Bicol Express

Before my leukemia and medications left me sores in my lips and mouth for some time, I was a fan of spicy food. I think I am still one but I try to stay away just to prevent the sores from coming back.

One of my favorite turo-turo meals is the popular Bicolano spicy dish - Bicol Express.This dish is said to  be named after the train travelling Manila-Bicol. I am pretty sure most of you know (Pinoys) that the Bicol region is popular for making great spicy viands and that almost all are even great for pulutan (food taken in with beer or alcoholic beverages). 

Here is my version of Bicol Express - Please note that I want my BicolEx meaty so I'm using half a kilo of pork and that M is allergic to shrimp so I minimize the use of the shrimp paste.

Bicol Express (Sinilihan)

5cups Long chilies/lady-finger chilies (siling haba), seeded and julienned
1/2kg Pork Liempo, cut into 1/2" strips
2pcs onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3cups Coconut Milk (or 1 1/2cup coconut cream + 1 1/2cup water)
1/4cup Shrimp Paste
Salt and Pepper to taste
*Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce - depends on your preference

How to do it:
If you're using fresh chilies, soak it in salted water for about 20minutes (or more) after cutting them julienne style. Rinse then strain. Do this to reduce the spiciness of the chilies.
In a pan, saute the onion and garlic. 
Add the pork then the coconut milk.
Simmer until the pork is cooked through and the coconut milk reduced.
Add the shrimp paste and season with salt and pepper.
Best when served with steamed rice.
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Delimondo and Other Corned Beef Musings

Oil spells heart attack! Pero masarap ang bawal. LOL.
I love corned beef! Those salty and flossy, sometimes chunky and spiced beef meat that's usually sold canned. I grew up eating it straight out of the can but sometimes my lola would elevate the taste a little by sauteing it with onions, garlic and tomatoes. On special days, I'd have it hashed by adding diced potatoes in the mix or eat it omelette style.

Living in the US for quite some time gave me the opportunity to taste some of the brands available there. I come for grocery shopping mostly in Albertsons, Costco, Walmart and 99Ranch. I remember having Libby's, Hormel, Hereford and Palm all at the same time in my grocery cart and the cashier from Albertsons asked me if I was throwing a corned beef party. LOL. If you're wondering what my answer was, I said 'yes'. LOL.

I like Hereford the most among the four brands maybe because it isn't too salty (but the one available locally is salty). Their hash variant however tastes too grainy and made me realize that I am never going to be able to find good quality corned beef hash anywhere. Cooking it from scratch is still the best way to have it.

I've tried almost all local brands and find the one by Purefoods the best so far. I could finish a big can by my own and I don't like to share. <insert evil laugh here> 

What excites me (other than the feel and taste of corned beef) is the process of opening a can using that small 'key' then pulling and coiling the tin to expose a perfect block of beefy goodness. I find myself almost always eagerly volunteering to open the can whenever we eat corned beef and though I find it so cool, I still fail and break the tin about 30% of the time. hahaha!
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I cannot remember which came first - me finding Delimondo corned beef in S&R or reading about it in Yummy magazine. Anyway, being the corned beef fan that I am, I got myself cans of both the regular Ranch Style and Garlic & Chili varieties no matter how expensive it seemed. (The 400+g can costs Php150+.)

The next morning, I opened the big Ranch-style can good enough for say 4-6 persons (depending on a person's appetite). It was oily but was definitely good. M agreed with me that it's tasty with just the right saltiness. Since that very morning, I was itching to open the Garlic and Chili can so I can have a taste also. And so, it became officially a corned beef day as I fed M and W nothing else but corned beef. Bad, bad me.

Delimondo it truly a must! I love the Garlic and Chili! I love it that I actually do not mind that it is way costly compared to other regular corned beef brands. Value for my money. The beef shreds are actually long, and there are also chunky parts. It is really premium corned beef goodness in every bite.
Corned beef rice anyone?
I am now thinking of new and unique ways to serve my corned beef. Gahd. I wanna be an endorser. (Along with my Century Tuna endorsement dream LOLOL.)

Delimondo Corned Beef are available at:
Petra and Pilar Restaurant (JAKA Center Bldg, Exportbank Drive cor. Chino Roces, Makati)
Salcedo Village Weekend Market
Legaspi Village Sunday Market
Ayala Alabang Saturday Market
and recently in Mercato Centrale.
It is also sold in S&R Membership Shopping and selected Robinson's Supermarkets.

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Pork Sinigang

Who doesn't love sinigang
My son W, would not complain even if I serve him sinigang the whole week.
It is amazing how sinigang makes him eat more and faster and healthier.

Sinigang is a general term for a Filipino soup characterized by its sour taste that comes from a souring agents such as tamarind, guava, kamias and even the Japanese miso. There are also powdered ready-mixes available to make cooking sinigang a breeze.

The basic ingredients are comprised of - the meat (either chicken, pork, beef, fish or shrimp), vegetables (like sitaw(yardlong beans), gabi(taro corms), labanos(daikon), okra, kangkong(water spinach), sigarilyas, mustasa(mustard greens), talong(eggplant), etc.), onions and green chili pepper. The variety of ingredients that are incorporated in this dish makes it even more interesting to eat.

For now, I'm sharing with you my Pork Sinigang recipe.
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Sinigang na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)


1kg pork cut into chunks (or ribs/liempo)
1 large onion, quartered
3-4pcs tomatoes, quartered
1 pack of sinigang powder mix
1 medium radish (labanos), sliced
5 pcs medium-sized taro corms (gabi), halved
1 bundle (or about 8pcs) of yardlong beans (sitaw), cut into 2" long
1 cup of water spinach leaves (dahon ng kangkong)
3pcs green lady-finger pepper
*2pcs pork bouillion cubes (optional)
fish sauce to taste

How to do it:
In a pot, boil the pork cuts with the onions.
Once fork tender, add the tomatoes, labanos, gabi and sitaw slices.
Once the vegetables are cooked yet still crisp, add the kangkong leaves and peppers.
Simmer for about 5 minutes then add the seasonings - sinigang mix and bouillion cubes.
Add some fish sauce according to your preferred taste.
Best when served hot with steamed rice.

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Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge)

Filipinos eat just about anything with rice. 
Mikey Bustos even says, we're "Rice-ivores" and "We're Pinoy this way.
Champorado is like a Pinoy rice version of a "snack" much like 'suman'.
I love Champorado especially when it's milky and paired with 'tuyo'.
It's perfect for cold and rainy mornings.

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Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge)

a cup of sticky rice/glutinous rice (malagkit-haba is better than bilog for champorado)
3cups water
5T cocoa powder (or 1-2pcs of tablea)
1/2cup sugar 
milk - evaporated/condensed/fresh/powdered

How to do it:
Wash the sticky rice as you would in a regular rice, then drain.
Add the water, then the cocoa powder.
Bring to a boil while stirring to avoid lumps.
Add the sugar.
Stir once in a while and simmer until rice is cooked.
You may top your champorado with milk - your choice - evaporated, condensed, fresh or powdered.
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I like my champorado topped with powdered milk!  How about you? 

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Manila in BBC's The Toughest Place to be a Bus Driver

British channel BBC has this "Toughest Place to be a..." show. I recently came across a YouTube video of their episode about Josh West (a Londoner) who came to Manila to try out driving in our crazy streets using a jeep. A Pinoy jeepney driver named Rogelio Castro became his host and 'mentor' during his 10 days stay.

Watching this video is like seeing the daily lives of every average Juan. Other than the "driving swap" Josh also learned a lot about Philippine culture. Truly a mix of emotions. 

See 35:00 onwards and 42:08 onwards...I feel them both. *sigh*
45:38 shows another means of survival Pinoy style - re-cooking and selling thrown away food a.k.a. 'Pagpag'.

It is sad to face the real situation of our society now but heartwarming to see a foreigner in the person of Josh West be transformed into a more thankful and appreciative man.

Watch this video and let me know what you think. =D

*I wanted to insert some comments about family planning and contraceptions with regards to Elsie's condition (a girl also featured in this video) but I think I'll do that in another blog post --- RH Bill.*

Posting this video on a Thankful Thursday.
We have a lot of things that are far better than what others have ---
we should always be grateful and thankful for them.

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The Creative Process

Photo credit:


McDonald's Ketchup Now and Then


Parvati Home-Made Dessert Shop [Top Picks]

Amidst all varying origins of the word Parvati, I'd like to think its being the Goddess of Power should top it all. 
Because now, Parvati in the foodie world is like a dessert Mecca that gives sweet-toothed beings like me a piece of heaven on earth. 
For me, sweets are like my powers the same way Darna has her magical 'bato'. LOL.
It energizes, soothes and brings me happiness. =D
:: :: ::
I always make Gourdo's my excuse to M whenever I am in Trinoma just so I could sneak into Parvati and load myself with sweets. 
Though he agrees that there's a lot of good treats to try in Parvati, he doesn't like the idea of me spending much money stuffing myself. 
So there, now he knows my excuse. haha!
:: :: ::
The last time I dropped by Parvati, I bought three goodies that I find the best in the lot and without realizing, patronizing the bakers who are in someway related to me.
Here are my Parvati Dessert Top Picks (in no particular order):

The first goodie is the Frozen Brazo de Mercedes
Small Php200, Medium Php370, Large Php680
Made by 'Desserts by Fiona', this is truly one delectable dessert. I am a fan of the regular fluffy Brazo and this frozen version is a welcome change. The base is made from graham cracker crumbs followed by a layer of ice cream, then the custard and finally the meringue. The light and airy feel of the regular Brazo may have been reduced but it was replaced by the cool and smooth texture of the ice cream.
Parvati also offers another version of this frozen goodie, Frozen Mango Brazo.

These are my take-away boxes. I can't finish everything at once so I brought it home to share with my loveys.
The next goodie, and the perhaps the best among all that I've tasted in Parvati is the Triple Decker Chocolate Cheesecake
Mini. Php140

This cheesecake has smooth and rich layers of chocolate cake, then cheesecake then topped with another moist chocolate cake. No wonder it was voted as the top dessert in a contest held by Ayala Malls. The homebaker of this decadent dessert is Melinda Torre of Kusina Torre who is a sister of my high school batchmate Bea. 
I've been hearing a lot of good words about Kusina Torre's creations from our high school friends and I've been a 'fan' of their multiply site even before they joined Parvati.

The last but not the least is The Dome cake.
Small Php125, Medium Php235, Large Php700

The Dome cake must be the sweetest among my top picks. Having chocolate and Nutella in the list of ingredients, I declare that it is sinfully indulgent. The chocolate cake is covered with dark chocolate ganache and has chocolate morsels around it. (Count how many times I mentioned chocolate okay?) The core is filled with Nutella chocolate mousse. Definitely spells y-u-m-m-y!
This cake is created by Myra Avisado of Sweet Sherise, the wife of my cousin Michael. Props to Ate Myra for also making delicious Cassava de Leche and Fudgy Brownies!

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Thumbs-up to Parvati for bringing together winning products by really good homebakers. I mean, with the rising costs of raw baking ingredients (I know, because I also bake) I can still say that all of the items sold in Parvati are products of joyful labor and uncompromised quality

"Always the better choice...homemade."
These are freezers! The pictures/description outside corresponds  to the products found inside. Neat concept!
Dropping by Parvati is a must especially if you are a dessert-lover!
You may find them at the Trinoma Mall's Mindanao Ave. Lobby 
(Below National Bookstore; Beside Gourdo's)
They accept advance orders. Just call them at 9011428.
If you want your desserts delivered, you may call 2121212 for Quickdelivery service.


Shopping for School Supplies Tips

It is just a few weeks left before school starts again.
When W and I went to the mall to shop for some of his school supplies, National Bookstore was already packed. I know most parents are now preparing the budget and saving dates when to shop for supplies.
As I am almost done with W's, I am sharing here some tips when shopping for you kids' school supplies 
Photo credit:

1. Make a List
It is great that the school gave us the list of the things to bring early (and it's a long list to begin with). By reviewing the list, I was able to determine which ones we need to buy and which ones we still have. I did an inventory of W's school things when classes ended last March so I now I can just compare my inventory list with this new list.
There are also other things that are not included in the school-provided list but your child may need - like replacement for worn out socks or a new school bag. Put everything down in a sheet of paper and discuss with your child what other necessary things he needs.

2. Have a Budget 
This is actually the hard part. Most parents have been saving year-round for our children's school needs and in no way we are splurging it on things that are bought on a whim. By checking out different stores and watching out for sale and bargains, we can hopefully cut down costs. Who knows, we can even have some extra money left.
Sometimes, bringing your kids to help you choose their things may prove worthwhile. If you let them choose among say, three options (you chose first - that qualifies with the budget and quality factors) chances are, they'll value the item more because they had their say on it. You can also start building a sense of ownership and responsibility in them by letting them decide.

3. Dress comfortably and Start Early
Prepare yourself for shopping day. I mean, if you know you'll be carrying bags and bags of shopped goodies, would you wear high-heeled shoes? Wear comfortable clothes and shoes/flip-flops. Dress down if possible (especially if you're eyeing Divisoria for bargains) as most snatchers/robbers' radar are on flashy, rich-looking shoppers. 
The summer heat and crowd are ingredients for severe exhaustion. If you start shopping early like on mall-opening hours, chances are there'll be a little less people going around and there will be shorter lines to the register. I also advise not to bring your small kids along as you may not get everything done. However, teens might be helpful as they can carry bags and line up for you if needed.

4. Quality and Affordability;
We all want affordable items so we can stick to our budget. Sometimes however, affordability may mean poor quality. You may have spent much on your child's quality school bag but it may prove to be so much better than buying a cheapo bag that gets worn out just a few months after (and you'll have to buy another one again).
Same goes for the branded/trendier items vs. store brands/generic supplies. Branded doesn't always mean quality. Sometimes, even store brands are better in terms of quality and value for your money. For example, National Bookstore has a store brand 'Best Buy' and is cheaper than other brands.  

5. Anticipate Future Needs
In the three years that my son went to school, we consumed a lot of bond paper/multi-purpose paper. I buy these papers by the ream so I can save (cheaper by the ream than per packs of 10s or 20s) and reduce the number of trips I do to the school supplies store. It also proved to be a good decision as there was never a time that we ran out of paper just when we needed it the most.
If you have extra money and there are sale/bargains on the things your kids use the most and all the time, go and buy some. Saves you money and effort.
:: :: ::
I am working on the last few items on our list and I hope to be done before the mall gets too congested. 
Happy shopping everyone!

*If you have tips and secrets - share it here with us! Just leave a comment...I would love to hear from you =D

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Zubuchon - Lechon Cebu

My brother and his family went to Cebu and came back with a pack of lechon for us.
Well, not just lechon cebu but Zubuchon.

Zubuchon is a brainchild of popular blogger Market Man (of Market Manila).
When known American chef and foodie Anthony Bourdain visited the Philippines about 2 years ago (for his No Reservations show), Market Man was his tour guide (other than Augosto Elefano - the fan who convinced AB to visit the country) and MM let Anthony taste a variety of Pinoy dishes including the acclaimed lechon Cebu.

If I got it right, it was the Accuchon ala MarketMan (aka Zubuchon after making it "commercial") that got Anthony Bourdain's attention most, to the point of even saying, "...the best pig ever!..."

Great right? Philippines now tops Bourdain's hierarchy of pork.

A kilo of the Zubuchon sells for about Php450 and comes in a styro-pack covered with cling-wrap.
It's great to have it fresh almost fresh, especially since my brother got it in the airport, so spoiling wasn't too much a risk if handled properly.

Unlike the usual lechon with smooth, shiny, golden brown pig skin, the Zubuchon skin looks crackled and crispy - a little like chicharon skin or lechon macau.
The essence of herbs and spices are evident in each cut of the tender meat.
I liked it as it was very tasty, but M commented the taste was bordering towards sweet-sour.

This flyer comes with the kilo pack. It has tips to enjoying the Zubuchon  more.
It's great to have tasted lechon with a different twist and I would love to try eating it fresh and hot once I visit Cebu again. 

Zubuchon is found at the pre-departure lounge of the Cebu Domestic Airport Terminal and at the Banilad Tower. You may reach them through the following numbers: 


Allies Wonder Peanuts [Mercato Centrale]

It is so cool to finally meet Fran (of in person during my last visit to Mercato Centrale. 
We were like, "Finally!" =)
I am an avid reader of Fran's blog and last 2009, I joined her 
The prize was sent via courier so I never got the chance to meet her. So yay for MC!

As I mentioned in my previous post about Mercato Centrale, Fran and her husband are selling 
Allies Wonder Peanuts in MC. 
I've been hearing good things about it and so I knew I really have to buy and taste it myself. I got one jar (450g) for Php160.

AWP didn't disappoint! 
They were crunchy, garlicky the way I want it and best of all, it's not greasy! 
Even M loved it. 
We almost finished munching everything in one sitting!

We will definitely buy again. Thanks Fran for bringing this Pampanga goodie to MC. 
I hope my uric acid level won't go up,up,up because of this. =D 

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Allies Wonder Peanuts is sold at Ya Kun Kaya in Ortigas (J. Escriva Drive, beside Astoria) and at the 'Just Craving' booth of Fran and Paul Ang in Mercato Centrale, every Saturdays.


Chicken Sopas (Chicken Macaroni Soup)

Rainy days are here. Here's one good way of warming ourselves up - a warm, hearty soup!

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Chicken Macaroni Soup/Chicken Sopas

1/2kg chicken pieces
200g pack elbow macaroni (salad macaroni or any small-sized pasta), cooked according to package directions
4pcs garlic cloves, minced
2 medium sized onions, minced
2 medium sized carrots, sliced into strips
1 and 1/2 cans evaporated milk (big can, adjust according to your preference)
1 medium cabbage, julienned
salt and ground black pepper (whole peppercorns may also be used)
fish sauce, to season

How to do it:
*I usually cook the macaroni first on a separate pot, but you may also cook it together with the ingredients if you wish.
In another pot, saute the onions and garlic.
Add the chicken pieces then cooked until slightly browned.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the carrots then pour some water enough to cover the meat and vegetables.
Simmer for about 10minutes (or until cooked) then pour in the milk, stirring gently.
Add the cabbage then simmer for another 3minutes.
Season with fish sauce as desired.

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Playing Piano Backwards

I am sharing some videos of my cousin playing the piano/organ facing back.
He usually does this trick but I am still always awed by him.

I mean, how cool is that?! =D

He's playing Jingle Bells on this one...

...and he's doing a 'duet' with a friend - Heart and Soul.

Go Pol! Yay!
Thank God for unique talent!

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