Friday, April 29, 2011

Mango Ensalada

Mangoes this time of the year is abundant and seems to be at their sweetest.  Even the green Indian mangoes given to us by a friend tastes sweeter than usual.  For the past weeks we have been enjoying ripe mango,  making shakes out of them or simply cutting them up in half for a sweet ending to a delicious meal.

The other day we got a couple pieces that were not quite ripe yet. So we decided to make a quick and  simple mango ensalada, the perfect side dish for inihaw na liempo and fried fish.

This dish takes a total of 10 minutes to do.  Just cut the mango into cubes, place in a bowl, then add chopped spring onions, and if you like some heat add 1 piece chili, chopped.  For the dressing mix together calamansi juice and sugar, then pour over the mango mixture.  That's it, you now have the best summer side dish.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Summer Is Here

Summer means star apples are in abundance
Summer has definitely arrived.  The heat the last couple of days has been unbearable.  After cooking all I want to do is spend the rest of the day in the bathroom under the shower.

Another sign summer is here, is the abundance of star apples.  I am not sure if this is the season for star apples but I have always equated this fruit with summer.  My Lola had a house is Bulacan.  Whenever she got back from her visits to Bulacan she would always bring home bags of star apple which grew in her backyard.  One summer she took me with her.  I remember the pierra van (did I spell it right) broke down or was it a flat tire on the way to Bulacan.  We were at the side of the road for quite some time, so I entertained myself by stepping on the makahiya leaves in the grassy patch I stood on. The simple joys of a kid.

When we finally arrived at my Lola's house she showed me the star apple tree, and with the help of her cousin we picked off the ripe pieces and the whole afternoon we enjoyed eating this succulent and sweet fruit. 

Lola had a green thumb, in our house in Manila she had planted banana, atis and  langka trees in the tiny backyard, these trees actually produced fruits.  In the garden she grew roses, bongavillas and other plants I have forgotten what they are called.  I remember taking a walk with her around the village, she liked the flower growing at the front yard of a house so much that she asked the owner if she could cut-off a branch so that she could plant it in our house. We did not know the owner of the house, but I guess she could not resist the charms of my dear Lola. So Lola took that branch, and soon the flowers were in full bloom, much to Lola's delight.  

Lola, her trees and plants are long gone.  The star apples I enjoy today are given to us by friends.  But I will never forget my summer memories with my Lola.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Squid and Red Bell Pepper Stir-Fry

The Little Girl loves squid, any which way you cook it, she will eat it.   She says that she could eat squid every day. This is one of her favorite squid dishes.  Since it is the Lenten season I will be cooking this dish on Good Friday.

If you would like to try this dish, here's the recipe:
1 kilo squid
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/3 cup red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup green onion or leeks

1. Score each piece of squid to make a criss-cross pattern, then cut the squid into 2x2 inch squares.
2. In a saucepan, bring to a boil enough water to cover the squid, then drop the squid pieces in the boiling water.  Cook for about a minute, then take out squid from the saucepan.  Set aside.
3. Mix hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt in a bowl.
4. Heat a wok, when hot add oil.  Saute garlic and ginger.  Add the bell pepper strips, then toss in squid.  Pour in the pre-mixed seasonings and simmer until sauce boils. Add the green onions.  Remove from pan, then serve hot.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Chicken Fajitas

A thing of beauty

So delicious looking

Two weeks ago, it was my first time to make a Mexican dish (Quesadillas), since it was a hit with the family I decided to try making another Mexican dish.  My friend Melicha, suggested Chicken Fajitas.  Using Google I found a simple enough recipe to follow.  As you can see from the pictures above it turned out beautifully and the best part it tasted great.  The Little Girl loved it so much she finished two whole servings and was asking if she could have more.

Melicha, thanks for the great suggestion. I also appreciate that you regularly read the blog, your feedback is much appreciated :)

Here is the recipe:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips, season with salt and pepper
3 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
8 large flour tortillas, warmed to soften

1. Heat a large skillet, over medium-high heat.
2. Cook the chicken breasts until the outside is golden, and the juices run clear.  Then set aside.
3. Cook the bacon in the hot skillet to release some of the oil.  Stir in the onion and bell pepper, cook until the bacon is crispy.
4. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until they soften.  Add back the chicken, then add cilantro if you like.  Stir to combine and cook for another minute.  Then spoon over warmed tortillas to serve, top with garlic-mayo.

In my version I added chopped green onions and lettuce leaves for added crunch.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Left-Overs Salad"

For the last few days I've been doing a lot of good eating, but I have to confess the dishes have not been too healthy.  Fried, high calorie, high fat, high cholesterol food has been on the table since last Saturday.  So my body was craving, acutally I should say begging,  for something healthy.  So I checked the fridge to see what light and healthy dish I could make. 

I saw that there were some left-overs I could use to make a salad - corn, bell pepper, and cheese from the quesadillas made on Monday; calamansi that came with the birthday pansit we ordered on Tuesday; and homemade croutons I make last week.

I used the calamansi to make a vinaigrette.  Drizzled it over the lettuce mixed with the corn, bell pepper and cheese.  Then topped it off with the croutons.  This "left-overs salad" is exactly what I needed.  I am sure my doctor would be very happy to learn that I finally had something healthy this week.   But the weekend is fast approaching that means "good eats" again ;-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bagoong Fried Rice a la Market Manila

I have been following the blog Market Manila ( for about a year now.  I love his writing  style and his food photos look so appetizingly delicious.

Last month I came across his entry "Bagoong, Pork, Green Mango rice a la Marketman", I knew I had to try my hand in making this dish.  The first time I served this to the family The Little Girl and my Mom loved it so much they had multiple servings.  Since then the Little Girl has been asking that I make it every other week. 

I served this again last night, as one of the dishes we shared to celebrate 2nd Brother's birthday.  Again it was a hit with everyone. 

Thank you MM for sharing this delicious dish.

Below is the link to Market Manila's entry, it has the complete recipe.  I make mine without tapalen, because I could not find it.  But looking forward to making it with tapalen soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Prawns with Oats

I first had this dish in Singapore with my Mars - Jenny and Joan.  I made a mental note that when I get back home I will look for the recipe in Google.  I found and tried different versions, the best being the one I found in the Oct. 2007 issue of Yummy Magazine.  It became an instant family favorite, usually served on special occasions.  Today is 2nd Brother's birthday so we had to have our Prawns with Oats.

Do try this recipe out, it is super delicious.  As suggested in the magazine, if you are serving to kids it is best to remove the shells before cooking.  Or you can do what I do, I make two batches - the peeled ones are for the kids, while the ones with the shells on are served to the adults.  For me it tastes better if you cook it with shells on.

Here is the recipe from Yummy Magazine, they call it Cereal Prawns in the magazine:

5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon powdered milk
600 grams prawns, cleaned, leave shells on
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup butter
8 pieces curry leaves (available in Indian shops and groceries; if you can't find curry leaves just leave it out)
2 pieces siling labuyo
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chicken powder (simply crush a chicken broth cube)

1.  Mix cornstarch and powdered milk together.
2.  Dip the prawns in the egg, then the cornstarch-milk mixture.  Deep-fry the prawns in hot oil and set aside.
3.  In a wok, melt the butter and add the curry leaves and siling labuyo.   Cook until fragrant, then add in the oats and sitr-fry for a while.
4.  Add the sugar and chicken powder.
5.  Throw in the prawns and stir-fry until all pieces are coated with the oats mixture.

This post is dedicated to my dear Kuling, who requested that I post the recipe.  Kuling hope you get to cook and enjoy this scrumptious dish with your friends.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pork Tocino

The family's favorite tocino
Lola used to making homemade pork tocino, until we discovered that salitre was bad for your health.  So to satisfy our tocino cravings we went on search for the perfect replacement to Lola's.  It was a long search, there were tocinos that were too sweet or salty.  There were brands that burned easily because it had too much sugar, while others we found unappealing because of the weird color it had when cooked. 

Then we found Tita's Special Pampanga Tocino a few years back.  It was the answer to our tocino prayers. We loved this brand so much that during one of our Baguio trips, on our way back to Manila, we made a detour to  Pampanga to visit their original store.  We loaded up on the tocino and other goodies.  The taste of their tocino is a delicious combination of sweet and salty.  When cooked the color was appetizing, the meat remained soft, and the texture perfect.

They have a branch in Quezon City but we have not been able to visit in years.  But last Saturday my parents were in the area, they made sure to drop by to buy some tocino and taba ng talangka.  We consumed both with gusto last night, and for lunch today.  I hope it won't be another 3 years until we get to enjoy pork tocino again.

This post is dedicated to my friend Awic, who a couple of weeks ago requested a post on tocino.  Here you go Wicked, hope you like the post.

A Family Favorite - Gloria Maris Restaurant

Old Family Picture at Gloria Maris CCP Complex taken
sometime in the 1980s
Growing up in the '80s family milestones were usually celebrated in a Chinese restaurant.  Our favorites were South Villa in Greenhills and Gloria Maris in the CCP Complex.  Our clan celebrated anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, and even a wedding in these two restaurants.

Yesterday, after a long absence, we visited Gloria Maris at the Alabang Town Center.  We ordered the same dishes that my Tito Ed used to recommend to us - hot prawn and chicken salad, fried rice, steamed suahe, fish lip soup with black vinegar of course.  In between bites, we could not help but recall the many meals we had with had Tito Ed,  his favorite dishes, and the happy moments shared during those family occasions.

At the end of our meal I got a wonderful treat, I bumped into a very good friend who I have not seen for many years.  She was also at Gloria Maris with her clan - parents, brother, pamangkins, husband and two adorable little daughters.  I am sure they too were making happy family eating memories.

Weng it was great seeing you, hope to bump into you again soon :-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Aligue Rice

So delicious,  worth ditching your diet for a day or two ;-)

Had to take another picture of the beautiful aligue covered grains
I have very vivid memories of my Lola and Mom cooking Taba ng Talangka. They would boil some water then pour it over the live tatangkas.  After a few minutes the water would be drained, then using their fingers they would squeeze out the aligue from the talangka.  At the end of this tedious process their fingers would hurt from all the squeezing.  They would then cook the aligue with loads of garlic and onion, and simmer with vinegar.  The delicious scent of this wonderful dish can be smelled from my room.  I would eagerly count the minutes to when I could have lunch, and how many servings of aligue rice I would be consuming.  At the table I would show my appreciation to  Mom and Lola for all the hard work they put into making this.

But these days it is more convenient to use the bottled version, though not as good as Mom's and Lola's.  It has been a while, most likely 4 years, since I have had this dish.  Yesterday we bought two bottles at P280.00 each, we were surprised that it costs that much.  So I made sure that I got everything out of the bottle.  To make it more bottled version more flavorful we sauteed minced garlic and diced onion, then we lower the heat before adding the taba ng talangka to the pan.

It was delicious, so worth it, though I probably need to double the dosage of my anti-hypertension meds today :-)  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My First Time to Cook Mexican

I am not too familiar with Mexican dishes, the only Mexican food I've had are the tacos from Pancake House and nacho chips with store-bought salsa.

For my first attempt in Mexican cooking I decided to keep it simple and easy. So I made two kinds of quesadillas.  The first kind was ham and cheese quesadilla paired with a simple tomato salsa.  The second was corn and bell pepper with tomato and avocado salsa.  The family loved the ham and cheese quesadillas, I liked the corn and bell pepper kind better. 
Ham and Cheese Quesadillas with Simple Tomato Salsa

Corn and Bell Pepper Quesadillas

Tomato and Avocado Salsa

A yummy partnership :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

D-I-Y Potato Chips

Since I learned how to make potato chips, the Little Girl would always request that I serve this for merienda at least twice a month.  

The secret to making the chips crispy is to slice the potatoes thinly.  You can use a knife, but it is best to use a mandoline to ensure the slices are very thin.

If you would like to make your own chips all you need are two large potatoes, this will be good for 4 to 5 persons. Slice the potatoes thinly with either a knife or mandoline. In batches deep-fry the chips until they  turn that beautiful golden color.  Drain on paper towels.  Then season with salt.  For our chips I add some pepper and a little sugar.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My First Time To Cook Adobo

It was my first time to cook adobo from scratch.  I've made flakes from cooked adobo but I've never tried to make adobo on my own.  When I was young it was my job to check from time to time on the adobo my Mom or Lola was cooking, but that was it.

So today I decided to make my very first chicken adobo.  I was so anxious that I did not leave the side of the stove at all.  I was staring at the pan for the whole 45 minutes the adobo was cooking.   I was worried that the chicken would not be cooked all the way through.  I was worried that the liquid would dry up.  I was worried that the garlic would be burnt and bitter.  So how did the adobo taste?  It was bland.  I should have followed how my Mom and Lola made their adobos.  Once it was on the stove, they left the kitchen and would just check on it once in a while.  I believe all my worrying sucked all the taste out of my adobo.

So to save the dish I decided to turn it to chicken adobo flakes.  I added some more vinegar, and other seasonings.  It turned out okay.

This will not be my last attempt at making adobo, I promise myself that by the end of the year I will be able to make delicious adobo on my own.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Creamy Kalabasa Soup

Kalabasa (squash) was my favorite vegetable when I was a child.  Actually it was the only vegetable that I liked eating back then.  Two of my favorite kalabasa dishes are Ginataang Kalabasa with Shrimps, and Ginisang Kalabasa paired with Inihaw na Liempo.

The other day I felt like making soup, and tried out a recipe I found for Creamy Kalabasa Soup.   This soup is so deliciously filling I needed nothing else for lunch.  The addition of the bacon and croutons make this a hearty meal.  The kids loved it too because of the creamy smooth texture of the soup.

Here's the recipe.  You will need the following:
1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon oil
4 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 kilo kalabasa, peeled and cut into cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 pack all-purpose cream
1/4 cup cooked bacon, crumbled

1. In a pot heat oil, then saute onions until translucent.  Add water and chicken bouillon cube.  Stir until cube is dissolved.  Add kalabasa, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Using a handheld blender, process the kalabasa until smooth.  You may also process it in a blender in batches.
3. Return pureed kalabasa to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the cream.  Stir.
4. Pour soup into individual bowls top with bacon bits and croutons.  Serve hot.

Croutons recipe
2 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dried granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 loaf white bread, cut into cubes

1.  Heat the oven to 225 degrees. 
2. In a saucepan over low heat melt the butter.  Remove from heat and stir in garlic, basil, salt and cayenne.
3. Place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowls.  Add the seasoned butter and quickly toss to evenly coat the bread cubes.
4. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until it turns golden brown.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hot Shrimp Salad

Whenever I have Hot Prawn Salad I remember my Tito Ed.  He was the one that introduced me to what seemed to me then as sophisticated Chinese cuisine. Before that Chinese food was limited to lumpiang shanghai, mani and pansit.   Tito Ed used to be a consultant for a Chinoy who owned a Chinese restaurant.  Whenever we would go to that restaurant it was Tito Ed who would order for us. Apart from Hot Prawn Salad, he would also order cold cuts, shark’s fin soup (He would always say “Add Chinese vinegar, your soup will taste better.”), steamed lapu-lapu, fried pigeon, peking duck, and many other fine Chinese dishes.

So when I came across a recipe for Hot Shrimp Salad I had to try making it. I was surprised to learn that this dish is easy to make, I always imagined it would be a complicated recipe.  Making and eating this dish brought back good memories.

I dedicate this to you Tito Ed, we miss you dearly and thank you for the many happy food memories.

Here is the recipe, you will need the following:
1/2 kilo shrimps
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons condensed milk
1 can fruit cocktail, either the fiesta or imported variety works, but the imported kind makes it more special :)
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
3/4 cup cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel shrimps, then season with salt and pepper, add 2 tablespoons milk.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes. 
2. In a bowl mix together the mayonnaise and condensed milk. Drain the liquid from the fruit cocktail, then toss in the mayo-milk mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill in the fridge.
3.  In a bowl combine egg and cornstarch season with salt.  Whisk until the batter becomes smooth. 
4.  Drain the milk from the shrimps, then dip the shrimps in the batter, one at a time.  Deep-fry the shrimps.  Cook until light golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.
4. Toss cooked shrimps in the mayo mixture, serve immediately and enjoy :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mandarin Orange Salad

For lunch the other day I was craving salad.  Found a recipe in Yummy magazine for Mandarin Orange Salad.  The recipe recommended including fried breaded chicken fillets, but I decided to skip the chicken,   keeping the salad light and healthy.  The burst of citrus juice from the Mandarin oranges was so refreshingly sweet.  The sweetness of the oranges blended well with the tangy Asian dressing.  There really was no need for the chicken fillets, the salad was light but very filling on its own.
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