Saturday, March 9, 2013


Hi! I will be transferring to a new blog address: a pinch of sea salt :)

Sorry for all the confusion but I lost my email's password for this blog, and I cannot access it anymore which is why I had to take this down before things get worst. (Like blogger asking me to verify my email which is now SUPER impossible!) 

See you! :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sinigang Top Chef conquers American wars

( In this social media obsessed nation of ours, news comes at you faster than Flash Elorde’s fist. (Do you even remember this pugilist? You should!)

You can double the speed of that punch if the news is about a Pinoy, and triple if it’s about a Pinoy and about food – another national obsession that’s reached fever pitch.

The chatter on the social networks these past few days was all about the lastest KO – a good ol’ Pinoy won a major segment called Restaurant Wars on Top Chef Seattle. Sheldon Simeon, who looks like a really likable guy whom you’d just want to hang out with over a few beers and some chicharon, may have grown up and lived his life in Hawaii, but his roots are pure adobo.

Chef Simeon's Sour Tamarind Soup with Pork Belly, Shrimp, and Snapper

The end goal of this portion was to put up a restaurant – from scratch, mind you, meaning everything from the menu down to the décor and furniture – and our man Sheldon did a Filipino concept to warm the cockles called Urbano, gathering inspiration from his roots and heritage. This gent, who learned his craft in Disneyworld (and found his wife there too!), and who went up the culinary ladder through his work and sheer perseverance and is now an executive chef of a cool Hawaiian joint – now who doesn’t want to root for a guy with a story like that? – wowed the judges with his (and his co-chef’s) renditions of kilawin, balut, adobo, and halo halo, albeit a little different from the way lola makes it.

If anything, this victory just adds more weight to every Filipino patriot cook’s dream of bringing our beloved cuisine to the world stage.

It’s happening – perhaps in little baby steps – but steps whose pace has obviously quickened. As a food geek, I’ve observed that it is the logical progression for our grub to appear on TV after all the action coming out of the US East Coast, specifically New York and its environs who seem to be making the most noise (sorry, Bay Area). The standard bearers there – names like Romy Dorotan of Purple Yam, King Phojanakong of Kuma Inn, the cool new kids on the block of Maharlika/Jeepney – they’re going about drumming the same beat but in different signatures. The common denominator is their food has taken off from the same blue print.

At this point, I’d like to wave a sign of peace to those who wave the banner of authenticity.  Let’s put that down for now – because let’s face it – no one is ever going to make kare kare like Nana Concha from the barrio who was taught by your great grandmother’s cousin the award-winning town cook. Not YET anyway.That’s not the point this time.

The point is, these victories, especially pareng Sheldon’s, has brought our beloved fare into the consciousness of mainstream America, and while we are still a bit far from opening something as ubiquitous as, say, Chipotle, Panda Express or Benihana, the point is Aunt Betty and Uncle Andy from Milwaukee may now actually be interested in spooning some good ol’ adobo on hot steaming rice. That’s a victory, in my book.

Resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated. Kain tayo, America!

Photos from Bravo TV's official Top Chef website


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sauteed Scallops with Coriander and Garlic Butter

There are 3 kinds of scallops. The largest are sea scallops, considerably smaller are bay scallops, and the smallest of all-they look like mini marshmallows-are calico scallops. I think what we have in the Philippines are bay scallops for they are small but not as small as calico scallops. 

They said old cookbooks call for cooking scallops for 20 minutes but after a testing a batch earlier, I figured that its better to just heat them through. When cooked correctly, scallops are tender and mild but when overcooked, they give ressistance to the bite. 

Another concern with scallops is chemical soaking. They are sometimes soaked in a solution that causes them to retain their water; otherwise, they would lose weight from the time they are harvested which can result to fishermen earning a small fortune. According to the book COOKING by James Peterson, Bay scallops are usually sold out of the shells and look like miniature sea scallops. They also tend to be expensive and are best when you can find them in their shells which guarantees freshness. Since there is no way to buy them right after being harvested, I'm stuck with possibly chemically treated scallops (blehhh). 

Sauteed Scallops with Coriander and Garlic Butter
Original recipe from the book, COOKING by James Peterson

First things first. Make a compound butter. Original recipe calls for parsley but since I have none at hand, I decided to use fresh coriander. To make a coriander and garlic compound butter, coarsely chop a handful of coriander and 3 cloves garlic. 

Add the butter and chop until finely chopped and completely combined. Bring the butter together into a cylinder with the side of the knife, wrap in a parchment paper and refrigerate. Set aside.

Brown your scallops over very high heat in a little oil. When sauteing scallops, you need high heat to brown the two sides without overcooking the inside. Again, overcooking the scallops would make it  tough and somehow leathery. We don't want that, do we?

Turn only 1 or 2 scallops at a time. Here, you can see that I've committed 2 crimes: 1) The heat is not high enough thats why the scallops released liquid into the pan and got boiled into their own juices. 2) I got overly psyched in turning them alltogether. 

Transfer the scallops to a paper towel-covered plate and wipe out the saute pan with a paper towel. Add the garlic and coriander compound butter to saute the pan. Cook over high heat until frothy. Return the scallops to the pan and turn them around in the butter. 

Arrange the scallops on plates wit butter sauce spooned on top. I added a fresh coriander just before serving not just for presentation but to enhance the flavor of the herb.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Flapjack's Mango Exotica and Country Fried Chicken Breast

On breaking my lemon cleanse diet, I decided to still eat healthy by eating a salad. Skipped those in creamy dressing so goodbye Ceasar, we had a good run but I'm dropping you and hello Mango vinaigrette, we meet again.

Mango Exotica   
Lunch Php295   Dinner Php325

The mango vinaigrette has the right amount of sweetness and zing to it though the addition of raisins on every bite makes it move 2 spaces up to the overpowering sweetness department. Blanched sliced almonds give a nice bite to this dish together with the raisins but I'd prefer this dish to have a generous slice of almonds than the latter. Oh, the chicken breasts slices were a bit too dry and the sliced mangoes were also a bit sour but I think its okay for if it was sweet, then it would overpower other ingredients thus making the symphony of taste not create a sound of music.

Overall, this dish is light and heavenly but with the right amount of persuasion to spice up your hunger. I finished the plate feeling hungrier than ever to the point that it made me want to eat more.

Country Fried Chicken Breasts 
Lunch Php295 

The chicken breast was cooked to perfection and of course, what could go wrong with white gravy (or is it béchamel?) sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley to add colour to the dish. What's really surprising about this dish is the tex-mex rice. Well I'm assuming Tex-Mex means Texan-Mexican...I really don't know anything about mexican spices and ingredients for I only eat Mexican dishes and I loooove them. Maybe that's why I'm a bit afraid to try cooking it until this Tex-Mex rice imposed a challenge on me. It made me want to go home and cook for my man!

So what can I say about Flapjacks?
I've yet to try their other bestsellers but based from what Dan and I ordered earlier, Yes! They do serve yummy dishes but the servings were really really small and a bit pricey for the matakaw(glutton) and kuripot (spend-thrift) in me. Hahahaha!

Nevertheless, it's worth a try (Yes Loloo app, it is!). 
Oh noes, I'm still starving....

Sunday, January 13, 2013

BabyCakes NYC's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi! It's been a while and what no better way to start 2013 than post something healthy. They say whatever you do this January is something you're gonna be doing for the whole year so I'm starting it skinny, does that mean I'm gonna be as skinny as Miley??? Oh yes please!

My boyfriend bought me the book because I've been going back to the bookstores just so I can have a read. I think he felt sorry for his super kuripot  girlfriend who would rather go back and forth just so she can read than buy the damn book. HAHA.

Recipe first, verdict later.


1. Preheat the oven to 325 deg. Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce, salt, vanilla, and evaporated cane juice. 

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, baking soda, and Xanthan gum.

4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until a grainy dough is formed.

5. Gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

6. Using a melon baller, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the portions 1 inch apart. Gently press with the heel of your hand to help them spread. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes.

The finished cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center.
Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely before covering. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

The verdict:

You should know that I haven't tried anything gluten-free though I've baked vegan cookies already. What I really don't like about these healthy cookies is that they lack the buttery taste and richness of fat.
I was a bit disappointed when I had my first bite and my reaction was like, "Ito na? Ito na ba ang pinagmamalaki nila Zoey Deschanel and Natalie Portman? Ito na???" Though based on my observation, the cookies get yummier after each and every bite and the next thing you know, you already finished the first batch. I am not overselling, what I'm saying is correct and true. Or not. When my brother got a hold of these babies, his face went from sour to odd. He said it tasted unedible whereas my mom requested that I bake those that are fatty yet buttery cookies. As much as I want to fight for "BUT IT'S GLUTEN!!!!", I rested my case.

So readers, you decide...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Luxent Dinner Buffet

Dan and I braved Timog on a Sunday night to avail our buffet voucher from Luxent Hotel. From the looks of it, it's as if the place was just newly established for their elevator still needs further furnishing but as soon as you step inside their buffet and cafe area, you're in a for surprise. It's too bad that we were too hungry to take photos of the place but the international cafe looks really elegant.

We headed towards the buffet area and started digging in. We didn't even bother to ask the what-abouts of the vouchers we were holding because their sushi station already made my mouth water.

The verdict:
It's not as fancy as Spiral or Dad's but their staff are very accommodating. We started getting everything Japanese. I skipped the salad and soup bar for I was ready to put on some pounds. I helped myself through yummy servings of sushi, tuna and salmon sashimi, spicy tuna salad and kani salad. I was actually eating lots while getting tempura and fried Maki.

After getting our hands and chopsticks dirty, we went to get mains. My only comment is that they didn't serve vegetables, just pure meat except for the eggplant and tofu steak which was exceptionally yummy by the way and by the taste of it, looks really easy to make!

They served spinach ravioli which tasted so-so. It had too much cheese that it overpowered the pasta, spinach and the red sauce. Their chicken pastel and everything else tasted normal. What really caught my tastebud is, again, the tofu and eggplant steak. I also helped myself through huge servings of lechon, morcon, and beer battered cream Dory. I just wished they served veggies as well because I can't really live without veggies.

Because their mains failed to amaze me, I immediately went to their dessert station. Boy, they made up for not serving greens because they have like the best egg custard I've ever tasted! I think I consumed like 5 servings in one sitting! Their almond pudding topped with blueberries and tangerine tasted really good too! I mean it was so heavenly that I ate a lot! Like a lot! The dark chocolate cake was really fudgy, heavy and yummy which is the contrast of their mango cake that's more on the light and heavenly department.

They also served fruits and halo-halo but skipped those already since I've been eating fruits a lot these past few days due to GM. Dan made halo-halo which was overflowing with milk! Haha!

Overall, they serve good sushi and desserts but I think their buffet price is kinda pricey compared to DADs which boasts a complete set of different cuisines.

Though I do recommend their egg custard and pudding! Really really yummy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Pesto

I know I haven't been posting lately and I'm very sorry for that. I wanted to blame work but I figured I'm tired of creating excuses why I can't do this and that. Good thing though, my sister's friends came over tonight and she requested that I make pesto for them. Why not? When you've got no time to spare, Basil Pesto will always be everyone's go-to recipe!

Here's a series of photos to accompany you. Okay, I know my watermark sucks. Worry not, I promise that by tonight, I'm gonna have a decent watermark design. So going back...

1. Blanch and shock 2 cups of basil leaves

Why the need to blanch and shock? Shocking is when you immediately transfer what you're boiling or steaming to a bowl of ice to stop the cooking. The reason why were doing this is because basil leaves tend to lose its colour when cooked. 

2. Toast 3 tablespoons of Pignoli Nuts

Some recipes do not call for toasting nuts but I figured that when you toast nuts, its flavour becomes more robust. The nutty flavour of the Pignoli nuts contribute well to a pesto recipe, unless you want your guests to only feel its texture without the taste. But we don't want that, do we?

3. Drop in 3 cloves of garlic, basil, toasted pignoli nuts and a handful of salt into a food processor. 

Pulse until the the basil and Pignoli nuts are coarsely chopped. But if you want a smoother pesto, pulse further.

4. With the motor running, drizzle in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. 

5. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano.

6. Serve. 

Do not forgot to add in a dash of salt and a generous amount of freshly grated Parmeggiano Reggiano just before serving. 

7. Enjoy. :)