• Sizzling tofu top
    Pulutan at Pica-Pica | Bar Chow and Appetizers,  Dagdag na Pagkain | Side Dishes

    Sizzling Tofu a la Max’s

    Crispy golden cubes of fried tofu in a creamy and savory sauce served in a sizzling plate. This is my take on sizzling tofu aka as tofu sisig, one of Max’s (the house that fried chicken built) most popular offerings, second only to their signature fried chicken. It is so easy to prepare but so impressive to present as an appetizer or bar chow, or as a side dish to, what else but, fried chicken. My husband loved tofu any how it’s cooked. I can’t remember any time that he passed on it. He ate it con gusto, especially in his twilight years when he tried to eat healthier. Our son…

  • Rosti top view
    Almusal | Breakfast

    Rösti | Swiss Potato Pancakes

    Considered a national dish in Switzerland, rösti [reursch ti] is a potato dish that is a cross between hash browns and a potato pancake. Crisp on the outside, soft and meltingly potato-ey within, it was originally a breakfast dish eaten by farmers in the canton of Bern but is now popular throughout Switzerland and around the world. Rather than being served only for breakfast, rösti is now more commonly served to accompany other dishes as a replacement for the standard side dish for that meal.

  • ampalaya guisado close up
    Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Ampalaya Guisado | Sautéed Bitter Melon Recipe

    When we were growing up, both my husband and I were not fond of  ampalaya.  I guess it is—like okra and cilantro—a taste that you acquire as you grow older.  As grown-ups we like the bittersweet taste of ampalaya, and find it quite cooling and therefore refreshing to the mouth.  Bitterness also has its place in the diet, according to traditional principles of Filipino cooking.  In my teenage years when dysmenorrhea was part of my monthly experience, my elders discouraged me from taking pain-killers.  Instead I was made to eat ampalaya to expel as much unwanted blood as was causing the pain.  Today ampalaya (Momordica charantia) is a BFAD-approved anti-diabetes food and drug supplement whose efficacy is beginning to…

  • Potato Salad top view
    Dagdag na Pagkain | Side Dishes

    Potato Salad à la Pancake House

    We have our timeless favorites at Pancake House and they’re not pancakes—Spanish omelet for my husband and son (maybe a man-thing?), pan-fried chicken for me. But I agree with them on the side dish to go with our orders: potato salad. Pancake House’s version is simple and no-frill, served on a bed of lettuce, topped with a slice of hard-cooked egg and garnished with cubes of red jello. Sometimes a full order (3 scoops) of potato salad is all I’d have and I’d be satisfied. This has become quite a comfort food for me that it—along with fresh fruit salad—was all I ate three times a day for three days after I…

  • biko top view
    Heirloom Recipe

    Biko/Sinukmani | Sweet Rice-Cake Recipe

    Despite the distance between Manila, where my parents-in-law lived and their hometown Quezon Province, they made it a point to bring home some rice at every harvest. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook the family’s favorite rice cake. Sinukmani (see NOOK mah knee) always tasted better using the family’s malagkit than any commercially bought ones. In Malolos and Pasig, sinukmani is called biko (BEE koh). My husband’s grandmother, cooked biko on Good Fridays. He and his cousins couldn’t wait for her to pour the cooked biko into a banana-leaf lined bilao (flat round basket tray) so they could scrape the burnt rice that stuck to the bottom of the pan. Sweet and crispy, the tutong, was the…

  • grand marnier fruitcake image
    Himagas at Merienda | Desserts and Snacks

    Grand Marnier Christmas Fruitcake Recipe

    Yes, I’ve heard the jokes. Fruitcake is the bane of the holidays—there’s only one in the whole world, and people keep sending it to each other, year after year.  And if you don’t like it, you can actually use it as a doorstop 🙂  People either love fruitcake or hate it; I love it! Surveys show that 38% of people give it away, making it the most popular re-gifted item; another 13% use it as a doorstop, while 9% throw it away; still 28% actually eat it.  Especially if you bake it yourself, Christmas fruitcake is a great gift to bring to your friends or family for their Christmas meal or to…

  • Ceasar salad closeup image
    Dagdag na Pagkain | Side Dishes

    Caesar Salad a la Mario’s Recipe

    You’ve probably heard the story of how an Italian restaurateur—Caesar Cardini—invented his table-side salad in Tijuana in 1924 during Prohibition. Too many late-night patrons arrived one Fourth of July weekend at Cardini’s café and the restaurant ran out of food. Cardini frantically looked around to see what ingredients he had on hand. Locating several crates of romaine lettuce, he tossed the leaves with olive oil and eggs. He sprinkled the lettuce with salt and pepper, added a splash of fresh lemon juice, and tumbled it all with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese and garlic-flavored croutons prepared with bread left over from dinner. When folks from San Diego tasted it,…

  • binagoongan full tight image
    Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Binagoongan | Stewed Pork in Shrimp Paste Recipe

    My husband’s grandparents called this dish “adobong may bagoong,” a description quite apt because that’s what it is—pork adobo cooked in bagoong. Others boil the pork first, then add the bagoong. Other versions of this dish use less bagoong; his mother used more. No matter how it is cooked, one thing is certain: binagoongan is best eaten a day or two after cooking, and always with lots of newly cooked rice to mop up the sauce. When we were building Havenhill in Oct 1987-Apr 1988, my husband and I, with our toddler in tow, spent weekends at the construction site. Lunch was always picnic-style, on a folding picnic table laid…