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Beef Mechado Recipe

Beef Mechado is one of my favorite beef dishes.

When I was still working in Manila (in the previous job I held before I left for the UAE more than a year ago), I used to rent a small room in a three-storey apartment in Quezon City near SM North Edsa where I stayed for more than 4 years. My landlady in that house, who I fondly call Nanay, makes the best beef mechado. I once asked her what's the secret and she gladly shared that she is using fresh tomatoes instead of canned or processed tomatoes for the sauce.

Fresh Tomatoes

Remembering the cooking tip from Nanay, I daringly prepared beef mechado skipping the traditional tomato paste or tomato sauce.

Here’s the recipe for beef mechado.

Ingredients:
1 kilo beef cut into chunks
2 medium sized carrots, sliced in 1/2" sections
3 medium potatoes, quartered (optional: fried)
8-10 pieces large tomatoes, sliced or chopped (or 2 cups tomato sauce or 1/2 cup tomato paste)
4 onions, peeled and quartered
1 large bell pepper, sliced
2 cups beef stock or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in water
3 bay leaves (laurel leaves)
1/4 -cup vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Beef Chunks

Cooking Instructions:
1. Combine the beef, tomatoes, soy sauce, bay leaves and beef stock in a casserole. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beef is almost tender.
2. Add the vinegar and let boil for two minutes.
3. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions and bell pepper. Add in salt (if needed) and pepper to taste.
4. Let simmer until all vegetables are cooked. Stir occasionally to thicken the sauce.

Cooking Tips:
1. Choose beef cuts intended for stewing or containing various amount of fat layers.
2. Consider pressure cooking the beef with the beef stock for faster cooking time.
3. Fry the potatoes before adding to the casserole. Aside from giving it a nice taste, it will also reduce cooking time for the potatoes.
4. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil when the mechado dish is almost done for added flavor.

Beef Mechado

Preparation and cooking time: 1 to 1.5 hours (estimated)
Serving Size: 4-5 persons

Bon Appetit!

How Can We Help?

I did not want to blog about the grimness of the onslaught made by the typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) to my home country, Philippines, last Saturday (26th September 2009). It is too heart-wrenching for me to recall and post photos of the sufferings of my kababayans. I couldn't help but cry with them for their tragedy when I watched video clippings and photo slideshows of the aftermath from youtube and facebook.

Instead, what I want to focus on in this topic is about how to give help in rebuilding the lives and homes of those affected.

The recent event is one of the rare moments wherein the rich and the poor leveled on the same ground. Everyone needed help and everyone is extending help.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia.org)
Typhoon Ondoy as it leaves the Philippines

So, how can we help?

It doesn’t matter where we are in the globe. We can help our countrymen thru any of the following 4 ways, as long as we are able.

1) Be a rescuer. If not possible in the flesh, do it thru the use of technology. You may call, send SMS or email to the following agencies to ask help for those who have yet to be rescued, if you heard of any (or worst, bodies to be recovered):

NATIONAL DISASTER COORDINATING COUNCIL (NDCC): +63 2 9125668, 9111406, 9115061, 9122665
NDCC Help hotlines: +65 734-2118, 734-2120
NDCC Email: ndcchelpdesk@gmail.com
PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD: +63 2 5276136
AIR FORCE: +63 908 1126976, +63 28535023
METRO MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (MMDA): 136
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RED CROSS: 143, +63 2 5270000

2) Donate in cash or kind. Send your donations only to the legitimate donation centers. Many are taking advantage of the situation and giving false accounts and information for their own benefit.

DSWD-NCR: +63 2 734-8622, 734-8642

WORLD VISION FOUNDATION: +63 917 5594272
For $ donations, BPI: USD acct #4254-0050-08

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RED CROSS: visit their site HERE for various ways to donate

Akbayan: 63 2 4336933, 4336831

UNICEF: 63 2 7581000, 7581442
Metrobank account: UNICEF C/A 066-7-06631209-3

CARITAS
Domestic Cash Donations can be deposited through the following CARITAS MANILA bank accounts any branch nationwide:
Banco De Oro: Savings Account No. 3970006958
BPI: Savings Account No. 3063-5357-01
Chinabank: Savings Account No. 103-3099715
Metrobank: Savings Account No. 175-3-17506954-3
RCBC: Savings Account No. 3-000-90221-6
UCPB: Savings Account No. 128-162208-7
Security Bank: Current Account No. 0141-019452-001

For overseas donors, please deposit your donation to Caritas Manila-BPI Dollar Saving Account No. 3064-0033-55 or PNB Dollar Savings Account No. 108566600025

For US based donors who want tax incentives, you may course your donations through Ayala Foundation USA 255 Shoreline Drive, Suite 428, Redwood City, CA 94065, USA

ABS-CBN SAGIP KAPAMILYA: +63 2 4132667, 4160387
Bank: Banco de Oro, Mother Ignacia branch
Acct name: ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.
Acct no.: 5630020111
Routing code for international cash donations: BNORPHMM ABS-CBN Branch

GMA KAPUSO FOUNDATION: for cash and cheque donations
Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company (METROBANK)
Peso Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 3-098-51034-7
Dollar Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 2-098-00244-2
Code: MBTC PH MM

United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB)
Peso Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 115-184777-2; 160-111277-7
Dollar Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 01-115-301177-9; 01-160-300427-6
Code: UCPB PH MM

Banco De Oro (BDO)
Peso Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 469-0022189
Dollar Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 469-0072135
Code: BNORPHMM

Philippine National Bank (PNB)
Peso Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 121-003200017
Dollar Savings
Account Name: GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 121-003200025
Code: PNB MPH MM

3) Be a volunteer. Go out and help in packing food and clothing for our displaced kababayan.

WORLDVISION FOUNDATION: +63 917 5594272
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RED CROSS: +63 2 5270000
AKBAYAN: +63 2 4336933, 4336831
ABS-CBN SAGIP KAPAMILYA: +63 2 4132667, 4160387
GMA KAPUSO FOUNDATION: +63 2 9317013

4) Pray for the victims. Let us do this on top of the above.

Dining at Chili’s with Friends

It was more than three weeks now since Boq, I and two of our friends, Randy and Raquel, went to dine in at Chili’s. The two were my former officemates. We really bonded well together with our other Filipino co-workers in our previous company in Dubai and have maintained the friendship even when we left the company. Since they are now also based here in Abu Dhabi like me, we get together once in a while. Three Fridays ago was one of our get together moments.

Why Chili’s?

A week before the said occasion, our other friends from Dubai, Amy and Levi, introduced to us the fajita quesadillas served in Chili’s (Dubai Mall branch) during our visit to Dubai with Clifford. I was still full at that time so I could not enjoy the meal. I suggested to Boq that we try it again. I also liked the restaurant’s idea of serving bottomless tostada chips. It is common to find bottomless beverage on a restaurant’s menu but not on appetizers.


The Restaurant

Whether you are a frequent guest, a first timer or a passerby, you would immediately notice that big red chili pepper hanging from the ceiling of any Chili’s Grill and bar. That’s the restaurant’s appropriate “symbolic figure.”

The Chili’s branch we went to was in Mariah Mall located at the rightmost corner of the ground level. The mall is situated in the busy intersection of 6th and Hamdan streets. The look of the restaurant is more or less similar to other Chili’s branch I visited, specifically the high industrial type ceiling and the colorful mosaic tiled tables.

One thing I like about Chili’s is its informal ambiance. You don’t have to worry if you are dressed to kill or on your simple shirt and jeans only, or whether it is allowed to laugh out loud without being stared at by other guests. It’s simply fun and unpretentious.

The Food

Boq and I arrived at Chili’s a little early than scheduled but the restaurant was already busy then because our timing coincided with Iftar. We were made to wait for a while to be seated.

Once seated and while waiting for our friends to arrive, we ordered our drinks and the bottomless tostada chips, which took very long to arrive. It was past seven p.m. and the two haven’t arrived yet. And since the service was getting real slow, I suggested to Boq that we take our orders for the main course and thought that either Randy or Raquel wouldn’t mind. (True enough they didn’t mind at all.)

As I mentioned, I wasn’t able to take much pleasure on the feast the last time we ate at Chili’s so we mimic the same selection that Amy made then: beef fajita quesadillas, chicken crispers and our pre-ordered warm crispy tostada chips. We just added in garlic shimp alfredo pasta, as we were also craving for some pasta dish.

The bottomless tostada chips were saltier than the one served in Chili’s Dubai Mall, but the house made salsa was as great. The chips were served in a very large serving basket. We were unable to request for a refill as the first serving was more than enough for the four of us.


The fajita quesadillas was a plateful of buttery toasted tortillas filled with marinated fajita steak, grilled onions and jack cheese. It is normally being served with rice, black beans, sour cream and pico de gallo (chopped veggies). But, instead of rice we requested to replace it with sweet corn on the cob. For me, the sweet corn was a better choice than the rice as it complemented the sour cream and pico de gallo. The fajita was good. I just wished, similar to tostada chips, they would lessen the salt. Aside from the fajita steak, Chili’s other quesadilla choice is grilled chicken.


The chicken crispers were strips of hand battered fried chicken minus the bones and skin, if I’m not mistaken. It can be likened to fried chicken fillet covered with bread crumbs. The crispers were served also with sweet corn on the cob, French fries and honey mustard dip. The honey mustard dip was great for the chicken and a welcome alternative compared to the usual catsup or gravy.


The shrimp alfredo pasta consisted of penne pasta with spicy shrimps seasoned with garlic and lime tossed in creamy alfredo sauce, tomatoes, parmesan cheese and served with garlic toast. I thought the creaminess of this pasta dish was just about right. Not too heavy and not too light. The shrimps were quite tasty. I was happy with our pasta choice.


The Drinks

The usual selection of beverage from fruit juices, shakes, soft drinks, bottled water and iced tea were available. We all opted for bottomless iced lemon tea. Chili’s is one of those restaurants that served tea on ice and lemon without sugar, then you will be given a separate container with sugar syrup to sweeten your iced tea as you like.

I’d say that we all had an enjoyable evening, especially when Randy’s cool (and really expensive!) digital camera started rolling.

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing Chili’s. I am simply blogging my eating out experience.

Thai Crab Curry Recipe

I love Thai food!

Having lived in Thailand for more than 4 years, I developed my fondness for Thai food. Fortunately, my hubby Boq has a penchant for the same.

Since I have now learned my way into the kitchen, I would like to experiment on Thai cooking especially on some of our favorites. For a start, I prepared Thai Crab Curry. In the days to come, I will be posting more Thai recipes.

Thai crab curry is one of our favorite Thai food. I checked a couple of Thai cooking tutorials and found out that it is not that hard to prepare it.

Thai Crab Curry

One setback in Thai cooking is that it involves a lot of ingredients and some are usually unique to Thai cuisine. Some of the original ingredients for the crab curry were not easy to find in the market here so I made do with whatever was available. The result was good especially for a first-timer but I know that I can still make it better next time.

Frying Crab Pieces

Here is the recipe for the Thai Crab Curry.

Ingredients:
½ kilo fresh crabs, wash clean
1 tbsp. Thai curry powder
1 stalk celery
2-3 stalks spring onion (scallions)
1 large onion (preferably white onion)
2-3 pieces red chili, sliced
2-3 tbsp. oyster sauce
½ tsp. ground pepper (preferably white ground pepper)
2 pieces egg
1 to 2 tbsp. Thai chili paste (preferably roasted Thai chili paste)
1 cup evaporated milk
Cooking oil

Chili Paste, Milk ang Egg Mixture

Cooking Instructions:
1) Combine the chili paste and the milk then beat in the egg. Mix thoroughly then set aside.
2) Remove crab shell then cut the crabs into pieces. Separate large claws and crack them including legs.
3) Heat oil in a large wok or deep pan then fry crabs pieces until done.
4) Add Thai curry into the wok.
5) Pour in the mixture of chili paste, milk and eggs.
6) Then add oyster sauce, celery and spring onions. Sprinkle with pepper. Mix well and continue cooking until done.

Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes
Serving size: 2-4 persons

Goodbye Patrick Swayze

When I opened my Yahoo Mail this morning, the sad news of Patrick Swayze’s passing appeared on my screen. According to the news, he died on Monday (September 14) after a 20-month long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

Photo credit: The Internet Movie Database

His movie “Ghost” opposite Demi Moore became such a big hit in 1990 in the US and internationally. In the Philippines, it was run in theaters for months, and there was even a re-run of the film a few years later. It was no wonder because Ghost was a great romantic drama film. The acting and story were just superb. Who would ever forget Sam and Molly, pottery and Unchained Melody?

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Aside from the movie Ghost, Patrick Swayze also starred in another hit film titled “Dirty Dancing.”

The news also reported that Patrick Swayze died peacefully with his family at his bedside. For me, one thing to be thankful about the passing of someone you love or very dear to you because of lingering illness is for the reason that you are able to show them your affection in their last days on earth. Unlike sudden deaths, the degree of pain may be the same but the acceptance of their passing is probably easier.

Goodbye Mr. Swayze and rest in peace.

Almost Loving Figaro’s Pizza

We had a very filling dinner at Figaro's Pizza in Marina Mall on Friday evening courtesy of our friend Cliff, who, as I mentioned in my previous post, was here in Abu Dhabi for a three-week work assignment. He is about to leave in a few days and so he took the chance last weekend to offer us a dinner treat, which Boq and I happily obliged. Some friends were supposed to be with us but were not able to make it, the result; I had a date with two gentlemen!

The Restaurant

First of all, Figaro's Pizza is not at all related to Figaro, a famous coffee shop in the Philippines. One of the staff who happened to be a kabayan confirmed this when my curiosity got into me.

Figaro's Pizza

The restaurant is located at the second level in Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi. It is rather small but with chic furniture and lighting fixtures. There were not too many service crews but most were very attentive. The service was also fast. We did not have to wait very long for the food to arrive considering that there are quite a number of guests that evening.

Figaro's Pizza House

The Food

Figaro's Pizza serves authentic Italian pizzas and pasta dishes. They have a large selection of pizza in the menu. You will be made to choose which crust you fancy from thin, medium and thick.

For appetizer, we ordered hot chicken wings and mixed salad bar, while for main course, it is seafood supreme pizza and lasagna.

Boq and Cliff rushed to the salad bar right after our order was taken by a friendly service crew. They did a decent job on filling up a small plate with enough salad for the three of us. The plate was slightly bigger than a saucer, and if you are an expert in piling up salad mix onto such a plate size, it is more than enough for a single large order.

Mixed Salad

The Figaro’s Pizza Salad Bar contains the usual items you can find in a salad bar, potato salad, corn kernel, macaroni salad, croutons, mixed steamed vegetables and some fresh produce, also with choices of the usual dressings. For our mixed salad, the guys favored for French dressing. As always, I do enjoy mixed salad and I definitely took pleasure in this one.

The hot chicken wings are super spicy indeed. I was not able to enjoy it because the spiciness overpowered the taste of the chicken. But with only eight chicken wing pieces per large serving the plateful dish was emptied.

Hot Chicken Wings

As for the lasagna, I did not like it at all. I took just a small fraction and yet had the hard time to finish it off. It is too sour. If I have to eat at Figaro's Pizza again, I will skip lasagna. Can't blame me, I tasted much better.

Lasagna

Unlike the lasagna, I did enjoy the seafood supreme pizza. When the pizza arrived I was amused by its size. Really sooo big for us three I thought, about 16 inches in diameter. We ordered the large size medium crust pizza with eight equal slices.

As expected for a seafood pizza, it contained shrimps, squid and crab sticks combined with chopped onion, green and red bell peppers. It had no sign of tomatoes for the pizza topping base, instead, aside from the mozzarella cheese, some other white sauce-like was used for the topping base. We were only able to consume 3 slices and took home the rest. Not that it's not delicious, it was just really too much for us three.

Seafood Supreme Pizza

The Drinks

A few selection of beverage in the menu include soft drinks, water, fruit juices and if I remember it right, fruit shakes. I didn’t bother to look much on the beverage selection so I couldn’t tell what type of fruit juices and shakes were available as I don’t particularly like ordering juices when I’m in a pizza house, it’s either soft drinks or iced tea for me. But since they don’t serve iced tea, I’d settled for Pepsi diet. Boq and Cliff followed suit with their choices.

The restaurant does not also serve bottomless drinks, but the soft drink is served in a big glass mug, which is just about the enough size (for my small stomach) already.

Although I did have a little issue about the lasagna and the absence of iced tea in the beverage list, I consider Figaro’s Pizza as a good alternative for a pizza house (at least for the pizza).


Disclaimer: I am not endorsing Figaro’s Pizza. I am simply blogging my eating out experience.

3-Kind Vegetable Stir-Fry in Oyster Sauce

A lot of parents find it difficult to make their children eat vegetables, but when I was a little kid I never gave my parents a hard time because I would always eat and finish my vegetables. Until today, I am still a veggie lover (but not a vegetarian). I would always like to have dishes with vegetables on it when dining out or make sure to incorporate vegetable servings in our weekly menu plan.

Two nights ago I prepared a dish that’s delicious and very simple to make, which involved vegetables and oyster sauce. I call it 3-Kind Vegetable Stir-Fry in Oyster Sauce. As the title suggests, I only used three types of vegetables namely: carrots, snow peas and white cabbage. Other types of vegetables can also be used like cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, etc. But, I stick to the three previously mentioned as I’d like to have a quickly prepared meal and within budget.


Stir-fry vegetable is always present in any Chinese restaurant menu but I cannot tell if it is solely a Chinese creation because I’ve seen the same dish exists in Thai cuisine. There is also a similar dish popular in Filipino cooking, which we adopted from Chinese, called chop suey.

Here’s the recipe for my 3-Kind Vegetable Stir-Fry in Oyster Sauce. You will like this because it is light and, as I mentioned, very simple to prepare.

Ingredients:
2 medium-sized carrots, sliced crosswise
100 grams snow peas (remove tips)
½ head cabbage, roughly sliced
½ cup oyster sauce
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Spring onions (optional)
¼ cup water (optional)
Vegetable oil


Cooking Instructions:
1. Heat oil in a wok. Sauté garlic and onion.
2. Add carrots and sauté for about 2 minutes.
3. Add oyster sauce and then follow with snow peas and cabbage. Add water if you desire. Add spring onions (optional). Stir constantly until all vegetables are cooked (bright in color). Do not over cook vegetables to maintain crispness.

Preparation and cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Serving size: 2-3 persons

Useful Info:
1. Stir-fry meals are best done using a wok over a high heat.
2. Constant stirring will allow equal distribution of the heat to vegetables and prevent over cooking.

Chocolate Mousse Cake Delight by Café Moka

My friends and former officemates from way back in the Philippines, Cliff and Daisy, surprised me with this delectable chocolate mousse cake when we went to Cliff’s hotel to eat dinner over the weekend. (It’s their belated birthday gift. ^-^)


Cliff just came from the Philippines almost two weeks ago for a three-week work assignment here in Abu Dhabi, while Daisy moved in Abu Dhabi early this year.

The cake was bought from Café Moka in Abu Dhabi Mall. I noticed on the cake box that the shop only listed two locations, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which made me wonder if the shop is a local brand. And, I found out that it is!


Café Moka was established in 1996 in the UAE with four branches in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai. Aside from putting up shops, they also cater to leading petrol companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi namely EDNOC, ADNOC and EPPCO, supplying quality sandwiches, croissants and cakes.

I read in Café Moka’s website that their cake recipes are based on traditional French baking techniques. And, they pride themselves with this slogan for their cakes and pastries: “Sweet, creamy, rich pastries are the height of indulgence in our boulangeries.” Knowing this, it’s no wonder that the chocolate mousse cake was the epitome of the right sweetness and creaminess of a mousse cake. It was truly delightful!

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing Café Moka. I am simply blogging my eating out experience.

My Top Five List of Seasonal Fruits

As summer heats up in Abu Dhabi, Boq and I are taking advantage of the abundance of fruits that are in season. Fortunately, a lot of them are my favorites even back in the Philippines.

Here are the top five fruits in season that we mostly buy from the supermarkets these days, ranked from my most favorite to the least.

1) Ripe Mangoes

I will never outgrow my love for mangoes. It's my most favorite! Mangoes from Thailand and Philippines are being exported here but in their unripe condition. Since I like ripe mangoes over green I am settling for those that came from Pakistan. They are usually big and round. They’re sweet too although a little too fibrous. They also tend to have a strong taste when overripe or bruised, but they make a good after meal desert or snack when in good quality.





2) Lanzones

Next in my list is lanzones. I like lanzones because it’s soft and fun to eat. Peeling the skin needs a technique so that its sap won’t come in contact with the flesh. The sap is too bitter so you want to avoid it from touching the skin. I cannot explain though what is the technique, all I know is that I’m good at peeling lanzones (lolz!). Also, make sure that you don't bite the seed of the lanzones fruit because it is as bitter as the sap.



Lanzones in the Philippines have two kinds (in my opinion), one kind is acidic in taste and the other is sweet. But any of the two would do for me.

The lanzones that are available here in Abu Dhabi are coming from Thailand, which are mostly sweet. They are a little expensive though. A kilo is at around 20 dirhams or $5.50, that is more or less 260 in philippine peso.

3) Watermelon

Watermelon comes third in my top five list of seasonal fruits. As the summer peaks in Abu Dhabi, it is very refreshing to eat watermelon. A watermelon shake or juice will be great but eating the watermelon slices is just as great.



The watermelon sold here are very large in size. Fortunately, supermarkets sell them in halves or quarter sizes.



4) Atis

Fourth in my list is Atis or sugar apple in English. Atis are very sweet when it’s in its full ripeness. The only thing that I don’t like about atis is that it is full of seeds, but I know that there is a variety with less seed and there’s even a seedless atis from what I heard but I have not encountered one as of yet. I would definitely enjoy a seedless atis!



5) Pineapple

I like pineapple because it is a good source of vitamins and minerals namely manganese, thiamin, vitamin C and D. It is also rich in fiber and even has antioxidant property.



There are canned pineapples of various brands that are being sold in the supermarkets but I prefer to use them for making fruit salad than eating them fresh from the can. Luckily, there are fresh pineapple fruits available in the supermarkets. In fact, one particular brand in the Philippines (Del Monte) is being sold here.

Guinisang Ampalaya with Shrimps Recipe

Guinisang ampalaya is one of my favorite vegetable dishes. As I previously mentioned, Boq and I love ampalaya, one reason is because of its health benefits.


Some people especially the kids do not like to eat ampalaya because of its strong bitter taste. There are actually a couple of ways to reduce the bitterness of ampalaya. One is to soak it (already sliced) with water and squeeze, and the other is to rub it with lots of salt and wash thoroughly. I also encountered one particular cook that she was boiling the ampalaya to reduce the bitterness. I do not like soaking or boiling the ampalaya, what I always like to do is the rubbing and rinsing method.

Guinisang ampalaya can be cooked with strips of pork or shrimps. For this recipe, being another favorite, I used shelled shrimps.


Ingredients:
4 medium size ampalaya or bitter gourd or bitter melon by others, cut in half lengthwise, cored and sliced diagonally
3 medium size tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
3 pieces egg, beaten and slightly salted
300 grams shrimp, shelled
Vegetable oil
Shrimp cubes (optional)
3-5 tbsp. fish sauce

Cooking Instructions:
1. Sauté garlic until slightly brown. Add onion and cook until translucent.
2. Add tomatoes and shrimp cubes. Cook until tomatoes are soft. Then add shrimps and cook until half done.
3. Put in sliced ampalaya. Cover and stir occasionally until cooked.
4. Lastly, add beaten eggs. Stir continuously until egg is completely cooked.


Preparation and cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Serving size: 4-5 persons

Bon appétit!

For the Love of Country: Sen. Mar Roxas Gives Way to Noynoy

Photo credits: www.marroxas.com

"Country above self. Bayan Bago Sarili."

These were the opening words of Senator Mar Roxas, who, at late afternoon in Manila, announced his withdrawal for the Philippine’s presidential race in 2010 to make way for Senator Noynoy Aquino.

Senator Aquino apparently heeded the clamour of a lot of people to run for president in next year’s Philippine election, which started since the passing of President Cory Aquino, exactly a month ago today, that revived the nationalism among many Filipinos. He has yet to formally announce his bid for presidency.

Among the supposed presidentiables for 2010, it is more likely that I will vote for Senator Roxas (that’s despite his boring TV ads and trying hard acting! Lolz). I believe that he is devoid of greed, has the most genuine intention to uplift the lives of the Filipino people and can govern the Philippines in his utmost capacity. But, of course, being an Aquino supporter, I welcome with so much warmth the unannounced candidacy of Senator Aquino.

Senator Mar’s decision was applauded by many. He deserves the admiration because he set aside his ambition for the love of country. He can always pursue his ambition at a later time. I will support him then (even much more!)

Here's the full manuscript of the speech of Senator Mar Roxas at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

Source: abs-cbnNEWS.com

"Country above self. Bayan bago ang sarili.

Iyan ang habilin ng aking lolo, President Manuel Roxas.

Our nation is in trouble. Leadership is bankrupt. Institutions are in disarray. People are hungry.

Noynoy Aquino and I share the same outrage over the mess we are all in, the same way we share the solution-clean, honest, selfless public service.

Marami at matindi ang mga problema ng bansa. Kailangan nating ayusin. Matindi ang kalaban. We need a determined force for good far stronger than the festering evil around us.

We need to fight just as our own fathers fought dictatorship, and just as both died believing that good will conquer evil.

Noynoy and I want to make a difference, but we also know that we need to unite to achieve what we want.

I am the President of the Liberal Party.

It is within my power to preside over a potentially divisive process or to make the party a bridge for the forces of change. I choose to lead unity, not division. Bilang pinuno ng aking Partido, magdedesisyon ako.

Mahal ko ang Partido Liberal. My grandfather founded it. My father led it during the most difficult times of Martial Law. Sa harap ng peligro, sa kabila ng napakaraming tukso-hindi siya sumuko.

He inspired me-to stay the course, to fight the good fight, to pass the test of true character. To believe.

Over the weekend, Noynoy and I had many long conversations... Masinsinang usapan. We agreed: Let us forget about ourselves for a moment. This is not about us, this is about our people and our country. This is about our common dream. The dream of our parents.

But let us not remain a country of dreamers. Tama na ang pangarap. Gawin na natin, ngayon.

Today, I am announcing my support for the candidacy of Noynoy Aquino for President in 2010.

Noy has made it clear to me that he wants to carry the torch of leadership.

The passing of our beloved former President Aquino has reawakened a passion among us. I acknowledge this as fuel to bring us to the realization of our dream: Good will triumph over evil.

Ito na ang pinakamabigat na desisyon sa buhay ko. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, ginagawa ko ito para sa bayan, para sa inyo. I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means that somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me. Ako na.

To you Noy, I say: I began the campaign to sow the seeds para sa pagbabago at reporma. You must now be the one to grow them in the arena of leadership.

Hindi kami maghihiwalay ni Noy. I will stand with him.

At sa aking mga kababayan, sa mga nagtiwala sa akin: Mahal na mahal ko po kayo. Mahal na mahal ko po ang ating bayan. Hindi rin tayo maghihiwalay. Itutuloy natin ang pagbabago sa ating bansa. Itutuloy natin ang laban para sa reporma!

Kay Noy, at sa aking mga kababayan: Country above self! Bayan bago sarili!

Hindi ko kayo pababayaan! Lalaban tayo!"

Ramadan Food Treats

Ramadan does not only bring good conduct among (Muslim) people but it is also the season of sharing and giving (just like Christmas for Christians).

Here in Abu Dhabi, malls, supermarkets, coffee shops and restaurants have been offering sales, discounts and promotions on food and non-food items alike. Of course, the food treats can only be enjoyed during Iftar or when our Muslims brothers are already allowed to eat.

Here are a few that I encountered.

Ramadan Sweets



Ramadan Dates Festival (with free tasting)







Second Cup’s Ramadan Special Blend (the coffee and cake are made of dates)



Pizza Hut’s Ramadan Value Meal (with cash back coupons!)





Krispy Kreme Morning Special

Pork Sinigang Recipe



As much as I’d like to limit our pork intake not only due to swine flu scare but more so because of the amount of calories and fats we would be stuffing ourselves with, I just couldn’t resist the temptation especially when I know that there’s a half kilo of pork sitting in the fridge.

It’s been a while since we had sinigang and since I still have plenty of sinigang mix brought from the Philippines, I decided to make pork sinigang.

Sinigang, or sour soup in English, is another famous Filipino dish and seems to be everyone’s favorite. It is always present on the menu in any carinderia or Pinoy restaurant.

Sinigang is typically cooked in a lot of water, meat, a selection of vegetables, and should be very sour in taste (although some people would prefer to reduce the sourness).

There’s a variety of option for sinigang's main ingredient. One can choose from pork, beef, chicken, shrimp or fish. The sourness of the soup can also come from a range of sour fruits, such as tamarind, kalamansi (citrus), kamias (bilimbi) or santol. I also know some people who use green mango but using it may seem difficult to achieve the exact sourness compared to using other sour fruits.

For my sinigang, I used the ready mix sampaloc sinigang with gabi (taro). It’s convenient for pinoy travelers and OFWs who aren’t able to find the fresh ingredient in their country of work. The sour taste is nearly authentic. The original ready mix sampaloc sinigang was without bits of taro, the mixture with taro was just introduced later on. I like the taro version more than the original sampaloc mix because it tends to slightly thicken the soup.

Here’s my pork sinigang recipe.

Ingredients:
1/2 kilo pork, sliced into 1 inch cubes (use parts with fat layers or boney parts, whichever of these two is just as great)
4 pieces tomatoes, cut each into 4 parts
1 large onion, cut into 4 parts
1 bundle okra
2 pieces radish, sliced thinly
1 bundle Pechay (buk choy) or kangkong
3-4 pieces green chili (long)
3-4 pieces small taro (optional)
1 liter water
Sinigang mix (tamarind with gabi)

Cooking Instructions:
1. Put pork in a pot and cover with water. Bring to boil.
2. Add sliced tomatoes, taro and onion. Let it simmer.
3. When pork is tender, add sinigang mix and season with salt. Then add radish and cook until half done.
4. Add okra and long beans. When half done add pechay and cook until wilted.
5. Serve with steamed rice.

Preparation and cooking time: 60 minutes
Serving: 2-3

Dinner Indulgence at The Noodle House


Today is my special day and I wanted a simple dinner of my favorite cuisine, i.e. Asian.

After hearing mass, Boq and I proceeded to The Noodle House in Al Wahda Mall, as it is the nearest and most convenient place to go from the church. Besides, our initial try of the resto was pleasant so it will be nice to pay them a visit again.

The Restaurant


I like the restaurant’s atmosphere and interior. It is informal and spacious yet stylish. They designed the restaurant into two levels. The area at the entrance is on the same level with the ground level and the other is on a raised floor where the kitchen is also located. Majority of the table and seat arrangement are wooden and upholstered benches but there is a portion in the raised floor level where they arranged square tables for four with two chairs at one side and a long continuous couch at the other side set against the wall.


Prawn Wanton Noodles

I cannot tell if the Al Wahda Mall branch is a typical design for The Noodle House because I’ve never been to any other Noodle House branch. What I can tell is that I’ve seen a couple of branches that doesn’t look as stylish as the Al Wahda Mall branch from the outside. Of course, I may be wrong as I’m only judging them based on their outside appearance.


Stir Fry Vegetables

The Food

I’d be honest, I did not enjoy the food compared to our first visit there. We ordered prawn wanton noodle soup with roasted duck, stir-fried mixed vegetables, spicy lemongrass crab cakes and egg fried rice. The only dish that gave me the satisfaction was the noodle soup. The crab cake was not at all spicy as the menu suggested. It was crunchy outside and soft in the inside, just the perfect texture, but I was not really drawn to it. I’ve tasted better. The fried rice was bland for my taste. And I found the stir-fry veggies with an off-smelling ingredient. I don’t know exactly what contributed the smell but Boq said it was the mushroom, which was sad if it really was because mushroom is my favorite. I just remember now, I encountered the same smell in a stir-fry vegetable dish we ordered in one of our dinners in another Asian restaurant. I’m guessing that it’s a normal thing for authentic Asian cuisine, unfortunately, I couldn’t get used to it. Don’t get me wrong though. If I did not enjoy the food, Boq did have a good time. He is not as picky as I am. Yes that’s maybe it, I’m just too picky and I have a very high standard when it comes to Asian food. I lived in Thailand and Taiwan before where I tasted the most authentic Chinese and Thai dishes.


Spicy Lemongrass Crab Cakes

One thing though that I can recommend in The Noodle House menu, is their pad thai (or stir-fried noodles). We tried it during our first visit and made a couple of take-out orders on separate occasions. It’s not in my number one list but it’s one of the best.


Egg Fried Rice

On the whole, it was fun to dine in at The Noodle House because the service was good and the atmosphere was pleasant. They even have a different style of taking orders. Guests are given individually an order sheet (they call it order pad) where you will tick or check your orders using a pen with a nice curly detail at its end. It was even more fun if we just ordered the right food that’s pleasing for my taste. But I have no regrets. I may have not enjoyed most of what we ordered but I did enjoy the noodles and using the chopsticks. Moreover, Boq enjoyed his food and I had fun taking photos. The whole experience was all that matters to me.


Order Pad

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing The Noodle House. I am simply blogging my eating out experience.

Cheers!

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