Sunday, January 01, 2012

BOCHOGNOMICS 2: Two Pestos and A Pao

Happy New Year to the zero people who are still following this blog and to the voice inside my head that forced me to cook meatless pasta (gasp!). I know that the past year has been almost devoid of posting on my part and I can't honestly promise myself that I will write more about my food trips this new year. And I certainly will never promise that I will from here on out take photographs of my food before I eat it. The best I can do is try. Cliche, really, but that's all I have.

To start off my new year, I offer 3 new recipes from the Media Noche meal I prepared last night. This meal was fueled by the guilt of having eaten too much during Christmas week, the necessity of preparing relatively healthier eats for my SC folks (that's senior citizen--hurrah for the 32% aggregated discount!), and my personal conviction that no meal is complete without some kind of meat. As with the first installment of Bochognomics (exactly one year ago), prices quoted are Unimart prices, except where indicated. There are no pictures--I was halfway through my second bacon pao when I remembered that I should have taken photos. I finished my bacon pao instead.

MEATLESS PASTA: Spaghettini with Red Pesto Sauce

500g spaghettini (Php 54.50, Balducci brand)
1 small bottle sun-dried tomatoes in oil (Php 195, Molinera brand)
extra virgin olive oil (stock, but I use either Capri or Doña Elena, around Php 200 per 500ml bottle)
1/3 cup sliced black olives (Php 48.50 for 1 small bottle, Doña Elena brand)
1/2 cup fresh basil, washed and dried (Php 30 to 40)
1/2 cup fresh curly leaf parsley, washed and dried (Php 30 to 40)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
grated Parmesan (Php 77.50 for a 250g bottle, Magic Time brand)
1/4 wedge, Smoked Dutch cheese, cut into cubes (Php 161.75 for 1 wedge)
3-4 tbsp soft Goat cheese (stock, Camembert can be substitued, Php 300++ for a small disc)


For the red pesto:
1. Slice sun-dried tomatoes into semi-thick strips (to facilitate pulsing in the food processor). Reserve the oil.
2. In food processor, put sun-dried tomatoes and the oil. Add garlic, basil, parsley, olives, and 3 cheeses (all amounts according to your taste, really).
3. Pulse until everything is ground and blended. Check consistency. If too thick, thin out with EVOO (around 1/2 cup).
4. Add salt and pepper, and more cheeses, to taste.

For meatless pasta:
1. Cook 500g spaghettini in salted boiling water, then drain. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.
2. Pour the red pesto sauce into pan or pot. Saute for 3-5 minutes, then add the pasta back in.
3. Make sure the sauce coats every strand of pasta. If it is too thick due to the cheeses, add the pasta water.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Top with more parmesan cheese, and serve with green pesto raisin bread (recipe below).


Raisin bread loaf (Php 65 thereabouts, Gardenia brand)
Prepared pesto

For Pesto:
3 cups fresh basil
2 cups fresh parsley
1/3 cup capers (Php 55 for 1 small bottle, Capri brand)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 cup EVOO
parmesan cheese
goat's cheese
Smoked Dutch cheese, cubed
juice from 1/2 lemon (Php 15/pc)
salt and pepper, to taste


For the pesto:
1. Place all ingredients, except EVOO, s&p, and lemon juice, in food processor.
2. Remove seeds from lemon and squeeze juice into food processor. Add salt and pepper.
3. Pulse while pouring EVOO into the lid's spout.
4. Check for taste and consistency. Add s&p, oil, or more cheeses, to taste, then pulse one final time to achieve smooth consistency.

For the bread:
1. Slice raisin bread (or any bread) pieces into halves, so if you have 5 pieces, you'll end up with 10 small ones.
2. Take a small piece of bread and slather with pesto, including a little bit of oil.
3. Toast in the oven at 200 degrees C for around 3-5 minutes (assuming oven has been preheated for 5 minutes).


8-10 pcs Man Tao or Chinese buns (Php 60)
250g bacon, cut into bits (Php 80, Holiday brand--though I would recommend pricier brands for a smokier flavor)
Optional: smoked dutch cheese, thin slices

1. Cut bacon into bits and fry in its own fat. Add a small amount of canola oil to aid in frying.
2. While the bacon is frying, steam the man tao for around 3-5 minutes.
3. When the man tao is ready, slice horizontally to form 2-sided buns. Place hot bacon bits inside. Add cheese as preferred. (Might also work with a bit of mustard and/or mayo).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Off-topic: I found my essays!

Well, my sister did (thanks, Ate My!).

A few years back, I wrote some essays that were published in the website Indie Bloggers but eventually got lost in the ether (or so I thought). Turns out, Indie Bloggers renamed itself into Indie Ink. My sister found a link to one of my essays. Apparently, my essay submissions are still in the archives of that site--which is great for me as some of those essays I had lost my copies of. Needless to say, I am immensely pleased at this fortunate turn of events.

Anyway, many of these aren't about food, but I'm similarly glad to share them with anyone who'd like to read:

The Happiest Accident
Coffee, Tea, and Me
My Dad and J. Lo
This Is Why
Sunday Morning Mom
Matin and Babochai
i am free
About A Boy
The Tao of Kage

Monday, January 03, 2011

Gastronomically Grateful

I am ringing in 2011 with a decision. A decision, mind you, not a resolution. Resolutions are for plebeians. Of course the five of you who are still (but most probably are no longer) reading this blog may argue that I am, in fact, one of you, common folks. You may well be, technically, objectively, right. But not if you factor in narcissism as an increasingly universal value. So factoring in my narcissistic mindset, I would be perfectly right in assuming that I am not plebeian and am, in fact, ultra unique and stellar. Ergo, you would be wrong. Entirely, massively. Wrong.

But this musicless ditty is not about narcissism and its grandchild, ungratefulness (its child being, of course, entitlement). This, instead, is about the conceptual opposite, gratitude.

I decided that at least for this year, I will adopt a more grateful, thankful, mindset. Why? Because, frankly, sometimes when you don't decide--deliberately, forcefully--to be thankful, you forget. And I don't want to forget. My memory's bad enough as it is.

So I'm starting my year of being grateful with the easiest thing in the world to be thankful about. This here is my fit of gastronomic gratitude.

Cyma's Roka Salata. Best salad ever. My mom thinks so too. We order this every time we eat at Cyma, along with the Solomos pasta (with salmon, feta cheese, and angel hair pasta in a tomato cream sauce). I also love...

Cyma's generous portions. Even if the dishes seem pricey, if you are a party of at least 3, Cyma turns out to be affordable, but fine, dining. Lovely.

Abe's. My friend, Ange, treated me and our friends to this wonderful place that serves Kapampangan dishes. We had sauteed crickets, lamb adobo, kare-kare, and bamboo rice (white rice steamed inside a piece of bamboo). As Ange described the experience, everything was Just Right. Just enough salty, just enough sweet, and a lot savory.

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Charlie's Carwash and Grill. The new Charlie's branch in Greenhills opened last year. Ditchie and I ate there during their soft opening. She had the burger while I had the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw. We also shared some buffalo wings. The pork sandwich was good, tender and moist, drenched in sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Ditchie also liked her burger. We didn't care much for the wings, though. For the best wings we ate last year, my thanks go to...

Buffalo Wings and Things. Which, alas, has closed its doors in the Greenhills mall. I had some good times in this place, with Ditchie and with my friend, Lee. The Garlic Parmesan wings are killer, great paired with dirty rice and blue cheese dip. Wings and Things, you will be missed, sorely. I hope to see you in another location soon.

Indonesian food. Last year, I got to visit Yogyakarta, Indonesia (for a conference). Three things I loved about that trip: a) we stayed at the house of one of Indonesia's most prominent contemporary artists, it was like living in a cozy art gallery; b) I got to see Borobudur! and c) I got to eat Indonesian food like Gado-gado (a mixed greens and beans salad with peanut dressing and topped with hard boiled eggs). Indonesian food is kind of like our food, but a lot spicier. Yum. An Indonesian guy I talked to told me that when he visited Manila and tried the food, he missed the spiciness and found our food bland. So someone told him to go to Bicol and try the spicy, gata based, dishes there. So I had to recommend Bicol Express and Pinangat. He said he'll try it when he visits next. Don't know when that will be. I was just making small talk and didn't really want to find out those details.

Kopiko 3-in-1 coffee, with brown sugar. Hands down, the best instant coffee mix. Ever. I know there's already an ad airing on TV but why isn't it more popular? It's not too strong and bitter but the taste of coffee is distinct. The white sugar version is fine as well, but for me, the brown sugar variant works best just because I prefer brown sugar as it has a rounder, butterscotch, flavor.

Baby Ruth MINT flavor. I love the American goods store in Greenhills Shopping Center, where most of the items sell for only 79 to 99 pesos. The Baby Ruth Mints sell for 99 pesos per 8-piece pack.

Kraft Caramels. I am always grateful for these. And for the fact that Unimart puts these on sale every now and then.

Smiley's Chocolate Covered Mint Cookies. See last post.

Athiporn's Bagoong Rice Maki. I got my first taste of these goodies at a Christmas get together in the home of my professor, Ma'am Bo. Athiporn, a grad student in our department, has caters Thai food. These tiny morsels of bagoong infused sticky rice, with chicken, scrambled egg, and onion bits, wrapped in seaweed are their bestseller, and rightly so. You can easily polish off seven of these babies in one sitting. I should know. That's what I did. I wish I could say, no worries, I didn't eat anything else that night. Some wishes shall remain unfulfilled.

Lomi at a Batangas roadside eatery. My family and I had emergency lunch on the way home from the resort we stayed at for our Christmas vacation. It was nearing 2pm, we were hungry, and there was no decent restaurant in sight. So we decided to get some "laman tiyan" (literally, stomach filler) to temporarily soothe hunger pangs while we looked for a place we wanted to eat at. Ate My, Ditchie, and Mama ordered Goto while I, Daddy, Kuya Levi, and Daya ordered Lomi. The Lomi was a hot bowl filled with fat, yellow, egg noodles in a thick, creamy, light brown gravy, topped with pork innards and fried meat rolls. It was delicious. No surprise there. The big surprise that day was the Goto. My sisters and Mama were expecting a savory rice porridge, because in Manila, that's what Goto is: a rice dish. Apparently, in Batangas, Goto is a bowl of hot bile over pork innards and liver. In Manila, that's called Papaitan. Lesson learned: don't assume that Goto is the same dish anywhere in the Philippines. It's not.

That concludes my fit of gastronomic gratitude. Goodbye, 2010. My tummy shall surely miss you. 2011, meet my tummy. Tummy, 2011.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Been A Long Time...

... and I should have written about Smileys Chocolate Covered Mint Cookies and all my Unimart finds and experiences since my family moved to Greenhills area and I officially stopped being QC Girl :( and became San Juan woman with all the baggage that comes with it (read: living in Ejercito territory where constituents are greeted during New Year's by a banner over at City Hall proclaiming greetings from, and I quote, "President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, First Lady Gia Ejercito, and Mayor JV Ejercito". Emphasis on First Lady. Snort.). Somehow, though, life has a way of taking you away from what's important (like food) by distracting you with such trivialities as work, family obligations, and research required for what used to be a for-fun-Ph.D. but is now the Holy Grail of my life as a beleaguered doctoral candidate. But I don't like to complain.

So instead I will just wax, albeit belatedly, about the glorious, cheap, finds and steals that trusty, crusty, old Unimart has been offering its equally crusty, old, Chinoy and Kastilaloy (my sister's term for Castilian Pinoys) merchant community.

1) Arbitrary Sales of imported chips, candies, and choccies. We've been doing grocery shopping at Unimart for almost two years now and have, on numerous occasions, enjoyed imported chips, candies, and chocolate at reduced prices. There seems to be no reason for these sales, perhaps other than that the products are nearing their best-before date. Although, the sales happen so arbitrarily and ostensibly without schedule that I sometimes doubt it's about inventory clearance. Anyway, it matters not why, only that I get to enjoy Cheetos Puffs, Cheetos Crunchy Jalapeno, Butter Fingers Crisps, and Kraft Caramel Candies, etc. at 20% off. Not bad for a grocery store that doesn't seem to have a budget for cleaning its grimy exterior and replacing the signage. Good thing I'm not finicky.

2) Democratic pricing. The price range for many products sold at Unimart is unbelievably wide, from lowest of the low end options to high end stuff. This is great for shopping within a specified budget. It also allows you to buy, on a regular basis, those products that would normally be relegated to your "for special occasions" buys. My favorite "chourmet" (that's my word for cheap gourmet) buys are EVOO and red wine vinegar (Capri brand is the cheapest so far and, frankly, not so bad, good for everyday cooking and my twice-a-week hair conditioning; followed by Dona Elena and Bertolli's) and pasta (Balducci is a good, cheap, brand; also, San Remo for its vegeroni). Clara Ole has cheap, but tasty, spaghetti sauces. I've tried 3 variants so far and they all work particularly the Italian Style and Three Cheese sauces. Del Monte also has a new Tomato Cream sauce that I've used for making a ham and cheese quesadilla. (Although, it's easy to make your own tomato cream sauce. Just combine your favorite marinara/tomato/spaghetti sauce and all purpose cream, et voila! Tomato cream.).

3) Swift Black Label Corned Beef. This is our new, cheaper, alternative to Purefoods Corned Beef since our original alternative, Argentina Gold Label, disappeared from Unimart's shelves. The Swift Black Label tastes just like the Argentina Gold and is cheaper than Purefoods by around 3-5 pesos I think (which translates to a lot if you buy 6-8 cans at a time).

4) Smileys Chocolate Covered Mint Cookies. I made this happy discovery at Unimart. At only around 31 pesos for a box of 8 cookies, it's a really tasty, economical, find. The strawberry option is not at all tasty like the mint one, so to me, it's not worth the price. Only the mint cookies are worth the price. I introduced my good friend, Lin, to Smileys and she and her boys are now even bigger fans. Prior to these cookies appearing on the shelves of other grocery stores, I used to buy her 2 boxes at a time for her Smileys fix.

5) Frozen meats and the deli section. You can find Santi's and other brands of cold cuts and sausages at Unimart's frozen meats section. My favorites are the lyoners, hungarian and garlic sausages, and pepperoni. I pair gourmet sausages with cheap CDO or King Sue brand bacon for my meat pasta. It's always good to pair ordinary with gourmet quality because if you go too cheap with your ingredients, your final product might taste just that, cheap.

6) Kastilaloy before you at the counter. This is neither a find nor a steal. Rather, it's a quirk of the Unimart shopping experience, an immensely enjoyable quirk. My sister and I, one time, were behind this big-boned, Castilian grandma. We knew she was Castilian not because she had the aquiline nose and high brow, but because she was speaking in a mix of Spanish and Castilian-accented English and, hilariously, paying with a check with the amounts written in Spanish. So instead of writing on her check "18,000.00 pesos" or "Eighteen Thousand only" (she bought a lot of stuff; I think I saw 1 gallon bottles of some kind of liquor), she wrote "18.000,00" (because as we know, the Spanish write their numbers with the dot and comma interchanged) and "Dieciocho Mil".

Only in Unimart. This would never have happened in Shopwise.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's A Crazy, Sploggy World Out There!

Test post after crazy splog scare. I think I accidentally flagged my own blog (doink!) when I tried to report abuse (spam in my comments section). And not the tasty kind of SPAM. Ugh. I'm hoping Blogger doesn't disable or lock or remove this blog, but I guess I'll have to wait.

Hope this post appears.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Burning Question... Answered

I started this blog in August, 2006, almost four years ago, and in all that time, I've posted only around 5 pictures of the foods I cook, eat, and rave about. Well, maybe not 5; more like... 7 or 8. The point is, I seem to have posted too few food photos that I'm sure at least some of you may be wondering... What does she have against food photography?

Just to set the record straight--because there are days when I like to pretend that I'm a celebrity "setting the record straight", as it were, in an effort to contain the backlash of a controversy I am embroiled in. Today is one of those days...

Anyway, just to set the record straight, I don't have anything against food photography. (Twit your friends...)

I think it takes great skill to, for instance, take a cheesecake, set it against a magenta background, top it with real blueberries with a berry or two falling off the cake, drizzle it with viscous blueberry puree so that the creamy, white, cake looks like it's drooling blueberries... and not eat the cake. Instead, you get your trusty camera, fiddle with it while ignoring. Ignoring the cake. Then you take a photograph of your cake because, perhaps, you'd rather have the photograph than the real thing.

THAT takes skill... and a little bit of crazy.

One of the more well-known experiments in psychology was the Marshmallow Test where children were brought, one by one, into a room where a marshmallow sat on a plate on a table. A pretty, yummy, marshmallow. The children were told, "You may eat the marshmallow. However, you have a choice to not eat this marshmallow and wait a bit. If you can wait, oh say, 5 minutes, someone will come in and give you another one. So then, you can have two marshmallows. Two." Then they were left alone to make that all important decision: to eat (now) or not to eat.

Well, turns out, some kids gobbled up the marshmallow immediately. The promise of a second marshmallow was not enough to override the hunger to have the first marshmallow, NOW!

I'm convinced that food stylists and photographers would have passed the marshmallow test as children. I wouldn't have. I would have gobbled up that marshmallow even before the experimenter finished her spiel. I would have set a new record for failing the marshmallow test. It would have shamed my parents.

That's why I don't take too many pictures of the foods I cook. I don't have the patience for it. Usually, my plate's half empty by the time I remember to take a picture. And it seems vainglorious to insert a photo of me or my family AFTER having eaten, looking sated and almost Zen. (Seriously, have you ever encountered or yourself used the word "vainglorious" in a blog post? Uh-may-zing. Sometimes, I surprise myself).

You can't take a pic of your cake and eat it too. At least, not at the same time.

Friday, January 01, 2010

BOCHOGNOMICS: Pasta, Pasta, y Quesadilla

To kick off the new year, and per Ate My’s suggestion, I am changing the way I present recipes to include pricing. I am calling my new recipe series Bochognomics. This, of course, is in tribute to Kitchenomics, Del Monte’s popular marketing campaign. It’s very 90s but I am, after all, a 90s kid.

For this first installment of Bochognomics, I present two pasta and a quesadilla recipes. Pricing, by the way, is based mostly on Unimart prices. (More on the glory of Unimart in a subsequent post).

Sardine Pasta

This is a recipe for the Linguine with Sardines that I cooked for the Faculty Christmas Party of UP Psych where I now teach. The professors and instructors loved it and polished off all 1.5 kilos of it. Ma’am Ly, a colleague, asked if I took orders. To which I replied, “If I took orders, I’d never finish my dissertation.” By the way, if the recipe seems familiar, that’s because it’s quite similar to past sardine pasta recipes I’ve created.

Ingredients: (Pricing)
1.5 kg linguine (Php 44.75 / 500g Balducci brand)
7 cans fried sardines (Php 15.95 / can)
6-7 native tomatoes, chopped (Php 47.00 approx.)
1 bottle capers, drained (Php 84.75 Doña Elena brand)
2 160g cans tomato paste (Php 16.50 / 160g Jolly brand)
2 tbsp minced garlic (from pantry)
1 tbsp minced onions (from pantry)
olive oil, for sautéing (from pantry, Capri and Doña Elena are cheap but good brands in the Php 100++ range / 500 ml for pure and extra virgin)
Italian seasoning, s&p (from pantry, Php 38.25 / 13g bottle McCormick brand)
Fresh basil, all torn up (from pantry, Php 37.75 / 100g approx)
Grated parmesan (optional) (Php 94.50 / 200g Kraft brand)

1 Saute onions and garlic.
2 Add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes.
3 Add fried sardines. (Debone sardines and remove laurel leaves prior to adding them). Stir for a few minutes.
4 Add tomato paste. Add water to thin the sauce if it gets too thick.
5 Add fresh basil, Italian seasoning, and capers. Season with s&p, to taste.
6 Let simmer.
7 Add cooked linguine (or any other pasta). Toss.
8 Serve and enjoy.

Pasta with Meat Sauce

I cooked this last night for New Year’s Eve dinner. I used the same meat sauce for the quesadilla I also made, the recipe for which will be detailed after this one.

Ingredients: (Pricing)
1.5 kg pasta (Php 44.75 / 500g Balducci brand)
½ kg ground lean beef (Php 120 / 500g, Nepa Q-mart)
¼ kg ground lean pork (Php 40 / 250g, Nepa Q-mart)
1 kg spaghetti sauce (Php 64.75 Clara Ole brand)
4 native tomatoes, chopped (Php 47 / 6-7 pcs, approx)
3 peppers, chopped (Php 27, approx)
1 can mushrooms (Php 23.75 / 400g can Tai Hing brand)
grated cheese (Php 94.50 / 200g parmesan Kraft brand, or Php 130++ / 500g processed cheese Che Vital brand, approx)
4 tbsp minced garlic (from pantry)
2 tbsp minced onion (from pantry)
2 tbsp fresh basil, torn up (from pantry, Php 37.75 / 100g approx)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (from pantry (Php 23.75 / 100g, approx)
Italian seasoning, s&p (from pantry, Php 38.25 / 13g bottle McCormick brand)

1 Saute 2 tbsp garlic and onions. Add meats. Cook until juices from the meat have evaporated and the meat has turned brown. Set aside cooked meat.
2 Saute the rest of the garlic. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
3 Add the mushrooms and peppers. Saute for a few minutes.
4 Add the meat. Saute for a few minutes.
5 Add the spaghetti sauce, basil, parsley, and Italian seasoning. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes. Add s&p, to taste.
6 Add cooked pasta. Toss.
7 Top with grated cheese. Enjoy.

Quesadilla y Quesadilla

I made 2 kinds of quesadilla for last night’s dinner, a ham and cheese quesadilla and a meat quesadilla using the same meat sauce I used for the pasta.

Ingredients: (Pricing)
4 pcs large tortillas (Php 89.50 / 6 pcs Village Gourmet brand)
8-10 medium thick slices of ham (Php 564 / 700g Adelina brand, approx)
1 pack tomato cream sauce (Php 25 / 250g Del Monte brand)
4 tbsp meat sauce
grated cheese (from pantry, Php 130++ / 500g Che Vital brand, approx)
1 tbsp fresh basil, torn up (from pantry, Php 37.75 / 100g, approx)

To make the ham and cheese quesadilla:
1 Place one large tortilla on a big plate. Put 3 big dollops of tomato cream sauce and spread.
2 Arrange ham slices to cover the whole tortilla up to 1 inch from the edge.
3 Top with grated cheese.
4 Take another tortilla and smear with tomato cream sauce.
5 Cover the tortilla with toppings to make a tortilla sandwich.
6 Heat in turbo broiler for 10 minutes at 200 C.
7 Cut into 6-8 pieces.
8 Serve and enjoy.

To make the meat quesadilla:
1 Place one large tortilla on a big plate. Put 3 big dollops of meat sauce and spread all over the tortilla.
2 Top with basil and grated cheese.
3 Take another tortilla and smear with tomato cream sauce.
4 Cover the tortilla with toppings to make a tortilla sandwich.
5 Heat in turbo broiler for 10 minutes at 200 C.
6 Cut into 6-8 pieces.
7 Serve and enjoy.