Friday, December 17, 2004

A Taste of Taiwan

taiwan sausage
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
I caught the last day of the World Bazaar Festival last Sunday at the World Trade Center and made one of my most important food discoveries of the year: the Taiwan sausage in choices of pork or chicken. It is simply so yummy that I've been eating it everyday for five days. A dozen cost only P160 pesos and is available in Chinese deli shops like DEC's deli and Shin Tong Yang on Gandara St. Binondo.

ice bar
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
In the same Taiwan booth, I tried their dessert which is called Ice Bar. I found out it was a better, tastier version than the rage of the moment, the Ice Monster. One had a chocolate-mallow topping while the other had cherries and preserved fruits. I heard the distributor is already accepting dealerships so it should be a craze soon. At only P35, the Ice Bar is definitely a treat.

My latest food adventure has aroused my curiosity of Taiwan. My Rotarian buddies were there recently to visit our sister-club and they were also raving about the food (not to mention running naked in the freezing open-air hot spring). Hmm, Taiwan should be on my list of must-visit places soon. If you have anything more to say about Taiwanese cuisine, your comments here would be much appreciated.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Sugar High Friday: Banana Pistachio Crunch

Banana Pistachio Crunch
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
I have just discovered Is My Blog Burning? or IMBB and I like participating in their activities because it gets me in touch with fellow foodies from all over the world who I could learn a lot from. As a result of surfing all the great food sites from Italy to France to California, I have also launched a separate food blog called Munchin' in Manila which is actually just a compilation of my food-related posts here, and then some! (It's a wonder how I make the time). Hopefully, this will motivate me to spend more time in the kitchen; after all Momma's cooked and baked treats are in-demand from the Three Incredibles.

It was great joining Jennifer's cookie swap and now it's time to show our wares for Sugar High Friday # 3 being moderated by Zarah from Denmark. Because of time constraints,I've decided to come up with the Banana Pistachio Crunch which calls for the simple recipe of baking the banana cake spiced up with sour milk and nutmeg. The no-fuss topping of breakfast cereals and pistachios gives this yummy dessert its "crunch."

How-to (as adapted from the Philippines' Food Magazine:)

1. Make the sour milk by combining 1 tbsp. vinegar, 1/4 cup evaporated milk and 3 tbsp. water in a small bowl. Set Aside.

2. Begin making the cake.
Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking pan.

In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup condensed milk and 1 cup mashed bananas. Set Aside.

In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Set aside.

In a bowl of electric mixer, cream 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Lower mixer speed and pour in the banana mixture and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with sour milk, ending with the flour mixture.

Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 15 minutes. (Best to check cake for doneness)

3. Make the topping. Combine 3/4 cup cornflakes (in this case, I used Honey Stars cereals), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts and 2 tbsp. butter.

After cake is baked, remove from oven and sprinkle the topping mixture on top.

Return cake to oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until top is crunchy.

Photo shows what's been left of the cake after the twins lapped it up. Surprise! Surprise! This simple dessert gives extraordinary enjoyment.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pasta puttanesca for when you feel s-e-x-y

Pasta puttanesca
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
As everyone probably knows, this pasta has a colorful history. Its name was derived from the Italian word "puttana" which means lady of the evening. One folklore has it that fishermen in the southern coastal towns of Italy traded their freshly-caught anchovies for the pleasure of a woman's company when they couldn't afford to pay the money up front. With all those anchovies, members of the world's oldest profession then found a way to make it into the zesty, piquant puttanesca sauce.

From reading, I found out that there are many variations of this pasta. Although some say it's better slow-cooked, I prepare it when I want to come up with a quick,satisfying meal that's a bit different from the usual carbonara and sweet-tasting spaghetti Filipinos often prefer.

Whether slow- or quick-cooked, what's important is that the basic ingredients should remain:

1/2 cup olive oil
minced garlic
1 small can anchovy fillets
fresh, red, ripe tomatoes - blanched & seeded
1 small bottle capers
1 cup pitted black olives (preferably Kalamata)
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. dried or fresh basil leaves
salt to taste
pasta cooked al dente
parmesan cheese


1. Heat olive oil. Add garlic, taking care not to brown it.
2. Add anchovies, mashing lightly.
3.Mix in tomatoes, capers, olives, parsley & basil leaves, stirring gently.
4. Season with salt.
5. Mix with cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


For this jaded office worker, lunches can be the best part of the day. It doesn't matter whether I am eating my lunch at my desk or discovering some place new, the sight of food (preferably steaming hot) is enough to divert me from my jarred thoughts or the pressure of deadlines.

Market Cafe's Chinese Kitchen, originally uploaded by ajay1.

At the Market Cafe, originally uploaded by ajay1.

The Market Cafe in the new Hyatt Hotel & Casino (right beside our corporate offices) is undoubtedly my favorite restaurant at the moment. Unfortunately, I could only eat here once in a blue moon because of its five-star hotel prices. Come to think of it, $20 is not too steep for a buffet with great selections but still I want my expense account (ugh!)

I totally love the raspberry iced tea (they also have guava iced tea, and the apple-celery cucumber juice which I still have to try.) Featured in the crustacean bar are the shelled prawns and oh-so-fresh oysters which are shucked in front of you. The chef is so meticulous that he has to have it laboratory-tested before being flown to Manila.

The cafe also has a Western kitchen offering a variety of roasts, make-your-own pizzas baked in a genuine wood-fired oven, an antipasti bar, an authentic Chinese Kitchen manned by Hong Kong chefs, a Japanese Kitchen with all those sushi, sashimi tempura and yakitori as well as a full counter filled with all those sinful desserts. What is good about the cafe is that most of the food is cooked in front of you so it's fast and fresh.

Cafe Coquilla buffet selection, originally uploaded by ajay1.

My friends are treating me and giving me my present a month after my birthday. Why oh you think that can double as your Christmas gift?? har!har!har! Anyway, it was better late than never when Notty, a.k.a. the Great Procrastinator, brought me to a sumptuous buffet lunch at the Cafe Coquilla of the Manila Pavilion Hotel.

I loove buffets although am trying to cut down on it. I think it is still the best way to discover new dishes and presentations. After sampling the high-quality specialties of the Market Cafe, this one rather pales in comparison. The roast lamb was not tender and the entrees looked like they were dying of dehydration from the heated-up chafing dishes.

The ones shown on the plate were the only ones I liked aside from the soup (clockwise): grilled tanguigue, grilled chicken with sate sauce, milkfish or bangus and smoked tanguigue which is such a favorite Filipino appetizer of mine, I could eat it in kilos.

Thanks for that sweet thought Notty:)

Oody's catfish salad, originally uploaded by ajay1.

We stumbled into Oody's just when we thought we didn't know where we were going to eat that day. It turned out Mayan would treat us for her birthday. The resto, which is located in a mall has tastefully modern Oriental interiors befitting the Asian fusion items on the menu. For this meal, we ordered Vietnamese spring rolls, chicken barbecue and Thai noodles with honey-stewed beef soup.They were all good.

But the star of the show was the crispy catfish salad which thrives in fish water in the Philippines. I was kind misled by the beautiful poster on the wall..I thought it was really the whole fish I was going to eat. It turned out they only retained the head and the tail, the rest of the meat was flaked and fried to a crisp and mixed with the onions, tomatoes, green mango, and sweet-spicy vinaegrette dressing. Heavenly! Once again it made me believe that salads are good.

When I am not brownbagging my lunch, me and my officemates walk down to the nearest value-for-money resto from our office.Lau Chan Hotpot along Mabini St., which I earlier wrote about for their delicious shabu-shabu, also has a lunchtime promo at an unbelievably low price of P65 (a little more than $1).I say 'unbelievably' because their servings are big enough to fill you up; add another P10 and you get fried rice mixed with scrambled egg.

Photo shows their rice and chicken with tausi (fermented soy beans) which I chose yesterday. Aside from this, they have 35 or so items on their affordable lunch menu containing favorites like peking duck, assorted cold cuts, asado, chopsuey, beef brisket and even squid curry.

Long live, Lau Chan!

Monday, November 22, 2004

A cookie swap & my chocolate chip oatmeal

Choco chip oatmeal cookies
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
When I want to satiate myself, I surf the great food sites on the web including Sassy's pioneering blog on Filipino cooking and Shiokadelicious' tips on great eats in Singapore. I discovered Domestic Goddess recently and her call for a cookie swap among bloggers got me thinking "why not?"

A point of clarification: this lazy cook bakes once in a blue moon. But I do remember last Christmas when I gave my home-made cookies as gifts to friends. My son Paolo, who has a sweet tooth, is my no. 1 fan when it comes to my classic chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Here's the recipe as adapted from Epicurious:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 2 c. all purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1 cup rolled oats.

3. In another bowl - with an electric mixer - cream softened butter, 1 1/4 cups firmly-packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix in 1 tsp. vanilla.

5. Beat in flour mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

6. Drop a rounded tablespoon of the dough uno buttered baking sheets and bake cookies in batches for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Cool the cookies.

Well, the cookies today didn't turn out to be the best I baked. It must be harassed state as my kids were having a tantrum one after the other. Whatever, the cookies were all they needed to quiet down and get a much-needed sugar fix.

Till the next IMBB.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Some like it black

Adobo is one of my all-time favorite Filipino dishes. I guess you could say it's my comfort food. Through the years, I've been blessed with nannies who cooked adobo well - you know, the version where you have pork and/or chicken simmered in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and other flavorings. I am saying this because there are many varieties of adobo in this tropical country where adobo is king. The sad truth is am not so proud of my classic adobo although I cook the other versions quite well, such as adobong manok sa gata (chicken in coconut milk) and adobong pusit (squid).

Squid adobo is quite an easy dish to make but the trick is how to make it delicious or just right to the taste. It could be that the squid meat is not tender or the taste of the vinegar is overpowering or the sauce is watery, meaning it was haphazardly done. Whatever, I like spooning my adobo sauce over a plate of hot rice and munching on the squid which is a pleasant diversion from the pork/chicken/beef cafeteria choices on weekdays. There is also a reason why I cook squid adobo at home. There is simply no way I'll eat it on a date and smile at my potential conquest with blackened teeth.

Last Monday being a national holiday, I had the time to go to the market and cook the adobo. For this budget-conscious mom, squid is quite expensive at P140 a kilo and it only gave me 10 medium-sized ones. This time around, I used cubes of pork as an extender and also because a little of the pork fat will give the dish a distinct flavor. Photo below shows how it looked like when I sauteed it with the garlic, onions and tomatoes in olive oil.

Originally uploaded by annalyn.

adobong pusit
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
When the meat was thoroughly mixed in and a little brown, I added the squid,a cuppa vinegar, a little water,salt or patis to taste (I found out Thai fish sauce tastes better)and a dash of sugar to neutralize the flavors.You let it simmer until the sauce evaporates and it is of desired consistency.Of course, don't forget to throw in a piece or two of local green pepper.Here was my adobo when it was done. It took a long time for this lazy cook to do it but it has been worth it..yum:)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bacolod City: A food lover's paradise

When we mention the word Bacolod, what comes to mind is its most famous import, the super tasty chicken inasal marinated in a melange of ingredients and grilled slowly over charcoal fire. In the City of Smiles, they even have a whole strip of establishments devoted to their own versions of the timeless inasal. Whether one is hankering for chicken gizzard, feet, ass, leg or leeg, Manokan Country is the place to be. Eating chicken Bacolod-style means settling down in one of those formica tables,sprinkling your hot rice with salt and achuete oil, and dipping your favorite chicken part in a sawsawan of soy sauce, vinegar, siling labuyo or what-have-you. This unforgettable feast costs as little as fifty pesos (soft drinks included).

We were able to talk to Bert Tarrosa who has been selling delicious inasal since the 60s. His joint, Aida's Chicken BBQ, is one of the most popular in Manokan Country, averaging 50 heads of chicken a day. Although he has been very successful in his business, Mang Bert refuses to branch out and keeps his recipe a secret, even among his staff.

Seafood lovers, on the other hand, will revel in the culinary pleasures of Pala Pala. The equivalent of Manila's Seaside Market, one gets to pick here the fresh catch of the day and have it cooked in adjoining turo-turo stalls. Dishes to die for include fish tinola, kinilaw, gambas, calamares, and steamed lapu-lapu, among others.

Bacolod - being the center of Sugarlandia - is definitely not wanting in heavenly desserts. This is after all the birthplace of in-demand pasalubongs like piaya, barquillos and napoleones. Other native sweets include butong-butong (similar to the Tagalog tira-tira), inday inday (Negros version of the palitaw), bayi bayi ( flavored like the espasol), dulce gatas and the puto Manapla.

Other restaurants to try are Aboy's, near the Goldenfields Complex, which offers delectable native dishes (surprisingly, the owner of the place is a Kapampangan and a cozy nook called Calea's Bakeshop which is fast gaining popularity even among the Manila crowd for its heavenly cakes and pastries.

Food-making is such a way of life for the Negrense that in places like Silay,they have the age-old ritual of the manug-libud. This activity happens daily in the market area where enterprising womenfolk barter and display 50 or more kinds of the town's best delicacies. Of course, the culinary excitement peaks during the MassKara Festival where stalls of lechon, barbecue, lumpia and other specialties can be sampled by the revelers.

As we found out, Bacolod is more than just sprawling haciendas, ancestral houses and rolling golf courses. It is also about food, glorious food. There is always something for everyone in this Clean and Green city - be it Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Italian or good old Negrense home cooking.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Caesar's Salad & Lamb Kaldereta (from scrap)

I can't imagine myself being a vegetarian but I swear the picture above turned me into an instant salad fanatic. I first tasted this Caesar's salad Pinoy version at Hotel Pontefino but I found out it is also in prime chef Gene Gonzalez's ensalada book where it was called Salad ni Cesar. After tasting this salad, I did not want to have the traditional version anymore where the thousand island dressing comes straight from the bottle. Caesar's Salad, Pinoy version, has a delightfully sweet tangy taste made more unique by the slightest hint of Balayan bagoong which is native to the province of Batangas.

How to make the dressing: Crush garlic very finely then whisk in some egg yolk. Add the mustard and slowly pour in some canola oil oil and whisk again until the mixture becomes of sticky consistency. Afterwards, add the following: 1/3 tsp. calamansi juice, Lea and Perrins worcestershire sauce, a dash of Tabasco and pepper (eight turns from your pepper mill). For the final touch, add 1/2 tsp. sauce from the Balayan bagoong (if you're using the bottle, be sure to skim the watery portion on top).

Dish #2 was a new dish I tried when I miraculously woke up early this week. A consolation for this lazy cook was that it was duly savored by my officemates and twins. Kaldereta is a spicy Filipino stew, probably of Spanish origin, which normally uses goat's meat (kambing), beef or chicken.

For this kaldereta, I had to use lamb chops. I love lamb but most Filipinos don't. In fact, the cruel carnivores among us prefer dog's meat (aargh!)Which is a pity since lamb has less fat and is healthier than those pork dishes like the lechon and binagoongan we die for.
Because I am always challenged making something from scratch, this kaldereta had to go the way of whatever was left in my ref and my kitchen: lamb chops left over from the weekend barbecue,Jean Brunet confit of chicken liver with armagnac (a.k.a. chicken pate)left over from the office Christmas basket (expiry date: February 2006) in lieu of the customary liver spread and Parmesan cheese instead of the Quickmelt, which I didn't have.

How I cooked: Marinate the lamb chops in vinegar and pepper for at least 30 minutes, best if overnight. You may add garlic and salt. Then brown the meat in olive oil (because I want to save on the expensive olive oil, I make it half and half between the olive and Minola), then saute in garlic and onions. Afterwards, pour in tomato sauce and enough water to tenderize. Add paprika, sliced red pepper as well as a little liquid from the olives. If you want a more spicy dish, throw in some fiery siling labuyo. When meat is tender, add the liver spread (or pate, in this case) olives, cheese, salt and a little bit of sugar to taste. Stir to blend and continue simmering till sauce is of desired stewing consistency.

You may ask, measurements, where are the measurements? One of my greatest sins is that I don't measure except when I bake so forgive me.
Bon appetit!