I will be sharing with you some wonderful new discoveries.

First is this crispy toasted seaweed. Sorry for the blurred picture. A pack of 6 I think costs P75 in SM Makati. This is fun to eat. You can cover a roll of rice and eat it sushi style. I used regular rice but of course, Japanese rice is the best. I like that this is pre-cut nori and so it's easier to use it as a wrapper. I also like the fact that there are only a few pieces in each foil pack making it economical. MB doesn't really like nori and so I'm left to deal with the leftovers. Leftover nori doesn't taste good anymore for me.

Nori on Foodista

Next, my favorite of the lot is this canned pacific saury. I've read about this awesome sardines/canned fish in Japan and have been on the lookout ever since. I finally found one at Landmark Makati's Asian Section. It's a bit pricey for P91.85 a can but you can find a whole  folded saury inside. I believe pacific saury is an autumn fish in Japan so dishes made with it are seasonal. In Japan, people eat based on the season. They take advantage of the food that's in season. It's traditional. I wish we could be like that here as well. Hmmm... That gives me an idea..

Anyway, the sauce is wonderful. It's made of soy sauce, cornstarch, mirin, etc. There might be some sake too. It's exactly the flavor I was looking for, for quite some time now. I love those imported tomato-based sardines back in my childhood. They changed the flavors and so I stopped eating. Maybe I'll find one soon. But this, the texture was exactly like that. I really love this (obvious, ba?). I bought 3 cans after tasting the first. The texture is great. There are no annoying bones to get rid of. I don't like eating the bones in our local sardines.

It's also very convenient for days when we're too tired (or too lazy) to cook. I just open a can and open a pack of nori and voila, we have dinner.

Here's another nori brand. Some of the English words on the package, "Smile & Health" followed by Okazunori. Maybe that's the brand?

I thought this will be like the first one but I was really surprised when I bit into it. It's sweet! I've never tasted sweet nori before. This costs P149.05 for a pack of 8 at the Landmark Supermarket. It's also pre-cut and very convenient to eat. Like the first pack of nori, it also comes with individual silica gel to ensure the freshness of the nori. Love it!

And lastly, some cream puffs from French Baker.

Yep, it's been around for some time now but you have to understand that I don't like cream puffs. They're just too sweet for me. The only cream puffs that I liked were the ones served to me during my stay in Makati Med. And even that became too sweet after some time. I was attracted to the tray of these puffs yesterday at French Baker and lacking the variety of breads and pastries to choose from, I decided to give this a try. And I'm sure glad I did! I put this in the ref when I got home and had this for breakfast. The cream inside was cold  and a bit hardened that it tasted like ice cream! It was like eating a pastry filled with ice cream! Yum! I was in love...

The cream puffs are the right size for me. If you're used to sweet cream puffs, I advise you to stay away from this. The reason why I love this is because it's not too sweet. The chocolate swirls on top are the ones that give this a hint of sweetness. For only P130 per pack of six, I'm buying this again.

Without flash

I have 2 more discoveries but they're limited to the Christmas season. They're also from French Baker. I will write about them soon.

Happy New Year to all my dear, faithful readers. Join me again in 2010 for great discoveries! God bless us all!
I couldn't find the picture of this dish but it looks something like this:

Photo taken from Mediterrasian.com

I have to warn you though. Although it looks really good in the picture, I didn't like it. I guess I don't really like rice that's boiled in dashi, mirin, shoyu. But you can give this a try and maybe you'll like it. And oh, I cheated. This isn't really fried rice.

I used regular rice. The original recipe called for Japanese rice. Maybe that''s why the taste was different. Here's the recipe taken from Meditterasian.com:

2½ cups dashi stock (made with dashi stock powder is the easiest)
3 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
2 scallions (spring onions)—finely sliced (reserving a little for garnish)
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 cup Japanese short-grain rice (like Koshihikari rice)
½ red pepperdiced
12 snow peas (mange tout)—halved on the diagonal
16 large uncooked shrimp (prawns)peeled

MIX together the stock, soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil in a small bowl. HEAT the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the scallion for 1 minute. ADD the ginger and rice and cook for a minute, stirring to coat the rice with oil. ADD the stock and sauce mix, red pepper and snow peas, bring to the boil then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. SIMMER gently for 15 minutes without lifting the lid. REMOVE the lid, and quickly place the shrimp on top of the rice, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. STIR to combine and serve garnished with the reserved scallion.

And that concludes the fried rice challenge.

Sorry for the pic. This was taken using my very basic phone. Gelato is the Italian variant of ice cream as most of you already know. I will not delve into its history, content, how-to's, etc. We have Wikipedia for that. I was apprehensive about trying this as I am lactose intolerant. Surprisingly, I only had very little tummy aches. On my second try, I didn't have any pain at all. I think my system got used to it already(!). This flavor is chocolate truffle. On both occasions I ordered this because it's the only thing that I find delicious - in the sense that it's not too sweet, it has a bitter aftertaste and has chunks of chocolate. I love chunky ice cream whether it be nuts, brownies or chocolate chunks. I've tasted the Belgian chocolate flavor and it was also good but it didn't have any chunks of Belgian chocolate. I've also tasted the Nutella and Ferrero flavors which were too sweet for me. I had one teaspoonful and made a face at the attendant. It wasn't on purpose. It was a reflex action, kinda like when you taste vinegar but this time because of sugar.

MB had white chocolate. He said it was okay. I didn't taste that for fear that it will cause a revolution in my tummy. They have white chocolate with hazelnuts though which I would love to taste but I'm really scared to do so. They have free tasting so you can be sure to order the right flavor. If you're feeling adventurous or if you have a massive sweet tooth, you can try out their sundaes and different concoctions.You can even drown your gelato in a cup of coffee. That sounds really good, unfortunately I'm not a coffee drinker.

Their staff is nice and friendly and very accommodating. I overheard two women talking on the table beside us that the owner is from Cebu. He looks mestizo/Italian though which is quite common in that area. But I'm pretty sure he has foreign blood. He's very nice and invites everybody to come and have a taste of his marvelous gelati.

I also like the cute pink and green spoons. I even brought home the first two that we used. Maybe use it for some bento/food pics in the future. One cup costs P110. Add 5 pesos if you want that small bottle of St. James bottled water. I couldn't resist the packaging. It looked so sosyal! I even thought that it was imported. When I looked, it's made in Cebu. Why can't the other bottled water manufacturers be creative in their packaging like this one?? I also brought the bottle home and refuse to put it in the recycle bin. Teehee...

If you're a regular (like us) you can ask for their friends and lovers of gelati card. You get a free regular gelato or coffee on your 7th visit. The card is one stamp per day per visit. Even if you order 10 gelati, you only get one stamp. I was so disappointed when I found that out. The mechanics were not explained to us and it wasn't written in the card as well so we assumed that it was like Starbucks. One drink, one sticker or in this case, one gelato, one stamp.

The price is well worth it. My only problem with this is because it's gelato and not as solid as ice cream, it melts awfully fast. On our first try we decided to take a walk to Landmark but we only made it a few steps from the sliding doors and the gelato was quickly turning into chocolate shake so we went back inside the shop and ate there. Notice the napkins under the cup? We had to eat it that way as the gelato kept dripping on the table. So when you order, be sure to chill out in one of their comfy chairs and finish your cup of gelato before you go out.

Also, because of this, I find it hard to enjoy my gelato. When I eat Haagen-Dazs, I savor every spoonful and I eat slowly. Can't do that here. I have to eat fast otherwise, I'd be left with a slushy gelato which I hate. I hate melted ice cream. So I guess I should shut up now and let you go to Greenbelt 5 and experience the Italian goodness that is Gelatissimo.

Running out of options for my fried rice challenge, I decided to experiment with the bottle of aligue (crab fat) and chili prawn. They both taste good on their own so I figured they'd taste even better together. I was right. This is very easy to make, like 3 minutes easy. Chop some garlic then fry in oil. Dump 1-2 tablespoons (no more) of aligue, half a tablespoon of chili prawn and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of patis (fish sauce). Mix then add mashed cold rice and mix until well coated. You have to work fast as the aligue burns easily. You have no choice but to cook the dish in less than 5 minutes. Hehe... We just had some canned tuna with this as we were running out of supplies in the fridge. Not bad... Not bad at all.
I am really pissed off with this can opener. I bought it last Sunday at Landmark and it cost me somewhere between P159.75 - P259.75. I can't remember exactly how much. But you'd think that for that price, I'd get a fairly decent can opener. But, NO! The problem started yesterday, Christmas Day when I tried opening the can of tomatoes used in my afritada. I wasn't able to open it smoothly. I thought the can was just really hard so I didn't mind. After all, this was from Kris Aquino's kitchen line so Metro (kitchenware brand) must have made it extra special. I then tried to open a small can of mandarin oranges a few minutes ago. Guess what? I spent 15 minutes trying to open the can. 15 freaking minutes!!! The can was already deformed but there were still parts of the top cover that didn't budge. I found our old (and cheap) can opener and it did the job in 5 seconds. Sheesh...

In my frustration, I Googled this kitchenware and found this article. A line from the article, "The K-Everyday line is simple and affordable, yet stylish and functional." Absurd... where's the "functional" portion in this:

See the deformed metal? No? Let's see a close up shall we?

There you go. I examined this thing to figure out what's wrong and found this.

Stylish: Check, Functional: XXX

Tomorrow I'll be buying a new can opener...again. I even bought the K-Everyday one thinking that it will last a long time so I didn't mind paying for the above mentioned price.  

So, dear Philippine readers, stay away from this tool. Be very afraid. Definitely not worth it.

Lady E's note: I like Kris, but this is definitely not Kris material.
There are some things I did differently for our Christmas Day afritada lunch. I used baby potatoes instead of the big ones simply because my sister used the big ones without telling me and all that was left were the tiny potatoes so I used that. I poured more wine instead of using just 1 cup. I used about half a bottle. I fried the chicken until it was mostly brown with the skin a bit crispy. I added more garlic and onions. I used 4 small laurel leaves instead of two. I used canned whole tomatoes and canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh ones. I used chorizo de bilbao and boy what a difference it made in the flavor of the sauce! But I still don't like chorizos so I gave them to the babies. I just thanked it for the flavor it gave to the sauce. Hehe..

I also let this simmer for 40 minutes. My only mistake was I left it for too long without checking if it still had enough sauce and left it in the care of my sister who was also busy cooking. The bottom of the afritada got burned and the sauce dried up. I asked MB to get the afritada but didn't check. Only when I opened the serving dish that I saw black specks and dried up tomatoes. So, I put it back on the stove and added about 2 cups of water and salt then let it simmer for a while. The result? It was delicious! Better than the first one, really. Just ignore the black specks and the burnt aftertaste of some parts of the chicken and vegetables. I just chucked them out of my plate. To get the original recipe, read this. This recipe is easier. The one below requires patience.

For a more special afritada, I suggest you follow this recipe instead:

Fry the chicken pieces until brown, almost like fried chicken. I used one whole chicken chopped into small pieces. I like them small so that they will cook through. Discard most of the oil after frying. Put the chicken back into the pot and add garlic and onions. Wait until the onions become transparent. Add half a bottle of wine. Allow to boil on high heat then lower the heat when half of the liquid has evaporated. Add 2 cans of  whole/crushed tomatoes. Be sure to crush the whole ones. Then stir. Add the potatoes, carrots and chorizo. Season with salt, pepper and 2T sugar. Add 4 small laurel leaves. Stir and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes, covered. Check every 5 minutes if there's still enough liquid. Also, stir the dish to avoiding burning the bottom. If the liquid runs out, add water then season with salt and pepper again. Allow the dish to sit for about 5-10 minutes on the stove before serving. The color is not like the original afritada dish but a beautiful deep red. Also, the chicken didn't turn purple as it was fried longer. The meat was so soft that it was literally falling off the bones and that made the sauce more flavorful. I'm definitely making this a Christmas staple.

Sorry, I wasn't able to take pictures. I didn't want you to see the black specks in the dish. = )

Well, what do you know? I have some free time tonight that's why I'm posting the continuation of the fried rice challenge series. Never thought this day would come so soon. I apologize for the pic as this was taken using my phone which isn't really a high end phone. Anyway, as long as you can still clearly see what's in the lock&lock then that's fine with me.

Most of you have heard of corned beef and cabbage stew. Well, since I didn't want to bring a soupy dish to work, I decided to combine this old time favorite with the Filipinos' favorite staple dish - rice.

To make, saute some onions. Add the corned beef when fragrant.  Then add a little water and dump the sliced cabbages into the pan. Season with salt, soy sauce or Magic Sarap. I used Magic Sarap.  Mix then add some cold mashed rice and mix. I love having soft/hard boiled eggs with corned beef especially for breakfast so I packed some too. I wasn't able to put the eggs in my egg mold as they are too big. It would've been nice to see a smiling bunny or bear in the lunch box. The taste? Marvelous!

Lady E tip: We love Purefoods Corned Beef at home but we find it too expensive. One small can costs around P45. Plus, we get a lot of extenders. Most of the contents of the can go to the cats - ligaments, fatty portions and what-have-you. A few Sundays back, I saw Swift's Black Label Corned Beef which promises to have pure beef. And pure beef it had! It was absolutely delicious! And for only P34 with a bigger can than Purefoods, I'm sticking to this baby. And that's discovery number 1.
Hi everybody! We both know this is a very busy season for all of us so I know you understand my lack of posts. It's been really, really HECTIC  for the past few weeks. I'm done with my Christmas shopping (thank God!) but I still need to buy some things for me and MB to start our new year right. We've also been busy meeting people, clients, friends, etc. and looking for MB's PSP which we found at Astroplus in MOA. He got an extended credit line from BPI and that's what he used.

I've been busy but that doesn't mean that I don't eat anymore. I'm still taking pictures of the stuff I eat, cook and discover. Yes, I've discovered quite a few things to share with you, dear readers. I have also yet to finish my fried rice challenge. After that, it's Japanese themed dishes again.

In the meantime, please amuse yourselves with the archives. I bought a bottle of red wine and will be using that for chicken afritada for Christmas day. I know afritada is normal for you but you've got to read this to understand why I'm cooking this dish on that very special day.

Thank you for being a part of 240baon and sharing my food experiences with me this 2009. Merry Christmas everybody and God bless us all through the coming new year! See you all soon!

Sorry I wasn't able to post this yesterday. This is also another dish using leftovers. The ingredients - 1 chicken breast fillet, 1 carrot, a few sprigs of parsley, homemade barbecue sauce, fresh button mushrooms, salt, rice and garlic.

Chop the chicken fillet into tiny pieces then fry in a little oil. When fried, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the carrots and mushrooms. Pour some homemade barbecue sauce. Add the rice and mix. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt. That's it! Good for 3 servings.

Since Christmas is lurking around the corner, we've been swamped with work, things to do, chores and what-have-you already. It's very tiring to come up with a weekly menu and a grocery list nowadays. Most of the time I just want to eat out or order take out but that's going to hurt our budget a lot. So last Saturday, I told MB that we will have fried rice for one week. It's a no brainer dish plus I get to use all the leftovers in the fridge. My challenge is to come up with appetizing fried rice everyday until Friday.

This is the first fried rice dish - ground chicken rice. To cook, fry some ground chicken in a little oil. Then sprinkle with chopped garlic. Allow the mixture to cook until all the water has evaporated. You will be left with a lot of oil after the chicken has cooked. Drain unwanted oil. Trust me, they're unwanted.

Pour some homemade barbecue sauce and stir until all the chicken has been coated with the sauce. Add mashed rice and then mix again. Do not overmix as the rice gets too sticky and watery. Season with Maggi Savor classic or some light soy sauce. I served this with a side dish of fresh button mushrooms (from Landmark) sauteed in butter and parsley and seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Yum!

Lady E's note: Remember, you can substitute vinegar for red wine.

I found some Yakisoba sauce at Saizen last week. I love Yakisoba so that's the first thing that I grabbed at Saizen. It wasn't what I expected though. It was too sour so I added some soy sauce and brown sugar. Yakisoba is a junk food staple in Japan. It's fairly easy to make.

Saute some onions, carrot, bell peppers and cabbage in a pan. Add meat if you want. This yakisoba that I made does not have meat because we didn't have any but I usually cook this with beef sukiyaki. Make sure to remove the beef from the pan when it's cooked as it will toughen up when left for too long. At this point, when you are using yakisoba noodles, you can add some water to your pan, about 1-2 cups, then place the noodles and cover the pan to steam the noodles until cooked. When cooked, season with yakisoba sauce.

In my case, I used egg noodles so I removed most of the veggies first before steaming the noodles. When the noodles were done, I just added the veggies and seasoned it with yakisoba sauce, soy sauce (Kikkoman) and some brown sugar to control the acidity of the yakisoba sauce. One mistake I made is use Kikkoman. The egg noodles were too thick that Kikkoman was not able to flavor it as much as I wanted to. Next time I will use dark soy sauce. Top with spring onions before serving.

Lady E's notes: If you want to cook yakisoba but you don't have yakisoba sauce, turn to this entry. If you feel really lazy but want some yakisoba, you can buy a yakisoba pack that comes with noodles and sauce for P198 at the Japanese section at Landmark, Makati. This is expensive because it's made in Japan. Never buy noodles, especially cup noodles (that claim to be Asian flavored) that are US made as they taste terrible. It's too Americanized. I have yet to try that yakisoba pack out and will post an entry as soon as I do.

Yakisoba on FoodistaYakisoba
This is another experiment using that wonderful bottled Chili Prawn. MB and I were still a bit full last Saturday but needed to eat some dinner. So, I decided to cook a light meal using some leftover garlic chicken which I forgot to photograph and post here (sowi!).

Saute some finely chopped garlic, about 1-2 pieces, in a little oil. Remove chicken from the bones and add these to the pan. Add some chopped carrots. Season with light soy sauce then add about a tablespoon of chili prawn then mix. Add the rice and make sure to coat everything with the sauce Sprinkle some chopped spring onions then you're ready to serve. You can also add some eggs but we wanted a light dish so I let go of that idea.

I made the mistake of putting too little soy sauce so we ended up seasoning the rice with Maggi Savor. Next time I'll be sure to add more or add some sea salt and maintain the previous amount of soy sauce. In spite of being still full, MB finished 3 servings of this rice.
I've been cooking this dish for so long that I was surprised not to find it in the archives. This dish is ultra simple to make. You need shrimps (the big ones are the best), garlic (lots of it), spring onions, chili (bird's eye chili or green finger chilis), patis (fish sauce) and aligue (crab fat).

I remembered to check this dish on the archives after we ate the same thing at Max's Restaurant. This dish costs around 249 pesos there and it tasted exactly the same as the ones I make so I told MB that we're having this for baon so that I can finally take a picture and post it here. Max's serves this without the shells on and with some crostini on the side. I serve this with shells on as MB loves sucking on the heads like most of you do.

Finely chop the garlic. You want the garlic to blend into the aligue to counter the crab fat's effects. Garlic lowers blood pressure and aligue makes your cholesterol levels way off the charts. Saute the garlic in EVOO. When fragrant, add the shrimps then the chilis. When the shrimps are half cooked, add the aligue and mix to coat all the shrimps evenly. For 12 pieces of shrimps, you can use 1-2T of aligue. Season with patis and sprinkle with lots of spring onions. If you're omitting the chilis, you can season this with some freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with lots and lots of freshly cooked rice. Also great with mangga't bagoong and some ice cold water.

I won this box of cupcakes from Yummy magazine. They're from Little Cakes. I did a bit of research and found out that one box costs around P500. Hmm... How do I start this. I have mixed feelings about this. They're too sweet for me. The cake was alright. It was a bit bitter, I think that's why they made the icing so sweet to balance the taste. But they failed in doing that. Kids might enjoy this. NEVER give this to people with diabetes and heart problems.

It's better to serve this chilled so it won't be too messy to eat as the cold makes the icing firm. Having a huge sweet tooth, MB loved this and can down 3 cupcakes in one sitting... And that's right after dinner.

The cupcakes came in this cute periwinkle box with a blue ribbon. It looked elegant. I also liked how they packaged the cupcakes, putting those customized cardboards inside the box to support the cupcakes. They deliver and they also allow meet ups. You have to order in advance as the cakes are only baked right after you order. If you want to know more, visit their website.
Most of you dear readers know that I don't eat pork or I avoid it as much as possible. Pork, innards and other foods just don't jive with my system, especially the innards. Kare-kare is made with beef innards, so how do I still enjoy this Filipino favorite? By substituting, of course!

When I make kare-kare, I use beef. Sometimes I use seafood - shrimps, fish, squid. And sometimes I just use vegetables or a combination of any of the above. This time, I used shrimps and veggies.

I never tried doing kare-kare from scratch. I just use Mama Sita's kare-kare mix and follow the cooking directions at the back of the pouch. It's quite easy. Just learn how to substitute ingredients and alter the recipe based on what you feel is right. For international readers, you can get a pack of kare-kare mix at your local Asian/Filipino grocery store.

I tend to overcook my vegetables so if you think that the veggies are a bit overcooked, that was done on purpose. Oh, and I almost forgot. Even though I use a kare mix, I still add about 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter to the mixture to make it thicker. International readers, don't be grossed out. You get a peanutty taste just like the dip for chicken satay. But this dish is bland. You only taste a bit of the sweetness of the peanut butter that complements the sweetness of the vegetables and shrimps quite nicely. Filipinos like the combination of sweet and salty and so we serve bagoong or fermented shrimps with this dish. Sarap! Try serving this with green mangoes and the chili prawn I mentioned in my earlier post.
Words cannot justify how in love I am with this product. I discovered this at the Asian section of the Landmark Supermarket while looking for soy paste. I didn't find the soy paste but never mind that.

This product is from Malaysia. It says on the label that these are chopped or crushed crispy shrimps and can be used as noodle or fried rice toppings. Are you familiar with the chili garlic oil served with siomai? This is a bit like that but it's less spicy and the crunchy shrimps give it extra oomph. On my first taste test, I spooned a very tiny amount on my fried bangus. Oh, wow. I ignored the toyomansi which I normally pour over my fried fish dishes.

On my next meal, I served this with chopped green mangoes and bagoong. Imagine biting into a crunchy piece of perfectly soured green mango then tasting the sweet/salty taste of hot bagoong then feeling the zing of the chilis and the slightly salty taste of the crispy shrimps. Then mixing them all together in one perfect bite then repeating the sensation all over again and again and again... It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Oh, and we had kare-kare for viand that time. It was a perfect lunch indeed.

One bottle costs P140 and it's totally worth it. You don't need a lot to flavor your dishes. About 1/4 teaspoon will suffice unless you get addicted to it like me.

In the next few days I will be experimenting with this on a few more dishes so stay tuned.
Justify FullI needed to save a few pieces of beans, half a head of cabbage and a bunch of malunggay. We only had chicken breast fillet in the freezer. The ingredients sound like they are appropriate for a tinola or nilaga dish. But seeing as I had to stretch this dish for about 2-3 meals, I decided to put them all together. Why? Well, why not?

This is a very nutritious dish seeing all the greens. Cheap too. To make, just cook a basic tinola recipe then add the vegetables. You can use chicken stock and just add more patis to taste. You can also fry the chicken pieces in a little bit of oil until cooked then just add the stock or you can cook it directly in the stock. Just be sure to scoop out the scum. I normally cook the chicken first. You can also use Maggi Sabaw granules if you don't have stock. We Filipinos are quite creative when it comes to food and dealing with leftovers so I suggest you explore your ref and pantry to squeeze out as much value as you can for your hard earned pesos.

I'm no connoisseur at puto bumbong/bungbong but I love eating it and I've only tried those in the malls and I can truly say that this one from Rustan's Supermarket is the best. The size is just right plus the garnishes are separately packed so you can go as sweet as you want or like me, just a little sugar with lots of niyog on top. Also, the butter/margarine that the seller puts is just the right amount so you don't get a too greasy, fattening puto. You know what else is nice about this stall? They cook the puto only upon ordering. You'd have to wait about less than 5 minutes or so but heck, it's worth it. One order consists of 2 pieces and is worth P50. MB also loved this and has been craving for it since Saturday night.

You can find the stall next to the castanas at the lobby of Rustan's Supermarket Makati. The seller is nice too and has quick hands. She really is a pro at this. They also sell bibingka but I haven't tried that yet.