Remnants of my memorable trip in the Philippines still remain in my mind and heart as I go back to my regular routine back home. It has been exactly two months and I still do miss so many things that made up my beautiful vacation. Family, friends, food, even the tropical heat that I despised when I was there come to a united reminder that I once lived there, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, tropical in every way especially the fruits that I enjoyed the most. Where else can I find such sweet and delicious carabao mangoes but in the Philippines?
02 September 2015
29 August 2015
When I went on my month and a half long vacation in the Philippines last June, I was thinking whether to stand by the fact that it was a vacation and I should be relaxing and enjoying myself with my family rather than stay attached to my computer, banging on the keyboard and rushing to meet deadlines because besides, I was staying in hotels. I chose the latter. But don't get me wrong. I went for a really low number of recipes to create because after all, I wouldn't be able to stop myself from grabbing a wooden spoon and a saucepan whenever I am close to a kitchen.
28 August 2015
As soon as a fresh coconut is cracked, coconut water gushing out from its shell is one of the best things that remind me about living in a tropical country.We had a couple of tall trees in our garden and they were always full of fruit. However, getting them was a little problem because no one knew how to climb them. We can easily get them at the market because in the Philippines, you can buy coconuts everywhere. But getting them straight from your own trees and drinking the juice and eating the pulp as soon as they are detached from the tree have the freshness that nothing can top.
26 August 2015
When you have kids at home, eating three full meals at home plus incessant snacks throughout the day, you must run a very busy kitchen. And the food creations that come out from your little realm should be attract the attention of the young minds that rule the house. Throughout the whole month of August, when summer vacation officially happens, I had my hands full in keeping these little rulers busy and happy in the kitchen.
24 August 2015
"Grill, don't fry. Eat more vegetables, eat less meat." I think those are the two best pieces of advice that I got when I was starting to learn how to cook and I would like to convey the same thing to you. I follow both without fail even if I don't think I will ever be a vegetarian because I do eat meat and I cannot live without it. I serve meat at home in moderation and most often, I choose the lean part of the chicken because the kids need the protein to grow. And I thank my lucky stars that they love the chicken grilled plain then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt. So no fried chicken for them!
22 August 2015
You are in Milan and you are confused with the plethora of restaurants to choose from. I know the predicament fully well because I just went to Milan and being limited to just a few meals in my 3-day stay there, I had to choose well the restaurants to go to. When I travel, I want to eat well and foremost in my priorities is to try the local food. But after having some of the local food and you want to try other cuisines, then go for it because it is just the most natural thing to do in Milan. Milan may only be secondary to Rome as the second most important city in Italy but it plays a fundamental role in the gastronomic scene of the country.
20 August 2015
Do you always have a bag of potatoes in your kitchen like I do? They are staple in my kitchen plus they keep well in a dark corner of the pantry for a longer time than the other vegetables. The most basic dish I make with them is to roast them in the oven with rosemary and sausages. My kids would party for that! Or sometimes I would just dice them then cook them in the saucepan on the stove. Easier, because there is no need to turn on the oven that way. But there are a thousand ways to incorporate potatoes in cooking. I think lately, I have been sharing a number of recipes with them. Let me add one more that every vegetarian would love..
19 August 2015
I may have been a picky eater when I was young but I put an exception on crabs. In fact, they are my favorite seafood. There are two ways of cooking them that I learned from my mom's kitchen. One is cooked in coconut milk with vegetables and loads of steamed rice to accompany them. In my opinion, this dish collectively puts all the fundamental Philippine flavors in one. Seafood, coconut milk and ginger. The second one, the Stuffed Crabs, is like an omelet that is stuffed in the crab shell. With crab meat and minced vegetables, these stuffed crabs are simply delicious.
17 August 2015
With my chef's uniform, toque and apron, I weaved my way at almost midnight through the hotel lobby and into my room, tired but dazed from the day's activities. My day had been so surreal that, if not for the things I just pulled out from my bag, I wouldn't even believe that I really spent a day with 40 of Italy's best neo-graduates from different hotelier institutes in the country. At such a young age, they are very passionate and dedicated to what they are doing and just incredibly talented!
13 August 2015
Potato skins recipe number 2. The previous one, the Garlic-Parmesan Potato Skins I posted is completely Italian in flavor and ingredients while this one has a Mexican flair because of the chipotle. It has a mild heat and a distinctive smoky flavor that makes the potatoes so pleasantly earthy and delicious. Since chipotle fast becoming everyone's preferred heat, these potato skins would be another recipe to add to your chipotle recipes and I promise you, you would love them because of the easiness in preparation and the simplicity of the tastes.
12 August 2015
Let's speak about potato skins this time. Don't throw them out because we are going to make something delicious out of them. The next time you are thinking of preparing a potato dish, use the pulp, save the skin (leave about a couple of centimeters of pulp) for this recipe, flavor them, throw them in a hot oven then voila! Your snack is ready. I know that potato skin is not really the preferred part of everyone but don't take it literally because it still includes a little bit of the pulp. If you want to know the nutrition side, potato skin also has a significant amount of nutrients when you eat them like iron. Being very mild in taste, potatoes are great to mix with other ingredients because they quickly take on the flavor that you intend to take out. For this case, I simply mixed them mainly with fresh rosemary, garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano and the overall taste was wonderful.
Because there is an abundance of aubergines/eggplants right now, there's no better way to prepare a quick dish using them. Whether you eat them as the main dish or as a side dish, this will come out perfectly as a partner to meat and fish or as the protagonist in your meal with the simple tomato salad that this recipe comes with. It's one of my dependable summer recipes because it is very easy to make. I usually try to evade cooking in summer but in this case, I don't really mind the grilling part because whatever comes out of my warm kitchen is something that is healthy and light which is perfect for this season.
04 August 2015
When you are staying in a wooden lodge immersed in an olive orchard, how would you feel about at the outside world? You would actually forget that it exists. Because time stands still here and you will discover how it is like to live in a world of tranquility. I did for a weekend and I will tell you about it.
02 August 2015
Make me go inside a Mexican restaurant and I will definitely have a burrito in my hand in minutes. It's one of my favorite Mexican dishes. But it is also on the messy side like any other food that has little fillings inside. There has to be a style in holding it up and biting into it without so much damage. You know, the filling ending up everywhere except where it should go. So when the idea of the burrito bowl came out, I was relieved because I would have 100% of that burrito filling in my mouth finally. And apparently, I was not alone in trying failing the art of eating a burrito properly.
31 July 2015
The first word that I made sure I learned in French and Italian after the phrase thank you was "ice". You know why? Because the first time I traveled around Europe with my dependable backpack, it was in the middle of summer. It was hot and since I loved relaxing with a clinking drink full of ice in the cafès, it was imperative that I get to order a drink with ice properly. Ice wasn't automatically included in drinks even in the hottest days of summers so I had to learn how to indicate that I wanted them in my drinks. I later learned why while living in Italy. Ice is not needed in most drinks because they are already chilled to the right temperature, it waters down the flavor, it is not the healthiest thing you can do (too cold for the throat) and there are only some drinks that are really served with ice - cocktails (and I include soda to that category too)!
30 July 2015
Having Taco Lettuce Boats is fun because it's like a mini buffet of taco ingredients. You fill up your own according to the size of your lettuce and how much you can bite on it without having your dinner falling all down on your plate once again. There should be a certain trick to learn how to eat these kinds of food with finesse. You know, make a decent small bite without dirtying anything that your compass directs - north, south, east and west. Gawd, if you happen to dirty even your tablemate's plate, then let me shake your hand because you are worse than me! I am still in the process of learning to eat this without making the table look like a 2-year old ate on it.
28 July 2015
Fruits. In one bowl, there are different kinds of them with diverse textures, flavors and colors. It's the kind of beauty of food that makes me dig in. Please don't stop me. The fruits are so fresh that the whole mixture promises to be something delicious and simple and most importantly, healthy! As much as I am omnivorous, a bowl like this will always put anything at the backseat. I still have the good sense to eat fresh and nutritious food. I can just eat this whole bowl for lunch without the main course. And I actually just did.
27 July 2015
Because I am guilty that I went on a weekend of work - holiday in Umbria (without the kids, without the dog) while my work calender had been lighting up in big bright red lights, I am now imprisoned in my usual little world of computer and me alone time. Or I do try while my daughter hovers around me with little touches of "Ciao Mommy," as if to understand that I am really there beside her because my silence while working bothers her. I am here. It's just that I need silence and inspiration. Then from my archives, a picture of this recipe jumped out at me. It's time to go back to work.
25 July 2015
Because it is summer, we should be eating light and fresh things. I often hear that in the radio, the television, shops and even in the streets. It's a friendly seasonal reminder that I cannot possibly miss unless I start staying in a cave. I don't dislike it. I actually love hearing it (even in my sleep) because eating healthy and wise is something that I am teaching to my own kids too or to anyone who would listen.
22 July 2015
I indulged on mangoes on my recent trip to the Philippines like there was no tomorrow. They are so delicious that I have no words to describe them. Ok, sweet? Too sweet at times maybe? In fact, the Carabao mangoes of the Philippines were listed as the sweetest mangoes in the world in the 1995 edition of the Guiness Book of World Records. Mangoes are rich in Vitamin C, fibers, sugar and a whole lot of vitamins and minerals. And since they are so rich in flavor and sweetness, there are so many ways to enjoy them.
15 July 2015
When the heat is too intense in Manila, Tagaytay City is the answer because of its proximity to Manila, the temperature is slightly lower (cold even on some months), and there's the great view of Taal Volcano to admire. I won't even mention the restaurants and amusement parks mushrooming everywhere. It's a playland to those who love to eat, relax and spend quality time with the kids. After all, it is one of the top weekend quick getaway places of everyone.
14 July 2015
Now that the heat has intensified again, I am preparing more fresh things in the kitchen. Salads, fruits and gelato are foremost in my menu. I do turn on the stove sometimes for the kids' pasta, for coffee or sometimes for rice when I want some steamed ones to go with Asian food. Because summer food is supposed to refresh us and it should be light enough for our bodies to handle. Since we spend more time outdoors, we need to think about how to rehydrate our bodies with fresh food and water.
10 July 2015
One thing that I always do in summer is cut down my cooking to lessen the heat at home. The heat of cooking in full summer makes me feel like staying inside the oven myself. It's hard to breathe! I would usually go for fresh ingredients that I can just put together in a plate. Summer means we digest less and we should eat less food than we are used to like in winter. I include more fresh vegetables and fruits, lots of salad and seafood. That would have to be the base of my ideal summer menu. After all, it's bikini time once again so let's take out all the fresh things and stay healthy and fit.
Hello from Italy! It is always beautiful to feel the airplane wheels touchdown and you wait in anticipation as the plane taxis and finally, that final stop. Home finally after 41 days of an incredible vacation in the Philippines! The weather never changed much there because summer is the only other season aside from the rainy season. It was hot and humid and going back to Italy in another intensely hot weather (catching the last of the heat wave), there's no other way to go through the days but to wish for light and fresh food.
01 July 2015
It did not miss my attention that I only made 2 posts for the whole month of June. I take it as both good and bad because it means that I finally found the chance to give more quality time to my family. It's been so long that I didn't know where and how to start. How do sit down and relax and not think about what to cook and write next? How do you stay in a spot and not flinch every minute because work has to be done? It took me a whole month and a half to reach a point of actually learning how to relax and enjoy life. I am still writing this in the hotel room that I have temporarily called home for the past weeks. In less than a week, I will be back home in Italy, and I am quite sure that reality will be staring back at me and it would have a struggling moment in convincing me to step back in. Yes, that is the problem we all encounter when we come back from wonderful, long vacations. Reality becomes our enemy.