I wouldn’t exchange my childhood in the Philippines for anything. The whole family sat down to supper just about every night: my grandparents, mom, dad, and my two brothers. But every Sunday, all my mother’s brothers and their families would arrive in the afternoon and stay till late into the night. Those suppers were extra special. Sunday suppers meant not just fiesta-worthy food (and lots of it!); they also meant hide-and-seek or capture-the-flag games that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Yes, Monday was a school day, but we didn’t care. We would have played until the sun came up if “the parents” let us. (They sometimes did.)
That was our Sunday, every week of the year. We also spent summers and school holidays together, and as if that weren’t enough, we even scheduled occasional mid-week slumber parties. Fifteen cousins in all and we were all each other’s best friends.
We still are. Continue reading One-Dish Dinners: Doable, Delicious Paella
Biko is my all-time favorite Filipino dessert or merienda (snack) item. It uses only 4 ingredients—which, in a pinch, can even be cut down to 3—and is so simple to make and requires no special tools or pans, which makes it an easy endeavor for someone who doesn’t yet have a properly-equipped kitchen.
Last week, I wanted to make something sweet for my son Tim. His favorite: cookies. Then I looked at my favorite recipe and realized that I needed to get every single item in the ingredient list. Chocolate chips. Vanilla. Flour. Butter. Sugar. Eggs. Nuts. A whisk. A mixing bowl. Cookie sheets. Maybe a cookie scoop too, since there is this strange pain in the fingers of my right hand that could use the help.
It overwhelmed me. I wasn’t even sure I’d have enough cupboard space to keep all these ingredients. So I just bought a tub of cookie dough. In an attempt to make it kinda special, I pressed pieces of Toblerone chocolate in the cookies. (Yes, I have no butter or sugar, but I have Toblerone chocolate.) Continue reading Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)
Ceviche is basically raw seafood “cooked” in an acid such as vinegar or citrus. We call it kilawin in Tagalog and it is a popular dish in the Philippines. Our cuisine is rich in seafood and understandably so, with over 7,000 islands and the fourth longest coastline in the world (our 22,500+ miles of coast is almost double that of the US). And so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are as many versions of ceviche as there are different ways of making adobo.
So when I saw a tweet from Chef Rick Bayless a few weeks ago that read like some mysterious secret code that looked like ceviche, I took notice. Continue reading Tropical Beach Ceviche
When Rachael of Fuji Mama asked me if I’d be interested in developing a recipe for Lindsay Olive’s Back-To-School Challenge, I immediately said yes. See, at first all I heard was “Rachael…Fuji Mama…Lindsay Olives…” and of course, at some point someone mentioned food. What was there to think about? I love Rachael, I love olives, and olives are food. It was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned.
Then, of course, the whole “challenge” part of the deal suddenly started sinking in. For one, it’s a back-to-school theme. Which means kids. Kids who might start crying if they open up their lunchbox and find something they really don’t want to eat. And as much as I love olives now, I wasn’t a big fan of them when I was a kid. Growing up, I had great appreciation for recipes that disguised the olives. I could not, for the life of me, understand how my mom could snack on olives and appear to enjoy them without gagging. Continue reading Crazy Pizza Bread
When this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club theme was announced, I was incredibly excited. The theme was gata, which is Filipino for coconut milk. Anything made with coconut milk was fair game, and the posts so far have covered both savory and sweet bases. With the wealth of choices available, I expected to be overwhelmed by the task of choosing just one. However, my mind pretty much made itself up for me early on, and despite my attempts to steer it toward more creative lines, it stubbornly held on to its first choice. Continue reading Corn with coconut milk (Ginataang mais)
Filipino cuisine is a colorful blend of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and even Indian influences. Most meals are served with a wide selection of condiments and dipping sauces, often laid out in little bowls or dishes, so each person can fully customize the meal to his or her heart’s content.
One of my favorite condiments is achara, or Philippine-style pickles. Different regions of the country have their own versions of achara, using different vegetables and slightly different pickling liquids. I prefer the kind of achara served in Aristocrat restaurants—a crunchy, sweet and tangy version using green papaya. And so when my mom mentioned that our family recipe for achara was just like that, I got excited. In fact, I think I might have looked forward to the achara a wee bit more than the Filipino chicken barbecue, because I asked Tom to hunt down a green papaya for me a full two weeks before my planned grilling date. Continue reading Achara
I recently joined the Kulinarya Cooking Club, which consists of a group of bloggers who share a love of Filipino cuisine. What started in Sydney, Australia grew into a truly international bloggerhood, and I’m thrilled to be part of it. A monthly theme is chosen, and for June, it was (appropriately so) barbecue.
When I think of Filipino barbecue, my mind first turns to our wonderful street food classic: barbecued pork in skewers. It’s the kind of food you can’t get enough of, no matter how sticky everything gets: your fingers, lips, mouth, cheeks … then you run out of clean napkins and try to sneakily wipe your grubby hands on your jeans. (Or, if you’re subtle enough, on the jeans of the person standing next to you.)
Unfortunately, Tom doesn’t eat pork. So I decided on another Filipino classic on the grill: chicken barbecue. Continue reading Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)