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Cook&Dine

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Ilocos Sur Food and Delicacies

For travelers who love to taste the different regional cuisines of the Philippines, Ilocos Sur is a place filled with delicious food and delicacies that epicurious adventurers will appreciate. With its unique and exciting cuisine that features a beautiful balance between meats, seafood, vegetables, and local treats, there really is a lot to discover and go back to with Ilocos Sur cuisine.

Strawberries and cream

There are food pairings that have stood the test of time, and for good reason. These classic combinations are well-loved either for their complimentary properties or their contrast. Think chocolate and mint, honey and lemon, caramel and salt, banana and brown sugar, and so on. One of the most popular (and prettiest) combinations in my opinion is strawberries and cream. Tart, sweet strawberries and rich cream go hand in hand. Visually, they also make a stunning pair, with the bright red berries glistening against the cream’s stark white.

12 Days of Christmas Punch

One of my favorite drinks to have is a bloody mary because it’s one of the drinks that you can drink at all times of the day. I remember having a bloody mary with brunch because it has a savory flavor profile that’s not normal in most drinks. And when I think of Christmas, I think of spice and the smell of pine and an open fire. So when I was younger, when we used to pick our Christmas tree, it wasn’t always perfect so we would cut off branches and we would throw them into the fire place. I loved the smell, and I liked the way it would pop in the fire. So I decided to smoke some rosemary leaves to mimic that smell in the bloody mary. And back then, the only thing we could drink was fruit punch. So I decided to make a hard fruit punch. I called it 12 days of Christmas punch because it has 12 ingredients all together. If you want to make it for the kids, just remove the alcohol, but I’m sure this colorful red punch will lighten up any party. Just be careful because it’s going to creep up on you. Happy holidays, and I wish you a very merry Christmas. I still would love to hear how you enjoyed these recipes, so hit me up on Facebook (Chef Bruce Lim) and Instagram (@chef_bruce_lim) for your thoughts.

Four French hands at Dusit

Collaborations are opportunities to exchange knowledge, to widen one’s view and to share the limelight. While creative collaborations usually involve contrasting styles and backgrounds, a partnership between two of the most prominent French chefs in the country can only mean one thing—a meal that’s truly one for the books.

Weekend Recipes

Christmas ham

This is my version of what looks like a Finnish Christmas Ham. While the addition of mustard and bread crumbs are from Finland, any cooked ham would do. To add a bit of sweetness (which Filipinos, including myself, love), I cooked and glazed the ham with a mixture of pineapple, molasses and brown sugar.

COOK Magazine marks 18th Year with a Slumber Ball

For the past eight years, COOK Magazine has been holding an annual thanksgiving party for its advertisers, columnists and friends. This year’s celebration, “Slumber Ball—A High Gloss Pajama Party,” was conceptualized by the COOK team to provide our guests with a relaxed and fun-filled atmosphere. The theme reflects the working environment at COOK—laid-back, filled with dreamy food and recipes, and lots of fun and laughter. While publishing a monthly magazine isn’t a walk in the park, 18 years in the industry is proof that when you do what you love, it won’t ever feel like work.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition

For anyone remotely interested in food and restaurants, you’d have to be living under a rock for you to not have heard of Anton Diaz. One of the first to popularize the medium and arguably the most influential, Anton has made blogging a byword in the local food scene. While visiting restaurants and reviewing food is what Our Awesome Planet is mainly known for, they are also a popular travel blog, documenting their family adventures and sharing these with readers. The blog, as Anton himself discloses, started as a way of documenting their family journey through the years. It’s something their sons can look back to, a “record” of the milestones, the trips and the epic meals. That the public has taken to his blog and used his entries as a food guide wasn’t his initial intention.

Callos my way

My version is heavy with red bell peppers and Pimenton Dulce (sweet Spanish paprika). Of course, the “sweet” in the paprika isn’t really sugary, it’s more of a way to distinguish it from the hot kind of paprika. As I’ve said, the way I make Callos, or even Paella, is with lots of red bell peppers, cooked low and slow to form a sofrito, the base of sautéed aromatics, similar to our ginisa. As a foil to the sweet, salty chorizo and olives provide the savory component to the otherwise bland ox tripe. The spice comes from a bit of chili powder and black pepper.

Gelato Fix You

Ice-cream shops that call themselves Gelato places are a dime a dozen these days, and some of them not very good that the term “gelato” has ceased to mean anything. Technically, it means ice cream in Italian, but Italian gelato is pretty specific in how it’s made. First of all it’s made from milk not cream, and you would think cream is better, but the extra butterfat in cream dulls flavors in favor of mouthfeel. Gelato is also very dense because it has less air whipped into it that you expect an intensely flavored scoop. So I’ve become quite skeptical of self-proclaimed gelato shops. I thought Gelatofix being a chain would be one of those kinds of shops that will be gelato in name only, but I was pleasantly surprised that not only is it real gelato, it is quite good.

Sweet braised beef cheeks with spiced sweet potato mash and roasted vegetables

SPiCEF and sweetened is something that I love to do when I’m playing with flavor profiles. But most of the time, when something is supposed to be spicy, I make it sweet and vice versa. A lot of times when I plan to make recipes, I try to think about how flavors react to each other. Something as rich as a beef cheek, I will add something sweet to cut through the fattiness. And my cooking technique will be low and slow to break all the connective tissues and grizzle in the cheeks. But when you do it right, it becomes a meat candy. I will pair it with a spiced sweet potato which has all the comfort of a sweet potato mash but I’m going to spice it up to give it a kick. So guys let me know how you enjoyed this recipe or made it your own, hit me up on Facebook (Chef Bruce Lim) and Instagram (@chef_bruce_lim) for your thoughts about my dish.

Mai Wei Fang cuisine: Introducing northern Chinese food to the Filipinos

JUST when we think that we’ve already tasted all kinds of Chinese food that could ever be served to us, a casual restaurant in Robinsons Place Manila is introducing us northern China’s well-kept dining secrets. Mai Wei Fang is currently serving authentic northern Chinese style of cooking that focuses on using wheat flour ingredients.

Taal Vista Hotel and Taza Fresh Table

I have very distinct memories of Taal Vista Hotel because it’s such a stalwart of the place that it’s practically synonymous with Tagaytay. If you lived in Manila, and in my case—the South—you would inevitably find yourself there several times a year at certain points in your life. One of my most memorable is also the silliest. It was back in the late ’90s, when my friends and I found ourselves daring to each other to roll down the long and empty carpeted hallway leading to the rooms.  I believe the three of us literally laid down on the carpet and rolled all the way down.

Taperia Poblacion

Spanish cuisine is arguably the most influential in our local food. While the Chinese come a close second, just looking at any fiesta table, it’s easy to see that until now, our dishes still contain a heavy dose of what our conquerors brought to our shores.

Gaga for Gaja

Saying that Korean culture has made a big splash on our shores is a huge understatement. From songs to TV shows to fashion to food, South Korea hasn’t just influenced our daily lives—their culture has actually become part of the mainstream. As a chef, I’ve always thought of Korean food as an easy pleaser. Having a couple of dominant flavors and a few essential ingredients like Korean chili and miso pastes, you’d be hard-pressed to find really bad Korean food. It all seems so simple, a bit of meat or seafood, some garlic, leeks, a bit of Gochujang paste and sesame oil and you have a decent Korean dish. For me, consistency and simplicity make good eating, and with a few kitchen staples, cooking and eating Korean is pretty foolproof.

Rose Apple Pie

Few desserts are as iconic as an apple pie. While these baked, sweet, steaming pies scream American countryside, a few other countries have their versions too. Apple pies are popular for a number of reasons. Apples are relatively inexpensive and, with the addition of a few common ingredients, can be transformed into the perfect blend of sweet, tart and spicy. Think of apple pie and it is difficult to imagine it without the image of golden lattice pastry or some kind of crumble on top. While those versions look good, too much pastry or crumble can overwhelm the fruit itself.

Squid Satay

Although popular all over Southeast Asia, satay is said to have originated in Java, Indonesia. Derived from Middle Eastern kebabs, brought to Java by Muslim traders, this popular skewered meat dish has evolved into something distinctly Southeast Asian in taste. While each country has its own version, including our own Muslim brothers in Mindanao’s Sati, the concept remains the same—skewered meat, served with a sweet/spicy sauce. Like Japanese yakitori, satay can be made from a variety of meats, but most common are chicken, lamb/goat, beef and pork.

Dishes That Feed More: Restaurants Against Hunger

The business of restaurants, including the coverage of it, the food scene, etc., can be such an exercise in excess and indulgence that when an opportunity to shed a light into the reverse side of that coin—hunger, specifically malnutrition in a country like the Philippines—people are willingly on board. Some people in the business of food already do it on their own. COOK Magazine’s columnist and food/lifestyle personality Sabrina Artadi has a weekly feeding program she put together herself. But the organization and logistics of it can still be intimidating to others. Chiqui Mabanta of Corner Tree Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant, said in her talk that echoes those concerns, “We want to help, but we don’t know how.” A campaign called Restaurants Against Hunger makes it easier for restaurants and diners to do just that.

Pistachio crusted salmon with garlic almond cream sauce

Nuts are really good to eat when you’re hungry or when you need something to snack on. When I’m cranking up recipes or thinking about how to tackle a problem, I need to keep my mouth occupied. I try not to chew gum, so I like to snack, and nuts are my go-to snacks. Nuts are also high in protein, and if you get the unsalted or unsweetened nuts, it gives you a quick energy boost. When I go fishing, I like making my own trail mix. Just mix some unsalted nuts, cut up pieces of beef jerky and hard shell chocolate candy that melts in your mouth not in your hands. Put them in baggies and that should keep your hunger in check before lunch, especially when you have one hand on the fishing pole. The beauty of nuts is that don’t just snack on it, but you can cook a myriad of dishes using it. So I’m going to give you a recipe that pays homage to the humble nut. We’re going to use it as a crust, and were also going to use it as a sauce. So let’s get cooking. I’d love to know how you enjoyed this recipe so hit me up on Facebook (Chef Bruce Lim) and Instagram (@chef_bruce_lim).

Eastwood Café + Bar: Cozy, Chic and Chill

Eastwood Café+Bar (EC+B), the all-day dining restaurant of Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, is both chic and cozy. “Being a restobar that is open from the break of day to late in the evening, we have to work extra hard to cater to the different cravings of diners,” declares Chef Victor “Vic” Barangan, the hotel’s executive chef. “This is where we serve breakfast buffet, a la carte lunch and dinner, and late-night drinks and bar chow.”

The house that peanut sauce built

Nuts are a great addition to any dish. Apart from being great sources of good fat, fiber and protein, nuts add texture and mild, but unmistakable, flavor to whatever you add it to. Nuts can also provide creaminess to dishes when ground into a paste and is a healthier and more flavorful alternative to starches when thickening sauces.

Benjarong Manila’s Thai Experience Tasting Menu: Modern Thai done right

Asian food has always been admired, replicated and adapted by Westerners to suit their tastes. Having fertile lands, more “exotic” ingredients, an endless variety of herbs and spices, and a yearlong growing season mean that we’ve always had much more to work with and enjoy. But being culturally meek and humble plus the preference to keep to ourselves have resulted in Asian food being relegated to the “take-out” type, eaten out of a cardboard box.

Beef Pares Noodle Soup

Beef Pares has long been a popular “street food,” ever since it was invented in the 1970s by the Tiu family. Their restaurant, Jonas along Mayon Street in Quezon City, used to be the go-to place if you wanted Beef Pares. The Chinese-style beef stew, mildly sweet and aromatic, is served with garlic-topped fried rice and some beef broth. Since its invention in the late-1970s, Pares has spread mostly in the Northern part of Metro Manila, namely in La Loma, Sampaloc and Caloocan.

Bejeweled Boeuf: To soak or to sulk?

If ever a dish had a way of making papansin, or seeking attention, this would be a perfect example. I haven’t cooked or eaten Boeuf Bourguignon since cooking school, I think, which was 15 years ago. But in a span of two weeks, I have seen it being made in a movie and eaten it at a friend’s restaurant. It felt as if someone was leaving me signs, convincing me to look back and recreate on of my favorite dishes from cooking school.

Country Style at Jasmine

There’s something about the elegant service at New World Hotel Makati’s Chinese Restaurant—Jasmine—that makes a normal lunch feel like a special occasion. As one of the highlighted specials for this month, the Wintermelon Seafood Soup is a warm comfort in these days of rain. It comes really close to a tinola, with the clear broth and the wintermelon (kundol) substituting for the papaya. The presentation is gangbusters, though, with the soup contained in the huge hollowed out wintermelon that sits on a silver serving bowl. Before serving, the waiter scrapes bits of wintermelon from the sides, like a low carb version of a bread bowl.

La Spezia: Soulful Italian cooking at its best

Hearing the words “Italian restaurant” usually brings one thing to mind—pizza. For someone who loves bread, I’ve never developed a craving for pizza. Truth be told, the part of pizza I look forward to most is the crust. One, because it is devoid of topping and can be enjoyed as normal bread would be and, second, because by the time you get to the crust, it means you’re almost done eating. On the other hand, I love pasta, even something as simple as Aglio Oglio. If you put pasta and oil and something savory together, I’d eat it. So when a message appeared on my phone inviting me to try the food at La Spezia, I was expecting the typical—an Italian restaurant specializing in pizza, with a few pasta dishes and maybe a chicken dish or two thrown into the mix. Oh, was I mistaken.

Chef Jesse Sincioco: An Icon among (National) Heroes

The culinary world and beyond has been singing Chef Jesse Sincioco’s praises for over 20 years, usually amid a mouthful of her dishes, which are always exquisite, elegant and very refined. In these days of edgy chefs with sleeve tats, Chef Jesse, in her immaculate chef whites embroidered with “I love Pope Francis” (inarguably the most celebrated person she has ever cooked for and her personal favorite), along with the Sacred Heart of Jesus as her phone wallpaper, has remained a true radical. This is a role that isn’t new to her, I imagine, being a trailblazer in her younger years, occupying a place still mostly dominated by men.

Chinese Food via Southeast Asia

Located at the new Seascape Village Complex, Asia Taste’s interiors hew pretty close to a traditional Chinese restaurant. There might be an absence of red, but there is a preponderance of soft yellow, a stand-in for gold, really.  It’s the same with the food, and Asia Taste has all the hallmarks of a casual Chinese restaurant, but it’s also a little bit “extra.” It  includes offerings familiar to other Southeast Asian countries. This is because the owners are foodies who want other people to experience and enjoy what they usually have or like, informed Restaurant Manager Ryan Uy, who has extensive experience in the Chinese restaurant business having been involved with establishments such as Gloria Maris and an outlet in Okada among others.

Happy Chickens Run Free

NOT all free-range chickens are created equal. Pamora Farms has been raising free-range chickens for 18 years now, and with the advent of these terms being more mainstream, the people behind Pamora want the public to know that.

A Country loaf

There’s something about loaf cakes that make me think of picnics. I guess because they’re easy to pack and relatively easy to make. It is actually one of the building blocks of cake making; and when you’re only just beginning to learn how to bake, you will definitely have had baked a banana bread at some point. A loaf cake is like a little celebration even when you’re just having a snack. It’s a low-key cake, but still a cake, so it’s really all the joys minus the bells and whistles. You can certainly up your loaf cake game quite easily. It’s an empty canvas where you can experiment new flavors to perhaps eventually do on a full-fledged cake. This Butter Walnut Loaf surely does not scrimp on indulgence, as I combine walnuts and pistachios and blueberries. You can pick other fruit, of course, as it’s not like you find fresh blueberries often, but I really like the idea of pairing this with a lemon glaze. Blueberries are often soaked in lemon juice to maintain their freshness and tang, so the lemon glaze intensifies this. It’s very country cottage-y, which brings up images of an afternoon picnic in some rolling hills.

The Red Piano

Anyone who works within or regularly visits Bonifacio Global City would likely agree that the pocket metropolis in Taguig is the new center of commerce and entertainment in Metro Manila. While BGC is much less crowded and better planned than any other city in the country, one can still get a feeling of being in the midst of organized chaos when making your way around its busier parts. Luckily, there are still parts of BGC where buildings are further apart, where the surrounding greenery and open spaces provide some much-needed breathing room.

The Slurping Season

Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my go-to dishes when I’m feeling under the weather. This is also the dish I make for my kids when they are sick. My version is inspired with a lot of Asian flavors, and I use spices and ingredients that help boost the immune system. I remember first slurping chicken soup when I was a child. My grandmother used to make it for me, so it’s something really close to my heart. The recipe I’m going to give you is quite tedious, but trust me it’s worth it, and a lot of the stuff you can prepare in advance. So plan this dish out for a wet and rainy day or when you’re feeling a bit sick. Hope you enjoy it. I’d love to know how you enjoyed this dish. Hit me up on Facebook (Chef Bruce Lim) and Instagram (@chef_bruce_lim) for your thoughts about this dish.

Sous Vide Tomahawk Porkchop with Apples and Onions

OF all the condiments we use in local cuisine, vinegar probably takes the top spot, or at least it’s in the top two, together with soy sauce. Of all the cuisines I’m familiar with, we probably use vinegar just as much as any. From dipping to curing to pickling (atsara), from marinades to dressings (pako salad), from use as seasoning to being used as the main braising liquid (paksiw), we have learned to take advantage of suka in all its variations. The dish that I have prepared demonstrate the good use of acid to counter the richness and fattiness of pork.

Tongue-twistingly delectable

“Akrotiri” means peninsula in Greek, so the roots of the cuisine served here is decidedly Mediterranean even if they have a bit of everything, from more classic European fare to Asian, particularly Filipino dishes. “It seemed to fit the label,” says David Jones, general manager of Akrotiri. “The name also came from coastal themes because…coastal food, the image—three parts water, one part land—so that name rides into the menu, as well.”

Tuna ceviche with coconut cream

TRADE and colonizers have formed our culinary identity over the centuries. Among the few ingredients that we can call truly ours, vinegar remains an integral part of a lot our dishes. Compared to our Asean neighbors, it seems that we use vinegar in cooking the most. Our most popular dishes, like adobo, paksiw and dinuguan, all use vinegar as the main flavoring. Aside from cooking and use as a dipping sauce, one of the most popular uses of vinegar is as a curing liquid. Being a hot country, meats and seafood can spoil quickly. Along with salt, curing with vinegar is a natural way of preserving food. Kilawin is one of the most widely used methods in curing seafood. From fish to shrimp to oysters, curing with vinegar is a quick and easy way to enjoy the freshest seafood.

Salta

The phrase “comfort food” has been loosely thrown around the food scene for some time now. While the term is supposed to be subjective (each person has his/her own comfort food), it is widely used to describe good home-style cooking or classic dishes that are easy pleasers. Comfort food may be fried chicken to some, waffles for another or a stew for someone else. Among the many dishes that may be considered as comfort food, one of my personal favorites is pasta.

Vinegar: A basic building block

Vinegar is one of those ingredients that I always have inside my pantry. It has many uses, from making a quick salad dressing to curing or to making a pickle that you can use as a side for all your main courses. Just like wine, vinegar has many different flavors; so, in choosing a vinegar, make sure you use the right one for the application you will be doing. A really quick pickling recipe for me is using light flavored vinegars, such as rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar and cider vinegar. For dressings, I tend to use full-bodied vinegars like red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and sherry vinegar. And as a dipping sauce, I like using our local vinegars, my favorite is sukang Iloko and seasoned spiced vinegar from Iloilo called sinamak. So I’ll give you a really cool vinegar base for pickling, my no-brainer vinaigrette that will work for pretty much any salad on earth and a dipping sauce recipe that you can use when eating your favorite fried pork, grilled fish or any grilled meat.  As always, I’d love to know what you guys think of this recipe; hit me up on Facebook (Chef Bruce Lim) and Instagram (@chef_bruce_lim).

Chocolate Treat

Pistachio is one of my favorite ingredients to use in desserts, particularly chocolate. There is something to the distinct flavor and color of pistachio that makes it a joy to work with. The use of crushed pistachios is what gives the top of my mille-feuille its color. But because I’m also particular about texture, I added Rice Krispies and Almond Flakes to the mix. Rice Krispies, in particular, give a very loud crunch, and in combination with the Almond Flakes really gives an intense nutty flavor.

Seascape Village: A destination for sea-foodies

NOT having been there for a while, I was surprised to see that the space between Hotel Sofitel and the Manila Film Center is now Seascape Village. Developed by Metroscape Enterprises, a Filipino-owned corporation engaged in design and construction, Seascape Village is the company’s first commercial venture of this scale. The developer is aiming for a “resort feel in urban spaces.” “We wanted to stay true to the architecture of the landscape,” says Christine Suntay, Seascape Village marketing and events head. Seascape aims to be the “freshest seafood destination.”

Chicken and Mushroom with Pasta Carbonara

I THINK about what my kids like the most and, at the same time, I must make sure that it’s a balanced meal. I think about a protein as a must-have, and starch that won’t go bad quickly, and especially, vegetables, food packed with a lot of vitamins. I tried to avoid sweets as much as I can.

Bento Baon

When we think about healthy but delicious food, Japanese cuisine usually ranks highly. The way they balance flavors with nutrition is an art form. One of the more popular meals the Japanese serve are bento boxes. These partitioned boxes contain a number of courses, complete with appetizer/salad, main protein, carbohydrate component, even dessert. These portable meals are great on the go and can be the perfect school or work lunch too.

Easy Pleasers

The month of June (or August, depending on which school) means the start of the school year for the majority of students in the Philippines. As a parent, it also means a break from the activities (and additional expenses) of summer. The start of school brings a little more normalcy, a bit more routine to our days. A big part of that daily routine for most moms—and a few dads—is making baon.

Coconut cream blue crabs with crab butter

COCONUT is one of my favorite ingredients to use from my pantry. From the sweet refreshing juice of the young coconut to the nutty and creamy mature coconut, the number of ways you can use coconut in cooking is infinite. Keep in mind the flavor profiles and I guarantee, you will make awesome dishes.

Tales and tastes of Cavite

LAST week I finally got a hold of the much-anticipated book on Cavite Cuisine of The Cook of Books by Ige Ramos. The multitalented Mr. Ramos has served as an editor, writer, historian, graphic designer, layout artist and much more in countless publications and books is at it again, and this time as publisher of his own passion project.

These shrimps dance Latin

HAVING been colonized by Spain, the Philippines and Latin America have a lot more in common than we think. While corruption in the government and informal settlers in our big cities are some of the things we wish we could give back to our colonizers, there are positives from the cultural exchanges during those hundreds of years that still benefit us up to this day. Of course, I am talking about food. While the flavor spectrums of Filipino and Latin cooking are not exactly alike, we did get influenced a lot by Spanish and Mexican cuisine.

‘Reyna ng Bagtikan ’

YOU know a carinderia is successful because you get there, and there’s nothing left. Limas, we would say. Claire Yangon, who owns and operates Kainan sa Bagtikan, has been feeding the denizens of this area for 24 years.

Food from our neighbors

I MUST confess that this article should’ve come out last year. But careless old me misplaced the memory card I used to take the pictures so, embarrassed as I was, I had no record of the cooking and eating session that took place. As luck would have it, the memory card I misplaced was found, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

Butter is better

ON its own or in combination with other herbs and aromatics, butter just gives any dish instant richness. The most common and my most used combination is butter, garlic and parsley. While this foolproof combination may seem cliché, the fact that it is generally well received and never fails makes it my go-to flavor combination. Whether it is used to sauté, as a spread for bread, added after cooking to top or coat a dish, or melted and spooned over meat or seafood, butter, garlic and parsley just never fails. I always spoon some melted garlic parsley butter over some large cockles.

Beefy Canadian

I REMEMBER having eaten Canadian beef a couple of times before thinking it was just okay, good though not particularly memorable, but there was something about this particular batch that I liked. For one thing, it was robustly beefy as was shown in the beef carpaccio, which paired really well with a peppery arugula.

Chicken Tagine

THE scorching summer heat and the ever-present dust reminds me of the deserts of Africa. In this hot and humid month of April, why not use the weather as an inspiration? My Chicken Tagine recipe celebrates the spices and sweet and savory flavors of Moroccan cuisine. The clay Tagine cooking vessel makes this dish more authentic, but you may, of course, use a heavy pot with a cover, a deep casserole or a Dutch oven. Bright, filling and mildly spicy, this dish definitely ticks all the boxes for a perfect summer lunch or dinner.

Salt and Smoke

I DON’T think I am alone in thinking that barbecued meat is probably one of, if not the most, appetizing thing you can watch on TV. Of all the cuisines that play on the food channels, only barbecue has multiple shows on its specific cuisine. It even beats shows on burgers or pizza or TexMex on the amount of coverage it gets.

Café Inggo: Of Food and Friars

Rarely do we associate life’s pleasures with spirituality. In fact, for most of us faithful, they seem to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum. While enjoying food isn’t actually sinful, the virtues of simplicity and charity seem to go against our urge to indulge in gastronomic pleasures. But enjoying food need not equate to gluttony, and we can always find other ways to celebrate our faith and be charitable.

Fruits and Nuts

I also use Belgian chocolate in this recipe, which makes it more indulgent. You could say this recalls classic chocolate bar combinations as well, which is why I topped my mini cakes with a hazelnut and a blueberry, which is, well, fruit and nut. I know fresh blueberries are hard to find, so you could replace them with maybe a cut-up fruit of your choice.

Green Day: Savory Steamed Parces

Steaming is one of the best and healthiest cooking methods you can use. While steam can’t make whatever you’re cooking crispy, or golden or dark and toasted on the edges, cooking with steam is a quick, lower calorie way of cooking.

Hearts that Crumble

It will be raining a lot of sweet things not to mention sweet nothings this Valentine Month. This elegant heart mille feuille distinguishes itself from the chocolate and rose brigade. It’s also easy to make biscuits, but the results look grand. You can top your heart biscuit with all the trappings of the season: flowers, chocolates, fruits, particularly strawberries, but anything will do really, depending on your color scheme. Red and pink is traditional, but these days, with rainbow roses being trendy, you can go with every color scheme.

Shrimp Sea-viche

You will probably find an avocado a curious ingredient in this ceviche, but this is something quite common in Latin countries like Mexico and Ecuador. The addition of Sriracha will also give it a savory kick.

The Yule Leg

Nothing quite connotes a traditional Holiday dish than the chicken relleno. Back in the day when turkey wasn’t widely available in our shores, a stuffed bird still had to make it to the table. This dish also has a reputation for being a tedious job, thereby making its seasonal availability all that much more rewarding when you do have it. This recipe celebrates the chicken relleno but takes up only a quarter of the time it takes to make a traditional one, and loses none of the flavor. If that’s not having your cake and eating it, too, I don’t know what is.

Definitely, Skippy’s takes its food, service and sports seriously for a great piece of the Down Under

Australia is known for the best lamb and steak products and the freshest seafood. Wonder no more. Australian agriculture is a major global producer and supply an abundance of fresh produce for both the local and international market. Stock grazing (mostly sheep and cattle) are prevalent throughout the continent. Moreover, Australia’s 11 million square kilometer fishing zone, the third largest in the world, allows for bountiful access to seafood which significantly influences Australian cuisine.

The Launch of Chivas Mizunara    

Chivas Regal blended Scotch whisky recently held a tasting event at LIT, a whisky-focused Japanese bar in BGC, to celebrate the launch of Chivas Mizunara in the Philippines. Aside from the Mizunara; Chivas 12, Chivas Extra, and two kinds of whisky cocktails ( Japonism Fragrance and Mizunara Highball) were also served in the tasting event.

Speak in tongues with this Christmas Pot Pie

Pastel de Lengua is one of those classic holiday dishes that immediately bring to mind both the feast of the season and the warmth of the home. It also comes with a lot of history that can be clearly gleaned as steeped in Hispanic influences, not the least of which is the name. First there’s the ox tongue, which will always result in a tender, almost velvety, bite, especially coupled with a rich, creamy sauce. The use of pastry is also very European. Its presence in this dish, which is usually served in the form of a pot pie, is something we think of as decadent.

Chito Chavez: Molding the dough of Pinoy’s new bread

Coming from a third-generation petroleum dealers in Cuenca, Batangas, Chito Chavez didn’t expect that what he used as an alibi for his mother to allow him to see Manila every weekend will become his bread and butter, and a driving force to effect change in the industry where he is now a part of.

A cheesy slice of Christmas

If you were at this year’s Ultimate Taste Test Pro Edition, you may have noticed a beeline heading for the Ted’s booth, wanting to get a taste of their Bibingka Cheesecake. If you were there, you may have also noticed the unassuming baker behind the popular cheesecake, Chef Gel Salonga. Hailing from Santa Cruz, Laguna, Chef Gel wanted to create a dessert that showcased their town’s most popular products, namely kesong puti and salted duck eggs. With both ingredients being on the salty side, a salty-sweet dessert was the way to go and what better vehicle for cheese and eggs was there than a dessert that already makes use of both as primary ingredients—cheesecakes.

Party Pleasers

THE months of November and December usually mean dinner parties one after the other. Whether you’re attending a potluck or hosting, there will be instances when you will need easy dishes that feed a lot and are sure hits. Cooking for a lot of people can be daunting enough. Cooking complicated dishes only adds to the stress and can keep you from being able to enjoy the festivities. Planning ahead and keeping things simple should make for relaxed parties where everyone enjoys, even the host.

Food Park Finds

FOOD Park Finds is a series of articles that feature some of the best grub we’ve tried at food parks. Sprouting up throughout Metro Manila in the past couple of years, food parks have been known to provide would be restaurateurs a venue to try their hand at the business without having to spend millions. For diners, food parks are a fun and novel way of getting to try different cuisines in one place and at a relatively inexpensive way.

La Cornue’s Cornufe

On September 20, Manila House, BGC became Paris for a night as French luxury brand La CornuFè unveiled their brand-new kitchen masterpiece named CornuFé. Attended by guests from the French community, as well as members of local media, the Bastille Day-themed launch, called “Vive La CornuFè” brought together French art, food, music and culture, the key elements that perfectly represent the brand, as well as its country of origin.

All Hallow’s Eve Surprise

I can’t count how many times I’ve said that Halloween is my favorite occasion to bake goodies for. There’s nothing like ghouls and ghosts, pumpkins and witches to bring out my creativity and humor.

Bistro Manuel: A long awaited homecoming of sorts

Of all the lunch invitations I’ve received in my 12 years with Cook, the invite to Bistro Manuel was probably my most anticipated. The chef, Ariel Manuel, is one of the few truly legendary chefs we have locally. Along with Chefs Billy King, Tonyboy Escalante and Jessie Sincioco and, of course, Norbert Gandler, they are the few who have molded and influenced how fine dining has evolved in Manila in the last couple of decades.

Surf and Turf in Soup Form

OFTEN eclipsed by more popular soups, like tinola, sinigang and nilaga, Molo Soup or Pancit Molo is one of my favorites among local soups. I can’t think of any other local soup that mixes meats and seafood, as well as the carb component, in one dish. I come from a purely Tagalog family, Laguna on mom’s side and Bulacan on dad’s, so my love for Molo Soup is purely objective.

Eel Thrills (Celebrating Japan’s Unagi Festival at Izakaya Sensu)

IN Japan, an old tradition known as Unagi Festival is widely anticipated and celebrated for a day. Unagi or eel is believed to have a property that could ward off the intense summer heat and at the same time allow one to gain his or her energy. As for its health benefits, eel contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and has a wealth of vitamins and minerals.

Discovering the Thrills of Manhattan Row

Are you on the lookout for a new hangout destination? If so, then look no further. Manhattan Row, along Malvar Street (situated between the two condos Manhattan Parkview and Parkway) in the heart of Araneta Center in Quezon City, is a mighty contender in this department.

These Ice Cream Cones Won’t Drip

I  love making whimsical cakes. Nothing quite brings out the child in the baker when making these flights of sweet fancies. If you remember the puffy cone from childhood, these cone cakes remind me of that. The cone was just a regular cone, but in place of the ice-cream scoop was marshmallow, coated in chocolate, and farther down the cone was a richer, nougaty mixture. A cone cake has the added advantage of a ready handle, and they won’t ever drip. I think it’s fun to incorporate ice-cream flavors into the cake, but, if you’re too pressed for time and are not able to make two or three different-flavored batters, you can just use your toppings for maximum effect or use different-colored icings and just flavor each one differently. Specialty stores have a wide array of flavoring pastes and syrups to really bring a new zing to frosting.

Zig-Ah-Zig: Hash it Out

Zig-ah-zig’s sign, which is emblazoned on a Union Jack, is hard to miss. Situated at the corner of Wales (fittingly) and South Yemen (less fitting)  streets in Better Living Subdivision, Paranaque, it features other classic British iconography on the walls.

Yin and Yang Soup

Korean cuisine has a lot of soup dishes because it can get really cold, and these are refreshing and flavorful ways to keep warm. Of course, it won’t be complete without what could be the holy trinity of Korean cooking: gochujang paste, soybean paste (doenjang) and Korean chili flakes (gochugaru). You could say these are now so commonplace you don’t have to go to a Korean specialty store, it’s available at practically supermarket.  Now, the imperially named crown daisy leaf, you need to get at  the Korean grocery.  Called suugkat in Korea, these Chrysanthemum greens are popular with vegans as it’s somewhat of a wonder vegetable that helps with insomnia, strokes and anemia.

Have an afternoon dessert at Restaurante Pia Y Damaso

USUALLY, when you are craving for a slice of cake to go with a cup of freshly brewed coffee to end a good meal with, you go to a coffee shop or desserts place to satisfy your craving. But there is this highly unlikely place on Level 2 of Greenbelt 5 (in Ayala Center, Makati City) that dessert lovers must check out.

Sweet naturally with raisins

It’s heartening to see that many people are returning to the kitchen to find their roots. This means taking time to enjoy simple pleasures, beginning at the table. Make meals extra special with California Raisin dishes that are fuss-free, yet perfect for home cooking on ordinary days and for celebrations!