Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Baked Ratatouille

Before I came to UK and Europe I was so busy that I didn't blog about the food that I've been cooking. Though being busy on a lot things didn't hinder me to still cook the dishes I want to concoct. Cooking is one thing I won't get tired doing no matter how busy and tired I am after a whole day of work in the office. So having said that, I want to post the very first dish I baked in my newly acquired oven which was given to me by the owner of my apartment. They decided to buy one for me instead of me buying it because of the fact that I am renting a fully furnished apartment, so I think the owner just did the right gesture.

Inspired by the French cuisine since I visited Paris last October, I finally decided to make Ratatouille for the first time when I came home from my trip. And not to mess with the recipe, I baked it! Going back a few years ago, people became more familiar with the dish when an American animated film made it as a title. The film is about Remy a rat who wants to be a chef and be in the heat of the kitchen. Sounds gross but it appeared a little cute. Then people from around the world were surprised to find out that it's a famous vegetable dish from France. Ratatouille came from the Occitan word "ratatolha" of the Occitan cuisine. While touiller means "to toss food" This dish originated from Provence and Nice and spreading its different version around France and the entire globe.

There are different versions of doing this dish, I adapted the version of Julia Child which insisted the layering style. Ratatouille can be eaten with breads or filling for crepes. A really nice and interesting food for the vegetarian or vegan people. The vegan can eliminate the use of butter to eat this dish. So let me begin sharing this Ratatouille Nicoise & Provencal recipe...



• Aubergine
• Zucchini
• Butternut Squash
• Plump Tomatoes
• Red & Yellow Capsicums
• Thyme/ Marjoram/
• Paprika/ Pepper/ Salt
• Garlic
• Fresh Basil
• Mozzarella Cheese
• Olive Oil
• Butter (of course)


Cut the vegetables according to shape like the aubergine, zucchini and tomatoes. For the Butternut Squash and Capsicum, cut it diagonally. After cutting all your vegetables, prepare a large bowl. Put all the vegetables together then start adding the crushed Garlic, Thyme, Marjoram, Paprika, Pepper, Salt and Olive Oil. Toss them together then prepare an oval or circular ceramic baking tray. Add some butter on the tray then start arranging all the vegetables together in layers as Julia Child did in her cookbooks. Then pour in the remaining sauce it created in the bowl while tossing it. Top it with some butter, grated mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Bake it on 350F from 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the volume of you are cooking.

This is for all the people who are

Vegans &

Bon appétit à tous mes!

big hug,
joanie xxx

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

First of all I would like to wish all you lovely people a happy holiday and may all you and your family have a blessed Christmas. I guess everyone knows that this is the best occasion of the year to do some festive cooking. As for me, every year of my life I try to be the queen of the kitchen in my family Christmas dinner but this year it will be a different one because I won't be home for Christmas. I'll spend it here in Vietnam. Being here in the most important event of the year is quite sad. I hardly feel the spirit of the yuletide season.. so I just decided to go to the beach with my dear friend Doris. For a change, it's my first Christmas to be away from my family and friends but it's also my first time to be on the beach on Christmas day. There's always a first time for everything, I guess.

So having the knowledge that I will not be cooking for Christmas eve, I decided to cook a Christmas lunch last Sunday for my friends here in Saigon before they head back to Manila. I prepared my special Roasted pork which I marinated with beer, mustard, herbs and spices. I place some olives, onions and tomatoes along with the sauce before roasting it in the oven. I just want to say that this is something I am surprised about with the amazing & flavourful result.

Joining the lunch table are my special Chicken Kebabs, Cucumber & Youghurt sauce, Corn & Leeks Fried Rice, Jamie Oliver's Potato Dauphinoise & Ginger Beer plus of course my special dessert Matcha jelly topped with Butterscotch Pudding. This is my little feast before Christmas day. I promise to cook some festive meal as I welcome the new year next week!

Merry KISSMAS Mates!

big hug,
joanie xxx

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Authentic Ilocano Pinakbet

I was born with an Ilocana mother who hails from Northern part of Ilocos called Dingras and that's the reason why it enables me to cook most of the dishes from this region. Although I often hype my flagship claim to be a true blooded Kapangpangan (from Pampanga province) than its feud province Ilocos. The reason behind it is simply because Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines and I am proud that it's where my father come from. Everyone believes that people who hail from that province are mostly natural cooks. I can attest to that because most of my aunts are really good especially my GrandMother from the father side where I learned my basic of cooking skills.

But Ilocano cuisine is something that I also grew up with and my GrandMother from my mother side cooks the perfect Pinakbet! I remember I was only five years old when I first and last came to Dingras. Even though I was a little child during that time I had a vivid memory about the things I saw and experienced. I saw the backyard of my GrandMa filled with all the planted vegetables that are mainly the key ingredients to cook a Pinakbet. I am just happy to do this dish based on what are the available ingredients here in Vietnam.

joanie xxx

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Back from UK & Europe Trip

(Around London during Sandeman Tour)

Hey LOVE! (How English people do it like when Aussies say mate!)

I am back in Saigon and back to blogging at long last. It's been two months that I was away. September was the busiest month of my life-- I struggled and fought so much about my trip so my boss will allow me for an almost month-long vacation to UK and Europe. Pretty much I succeeded in fighting for my ultimate goal to fly by October.

October first came and I departed Ho Chi Minh City and landed at Heathrow International Airport on October 2. Above is the first photo I took from the most expensive city in the world--LONDON! I stayed there for a few days and fulfilled all my fantastic experiences about my Jamie Oliver journey. I had tours in his offices, stock room, studio and private test kitchen. What amazed me the most was the moment I met my one big LOVE... JAMIE, live flesh and blood! More of the detailed story when I finish writing my journey meeting the man and it will be published at his website in the news segment. Thanks to Danny Mc Cubbin his editor for requesting me to narrate my one-of-kind story. Later on I flew to Liverpool for the BEATLES tour where I met Michael Mc Cartney. Then later on I had my special dinner at Jamie's Italian restaurant in Paradise Street, Liverpool. That's pretty much about England for now.

After the Big Ben and Strawberry Fields, I headed to Brussels and enjoyed the Pissing Boy, waffles, beers, fries and chocolates. The next day I also went on a short trip to Bruges with my former colleague and my Belgian friend. Bruges is a UNESCO world heritage that is surrounded by some nice canals that are cleaner than Venice and more quaint. Belgium is quite fast for 3 days or less. But I was I was excited to go to Paris after Belgium. Paris is an expensive city as well as London but I did enjoy it most of the time by eating all the food I love while gazing at the amazing sights the city has to offer. One of them is the location of my hostel in Caulin Court somewhere in Montemarte where the Moulin Rouge can be found. Around that area you can also find the location of Amelie the movie and the magnificent view of the city from La Basilique du Sacre Coeur. The metro was the only thorn in my itinerary at Paris because they had strikes most of the time so I failed to go to Versailles and decided to go to LOUVRE instead. It's all worth it though. Paris is Paris and I love it!

Now I have to be more excited heading to Barcelona! This is my favorite city in the world where we can find the Sagrada Familia church designed by Gaudi. I was lucky to have my BNB just beside this incredible architectural landmark. My city exploration started when I went to an old castle called Castel de Montjuic and then I visited Fundacion Miro the museum where all the paintings of my favorite painter Joan Miro were archived. I also had an outskirt trip to Montserrat where I met an amazing man who happened to be an English-Scottish but born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I spent the whole day with this person in Montserrat 'til we went back to Barcelona for dinner. We also had an amazing conversation at my BNB that night that I would say we never ran out of story despite talking to each other the whole day. Too bad I have to leave early for my Milan flight the next day. We could've spent more time together. But now I can say I have gained an interesting friend in him.

My last leg was Italy and it's quite tiring because I went to bunch of cities namely: Milan, Venice, Pisa, Florence and Rome. They are all old and quaint but has its own beauty and charm for you to distinguish one from the other. Although Rome is different because it's quite big and busy city compared to the rest. But the city that I really liked the most is Florence or Firenze in Italian. I'd probably go back next year for several reasons. I found a good university for me to pursue my culinary dream. Florence is also the most romantic and cinematic city that I have ever been. Everything I saw and experienced there were just like scenes from the movie. I met one amazing Italian whom I will consider the person who touched my life and made me realized the possibilities of life. I learned to let go of the residues of my past which I have been holding on for two years. I am glad those stuffs are no longer in my baggage. What a relief. Only one incident can change the landscape of a person's life. That's one good thing about travelling by yourself, you will learn a lot and see the world in a brand new perspective. I am telling myself now that the world is really huge!

I am having a hard time now choosing from the 5,000++ photos I took, so for now I just chose the first and last photos I took from my trip. It's also very hard to summarize everything that happened to me during the 24 days I was away. I was brave enough to conquer the other side of the planet all by myself. Learning to navigate myself from top to bottom is one big achievement for me. I am so proud and happy about the trip I had and definitely I will be back in Europe and UK soon.

During the trip, my eyes were bloated by the beautiful sceneries by each city but what amazed me more are the people I met along the way which filled my heart with overflowing joy. I can't remember all of them because they are quite a lot and I am thankful because each of them helped me in one way or another. And to those people I remember for sure they touched my life in the most special way. They are amazing people. I think in my post per city I would be able to mention each of them. But the biggest achievement I had during this trip is meeting JAMIE OLIVER! that up to these days I cannot fathom that it really happened. Shall I say mission accomplished? Indeed! Now I have new set of dreams about Jamie and there's no greater joy to replace that moment I met him.

(At Rome Termini going to Fiumicino Airport)

To all my readers I am happy to share this to all of you. And to those who don't like reading my blog and the details I share, you are not obliged to do so. Life is short and lets just embrace the things that we like and happy about.

joanie xxx

Monday, August 30, 2010

Frozen Peach Torte Cake

G'day mates!

It's been a while since I had my last post. There are so many things that happened lately. I owe my blog a lot of postings--my Singapore & Manila trip to be specific. Since I would like to get rid of the Frozen Peach Torte recipe out of the way, I will blog the reason why I made this cake.

I just got back from my Manila trip last week and a lot of changes I have to deal with since I got back. First is my resignation at my old office and it's long overdue. I am now moving to a bigger ad agency, I anticipated the coming of this moment and it gives me a big smile now or perhaps a silly grin? Next will be my upcoming solo painting exhibition very soon. I would definitely post it here first so you guys can see it. Lastly, since I came back here in Saigon I am a bit worried about my Schengen visa whether I will have it or not. I already have my UK visa and once I get the Schengen it signals that my trip to UK-Europe is all set. Today I got the confirmation from the French Consulate here in Ho Chi Minh where I lodged my application 2 weeks ago. I got my visa approved!

The universe is indicating that stars are slowly aligning and I don't know which of the 88 constellations listed in our modern astronomy will form. It may be Cassiopeia of the Northern Sky? Or Big Dipper? Such a serendipity moment if that will happen and now I want to define again that it means fortunate accidents and lucky discoveries. Who knows what life brings? No body knows what lies ahead and we all wish that it would be good and happy.

Veering away from the stars and universe because it has nothing to do with my Peach Torte cake recipe. It was weeks ago when I decided to make a birthday cake, definitely not for my birthday because it's way too late to make one for myself. Although I really wanted to make myself a birthday cake last April with my favorite Matcha Chocolate Crepe Cake but I failed to do so. But August is the best month to make a great cake! I just concocted this one based on my favorite cake Mango Torte. I don't know how it was exactly made but I know some of the key ingredients. I know they have, cream, mangoes, graham crumbs cooked in butter. I replaced the mangoes to peaches and I added cream with vanilla jello pudding. It added a unique taste as compared to the normal Mango Torte. The best thing about the crust of my Peach Torte is the Weet Bix whole grain. This cool breakfast food is 100% made in Australia! What I did was, crushed it into granules and cooked it with butter, sugar and wine. The cake resulted so well especially when it's frozen. The whole thing is too big for me to finish by myself but I did finish it because I don't want some leftovers. I just have to make someone feel very guilty about this cake because he's from the other planet so this cake didn't climb on his list :D

( I really like this healthy brekky food )



• Thinly sliced peaches
• Nestle Cream
• French Whip Cream
• Jello Vanilla Pudding
• Milk/Vanilla syrup
• Cinnamon
• Wheet Bix Whole Grain (crushed)
• Brown Sugar
• Shiraz (red wine)
• Butter (of course)


Heat pan with butter and sugar. Allow sugar and butter to melt then add the Weet Bix granules. Fold it together then add a bit of shiraz. Ready your pyrex glass container and press the the mixture for the crust. Refrigerate it for a while while doing the cream. Mix milk and Jello Vanilla Pudding together until it thickens. Add the Nestle cream and heat them all together in a casserole then add cinnamon and vanilla syrup. Bring out the glass container with the crust the pour the cream mixture on to the crust then arrange the thinly sliced peaches on top. Lastly whip some cream on top and decorate it on your desired area. Then refrigerate it for 4-6 hours. Best served when frozen.

Hope you like this lil labor of love I did :-)

joanie xxx

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Garlic Pesto Sauce

First of all regardless of what's happening in the current world... let me greet first my Mom a...

Happy Birthday!

It's gloomy and raining very often here in Saigon because fall has finally arrived. This is the season where we all need some pillow or human cuddle. Aside from the cuddle it's also nice to eat some good food at your wooden table with your bare foot while watching the raindrops on your windowpane. Even before the rainy season came, I did my own preparation by stocking up some jars or pesto basil and ginger peanut oil. These are my two staples inside my fridge that whenever the lazy weather attacks, I just have my 911 jars that will save either my pasta noodles or my meat.

Rainy season is my favorite season of the year that's why my weekends are just preoccupied by DVD, eating & painting. I have several paintings to finish in time for my exhibition end of August so the weather we are having here in Saigon is just perfect for me to devote my time painting. I just alternate the 3 things during the weekend and I realized that I enjoy being a hermit in my own cave. I just have to make sure that the paintings I am cooking up will be good enough to satisfy my guests. I am pretty much excited with my solo exhibit so I am kinda busy with a lot of extra curricular stuffs lately. But I do enjoy what I am doing in spite of the many things that keep bugging my mind before I sleep. So for now, allow me to share my own version of pesto sauce although I just bought my basil leaves from the supermarket and they seem fine I think. I promised my self to grow my own herbs specifically basil but I still haven't find time doing it. My procrastination on that matter is still on.



• Basil leaves (80% of the leaves)
• Corriander leaves (20% of the leaves)
• Garlic (minced)
• Olive Oil
• Pine Nuts
• Salt & Pepper
• Apple Cider Vinegar
• Yoghurt
• Butter (of course)

NOTE: I did the manual chopping but if you have a food processor you are very welcome to use it :)


Chop the Basil and Corriander leaves and sprinkle with some apple cider vinegar then set aside. Peel the garlic and mince finely. Heat the pan in medium temperature then roast the pine nuts then remove from pan and chop it finely. Use the same pan under medium heat then melt little butter then add the minced garlic and pine nuts. Add some olive oil then put the Corriander and Basil leaves and stir it then add a little yoghurt. Continue mixing then add some more olive oil if necessary. Have a dash of salt and pepper to taste.

Serve it with either pasta or meat dishes...

joanie xxx

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Matcha Jelly with Chocolate Worm Pudding

Just got back from my Singapore trip catching up with good friends. I just remember that I haven't posted this exhilarating dessert recipe I did couple of weeks ago. I just concocted this based on the emotional truth that I was analyzing recently. I love analogies so this is the food that I think would best embody about my thoughts below:

"Bitter endings.
Sweet beginnings..."

There are a lot of things that is definite about life and one thing I am sure a lot of people have already experienced-- is getting hurt. They say you should experience defeat first so when you experience victory it is really triumphant. And same with the saying that we have to experience pains before the pleasures. It's also good to climb a mountain to get on the top than just riding a helicopter and go there. In short we should know first the bad side of the coin before looking at the good side so we can appreciate life better.

One thing that I am grateful for about my life is having experienced getting hurt tremendously and was able to bounce back in grand fashion. Fate has been good to me and it has shown me the bad side of the coin before lingering to the good side. Sometimes I often look back at my defeats, pains and how I climb my own mountain--it makes me smile and tell myself there's no sweeter beginning without experiencing a bitter ending.

One has to put period on the bitterness life has given you. You may call it misfortune or bad luck or whatever you call it but by closing a chapter and ending a cycle marks the beginning of one's joyful life. It took a while for me to feel this way but I can smile now and feel light and tell myself for the nth times that I am really ready for the world. It gave me a lot of signs already to finally have my own sweet beginning...

"It's about time, as everyone says!"



• Matcha Powder
• Caramel Pudding Cream
• Plain Gelatin
• Milk / Sugar
• Vanilla Syrup
• Lime or Lemon
• Chocolate Chips
• Butter (of course)


Dilute matcha powder on a hot water then add milk, gelatin powder, sugar, lime and vanilla syrup. Stir constantly until smooth. Place it on a ramekin or small plain glass. Let it cool. Prepare the pan and heat it with medium temperature. Melt butter along with the chocolate chips then add milk and Caramel pudding cream. Let everything melt and stir until it thickens. When the matcha jelly is hard and ready you can put the chocolate mixture. Chill and serve cold.

Hope you like this... Have a good week mates! :D

joanie xxx

Monday, June 21, 2010

Squid & Octopus Barbies!

I woke up late on a Sunday morning and that was probably around 11 am. Still had my fresh & vivid memory about the draw game between Australia and Ghana. It was nice catching it live in a pub called Tavern near my apartment with my good Aussie friend Mr. Ashley. Two bottles of beer nice conversation and the mathematical hope for the Socceroos to still make it in the finals. Though last night the Kiwi had a draw game against the Italians that made me lose my hope for the Aussies to at least make it in the finals. It seems I am going to cheer for Rory Fallon instead of Tim Cahill :-(

Around 12 noon I just realized it was Father's Day so I gave a heads up to my neighbor friends in Sky Garden. Oji and Eka came to my house with fresh Dory Fish, Mini Tilapia, Pork Chops & Octopus. I brought out my chicken, squid, veggies and griller then we were instantly ready for a Sunday Lunch Barbecues! I began marinading the meat at around 1pm then made some sauces and salad. The 2 liter COKE brought by Ivy was really the icing on the cake!

We began to savor the barbies that were really to die for because it's soft and tender for the pork and chook. Then the squids were not chewy or rubbery at all. That's the good thing about it, you can bite them easily. What a wonderful lunch that made us all bloated and said nothing but burp! burp! burp! LOL! After a while I brought out the Peach Cake Pudding that has been in my fridge for a week. Not bad, still good because it was frozen since then.

We finished all the eating around 4pm. I told them it's time for an English Tea! So I brought out the Harrods Kiwi and Strawberry fruit Tea for everyone to taste. We are all calmed and relaxed after the tea then we decided to watch a dvd that lasted 'til 630 pm and we ended around 7pm. Then shortly after I ran to the salon and got some pedicure. My feet were happy again then headed back home and ate my Bacon and Cheese with Pandesal while watching the Kiwi fight against the Italians.



• Squid & Octopus
• Lemon
• Salt & Pepper
• Cumin / Paprika
• Curry Powder / Turmeric
• Butter (of course)

This is very simple marination for an ideal Sunday barbecues! Just ready your fresh octopus and squid then squeeze in some lemon. Rub it with salt and pepper then add cumin, paprika, curry powder and turmeric. Ready your griller and put some flame then brush it with butter. Place in your meat on top of the griller and grill one side for like 6 minutes. Flip the other side and grill it for 4 minutes then it's done. Mine, I served it with my ever favorite capsicum fried rice!

Happy Father's Day Mates! :D

joanie xxx

Friday, June 18, 2010

Daddy in Ho Chi Minh City!

Town Hall of Ho Chi Minh City along Nguyen Hue & Le Than Ton

Tuscan Style office inside the Zoo at Nuyen Bien Kiem

Lake and Bench at the Zoo at Nguyen Bien Kiem

Female Statues at The Saigon Opera House

Chinese Temple at the Zoo in Nguyen Bien Kiem

Paintings at Paragon Mall

Nice Shop at Paragon Mall

Acoustic Night at YEN Cafe in District 3

Newly opened Yogen Fruz branch in Phu My Hung

The Famous Fanny Ice Cream in Thon That Tiep

Adidas World Cup Mascot at Parkson's Mall

Notre Dame de Saigon along Le Duan and Nguyen Du

Last March 8 Dad arrived in Ho Chi Minh for one and half months of vacation and obligation at the same time. I was scheduled for my surgery last March 17, so he was the one who was by my side during the operation and my 4 days and 4 nights stay in the hospital. He was with me also during my recuperating period. So when I was feeling okay, I tried to tour Dad to some of the city's hot spots and restos. Most of the time we were together or we were with my good friends here in Saigon. There are almost a thousand pictures Dad brought home after his vacation. Hope he did enjoy his trip to the quaint city of motorbike.

Father's day is almost here, and I guess almost everyone around the globe will celebrate this wonderful occasion. I recently watched the movie "Everybody's Fine" it's the type of movie that will pinch your heart. Seeing Robert De Niro growing old and being away from his kids is something that really happens in real life. And we must admit that we give lesser time to our parents because we are busy with our daily routines. The movie also captured the reality that sometimes kids cover the ugly truth from their parents most specially the imperfections of life. Most of us do not want to disappoint our parents so we keep things from them.

The last scene and dialogue of Robert De Niro in the movie caught my attention. He said something like this: "Your children may not grow the way you want them to be, but what's always important is...everybody's fine." Then the movie ended that one of his daughters is a lesbian and a single mother at the same time, then another daughter is separated but now with a new partner, then a son that claims to be a musical conductor but just a drummer and lastly the son who died as a drug addict and a painter. Life isn't perfect and it will never be. As long as everybody's fine...yeah life goes on and we should find happiness on what we have and deal with it.

See you on Sunday for my Father's day FOOD blog :D

joanie xxx

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

AUS vs GER Higlight: Tim Cahill's Red card

Socceroos cheer leaders in unison :D

Germany's flaming hot supporters!

The Australian Socceroos
Left to right: 19-Michael Garcia (MF) 1-Mark Schwarzer (GK) 3- Craig Moore (DF) 13-Vince Grella (MF) 11-Scott Chipperfield (DF) 7-Brett Emerton (MF) 4-Tim Cahill (MF) 2-Lucas Neill (DF - Captain) 16-Carl Valeri (MF) 5-Jason Culina (MF) 8-Luke Wilkshire (DF)

Polish-German striker Miroslav Klose

The yellow & red card for Tim Cahill

Italian referee Roberto Rossetti

Cahill was suspended for the game against Ghana

Disapponted fans of the socceroos after the humiliating 4-0 in favor of the Germans!

World Cup: Germany VS Australia 3-0

Last January 20 I was very excited to join my friends for the FIFA trophy tour here in Vietnam. I couldn't believe that it was six months already since then. Cut to the present time, yesterday night I was wide awake 'til 1:30 in the morning to watch the World Cup which is my most anticipated game between Australia and Germany.

Although everyone knows that Australia is the underdog and Germany is the domineering team, I didn't lose hope. Who knows... a miracle might happen. Australia's wonder boy, Tim Cahill might repeat his magical goals during the finals against Japan. I was ready to watch the game but prior to that I was chatting to my friend who's in Germany with her German football player boyfriend and he predicted a 3-0 game. They we're saying thumbs down to Australia and I was saying BOOH Germany!

So the game started. Slow moving at the start until Germany started to maneuver the game by acquiring their first goal scored by Podolski. Staying calm and I was telling my self, that's fine there's more time left. Then Klose, Muller & Cacau, succeeded the goals. I saw the intensity or the quick foot moves of the Germans. The Roos were left behind and having a hard time catching up. Their ball possessions were lesser and I felt the frustration of Lucas Neill during the ball game. Then the fall of the Australians for me was when Tim Cahill got the Red Card when the score was 2-0. I think that was it. Then the game finished at 4-0. The Hitler's country won!

Some says that some of the ROOS are old, nah. It's not about that. Maybe the composure of the Australians is not that solid yet. Still a long road for them to be really good in football. Game was kinda disappointing because I was hoping for at least a draw game in the beginning. But when I saw how they struggled, I just wish that they would have a score at least. But anyway it's still worth it to still see my team playing for FIFA.

The whole globe is raving for the world cup except for Philippines. But that fact didn't stop me to pursue my enthusiasm watching football and cheering for my team, which is the Australian Socceroos!

Let's wave the Australian flag again against Ghana & Serbia!

joanie xxx

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kidney Beans Kon Karne (KKK)

It's a good rainy afternoon here in Saigon. After months of tremendous heat, we are already getting some drizzles of liquid on the coal streets of Ho Chi Minh City. The rain signifies the end of summer and marks the beginning of the month of June. Rainy season is coming our way and it's the weather of the year that I like the most. As I glance on a window pane while the drops of rain drip, I feel the warm comfort of the delightful season that I always look forward.

June is also the bridal month and the month of Philippine independence. Just wanted to share to you guys this recipe that I rarely cook. This is a liberating dish that will defeat all the Chili Con Karne you've ever known. It can be served with Nachos or with Crackers. It's also best to match it with pasta or rice then you can bake it to have a perfect dish!

Crackers with Cucumber, Cream Cheese & topped with Cherry Tomatoes. One thing I learned from my mentor Julie Lingan is to how to prepare this bite size pica-pica!



• Australian ground beef
• Red and Green Capsicums
• Diced Tomatoes
• Tomato Sauce
• Kidney Beans
• Garlic and Onions
• Paprika / Cayenne Pepper
• Cumin / Lemon Grass Powder
• Salt & Pepper
• Olive Oil
• Butter (of course)


Heat casserole in medium temperature. Add butter and mix it with olive oil. Add garlic and onion then saute 'til golden brown. Add the ground beef and allow it to cook then add next the capsicums and tomatoes. Add all the condiments and mix it together until the spices infused in the beef, tomatoes & capsicums. Add the tomato sauce and simmer it for 8-12 minutes. Add some more Olive oil if you want extra brilliance on your dish. Simmer it again for 5 minutes until it cooks. Then serve it with Nachos, Crackers or Bread. Another serving suggestion is to put it in pasta or rice then top it with mozzarella cheese and bake it.

Sounds delish isn't it? Go try it yourself and enjoy :D

joanie xxx

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Jamie Oliver

James Trevor Oliver. Born 3 years ahead of me on May 27. Today another birthday greeting to the man I call genius and with a golden heart. His enormous passion for food and to help other people with the food they eat are the things that I will always admire about Jamie. I am more than just a fan of him, I am someone who looks up to him in a different way. I support him not just because he was known as this cute guy from famous TV shows in Great Britain. I admire him more than the skin he wears, but the inner being in him. I am here on the other side of the planet just watching his life and how he lives it. From his school dinners, ministry of food to the food revolution campaign, I triumphantly rejoice in every victory he makes.

Aside from his talent and passion for cooking, he is also blessed with three lovely daughters and now his wife Jools is on her way to their fourth child. I am wishing him today on his birthday that he will finally have a little Jamie in few months time. Hopefully. There's so much about Jamie that I really like, like being the drummer to his band called Scarlet Division. That is really something. More than cooking, he can also give us his head-banging drum talent. My everyday life is totally inspired by him. A simple smile when I see him on TV, when I browse his website and when I get news from him really makes my day complete. The best thing that happened to me this year was when he gave me a personal message on my twitter and followed me at the same time. He acknowledged me as his number one fan in the Philippines. He just told me in his message that he read my blog and also told me also to keep it up the good work! He just inspires me everyday that I should never give up my dreams and believe that one day everything will turn into reality--and that includes meeting him in person :-)

Let me just share this simple dessert recipe I prepared for my Idol. This was inspired by his recipe on how to make Strawberry Jam. Instead I made apple jam that was simmered with Shiraz and matched with French Vanilla Ice Cream.



• Apples (cut into cubes)
• Shiraz Red Wine
• Brown Sugar
• Vanilla
• Cinnamon
• French Vanilla Ice Cream
• Water
• Butter (of course)


Heat pan with butter, then add the sugar. Allow it to caramelized then add the Shiraz. Once it dissolves, add vanilla, cinnamon and water. Next thing to do is to add the diced apples. Cover pan. Allow it to boil and let the apples simmer until it softens. When the apples are soft for sure the liquid will thicken. When everything is ok, ready a small plate put some scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream then plate it with this very nice apple shiraz jam recipe. For me, I had my cube French Vanilla Ice Cream given to me by my Russian friend Mischuin Zolot.

Jamie, enjoy this one head-banging birthday dessert for you!!!

Happy BIRTHDAY Jamie :-)

joanie xxx

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Salmon Omelette-Crepe-Pizza

Good evening England, France & Italy!

It's raining a bit here in Saigon and I realized that I've been living in this chaotic city of motorbike for a year now. Tonight I did again my recent favorite concoction. It was surprisingly a lip-smacking dish. The common reaction I get when I have this dish tasted among good friends-- they said that the taste is confusing but in a good way. Indescribable taste that you cannot identify so you just keeps slicing a piece of it from time to time. Actually that's the intention. Capturing three of my favorite comfort foods in one dish. Obviously I like English Omelette, French Crepe & Italian Pizza--- so that's the reason why this dish was born. The Mozzarella cheese and toppings of either Salmon or Bacon will surely makes this dish more gorgeous! And don't forget to put in some Tabasco's on top.



• Salmon (thinly sliced)
• Eggs
• Milk & Flour
• Mozarella Cheese
• Basil / Marjoram
• Salt & Pepper
• Tabascos
• Butter (of course)


Beat eggs in a big bowl then slowly add the milk and a little of flour. Beat them all together then add salt. Heat your teflon pan in medium temperature then melt butter. Add the beaten mixture of egg/milk/flour. Turn the pan in low heat. Let it cook for 3 minutes then top it with Salmon. Next, add Basil/Marjoram/Pepper then sprinkle it with Mozzorella cheese. Cover the pan and allow it cook for 5-8 minutes under low heat. When the cheese melted, turn the heat in high temperature and remove the cover. Allow the flame heats for 30 seconds then it's ready. Slice it like a pizza then add some tabascos!

Hope you enjoy this confused dish of mine :)

joanie xxx

Monday, May 17, 2010

Life's about Herbs & Spices

Good Monday Morning Mates!

Just woke up with a lovely morning and ate a nice bread and cheese for breakfast. If I would playback yesterday morning when I woke up, there were butterflies in my stomach. Today it's like smelling the breeze of daises and tulips. Life is sometimes boring--I have to say that. But surprisingly I can attest that some days are better than others. And that was my Sunday afternoon. Better than the days I had in months.

So I could probably say that life is bringing its flavors again since yesterday. It was very mild and subtle the past few months. Now I can see the taste coming out. To bring this figurative emotion to literal translation, I moved to my kitchen and checked out my cupboard and see what I got in there. I have different herbs and spices to play around for my quick photoshoot at my veranda.

Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Ground Black Pepper, Peppercorn, Cumin, Turmeric, Curry Powder, Tandoori Powder, Saffron, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Marjoram, Thyme & Basil --- They spiced up my everyday dishes in one way or another. I still have to get more of my herbs and spices like star anise, sage, cardamon, dill, fennel, nutmeg, oregano, tarragon, wasabi and some more that I might forget to mention.

Life is sometimes half full, half empty. Sometimes it's drought & empty but most of the time it's full & overflowing. Some famous proverbs say that in times of emptiness and you are in a deep well, you just have to climb up and tell yourself this too shall pass. On the other hand I read a famous poem from a children's book author Shel Silverstein-- it says, that someone has been to the land of happy and he said that life there is a bore. True. We can't just live a happy and perfect life. Sometimes the beauty of life is seeing the flaws and experiencing difficulties. Life offers a 360 degrees view. Don't just take one angle. Rotate and explore.

Live life from mild to spicy!

joanie xxx

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Joanie!

Hello April 30!!!

It's another birthday. The year that was--came so quickly that it already wiped the twelve months that I once looked forward. I noticed when an individual grows older, maturity really comes with their age. For me, it just came at this point of my life that I stopped looking forward on having a birthday party, a birthday surprise, birthday presents and birthday greetings. I just suddenly felt that if people will remember me I’d be happy. If they don't then it will be ok. That simply means no more expectations this time. I just want something plain and ordinary.

This may sound contradicting of wanting something ordinary but I wouldn't let go of the fact that I want a birthday cake no matter what happens. And I started that promise to myself two years ago. And I'm glad that I am having my birthday cake in 3 consecutive years. Blowing it with eyes closed year after year still excites me! Always wishing that all my wishes will come true one day...

Since I don't expect anything for my birthday, I just slacked and waited for that day to come. Surprisingly I got the chance to pull my leg and went out of town to Nha Trang. It's a 12-hour bus ride from the busy city of Saigon. I celebrated it with good friends and they can't help but give me surprises, which include the birthday cake. I didn't really expect anything but a lot of things during my birthday surprised me---like tried parasailing for the first time; it surprised me to see myself up in the air. I was very stiff and tensed. I was really scared before it went on air. But as I was sailing up in the sky, I was flabbergasted with the fantastic view above the ground. It was a different feeling to see things in a different perspective and a courageous way to conquer my fear. End reward---I was able to fulfill my dream.

I remember last year I came up with bags of good wishes before I headed Saigon. Some did come true. Some are still work in progress. And now, additional dreams are coming my way. I just can't stop setting goals and visions for myself. It always include the things that I am passionate about--My cooking and art. What I have and will always be proud of is a a marriage of two talents. I always keep my fidelity on these two things that I will be forever grateful that my creator has bestowed upon me.

My life in Saigon is a maze-like journey. Few more days I will be approaching my first year anniversary here. How time flies, I really have to say that. And that's another story for me to tell because Saigon is my life now. Up to when it would be? I don't know yet. For now I am just happy to cuddle and embrace him in my life 'til the day that we are still meant for each other.

Oh my Birthday. A really happy one. I was amazed to all the people who greeted me on Facebook. They are a lot for me to thank here. I wasn't expecting anything but just a good birthday but three surprises made me at least happy on my birthday. First, my friends who were my company during Nha Trang trip that made my birthday really fun and exciting. Second, my Aussie friend whom I thought will not remember my birthday but called me and surprisingly he was the only person who called me that day. I could've spent my birthday with him if I was not in Nha Trang. That call compensated everything he owed me. Lastly, to my best friend who greeted and sent me a video he did with a soundtrack "Summer Song" by Chad & Jeremy. That made tears fall over and over again in my eyes. I can't thank him enough for being the person who helped and inspired me to become the woman I am today.

Life is nothing but a journey. I will continue to travel and I will see you again next year to narrate another birthday blog :-)

joanie xxx

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Good Morning Vietnam!

G'day everyone! It's been a month since I had my surgery and it's a beautiful Saturday morning or should I say almost afternoon? I am alright now and back to my normal self. I did it sooner than I thought I would. So the pay-off, I am greeting everyone a Good Morning Vietnam!

Few more days and I will celebrate my birthday and my one year anniversary here in Vietnam. I think it's my first time to say good morning Vietnam since I came here last year. Never too late to say it again and again starting today. One more day and I am set to go back to work. Does that mean stress is coming or fun and excitement will begin again? The answer, I still have to ponder on eventually. Things randomly happened very fast and I didn't notice that one month has passed by. My operation was a success. I had to undergo a surgery where in they have to remove a cyst somewhere outside my uterus and ovaries. Luckily it's just dangling outside so my gadgets inside my tummy are perfectly fine and complete. It's not what others think of, that I lost everything. The doctor said I am ready to conceive in four months because everything is fine now. Sooner or later I have to quest for that boyfriend and make him my husband so that the conceiving idea will get materialized. My big laugh out loud now.

To wrap this post I'd like to thank few people who really did remember me and made me feel better during my recuperating period after the surgery. I'd like to thank Xie Hao for bringing that lovely cake during the days when I can't hardly walk. Mr. Mischu Zolot for visiting and bringing some grapes and pear that made me cook a special dessert out of those fruits. And I was overwhelmed and happy to receive the yummiest French Vanilla Ice Cream in Saigon that again Mischu brought me. Anneleen Berlingen visited me also at home and in the hospital and gave me this bell gift. She's very concerned on how I will call my Dad from my room to the other room because I can't walk and scream after the surgery. My officemates from Brand Maker who visited me in the hospital and brought me fruits and juices. My Sky Garden Friends namely Quinn Donato, Oliver Salazar, Yeng Reyes, Obee Ham, Ivy Sorreda & Vianca are the people who visited me also and very helpful and constantly accompanied me and Dad in all our dinner out and adventures. Thanks to them Dad gained new friends! And to Ampy Rio, Oji Valencia and Kate Bayona thanks also for the visit. To my boxing trainer Alvaro LealdelaTorre and to my Aussie mates Mr. Ashley Groom and Adrian Ammendola for remembering me as well. But most of all I have to thank my Dad for taking care of me all the time during his stay here. I owe him a lot ...

Thanks Saigon peeps, I am back on track :-)

joanie xxx