Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Franco-Italian Dream Part 2

I once had the fortune of being in the city of my childhood dreams, Paris, because of my work.  It was even more beautiful than I had imagined it to be that I had to pinch myself to check if I was indeed there.  Only when I bit into that hotdog I bought at a kiosk across the Eiffel while gazing at it in all its splendor, did my senses tell me I was there--specifically my sense of taste.  I hadn't realized the vendor put the entire squeeze bottle of mustard in my sandwich that my eyes began to well.  In hindsight, I  hope the people who  saw me with tears in my eyes, saw me as an overly emotional romantic rather than an overly idiotic tourist.  The worst part was I couldn't spit the food out.  Pride ba.  And of course, I didn't want to ruin the moment.

I try to recall this happy memory when I'm not particularly very happy, like today.  Maybe because I'm still a bit sick.  Maybe because I need a short break.  Maybe because I'm being hormonal.  I don't know.  The kid has been behaving well, so it can't be from that.  I guess it's just one of those days.  

Then just a couple of days back, this other blog I follow called Gastrochic, posted something about the Amalfi coast.  What to eat, what to wear, what not to wear.  I love that blog.  It made me want to visit the Amalfi coast too one day, maybe bump into David Rocco (hopefully without the wife huh).  Who in the world doesn't dream of escaping somewhere else even just for a bit during days like this?

I promised myself I'm going back to Paris in 2012.  Perhaps cross over to Italy too?  Who knows?  But until then, it will just be this Franco-Italian lunch.  

Today's Lunch:  Leek and Gruyere Pissaladiere, Homemade Spinach Tagliatelle with Classic Ragu alla Bolognese. 

À bientôt, mes amis! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

我生病了 (I'm Sick)

Third day of being sick today and didn't get to sleep much last night. I suddenly feel old. I'm bound to get better though today because I'm on the world's best oral antibiotic there is, Zithromax.  I used to peddle that stuff when I was still working in the pharmaceutical industry.  I remember that that was when I began my catering business--when budgets for meals in meetings were so small,  I did the catering myself.  

As I am still sick, today's lunch was literally just thrown into one pot (soy, hoisin, sugar, ginger, star anise, garlic) until the pork just fell apart which was about 2 hours.  It's this Chinese-style pulled pork.  I don't like fusion all that much--as in fusing flavors of the east and west together. Meh. I don't enjoy that kind of thing as most of the time experimentations of that sort end in tragedy.  But fusing techniques is a good thing, I think.  And the boy seems to agree.

The side is store-bought Mantou or Chinese steamed buns, that contains no preservatives and is trans-fat free.  Found this right beside the puff pastry (from last weeks lunch) in the frozen section of Shopwise.   At first, the boy was apprehensive of having the buns as a side as his lunch was looking more and more like a sandwich (he doesn't eat bread remember?) So I didn't tell him that this is actually a sandwich.  If you call a steak a sandwich, he won't eat it, I swear.  I don't know where he developed the aversion to bread but it's as real as my aversion to roaches.  So, ssshhhhh....

Today's lunch: Chinese Style Pulled Pork Shoulder (Pata Tim Recipe), Store-bought Mantou, Crushed Peanuts, Leeks and Coriander

PS.  I wouldn't buy this brand of Mantou again.  It tasted like styropor.  There's a Chinese deli  on the ground floor of Virra Mall (not DEC) that sells Mantou also.  That one's softer, like pillows of clouds.  Yumm.  :-)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Franco-Italian Dream

I am sick as hell.  

And so this post is very, very, very short.  The main dish was born in France while the side is Italian.  So instead of being stuck here sick as a sick dog, let's just pretend that I'm sitting down on a cafe overlooking the ocean on either the French or Italian Riviera, wearing my huge sunnies and a big floppy hat while my CGI boyfriend holds my hand..."sighs"....

Oh wait--this isn't MY lunch. 

Today's lunch:  Dory Amandine,  Homemade Spinach and Beet Ravioli stuffed with Squash, cheese and Silvana Pesto  in Brown Butter Sauce and Rubbed Sage.

Monday, June 27, 2011

בְּתֵאָבוֹן! (Be'tei'avon!)

Beh-teeya-von, is how you pronounce this Hebrew phrase.  It means healthy appetite which all growing teenagers, especially boys, have.  Mine is like out there in terms of appetite though he isn't at all obese. Thank God he truly has a "healthy" appetite.

I think I failed to mention that the he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder sometime in fourth grade, pretty late detection the doctor said.  I honestly thought he was just talkative as hell.  Come on--Manila to Baguio non-stop yakkity-yak save for when he was sleeping?  Once he was riding with my Dad and sister from Alabang to the Fort and they said that they would give him a prize if he stayed quiet from Bicutan (they were already there) to the Fort, which was roughly just 10 minutes away.  Needless to say, he didn't win the prize.  He was 6 years old then.

So I read about the disorder and found that food has got a lot to do with his hyperactivity.  I chanced upon this site and it got me thinking about what I was feeding the boy.  The first week was a complete nightmare because the phase took out most of the things he loved to eat like ice cream, chips, fruit juices and sausages. He was crying and begging and questioning me saying that it was child abuse what I was doing to him.  But then it really paid off because we found out his triggers which were mainly chips, sausages and sweets (of course).  So having known these, we limited his intake thereof. Of course I still have some chips and ice cream in the house.  But he doesn't consume these on a daily basis.  If I can make food from scratch (yes even some sausages), I'd make it.  The instant noodles you find in the house are part of our emergency stash (read--flooding and no way to get food) and not served as a meal replacement.  I know not all moms have the luxury of time as I do, but if you could squeeze it in--it's not going to take 2 hours.  Some times not even an hour.  And believe me, it costs so much less than it looks.  Processed foods are way more expensive than ones that you make with your own hands.  Spam? Not that he even likes it, but I can make 4 of something similar to that with one kilo of meat, sans the excess salt and preservatives.

Who knows if the diet is scientifically proven or if it has gone through a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study?  It has worked greatly for us.  And besides, I haven't encountered a paper saying that cutting down on food with extremely high sugar and preservatives is bad for you.  So what do you think?

My boy hasn't taken a single medication for the disorder in his entire life (all 13 of it) and I think he's functioning pretty well.  He isn't attending a special school either, just one with a good student-teacher ratio where he regularly receives academic achievement awards.  He is a happy boy and for that alone, I'd do this everyday for as long as he'll want me to.

Today's lunch:  Pan-Grilled Chops with Garlic and Rosemary, Israeli Couscous with Apricots and Almonds
לְחַיִּים! (Le'xayeem--Cheers!)

ps.  The boy came home and decided he did not like apricots anymore as they tasted like stale dried mangoes.  :-) 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back to the Kremlin

Last stop of this Eastern European soujourn is Russia again.  I made Chicken Kiev which the boy has been bugging me to make ever since he gave me this cook book on Eastern European food, which he gave a while back. Way, way back so I just had to give in. I don't really like making this dish because the herb butter always goes leaky on me.  Plus Thursdays, is extra stressful because the driver doesn't come so I have to bring the boy to school and run back home to bring the little one to school just in time.  Thursdays are probably as stressful as sitting between Lenin and Stalin over dinner.

Fortunately, the Chicken Kiev (which the boy said should be listed as Ukrainian since Kiev is its capital--he's a big history and geography buff) turned out quite well. What I did was wrap the frozen herb butter in some thinly sliced chicken meat before stuffing it in the breast.  That way, the chances of the butter leaking would be less.  I don't know why I didn't think of that before.  Also, I did this (as always) the night before so the chicken with its stuffing chilled properly.

Today's Lunch:  Chicken Kiev, Buttered New Potatoes and Nutella Crepes (not Russian) that I rolled Tamagoyaki style.

Na zdarOv’ye!    

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ich Bin Verliebt!

We had dinner Saturday night at the Timberland Heights Clubhouse on an invite. It was my first time to drive all the way up there and I had no idea how high up it was. It was pretty high up I tell you.  In some places the incline looked like it was 65 degrees and people actually go there to bike. I'll probably do that when I no longer want to live--which means never.  Anyway,  the fog was rolling in when we arrived which was a waste because the view would have been way better.  Still, one can see the commercial airplanes in a distance aligning as they waited for their turn to land somewhere in Pasay.  Pretty cool.

So about the food...I ordered the Timberland signature burger, the Kid some Fried Calamari and Baby Back Ribs and our Yaya ordered Alpler Macaroni (Swiss version according to them).  The Boy suggested that we put everything on the center of the table so we could all taste each others food, which of course was not completely correct because he doesn't eat bread that doesn't make a crunchy sound (think Pizza, Croissant).  He doesn't do sandwiches. He has never eaten a single burger in his entire life. Like ever.  (But that's another topic).   So to make the long story short, because I generally don't like badmouthing food prepared for me as I am in the food business too, we all ganged up on Yaya's Alpler mac and cheese.  We thought that it was good but could still be made better. 

So today's lunch is, in my opinion, an improved version of that Älplermagrone for the simple reason that it contains twice the amount of cheese and bacon.  It turns out that this is a peasant dish made by the sheep herders in the mountains of Switzerland.  They cooked this for its warm, rib-sticking goodness.  It is comfort food at its very best which only means that it is a calorie bomb.  Imagine: macaroni, potatoes, cream, Gruyere, slab bacon, onions. Ich Bin Verliebt! I'm in love! 

Today's lunch:  Züri-Gschnätzlets (pronounciation: Zsur-ē-Gshnetz-lets) a "ragout recipe made with white sauce, mushrooms and white wine" which I made using Pork Tenderloin, Älplermagrone with Apple Butter that I made last week.

En Guete!  (Enjoy!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Best of British (and Irish) To You!

Through the incessant pleadings of my little girl, I got to watch Mr. Popper's Penguins over the weekend with her.  However this post is not the least (okay, a little) about that Jim Carrey film.  It was difficult not to enjoy it though what with the contortions, excellent timing and effortless charm.  Oh and Jim was good in it too (the penguins were perfect just like my CGI boyfriend).  However, I was, especially in the beginning, distracted having seen the trailer of the last Harry Potter film on the big screen for the first time.  I actually shed tears!  Could you believe it?  It was just the trailer and my eyes welled up as it would if the love of my life gave me a 25-carat diamond ring.  Blimey!  As Ron Weasley would have probable screamed if he had seen what a wimp I was.  

The good thing was the Boy wasn't with us in the theater as he was busy in the other side of the mall being a participant and exhibitor at the Toy Convention.  Otherwise, I would not have heard the end of it.  He likes to make fun of my crying bouts in films that when I'm watching some sappy film at home like say, Marley and Me, he sneaks around trying to take a photograph of me sobbing my eyes off.  Crazy boy.  Like I said, he has half my brain.

Anyway the expression "Best of British to You" supposedly means best of luck to you.  And I put Irish up there because for one thing, there is that "Luck of the Irish" too. Secondly (and truthfully), I cannot think of a proper side to this very Brit lunch which I made because I can nearly not wait for the showing of the Deathly Hallows.  I made a Steak and Mushroom Pie with some young Colby and mushrooms that I bought from my neighborhood Korean store. I topped the pie with store-bought puff pastry (so shoot me) which I hope will puff-up properly.

I couldn't think of a proper side because the Kid doesn't do salad.  So instead, I made Colcannon--the Irish version of mashed potatoes, which I think is a brilliant way of sneaking in some vegetables, specifically cabbage-- which he will otherwise not eat, in his lunch.  

I hope the combination doesn't make anybody scream "Bloody murder!"  Grubs up! :-)

p.s.  No problem was encountered with the launch of the puff pastry--a good alternative to the ones you can get at Santi's.  Also comes a bigger, rectangular shape.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comme Ci, Comme Ça

Comme Ci, Comme Ça--I'm feeling kinda like this these days.  Just so-so.  Not overly happy nor overly sad.  Not so bad considering I could be bipolar.  Or just plain hormonal.  Either way, I'm somewhere in the area of a peaceful middle.  However, I tend to be most creative when I'm at either poles of sadness or madness.  So today's post is so predictable of me, if you know me well enough.  
It's easy, comfort food that I can just pop in the oven while I putter around the house.  I roast my chicken this way, 10 minutes uncovered, 30 minutes wrapped in parchment or foil and then another 10 minutes open.    I do it in that ratio too for bigger birds.  Same concept, longer cooking time.  And voila--a golden bird with crisp skin, not overcooked, with juices still intact. 
This will be my last post for the week since it turns out the boy is half-day, Fridays.  So no lunchbox on Fridays.
Today's lunchbox consists of: Poulet a l'estragon (Roasted Chicken scented with Tarragon), Pan Drippings and Gratin Dauphinois.  Recipes were from "Secret of the Great French Restaurants" by Louissette Bertholle (Julia Child's co-author in Mastering The Art of French Cooking--not the absentee one) published in 1973."  Bon Appetit!  
À Bientôt, mes amis.  :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Können Sie Mir Helfen?

"Can you help me?"  And so it has been uttered...the words of doom for Mums like me.  Did I fail to mention I'm not the go to person for Math?  I was just thinking of this yesterday and now it has finally come upon me.  Again.  I don't know what it is with numbers that cause my brain to short circuit (not that it was working super well with my brand of crazy in the first place) but really, the words polynomial, binomial or tri-fricking-nomial has the same effect on me as eating toothpaste and grass for lunch.  Paralyzing.    These events come quite regularly  the whole school year that I have designed some retorts when we start getting into arguments about Math:

"How can I forget Algebra?!  (Thought bubble--I don't think I ever learned it)  Well, you just learned it this morning and now you don't remember anymore.  What do you expect from me ?!"

"What?!  We're paying your school this much and still I end up teaching you this?!"

"Who--what is my name?  Who are you and where is your mother?!" 

Maybe it's doubly frightening now because of the fear that my kid's image of me as some kind of a superhero is disintegrating.  Bad news huh?  Mum's human.  I feel so much for the boy.  His brain is half-mine!  I felt so much for him I made apple butter yesterday (which just comprises stewing apples in some apple cider, sugar and spices) for today's Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus (German Potato Pancakes with Applesauce) and Königsberger Klopse (Poached Meatballs in Lemon and Caper Sauce).  Please don't ask me how to pronounce these. I don't know how.  

I got the recipes from this ancient book The Cooking of Germany printed in 1969. Hopefully this will remind him of my superhero status--at least in the kitchen department.  Guten Appetit!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

На здоровье!

"Na zdarOv’ye!" means "Enjoy!" in Russia.  It's standard for my boy and I to say goodbye this way:  "Have a good day at school, enjoy your lunch.  See you later.  Love you."  He usually mumbles he loves me too but only when I repeat once or twice (with enlarged eyes), telling him that I love him.   Then he rolls his eyes.

It's the second week of school now and we're getting into the swing of things, the schedule and the study hours which compared to his old, slave driver of a school, isn't so bad really.  Except when we're trying to do Math.  I'm not the go to person for this, I should tell you.  Sometimes I try to teach him and then he comes home with brows in knots, "Mom.  You were wrong."  To which I properly reply..."Look at what I made, son."

I'm getting us a Math tutor.  Anyone?

Today's lunch: Russian Rolled Fish Fillets stuffed with Mushrooms, Leek and Parmesan Potato Pancake with Sour Cream  :-) 

Russian Rolled Fish Fillets*
Sole fillets (or Cream Dory)
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Mushrooms sauteed in Butter and some anchovies
2 eggs
Marinate fish fillets in lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper for an hour, if you have the time.  If not, just season and squeeze the lemon on it and proceed.  (Just pack some slices of lemon along)  Put the mushrooms on the fillet, roll it as you would a jelly roll, secure with toothpicks.  Dip in beaten eggs and bread crumbs then deep fry.  Drain on paper towels and slice across as in the picture. Na zdarOv’ye!:-)

*Recipe from the Illustrated Food and Cooking of Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is Van Valami Goulash?

"May I have some Goulash?" this is what the title of this entry means.  Which means (well not necessarily, since Goulash is also made in Austria, the Friuli region of Italy and Strasbourg, France) we are going to Hungary.  But since the title of the entry is in Hungarian...

Goulash is I think a close relative of Calderetta and is one of the easiest things you can make. I made this yesterday because as in all stews, it tastes better the next day.  The key ingredient of Goulash is of course Hungarian Paprika.  However, I have searched high and low for good Hungarian Paprika in Manila and have found none.  They all taste like paper.  So instead, in this recipe--well actually when any recipe calls for paprika, I use Spain's Pimenton dela Vera.  For me, nothing comes remotely close to it(see picture).  It may be a bit more pricey than your regular paprika from the grocery but really, it spells a whole world of difference.  It's got all the smokey goodness in it and comes in 2 varieties--sweet and spicy.  A little goes a long, long way so it's truly worth the purchase.  Try it for yourself and be smitten forever.  I buy mine at Terry Selection which is now also available at the shelves of Landmark grocery.  :-)

Today's lunchbox:  Hungarian Goulash (made with Spanish paprika) with Dumplings, Potato Pancakes with some sour cream and slivered leeks), Steamed Rice.  :-)

Hungarian Goulash
1 Kilo of Stewing Beef
1 large onion
1 large tomato
2 tablespoons good Paprika
10 cups beef stock
1 large pinch of caraway seeds
1 large green pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Sear your seasoned meat.  Sweat onions, add tomatoes, paprika and beef stock.  Add in caraway seeds.  Cook until until tender.  Add green pepper.  Adjust taste with salt and pepper. :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011


Isoide, I have just learned, is Japanese for "Hurry up!" (at least according to I find myself saying this--Hurry up, not Isoide, an awful lot every morning.  Or any time I have to be elsewhere with the Kid.  The little one is easier to get moving since she still depends a lot on me, so how fast she gets ready is about as fast as I can get her ready.  But the boy is simply impossible.

To make matters worse, I can't even do anything to make him act faster.  Since he developed some anatomical parts which I am not to mention here for fear of being disowned as mum, I have been declared an alien who needs to present her passport to gain single, mind you, not multiple entries to his room.  The passport is just my screaming voice, actually.  But under normal circumstances, entry is non-negotiable.  I understand the need for privacy, really, I do.  I don't know what it is exactly that he does in there and frankly, so long as it's not drugs-- I don't really want to know.  BUT. PLEASE.  For the love of God and everything good and beautiful on this earth...ISOIDE!

Oh, he's going to Japan for lunch later.  Today's lunchbox contains: Beef Negimaki, Mixed Mushrooms Teppanyaki, some Tamagoyaki with spring onions, Japanese rice with a packet of nori.  :-) 

I like to make my own and add stuff to it like I did in this recipe.  It's fairly easy to make.  Basically it's just rolling layers of egg back and forth on a rectangular shaped non-stick pan.  I made mine last night.  I like using Bounty Fresh Organic Selenium Enriched Eggs because they're as bright and yellow as sunshine and actually taste like eggs.  I learned to make this just by following the exact recipe from  You can add stuff like cheese, ham, mushrooms and it will turn out like an omelet only Japanese which is what Tamagoyaki is. But, if you're too busy for this, there's no problem with buying the ready made ones.

Beef Negimaki
Thinly sliced beef (like sirloin or beef belly bacon cut)
1/4 Cup Mirin
1/4 Cup Japanese Soy
1    tablespoon Honey
Green and Red Bell Pepper Strips
Some Carrot Cut into long Strips

Marinate the meat in mirin, soy sauce and honey for at least an hour.  You can do this way ahead.  Like way ahead and just freeze it for future use.  After marinating, you can actually cook it as is but I like to make it a little fancier. So when I'm about to serve it, I roll the meat slices around my vegetable of choice.  Technically, it should be rolled around spring onions.  But I find that you can roll it around most any vegetable you like.  Carrots, mushrooms, cucumber, asparagus, zucchini.  Any vegetable you can cut lengthwise, actually. Then, I just toss them on the pan grill on medium heat until they're a little bit caramelized on the outside and the vegetables are still bright and pretty. And then it's good to go.

Mixed Mushroom Teppanyaki
Bunch of mushrooms (Shitake, Enoki, Shimeji, Oyster)
Onion Slices
2 cloves of Garlic
Some Japanese Soy

Wipe clean your mushrooms and heat some oil on your pan.  Throw in the garlic (don't burn it) and the onion slices.  Add your mushrooms, one kind at a time, being careful not to overcrowd them.  Season with some soy, salt, pepper and finish off with a tablespoon of butter. :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ni Hao Ma, Kid?

Today is the first day of school for my boy, Enzo.  He is 13 years old and is now in Upper School. It wasn't so long ago when he was so little and couldn't let go of my hand. But now, he's much taller than I am plus I'd have to pay if I wanted him to hold my hand.  How fast time flies! I suppose it is good for him to become independent of me little by little rather than the other way around.  That is indeed a more worrisome state, right?  For him to become a Mama's boy?  I reckon it is every parent's fear and desire, in the same breath, that one day their child will no longer need them as they can stand on their own two feet.  But I'll worry about that later.  At least for now, I still get to make him lunch.
It is raining here in Manila as it usually does during the first day of school.  It becomes awfully cold in his classroom since there's just 20 of them at any given time so I decided that for the first day of school, we are going to China to eat something spicy--to warm him up and remind him a bit of the wonderful summer we all had.

Today's lunch box contains: Szechuan Chili Shrimps, Kung Pao Chicken (from last night's dinner) with Glass Noodles topped with more nuts, crispy shallots and steamed rice.

Szechuan Chili Shrimps
250 grams Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1    tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
1    tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
1    tablespoon Chili Sauce (more if you like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
2    slivers of ginger
1    clove of garlic
      drops of Sesame oil

In a wok, swirl some peanut oil until you see a whiff of white smoke rise.  Add in ginger and garlic and toss around for a bit.  Put in shrimps, the sauces and sugar and stir-fry until the shrimps are pink and curled.  Sprinkle with a couple of drops of sesame oil.

Kung Pao Chicken with Glass Noodles and Crispy Shallots
Kung Pao Chicken Leftovers
Glass Noodles (depends on how much leftovers you have)
Crispy Shallots (homemade or store-bought)
Additional chopped peanuts for sprinkling

Soak glass noodles in water to soften. Heat leftover Kung Pao Chicken in oil and toss in softened glass noodles.  Add a little bit of stock or water if leftovers seem too dry.  Stir around until noodles are cooked.  Top with crispy shallots and peanuts.