Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

Pesto was introduced to me by my uncle and he always saved some on a glass container kept on the fridge. I could remember a phase when I'd spread and mix it on everything! This is a good spread for toasted bread and you can mix this into pasta too. Store-bought international condiments cost significantly more than when you would make them at home. Plus, this is best served fresh. This can be stored in the refrigerator and used within 2 to 3 days.

There are several recipes online for pesto some are keen on portions and the ingredients used but most often than not I make use with what I have and like. I might be sharing a couple of recipes using basil pesto. Stay tuned!

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Special equipment needed: A food processor / blender


1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.
Yield: Makes 1 cup.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beef BLT Burger

Last weekend, I was out to shop for some ground pork, I already had envisioned myself making meatballs or "bola-bola" (Philippine translation) which is one of my daughter's favorites. I am not sure if this has an etymology or if this word is truly Filipino but it sure does sound like it comes from the root word BALL. But really, that is besides the point of this post LOL sidetracked again! So I did find myself some ground meat and shopped for other household stuff and went home. I did find ground meat, alright! I was just so disheartened when I read the tag that said "GROUND BEEF". 
Don't you just hate it when things do go well as planned? A complete bummer! 
But this recipe served well for a different audience. My daughter is not much of a burger fan so my father got one of the burgers the other one I had to taste for myself. ;-) 
I didn't have any of those square cheese slices, so I had used cheese spread. It still is cheese!!!

Beef Burger Patties
3/4 ground beef
1/2 head of garlic, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
1/2 beef bullion cube, crushed to powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg 

Place the ground beef, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and egg in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until evenly combined. This makes 4 small burger patties, you can divide them, form them into balls and flatten them out to form patties. You can let this rest into 

It is better to use the topside cut of meat and have it grinded as it has little fat. You can ensure a tender and more flavorful beef burgers. Topside is the recommended mince for making beef burgers as it contains the right amount of fat. The egg acts as a binding ingredient it holds the minced beef together while cooking. 

Making the Burger:
1 toasted burger buns
burger patty
1-2 tomato slices
1-2 onion rings
iceberg lettuce
cheese slice or spread

I stumbled upon this picture on the net, It gives you an idea how you can layer your BLT burger 

Oooh la la
Prepare your BLT burger bite

Here is another recipe idea for those extra tomato and lettuce.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recycled Salad

RECYCLED. HA! "recycled food" sounds off for something that should be appetizing. If you are a frequent grocery shopper, you would know what I mean. When you buy vegetables, they come in packs of 2's & 4's. If you happen to have plently of spare ingredients on your fridge and wouldn't know what to do with them, why not create something delish out of  them.
Most of the ingredients I have on here were extras from a dish I was making. The lettuce and tomatoes were from the hamburgers I made over the weekend; the carrots were from an extra piece I had from the apple carrot juice; the croutons were from yesterday's loaf of bread. I for one do not have a crouton box lying around my kitchen. But if you want to go technical on me, croutons are dry or stale leftover bread usually fried or re-baked. I'm sure we Filipino's won't have any problem finding some leftover bread from the 3pm "merienda".
Out of the leftovers mentioned above came out this healthy alternative that can substantially replace any of your meals. You have your GO, GROW and GLOW food all in one plate. 
That is if you are on a low carb diet. 

1 head small iceberg lettuce
croutons: 1 slice of bread, toasted or re-baked, cubed
1 whole large tomato, sliced
1/2 carrot, peeled diced
1 slice of cheese, cubed
mayo lite dressing (you can add more to your liking) 
1 tbsp. white cheese (optional)
boiled eggs, diced (optional)
Serves 1

I tell you, the white cheese mixed with the lite mayonnaise dressing adds to the flavor and will let you finish every last piece. I honestly do not know what kind of salad this is, I tried searching for salads have these ingredients, I haven't found it yet. I am also quite certain that I am not the first who came across this idea. So, if you know what this is, leave me a comment and let me know. 
For now this will be called "recycled salad".

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cebu's Lechon: The Big Fat Roasted Pig

Lechon... Lechon... Lechon... 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
Yes, that is an excerpt from (sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Browning. That maybe the best way to describe how fascinated Cebuanos are of lechon. It seems like no celebration is complete without the big fat roasted pig. It is like how staple rice is in our everyday meals, feasts are not complete without it. This has grown a huge following all over Philippines. In fact, back in 2009 there was a movie released called Litsonero; a tagalog film which revolves around a Filipino chef based in Macau. His uncle who belittled his culinary abilities challenged him to cook lechon to prove his worth as a chef and so the story goes... 
In Cebuano we call "litsonero" as "mangangasal", most often than not, they too would also know how to butcher the pig. Some Filipino specialty restaurants in other parts of the world serves lechon. I am sure that California, USA and Singapore are among those countries. It is good treat for Filipinos living abroad and foreigners alike to indulge in this sinfully delectable and "cholesterol-filled" dish. I am a Cebuano, you can call me biased but I would be speaking a universal truth when I say that lechon de Cebu has no comparison.

In my previous post, I had talked about the culinary tutelage during the housewarming party that Ms. Cherrie Brizo had hosted. She happens to own the lechon business, they get their supply of pigs from the northern towns of Cebu. For sanitary reasons, all imported meat should go through city health approval before it gets distributed for commercial purposes. 
I together with a few of my workmates were able to witness the whole process of cooking lechon. I would now be sharing the step-by-step process of making lechon ;-)

Ingredients : Depends on the size of the pig
    • 1 whole pig
    • 3-5 heads garlic
    • 3-5 red onions
    • 1/2 or 1 bunch of spring onions
    • salt 
    • ajinomoto
    • soy sauce 
    • needle & twine
    • mortar & pestle
    • bamboo pole
    • 2 sacks of coals
Cooking time: Depends on size, a pig this size would cook about 2 hours
Manong Ayet, the butcher. He was very gracious in answering all our inquiries whether it be about cooking lechon or about his job as a butcher.On the above picture, he had previously peeled off the skin of the garlic and red onions and mashed them all together with the spring onions using the mortar and pestle.On the above picture, L-R (1) the cavities of the pig were rubbed with salt and MSG (2) the pig is stuffed with mashed garlic, red onions and spring onions (3) the pig sewn up securelyOn the above picture, (top half) The skin was generously drenched with soy sauce (bottom half) Preparing the coals. In general, the lechon is smooth and crispy but according to Manong Ayet, there are customers who specifically ask that the skin be more like chicharon or pork rinds. That's where the skill and expertise of the "mangangasal" takes place, they would know at what heat they would expose the meat to achieve what the customer requested.
After 2 hours of turning the pig back and forth, here is the pig deliciously brown and ready to be served. 
the curious onlookers of Manong Ayet, my workmates =)
Matheo's Lechon can give some of the famous lechon houses a run for their money. For orders and inquiries you may call
Matheo's Lechon
1252 Leyson St. Talamban Cebu City
contact number: 09282207769 / (032) 3450983 look for Mark Medalle

Do note that Carcar and Talisay are very well known for their lechon. You can find equally tasting restaurants here in the city, below are some choices.
CnT Lechon
1377 Rama Ave, Guadalupe, Cebu City. 
You may call (6332) 254-4249, (6332) 254-6641
Alejo’s Lechon 
Labangon, Cebu, Cebu City 
tel. no: (032) 261 8575

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good HouseWarming

If you are wondering why the title is such, my officemates and I spontaneously played around the idea of making an issue for the Good Housekeeping.
Something along with the coverline of "Housewarming Turned Culinary Tutelage" (LOL).
Before I would detour to that culinary experience I am so excited to talk about. I would like to focus more on the contents of Ms. Cheir's abode and the housewarming. A housewarming event in the Philippines would start with the blessing of the house officiated by a priest and is most often than not exclusive to the members of the family. Filipinos are very well known for their fun and free spirit, so it is but natural that it be followed by merriment and we were basically invited to the fun part, EATING!!! My officemate, Ms. Cheir owns a  lechon business. For orders and inquiries, you may call.
    Matheo's Lechon
    1252 Leyson St. Talamban Cebu City
    contact number: 09282207769 / (032) 3450983
  look for Mark Medalle

This would approximately be a 20-30 minute ride to the northern part of the city. Lechon is a big thing in Cebu City so it deserves to be talked about extensively in another post.
Cherrie's Kitchen
I'll start this post about the interior of their new house. I am not that technically keen on interiors but if the space is charming and equally functional, then that is something worth talking about. In all parts of the house, I would say that I love kitchen spaces. I'd like to enumerate the characteristics I liked about her kitchen; there are quite a few, actually =)
  • It is a custom-made kitchen.
  • It has lot of cabinets & drawers perfect for storing dishes, kitchen wares and utensils. 
  • It has a kitchen window. This literally opens up to a lot of advantages,
    • It is energy-efficient as it would allow both air and light to come in during the day time.
    • Potted herbs or plants can be accessible through the windows.
    • You can do some work in the kitchen and at the same time watch over kids playing in the front yard (a lot like what you see in the movies).
  • Her free standing cooker has a range hood, so heat disperses easily and in one direction.
  • The gas tank has it's own compartment that is well hidden from sight.
  • Granite slabs for counter tops. Tiled kitchen is something that I find very burdensome to maintain.
  • U-shape layout stimulates efficiency around the kitchen. 
  • It was well put together in a antique cherry finish which gives that warm rustic look.
The dining table was very spacious, it was parallel to a glass sliding door. This area takes in a lot of light and air flowing freely, again, very energy efficient. A perfect venue for an almost al fresco breakfast or an afternoon coffee gazing aimlessly outside. Who wouldn't want to have some downtime ei? 

The round petal pillows are very chic and trendy this season, might be made of fleece fabric. They can be found in any Metro department stores. Metro Ayala Cebu sells them at Php 499 /piece. 

If you don't want to splurge, you can  always get creative by following these DIY crafts online. 
Finally, the guest bathroom

Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of the rooms and the whole house. But, Ms. Cherrie's house was made up of 4 bedrooms, 1 master bedroom, 1 for her daughter, 1 guest room and 1 for their help. 

But I was able to capture some pictures of the adorable little angels of my fellow blogger moms.
meet Nean of and lil mischievous Maya =) both sporting a dainty and floral ensemble
meet Carmel of and baby Garrie sporting a classic red and black motiff
I love how the little girls emulate their moms style.

My next post will be all about the big roasted pig \-.'/

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Filipino Style: Humba Recipe (Braised Pork Belly with Sugar)

HUMBA: Pinoy Style Braised Pork Belly w/ sugar
This is a very popular dish in my country, we call this HUMBA. I am pretty sure that there is a similarly good recipe in different parts of the world and is named differently. Generally, Filipinos are naturally sweet, it reflects onto the things we prepare at home especially our food.
In some countries, they would like to spice it up! In the Philippines, we would like to sweeten things up! (cheesy line, i know!) 
Allow me to sidetrack a bit, I just remembered a mall experience I had a few days ago at a local pastry shop. Okay! I'll admit, I was eavesdropping this one guy, European maybe, he was looking for a loaf of bread. He asked the attendant to give him varieties of the sliced bread, so the attendant did as she was told and presented him with 3 different kinds. Well,the European knew just the right question to ask for each bread "is this sweet?". The attendant responded, with a "yes" on all 3 questions. I was simply amused and seriously impressed at how adept he is with the Filipino culture. You could see in his face that he was quite frazzled, I could just imagine him on the hunt for bread that is w/ less sugar. 
Going back to this dish, I've cooked this several times and I usually just eyeball the ingredients. It also depends if you want the sauce to be rich in flavor and thick. So here 's a rough estimate on how to do this. I usually use a deep pot and fill the water level right above where the meat is. 

Ingredients :
  • 1 lb. pork (other recipes might use hocks but i used belly here), cut into serving pieces
  • 1 whole head of garlic, peeled & crushed
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper or 1 tsp. peppercorns
  • water
  • salt to taste

  • hard-boiled eggs (optional)
  • potatoes, peeled and quartered (optional)
  • spring onions, bulb peeled

Cooking Procedures:

Combine first 9 ingredients in a deep pot and bring to a boil.  Put in low-med heat and simmer for about an hour or until pork belly or hocks is tender. Use a fork to test out the tenderness of the meat, the fat part usually tenders first so make sure to test out the meatier parts. Halfway on your cooking, adjust the taste according to your preference and put in the bay leaf and eggs. If you want to add some potatoes,they usually cook about 15 minutes.  It’s up to you when you'd add them, whether you like it very soft or just tender to bite.  You may add it halfway of the cooking time or later. Let it simmer and finally, add in a few stalks of spring onions, cover the pot and let it rest a bit. Serve. 

This makes my mouth water just looking at that bony part.
Leave a comment and let me know if this worked for you. =)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Baked Chicken ala King

baked chicken ala king

Don't you think the picture captured the essense of this dish? Yes, dear friends this is baked chicken ala king and that serving right there is fit for a king. Chunky chicken bits w/oozing mozzarella cheese baked to give that delicious texture to the melted cheese. Honestly, I had unintentionally sprinkled more mozarella on the sauce than planned; but hey! that is how home cooking should be, it should be all about generosity and love <3. They don't call it labor of love for nothing. Chicken ala king is also best served with buttered noodles, toast, or crepes. Did I mention that I live in the Philippines, rice is a staple in our country so I used rice, carbo-load away! hahahaha.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Going Provincial - Balamban & Asturias Part 2

And just when you thought going provincial would simply mean endless view of the trees, hills, rice fields and more rice fields. But the little town of Asturias and Balamban proved me wrong. Their town has grown over the past years making different means and ways to generate income in the same way that would also attract local and (crossing-fingers) international tourist alike.

In Cebu, the city is situated right at the heart of this oddly elongated island, if you are looking for activities that will free you from stress and steer you away from the hussle and bustle of the city, just choose north or south? The towns along the way will amuse you with food, scenery and experience. Part 1 of this blog had already featured the scrumptious foodies we had the entire trip, so this entry will feature the amenities that kept us entertained. 

First, no Filipino household is complete without a karaoke and what good way to start this than to feature just that (tee hee). I don't know 'bout your household but if you say home karaoke system it would just consist of a dvd-like player, mic and a tv but this one didn't come close to that! This is the mother of all household karaoke systems, wouldn't you think? It comes complete with that booming speaker system and is jam-packed with thousands of songs LOL. 

One mean karaoke machine. Too bad this facility is invitation only. LOL

 Our next stop was IPI prawn farm in Balamban, a town beside Asturias(5 minute ride). This is very easy to spot since this is just along the road . A very huge property that has a lot of activities to offer. Here's a list of the things you can do there. What better way to describe than by pictures. =)

the fishing pond where you can fish for red & black tilapia and bangus. 
Ava waiting for her catch
seriously fishing + caught fish = one happy kid =) 
And it looks like it was a good day to catch fish, everybody whose anybody caught more than 1 fish. Hats off to these smiling fishermen hahaha.
We caught a total of 5 kilos of red tilapia. We had the option to have these cooked but since we are pressed for time, we all decided to buy and take them all home.
They have their restaurant where you can buy beverages and seafood for dining in or when you decide to give up on fishing and instead buy their fresh catch instead. Tiger prawns (fresh from the prawn farm) priced at Php 370/ kilo and the red tilapia at Php 150/kilo.

Horseback riding
rates: 10mins - P50; 15mins - P75; 20mins - P100; 30mins - P150; 1hr - P300

Okay! So let me tell you how special this trip is to my daughter. Me and my office mates have been planning this trip for weeks but I kept this from my daughter 'til we arrived at destination. Several days back, she was asking me that we go fishing and on another occasion she said that she wanted to go horseback riding. This trip was heaven sent! Well, let me say that she was surprised and beyond happy that she got her two wishes on the same day. Very happy that she kept on talking about her experience when we got home.

Other activities include: 
Donkey Cart Riding rates 
(10mins - P50; 15mins - P75; 20mins - P100; 30mins - P150; 1hr - P300)
Car/Motorcycle Racing rates
(Car rentals: 1lap - P300; 3laps - P750; 5laps - P1,000; 10laps - P1,500)
(With own car: half day - P500; whole day - P1,000)
(With own motorcycle: 1hr - P100; half day - P300; whole day - P500)

At the end of the day, here we are; the happy campers =)
A special thank you to Lyris and her fiance Paul,to Nean and Mark for making this possible.
A huge thank you. =)

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