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.