Friday, June 27, 2008

Ultraviolet Haze

I’m back with a refreshing beverage. I wasn’t able to update my blog because I was preoccupied with work. But don’t fret, I’m here now. Yesterday, I was having breakfast with my friend. I had an apple flavored tea and he had an orange juice. I want to have some of his drink, so what I did is I poured in half of the orange juice in my apple tea bottle, gave it a good dose of shake. I tried to taste it with a slight disgust and ickiness from my friend’s face. Then he asked, "How does it taste?" Well, it was very good, surprisingly. So, I want you to try this either as a non alcoholic beverage or with a good amount of booze.

Ultraviolet Haze

Ingredients:
4 jiggers Apple flavored green tea
2 jiggers Fresh orange juice (bottled would do, try Tropicana)
1 to 2 jiggers Brandy (optional)
1 t Blue Curacao (optional)
Crushed ice
Orange wheel
Lemon wheel
Maraschino cherry


Procedures:
In a shaker, pour in all the ingredients together with the crushed ice. Shake well. Strain in to a stylish, frosted high glass garnished with the orange, lemon and cherry on the rim. Arrange them one on back of the other.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Minestra di Hierba

Here is a hearty soup that is very easy to make. This is a perfect starter for any meal, best served with seafood dishes. It is a soup made with seafood broth and infused with herbs and spices. You could also use this as a base for your seafood soups. Give it a try. It is perfect for one cold, rainy evening with that special someone or over a good book.

Herb Soup

Ingredients:

1L Water or seafood broth (I prefer shellfish broth)
4 bay leaves
12 Pepper corns
1 medium Red onion, minced
2 medium sized Tomatoes, seeded and sliced
1 t dried chili flakes
1 ½ inch of Ginger, crushed or sliced
1 Celery stalk, chopped
1 large Potato, cubed
1C Corn kernels
2 Eggs, beaten
¾ C Shrimps, boiled and shelled
2 C small Clams
300g Mussels
1 t Salt
1 t White pepper
Onion greens, finely chopped
1 bunch of Chili leaves


Procedures:

In a pot, allow water or broth to boil together with the bay leaves, pepper corns, onion, tomatoes, dried chili flakes, celery, potato, corn kernels and ginger. When the ingredients have all been softened, add the clams and mussels. Cook the shellfishes until their shells are popped open. For the eggs, cook them like you are making plain omelet. When finished, slice to bite size pieces and set aside. After the shells have opened, you could put it the chili leaves and flavor with salt and white pepper. Serve in a bowl and garnish with onion greens.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wolfgang Puck - Living the Life

Wolfgang Johann Topfschnig more known to the world as Wolfgang Puck is a famous Austrian celebrity chef and restaurateur based in LA. His innovations in cooking have been enjoyed and praised by world leaders, Hollywood stars and fellow chefs alike. Perhaps you will remember him more with his tag line "Live Love Eat" which also is his company’s trademarked motto.

The first cookbook he wrote was Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen based on his Ma Maison recipes on 1981. He then opened a restaurant called "Spago" located on the Sunset Strip in 1982. Wolfgang’s first signature dish, gourmet pizza topped with smoked salmon and caviar, put him and Spago on the Los Angeles foodie map. Spago Beverly Hills, Wolfgang’s flagship fine dining restaurant, opened in 1997, maintains a cutting-edge role as a creative culinary force, with a blend of updated Spago classics and Austrian-inspired recipes from Wolfgang’s childhood, using the highest-quality, all-natural and organic local ingredients, whenever possible.

The Wolfgang Puck name stands for innovative tastes, the most healthful food, the humane treatment of animals and genuine hospitality, providing guests with the very best in eating and dining well.

He became so successful that he managed to put up the Wolfgang Puck Companies comprised of three divisions - Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. and Wolfgang Puck Catering. The Wolfgang Puck Companies encompass 15 fine dining restaurants, premium catering services, more than 80 Wolfgang Puck Express operations, and kitchen and food merchandise, including cookbooks and canned foods. He is the official caterer for the Academy Awards Governors Ball.

After marking Spago’s 25th anniversary in 2007, Wolfgang evolved his personal passions and philosophies into more formal policies to maintain his demanding standards. In March 2007, Chef Puck and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that the Wolfgang Puck Companies have begun implementing an historic animal welfare program that’s the first-of-its-kind. Puck’s far-reaching, nine-point program, aimed at curbing many of the worst cruelties associated with factory farming in the United States, will meet the HSUS’ most progressive standards and will cover all Wolfgang Puck lines of business including fine dining group restaurants, express franchises, catering and events and consumer products.

He also made some appearances and cameos on numerous shows including Frasier, a recurring role as himself on Las Vegas and a cameo appearance on The Weather Man. He also appeared on iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters, as well as Cooking Class with Wolfgang Puck on The Food Network which I always watch. He was also shown on American Idol during the season finale episode.
Chef Puck has been a regularly featured guest on Good Morning America for nearly 20 years. His fine dining influence is even prominent in the fictional hotel-casino, The Montecito, on NBC’s Las Vegas. The show includes a replica of a Wolfgang Puck restaurant.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Wolfgang has been honored with many awards and accolades, including the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year, twice, plus Outstanding Restaurant of the Year for Spago Beverly Hills and Outstanding Service Award for Spago, Beverly Hills. His Food Network program, .Wolfgang Puck, won Daytime Emmy Awards for two consecutive years.

Wolfgang Puck Catering, established in May 1998, headquartered in the Hollywood & Highland. For more than a decade, Chef Puck, along with partner Carl Schuster, and his Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) company have created the cuisine for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' post-Oscar-show Governor’s Ball, the official party of the Academy Awards. In addition to the Governor’s Ball, WPC caters numerous movie premieres, galas, fashion shows, charity functions and corporate and entertainment events, as well as in-home catering.

With new venues opening every few months, Wolfgang Puck Catering has become one of the fastest growing catering companies in the country. Chef Puck and WPC are committed the Seafood Watch Program, which allows WPC to offer sustainable seafood options on their catering menus.

Chef Puck also oversees Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. which was established to manage global brand strategy across his business activities in his fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express restaurants, as well as consumer packaged goods, kitchen appliances and utensils, book publishing, media content and licensing.
The Express restaurants emphasize quality and freshness and offer Wolfgang’s authentic recipes and menu innovation at affordable prices. Launched in 1991, Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express has since expanded to more than 80 locations in major urban and suburban retail centers, airports and supermarkets throughout the United States, Canada and Japan.

Wolfgang’s empire includes branded cookware, utensils and appliances sold on Home Shopping Network, Sam's Club and the Frontgate catalogue. Other packaged goods include Wolfgang Puck All-Natural pizza, All-Natural and Organic Wolfgang Puck Soups, Stocks and Broths and Wolfgang Puck’s Coffee.

Wolfgang has published six popular cookbooks; including his most recent Wolfgang Puck makes it Easy. His weekly syndicated newspaper column, Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen debuted in Tribune newspapers in 2003 and now appears in more than 30 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada with a combined circulation of more than 5.3 million.

Puck is active in philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations. He is the co-founder of Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation in 1982. The foundation supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival which benefits Meals on Wheels and has raised more than $15 million since it started.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crunchy Squid Rings

Here is a simple appetizer or snack recipe. I altered it quite a bit so I could say it is my recipe. Hehe. The cornstarch will make it crunchy though there might be a tendency that the rings will lose their crunchiness they have been left uncovered or exposed. A quick re-heat or "re-fry" will do the fix.

This recipe reminds me of Conk Fritters. I would love to try one of those. One time I ran out of squid and I was really craving for seafood, I settled on having oysters instead. I have them shelled already. They were kept refiregerated ready to eat with just vinegar, garlic, onions and chili peppers. But no one ever touched them even my Dad. So, what I did that snack time is used the Crunchy Squid Rings recipe and used oysters in replace of the squid. I washed and drained them well because I don't want the slimy substance on the oysters. I deep fried them to achieve my prefered result. They were a big hit together with the Pepper-Garlic Mayo.

Crunchy Squid Rings

Ingredients:
¼ kg Squid, sliced into thin rings
2 pcs Egg yolks
1 C Cornstarch, sifted
2 t freshly ground Black Pepper
1 ½ t Fine salt
Cooking oil


Procedures:
In a bowl or any shallow dish, combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper together. Mix well. Dip each squid rings in the beaten egg yolk then dredge with the seasoned cornstarch. Coat well. Shake off the excess cornstarch and set aside. Heat cooking oil in a fryer or cooking pan. Drop the squid rings in the boiling oil. Squid, when cooked could have a tendency to be tough. So, choose squid that are not too big or too small. And do not over cook them to retain their juiciness. A few seconds will do. When the rings turn to light gold or when they are afloat, that means they’re good to drain. Drain the rings on paper towels. Serve with Garlic-Pepper Mayo Dip.


Garlic-Pepper Mayo Dip

Ingredients:
½ C Plain mayonnaise
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
¼ t freshly ground black or white pepper
¼ t Fine salt
½ T Chopped parsley or onion greens


Combine altogether. Mix well. Chill if desired. Serve with any finger food.

Tip: You could also try to dredge the rings on a plate. To have well-coated squid rings, you could try to put a few tablespoons of the seasoned cornstarch in a plastic bag or container. Shake the container until the rings are well-coated with the mixture. For storage, you could refrigerate or freeze the rings prior to frying. Alternative coating is crushed crackers or Japanese bread crumbs.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grilled Peppered Pork Belly

Grilled Peppered Pork Belly

1 kg (2.2 lbs) Pork ribs or pork belly, sliced
¼ C Vegetable oil or olive oil
12 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ½ t and 2 T Freshly ground black pepper and crushed black pepper
½ T Rock salt
4 T-1 11/4 C Soy sauce
¼ C Calamansi juice (lemon or lime juice)
3 T Brown sugar
2 pcs Thai chili peppers, minced
2 T Banana ketchup (optional)


Procedures:

In a bowl, put in the meat together with the oil, half of the minced garlic, rock salt and crushed black pepper. Rub and massage the meat with the mixture using clean hands. When the meat is all covered with the rub, pour the soy sauce, calamansi juice, chili peppers and brown sugar. Continue massaging the meat. Tenderize it using a fork by poking through the meat. Soak each piece in the marinade. When all is done, add the ketchup and mix altogether. Refrigerate the meat either inside a plastic bag or a covered container. Do not freeze the meat. You could cook the meat with a pan griller, or with an old fashioned char-griller. When you are ready to grill the meat, use the marinade to marinate the meat while it is being grilled. Traditionally, in the Philippines, we use a banana leaf brush to marinate the meat to keep it tender, moist and juicy. Do not burn the meat. Burnt meat is carcinogenic. The meat is cooked once it is all brown not burnt on each side. Serve with the Green Mango Salad.



Side dish:
Green Mango Salad


2 C Green mango, diced
1 ½ C Tomatoes, seeded and diced
¾ C Red onion, chopped
1 T Fish sauce (preferably, in Filipino cooking, it is Bagoong or Shrimp paste)


Combine altogether. Serve chilled or as it is. Works best with any grilled meat, fish, pork cracklings or eat as salad.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Halo-halo con Zabaglione

Halo-halo con Zabaglione
Halo-halo with Zabaglione Sauce

This is my take on one of the Philippines' famous desserts snack. Instead of just plain evaporated milk, I infused the flavor of Italy here. And the result is still refreshing without sacrificing the flavor we have been familiar with.

Ingredients:

3 C Sparkling white wine like Champagne or any carbonated soda (Sprite, 7Up)
2 pcs. egg yolks
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T sugar
1/4 C raisins, soaked in rhum
1/2 C each red and green gelatin, boiled, set and cut into cubes
rice crispies (pinipig)
red mung beans, cooked with sugar
garbanzos or white kidney beans, cooked with sugar

other add-ins: bananas cooked with sugar, preserved jackfruit, sugar palm (kaong), leche flan (custard), ice cream, condensed or evaporated milk

Preparation:

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with sugar and cinnamon. Pour the sparkling wine or soda gradually until frothy. In a tall glass, arrange the ingredients i a presentable manner. Pour in the frothed zabaglione in the glass and top with rice crispies. Serves 2.

These recipes won me my first gold for the dessert-plating category. I should say I was surprised to get that. These are very easy to make recipes but all of these put together made a powerful combination-an Elite Four. Hehe...

Other than that, i managed to come up with really chic, presentable, artistic presentations that captured the eyes of the judges.

Give these recipes a try.




Spiced Toscano Schiaccia il Timballo

Spiced Toscano Schiaccia il Timballo

Spiced Tuscan Squash Flan

This is my version of leche flan or custard. It is still made with eggs and milkbut to make it richer, i put in squash puree and nutmeg. It has a little kick of spice with the nutmeg, also putting in more aroma.

Ingredients:

2 C squash or pumpkin, (the older, the better), peeled, cubed and boiled

6 pcs. egg yolks

1 C condensed milk

1 t nutmeg

1/2 C sugar

1 t vanilla extract

Preparation:

After boiling the squash, pass it through a sieve. In a bowl, combine the beaten egg yolks, condensed milk, mashed squash, vanilla extract and nutmeg powder together. Mix well. set aside. In a custard mould, dissolve the sugar to make sugar syrup as a base for the flan. Pour the mixture on the moulder. Put the moulders on a baking tray with water or just put them in a steamer. Cook until flan is firm. Preferrably, I would use small round, tin flan moulders for this recipe, so when it is plated, you would see the height of the dessert. When the flan is done, set it aside to cool, refrigerate to set properly. Unmold on a dessert plate. Serve the flan with fresh fruits or with other pastries.

Tartufi Neri e Bianchi con Frutta Tropicali

Tartufi Neri e Bianchi con Frutta Tropicali

Black and White Truffles with Tropical Fruits

This recipe was formulated during my Food Sales subject wherein we have to come up with our own unique product, make a feasibility study, marketing strategy, sales report and concept of the prospective product with their potential proponents. This recipe is a no-bake and very rich in fiber.

Ingredients:

300g chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

1/2 C condensed milk

3/4 C raisins, chopped

1 pack (300g) dried tropical fruits, (papaya, banana, pineapple, coconut meat, mango), minced

cocoa powder

confectioner's sugar

Belgian waffles

Preparation:

In a mixing bowl, combine crushed cookies, condensed milk and raisins. Mix it altogether intil you have a sticky mixture. Roll out a half-tablespoon of the mixture into a ball. Press at the center to provide space for the filling of mixed dried tropical fruits. Roll it to a ball again. Set aside. Refrigearte if preferred. Dredge each ball with cocoa powder or confectioner's sugar. To plate, put a Belgian waffle on a plate arrange four truffles into four's with alternate colors. Put another waffle on top of the truffles and dredge lightly with cocoa pwder. Garnish with edible blooms. Makes 24 pieces depending on size of truffles.

Composta di Pomodoro ala Pietro

Four desserts-exquisite!

These desserts were the most unforgettable and easiest desserts I made. Having said "easy" you will find it amazing how I managed to bag the Gold Award at a culinary competition.

It was the 4th Gastronomia Culinary Skills Competition. The theme was European-Filipino. I came up with Italian-Filipino as a concept for my desserts. The category was for "Plated Dessert Display-Freestyle." Wherein we have to display four different desserts be it cold or hot, baked or frozen, fresh or cooked. Some of the elements we have to consider are the colors, flavor, aroma, height, taste-basically everything must go together and must relate to your concept and theme.

Here are my four award-winning desserts. The first dessert was adopted from my Mom's original recipe of "Tomato Jam." I've alteres her recipe to make it my own and came up with two versions. Since I followed an Italian theme, I also decided to name the recipes in Italian.

Composta di Pomodoro ala Pietro

Candied Tomato and Tomato Compote

Ingredients:

2 pcs ripe, red firm. plump tomato, peeled and seeded, sliced into strips; the othe is peeled and seeded then, hollowed

4 T sugar

4 t water

1 t rhum or brandy

1 T fresh grapefruit juice

fresh fruits (strawberry slices, grapefruit slice, mint leaves or pandan leaves)

Preparation:

In a saucepan, pour the water and let it simmer. Add in the sugar and tomatoes. Allow the sugar to dissolve and crystalize with the tomatoes. Pour the brandy or rhum and juice. Stir the fruits to avoid burning. Once the sugar is melted and the tomatoes are begining to be somewhat clear, transfer them on a bowl. Let cool. To plate the dessert, put the grapefruit slice on a white 13" plate. On top of it, put the whole "tomato compote" and the "tomato confit" atop the compote. drizzle with syrup. Garnish with fresh fruits and a sprig of mint and/or a pandan leaf. Serves 2.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My First Kitchen Adventure

I was around 3 years old then. It was 9-ish in the morning when my Mom left me alone at home. I’m a really a smart-ass when I was alot younger. I was watching TV when something ran in my mind. I got bored quite a bit so I thought of something else to do. I was thinking of doing my Mom a little favor which she could be proud of when she gets home. The best thing I thought is to cook rice.

Yep!

So, what I did is I looked for something to cook on and found this llanera-an ellipse-shaped aluminum container used to mould and cook leche flan. i scooped rice from a huge drum and put it in the llanera. As how my Mom does it, I rinsed the rice three times untl the water gets somewhat clear. My Mom told me that rinsing the rice would remove the small stones and the rice husk or something. Me being a smart-ass thought that, “Why just rinse to clean it when I can use soap to make it more sanitized?”I put a dash of powdered detergent on the rice with water to clean it. When it has became soapy and sudsy, I rinsed it again. After the last rinse, I then put water to the rice, getting it ready to be cooked. I even finger-measured the water acting like an expert without any idea why my Mom does that. Haha!

Then, put the llanera atop the stove, lit the fire and voila! I was cooking rice. Hahahahaha! Thinking that I’m all done, I went back watching TV with my favorite show, Voltron, you know the lion version of the five robots that make up Voltron. Minutes while watching, I smelled something like burnt metal. I rushed to the kitchen and with my surprise, the llanera with rice is flaming!!! I put off the fire from the stove and blew the flames off the burning llanera. I was so frightened because I was alone and I could’ve gotten the house on fire, which then wasjust made of sawali and pawid. I threw away the evidence of course. then I went back to watching TV.

Suddenly, I heard my Mom calling me from afar. She was on a tricycle with a basket full of groceries and plastic bags . She was calling for help. I went downstairs and helped her carry the groceries. As soon as she stepped in to the house, she said “What’s that smell? Smells like burnt rice.” I just shook my shoulders, ignored her and ran away as if I know nothing. Hehe! She then yelled to our neighbor which happens to be a relative (’coz we live in a compound owned by, also, our relative Sen. Lito Lapid who was then still a Vice Governor of Pampanga. It was a horse stable prior to becoming a residential area for his relatives) saying “Hoy! your rice is burning!” I felt quite guilty ‘coz she barely has an idea what really happened and at which house’s rice is burning.All of a sudden, I heard her shrieking voice calling my name. She found the burnt llanera still red and the coal-black burnt rice. She asked me what I did when she was out. Before I could even answer, she spanked me by the butt with her hand. I was crying already when I answered “I just wanna just rice for you.” I know she felt sorry for hurting me but I understand. She went silent for a moment then I saw some tears rolling down her eyes.I felt kindled and touched on that scene.

Even though without words to express her appreciation, the tears I saw were enough to attest what and how she felt that moment. She then asked me to go up and get the groceries as we are about to prepare lunch. Probably, she realized that I have interest in cooking. So, she asked me to acompany her with preparing the ingredients, even asked me to sit beside the stove while she is cooking so that I would learn.Honestly, while typing the last part of this article, i became teary-eyed. Reminiscing that was very nostalgic. From then on, I started appreciating my Mom’s efforts in cooking and doing all the chores. I found doing chores very enjoyable having her around. Don’t get me wrong but both my Mom and Dad are very skilled cooks and heck! they do know how to cook REALLY GOOD!!! Uh-uhm!
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