Monthly Archives: March 2009

Chelsea Market And Cafe



I crack up reminiscing  the very first time I visited Chelsea Market and Cafe a few years ago. Why, I made a bed out of their table! Yes, I literally dozed off on their table as I wrestled with my fatigue! Coming from work then, I felt too pooped out and just gave in despite the well-lit, packed and bustling ambiance!

All I remember having was a great glass of white wine and the buttered focaccia bread with baked garlic as a starter (that would be an ender as well!). My, I was ‘dead’ way before the main course was served! Worst, I missed the dessert!!! Sigh, what work can do to you..tsk!

Anyway, ranting aside, I had the pleasure of returning there recently. Ahh, Jake and I tagged along our daughter Sam, this time. And, I swore to my self that I would not succumb to slumber!

For a comeback-with-a-vengence-I-will-wolf you-down dish, I picked the slow-cooked herbed  Norwegian salmon (PHP 495). The slow-cook factor rendered the tastiest salmon in the many years that I’ve become a ‘groupie’ of this kind of fish. It was moist, firm  and juicy all the way.

The herbs set the flavor so wonderfully, I tasted the merry mix of that woodsy and earthy combi that spelled YUMMINESS!

Ahh, my return was all worth it.

The other palate pleaser we tried was their five-cheese pizza topped with arugula leaves ( 10-inch, PHP495). Before I took the first big bite into my pizza, I nibbled on the arugula leaves. I liked the bitter-free and kinda sweet taste the arugula gives. Boy, I ate them like I was munching on some Doritos! Man, sarap!

The five-cheese pizza just rocked.

It just had the great combo of cheeses that rolled out my eyes. The secret weapon of the pizza was with the fusion of their great cheeses and perfect crust, crowned by the yummy bunch of arugula leaves. Now, how fantastic was that?

Winding down to our last few bites, I knew I would have to make another comeback. The food definitely teased me big time to make bigger bites the next time we visit.

Chelsea Market And Cafe, Serendra. 9097011 9097012


Baked Dory In Red Pesto Sauce


I was so thrilled  as I booted out my flaming hot tray of baked dory from the oven. The sight of melted cheese fused in with the red pesto and oven dried tomatoes just bowled me over. Rich, healthy and very pretty, my baked dory should find its way to my potluck menu very soon!

The contrast of lemon and cheese was quite a combi there. Add to that the sour-y yet a bit sweet contribution of the red pesto. Fantastic, eh?

The original recipe for this calls for the use of Japanese mayo. The layering then  becomes: lemon slices, fish, Japanese mayo, topped with your favorite cheese. Well, meantime,  I thought I’d play around a bit and replace Jap mayo with red pesto.

This dish cooks so quickly. Over less than half an hour. The lesser time you cook it, the juicier and more moist the fish meat remains to be. Now, how mouthwatering is that?


Slice about 4 lemons and line them up on a tray with the slices on top of the other.

Meantime, season 3 large whole fillets of dory with salt and pepper. Lay them on the lemon bed.


Smother generously with red pesto on your fillets (red pesto is readily available at your favorite supermarket).

Top with your favorite cheese. My favorite cheese combi is cheddar and parmesan. Bake at 350c for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.


Amy’s World

I can’t be happier hearing from my long-time friend, ex-broadcast journalist, Amy Godinez.  It’s always a chat from foodie to another foodie when we’re connected, mostly on-line.
Why, she’s happily settled in NZ with James, her husband, and her stepkids. Great move, I guess. It’s a totally new life for her there and I’m all out for it. 
james and amy (oh, and hunter!)

james and amy (oh, and hunter!)

I miss her, though. I miss the cutting-to-the-chase banters with her that always leave me bitin with the overflowing stories to tell.
Anyway, am just too glad to get an email from her. She’s generously sharing with us some recipes that she has been cooking lately. Thanks, Amy!
Here goes:
Hi Caren,
I took some photos of our oven-dried tomatoes which I bottled recently.  Because we had so many tomatoes in varying degrees of ripeness, I wanted to try something other than pasta sauce which I have made lots of, already packed away in the freezer.
Aside from the oven dried tomatoes, I thought I’d document dinner for tonight and see how it goes for a contribution!  So…I ended up taking pictures of dinner as well… hmmm… the pears will have to wait on the tree a little bit longer!
I have always enjoyed sun-dried tomatoes many different ways, but have always found it a bit taxing to actually do it and let it sit out and dry on its own the way it is normally done.  I don’t have a food dehydrator, but not too long ago found out you can actually dry your tomatoes in the oven (for several hours… as short as 5 to 9 hours, to as long as 20 hours!) at a very low temperature.  You can also decide if you want to keep the seeds or take them out, depending on how fleshy or how dry you enjoy them.  I decided to try it out and did a little variation on researched internet recipes.  Here’s what I came up with:
Oven Dried Roma Tomatoes in Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary
Roma Tomatoes, cut in half  lightly salted
Preheat oven to 200F or 95C.
Lay tomatoes single layer on an ungreased baking tray or non stick baking sheet.  You can fill up the whole tray but do not stack them on top of each other.  Bake for about 8 hours, using the middle tray of your oven.  Some tomato slices will dry slightly faster than other bits, so check after the 5th hour just to make sure. Turn them over if needed. Remove the dryer bits of tomato and let cool.  Let the whole batch cool completely before storing in sterilized jars with the following oil/vinaigrette mixture:
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
Salt & Pepper
Dinner tonight was chicken thigh cutlets. I figured I should bake them, and decided to play around with my baking combination.  This is probably the easiest way to bake chicken with no worries.
Chicken thighs
2 onions cut in quarters
2 small cloves crushed garlic
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Handful of pitted olives (I used the Fragatta Garlic Stuffed Olives tonight)
Sprigs of fresh Rosemary (so lucky to have this in the garden as well)
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/4 cup of white wine 
Salt & Pepper
amy's about-to-be-baked-chicken

amy's about-to-be-baked-chicken

Preheat oven to 350F or about 180C.
Line a rectangular oven proof glass dish with cleaned chicken thighs.  Slice a lemon into wedges and 2 small to medium onions into quarters.  Arrange the lemon and onions around the chicken for even distribution. Toss in a handful of olives, and stick some rosemary sprigs around the gaps.  finally crush some garlic and dot around the chicken pieces.  Carefully pour in chicken stock so the chicken is partly submerged…enough to keep the chicken moist while baking.  Lightly sprinkle top with salt and fresh ground pepper and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and add the white wine.  Bake another 25 to 30 minutes uncovered. 
When the chicken is done, you will find a good amount of drippings in the pan. Scoop or pour some of the drippings into a mug and set aside for making some gravy.  To make this, all you need is a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour.  Heat the butter in a skillet and add the flour, vigorously mixing with a wooden spoon.  Add the drippings bit by bit, allowing it to thicken while reducing, Adjust taste and thickness to your liking, just remember you have to mix this continously until it is done, just like making bechamel.
Serve on the side or pour on chicken pieces when plating.
We harvested some parsnips from the garden as well.  One was as big as an arm!  Since we had a few I decided we should do roast parnsips on the side along with another side pasta dish of pesto. 
I just lined a baking tray with foil, peeled and sliced the parnsips in half, tossed the parnsips onto the baking sheet along with a quartered onion, gave it a dash of olive oil and stuck it in the oven along with the chicken.  This one baked slightly faster than the chicken though, it was ready in about 40 minutes.  No salt or pepper, just as is.
 Mind you, we are so lucky to have most what we need in the garden.  We planted this Cinnamon Basil sometime last year and it has a tremendously lovely smell even when walking around it in the garden.  So, pesto it was… I had no pine nuts at hand, but I did have a lot of walnuts from last year.  Walnuts drop from the trees onto the ground, but these are made to dry in baskets for a few weeks to a few months before they are ready for shelling.  Before you even see the shell, there is a green outer covering that turns brownish black and then it peels or falls off, leaving the walnut shell ready.
So, my pesto went like this… Walnut Cinnamon Basil Pesto
Chop 1/3 cup walnuts in a chopper or food processor, add in a cup of fresh basil leaves, stems removed, and two small cloves of garlic.  Slowly pour in  1/2 cup of olive oil and continue processing till you get your preferred texture.  Season with a little salt and pepper, and for final touch, add in a little grated parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup or less.  Do a taste test and add a little more olive oil if necessary.
Top or stir into your choice of pasta.  We used Bavette No. 13 which is like a very thin fetuccini.  This experiment with walnuts turned into a very pleasant surprise!
I hope you try this sometime Caren.  I would be interested to know how yours turned out!  I will send you more when I do something with the pears!!!

Chicken Shiraz



Salty or sweet? Oddly, there are times when I crave  for two tastes at the same time! Dang, why can’t I just slip into a different foodie when moments like that happen? As in dessert time comes, sometimes I want manggang hilaw with bagoong, but dude, can you not obsess with a slice  of a gooey caramel cake, too? Salty and sweet, yeah!

Sometime last week, I marinated some chicken breasts in soy sauce , calamansi and lots of pepper. I craved for the sour-y component of our native calamansi. Ahhh, how I drooled while I cooked (Ooops, chill! I meant it as a figure of speech! Nothing to make the chicken yummier with “it”, okay? LOl) the chicken. 

However, as I forked out my chicken for plating. I saw on the pan the chicken juices/drippings rendered and  stuck on the surface of my pan. GOLDMINE! The most intense chicken flavor is there and I’m not letting it escape! And my bright idea was to make a sauce out of it. Gravy? Nah! I wanted something sweeter and more.. more.. gourmet.

Yes, finally my palate knew what it wanted. It called on a bottle of shiraz (a type of wine) which contently sat on my ref. Then the sweet dimension was courtesy of my trusty white sugar.

Shiraz yields an extra rich plum and ripe blackberry fruit flavor further enhanced with subtle black pepper and soft oak characterts.

Remember, the kind of wine that you use in cooking should be the kind that you like drinking. Arg, I abhor the cooking wines sold in the groceries. They taste awful!


Anyway, what did I do? Here goes:

Chicken Shiraz

Two whole chicken breast fillet

2 pcs calamansi

3 rounds of olive oil

2 tbsps soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shiraz or any red wine of your choice

2 tbsps white sugar (adjust according to your taste)

3 tbsps balsamic vinegar


1. Marinate chicken in soy sauce, calamansi, salt and pepper.

2. Stir fry until golden brown on each side (about 7-10 mins on each side). Set aside.

3. On the same pan where the chicken was cooked, set on low heat. Gently scrape the chicken by adding the wine, vinegar and sugar. Remember to cook the wine well (meaning, you have to let the alcohol evaporate from the mixture. Give it like 3-5 minutes to be released). Continue stirring until consistency becomes a bit thick.

4. You may stir in cooked chicken or slice the chicken then drip the sauce around (like how i did it). Serve.


Coming up next…

Baked Dory In Red Pesto Sauce


Good Ole Baked Mac



My mom had me bake our old-time favorite macaroni today. This baked mac was one of the first pasta dishes I got my hands working on back in my college years. Classic and pleasantly filling, this is what this pasta is all about.

Versions, versions. Baked mac has been immortalized in so many variations depending on one’s taste preference. Some like it a bit sweet while others go for the sour-y taste . Some want it cheesy while some want more of the tomato sauce. And yeah, the tomato sauce… others want the classic blend while some settle for the flavored ones. Ahh, choices.

Well anyway, obviously, the baked mac that I make is the version that I want. It’s one that’s generously smothered with cheeses, rich tomato sauce and creamy bechamel sauce. Now, how sinful is that?

My mom gave away some trays of the baked mac to our neighbors as soon as I finished baking the last batch. Of course, the Bayhon family got the lion’s share! Why, but of course! Haha.

Cheesy Baked Mac

1 pack elbow macaroni  noodles

1 box quickmelt cheese, grated

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup mozzarela cheese, grated (optional)

Meat Sauce:

1/2 kilo ground beef

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium-sized onion, minced

1 tomato, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

750 grams tomato sauce, Italian blend

1 can chorizos, cut lengthwise and sliced horizontally (optional)

Bechamel Sauce:

1 box all purpose cream

1 cup milk

1 box cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup  butter

salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsps flour


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a separate pan, saute garlic, onion and tomato. Add beef. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until cooked. Add tomato sauce and chorizos. Continue stirring for the next ten minutes. Remove from fire then add cooked pasta in the beef mixture. Set aside.

3. In a skillet, heat  butter then add all-purpose  creamand milk. Mix well. Add cheddar cheese. Slowly add flour to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. In a baking dish, assemble the pasta. Scoop up some beef mixture that would be the first layer. Smother with a generous amount of bechamel sauce on top of the beef mixture. repeat the layering twice.

5. Top the dish with the remaining cheeses.

6. Preheat the oven to 350c and bake for 15 minutes or  until cheeses are turned into golden brown. Once cooked, let stand for 15 minutes. Serve with you favorite toast.

Parmesan Crusted Calamari


parmesan crusted calamari

 ‘Calamari’ or squid in Italian belongs to the mollusk family along with cuttlefish and octopus. Among the three, the fried calamari, by far, is the most loved and sought after by foodies from all over the world.

A staple in most menus, this dish yields the crunchy and addicting taste in every bite. In this version, the parmesan cheese seals the deal– crunchy, soft in the inside and cheesy. In the final stage, you throw a dash of fresh oregano thyme for that woodsy and earthy flavor.

Now, how awesome is that?

Parmesan Crusted Calamari

1 cup japanese bread crumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

6 large squid, cleaned and sliced into rings.

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp fresh oregano thyme


1. Season squid rings with salt and pepper.

2. Dredge one by one in flour.

Note: Anything you decide to bread is best when there is less moisture before you dip in egg. That is the reason why you dredge it in flour first.

3. Dip in egg.

4. Meantime, mix bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Coat squid rings with the mixture.  Let stand for 3 minutes.

5. Deep fry until golden brown. Sprinkle with oregano thyme.

6. Serve with garlic-mayo dip  (half cup mayo, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 finely-minced garlic cloves, salt n pepper to taste—then mix everything together).

Amici–Great Italian Food!

amici along tomas morato in quezon city

amici along tomas morato in quezon city

ai quattro formaggi pizza

ai quattro formaggi pizza

After a driving-intensive morning, my daughter Sam and I decided to stop by Amici along Tomas Morato for a well-deserved  quick bite. It is , hands down, Sam’s most comforting food ever.

We had the ai quattro formaggi pizza and the spinach fusili montanara. Quite a tandem there. The pizza crust had the good compromise of ‘thin-ness’ but still filling. The types of cheeses had the best fusion  and the right aportioning. No cheese overpowered another type of cheese. It just.. melted in my mouth (yes, again, with my eyes closed!).

The herbs and tomatoes subtly enhanced the whole cheese ensemble.

spinach fusili montanara

spinach fusili montanara

The pasta is a family favorite. The spinach fusili (fusili is a type of pasta that’s spiral in shape), just held so much of the flavor in its crevices from the sauce which made every bite drool-worthy. The sauce, a well-balanced combo of tomato sauce and bechamel just made this dish extra tasty. On top of these, we had the sausages for the ‘what-is-this-yummy-thing-i’m-biting?’ kick.

Of course, the gelato. Anyone?


Other must-tries there include: milanese de maiale (golden breaded pork cutlets topped with salsa verde), ragu di maiale con risotto (chunky italian style braised pork with risotto and peas), risoto di mare (plate of sauteed mixed seafood on saffron risotto).

Sam was stuffed. Amen!