Monday, January 31, 2011
Dear Rustans, you are certainly going to love me for going to nowhere but you for all my supplies whether house or work. Just yesterday we filled a grocery cart full of items not just for cleaning supplies but fresh produce.
From left to right: basil, tomatoes, strawberries, fresh lemons, and marble potatoes. That and some fresh meats too. I absolutely adore the marinated pepper chicken breast fillet they have that I just slap on a pan griller laced in very little extra virgin olive oil. Sure, it's a little spicy but nothing like honey barbecue sauce could fix. I'm thinking of another siding recipe for the marble potatoes and adding cheese on them with a bit of herbs so the cheese isn't too rich. And the lemons? I've been dunking lemons in my water and they taste so much better. As I'm typing this now, I'm snacking on the fresh strawberries, which were actually leftovers from brekkie, which is so tres-chic in the carb side, and a little well, kiddy on the protein side.
Pancakes with butter (real butter, not the fake kind) and maple syrup topped with sliced fresh strawberries and kiddy hotdogs on the side. We just ran out of the Italian sausage since I made saffron risotto with sausage last Friday. Red is my favorite color, yes? If strawberries are quite tart for you, the maple syrup would sweeten things. The pancakes are just made from a mix, instead of from scratch, the just-add-water kind since I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and have no time to make things from scratch.
These strawberries are the ones that sell for Php150 a pack instead of the 300+ ones but they're just as good. I'm glad I got a pack with fruits that are firm, ripe, and semi-sweet. I never thought I'd finish fresh strawberries within the day, but the container's already half-full and I haven't finished this post yet.
Lunch calls! gotta go.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
My regular routine has been wake up, check email, breakfast, and go about the day depending where I'll be thrown into. Today's breakfast I wanted something quick since I want time to do a few laps by the pool as my workout for the day but no way will I do that on an emptier tummy.
In our crowded little dinner table lies my brekkie for the day. A little serving of apple oatmeal for fiber, fried egg, grilled Italian sausage (for protein), and two slices of white bread that I'll later on spread with crumpy later. I swear, the Italian sausage I got from Rustan's is aaahhh--maaaa-zzzing. It tastes good cold even but I like to brown it up a bit too. I figured na that the secret to the egg not tasting eggy is to give it a bit of kick with some black pepper. I don't know where to buy that amazing instant apple oatmeal but it removed all trauma I had with oatmeal.
I like eating smaller portions of food since I go for variety rather than quantity. Like the 3 tablespoons of oatmeal with other stuff is much better than eating an entire big bowl alone since my tastebuds gag after having too much stuff.
My indigestion has been acting for a few days now. I thought I'd skip brewed coffee for a packet of milk tea and drink my water warm spiked with a slice of lemon. I read over the net last night that lemon's very effective for indigestion plus it's natural and if it works, I just saved myself from hauling again to the doctor who'll give me shitty priced meds.
Most of our grocery I've been getting at Rustan's supermarket. I'm so loyal to the store. People have been telling me to check out other alternatives but I like how organized Rustan's is plus it's been my homebase already for my work supplies. Plus they have the most amazing deli selections. I looove the pastrami but I haven't found a recipe for it yet.
Monday, January 24, 2011
With the dishes done, the leftovers packed, and the trash thrown out, I've got to remember that it doesn't end with a neat kitchen. You gotta take care of stuff. Since dishwashing dries out hands with harsh soap chemicals, I always should moisturize and to remind me, I placed a tube of moisturizer right there on the kitchen counter.
I always get tubes of lotion as gifts. If we have too much bottles and tubes, chuck one in the kitchen counter to keep hands moisturized after an hour of dishwashing and cleaning the kitchen counter.
The bottle next to the lotion is a bottle of liquid soap, which I use to wash my hands before handling anything in the kitchen, to avoid drying hands caused by washing hands with detergent. The one I have right now is from Ilog Maria. The liquid soap is gentle on hands and smells like green tea.
Since I live in a cute little condo unit now, the cooking odors need to neutralize so the smell of grilled steak doesn't travel to the rooms. I mean I like the smell of steak and all, but I don't like it lingering for like the rest of my stay here and mixing with the odors of other foods. Turning on the exhaust helps of course and opening some windows. Remember how our yayas at home who light a candle everytime they cook tuyo? Same principle. My lifesaver here would be room scents, either a diffuser, aromatherapy oil burner, or an aromatherapy candle like the one I have below.
I'm currently using Cranberry Joy Home from The Body Shop's Holiday collection candle which nixes out the scent of grilled meat, French toast, or anything fried without setting smoke alarms. It smells fruity and comforting too like Christmas is always near even though it has already passed. Another favorite of mine are the Alice Blue Soy Candles or lemongrass diffusers from Mia Mason that smell like spas and honey lemon drops. As of this moment, the home candle takes the spot on our little dining table. I like that the glass is heat-resistant and thick enough too. The fruity cranberry scent also lingers even after I put the candle out. Just make sure never to leave an open flame unattended and to put the candle away from curtains, sheets, or anything flammable. In fact, before leaving the house or going to bed, or just as the scent of food dissipates, put the fire out.
These are little ways of taking care of the hands and keeping the home smelling fresh and clean.
Because dining out is expensive, I have resulted to the uncanny thing which I have avoided for five years... pots, pans, and knives. Well what do you know? It's not that bad. I just needed to have my own kitchen and little corner. Plus, it gives me topics and pictures to write here in my food blog. Food recipes are usually researched online or inspired from what I see in Asian Food Channel or whatever cooking show I see on tv. Today's lunch and dinner and probably also tomorrow's is taken from an easy recipe I saw online - Honey Ginger Chicken Stir Fry. You could find the recipe here if you would like to replicate it yourself. I didn't follow the recipe entirely substituting frozen stir-fry blend for fresh carrots, broccoli, and red bell peppers.
I grated the ginger right on the measuring spoon reserving any juices. While cooking and I feel like adding a bit more kick, I grate some more ginger on the dish as it simmers. The water chestnuts are really, really interesting. They're like sweet radishes that are white on the can but of course, the honey makes everything all golden brown. Why my choice of veggies? I wanted something nutritious and I have always liked carrots and bell pepper. I wanted a bit of contrast to the color scheme by adding something green so broccoli was my choice with the texture and nutritional benefits as well. Plus, broccoli is so easy to prepare... Just remove it from the humongous stem and separate the little segments. For honey, it doesn't have to be imported or expensive. I used local honey. They sell it in Rustan's supermarket for less than 100 pesos. They're in glass containers shaped like Tanduay bottles.
Just a heads up though, when you taste it while cooking, it tastes a bit bland though, but the flavor develops when the meal cools down. So try to hold on to the taste. I lower the heat too after stirring and adding the sauce so I don't burn anything.
While cooking though, let me share the space-saver thank you to the Japanese home stores that sell dirt cheap but useful stuff:
Now I never have to scramble for the cheese grater, or in my case - my any-grater since it grates cheese, lemon or orange rind, ginger, and all.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
So far, my kitchen meal skills in the protein department are eggs, chicken, and fish fillet. With the higher cholesterol-ladden protein, i.e. beef and pork, I have deemed scared and unsuccessful either my beef is too tough. But fear should be conquered right? Right! So indeed, I tried my luck at steaks today.
Too cheap to buy t-bone or sirloin, I went for thinner round cuts. Nasa timpla lang 'yan. And speaking of marinade, I just dunked meat tenderizer then washed it then the basic marinades - spices, lemon, olive oil and grilled it after letting it sit for a while. Oh, and this had no recipe in mind. I was just inventing as I go. I'm a rule-breaker that's why.
Needing veggies, I grilled the carrots, tomatoes, and olives and sprinkled my can't-live-without Italian Seasoning on them. The green stuff are olives. I bought them in the vacuum-packed plastic containers. Rustans, I gotta love you for selling these but I wish they came without the stone. The stone annoys the crap out of me.
Revamped rice by making it herbed butter rice, which basically means I sorta fried the rice with a teensy pat of butter and sprinkled rosemary and Italian seasoning on them plus a smidgen of pepper. I wanted potatoes but I didn't want good rice to spoil. So just revamp it instead of letting it sit on the ref.
This my dears, is a recipe with no name.
I've heard of Max's Crispy being the favorite among those who go to Max's. A close second to the famous Max's fried chicken (if not a tie), this is also one that's always being ordered. For some reason and my personal experience, Max's at Tagaytay has this as their specialty. The richness of crispy pata goes and balances well with one of their bestsellers - sinigang -a steaming and sour soup with veggies in a tamarind base.
From January 20 to February 20, 2011, Max's has a promo called the Crispy Pata Feast, an affordable and perfectly planned set meal good for four with this bestseller. Last Tuesday, Max's invited a few of their blogger friends to taste test this at their Greenbelt 1 store.
First up, is the famous Crispy Pata served hot, steaming, and crisp.
This also comes with spices and sauce, which we ordered seconds as well. We love slathering the meat in sauce before pairing it up with a cup (and a half) of steamed rice and chasing that down with an ice-cold Pepsi glass. If your BP readings allow it, have some skin and fat as well. To totally wipe out the bone, you could split the two bones in half, since there's still meat wedged inside.
Since the Crispy Pata is fatty and rich, a hot bowl of Sinigang na Bangus would be a good accompaniment for this. You could either slurp this as a "warm up" for the stomach which would work hard. The tarty soup balances the richness of the Crispy Pata, and the bangus and veggies bring health to our diet too. As our gramma says, we should not miss our veggies, even with a sinful dish like this.
Buko Pandan for dessert? Why not!
This feast for 4 is quite affordable, costing Php865 for the whole thing. During the event, we were told that not only is it available for dine-in but you could order to go online by logging on to www.maxschicken.com to place orders online (yes, they accept credit cards).
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
A bride should DIY a lot of things but a cake shouldn't be one of them. Nowadays, I'm glad the three-tiered cakes (one main cake and the rest fondant-covered styrofoam) have been replaced by smaller mini-cakes, which could also serve as giveaways. The first time I encountered that was in my friend Fritzie's wedding a few years back. She had Oreo cheesecake which tasted really amazing. So I thought of something like so.
The Dessert Solutions Company is one of ISnap Manila's concessionaires and Mike showed us some of their mini-cakes and his highly-recommended recipes. The cakes are priced reasonably and come in cute tub containers that look utterly amazing as well. Whether it be a birthday party, a wedding, or a sweet treat, they do not only look good but they taste good. Fritzie told me earlier that the banoffee cake even after 3 days still tasted good.
.Chocolate and Custard are a perfect marriage in this yummy bestseller, Chocolate Delight, best served cold.
Our fondant versions do not seem to mind. You could order through Isnap Manila at 7527062.
Of course, with the little cakes done, we had to do with the ca
ke being cut, that is our main cake. We met cake maker Joy San Gabriel by serendipity at a bridal fair last September. We were supposed to just meet with the flowers when we decided to go look around. While sampling at the cakes, I caught sight of Joy's iPad as she shows her trademark quirky cakes to potential clients.
Joy was definitely nice enough to answer all our questions despite clients coming and going. It was a good thing I kept her leaflet because months after, during peak season, we decided that it's Joy that would do our cake topper instead of having a generic figurine on top of a generic cake.
I shot Joy an email one night and she promptly replied. I begged if she could still accommodate a small cake and topper since our wedding date was sort of (un)fortunately on a fully-booked day. It was definitely a sigh of relief that Joy could still accommodat
e our order and agreed for a meeting.
A good thing about Joy was that she really matches and suggests things to go with the couple's personality, even documenting details which she might need, like how the couple usually looks or certain items. She prepared samples for us to try - apple cake an
d carrot cake. Although we wanted chocolate cake, Joy suggested that for fondant cakes, choices are limited since we need a dense cake to hold all the fondant. Fruitcake was definitely out of the question for me since I wanted something that I could eat instead of gag or pretend to eat. Carrot cake was our choice of cake. We told Joy our specs, and she captured everything perfectly when
we saw the cake during the reception for the first time... with TDSC's mini cakes that complement it well:
Our Marchy was captured cutely when all we showed her was a picture of it. Joy got the clothing details right, down to how a MAC lipstick should look, although not twenty times its size. I had to chuckle when she lengthened my hot pants to knee-length, when I usually wear my uniform shorts waaay shorter than that since I like to move. Maybe she didn't want my fondant self to scandalize our older guests? It was so cute I spotted several guests taking a picture of it (hey... why not us? :P)
Perhaps another recent discovery was The Bandana Baker, who was also our supplier for the souvenirs, should the mini cakes not be enough. Behind this name is my good friend from high school, Vicky, who I kept in touch all through the years. I bumped into her in a yogurt stand in Glorietta. She bought chocolate chips for an order she had to do and she stopped by yogurt at the same time I was lining up to pay. It was a good thing that I kept her number and asked her if she would like to be our wedding supplier. Turns out this was the first wedding gig ever for Vicky. I assured her to think she's supplying for a party e
xcept it's a wedding. While discussing flavors with her, I told her to keep the package nice and simple since people would be tearing the plastic anyway. A clear plastic pouch with a ribbon would do.
Mega cookies on top because we could never go wrong with chocolate and cranberry and white chocolate cookies to go with our red theme. Vicky, for the first in weddings did a terrific job. Our guests loved them and were texting me how much they loved the cookies. Some even asked for her number. Our only complaint was we didn't get to taste them.
Our sweets department's got all covered. :)
Wedding coordinator texted me the moment I woke up to go have a heavy breakfast. Erika and I complied with feeling. We usually thought that Vivere Suites' buffet breakfast was at the lobby. Turns out it was at the sky lounge, at the 31st floor overlooking Laguna De Bay.
Breakfast al fresco on the morning of my wedding day on a chilly January morning.
Erika opted for a high-carbohydrate brekkie.
As for me, since I get hungry easily, I loaded on them proteins.
It's a definitely no-diet wedding. I know full well that this is the time where I could eat to my heart's content and so I did.
Vivere's breakfast buffet starts with the usual viands of steamed rice, fried rice, fish, meat, eggs, and even a waffle, french toast, and pancake bar with a DIY omelette mixed together by a chef for you. Just when I thought that that was the only choice they had, I saw in the inner room that they had a cereal and fruit bar plus an Asian corner where I got myself a bowl of hot and steaming ramen.
Very few cheese on my plate as I wanted yogurt and granola instead. I skipped bread since I'm more of a rice girl.
So thinking that I couldn't eat come lunchtime, guess what I wolfed down after my makeup was done?
Greenwich Pizza squares that's what!