Kitchen Crazy


I would like to report that Liv has totally gone kitchen crazy today. Imagine, she spent the entire day cooking at her lola's house!
With Liv's legendary aversion to cooking. I am dumbfounded and speechless... I'm wondering right now if I should have her checked by a doctor or something. Hahaha!

I am now anxiously waiting for her to arrive with pasta, pork chops and a chocolate cake she baked! It's crazy! I'm grinning from ear to ear, overflowing with joy as I eagerly await my wife's masterpieces. I feel like I'm in fantasyland.


As I Lay Me Down to Sleep


"As I lay me down to sleep

I think of what else I could eat..."

Ahh the joys and pain of being married to someone who eats as much as you do. You end up indulging in gastronomic sins's so much fun I tell you.

Ruy bought a bottle of wine for one of his cooking adventures and with a bottle of opened wine in the house you can be sure Ruy and I would not waste any time in putting it to good use.

We were on the bed watching Hell's Kitchen when we both decided to indulge in some snacks while watching TV. What are our snacks of choice?

Pate de Foie, Grapes, Cheese, Cream Cheese, Toast and Red Wine

Ruy had been on a roll this holiday season, while the elves were busy making toys Ruy was busy cooking up a storm. I'm sure he'll tell you all about his experiments in future posts, meanwhile let me pre-empt him by telling you about the fabulous Pate de Foie. He created a pate mixture out of chicken liver and other secret ingredients which tasted soooo good. I call it the poor man's foie gras cause it has the same buttery consistency of foie gras pate....we put it on toast and as if that wasn't sinful enough Ruy thought it would be fun if we put a bit of whipped cream cheese on top of our little hors dourves. Heaven on a toast I'm telling you.

We also had two kinds of cheese; tilsit and gruyere. Tilsit has a strong taste matched only by it's stronger smell, my car is still suffering from this gastronomic bomb. Thank you to my boss Bobby for recommending this cheese. =)

The grapes and the wine were good for two reasons. One was free and the other one was on-sale. Hahaha!! These things make food taste so much better don't they?

Santa has something for our readers very soon

so watch out!!


Cabanatuan- Vicentico's


Hidden in the heart of Cabanatuan City N. Ecija is one of its best dining experiences.

An old house turned into a surprising setting for a restaurant offering a beautiful outdoorsey, experience which takes my imagination back to the time of binibinis in kalesas and katipuneros lounging around and relaxing before a gruesome offensive (like the two waiters in the picture below who are trying to get a breather before the influx of dinner customers).

This grotto provides a haunting centerpiece that relaxes the diner with the slushing sound of water casacading down its base of black boulders.

The food:

I've eaten here several times before I started blogging and I must say that the quality of food this place serves is consistently good (most of the time).

Adobo - I'm not used to adobo with sibuyas but the first time I tried it here I loved it. It has now become a favorite here and I order it every chance I get. The caramelized onions I realized add its natural sweetness to adobo's perfect blend of salty and sour. Nice flavors which have tastily set inside tender cuts of well marinated pork.

Gising-Gising - Another favorite here. If I were to describe it I'd say it's a local, spicy version of sweetish, seafood chopsuey with tofu. Unfortunately, the veggies were quite overdone this time.

Garlic Rice - Quite good.

Sisig - I just love their version of this. A spicy and deliciously blended dish of diced lechong kawali with lots of crunchy bits of deep fried lechon skin served with an abstract swirl of mayo.

Tico Tico - Basically buko shake with gata, pandan jelly and sago. As good as it sounds, I found it surprisingly lacking in the flavor department. I could barely taste anything.
Overall I'd say Vicentico's is definitely a "must go to" place in Cabanatuan for a laid-back dining experience and above average food. The price of the food, I would say, is comparable to Gerry's in Manila (which is quite pricey by provincial standards). It's best to eat here with companions so you get to try different stuff or set meals per table which are also great.
Vicentico's is located in front of the plaza by the old provincial capitol bldg. Watch out for the small sign.

A Dinner and Som's


Finally I get to write about my Monday before Christmas Eve. Dinner at Soms Morato (on top of Zensho) in the company of awesome blogging friends: DocChef, Spanx, Jen and Didi!

A wonderful event that took place through the efforts and organizational skills of Mr. Manila Boy Spanky Enriquez.

I was just awed. I was in the company of REAL experts.

Spanx, one of the famous Pampanga Food Tour organizers who goes everywhere eating anything that is food and "basta kasya sa bibig" really imparted a lot of knowledge and entertaining blogging stories and blogger chismis.=) A fledgling blogger like me could only listen with wide eyed enthusiasm.
Thank you for the yummy bagoong with gata!

DocChef (Jeff), who will go/drive anywhere, pay any price for a food discovery or to satisfy a craving. As his name suggests, he is no pushover in the kitchen as is evident with the yummy chocolate chip cookies he baked. Thanks a lot for sharing them with us!
He is also a proud owner of a wonderful Kitchenaid mixer (which has me green with envy).;p

Jen Tan, simply one of the nicest bloggers I've met. She'll drink, or chug rather, anything that's heavilly infused with caffeine in between restaurant hopping and multiple bingeing.;p
Most importantly, she's one mean baker with an amazing Banana Peanut Butter Bread!
We've yet to try her sour dough which has won the nod of approval from the discerning palate of DocChef.
Good thing Liv and I braved the traffic to drop by her office.=)

Didi, fresh from her bicol trip and airline adventures, she left us bitin because she had to leave really early to attend an important affair I believe.
No matter, the short period was enough to let me know that she is every bit as enthusiastic and sunny as she is in her blog. We have to meet up again when she's not busy and hopefully with Liv who wasn't able to make it to the Som's dinner because of an important meeting at the office.

Guys THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I really have to say that I was like a fan that evening. I was simply mesmerized and happily out of my league with all of the blogging and eating veterans and true food experts I was with.
Keep posting in your great blogs and til we eat again!


Merry Christmas


In the light of the season, I would like to extend a Christmas Greeting to everyone who reads our blog.

Here's our special greeting from the small family of Ruy, Liv and Andrea.

Christmas Message



Be Back Soon. Like Very, Very...


Whew! Last week was just a killer. Pre-vacation wrap ups at work had me in Pampanga, Cabanatuan, Isabela, Cagayan and Tarlac!
Anyway today I'll be doing alot of groceries and more Christmas gift shopping for inaanaks. But really the most important part iss doing the groceries. I have GRAND PLANS this Christmas, NYAHAHA!! You'll know about it in time of course.;p
I'll be hopping over to my friends blogs really soon as well. I miss tormenting your blogs.=)
See you later!


Grocery List


I ADORE doing the grocery. I love it so much I sometimes find myself going twice or thrice a week. To be honest, doing the grocery seems to be the only time I have completely to myself. I take advantage of this by spending hours in the grocery.

This hours are not wasted however as I chance upon several great finds that I want to share with all of you.

In the past couple of months, Ruy and I have been enjoying several treasures from various groceries and so without further ado, here is our first batch of Grocery Finds:

1. Hershey's Truffles - Ruy earns major pogi points for being the one to introduce me to this variety of Hershey's nuggets. We came across this in Duty Free and in Subic and I thought it wasn't going to be available in regular stores. Imagine my delight when I saw a pack in SM Hypermart! 2 weeks after I saw some in shopwise, after that I saw a pack in Robinson's supermarket. YEY!! They're becoming readily available!!

I am particularly fond of Hershey's Nuggets because of their size and thickness. I find the regular Hershey's Bar somewhat puny and I find it hard to enjoy something when I can barely feel it when I eat it. Nuggets offers enough resistance when you bite into it to let you know that there's a good amount of chocolate in it.

The Truffle variety offers another layer of texture to the formerly homogenous chocolate mixture. The filling offers some sort of resistance when one bites but this is one resistance I openly welcome.

2. Hershey's Caramel Kisses- while Hershey's Truffle Nuggets is all about chocolate, hershey's caramel kisses actually lessened the chocolate content of the actual kisses. I've always been adamant in telling people that it's not really chocolate if it doesn't melt. Chocolate is supposed to melt, it's a law of nature not different from the law of gravity. As this kind of kisses doesn't melt as much as the normal kisses I assume that there isn't as much chocolate in each piece. That I believe is an even trade as when they took away the chocolate they replaced it with caramel...lots of it. I can't believe they were able to fit all that caramel in one tiny piece of kisses...Ruy who's not as much of a chocolate lover as I am actually loves this and so I am recommending this to people who want something novel.

3. Oishi Ridges in Wasabi Flavor - Ruy and I went through a 'wasabi' phase. We bought all these wasabi flavored nuts and peas etc. Just when I thought we were finally over the wasabi phase then voila this new snack emerges.

I can't get over how amazing this is. When you look at one chip it looks so unassaming and boring. Then when you put it inside your mouth you'd be surprised at how strong the wasabi flavor is.


We have several more items to tell you about. Watch out for the rest in a few days. Meanwhile, we'd love to hear about your grocery lists. Tell us about your great finds so we can try them too!!


Andrea - Future Chocoholic


It looks like our little one can't wait to join in our food adventures. looks like we'll have to increase our food budget very soon. (No she didn't turn a year old yet, we're just celebrating her 9th month)


Isabela Eating Places- Aling Amie's Barbecue


Everyone has their own favorite barbecue place. Be it along a busy sidewalk (or the sidewalk itself), under an old tree (kapre inhabited? probably) or some dangerous alley or eskinita. Whatever the case may be, no matter how far, sometimes even at a risk to personal safety (or maybe not, but you get my point), most of us have an allegiance to a particular barbecue place with the recipe that best suits our taste.

Street food being a favorite in the Philippines ranging from kwek-kwek to the newly popular fried humongous mutant calamari and of course the all time favorite barbecue stalls, they would easily number in the tens of thousands by my estimation (a good part of which would profess to be the "best" or "D' Best!").

So in the barbecue category which I believe to be the most popular, my favorite sadly is Aling Amie's. I say sadly because as much as Aling Amie's big hearty smile makes my day as soon as I walk up to her stall, and even before a chunk of her barbecue grazes my palate, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that ours is a long distance love affair (sorry Liv honey it's nothing personal. Its just barbecue). She's in Isabela.

Aling Amie operates a small stall in Santiago City's wet market. Her place is located in a narrow aisle in a far flung side of the market. Not many people who don't go marketing there have heard of her. Living in obscurity, hidden in a dingy nook, I thought that this was indeed the kind of place where legends gestate prior to their perfect moment with destiny. Like Obi Wan and Yoda who had to lose themselves in the deserts of Tatooine and the jungles of Dagobah before playing their most important roles in the universe.
Aling Amie is no Jedi (at least not that I've seen her wield any lightsabers) but if you would ask me, her sticks of barbecue are almost just as deadly (pardon the way I get carried away with my analogies).

So what's with these unassuming sticks of skewered pork?

Simply, Aling Amie's years of experience and mastery.

Grilled a bit well done, her barbecue remains tender enough to be chewed with a smile of delight. I wouldn't say it's the tenderest of all but its up there. The cut of the meat is chunky enough that each uling(coal) streaked extraction of the meat from the skewer rewards the eater with significant portions of meat to sink the teeth into. More than the texture however, its the flavor that I constantly crave. A flavor that reminds me of Aristocrat (one of my barbecue favorites in Metro Manila) I can't quite point a finger why exactly but it does. This taste according to aling Amie is achieved by marinating the pork for a long time in her special marinade. The rest is achieved through the Force.

Yep, for P20 I get a barbecue as tasty without the need for any sauce or dip and an urge as seductive as the dark side to pair it with her pancit palabok, her real specialty, which deserves a new post altogether.

Coming Soon: Aling Amie's Pancit Palabok "A Disturbance in the Force"


Food Meme!


I got tagged for a meme by Oggi and I thought to myself, "I can do that!". ;p
Thanks Oggi, I had fun doing it.=)

What were you cooking/baking 10 years ago?
Spaghetti and garlic mushrooms.

What were you cooking/baking one year ago?
Barbecued Jack Daniel's Ribs and Roasted Chicken

Five snacks you enjoy:
2)Chicharon with bagoong, tomatoes and rice (Yes this is snack to me. I like to eat this while watching DVDs after dinner).
3)Lucky Me instant Pancit (Extra Hot)
4)Homemade Nachos
5)Garlic peanuts

Five recipes you know by heart:

1)Chicken curry
2)Roasted Chicken
4)Crabehhh (Crab in sweet crab fat sauce)
5)Ruy's Garlic Pasta

Five culinary luxuries you would indulge in if you were a millionaire:
2)Foie gras
3)Lobsters everyday
4)Wagyu (Kobe) beef everything
5)Prawns bagoong?

Five dishes you love to cook/bake:
1)Tom Yum

Five dishes you cannot/will not eat:
1)Dog meat
Thats all (so far)

Five favorite culinary toys:
My pasta machine/roller which I should start using.
I'm not very particular about the stuff I use for cooking and love everything in the kitchen.
The ones I use most would be the saute pan, chopping board, wok and skillet.

Five dishes for your "last meal" menu:
1)Roasted Suckling Pig
2)Kare Kare
3)Baked Lobsters
4)Lumpiang Ubod (I used to be known as a the Lumpia Monster)
5)Ensalada of talong, seaweeds, onions, tomatoes, chicharon and bagoong

Five happy food memories:
1)Han Pao Noodle Feast with Liv. This dish slowly her on the road to appreciating Chinese food which she previously wouldn't touch. Now she's North Park Girl! *proud* =)
2)Eating the yummiest Tom Yum in by the sidewalk in Thailand. The prawns were so huge I couldn't finish one!
3)Lobster dinner in Blue Bacon with Liv for Valentine's
4)First time I tasted my secret chili recipe.
5)Everytime Liv and I eat out.

That was fun. Anyone who wants to do this is welcome to do so. Please let me know so I can check it out.=)


Bellore: a Fusion of Gourmet, Innovation and Affordability


Let me start out by saying that although my relatives own shares in the restaurant which I'll be reviewing in this post, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I loved the food so freaking much... It was a surprise really. I NEVER expected (or perhaps dared not expect for fear of being dissapointed) the food to be as excellent as it was.

The delicious revelation happened one great day (Day 1) when Liv, Baby Andrea and I met up with friends Ingenious Jen and Pastry Guru Elaine. It was the day I walked into Bellore a skeptic and came out a believer. I've had two Bellore days in a row now and I can't wait to go back.

It has been around a couple of years (I believe) since the idea of putting up a restaurant was first considered by some relatives (cousin and uncles). A brainchild born out of our family's love for eating (I believe) and a burning entrepreneural spirit. Two initial driving forces that eventually turned into an unstoppable will with the interest and involvement of my uncle Paul (now chef and father of the restaurant's menu).

Thus the birth of a place that has been clearly imprinted and sealed with the mark of commitment to affordable, honest to goodness, quality food delivered with the warmth of one big family working together with love.

A restaurant that offers a great value for money by providing scrumptious and exciting food that is prepared fresh with utmost care for quality and perfection from preparation to plating with a menu that introduces gourmet innovations and daring fusion concepts brought to life by the talent of the chef Paul Reyes.


Here are the things we've tried so far (before going any further though, I have to warn you that the following pictures still punish me whenever I see them on an empty stomach).

Gula Malacca Wings : Chicken wings glazed with gula sauce and topped with sesame seeds.
Gula Malacca is a type of sugar which originated in Malaysia and as its name suggests, Gula Malacca Wings glides into the palate with a playfully sweet taste that is trailed by a barrage of spices accented by the crispness of the coating and an occassional burst of sesame seed inside the mouth. (P140)

Pollo Al Forno/Italian Roast Chicken: One of my favorites in Bellore. It is a simple roast chicken dish that stands out with a delightfully sharp flavors of citrus and spice on tender to the bone meat. Roasted to perfection, the skin is crisp and beautifully browned while the flesh remains so juicy. (P160 served with rice or bread, soup and salad)

Miso Glazed Salmon: Very intriguing and ultimately rewarding. This dish offers generous slabs of fresh salmon perfectly cooked. The pink flesh was moist all the way to the core. It was so soft it felt like butter melting inside my mouth. The Miso glaze was brilliant with it and gave bursts of flavor to keep the dish very interesting to the senses. It almost drove Liv crazy.
(P240 served with rice or bread, soup and salad) I was further impressed.

Osso Bucco: A dish I enjoyed for the rich sauce which was heavilly flavored with the taste of olives, tomatoes and herbs which smothers generous pieces of extremely tender beef.
Bellore's version of this popular Itallian food definitely holds it's own.
(P240 served with rice or bread, soup and salad) The serving is quite big.

Day 2 was lunch with Liv, my brother and mom. These were what we enjoyed.

Hairy Prawn in Danielle Sauce: Be awed. This interesting looking creation packs a delicious serving of plump prawns at its core. The "hair" actually provides a pleasurable twist and play in textures as you slowly get to the heart of the dish nestled in creamy Danielle sauce.
(P240 served with rice or bread, soup and salad) compared to most restos offering prawn dishes. I have to note that this price is pretty good.

Scallopini in Pomodoro Sauce: Tender porkloin cooked in Pomodoro Sauce. Unfortunately due to too much photographing, I failed to have a taste from my mom who was the one who ordered this. Although she said it was very tender, she didn't find it as good as all the other dishes she's ordered in Bellore before.
(P180 served with rice or bread, soup and salad)

Cream Dory with Lemon Butter Dill Sauce: Now this is one of the bestsellers. Dory fish cooked in light batter just to give a perfect crisp as you cut into the soft juicy flesh. The chef recommended that we fork a few strands of dill and dip into Bellore's lemon butter sauce. Wow...
(P 250 -Family Serving- Good for 2-3 persons and comes with a single serving of rice)
That's a lot of scrumptious Dory. =)
Liv again had the Salmon in Miso glaze for lunch. She's obssessed with it I must say.

How could I have forgotten this (this is a late addition to my post). Baby Back Ribs with Roasted Apple: Meaty ribs in thick, fruity glaze/sauce served with roasted apple slices with flavors that are quite bold and intense. More subtle senses may find the tastiness overwhelming but this is just how I like it.

(P240 served with rice or bread, soup and salad)

The sides:

Vegetable salad in strawberry vinaigrette comes free with the regular Entrees. I don't fancy vinaigrette too much but Liv liked it.

Curried Pumpkin Soup- Now this is what I'm talking about. Rich pumpkin soup with a curry twist. My favorite. I couldn't believe this generous bowl of heart-warming pumpkin was free with the Entree. (P70- Ala carte)

Old-Fashioned Assorted Mushroom Soup- A close 2nd to the Curried pumpkin Soup for me. The lovely texture of small mushroom bits makes a strong argument for this soup. It's delicious.
This is the other choice that comes with the entrees. (P70- Ala Carte)

A peach cream dessert that they were developing during our visit. It was very refreshing!

After a heavy meal, you can choose from the coffee beans they have available and have yourself a nice cup as you digest the great eating experience. (P35 if I remember correctly)

Gourmet indulgence on an average of P300 per person. not bad.=)

If you're looking for a place to eat special this is definitely a place to go and the best part about it is that it's still a "secret" as not many know about it yet. The chef is very warm and accomodating too (specially if you look for him and tell him Ruy sent you. Haha! ;p).

Located along Examiner St. (West Triangle) Quezon City, it is accessible via Quezon Ave. or West Ave. Just look for the sign.

They now have an Omelette Bar Buffet for Php135.00 Everyday from 7-10am.


Welcome to --- The House of Ru-Ru


Jen would always ask me what Ruy and I had to eat over the weekend and for the past couple of weeks I've been raving about Ruy's cooking. Yes, Ruy is the appointed King of our kitchen. (it's debatable who actually appointed him as such). This being the case, Jen christened our house as the House of Ru-ru.

When Ruy cooks, he gets immersed in the moment...there's a monk-like focus to his demeanor and just between us he gets a tad cranky when things don't go his way. He is also not satisfied with anything that's just fried (yes, even if it is that liempo one post down). He wants things imaginative and different and matching. Meaning, if he's eating something fried, he needs soup and an interesting rice concoction with it.

One day, I thought of contributing something to the House of Ru-ru's gastric delights. I have just learned about the ready made chicken pandan found in SM groceries so I dragged Ruy to the grocery and for the first time ever I went to the meat and poultry section (i usually stop at the hotdog and bacon section) and purchased my first ever raw chicken.

Each chicken pandan piece costs 10 pesos which is quite a steal specially when you compare the costs to restaurants. Upon seeing this, Ruy's brain started trying to find the perfect rice dish to match it. I was initially thinking of Bagoong Rice (Ruy's bagoong is to die for!!) but Ruy had something better in mind.

Ruy initially wanted to try to make pineapple rice but while he was trying to research the recipe for this rice, came upon this recipe. It was a gutsy move for him to even attempt it but he decided to go for it.

It has to be pointed out here that Ruy goes all out when cooking. Yes, to the point of annoying me sometimes. Take this recipe for example...we had to go to 3 shops before finding the basmati rice. We went to Rustan's Katipunan, Rustan's Temple Drive and finally Santi's.

The basmati rice was cooked in coconut milk. We didn't have time to get this off the market so we (notice how I'm using the pronoun WE as if I had something to do with the recipe other than go to the grocery) had to settle for the next best thing...instant coconut milk. This was surprisingly almost as good as the real thing.
Ruy opted to use pineapple juice instead of water which added another layer of flavor to the already flavorful recipe. The resulting dish is not for the weak can be very intimidating.
The recipe for the rice was surprisingly easy to follow. It's just a matter of putting everything together in a pan and waiting. I guess this didn't prove to be challenging enough for Ruru...errr Ruy I mean so he decided to make his life more difficult by making his own crystallized ginger.

It has to be explained that Ruy was a one-man-show during this entire process...he was taking photos while cooking. This proved to be disastrous so he ended up having to re-do the ginger.

So with the crystallized ginger finely chopped and the almonds sliced...the Thai Rice came to life.

I loved the rice so much I barely ate the chicken. What-a-meal!!


Speaking of Lechon


Speaking of lechon, Saturday found me craving for O Kitchen's Binagoongang Lechon Kawali (without the bagoong so I guess that makes it lechon kawali).
I just had to be particular about the "version" as I was craving for the kind of lechon kawali with crisp skin and rather chewy but not suffocatingly squishy fat and juicy inside-crisp outside meat loaded with just the perfect amount of spices and salt to enhance the flavor.. The kind Liv and I enjoyed in O Kitchen.

Of course being the dreamer that I am, I envisioned myself recreating this dish with stunning success.

And so I TRIED.

I started by boiling liempo in salt and spices. I kept it a little longer than I felt I needed to in order to soften the meat and the fat more. I was working on the theory that softening it more would allow me to take it out of the oil as soon as the skin became crunchy enough, keeping it from drying up and ensuring the tenderness of the meat.
After boiling I plucked the liempo out of the pot and let it cool down.

Then I deep-fried it and used my ninja skills to avoid getting hurt by fat explosions.

Chopped into moderate serving sizes, I believe my lechon kawali approximated the lechon kawali of my vision at least in appearance. After taking a moment to appreciate it and give myself a pat on the back, it was time to compare the most important aspect. The taste.
The result: The skin was crisp and the fat was just the way I wanted it. The meat was a bit overcooked but not dried up at all (thankfully). I have to agree with Liv however that my creation could have used a little more salt (a common mistake for me as I'm just terrified of overdosing my food with sodium). I'll try to fix that next time.

Some people like their lechon Kawali with Datu Puti (vinegar) for the crunchy and sour sensation of eating chicharon (pork cracklings) while some like it with Mang Tomas (liver sauce) for a sweet and rich flavor to compliment the crispy fried skin.

Saturday's lunch was with Me,Liv and Mang Tomas.


Greenwich Lechon Pizza - A Pinoy Celebration in a Box


When I saw the words "Lechon and Pizza" in one sentence I just had to back pedal and make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. I thought to myself, that if what I saw wasn't a mistake of vision from hunger, that would probably be one of the craziest ideas man has ever thought of. Looking closer, and reading closely, I saw with disbelief that indeed it was true.

I then marched in to buy one.

I will be brief with this post and be honest. I never liked any Greenwich pizza since the re-invention of the pizza chain and the scrapping of the Pizza Square (one of my childhood favorites). Until this pizza that is.

Following the Sisig Pizza which I appreciated for its boldness and innovation in using the Pampanga specialty as a main pizza ingredient (but didn't enjoy too much). This Lechon pizza takes it a notch higher by using probably one of the most well known and loved filipino dishes of all time, the lechon kawali, and throwing in an entire Filipino fiesta celebration inside a box of pizza.

Roasted garlic and spices permeating, I eagerly opened the box and had my nose delighting in the scent of a feast.

Biting in, Filipino hospitality welcomes you with a red carpet or should I say banig (straw mat) of textures coming from tender lechon and crisp roasted garlic. This is followed by the sweet harana (serenade) of pickled bell peppers (atcharra) and onion leeks while the light, fluffy and crumby dough exalts our native pan de sal by providing the perfect bedding.

As they say in American Idol, there is nothing like singing a popular song and making it your own. With this pizza, greenwich takes cooking innovation to a new level using Filipino ideas and ingredients successfully into the concept of pizza and owns it.

While this pizza might not be the best out there, it's a celebration of Filipino ingenuity and I think the creativity should be applauded.


Kitchen Adventure- Crisp, Creamy, Sweet, Spicy


To me, there are few highs that could surpass the joy of visualizing something you want to create and actually being able to pull it off. In my case a week ago, it came in the way of two dishes.

Let me make it clear before proceeding that I'm no cooking expert. Rather, I'm probably more of a persistent eater or a stomach entertainer. I'm just someone who's willing to cook to be able to eat what I want and who likes sharing the fruit of my efforts with others (of course given that my efforts produce satisfactory results).

These cooking projects of mine usually start of with a flash of insight or a vision inspired by food that I read about, see on a cooking website, other blogs or food recalled from a previous meal. This is followed by intense scheming and visualizing of the flavors and ingredients necessary and some research. Now like I said, I'm not one to cook just for myself so before I proceed any further with my inspiration, I ask Liv what she thinks about the dish which I'm thinking of cooking. If she likes it then it's worth the effort. I then go scurrying to the grocery for ingredients.

This project started on a Saturday evening with me thinking of what we'll be having for Sunday's lunch. Drifting into sensations and textures stored inside my memory bank, I started brainstroming till my food library churned out the result in the way of a craving. I got two hits. Crisp and creamy and sweet-spicy. Unfortunately these hints were still quite vague and so I had to visualize these textures and tastes as actual dishes. I mulled over the parameters for a while until a stroke of inpiration and pure guts hit me. For this craving I was to venture into dishes which were quite complicated and ambitious --- for my skills.

Chicken Kiev With Mushroom Sauce

Shrimp and Cheese Stuffed Chili

Thankfully I got Liv to help me out (after a measure of persuasion) to extend her invaluable assistance with the preparation of the shrimps.

Chicken Kiev:

I basically got the main idea and procedure after a little research which led me to the Food Network, and being the adventurous (stubborn) person that I am, I altered it some to add some things and customize it according to my preferences.

Knowing I'd be hard-pressed to finish everything by lunch time on Sunday if I started everything that same day, I decided to prepare the chicken filling the night before:

Kiev Cream Stuffing:

Ingredients: 1 whole butter, 2 healthy stalks of chives, 1 spoon of tarragon, salt and pepper (I would have put parsley but I couldn't find any in the groceries and wet market at that time due to some problem with the Baguio crops I was told.

Procedure: Mix them all together and roll into a tube (like japanese maki) using plastic wrap. I stored it in the chiller overnight to solidify.

The following day, I started by preparing my mushroom sauce. This wasn't in the recipe but I felt that this would be nice to put on the chicken.

Ruy's Makeshift Kiev Sauce

Ingredients: 1 instant mushroom soup, 1 pack all purpose cream, 1/2 cup grated quick melting cheese, 1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms, some soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Procedure: cook mushroom soup and dunk everything in. Boil till satisfied with thickness (I know my cooking instructions are a bit on the "go figure side" but that's just what I did myself and failed to time anything! I promise to try next time. I just got so intense cooking that at times, I was working almost purely on instinct).

Finishing the things which needed separate preparation, I then went to work on what to me was the trickiest, most difficult part.
Prepping the chicken: This task was made tougher by the fact that the chicken breasts we had de-boned in the palengke wasn't perfectly done. There were still a few bones lodged inside the flesh which I needed to remove without damaging the chicken and the breast wasn't evenly cut resulting in very oddly shaped chicken pieces to work with. That being said, I had to work with what I had so work I did.
I spread plastic wrap on top of a clean table, put the chicken breast on top and another layer of plastic wrap over the chicken. The plastic needs to be able to slide freely off the chicken so that it deflects some of the force when you start pounding on the chicken. Yup, I pounded (I did it starting from the center working outward) until I thought it was the ideal 1/8 inch thick or when I felt that the chicken flesh was about to break. The goal is to be able to spread it thin and wide to wrap the goodies you'll be putting inside.

Other Stuffing and frying ingredients:
1/4 kg bacon (fried), spinach, flour, some eggs beaten in water, Japanese breading

The bacon.

And some nice leafy spinach (as Liv requested).

Rolling the stuffing in: I spread out my chicken breasts (somehow that didn't sound quite right), put three beautiful spinach leaves side by side (horrizontally) with a little overlapping, 2 Bacons strips (Vertically), then the hardened filling I made the night before sliced into small tubes and a spoon of bread crumbs. Carefully tuck the edges of the chicken in and roll it up. Secure with a toothpick or some string I guess.

Frying: Cover the rolled up chicken in flour, dip in egg beaten in 1 spoon of water, dunk in japanese breading then fry.

And it's good to eat.

This is what the inside looked like. I was really happy that I was able to keep the filling neatly in place in the middle and I was able to stuff it pretty well that the taste and texture of the middle came out.

Shrimp Stuffed Pepper

Pineapple Sweet and Sour Dip Ingredients:
I can sweetened pineapple juice (singles)
1 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic. Minced.
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 spoons ketchup
1 spoon veg oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix flour, sugar, pineapple juice, soy sauce until free of lumps
Fry garlic for 5 mins in oil. Put in Ketchup and fry 2 more minutes
Pour in mixture and stir until thickened. Boil a few more minutes then season with salt and pepper.

Stuffed Pepper Ingredients:
Beautiful green peppers
Quickmelting cheese
Lumpia Wrapper

Slit peppers vertically in the middle
Remove seeds taking care not to tear the pepper open
Grate quickmelting cheese
Stuff generously inside pepper leaving a little space to squeeze in shrimps.

Roll inside lumpia wrapper
Roll in flour and fry.

And there you have it. =)

It was really good. This recipe was inspired by the Food delivery guy at Liv's office who'd sell peppers stuffed with meat filling.

If there's one tip I could give amateurs like myself from this cooking experience, it's that if you have a hard time thinning the chicken breasts (or if you ruin it like I did some of mine), place the breast on top of a lumpia wrapper and stuff as you would a perfectly flattened chicken breast, then roll up tightly like sushi with the lumpia wrapper. It works!

Just main courses for now as I'm not yet skilled enough to whip up appetizers and desserts.

I know my instructions can be a bit vague as I usually get so immersed in my cooking that I forget to take note of certain details (like measurements!) and end up cooking by instinct. I'm trying to fix that as I'm going for consistency from now on.=)

I love excitement when I eat and I'm willing to take the extra time to look for and prepare things to enhance my eating experience like side veggies of kamatis and bagoong or just sawsawan with finely chopped chili. Cooking is just taking it a little further and I love it when I end up achieving things I never thought I could do and cook food I always thought I had to go to restaurants for to eat.

Of course it inspires me most to have people to share them with.=)



Disclosure Agreement