happy 2012!

a lot has happened in 2011– a little too much that i failed to reach my posting goals for last year. work got in the way (not that i’m complaining) but taught me a lot in food styling tubs and tubs of ice cream! will try to start the year with some cool desserts perfect for this coming summer months.

stay tuned!


phat wong

I have a been a bit busy with an upcoming shoot for one of my clients, Haagen-Dazs, but still no excuse why I haven’t been posting recipes here the past couple of weeks. I still have a few recipes that I’ve been meaning to post, but I’m taking a break from the work kitchen and so here I am to share my latest restaurant discovery!  I enjoy eating out every once in a while just to check out the latest trends in food, what’s good-what’s not, and at the same time find inspiration for my own styling and recipes. Last week I finally got the chance to try out Phat Wong– casual dining and Asian-inspired menu by, none other than, Chef Ariel Manuel of Lolo Dad’s. I have never tried the food at Lolo Dad’s, but being one of the top fine-dining restos in the metro, I was pretty confident that Phat Wong is not that far behind.

Located at the LRI Bldg. at Nicanor Garcia St. in Makati, the place is decorated with several paintings (also for sale) by different artists hanging on the walls and bright intricate lamps adorned the ceilings. They have an open kitchen where you can see the chefs prepare and plate your food, always a plus for me to see what’s going on behind the scenes. The menu is simple and straightforward, around 3 entries per category ranging from appetizers, salads, noodles, oriental sandwiches, house specialties, and desserts. It’s a mix of Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese with interesting combinations such as “Pinoy Duck Mami” and “The Oriental Burger” (Ground U.S. Sirloin on Pandesal with White Cheese, Mushrooms, Bean Sprouts and Crispy Onions) There were no photos on the menu, but the descriptions already tickled my taste buds I wished I was a bottomless pit that day so I can try them all in one sitting. But I wasn’t, so our menu of choice for the day were:

Deep Fried Shiitake Mushroom Roll (Php 170). These are so crunchy and I really love mushrooms, so I’m already a big fan of this simple appetizer.

Shrimps, Pomelo and Young Coconut, in Coconut Milk and Lime Dressing (P270) Definitely a crowd-pleaser from presentation to that perfect freshness of young coconut meat. It had a very subtle coconut milk and cilantro/lime dressing. The fresh coconut bowl is a first for me but a great twist to a somewhat common dish. I love this salad but I thought they can have more dressing on the side for people who want more tang to their salad.

Grilled Baby Back Ribs Tocino with Garlic and Vinegar Sauce (P325) This is the best Tocino ever! The ribs were perfectly cooked, soft, juicy, and not at all greasy. The flavor was just right, subtly sweet and set-off perfectly by the garlic vinegar sauce. The house specialty was Hainanese Chicken but I have no regrets I picked this for our main course. I never thought something so simple as Tocino can be made into something so delicious and filling.

And Desserts of Baked Meringue on Mango and Bananas with Pandan Cream. This is the perfect dessert for me, creamy and sweet and fresh and cool. Need I say more?


and another Tapioca dessert with Coconut Cream. I’m not a big fan of tapioca, so I give this dessert an okay recommendation. I wish they had something like Creme Brulee with an Asian twist or a flan…Hmm something I can hint to Chef Marge next time I bring my friends to the resto 🙂 Chef Marge Villena is the sous chef who was very sweet to come and sit with us  after our meal, and share about her long kitchen experience working with Chef Ariel all the way back when she started at Lolo Dad’s.

Servings were big enough to share for two, and by the end of our lunch I was already so full. Prices are very reasonable considering the quality of food they serve. I’m definitely coming back with some foodie friends in tow.

Whenever I want something light yet filling, I automatically look for my Red   Fish Curry recipe. One of my original kitchen experiments with all my favorite ingredients. A bit spicy, salty, sour, creamy, and healthy! This can be eaten with rice or as a soupy noodle dish. I used Thai rice noodles which you can easily find in supermarkets nowadays and cooks instantly- just pour in your piping hot soup and cover for about 5 minutes. You can find the ones available already individually portioned so I always buy those. I ran out of bean sprouts when I made this but feel free to throw in a handful at the end of cooking to have something fresh and crunchy in the dish. Best topped with some cilantro too, but the herb is not that easy to find in the common markets.


2 tablespoons oil

3 garlic cloves

1/2 medium onion

2 medium tomatoes, cubed

2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup straw or button mushrooms

1 piece tanglad or lemongrass, crushed

2 pieces kaffir lime leaves

750 ml water

1 chicken cube

1 tablespoon red curry paste

2 tablespoons tom yum paste

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

1 fillet of cod fish, cut to 1 inch fillets

1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons patis or fish sauce

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup Chinese pechay, cut chiffonade

Fresh Basil leaves, for garnish

Thai flat rice noodles


Over high heat, sauté garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Add your mushrooms and lemongrass. Add lime leaves and water. Bring to a boil then add chicken cube. Lower heat to simmer and add all the pastes. Add the fish fillets and cook for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, patis, salt and cook for about 5 more minutes. Adjust saltiness according to taste. Serve this piping hot.

In individual serving bowls, add your pechay and rice noodles. Pour piping hot soup and cover for about 5 minutes or until noodles are cooked and soft. Top with fresh basil leaves.

* You can add bean sprouts, and garnish with some cilantro and lime wedges.

While walking my beloved bassets in U.P. last weekend, I chanced upon this very cute kitty sitting on a wheel. Thought it would be a great photo for a an animal shelter ad. I really have a soft spot for animals, I think you guys will be seeing more of these kind of shots in the next few weeks.

A freshly brewed tea can sometimes do wonders for a dreadful day, or a lazy afternoon. Usually a cleansing starter for a Chinese meal or a welcome conclusion to a hearty dinner- serious tea drinkers know the countless benefits of taking the healthy brew. I should know, my husband drinks this by the pitcher, literally. Experimenting with tea can be a worthwhile effort once you find the right combination of bitterness, tang, and sweetness. I prefer sugar with my tea and even a bit of milk. Brewed milk tea shops are popping up like 7-11s this past year, and though I’ve tried some that are quite good I’d rather have my home brew and control the enormous sugar content usually found in commercial mixtures. Pandan teas can be found in local restaurants but it’s the first time I tried it at home. Still open to a lot more combinations, I just thought I’d post the simplest concoction. Great served hot or with lots of ice.

1.5 liters of water
5 pieces pandan leaves
4 bags of green tea

Lime wedges

Pour water and pandan leaves in a kettle or a deep saucepan, bring to a rolling boil and turn off the heat. Add the green tea bags and let steep for 15 minutes or until the water turns to a deep golden yellow. Serve hot or let cool and serve on ice-filled glass, with honey and lime wedges.

It’s rainy season once again and the number one Filipino dish topping the list right now for sure is our local comfort food champorado.  Although this is usually eaten for breakfast or merienda (afternoon snack),  we’ve had it for dinner two nights in a row. It’s basically composed of 3 main ingredients, powdered cocoa, sticky rice or glutinous rice, and water. Some already add sugar while making champorado to make it sweet, but I like to add it along with my evaporated milk just before eating.

And of course no champorado is ever complete without a matching fried tuyo (salted dried fish)- super salty, crunchy, flaky and so indispensible. The ingredients are quite cheap but this chocolate porridge is very filling. There are instant champorado already available in the supermarkets. I have tried the one made my Antonio Pueo, but I thought there wasn’t enough rice in their mix which made the final product too soupy even if you follow their directions to the letter. Better to make it from scratch, cheaper and there’s really nothing much to prepare. You can’t really go wrong with this dish- just add more cocoa or water if you want a more chocolaty taste and less sticky.


Serves 4-5


1/4 cup to 1/2 cup Hershey’s Powdered Cocoa

1 1/4 cup glutinous rice

5 cups water


Use a deep saucepan and just add all the ingredients. Bring the water to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and keep on stirring. Cook until rice is soft and chewy. Serve with brown sugar, evaporated milk, and of course fried tuyo.


guess what I had for dinner. a recipe with only three ingredients. ha! beat that. but i’m just too full and quite tired tonight that i will need to postpone my posting of this popular filipino food tomorrow.so stay tuned.

also, i started doing my own food photography! i’m actually excited about it and plan to shoot more stuff in the days to come. as you have probably noticed, some of my previous photos are artistically challenged since they were snapped before/during/after cooking by moi sans the lighting. the hubby has been busy with work and he hasn’t been around to shoot my kitchen exploits (boo!) anyhow, i started using some lighting and to have them look more appetizing. still freshly cooked for consumption with just a bit of prop styling as promised 🙂