Category Archives: Food and Drink

Learn to cut your own chicken

Before I attended culinary school, I always bought pre-cut chicken. First, because I could choose the parts that I like, and second because I really didn’t know how to cut a chicken up. But when I went to culinary school, they taught us how to do it. It looked easy at first but it was difficult for me. So, I practiced a lot, inspired as well by chefs who’d cut chicken as if it were a piece of cake. If they can do it, so can I! I told my mom to but whole chickens instead of those cut ones. Believe me, in the beginning, my family made fun of my chicken proportions.

But I slowly learned how to cut them properly. The thing about doing your own chicken portions is that you can control the size of your chicken. Not that you can do so much, but you know what I mean.

Caution: Raw chicken contains salmonella, so I advise that you use a separate cutting board for you chicken, wash it thoroughly after use, including your knife. Make sure to cook your chicken properly.

How to cut up a chicken

You need a knife (a sharp one please) and a separate chopping board.

  1. Remove the parts that are hanging, like the head, neck and the wing tips.
  2. Then, cut off the chicken tail. Foreigners don’t really eat this part, but we Filipinos love this. You can set it aside, or you may choose to not cut it yet and include it when you cut one of the chicken breasts.
  3. Cut the skin between the thigh and breast area. Then pop the bone connecting to it. This will give you access to where you would have to cut through the skin to separate the breast from the thigh.
  4. Cut at an angle between the drumstick and the thigh. The knee joint has a bone, and that’s where you have to cut.
  5. Cutting the wings is easy; all you have to do is spread it and cut where the wing ends. (Again, you need a sharp knife for this.)
  6. Cut down the middle following the chicken backbone. You could use a pair of scissors to cut through it, but a knife will do too.
  7. You can proportion size of the chicken breast you want, then just cut through it.

For beginners, I suggest you cut the chicken first into two. Then, you remove one by one the parts. The reason why I didn’t mention this as my number one is because as time goes by, and you’ll get used to it, and it’ll be easier to remove the parts first before butchering the whole chicken.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.


Snacks and childhood memories

When I was I kid, I loved going to church because after that, my mom would treat us to our favorite ice cream parlor (typical kid! :P).  We wouldn’t eat anything out of the ordinary, just vanilla for my sister and banana split for me and my mom.

In high school, I would watch what I spent from Mondays to Thursdays because every Friday, my service mates and I will eat at our favorite fast food joint.  Again, nothing expensive: just fries and a sundae.

My childhood is peppered with happy memories. And, as you may have already guessed, most of them include food.  This isn’t to say that I’m a glutton for food. It’s just that whenever I think of a specific food or restaurant, some memory from my life pops up.  And sometimes, I eat a certain dish not because it’s delicious, but because it reminds me of someone or something in my life.

Now that I’m a working girl and that my taste buds have become more mature, I still occasionally crave for some of the fun food I had when I was younger.  Well, now I get to eat them without my mom scolding me to brush my teeth afterwards. Or her telling me to drink lots of water after eating ice cream.

Yan Yan

I love this cracker that you dip in chocolate.  I know that there are better-tasting brands than this, but there’s something about Yan Yan that reminds me of my childhood.  It’s like all of us ate and enjoyed this snack when we were little.  I don’t know anybody who didn’t like Yan Yan.


My family is not Chinese, but we never ran out of hopia in our household when we were kids.  I particularly like the ones that my mom bought at the market, though my younger sister insists that those are dirty.  Oh well, we call the ice cream being sold in the streets as dirty ice cream and yet we still eat it, so I guess it’s the same thing with the hopia.

I like monggo hopia.  I don’t really like the newer flavors because I’m too content with the monggo.  I feel like my ube belongs to my halo-halo or with some crackers, but as a flavor for hopia… Well, to each its own.

Durian chips

I’m not sure if they sell this certain brand everywhere, but I really love durian chips.  Actually, I like durian.  Even with its foul smell, I’m down with it.  The first time I ate a durian I was in Singapore.  I wanted to scream my lungs out when they offered me the fruit.  But I couldn’t refuse because that would be very rude of me.  So I closed my eyes and prepared for the worst, but I really ended up liking it.

So when I chanced upon the durian chips, I just had to taste them.  They’re now in my top 10 favorite junk food of all time.  They’re a little bit expensive, so I don’t really eat them often, unless my sister or my mom buy them for me.

These are just some of my favorite snacks.  I haven’t even made my list of my favorite dishes—maybe next time.  And please do share with me your favorite snacks too.  I’m sure I’m not the only one here who tries to reminisce their childhood with food.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

My movie slash foodie date nights

I’ve barely had time to go out these past few months. Aside from the fact that I really need to save up, work’s been consuming most of my waking hours. I seriously wonder how working moms do it. I’m not a mom yet and still I feel like I’m always exhausted at the end of the day. Truly, these women deserve an award.

On with my story. I love watching movies. But ever since I started with my new job, I’ve already missed more than a dozen films. I already don’t cook regularly and now, I’m also missing my movies?!? I guess “frustrated” is an mild word if we’re talking about how I feel these days.

I’m thankful for the Internet because at least, I get to watch videos once in a while. Don’t worry, I don’t like to illegally download stuff. I’m content with whatever’s available in the Internet for free. And believe me, there’s a lot. Cable TV helps too. Most of the foreign channels show recently-released movies, and I’m happier when they show those independent ones. I’m a sucker for foreign Indie movies. So, since I can no longer go to the movie houses, I end up bringing the movie house to the comforts of my own room. Well, to be precise, to the comforts of my living room.

That’s because I eat while watching and I don’t like bringing food inside my room. I feel like if I eat inside my bedroom, aside from the smell sticking to all its four corners, ants will definitely appear out of nowhere. And that I seriously abhor.

My normal movie night will consist of junk food, water (I avoid drinking soda) and sometimes chocolates or pastries. But nothing that will produce so much crumbs. I don’t want to end up with crumbs all over my shirt after the movie. I also like fruits, but they take a little more preparation because I have to peel them before the movie starts. That and they make me feel full easily so I end up asleep before the movie ends.

But, in my opinion, fruits and movies are a good combination for people who need a vitamin boost. My sister isn’t fond of fruits. But whenever I prepare them for our movie night, she’d end up eating most of it. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that for your kids? Make them watch their favorite cartoon shows while you give them something healthy to munch on. They wouldn’t notice it, believe me! My sister is my perfect example of that.

While watching a movie too, I can multitask. I don’t know how I do it, but even when I’m doing 2-3 things at the same time, I can still focus on the movie. Since I bring paperwork home, I find myself working more effectively when I’m in front of the television. But this is just me. Kids shouldn’t be watching TV when they’re doing their homework. For working people like us, though, sometimes time is really the enemy. If you can multitask, then I think that’s an advantage.

I realize that complaining and sulking about my now-busier life won’t do me any good. I can still do all the things that I love—I just need to learn how to compromise. Life is never just simple and it really isn’t that complicated either. We just have to learn how to put things in perspective. Now, on to my next movie.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Enjoying food isn’t about the binge

food marketI get to travel a lot. And of course, one of the reasons why I like travelling is that I get to taste different kinds of cuisines.  But I’m still wary of what I eat.  I may be experimental, but I’m not suicidal.  The world of food is very interesting to me but it’s not my extreme sport.  I’m not a glutton either, but I do love the smell and look of food.  I find happiness in a loaded buffet the same way I get giddy whenever I’m at a food’s market.

In the Metro, there are certain markets that only open during weekends.  I have to wake up early and drag my friends to Salcedo Market just so I can see fresh produce and other independent shops that offer mouth-watering dishes.

My friends and I would save enough money ever the week so that we can buy items that are only being sold in these type of markets.  That’s what we do when we visit Merkato.  We don’t eat dinner, and when we get there we walk for a few minutes before eating.  We’re sure when midnight strikes, we’re already quite satisfied.

Good food doesn’t have to be expensive for you to enjoy it. When you go to an ordinary market, chances are there are eateries there that serve fresh, hot-piping dishes.  And I’m sure that they used fresh ingredients.  When I’m in New York, I eat like a typical New Yorker, breakfast will be a bagel and coffee while walking towards the subway.  Lunch would be Filipino food because I worked in a Filipino restaurant, but dinner is either a slice of bread and or whatever’s left over in the fridge.

If I’m in a new place, I try to go where there are a lot of people lined up.  Either that place has great food, or it’s cheap, either way, that’s a good find.  But kidding aside, I try to research on the place and look for its popular dishes and restaurants. I’m more interested in a country’s cuisine rather than its tourist spots.

I don’t eat or crave for food just to satisfy my hunger.  Food for me is like shopping to some people.  I find comfort in it.  I don’t necessarily have to eat it, but it makes me happy to experience new dishes and or new tastes.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Coffee: is it good or bad for your health?

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always loved coffee. No matter how much I love my frappuccino, I still prefer coffee hot even on a warm day. I used to take it BLACK. Just plain coffee, no sugar and no milk. But then, I started feel palpitations hehehe 🙂 Seriously, I thought that if I’d drink coffee often, I should at least enjoy it with sugar and a little bit of milk or creamer.

People who know me would often send me free/complimentary 3 in 1 coffee mixes, and to be honest, I can be a perfect endorser for some of these products. Not like with my chocolate cakes, I drink almost any brand of coffee. Of course I would have my favorites, and coffee is really much better if it’s brewed, but I’m a very mobile person so I just bring packets of instant coffee mixes with me.

Since I need to know what I put in my body, I did some research about coffee. I was surprised that there’s a lot of difference when you French-pressed it instead of using the ordinary paper filters. One leaves more oil therefore there’s a big chance of raising your bad cholesterol when you drink it often.

There’s a lot of debate about whether drinking too much coffee is good or bad for your health. There are also studies conducted by several universities to prove that coffee consumption is either detrimental or beneficial to one’s health.

While reading some of the results, I was analyzing my own health. Am I really over doing my intake of coffee? How much is too much? Which is healthier, hot or cold coffee? These questions kept on popping in my mind while reading.

Well, one study shows that drinking coffee will lessen one’s chances of having Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. That’s a good thing, right? And oh, in Taiwan, research showed that coffee actually helps in preventing Type 2 Diabetes.

These are just about coffee… I haven’t even touched on the subject of regular coffee (caffeinated) and decaf. I can’t stand the taste of decaf; I feel like I’m cheating myself with it. It’s like you’re drinking coffee but you’re not. Maybe it’s a psychological thing for me, but I do want to be informed on exactly what the differences are between these two.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Therefore, some people drink coffee to keep them on their toes. But for someone like me whose blood is half coffee, I don’t get stimulated by coffee anymore. But I don’t really have a normal sleeping time either. My dorm mates, on the other hand, depend on coffee whenever they need to be up all night.

Help me with this please, because as much as I would want to continue with my coffee habit, I still consider my health as my top priority. Maybe if you know something about coffee, we could exchange ideas in here, and maybe share some recipes too. I don’t normally bake, but I know espresso really makes a difference when baking anything with chocolate. ‘Til next time!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Rainy days and the Pinoy dishes that match

Last week was hell week for me. I got stuck in the office for four days straight and I had to shop for extra essentials because I couldn’t work while smelling like yesterday’s news.  My body was practically running on coffee—news was everywhere so work at the media firm I work in just kept on piling up.  Add that to the fact that there was really no room to sleep in, so I just ended up taking multiple naps.

But if there’s one thing that I was overwhelmed with during the calamity, aside from flood water, it was food.  Inasmuch as I feel for the victims who were stuck in their rooftops, my officemates and I were constantly hungry and had to refuel as needed.

Do you notice that whenever it’s raining you feel like you’re always craving for something? Some people crave for food, while others have this feeling of snuggling on a sofa with just a hot coffee or cocoa.  If I could indulge on a rainy day, I would cook something, anything! I don’t usually eat after, but the smell of food in the room calms me. I guess food really has that effect on me.  I don’t really have to eat it, i just have to see it.

As a proud “promdi,” there are certain foods that we like to cook when it’s raining, or what I like to call “bed weather”.

  1. Suam na mais – For some people, the sabaw of choice is sinigang because it’s hot and sour, good for rainy days.  But I love the stickiness of the corn, sautéed in shrimps, garlic and onions. Then top it off with chicharon.  Any fried food will go well with it, but I prefer fried fish like tilapia or galunggong.  If they’re fried super crispy, you can actually eat even the bones.
  2. Champorado – Need I say more? Chocolate rice pudding: you can eat it either hot or cold.  I like it hot, then pour some milk over it.  Good to eat when cuddled up in the sofa with a big blanket while watching TV.  My mom and my grandmother like to pair it with tuyo, but I don’t eat tuyo so I always skip that part.
  3. Turon – I know turon with ice cream is a summer thing, but when it’s raining, my family usually has nothing better to do so we end up in the kitchen, cooking whatever is available in the pantry. This is one of the things we often whip up for ourselves.
  4. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and suman – This I can eat over and over again.  I wait for at least a day after buying the suman before frying them and then submerging them in hot chocolate.  Yummy!
  5. Chicken sopas – I have to be honest, I don’t normally cook this because I’m the only one who’s fond of it at home.  But whenever I’m out and it’s raining, if a restaurant we’re in serves it, I’ll definitely order it from their menu.  I just like the comfort it brings when you drink in the milky soup.

I hope you guys stay safe and dry.  I heard there’s more rains coming.  Stock up on food, batteries and don’t forget to just enjoy life.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Missing the kitchen… and my baon!

No kitchen in my dorm!
No such kitchen in my dorm! 😦

I don’t like it when I can’t cook, or when I’m staying in a place without a kitchen. Cooking’s always been my “escape”. I cook when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and when I just feel like it.  So imagine if I have to stay somewhere without a spatula or even a fridge?

My life’s been turned upside down for the past month. I started work with this special project, its grown-up stuff… meaning, boring and really, not related to cooking.  I moved back to my old dorm and even though I feel comfortable in it, there’s one thing missing: the kitchen. My dorm don’t allow any form of cooking, well, aside from the instant cup noodles that you just pour hot water in, there’s no way I could sneak in a portable stove without them noticing it, or smelling it.

Every day, I feel like I’m in a scavenger’s hunt for the food that I want to eat and bring to work.  Yes! I prepare my baon because my schedule is weird and when I work, I usually don’t like being bothered.  I live near a university, so food is really abundant.  But I’m also wary of the many possibilities that these foods are not properly prepared.

So, every day I try to look at the food, not caring if the customer next to me is annoyingly tapping her foot while waiting for me to finish my order.  I make a mental note of the food they offer that day, and if I decide to go back the next day, I’ll look at their menu and see if it’s a re-hash of yesterday’s offering.

I’m really not picky, but I do know the look of food when it’s fresh and it’s already been a day’s old.  I remember when I was still in high school. I don’t like bringing lunch boxes to school. I had that period where I wanted to look cool in front of the other students, so I would line-up in the cafeteria and scout for whatever piping hot food they had to offer.

For moms out there, maybe it’s added work if you pack your kids’ lunchboxes, but it’s always better to be safe than be sorry later.  I know cafeteria food is not as bad as it seems, but there’s just too much junk food available to your kids, and you’re not always there to regulate how much of it they take in. So, I suggest give them something nutritious to combat whatever junk they’ll put in their mouths come lunch time.  A packed lunch with some protein, carbs and a little amount of sweet will help your children get through the day.

Don’t worry, it might take time for kids to get used to having packed lunches, and they might even say that “it’s so not cool” bringing lunch kits at school, but believe me, they’ll get used to it eventually.  And if they’re hard-headed, just bring out your “mothers know best” card. I’m sure they can’t argue with that.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.