My weekend with Sam


Yes, the title is a play on the movie about the beautiful American actress. And, yes, it's just Sam who's home for the weekend. Alex hasn't been home for many weekends; she's deep into rehearsals and stage set-up, and will be for another few weeks. I miss her so. We talk via Face-Time often but it's not really the same as having her here. But, anyway...Even with only … [Read more...]

Miso, chayote and spinach soup


One thing I like about ground meat is how it is such a budget stretcher. A little goes a long, long way. Even if a lot of vegetables are added, and even if the proportion of vegetables to meat is terribly lop-sided, no one really feels too meat-deprived because everyone still gets some meat with every spoonful.Take this miso, chayote and spinach soup, for instance. Two … [Read more...]

Sam’s picadillo


In 2003, I posted a recipe for picadillo that was such a far cry from the traditional. Instead of ground beef, I hand cut stewing beef into small cubes. And, instead of adding potatoes OR chayote to the beef, I added potatoes, carrots AND chayote. It's been our standard picadillo recipe since. Until yesterday.We were in the supermarket two days ago and Sam asked if I … [Read more...]

Stir fried beef and chayote


Inspired by a dish that chef Luke Nguyen cooked in his TV show, this stir fried beef and chayote combo is another example of the yin-yang concept that is found across various Asian cuisines. The ingredients are simple, few and inexpensive, the seasonings are minimal, and yet, the aroma and flavors are so complex, one would think that a dozen herbs and spices went into the … [Read more...]

15-minute ground pork and vegetable curry


The thing about cooking with fresh ingredients is how the preparation time seems to be just as long the actual cooking time, if not longer. Take this ground pork and vegetable curry dish -- peeling, trimming and cutting the vegetables took twenty minutes; the actual cooking time was likewise twenty minutes. In the end though, the seemingly tedious job of prepping the … [Read more...]

Nilagang baboy (boiled pork ribs with vegetables)


Every culture has its version of boiled meat and vegetables. So I said in my Dublin coddle post. In the Philippines, the generic nilaga (literally, boiled) can refer to boiled beef and vegetables, boiled chicken and vegetables or boiled pork and vegetables. What the vegetables are vary. But, almost always, there is a combination of leafy and non-leafy vegetables.This … [Read more...]

Friday night soup


I often cook up a feast for dinner on Fridays when both girls are home from school and the family is complete. Last Friday, we had the Asian-style chicken lollipops and this pork and vegetables soup. This soup is similar to my version of picadillo but using strips of pork belly instead of beef short ribs and minus the tomatoes. To round up the flavors, I added chopped … [Read more...]

Ground pork, spinach and chayote soup


When we were buying veggies over the weekend, Speedy suggested a bag of chayote and almost as soon as he saw them. I understood. He was thinking of a soup from his childhood. A soup so comforting in its simplicity that it makes one think of life decades ago when everything was slower and more relaxed. I don't remember my mother-in-law adding spinach leaves to this dish but … [Read more...]

Spicy shrimps and chayote in white wine


Just like the mac, cheese and shrimps dish, this easy sauteed shrimp and chayote dish was made with frozen, vacuum-sealed shrimps that came shelled and deveined. The vegetables are boiled in white wine (which really enhances the natural sweetness of the chayote and carrot), and the shrimps, spices and seasonings are added during the last few minutes of cooking.The only … [Read more...]



When I first posted a recipe for halang-halang, the only thing I knew about the dish was that it was similar to tinola except for the addition of coconut milk. It turns out -- based on readers' comments -- that halang-halang literally translates to anghang-anghang (spicy-spicy) and chilis are an essential ingredient of the dish. It turns out too that there are many, many … [Read more...]