April 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
When was the last time you need to clean out the freezer? Me. Almost always. I’m not very good at managing my purchases and end up buying way too much. Yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder, and I regularly need to clean out the refrigerator.
So I saw some leftover pork strips lingering in a corner of the freezer. Time to get them out of that corner and into our tummies with my tested combination of Chili Bean and Oyster Sauce.
A combination I rely on a lot, be it tofu, or veggies or just ground meat. It (the sauce) tickles the taste buds and is so easy to make. All you need is to combine the two sauces according to your preference, some sugar to balance the saltiness then dilute with water or soup stock if available.
I cut the strips into 1-1/2” approximately, sauté them with garlic in a little oil. Add sliced mushrooms, any should be fine, but I like shiitake or button for the dish. Pour in the chili sauce, let simmer until sauce coats the pork. Top over rice or pasta.
That’s it—a dish in no time, packed with beautiful flavors.
March 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
For the last few years, I’ve wanted without success to try La Terrasse that it has somehow become an obsession.
My first attempt was in 2012; they were closed for the Easter holiday (seriously, on one of the busiest week?). It is, to me, a sign that they don’t really need the tourist patronage.
Suffice to say that when we were planning our trip to Puerto Princesa last January, I had my mind set on this cozy, open-aired restaurant-cafe. And the truth be told, it was our first agenda after touching down. Straight from the airport with bags in tow, there we were at their doorstep.
From the idyllic vibe to the service, appetizer to dessert, La Terrasse did not disappoint.
The duck was superb.
Crispy minced duck in a Hoisin-based sauce combined with cucumber sticks and leeks wrapped in a soft thin pancake adapted from the very popular Peking Duck. We loved it and went back for it on our last day before heading to the airport.
Another memorable dish was the Adobo Overload.
Adobo fried rice served with fried chicken and pork adobo and topped with pork adobo flakes. Now that’s overload in a good way. More importantly, the flavor of the sauce is how I prefer my adobo to be, not too acidic but very flavorful from the blend of soy and garlic. Started serving my adobo the same way. Love the idea of serving the rice already flavored with the adobo sauce.
The killer. Their Palawan nougat made with wild honey and cashew nuts
and their Candied Orange Peel.
It’s really more of a “pasalubong”, something you take home, but we had it for dessert and I was floored, blown-away. I, of course, had to bring back some of these babies for when I need a pick-me-up. That good.
Highly recommended when in Puerto Princesa, do make it a point to drop by La Terrasse. It’s on Rizal Avenue and a hop away from the airport.
February 18, 2015 § 2 Comments
It has been a while, I know. It’s not that I haven’t been around; it’s just that so many things have come to pass; new turn of events had me traveling here and there, back and forth. It had kept me moving about I haven’t had time to tinker around the kitchen. I miss that. And with the many changes occurring lately, all I want to make and have are food that comforts, that reminds of childhood. Food that gives me the warm fuzzies. I used to have a recipe for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, back in the days when I was baking a lot. Then I stopped and lost all my recipes from my youth. I wish I could claim to have thought to make this because this Brown Butter Pineapple Upside Down Cake is just amazing. The sweet, tangy pineapple and the salty, nutty taste of brown butter took this very classic cake and turned it up a notch. Like my life today, it is a mix of old and new, and me loving the new a lot more that the old.
September 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
Roasting vegetables is my new favorite thing. It turns a humble, everyday vegetable into a taste sensation as it brings out sweet flavor notes of any vegetable. Cabbage is one of them. I already love how it adds texture to a dish if cooked right. Think soups and pancit (our local noodle dish). But roasted, with bacon to boot, it was mind-blowing. The sweetness of the cabbage and the salty, smoky bacon is a highly addictive union. A simple dish made to impress flavor-wise because admittedly, food porn it is not.
Roasted Cabbage with Bacon
What You Need:
- 1 head of green cabbage, outer leaves removed
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices of bacon
What You Do:
- Heat the oven to 230°C.
- Cut the cabbage into eight wedges, discarding the core.
- Lay these down on a large pan, drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Cut slices of bacon into strips and scatter over the cabbage.
- Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping the cabbage wedges once halfway through.
- Serve immediately.
August 30, 2014 § 3 Comments
“Where can we go for paella?” we asked the front desk guy at our hostel. He looked at us, bewildered. “Valencia?” he finally replied. Obviously, Seville isn’t the place to have this famous Spanish rice dish… so much for that, I guess. A self-proclaimed tapas capital of the world though, some of Spain’s most imaginative tapas can be found here.
The most popular way to eat in Seville is to ir de tapas, go out for tapas. You can’t be in this city and not do a tapeo, bar crawling. A humble tradition turned international phenomenon.
The simple bread and cheese (used only to cover the glass to prevent flies from entering) has evolved to fancier feasts of foie gras and truffles. What used to go with the drink for free could actually be the star these days.
La Flor de Toranza
So instead, front desk guy pointed us to the Arenal district, a few meters away from our hostel, and there we found La Flor de Toranza (also called Casa Trifon after the founder, Don Trifon Gomez Ortiz). They had a traditional menu with specialty tapas of the fancier kind—foie gras, premium sausages, marinated turkey breast, anchovy rolls…
Anchoas con leche condensada (Anchovies with condensed milk), a curious combination caught our eyes on the menu, and so did the lomo y mansanas (salt cured pork loin and apple sandwiches). Interesting play of salty and sweet on crusty bread, the anchovy sandwich came out a winner although the ham and apples didn’t disappoint either. A restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere and friendly staff—a Filipino wait staff even got out to chat with us when they found out we were Filipinos. Close to Plaza Nuevo and Avenida de la Constitucion.
Sierra de Sevilla
Then we moved on to a few bars down. Sierra de Sevilla had Jamon Iberico (cured ham of the Huelva sierras) hanging at the rafters and that sealed the deal for us.
We found ourselves a table and ordered a raciones (a full plateful and not a small snack size) of this nutty cured ham sliced thin enough to melt in your mouth and a plate of Quezo Manchego from the La Mancha region.
Being a hot region of Spain, Seville is home to gazpacho but instead of the famous chilled tomato soup now popular all around Europe, I was introduced to Salmorejo, gazpacho’s richer and thicker cousin.
Topped with egg and Jamon Serrano, this creamy soup is sometimes used as a dip but is a lovely starter or even a light meal. I instantly fell in love with the fresh flavors of tomatoes, a hint of garlic and the fruity taste of olive oil blended together in this gloriously creamy cold soup.
Eating and socializing is embedded in the Spanish way of life and mealtimes here needs a bit of getting used to. A simple toast and café con leche are good enough to start their day, but they will need a pick-me-up at 10 in the morning, then lunch somewhere between 1-4pm. Most bars or restaurants close between 4-8pm for the essential siesta. And so lunch ended on our 2nd bar hop.
Walking out to Avenida de la Constitucion, we came across the gorgeous Adriatico building that housed Confiteria Filella.
Practically an institution, this confectionary shop serves exquisite traditional cakes and pastries. We walked in and were overwhelmed with a plethora of sweet goodies. We walked out with these:
Unfortunately, on April 5, Filella Isabel Gomez passed on at 74 and with it this historical shop, hopefully temporarily because if it indeed shut its doors forever, what a loss this will be for the Sevillanos and its visitors.
Bodega Santa Cruz
If you’re looking for a typical tavern where your orders are tabulated in chalk on the bar, look no further. On the corner leading up to the Giralda and just steps off the Alcazar, is Bodega Santa Cruz. When a bar spills out onto the street, you know that this is where you want to be.
With dishes such as Berrenjenas con miel (deep-fried aubergines with swirls of honey), Pringa, Lomo Chipiona and Alitas de pollo, you will not be disappointed.
Restaurante Café Alianza
We chanced upon this by accident looking to rest in between a few hours spent meandering the alleyways of Barrio Santa Cruz. We thought to sit in the shadows of orange trees and bougainvillaea and enjoy the sweets from Filella with coffee.
Then we ordered some tapas and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. It was a good place to be lazy and watch the crowds. Café Alianza is in a charming hidden square of the same name.
They boast of having the best Rabo de Toro in town. Falling off the bone soft, flavored wonderfully with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and wine, this oxtail dish could indeed be what the owner claims it to be.
Gago 6 Tapas Bar
Now, who says you can’t find good paella in Seville? Along Calle Mateos Gago, we saw this menu board and decided, what the heck… we’ve been craving.
Maybe Seville isn’t the best place for paella and this may not be the best paella but it sure did satisfy that craving—it was nice, moist and crusty. With this plate of grilled meats (beef, lamb and chicken), our meal definitely did not disappoint.
One of the many joys of traveling in Spain is the food. Seville being the heart of Andalusia has an abundance of bars and restaurants to choose from. There is no lack of recommendation, the list is plentiful but the fun is in the discovery. Walk around and go with the flow, you’ll never know what you might find.La Flor de Toranza Calle Jimios, 1-3 +34 954 22 93 15 Sierra de Sevilla Joaquin Guichot. 5 +34 954 56 12 10 Confiteria Filella Av. de la Constitucion, 2 +34 954 22 46 40 Bodega Santa Cruz Calle de Rodrigo Caro, 1A +34 954 21 32 46 Restaurante Cafe Alianza Calle de Rodrigo Caro, 9 +34 954 21 76 35 Gago 6 Tapas Bar Calle Mateos Gago, 6 +34 658 75 22 19
July 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
Do you ever use up all the herbs you buy? They tend to either dry up or wilt on me that I almost always have to throw away the left-overs (I know, I know… I can always freeze them – my excuse? I have yet to buy those ice trays). This salad was inspired by the need to use up the leftover dill I had wilting away on my crisper. And because canned tuna is my go to when I find myself in such a dilemma (see here and here), I obviously went that route again. And I am impressed with how this turned out, satisfying, hearty salad perfect as a main lunch or dinner meal.
The tuna can be made ahead of time and kept for other uses, making this salad the easiest ever. This is something I will be making over and over during avocado season.
With avocado’s good for you fats and the high source of protein that tuna provides, this is not only the easiest thing ever but the benefits that these yields make this real winner on all aspect. Yes?
Tuna Avocado and Feta Salad
What You Need
For the tuna:
- 1 canned tuna packed in oil
- A few sprigs of dill, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons sliced olives
- 1 teaspoon pimenton dulce or smoked paprika
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad:
- Salad greens
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- Feta cheese (I used the one marinated in olive oil and some herbs)
- 1 tomato, diced
What You Do:
- Drain tuna, flake apart slight with a fork and add to bowl with the chopped dill, olives, and the pimenton. Stir very gently to combine.
- Whisk together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt and cracked pepper on a small bowl until well combined. Add honey to taste and slowly whisk in olive oil until well combined.
- Arrange salad greens, topped with tuna, feta, avocado and tomatoes. Drizzle with dressing just to coat.
June 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
Occupying a tiny peninsula on the south of Spain with five coastal provinces, Cadiz is blessed with some of the best and freshest fish and shellfish provided daily by the Mediterranean Sea. Although its cuisine is typical Andalusian in character, subtle influences from the Romans, Phoenicians and the Moors spawned an exquisite regional cuisine with flavors unique to Cadiz.
Yes, the gaditanos (native of Cadiz) are meat lovers too, the pastures of the province keep it supplied with Iberico pork, goat, the local Retinto beef; however fish, fried fish, is the star.
Dredge in flour (only) and then fried in a large amount of hot olive oil. So simple yet so ridiculously addicting. Sea bream, Dover soles, sea bass, cuttlefish, dogfish, and monkfish are usually what is used for this staple.
And the place to have a taste of this fried fish is at Freiduria Las Flores, a traditional fried fish restaurant, almost an institution in Cadiz.
This fry shop serves excellent fried fish without the frills. Ordered from a counter and served in a cartucho, paper funnels. And like the dishes it serves, this shop is simple and functional. Be prepared to wait for a table especially at peak hours. Most locals order to take away.
I always leave room for dessert and if you are like me, you will love the pasteleria across the Freiduria Las Flores 2 in Calle Brasil.
Antonia Butron is famous for her savory pastries, but the empanada filled with dates comes highly recommended, and so are their cakes and roscones (sweet bread loaf).
Or how about this delicious dessert common and renowned in this part of Spain? Tocino del cielo, which means “bacon from heaven”, is so true to its name.
Traditionally made with the egg yolks that are discarded in the process of making sherry, this rich and creamy egg custard truly is a slice of heaven and a perfect way to end any meal. Definitely a must have.
Freiduria Las Flores Plaza de Topete, 4 +34 956 226 112 Freiduria Las Flores II Calle Brasil, 5 +34 956 289 378 Obrado Antonia Butron Plaza Jesus Nazarino, 5, Chiclana +34 956 401 094 Av. Ana de Viya, 16, Cadiz +34 956 284 260