Monthly Archives: August 2010

Lisa’s Bread Pudding


Lisa’s Bread Pudding

“I wanna learn how to cook!”

Six big words from a serious culinary newbie then got me drawing up a menu for a cooking session. Having been raised knowing, tasting and devouring good food, it wasn’t hard coaching my high school buddy, Lisa Marie Virginia Monique Roa Africa-Carandang (Whew, Lisa, I’m insane having remembered your full name since the late 80’s!).

She was to leave for Tokyo, Japan with hubby, Eric, and kids when she got us to cook together. So, here was how Lisa looked like when we did the lessons:

And she made this:

Stewed beef in marinara sauce

I thought she was excellent during the session. Now the tougher challenge, doing dishes on her own in faraway Japan. Ha!

Only recently, I was so thrilled getting a recipe from Lisa (which I requested for) plus a photo to match. I could not believe what she just made– bread pudding. Not that I did not believe she could whip upsomething like that but more like– I was green with envy because I cannot, for the life of me, bake!!!! Haha!

Lisa, you are awesome!

Here goes her note and recipe for us:

Hey Caren!  Would you believe it’s been exactly a year since we moved to Tokyo…and since our cooking lesson?!  The move to Tokyo has been both fulfilling and a challenge for all of us.  It truly is a wonderful and dynamic city;  a melting pot of cultures.  We have been really blessed to have been given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a society that is so unique, diverse and as rich as Japan‘s.

Living in Tokyo has been life-changing.  The biggest one, as you very well know, is cooking!  Having been married for over 11 years, not once did I feel the need to familiarize myself with the kitchen, (except for the refrigerator)!  I mean, I can’t even cook rice!  So, you can imagine the terror when I found out I had to cook!

The first night was a nightmare!  We decided to just have spam and eggs for dinner.  Albeit simple in theory, it was not easy in reality.  Mare, Spam na nga lang…nasunog ko pa!  I failed to notice that the knob of the range started with “high” temperature (I.e. to ignite the fire).  To save dinner, Eric just decided to cook the eggs himself…lest I burn that too!  (Maybe I was subconsciously testing my family’s love for me as my daughter said, “It’s okay Mom, we can just take out the brown parts.“) 

There are a lot more “funny” stories along the way, (one of Eric’s favorite is my mistaking vinegar for oil when I was making scrambled eggs and suspecting that the eggs were rotten), but thankfully there are more successful stories to share .

Since then I am proud to say that I have served a variety of dishes including Meatloaf, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Sukiyaki, Kare-Kare, et al.  I’ve even ventured into baking simple desserts like Brown Sugar Bars and Bread Pudding!  Of course, all of which were products of a lot of trial and error.  Even if the ulam is as basic as Adobo or Sinigang, it still took some time before I could perfect the taste and consistency. 

The greatest fulfillment of course, is seeing the satisfied faces of Eric and the kids!  My kids even talk about my “delicious snacks” to their classmates!  They are the best customers I could ever wish for…supportive, not mapili and the most forgiving of critics.  Although at times the food does not turn out as expected, they never fail to show their appreciation for the “work” that I put into it. 

You were right.  Just do it!  Stop obsessing with recipes but trust in your “panlasa”…  

So yes!  I can cook na…finally!  Thanks for helping me take out the trauma of cooking.  Naturally, I still have a lot of things to learn but at least now I have that peace of mind knowing that…hindi na mamatay sa gutom ang pamilya ko!  Hahaha! 

Here is the recipe for Bread Pudding.  It’s a very simple dish which my kids love to do with me.  I found the recipe on the Internet but I made some changes according to my family‘s taste…


Bread Pudding Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk

¼ cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups bread, tore into pieces (any bread, although French bread or raisin bread is the best)

raisins (I use about ¼ cup only)

Bread Pudding Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
2 Tablespoon butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon flour
dash of salt


Bread Pudding

1.  In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat milk.  Add butter.  Stir constantly until butter is melted.  Set aside.

2.  In a separate container, combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla.  Slowly add milk mixture.  Set aside. 

3.  Place torn pieces of bread on a casserole.

4.  Pour batter on top of bread.  Sprinkle raisins.

5.  Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. 

Bread Pudding Sauce

1.  Mix everything together in a saucepan and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Set aside for a few minutes and then pour on warm bread pudding. 

2.  ENJOY! 



Chicken Hainanese


My first taste of Hainanese chicken happened during the late 90’s when my sister, Tina, and I trooped over to my fave Chocolate Kiss Cafe. Ahh, how I devoured every morsel of their hainanese! The play of flavors from the broth, the mega triumvirate of hoisin, chili and ginger sauces and the succulent chicken just brought home the bacon (or the chicken?).

Today, I literally dished out what was to be my hotshot for the day– my hommade hainanese, yeah, with all the eye-candy trimmings that went with it. Couldn’t be chipper as I relished my own hainanese creation. Bliss– Try this soon:)

Crazy About Callos


With either pandesal or rice– I am callos’ most avid fanatic. Inspired by my Mom’s immortal version of callos, I decided to whip up my own creation tonight.

Mom had a bit of tweaking of the conventional callos in that she incorporates potatoes into her version and seasons with our native patis (fish sauce). Why not? I must say, these are welcome ingredients that are loaded up with taste enhancing abilities.

According to my Mom, this dish was a favorite of my Lolo Iking (her late  dad). She said he would usually eat a bowl of callos with pandesal to match. Ah, now that’s good taste, eh? And, so, overtime, my Mom had made this dish as part of her potluck repertoire during special ocassions.

A few years ago, I had the chance to taste callos from its place of origin in Spain. Funny, I thought I like callos better in Pinas, specifically in my own Mother’s kitchen.

Mom, this is for you:)

1/2 kilo ox tripe

4 slices of meat from pata ng baka

1 pc chorizo de bilbao, sliced

tomato paste (optional)

tomato sauce

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 green bell pepper, julienned

4 medium-sized potatoes

1 cup garbanzos

salt and pepper to taste



Season meats with salt and pepper. Pressure cook ox tripe and pata  for 45 minutes. Drain and cut for about an inch long and 1/3 inch wide. Set aside.

In a skillet, saute onion, garlic and tomato. Add ox tripe and pata slices season with patis. Stir for the next two minutes. Add tomato paste (dilute with water if you want to adjust consistency). Mom does not use tomato paste because she is partial to its sweet-ish taste.

Add bell peppers, chorizos and garbanzos. Simmer for another 3 minutes then add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender. Add tomato sauce. Serve hot.

Jen’s Fave Roast!


In a trip to Chicago four years ago, I met Jen. Quite surprisingly, we hit it off in the first two minutes that we met. Why, if there was a category in the Guiness Book of World Records for a ‘fastest getting to know you’ moment, we would’ve bagged the top prize! Haha. Ours is a long distance friendship, though, with us touching base with each other only through Facebook and YM. And our most glaring common denominator? FOOD!

Sam with Tita Jen. Chicago USA, 2007.

Jen just amuses me with her very  insightful nature everytime we talk about food. She’s one foodie who’s one with her food– all the time. Heart and soul in the kitchen, heart and soul in whatever she lays her hands on. I totally admire her. And yeah,  was giddy getting a recipe from her today with a very sweet note to match. This note comes all the way from Mexico where she and hubby, Sieg, are now based after having stayed in Tokyo, Japan for quite awhile.

Finally, Jen, here goes your dish:

Hey Caren!

It took me 6 months to finally write and cook something for you.  Let me warn you first that am not much of a writer so when you asked me to write something for you, I scratched my head and thought, “can I just cook for her instead?!?!”  What to write? What to cook? You are probably expecting a Mexican inspired dish from me especially since we are living in the heart of Mexico. I have not yet immersed myself into Mexican cooking so I thought my all time favorite could do the trick (hopefully!).  So, I bought myself a good-sized whole chicken, a bunch of rosemary, two handfuls of mushrooms, and a couple pieces of lemon, onion and garlic and said, “I would cook my favorite Roast Chicken recipe for a dear friend”.

This recipe was sourced from Tyler Florence of Food Network. Am not so good at whipping up my own recipe but am used to searching for the best recipe and adding my own touch to it.  I love cooking Roast Chicken! While it takes a lot of time to cook (approximately 1.5 hour), I find it very easy to make and while it’s cooking, I can then do other things than just stay in the kitchen.

For the Roast Chicken, you will need:

1 whole chicken

Red onion, cut in quarters (enough to stuff the chicken)

1 Lemon, cut in half

Fresh rosemary

6 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon olive oil and more to drizzle on the chicken

Few slices of bacon (not necessary)

Salted butter

Sliced mushrooms, washed and dried

Salt and pepper

Granulated garlic or garlic powder

Wash the chicken thoroughly and dry with a paper towel.  I buy my chicken here clean already (no insides and with the neck part cut) but still I wash it again, specially the inside.

In a bowl, mix the onions, lemon, garlic and rosemary. Add salt, pepper and granulated garlic.  There’s garlic in the mixture already but because I love garlic so I put a pinch of granulated garlic still.  Add the olive oil and toss.

Take the butter, add a bit more salt and place little pieces underneath the skin.  The recipe did not call for this but I find that it adds more taste to the meat.  I could just imagine using Dairy Cream butter but I don’t have that here L.  Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper then stuff the chicken with the mixture. To keep the mixture inside, I pull either the skin of the chicken to close the bottom part and use a toothpick to close it.  Then I tie the chicken legs and wings.  I honestly don’t know how to tie a chicken but I do whatever to keep the legs and wings from spreading while cooking (ha!ha!ha!).

Season the whole chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Place on the roasting pan, drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle whatever rosemary you have left.  The recipe called for just roasting the chicken as is but I normally add some onions, garlic and lemon pieces on the roasting pan.  Roast the chicken (breast side up) in 400F for 1.5 hours. 

You might ask what do you need the bacon for as I mentioned needing it on the recipe list.  After 45 minutes of roasting the chicken, lay the strips of bacon on the chicken and add the sliced mushrooms on the pan (before adding the mushrooms, I season it first with salt and pepper). 

Baste the chicken with its own liquid (from the pan) to keep it moist.  Once done, take out the stuffing and leave it to rest for 15 minutes.  This I did not know before, apparently you need to let it rest to keep the moisture inside the chicken.  With the juices of the lemon, I find that the chicken is a bit wet, not crispy enough for my liking. So after cutting it, I would put it back in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes.

I love French fries so I always eat my roast chicken with fried potatoes.  But this version is a bit healthier.  Cut the potatoes, season generously with salt and pepper, add rosemary leaves and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Toss the potatoes so each piece has some olive oil.  Place in a Pyrex pan and put it the oven for 30 minutes. To save time, just put it in the oven when the chicken has been roasting for an hour.

Voila! There I have my Sunday Chicken Dinner.

Corned Beef Paella


It was one rainy, gloomy and chilly late afternoon when I had the adrenalin rush  to work around my kitchen and whip up what was to be served for dinner the other night. Jake scored a bottle of white wine and it was to be the missing link to this fantastic dinner dish. Wine, paella with good music at the backdrop equalled two hours of catch up chat with Jake who got busy at work the whole day.

Okay, quite unconventionally, I used corned beef instead of the usual combo of meats and seafoods associated with paella. I thought I’d explore a bit and scour the grocery cabinet for potential ingredients to complete ‘team paella’ for that night. So, shiitake joined, asparagus was in and all the other ingredients just blended well with the rest of my paella ensemble. Ending– the dish was a winner.

Corned beef paella

2 cups arborio uncooked rice

5 cups of water

1 can corned beef

1 can shiitake mushroom, sliced

6 asparagus spheres, stemmed

2 pcs of lemon, wedged

3 tbsps turmeric powder

4 threads, saffron

1 onion, minced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

olive oil

In a paellera, saute onion and garlic. Add corned beef and shiitake mushrooms. Mix in arborio grains and turmeric. Coat well with the corned beef mixture. Add water and simmer until rice is cooked.

Meantime, season asparagus spheres with salt and pepper. Lightly fry in oil until cooked.

Top asparagus and lemon wedges on paella. Serve warm.