Hello Breakfast, How Sinful Are You Today?

Monday, February 28, 2011

You're sinful as sausage, cheese, and eggs in one dish drizzled with honey barbecue sauce because I felt guilty if I put hollandaise there.

Behold my from-the-top-of-the-head eggs benedict.
I split a plain bagel in two and toasted it a bit till it's all warm and toasty. While at it, I sliced Italian sausages and fried some eggs keeping the yolk nice and soft. After placing the sliced sausages on top of the toasty bagel, the egg came in next (ratio: one half of a bagel to one fried egg) and grated cheese on top then toasted them in the oven just until the cheese melts.

The brown drizzle is actually honey barbecue sauce, since I didn't have time to make hollandaise sauce.

For a small, light, and tart dessert, I sliced strawberries. Strawberries are quite tart to some, especially our local strawberries (the huge imported ones are really yummy but dayum they put a huge dent on the wallet) so my solution was to drizzle honey or pancake syrup on them to sweeten them up, then let them soak it in a bit so they're nice, soft, and sweet.

Lunch, I go healthy definitely.

Melt and Fall In Love With Chocolate Fire

Monday, February 21, 2011

I've always been intrigued with Chocolate Fire after reading a number of good reviews about it and seeing it in some of my friends' Foursquare check-ins, so I decided to check it out and kill time before heading over to RCBC to visit my friends.

Chocolate Fire is currently located at PDCP Building Leviste Street cor. Rufino Street in Salcedo Village in Makati. It's right across KFC and Lyceum and walking distance from Makati Sports Club. The unit where Chocolate Fire is used to be a bank that's forever busy during payday. Now, it's a quiet cafe with a second floor painted a rich shade of chocolate brown dotted with red details, like it's Valentine's Day everyday.

Aside from the chairs, you've also got couches. I'm currently sitting on a chocolate brown couch sipping on mixed berry tea.

The second floor's got a homey atmosphere too where you could have meetings or lunch/dinner/afterdinner dates.
The couch is so comfy you could plop there with a magazine and just relax with a pot of tea or cup of coffee.

Here are the lavatories. Girls on the left, boys on the right. The paintings are done by makeup artist/model/painter Solenn Heussaff.

With ordering, there were a whole lot of choices to choose from - solid chocolates, pastries, ganache, fruits dipped in chocolate, and chocolate barks (they're like chocolate bars with stuff in it, sold per 100 grams) along with drinks. Since I was a newbie here, I thought I'd ask what the bestsellers were. The staff told me the bestsellers were the honeycomb chocolate barks and the solid chocolate. Depending on the size and shape, the prices differ so I settled for two chocolate half-eggs (solid chocolate), one in milk chocolate and one in dark chocolate.

They were served to me on a cute ceramic dish. A half-egg like this costs around Php15.00 a piece. There are also chocolate frogs (just like Harry Potter, except they don't move) for Php 75.00 a piece.

Normally, eating chocolate means biting and chewing but I thought of slow-eating this one, sort of melting it in the warmth of your mouth till it's almost liquid then letting it float right down the throat to savor the flavor and texture. So I took one bite off the milk chocolate, savored the flavor, let the chocolate melt. When the chocolate melted it was like... OMIGOOOD!!!!!! The flavor was mellow but sweet and the texture was milky. It's got this feel-good rush right after you swallow it, and now I know why chocolate makes you feel good after. I like that I chose a solid chocolate because I got to enjoy chocolate as it is.

My tea was mixed berry tea, which provided an excellent contrast to cleanse the palate as I went for the dark chocolate. The dark chocolate obviously is less sweet than the milk chocolate, but it had the same milky texture as it melted when I took it in and the same feel-good feeling after. If you want to know how the feel-good feeling is, you have to try it because it's quite hard to describe. After a few minutes, I thought I'd go for two rounds more so I got up from my seat and ordered two more.

The staff's fantastic too! Just in case you're alone and you decide to go on bathroom break and your tea or drink isn't finished yet, you could tell them and they'll watch your place for you so your place doesn't get taken.

Good chocolate doesn't come cheap so the cost of the chocolate is pricier than say, a supermarket-bought chocolate bar. The standards are very high and you're assured though that every cent you pay is worth the taste. I'd go back here if I want a quiet place to relax with a pot of peppermint tea and probably a chocolate square. I'll probably meet with a client here to discuss pegs and all if I want a relaxed atmosphere away from cafes with students reviewing for exams or business meetings.

Calamansi + Lemongrass for a Dinner Drink

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ever since I tasted refreshing lemongrass drinks, I wanted to know how they're made from scratch. Lemongrass is readily available here. We could pluck them from the ground or soil if we're lucky enough to grow them in our garden or friend's garden and once we get the recipe right, we're good. If not, lemongrass (locally known as tanglad) is available in small bunches at groceries for about Php 5.00 - Php 7.00.

My first attempt at a lemongrass drink didn't turn out quite well. It was drinkable yes, but I sort of overboiled the lemongrass so it tasted more like the water in sago't gulaman than the refreshing sharp lemongrass taste. Here, it's best that I use white sugar here since brown sugar colored my liquid brown when I wanted a greenish hue for my drink.

While prepping dinner, I saw the lemongrass bunch I purchased on a recent grocery trip and
decided to give it a try again, reducing the boiling time. By serendipetous chance, I saw the calamansi I got from our house in Las Pinas having already wonderfully ripened that they're yellow instead of green. You know what? This calls for a time to experiment to make calamansi lemongrass drinks.

When I make my drinks, I don't have exact measurements. Everything's just to taste, so in this post, I won't be writing much measurements. The measurements I used here might not work on certain people so it all depends on taste preference.

The first thing I did was squeeze the calamansi juice into the pitcher. I put a strainer on top of the pitcher since citrus pulp annoys the crap out of me. I squeezed 13 fruits because I finished that big bag. I like that they're all yellowed so the fruit's soft.

Normally, to make calamansi juice you need to dilute the pure juice with water right? Instead of pure water, I used lemongrass water. To make the lemongrass water, I needed to prepare 4-5 stalks of lemongrass. I washed them of all debris and dried them. I peeled the dry stalks out and sliced the brown rooty bottom part so I get that nice juicy bulb in the bottom and fresh green stalks. Carefully I sliced the stalks lengthwise and pounded them with the blunt end of a chef's knife since this helps to get the juice out. While at it, a pot of water's just boiling, around 2-3 tall glasses of it.
Once the stalks and bulbs are all pounded, dunk them in the pot of boiling water and boil the lemongrass until the water turns into a nice green color. Be sure not to overboil. What I did was lower the heat after 10 minutes to a nice simmer, stirring constantly. I usually check the aroma of the lemongrass water. If you get that distinct refreshing lemongrass scent, you're all good. After it all simmers down quite nicely, I let it cool until it's just warm. I strain the mixture and then slowly mix it in with the calamansi juice in the pitcher until I get the right taste I want. By this time, I make adjustments. If it's too sharp, I add some water. If I want it tad tarter, strain some juice in.

To sweeten, I use white sugar here since I want to maintain the green-yellow color of the drink. I like drinking this cold, dunking 6 ice cubes in the glass. Honey could be used to sweeten, kinda lacing it in before serving. Yumm!!!!

Just some tips:

1. Pound the stalks. If the blunt of the chef's knife doesn't work, use the mortar. That's a way of getting all the juice out.
2. Sugar dissolves better in warm liquid. That's why the lemongrass water and calamansi are warm.
3. It's best to use glass pitchers here with higher resistance to heat.

Have fun!

Peanuts and Chocolates: Stuff to take home from Bohol

When going on a vacation, one of our main concerns, aside from where to eat of course, is what to take home. The safest thing to take home is food, provided it's airplane-approved and it's not such a hassle to bring home. For one thing, we all love to eat so we can't go wrong with food items. The souvenir foods we got from Bohol though, were sure hits and something we'd like to share to all of you.

Pasalubong finds are found in tourist shops or if you have the time and patience, the local supermarket. We got our souvenir items from a tourist shop during our tours. Aside from these, the Tagbilaran airport also has a little stand in the waiting area where you could shop for last-minute finds.

Wallets or keychains inspired from tarsiers or knicknacks or whatever reminds you of Bohol, they got it.

Of course I'm here to talk about food of course. One thing I noticed about the snack finds are the abundance of peanut products - peanut crisps, peanut fingers, star peanuts. These peanuts are a result of alternate cropping, which means after a period of planting just rice, the soil needs to rest. In that period though, it's time to plant peanuts, which requires less water than rice. And what to do with those peanuts? Make peanut products of course, like the Peanut Kisses, another specialty of Bohol:

This picture here was taken in the airport where we both needed a little munchie.
It's so cute shaped like a Chocolate Hill, except it's peanut. It tastes like peanut brittle too. I do suggest to have water in handy while munching this one.

The peanut kisses are already available in filipiniana shops here in Manila, but not the star peanuts, which are clusters of peanut meringue shaped like stars.

The taste is similar to peanut kisses, except this one's texture is smoother. If the thought of too-sweet meringue makes you gag, this one's not too sweet. As with all peanut products, I do recommend a tall glass of water to wash this down, if peanuts tend to make you all scratchy. Needless to say, those with gout or peanut allergy should stay away from this.

I do have a solution to you guys though... CHOCOLATE! You could take home a Hillcolate, which is a chocolate-hill shaped chocolate snack that can't get any cuter.

If snacking isn't your thing, then nothing beats good ol' tablea, which are blocks of cocoa powder that you melt in boiling water before lacing it with milk and sugar. Swear that and broas or homemade cinnamon sugar butter biscottis and I'm all set! I prefer my tablea the way my mom makes it: thick and mild with a 2 tablets:1 cup ratio. My first attempt at tablea making had me at the 1:1 ratio that I saw when I googled recipes on how to make tablea drinks but I found that I could taste it better with a 2:1 ratio, or maybe it's because the discs are so small. I like the tablea so much, I actually felt bad we only got little of this, since we were just going to try it out. thank God there's tablea in the supermarket or Kultura shops here.

Of course there are other mentionables like kalamay, dried mangoes, and broas. Inasmuch as we'd like to take the whole tourist shop with us, we had a baggage weight limit so we had to keep it at that. In buying souvenirs though, it really pays to buy from reputable shops and supermarkets with strict quality control.

What's Cooking At Amorita Resort

Thursday, February 10, 2011

If you have read my makeup blog, I'm currently in Panglao Island in Bohol. Much of my adventures could be read there but here, I talk about what I ate there, specifically in our resort, Amorita Resort, which is along Alona Beach in Panglao Island. Amorita's a pretty new resort, and it's got super first-class amenities and tour packages depending on your budget or preference. It's a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for - from remembering your names to making sure you're hydrated with complimentary water bottles in your room and refreshing water by the front desk up to being conscious with your health by lighting citronella burning oils to ward off mosquitoes.

Amorita's breakfast buffet comes with every stay. Breakfast is only from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM. What's nice about it? They do not keep the same menu every single time. Yesterday, they had daing na bangus, ham, sausage, fish fillet, pork schnitzel, and chicken for protein source. Now it's tapa, tocino, longganisa, tuyo, fish fillet, and herb chicken. They have fresh fruit juice with their fruit bar that also changes. Yesterday, I had mango. Today, I had watermelon. All the juices are real and made from real fruit. The buffet is available at the Saffron Bar and Restaurant. If you're a first timer and don't know where it is, look for the infinity pool. Do you see the chairs and dining tables and the bar near it? There you go! If not, memorize the look of this picture:

Another thing I saw in the breakfast buffet is their honey buffet.... sweet honey infused with flavors to make them more interesting. There's lemongrass honey, pandan honey, apple honey, tea honey, and coffee honey. The coffee honey was quite interesting but I gravitate towards the lemongrass honey for quick shots of it followed by a glass of water. Pandan honey I use to sweeten my plain yogurt and cereal.

Yep, Winnie The Pooh sure would love to see this.

For lunch, here are some of our tried-and-tested mentionables:

Carnivores would love The Prime (Php 320), the burger with half-pound beef patty with grilled onions, fresh tomatoes, melted cheese, and salad.

The grill has also variety of choices to try, from seafood, red meat, and white meat with your choice of starch (rice, potato, or fries), and dressing. If you have no idea what to get, your attendant could suggest.

My Blue Marlin (Php 300) tasted good with Lemon Caper Butter Sauce. It melts in the mouth and you don't get that "fishy" odor or taste.

The grilled pork belly (Php 240) I liked, for someone who doesn't eat pork. It had a good amount of meat and the sauce we chose to go with it was tangy peppercorn butter.

For dessert, I loved the Turon De Bohol (Php 145) so much that we had to have it twice. It's got not one, not two, but five turon rolls with jackfruit and banana. If that's not enough, vanilla ice cream and nuts seal the deal. How do I describe it? Basta, masarap sya. Yun lang. Walang tatalo promise.

Another mentionable for those who love spicy foods but are in a budget is Spaghetti Aglio Olio, which is a simple spaghetti dish made of garlic, chili, and olive oil. It's so good that we didn't get to take a picture of it to think we ordered it twice. I warn you of the spice. Guaranteed you will need water here. Lots of it. Then pee later. The pasta they used here is fresh, so it's kinda curlier than the pasta we use at home.

Of course we couldn't taste all the dishes but so far, these are our favorites. The food's really good but their service is remarkable. During each meal, they ask you how your food is. They're very conscious as well for each client's personal concerns, like saying beforehand that all dressings contain patis (fish sauce) and/or anchovies. That, and a whole lot of nice stuff to see for yourself. :)

Ridding Leftovers the Better Way

Monday, February 7, 2011

As I munch on leftover mozzarella cheese, let me share to you dinner for this evening:

Grilled the leftover sausage and re-heated the steak. While I was cleaning out the fridge, I saw that we still had a few leftover rice so I turned it into butter herb rice with rosemary and Italian seasoning. I went to get out some oregano but this baby ambushed me to feed her instead.

She demanded to be fed instead even blocking my way when I was about to go back indoors. :P

Cooking While Waiting and More Experimenting

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The new closet is going to be delivered today. Since we're practically stuck in the four corners of the condo, we decided to finally clear up the ref of foodstuff to make way for new ones. First I got rid of the tomatoes by turning them to pasta pomodoro with lots of garlic. by lots I mean I had three-quarters of a head crushed and the quarter of it sliced then stewed the tomatoes with tomato juice, canned tomatoes, and seasonings till I get the taste I like.

The event at SpaRga had us taking home fresh herbs as giveaways. I got mint, tarragon, and oregano, and they seem to have made its home in the condo's quadrangle (perks of having our unit at the lower floor so I could just go out and pick from our herb pots). Now I want a basil pot now so I have a full fresh supply of basil. I just found out that basil grays out days after buying them, even if they're kept sealed.

As soon as the closet guys arrived and installed the closet, we had a lot of free time, and free space I got all giddy at the sight of the new closet.

Now I have an excuse to have more dresses since there's more space! :P

Anyhow, weekly grocery shopping was next so we headed over to Rustan's Rockwell for fresh produce and supplies since we haven't been to Rockwell. Turns out the fruit department in Rockwell is different from the one in Glorietta so I wasn't able to get my Dizon strawberries. I was able to get fresh lemongrass to make lemongrass drinks, vegetables, and pasta.

I went over the deli and grabbed some cheese and a piece of Italian sausage since I'll be experimenting on sandwiches tomorrow for breakfast. I told them to keep it plus-minus 100 grams since I just do small servings anyway. I love Rustan's for slicing them for me so it's more convenient. They asked if block or slice, I was like just slice, so I get a sliver of 100 g instead of a slab of cheese that I don't know I'll finish. Didn't know that slice meant to slice them conveniently to thin sheets.

Turns out though I'll be experimenting on grilled cheese when I got home.

Whole wheat bread drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar. Fillings were gruyere cheese, slices of sausage, and a strip of mozarella before grilling both sides in a pan griller (my second overused piece of kitchen equipment next to the nonstick frying pan and the coffee maker).
Cheese to the extreme come dinnertime with leftover pasta pomodoro and grilled steaks. I thought I'd jazz the steak by topping it with slices of mozzarella cheese and honey barbecue sauce. Eating in is so much cheaper than eating out. The only not fun part is cleaning up. Then again, paying the tab isn't that fun either. By the way, I placed the mozzarella slice on top of the steak when it's already on the plate (not on the pan) still hot, so it melts on the meat's heat. The texture is interesting and it provides a certain richness without the sharp flavor. I like mozzarella. It's mild and it can be addicting.

Since I already made what I'm supposed to experiment for breakfast, I need to get creative for a breakfast meal tomorrow. By the way, I followed no recipe book. Everything is at the top of my head. The mozzarella on steak was very random really, I just thought of putting the slice there when I wanted more color on my plate for picture purposes. But it worked well, didn't it?

Spicy Chicken and Cheesy Potatoes for Dinner

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dinner was homemade today but since I want a slow day, I just did something that's no brainer. Ironically, although dinner outside is usually comprised of complicated dishes, I keep dinner light and simple at home usually. After all, I'll just be sleeping right?

A few weeks ago, I was at Mercato Centrale and I ordered cheesy potatoes from a stall because they were dirt cheap. Figured if I could make my own at home, with marble potatoes (i.e. small potatoes like marbles, you buy them per pack) bought from m favorite grocery. Since them potatoes were hard as a rock, the solution was to pre-boil them first till they're soft prior to cooking them in oil. Prior to cooking though, I washed the potatoes twice in running water and even had to scrub a tad of liquid soap foam then rinse them well to make them clean. I know I'll boil them and drain it out, but I can't bear the thought of soil-y potatoes.

After they were boiled and drained, I put the potatoes in a pan with heated canola oil and started pan-frying them but not to the point of charring their skins. The original potato dish had bacon, but I wanted herbs so I sprinkled some rosemary and Italian seasoning on them with a tad of salt and pepper and mixed. As soon as I lowered the heat, I spooned cheese spread (like Cheez Whiz) and turned off the fire, letting the spread melt and mixed away. Some cheese was burning through though so I removed the pan from any heat source and used the heat source from the potatoes and pan to warm and melt the cheese and mixed in some more. My tip here is to use a nonstick pan for easy cleanup.

For meat, I pan-grilled pepper chicken breast fillets, which were pre-marinated and bought per 100 g at Rustans. They're really hot and I suggest buy them only when you have high tolerance to spicy foods or love spicy foods. I slathered honey barbecue sauce on them too and chased everything down by glugging a glass of lemon water.

Had I had time, grilled tomatoes on the side would also have been great for this.

A dish of spices call for something sweet, so right now, I'm eating two slices of mango for healthy sugar rush. Yum!!!!! I really should get more pots now, as I've been dependent on two frying pans, a pan griller, and this pot that I use to make broth, boil spaghetti, and now boil potatoes in. I need a saucepan to make gravy and jelly now. Plus a pitcher when I make lemongrass drinks.