Saturday, December 12, 2020

Gift suggestions: 12 delicious Pinoy homemade goodies!

It's almost Christmas! If you're not yet done with your gift shopping, I've got a surprise for you - I gathered the yummiest treats into this list! Choose and shop and send your love to family and friends and know that you're sending the very best deliciousness!
Bibingka Manila 

I'm a huge fan of bibingka. So when I found out about Bibingka Manila from Timmie Hilado (I met her because of baby shop Urban Essentials), talagang I had to try it and I loved it so much I gave to my mother-in-law. That's a huge sign of approval from me! You have got to buy Bibingka Manila for yourself and your loved ones. too. The rice cakes are rich and buttery and perfectly textured. So good! The ube is my favorite flavor. The box these come in is a gorgeous, elegant black or pale blue (Solenn x BibingkaMNL). Just add festive ribbon. Gift-ready! 

Instagram: @bibingkamnl 

CanDIshhh Bakes 

Okay, if you must know something about me, it's I love focaccia bread. Looking at the heavenly focaccia masterpieces Didi Tiu Tang made is making me drool. I know Didi from way back when she used to buy OK! magazine and I love everyone who loves Hollywood and royalty! I just didn't realize that Didi's focaccia is fit for celebrity! Choose from Classic Rosemary, Caramelised Onions and Garlic, Rosemary Tomato & Olives - each flavor just P250!  

Facebook: CanDIshhh BAKES

Celine's Kitchen

We can't gather together for Christmas this year but that doesn't mean we can't send our love, and what better way than with freshly cooked food? Celine Fonacier, my block mate from our UP days, is willing to cook a feast for your loved ones. She uses only the best ingredients, sourced from select suppliers, and cooked in a meticulously clean kitchen. Her bestseller is lechon belly roll that is soooo crispy and tasty, her customers can't stop raving about it. A kilogram is onlyP880! Order now!


If you're craving thick, gooey, chunky, monster cookies that will awe even Cookie Monster, then you must grab a box of CHIP cookies! Just look at that cookie my blogger ninang Trixie Esguerra made (P.S. she made me ninang sa kasal niya this year)! My personal favorite is Classic Break - a choco chip cookie that OD'd on dark chocolate chips. Then I neeeeeed White Chick, which is a cookie stuffed with white Belgian chocolates and roasted Macadamians. Trixie has two boxes right now called Everything Box for a sampler of all their flavors and Smash Hit Box for the bestsellers. Order na! 

Facebook: CHIP

Chrissy Bakey

My mommy friend Chrissy Caballero bakes the best carrot cake and scrumptiously moist chocolate cake! You must try them out. And then give them to all your friends and family! Order Hoppity Poppity Carrot Walnut Cake for P650 and the Legendarily Chocolatey Chocolate Cake for P450 now.

Facebook: Chrissy Bakey

Gia's Pizza and Breads

Send a delicious and healthy pizza! Gia's Pizza is the small business of my Assumption Antipolo classmate, Dr. Aizel. Their pizzas are made from sourdough and made with the freshest vegetables. The Pizza alle Verdure is only P325. Not a fan of veggies? There are Italian sausage and chorizo flavors, too. 

Facebook: Gia's Pizza

John Dough

If you love fresh sourdough bread, then you must check out John Dough. Created by my inaanak sa kasal Chef Edward Bugia with Chef Angelo Santos, the bread they bake is 100% whole wheat and healthy and delicious. They offer pan de sal and loaves to batard and focaccia. Try them all! Wrap them while still warm in a beautiful kitchen towel or place in a bread basket for a rustic and cottagecore gift.

Facebook: John Dough

Kesong P's Premium Kesong Puti

Taste this cheese made from the freshest carabao's milk! Made lovingly from a recipe passed down the generations, my former Summit Media colleague Billie Palabyab and her husband Ian Palabyab are so proud of their premium cheese that celebrities love to include in their recipes. Eat it with hot pan de sal, toss in a salad, or melt on top of soup! They have holiday packs now for P350 nd P550. 
Mama Bear's Baked Goodies

Tita Vicky is the mom of my former Summit Media colleague, Haze Romawac. She bakes healthy goodness. Take your pick: chocolate chip cookies, chocolate oatmeal bars, brownies made chunky with either walnuts or choco chips, moist chocolate cake, fruit cake, pan de sal, camote loaf, and more. Click here for the full menu.


Jars of special artisanal jams homemade by Patricia Paredes, a former editor like me! I'm a fan of jams, marmalade, and jellies. I love them on warm toast with golden butter, poured over vanilla ice cream, a dollop on a slice of pie. Yum. Try Nieta's because these are curious flavors of pineapple and sili labuyo. Or calamansi mint and gin. Even onion marmalade. Interested? A 4oz jar is just P190 to P210.  

Instagram: @nieta_ph

The Two Weirdoughs

Why not give a nutty pie this Christmas? It's bursting with holiday flavor so order Why Nut, Walnut? from The Two Weirdoughs. The new baking business by Lally Fider, my friend from my magazine PR days, is not just about pies. They offer chewy cookies and creamy pastillas, too! Order now! 

Unreal Pies 

I love pies. I love pie soooo much! And I am a huge pie snob, too. But take a look at these unreal pies by my Summit Media colleague Jacque de Borja. She makes them herself so it's full of love, goodness, and freshness! She makes only two pies: Blueberry Cornmeal Crumble and Apple Crumble, and they are made from the best ingredients. The blueberry is P1,399 for 9" and the apple is P1,199 for the 9". Place your orders now!

Facebook: Unreal Pies

Friday, December 11, 2020

Taylor Swift just sang about my mother

Taylor Swift just launched her new album, evermore, today. I'm not even done memorizing the lyrics of the songs in folklore, the album she launched just a few months ago. Yes, even though I listen to folklore five times a week! Well, now I need to learn the songs of evermore. And I'm starting with "marjorie" because it's about my Mama.

Well, no, "marjorie" isn't about Mama. It's about Taylor's grandmother, Marjorie Finlay. She was an opera singer who inspired Taylor to have a musical career. But the lyrics, Ms. Finlay's gestures and facial expressions - that's exactly like Mama. It was insane, watching the videos of her. I wish we took videos of Mama, too, so I could show you how elegant, graceful, and beautiful she was. Just like Marjorie.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Make your Christmas spread merry and bright with these The Maya Kitchen-tested recipes

Woah! In about 2 weeks, it's Christmas! This year went by so fast. We're not going to let the disruptions of this year change our Christmas so thanks to Maya Kitchen (which was actually the one who reminded me that it's almost Noche Buena time!!!), I am now planning my holiday menu. Check out these recipes for a Marseille Seafood Soup, an extra special Lechon Belly, and delightful baby bibingkas!

* * * * * * *

PRESS RELEASE - Things may have been so different the past few months, but there’s one thing that won’t change: The Christmas season remains to be the most hopeful time of the year when you gather ‘round the table with your loved ones enjoying a spread of eats and treats that have been made from the heart. 

While the holiday celebrations may be scaled back for everyone’s health and safety, the Christmas celebrations at home can still be merrier and brighter by carefully preparing a delicious menu that the entire family will love. Here are three showstopping recipes from The Maya Kitchen that can make your Christmas spread extra delightful this season.

Marseille Seafood Soup

Marseille Seafood Soup is a light and flavorful French soup that’s versatile enough that can include your family’s preferred seafood—it can be shrimp, squid, or clams, your call! The Maya Kitchen’s take comes out with a cheery ochre color from saffron powder. 


4 pieces tomatoes
3 mugs fish broth
1 mug fish fillet, sliced into chunks
1 mug seafood (you can use shrimps, clams, squid, or whatever you prefer)
1 teaspoon Pernod alcohol (you can use a teacup of diced fennel as a substitute, but unfortunately no local alcohols have the same taste)
1 piece small onion, sliced
1/3 teaspoon saffron powder

1. Choose a combination of your favorite kinds of seafood and fish. Just make sure to remove the bones, skin, and shells.
2. Peel tomatoes. Slice them into four wedges.
3. In a large pot heat your broth and bring to a boil. Set a handful of seafood aside. Add tomatoes, fish chunks, and the rest of your ingredients to your broth.
4. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30minutes without covering your pot to allow your liquid to reduce.
5. After 30minutes, remove from heat, and pour the soup into a blender (you might have to do this a few times depending on the amount of soup). Blend well on full power until the soup is smooth.
6. Pour soup back into the pot through a fine strainer. Use a wooden spoon to help press the soup through the strainer, allowing all the liquid through.
7. Set the fleshy residue that is left in the strainer aside. Add the rest of your seafood into the soup, along with the Pernod, and pepper to taste. Stir and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

To increase the number of servings, simply multiply the measurements of the ingredients by the number of guests.

Lechon Belly with Bacon Saffron Rice Stuffing

As Noche Buena may be a bit pared down this year, ordering a whole lechon seems too much for a single household. Your family can opt to prepare Lechon Belly with Bacon Saffron Rice Stuffing, which combines the juicy tenderness of pork belly and the irresistible crispiness of lechon, plus some earthy and sweet saffron rice stuffing surprise. 

2.5-3 kilos boneless whole pork belly slab
2-3 tablespoons rock salt, enough for rubbing
2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoon freshly pan-roasted black peppercorns, crushed

Rice Stuffing:
¼ cup olive oil
200 grams picnic bacon, cut into small cubes
2 pieces medium-sized onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
5 cups cooked rice (sticky or Japanese rice)
2-3 small sachets saffron powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
annatto oil (heat up ¼ cup annatto seeds in 1/3 cup olive oil)

1. In a large tray, lay flat the pork belly skin side down then prick or cut all the meat portion using the tip of a sharp knife then season or rub the meat on both sides with rock salt, garlic, ground pepper, and freshly pan-roasted crushed whole black peppercorns. 
2. Place and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours without cover. Remove seasoned belly from the refrigerator and sew up both ends of the belly using an over-sized needle with the use of butcher’s twine or any kitchen twine until it looks like a body of a “lechon”. 
3. Place again inside the refrigerator until ready for stuffing. 

To make rice stuffing:
1. Heat oil in a pan and pan-fry bacon until golden brown.
2. Add in onions and garlic and pan and sauté until aromatic.
3. Toss in cooked rice and give a few stirs until the rice is fully covered with the sautéed ingredients.
4. Season with saffron powder, salt, parsley, and zest of lemon.
5. Continue mixing the rice until the lemon is aromatic.
6. Turn off the heat and cool the rice. Set aside for later use.

To assemble:
1. Get the sewn pork belly and stuff with the prepared bacon saffron rice stuffing.
2. Enclose both ends of the stuffed pork belly with foil and cover the entire top of the pork belly with foil. 
3. Arrange in a roasting pan and roast in a preheated oven 350°F/177°C for about an hour then turn up the heat to 375°F/190°C removing the foil on both ends, every 30 minutes’ brush belly with prepared annatto oil. 
4. After an hour turn up the heat again to 400°F/204°C and continue roasting until the skin of the pork belly gives a crackling sound when knocked. 
5. Remove belly lechon from the oven and rest for 10 to 15 minutes before chopping.

Yield: 10-15 servings

Assorted Mini Bibingka

To round out your Christmas feast, why not prepare a medley of Mini Bibingka? This time, do something beyond traditional and get adventurous in the kitchen. Make your bibingka with ube, buko pandan, coffee, or chocolate flavors. You can even take some of your bibingka up a notch by topping it with leche flan for a sweet, creamy finish or slices of salted egg for a savory kick.

4 eggs
1 pack MAYA Original Fluffy n’ Tasty Hotcake Mix 200 grams
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon rice flour
¼ cup fresh milk
¼ cup coconut cream
¼ cup coconut milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
Different flavorings and toppings as desired ube flavoring, buko pandan flavoring, instant coffee powder, leche flan, chocolate ganache, etc.
salted egg, sliced
cheese, sliced or grated
banana leaves for lining of pans (optional)
grated coconut (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F/177⁰C. Line mamon molder or 6-holes 8oz muffin pans with banana leaves. Set aside.
2. In a bowl beat eggs, then add hotcake mix, rice flour, sugar, milk, coconut milk, coconut cream, and melted butter. Mix well. Fold in desired flavors.
3. Fill up to ¾ of the mamon molder or muffin pans with the bibingka mixture. Bake bibingka for 10 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
4. In the middle of baking, around 5 to 6 minutes of baking, gently take the half-baked bibingka and top it up with sliced salted egg and sliced or grated cheese. Then put it back in the oven to completely bake the bibingka.
5. Serve with butter on top and grated coconut on side.

Yield: 8-10 pieces

With a delicious Noche Buena spread and the warm company of your loved ones, a scaled-down Christmas celebration can be as memorable as before—and maybe just a bit more meaningful.

Like and follow The Maya Kitchen on Facebook @MayaKitchen and Instagram @TheMayaKitchen1. Learn great recipes at

*To be featured on Press Release Tuesdays, send it to First photo by septiandy lim on Unsplash. Food photos courtesy of Buensalido PR.