the latest story on a young actor turned away by a potential gay politician benefactor because of his scarred bum, we took turns tasting the different dishes we ordered.

The Blacksoup Greens was refreshing, a little bit on the sweet side which fits the Filipino palate.

The Lamb inasal was tender although the meat portion was too small and cut too thin. It was hard to really dig in to the dish. The Dalandan Salad on the side was absolutely refreshing, a perfect complement to the grilled meat.
Lamb Inasal with Dalandan Salad
We shared several pastas but the most memorable was the Vigan Longganisa, with the pasta strands coated in the orange oil of the Ilokano sausage and spiced just right. But again, the serving was too small.
Vigan Longganisa pasta
Although our palates were satisfied, the portions in Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace left our bellies wanting more.