March 28, 2007
March 26, 2007
Iya's Jumbo Pastillas (P250/box)
March 22, 2007
But hang on a minute, this isn't a post about yogurt. This is about one of my favorite things to eat it with - fruit preserves. The strawberry jam I made recently was perfect for this! Another type of jam that I love having with yogurt is guava. Until I make my own guava jam (a personal goal of mine), I am very happy with this one using the "authentic old spanish recipe of Dona Maria Luz from Hacienda Conchita". It is so good I've gone through about 3 jars already this year I think.
But wait, what is this? There's a new kid on the block and she's competing for mr. yogurt's attention, you say? She calls herself Jalea de Manga. Hmmm, pretty fancy name there for mango jam. But does she bring it?
Ohhhh she brought it, alright! She's beautiful, golden like the sunset, and sweet. But don't be fooled by her mild sweetness, she packs a mighty fruity punch! She's not bogged down by too much sugar and is free of preservatives just like Ms. Guava Jelly over there. She's luscious and voluptuous whereas guava jelly is smooth and alluring. Pretty stiff competition don't you think?
Guava Jelly (P190) and Jalea de Manga (P215) are available by order.
Just call 842-1374/75
Pick up at 132 Bunga St. Ayala Alabang
March 19, 2007
Claude and his wife, Mary Anne, were the most gracious of hosts. They regaled us with stories about the house and how it took almost 10 years to build, slowly but with loving care. As we listened, we milled around a round table replete with butong pakwan (dried watermelon seeds) and boiled peanuts. Just off the dining are was a little bar that had a seemingly endless supply of buko (coconut) juice, iced tea, beer, water, and soft drinks with a bartender helping to scoop up the ice and do the pouring. The table was beautifully set, and here we were ushered to by Mary Anne before they brought out the appetizers.
Top row: paella, kapampangan sushi, pako salad
Bottom row: paradiso, jars of fermented vinegars, the quail
This was the delectable menu: (thanks, wysgal!)
Kapampangan Sushi - taba ng talangka maki with kamias, piniriting hito at balaw-balaw (fried catfish with fermented rice and shrimp), pindang damulag (carabeef meat)
Ensaladaang Pako (fiddlehead fern salad, with slivers of tomato and onion doused with vinaigrette dressing)
Inasal na Pugo (grilled quail with shoestring sweet potatoes and carrots)
Paella Laman Dagat (Spanish paella with seafood)
Paradiso - haleyang ube, makapuno at kamote sa krema ng gatas kalabaw (purple yam, sweet coconut and yellow yam in sweetened carabao's milk)
Nothing like a slow afternoon on a full tummy
After lunch, we strolled around the house marvelling at all the pieces that he salvaged and collected all these years. Many of Claude's feria (fair) pieces were scattered around the house, lending a fun and festive feel to the place. He welcomed us upstairs and into his living room and office where we got to see where his genius is put into canvass and paper. We were surrounded by interesting pieces of furniture designed by Claude such as the rocking daybed inspired by a tennis racket (see pic above). We walked on floors made from wood from bowling lanes and amidst whimsical floor lamps and one-off chairs. This was like his own private gallery of sorts.
The artist in his office, and his other work stations
Snapshots of Bale Dutung
Before we finally headed out at almost 5:00, Claude autographed copies of his book and brought out his bottled specialties such as his XO (for extra-ordinary) sauce, pesto, taba ng talangka (crab fat sauce) and balaw-balaw (fermented rice). (As an aside: we were also in the company of another cookbook author, Catherine Jones, who cowrote the books Eating for Lower Cholesterol and Eating for Pregnancy) .
Because we couldn't make ourselves eat any more that afternoon, we decided to skip the other restaurants such as Zapatas, VFW, Cottage Kitchen , C, etc. for another time, and opted instead to buy some pasalubongs (gifts to take home). So we stopped at Susie's, home of the best tibok-tibok - a delicious and creamy white pudding made with carabao's milk and Rosing's for some yema and pastillas de leche (milk candies).
What we couldn't resist though was a quick stop at Margarita Station , fondly called "the ville" by the locals for some margaritas before heading home. The place was huge, and the Friday night crowd was pouring in. I had a jumbo glass of strawberry margarita which I shared with Joey. That hit the spot. Tired but happy, we toasted to yet another successful food trip, and I could almost hear the wheels in our minds whirring as we planned the next. I can't wait! :)
Tibok-tibok from Susie's
Nightcap at Margarita Station
Call Bale Dutung for reservations:
+63917 5355163 or (6345) 8885163
March 16, 2007
In Good Taste, which was launched Sept. of last year, is so packed with recipes and tips that it reads like a cookbook. This is what makes it unique and deserving of it's claim as the "premiere cookbook magazine". The layout is simple and clean with impressive styling. I was surprised to find out they actually eat the food they shoot. No chemical sprays or fake ingredients for props. They want to make the photos "look as close to the real thing" as possible.
Aside from recipes, there are also the requisite informative articles on this ingredient or that, how to's, kitchen finds, entertaining ideas etc. If you're looking to get your own copy at the magazine stands, it would help to know that you're looking for something that is smaller than your standard issue food mag.
Here's a peak at the table of contents for this 3rd issue:
* Reading tea leaves - delve into the world of tea and learn more than just the mystical nature of scrolling tea leaves with this pot full of tea lore
* Truly pinoy kendi - wax nostalgic about familiar old-time favorite sweets from pulburon, yema and pastillas, bukayo, and masapan de pili
* Hold the sugar - figure out how to add some sweetness to your dishes without piling on the sugar
* Have a dessert party - plan your own theme party revolving around your favorite desserts and drinks.
Randomly selected recipes:
- fried rice patties with chicken terriyaki
- Adobo pita pizza ( I am so trying this!)
- stuffed pork tenderloin with cheese sauce
- chap chae
- dulce de leche sundae
- mango and ricotta wontons
- mocha blondies
- coffee caramel
March 13, 2007
I suppose it follows that if you're a freak for cheese, you're a freak for a good cheesecake. This is definitely true for me. I adore them both.
I think I must have tried almost a dozen different cheesecake recipes in my lifetime searching for the one. Not too long ago I followed a cheesecake recipe from the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Classic Recipes book, thinking this would yield the quintessential homemade cheesecake I was searching for. It was good but not great. The lack of greatness may have been due to my own shortcomings but I'm pretty confident I followed it to the tee. I'm far from being a professional or even seasoned baker though, so don't take my word for it. :)
Those jiggly gelatinous cheesecakes just don't do it for me. And while I prefer my cheesecake plain, you won't find me turning down the occasional fruit-topped one or any of those gourmet flavored cheesecakes either. I'm pretty easy to please as long as it's creamy. Oh and the crust must be good! I'm partial to graham cracker crusts, but am also eager to experiment using the wide variety of options out there like gingersnap cookie crusts- yum!
When I'm craving and too lazy to make my own, I turn to the old reliable cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. You can pick up a pick up a frozen box at S & R (it's about P1,200 if I'm not mistaken) or buy them by the slice from The Old Spaghetti House. Recently I had the craving, but couldn't sleep so I consulted my new best bud Dorie then ordered 4 boxes of Philadelphia cream cheese from our neighborhood store - they deliver anything from candy bars to blank cds to ice to... you name it (yes, we are spoiled like that☺). I knew this was serious business, using 4 boxes like that. And it was. I practically had to lift the cake out of the oven with a crane! It was super heavy and very dense. Nope, nothing light and fluffy about this baby. The top took on a golden brown sheen, the crust had a nice crunch to it and the sides were bursting with cheesy creaminess ( I didn't bother smoothing them out, I like how that makes it look 'rustic'). It was in my opinion perfect in every way. It was creamy, it was velvety, it was rich, it was luxurious. This, this right here my friends is the stuff dreams are made of! Tall and creamy basic cheesecake:
recipe from : Baking, from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan
for the crust:
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsps. sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
for the cheesecake:
2 lbs (four 8 oz. boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream (you can also use heavy cream or a combination of the two)
To make the crust:
Butter a 9-inch springform pan (with sides at least 2 inches high), and wrap the bottom of the pain in a double layer of aluminium foil.
Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. Transfer into the springform pan & use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 350° F.
Center a rack in the oven and place the springform pan on a baking sheet then bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
To make the cheesecake:
Boil some water.
Beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla.
Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition, you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream.
Put the springform pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.
Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape all of it into the springform pan. The batter may reach the rim of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into it to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour & 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven and crack the oven door open a little, if needed you can prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
After 1 hour, carefully remove the roasting pan out of the oven, then transfer the springform pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to come to room temperature. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate overnight.
At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake on a serving platter.
* * *
Variety is the spice of life, so they say. And as much as I adore this basic recipe, I'd like to play around with some variations such as adding lemon for a lemon cheesecake, slipping a layer of berries in the middle - blueberry most likely, and using a gingersnap crust.
In her book, Dorie offers us some very helpful tips on making great cheesecake:
Prebake the crust: the 10-minute baking is what gives the curst it's nice crunch. For best results, slide the pan with the crust into the freezer first while you preheat the oven.
Mix like mad: for that flawlessly smooth texture that is the hallmark of a great cheesecake. Make sure to blend the batter until it is satiny, any lumps in the batter will not disappear during baking.
Cool the cake: cooling and then chilling the cake is as important a step in its preparation as baking.
Unmold it with care: run a blunt knife around the cake and then warm the sides of the pan with a hairdryer.
March 11, 2007
During past summers in Dumaguete, specifically during Easter, my cousins and I would often rent a balsa (bamboo raft) and let it float away from shore, where the water is cooler and deep enough to dive into. On other days we would take it a step further, rent a banca (outrigger) and head over to Sumilon island and dock at the sandbar there for the day. Food and drink were always overflowing. We brought coolers filled with beer and soda, and tupperwares that contained all sorts of pulutan (finger food or bar chow). So we would laze around on the white powdery beach, or bob along on inner tubes with a drink in our hands or by our side, and food everywhere. On those hot summer nights, we did pretty much the same thing except on land. We hung out, we ate, we drank, we had a great time.
A favorite pulutan then and now is kinilaw (or kilawin). It is light, refreshing and probably the healthiest pulutan you'll find in these shores. For the benefit of those who have not heard of kinilaw, it is basically fish steeped in vinegar in which it naturally "cooks". Similar to ceviche, kinilaw's South American cousin that I first learned about from my Peruvian best friend. Many different types of fish can be used for this such as tuna or tanigue and in this case, bangus (milk fish). What is important is the to clean the fish thoroughly and to eliminate all bones. In the Philippines, it is a staple in many restaurants and bars in the metropolis, though probably best loved by Filipinos eaten by the sea and washed down with a bottle of San Miguel Beer.
3 kgs fresh bangus (milk fish)
3 tomatoes, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced into strips
2 thumbs of ginger, sliced
Milk from a fresh coconut
Sili (chilis) – 2 red, 3 green, finely chopped
white vinegar (nipa sap vinegar)
calamansi (about 12)
1. Scrape scales and remove innards of fish.
2. Wash inside and outside of fish
3. Starting at the back of fish, cut and remove center bone, head, tail and fat in stomach and skin.
4. Cut and separate stomach and meat.
5. Put the fish in a large bowl with ice and cold water while cleaning the rest of it.
6. Cut the flesh into ¼ inch strips discarding ends. Return to bowl with ice and cold water, and about 3 tbsp. rock salt.
7. Wash stomach fillets thoroughly and scrape out fat and bloody parts. Cut into ¼ inch strips discarding ends and fins and combine with the rest.
8. Mix well, discard water and gently squeeze out excess water.
9. Transfer to bowl with ice, cold water and about 2 tbsp rock salt. Toss it around then discard water and gently squeeze out excess water. Repeat 3 times or until water is clear.
10. On last washing squeeze excess water out and transfer to a new bowl.
11. Pour the vinegar over the fish, just enough to completely soak everything. Let fish cook in vinegar (wait till it whitens completely, about 10 minutes or so).
12. When fish is cooked, squeeze out vinegar, rinse the fish then squeeze out excess water.
13. Add ginger, rock salt, onions, tomatoes, calamansi juice and sili then toss around. Taste to see if it needs more salt.
14. Add coconut milk. Refrigerate.
March 9, 2007
My first encounter with tabbouleh was at my aunt's cabin in Tagaytay many moons ago. It was Christmas night and as is tradition, we celebrated both the holidays and my aunt's birthday there with the rest of my mom's side of the family. It is a reunion of sorts because many of our relatives from Spain and the US are home this time of year.
I always looked forward to these gatherings, when I get to hang out with my cousins at this beautiful house on the ridge with the sprawling garden and viewing deck overlooking one of the more beautiful vistas in our country, Taal lake and volcano. Scenery so beautiful, Patricia Schultz deemed it worthy of a spot in her book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.
The party was always held in the garden so prettily decorated with Christmas lights. Being up there on those cool December nights meant resurrecting those rarely-used sweaters and coats from the back of our closets. I loved it. Us city-folk don't get to cozy up like that very often.
Dinner was always catered with not a few additional homemade dishes thrown in for good measure. Since my aunt's husband is of Lebanese descent, there was always a big bowl of tabbouleh on the buffet table. I remember being excited to try it that first time because it was 'exotic' to me then. But at the same time I was anxious. I mean, this is made with garnish! Is it really edible? I couldn't wait to find out.
I greedily filled half my plate with the stuff, so sure I would finish it all. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was plowing a big spoonful (not a dainty forkful, mind you) into my mouth. Oof. I couldn't chew. My jaw refused to budge. The taste and aroma of the parsley was overwhelming. The texture was too strange. It took all my will to chew and swallow what I had in my mouth. As I did, I contemplated ways of making the rest of the 'gunk' on my plate disappear. I watched how the others on my table were eating it, some pinched bits of it with pita bread, others mixed it with the viands already on their fork. This was when I realized my third mistake. Sigh, it was too late now. My tastebuds threatened to revolt and I couldn't eat another bite for another, hmmm, 5 years or so.
Fast forward to Portland, Oregon. At the apartment of my brother-in-law's relatives (they're Lebanese too). We had driven down from Vancouver, BC for the weekend. There was a horrible heatwave then, but that's a story for another time. While there, I was treated to ringside priveleges in the art of Lebanese cooking, a cuisine I already had a fondness for thanks to my sister and brother-in-law. It was during one of these busy moments in the kitchen when I saw the pile of parsley on the chopping board. That much parsley could only mean one thing.
I am a strong believer of second chances. Especially when it comes to food. We all have our share of certain foods we despised as a kid but now love. How I love squash and okra now! So there I was at the table already happily chowing on hummus and baba ghanoush with the rest of them, when they passed the bowl of tabbouleh to me. Portion control! I reminded myself, as I carefully transferred some to my plate and grabbed 2 more pita wedges. Perhaps because I learned from my mistakes and also because I'd like to think my tastebuds had matured, I can say I actually liked the stuff. I wasn't doing cartwheels from sheer delight, but it was alright. Feeling triumphant, I rewarded myself with a couple of puffs on the sweet sheesha (hubbly bubbly or hookah, if you prefer).
Today, I'm still not a huge fan. If you had told me I would be voluntarily making tabbouleh for my own consumption at home, I would have asked what you were high on and if you would share some with me. But I had way too much parsley in the crisper and not enough time to consume them all. I figured this was as good a time as any to have my close encounters of the third kind with tabbouleh. Yet another salad I've made with my stash from the Baguio trip, which includes delicious cherry tomatoes.
The recipe called for flat-leaf parsley but I only had the curly variety. After consulting with a few recipe sites online, I was happy to learn that both varieties are acceptable so I went ahead and chopped those babies up. I served it as a side dish with warmed pita bread. How did I like it? It was not bad at all. What I would suggest to do differently though is up the ratio of bulgur to parsley.
March 8, 2007
March 7, 2007
It was nice to come back to all that after so much time away and be able to top-up those memories for later enjoyment. If you can look past the newly-opened SM mall, you'll see that not much has really changed. All the elements that make it the summer capital of the Philippines are still there.
And whenever I come to Baguio, I am a woman on a mission. That is, to bring home the best lettuce, broccoli and strawberries, among other things. Benguet, the province that surrounds Baguio and La Trinidad, is after all the Salad Bowl of the Philippines. It is also called Strawberry Country as this is the only place in the entire country where strawberries thrive.
I was quite happy to make my purchases at the well-stocked city market but I was beyond delighted when we were invited to pick our produce from an organic farm in La Trinidad! My friend's lovely aunt arranged it all for us.
curly leaf parsley
Fifteen minutes later, we turned into an unmarked dirt road and we passed several greenhouses to our left. She explained that inside those greenhouses was where experimental farming was being conducted. We arrived at what looked like the main greenhouse as it appeared to be the biggest of them all. Johnny, the resident farmhand, was expecting us. With knife in hand, ready to hack away, he led us into the greenhouse where row upon row of the most vivid shades of green greeted us.
Top row: broccoli and red beets
Bottom: cherry tomatoes and bell peppers
I ogled the broccoli plants, I had never seen a broccoli plant before. At first I didn't know what they were, these huge blue-green leaves. It was only when I bent and peered into the center did I see the familiar little head hidden among the leaves. Such a big plant that takes up so much precious fertile space, for such a small harvest. I asked if the leaves were edible. Nope, Johnny shook his head, they're used for compost. Interesting. No wonder they command quite a hefty price.
There were cherry tomatoes on the vine, gorgeous beds of parsley, red and green bell peppers hanging from their stems like shiny ornaments on a short and wide christmas tree, various lettuce varieties such as leaf and romaine, and of course the strawberries. Those elusive (to us lowlanders) little red gems that cost an eye once transported to Manila. We each bought 5 kgs of strawberries (P60/kg), 2 kgs of broccoli and about 8 kgs total of the other vegetables (all for P50/$1 per kg each) to be divided among ourselves. Now that's what I call a sweet deal.
March 5, 2007
I can't remember exactly when I went to Baguio last because it's been so long. But I think it was in '99 when I went for the Panagbenga flower festival, as part of an official tour of Philippine fiestas for work. As much as I love being up in the mountains amidst the cool pine-scented air, I used to dread the long 6-7 hour drive. But my trip to Donsol last year, which had me in a car for 14 hours each way, fixed that.
While the men played mini-golf, we explored Baguio's public market, a popular one-stop shop for the freshest produce from the Cordillera mountain region, native Ifugao wood-carved souvenirs, fruit preserves and yams, walis tambo (top-quality brooms), flannel blankets, peanut brittle, raw honey, native woven handbags, plants, flowers, handwoven fabrics, and chocolate-covered corn flakes among other things. Aside from how complete the market is, what surprised me the most was how utterly clean it was. No wonder it has become a popular tourist destination in the city.
Binatog is steamed white corn kernels mixed with milk, grated coconut and sugar.
It was a chewier version of mais con hielo without the ice. Yum!
No trip to Baguio is complete without the requisite visit to the legendary Good Shepherd convent , home of the most sought-after fruit preserves such as strawberry jam, ube jam and peanut brittle. If there is one thing (aside from the abundance of fresh strawberries and horses) that I love most about Baguio, it's the Good Shepherd ube jam! I have not found anything remotely as good as this sweet, smooth and creamy version.
They sell them freshly made and still warm, with a reminder to leave it uncapped until noon the next day. I barely made it back into the car, when with my finger I scooped up some of the purple goodness from the jar. Mmmm, still as delicious as ever! I wish I had bought more, but I find comfort in the fact that you can now avail of Good Shepherd products in Manila. In fact, I see a trip to Market! Market! in my future.
Some pictures taken at Mines View Park
Big & small kulangot (literally translates as, -get this- booger), I know it sounds gross but it's good! Found inside the coconut shells are wads of sweetened coconut , like cocojam, which you scoop out with your finger or a tiny spoon.