Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Japanese Bento for the Nth Time

Last night, at around 10 PM, I had a sudden anxiety attack as the thought of how long I will be gone finally kicked in.  Mixed with my claustrophobic tendencies, vivid imagination and having accidentally seen an episode of Air Crash Investigations in Discovery Channel--things became a wee bit out of hand that I had to jump out of bed to catch my breath and calm my nerves.  I tried to go online but it didn't quite work so I did the thing I should've done in the first place, nope, I didn't pack.  I planned this lunchbox and the menu for the entire time I won't be home.  And so today, I have a million things to buy and a ton of things to do.

Today's lunchbox: Tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet), Shrimp Teppanyaki, Rice Balls rolled in Furikake, Oreos

See you when I get back!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Quick Post

Another quick post today.  

I am busy preparing for the longest trip I would have taken away from my two kids.  I am excited, antsy, eager, worried and plenty confused with the tug of war of emotions in my heart.  I convince myself on a daily basis that when I return, I will be an even better Mom, cook, friend, boss, sister and daughter.  And no I'm not going to visit the Dalai Lama.  It's a journey for seeing, learning and tasting more out of life, not that what I've seen, learned and tasted isn't good because truth be told--I'm good.  I've said before that I am fortunate to have everything I need and desire within the distance of my arms opened wide-- that I only have to light my stove to eat something that can nourish our souls.  That I can only reach out to have in my embrace the true loves of my life.  That I only have to close my eyes and feel small against the will of God.  All these remain to be true in my life and I am deeply and truly thankful for it.  But I must have done something good to deserve a ticket to see even more.  I promise to bring home more flavors, more textures, more color and depth to an already colorful and meaningful life.

Thank you God.  Thank you Universe.

Today's lunchbox:  Roasted Chicken scented with Oregano, Rosemary and Lemon Myrtle, Pearl Barley Rissotto with Mushrooms. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Out of Africa and Into The Kitchen

Quick post today as I need to be in 4 places at one time.  Tell you more about it next week.  

Today's lunchbox: Chermoula Spiced Grilled Chicken and Steamed Rice

Catch you later!  :-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back To The Islands

I am expecting visitors (one of my favorite couples) for breakfast today and they will be arriving in an hour or so.  In short, today's lunchbox is also today's breakfast fare:  my new and more Filipino Honey-Garlic Ribeye Tapa (not too sweet) and the lowly Galunggong (round scad) filleted and marinated in a vulgar amount of garlic and olive oil ala Sentro.

For my guests though, I am also setting up an Eggs Benedict station where they can put on spinach, cheese, etc. on top of their poached egg before spooning on some Hollandaise which I prepared in advance as I am using the stabilized version (aka cheater's Hollandaise).  In case you don't know how to that, I shall be posting the recipe here.

I have to go now. Bon jour, good morning and most of all Magandang Umaga! :-)

Today's lunchbox:  My Honey-Garlic Ribeye Tapa, Garlic Galunggong

Cheater's Hollandaise (adapted from Secrets of Great French Restaurants by Louissete Bertholle)

3 Tablespoons Milk
1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
3 Egg yolks
150 grams unsalted butter (a little bit over half a stick of butter)
lemon juice from half a lemon (more if you like)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Put together milk, cornstarch, egg yolks, 25 grams of the butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  2. Stir continuously on top of a double boiler.  When incorporated, add the remainder of the butter bit by bit (cut it into cubes before hand).
  3. Et voila--Hollandaise that won't separate and can be reheated gently before your guests arrive.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Spanish Excursion

Today we decided to extend our little sunny vacation by visiting an equally sunny and beautiful place we vow to see one day: Spain.  In my mind it is a country filled with places as beautiful, as colorful, as magical and as memorable as Seńor Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Macondo.  That book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is a book to be read in silence because the names alone as the generations of characters went on and on repeated so much that that I would find myself repeating pages just to remember which character was doing what.  But Marquez is indeed one of the greatest storytellers I've ever read much like J.R.R. Tolkien or J.K. Rowling in that I am able to travel through all of time and space to experience great emotions I would have never have known living a pretty regular life.  I mean I would have loved to have an axe-yielding dwarf best friend named Gimli but that's not going to happen anytime soon. I think this travel in time is what motivates me most in reading.  And in making these lunchboxes.  I am able to take my boy to places we haven't seen and make him look forward to one day being there, sitting on a table, having a laugh and eating some soul-cradling food.

So we travel through this lunchbox as often as we possibly can, going to places familiar and strange.  Sailing seas both calm and stormy much like our journeys as mother and son.  There are good days and there are better days.  Today was a good day.  Spain did us good and I think today's dishes captured the most memorable facets of this country in manner of flavor and hue as can very well see. But.  I could also be wrong--we haven't actually been there.  Yet. :-)

Today's lunchbox:  Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimps), Left-over Arroz Negro (Rice with Squid and Squid Ink) from yesterday's lunch

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From Boracay and Back

I have not seen too many beaches in my life.  But still, I would bet that Boracay, can give the best of them a run for their money. For example, Maldives, though beautiful and rich in terms of marine life can not rival the fineness of the sands of our beloved island.  We just love it. You can walk on the beach from sun up til sun down and not feel the burn on the soles of your feet.  The burn on your back--that's another thing.  

Incidentally, the boy did get burnt because he wouldn't let me put sunblock on his back.  Apparently he is "too old" for such shenanigans and insisted that he do it on his own.  Of course, he did it haphazardly that on the last evening of our stay, he fell asleep in the middle of a sunburn rant without any shirt on.  Moral of the story:  listen to your mother, she's been burnt before.  :-)

Today's lunchbox is a repeat performance, a dish called Bicol Express.  I had earlier posted this dish making use of bacon-cut pork belly (See the post Kain Na-http://onelunchbox.blogspot.com/2011/07/kain-na.html).  For today however, I used pork belly too but cut it in chunks after deep-frying and rendering its fat. Bicol is the southernmost province in the island of Luzon here in the Philippines.  It is most famous for dishes made with coconut cream and a hefty serving of chili.  In fact, the Bicol Express is a stew of chilis in coconut cream with some pork bits (may actually be omitted).  But, the boy can't have that much chili and so I adjusted it to suit his taste which could only mean one thing--more meat!  (Sorry vegan friends for ruining a perfectly vegan treat.)

Today's lunchbox:  Crispy Pork Belly Bicol Express (sauce on the side), Steamed Rice
I shall share the recipe here for you to try.  

Crispy Pork Belly Bicol Express 

1 Kilo Pork Belly
Salt, Pepper
1 whole onion, peeled
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices ginger
2 birds eye chili
2 green finger chili
2 slices turmeric (or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric  powder)
1/2 cup stock (chicken, pork or beef)
1 cup coconut cream 

  1. Boil pork belly in water with the whole onion.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  When fork tender, meaning you can poke the meat with a fork easily, drain and store in a cool place to dry thoroughly.  You can put it in the refrigerator and store uncovered for the skin to dehydrate more.  The longer you dry it, the crispier the skin.
  2. Deep-fry covered until golden and the skin is so crispy you can tap on it and hear a distinctive "tok-tok" crackling sound.  Set aside.
  3. To make the sauce, saute onion, garlic, ginger, chilis, turmeric until the entire kitchen is fragrant with their union. Add in stock, reduce a bit and throw in the coconut cream.
And that is how Bicol Express is cooked in my kitchen.  Enjoy!  :-)