Category Archives: **Tips, Supplies & Preparation

california cheeses

10 ways to prepare noche buena dishes with California Cheese

california cheese platter

Will you be using cheese for your Christmas dinner? I will be preparing Chicken Cannelloni and fondue for our dinner and lunch menu. If you want ideas for a noche buena with cheese as an ingredient, here are some of my recipes. Click on each link.

1. Filipino style spaghetti
2. Cheezy beef patatas
3. A Raclette dinner
4. Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce
5. Chicken Cannelloni
6. Malunngay and cheese dip
7. Macaroni and Cheese overload
8. Cheese Fondue
9. Blinis Shrimp Torte Canapés and Cheesecake crunch bites
10. Chicken Cordon Bleu

When you shop in any leading supermarkets, you will discover that there are different Califorina Cheeses to give you more flavor to your Pinoy holiday dishes this year. California Cheese, served on a platter and paired with your favorite wine is great for  conversation.  My family and I often use a variety of cheeses in our noche buena table not just Queso de bola.  Incorporate California Cheese in your favorite Christmas dish and it can warm your family’s heart with its comforting creaminess.

california cheeses from california milk advisory board

 

While shopping today, I discovered South Supermarket Pasig displayed California Cheeses.

california cheese at south supermarket

Just what is the secret of California Cheese? The answer: California milk produced by happy cows. “The climate of California and the specialized care given by farmers to their cows allow their milk to attain its premium quality,” said Ms. Reji Retugal-Onal, USPB Country Representative.

 

California is the largest farming state and leading milk producer in the US, leading the nation in the production of fluid milk, butter, ice cream and non-fat dry milk. Of all the state’s milk and milk product categories, California Cheese is the largest and fastest growing category. California has been producing cheese for as long as it has been making wine – more than 200 years and is the 2nd largest cheese and yogurt maker in the US.

How do you know find the California Cheese that is right for your needs? Here is a guide.

california cheese mozzarella

  • Fresh: these lovely cheeses have not been aged or ripened, retaining much of the mild flavor of fresh milk. Cottage cheese, Mascarpone, Mozzarella (water-packed) and Ricotta are some of the more familiar examples. I use mozzarella cheese to top lasagana and Cannelloni.

califorina cheese cheddar

  • Semi-Hard: the broadest range of varieties and style, these cheeses include many of what we commonly refer to as “table cheeses.” They can be anywhere from soft and creamy, having been aged only a few weeks, to moderately firm, aged a month or more. Their flavors also vary, giving you a wide array to choose from. Examples include Cheddar, Feta and Gouda.

california cheddar cheese

  • Soft & Soft-Ripened: delicate and delicious, these cheeses are typically mild when young and develop a fuller flavor with age, often becoming softer and creamier in the process. Brie is an example of this type. Most of its varieties are mild and rich, although Oaxaca and Schloss can have strong flavors.

 

  • Very Hard: Beauty often comes with age and aged cheeses are no exception. These are the cheeses that are hard enough to grate or crumble. While the Dry Jack and the Enchilado Anejo can be mild, the Asiago, Cotija and Romano can have sharp or strong flavors.

 

  • Hispanic Style: a broad family of cheeses that reflect the cheesemaking styles and traditions brought to California from Mexico, Central and South America and Spain. You can find varieties that are mild and mellow, as well as ones that are strong and pungent.

califorina monterrey jack

  • Spiced & Flavored: packed with flavor, these are natural cheeses to which a cheesemaker has added natural spices, herbs, and/or vegetable for flavor. You can find flavored versions of Brie, Cheddar, Feta, Gouda, Havarti, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Panela and Provolone.

california cheeses

No matter which variety you choose, you can be assured that it is Real California Cheese made with California Milk if it carries the Real California Milk seal. It is a certification mark that assures consumers they are purchasing natural cheese, made in California exclusively with California milk.

I love that there is an ample supply at the grocery since cheese will always be a primary ingredient not only on Christmas dinners but in most special occasion dishes.

Check out facebook.com/RealCaliforniaMilk , follow them on twitter at @RealCalifMilk and instagram at instagram.com/RealCalifMilk

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raclette prepration

A romantic Raclette dinner to celebrate our 30th anniversary

severin raclette grill

You can purchase the Severin 4 pan Raclette Party Grill online at Lazada. Just click here.

How does one celebrate 30 years of married life? A romantic dinner at the hotel or a romantic dinner at home? 30 years married Then I remembered  our Afternoon Delights with  Braun and Severin kitchen appliances. During that event, I got to bring home this Severin Raclette Party Grill (1,895.00 pesos) because I just knew it would great for interactive cooking during family dinners. WHy not test it out for our anniversary dinner? Having grills on the dinner table turns out to be a great bonding experience with family members. .I have done this many times with Korean grill and the Cheese fondue set. Too bad, my girls don’t live with me but I am sure they would have loved to have been part of this celebration. racletter party gril by severin

You can purchase the Severin 4 pan Raclette Party Grill online at Lazada. Just click here.

I did a little research on the preparation of a Raclette dinner. Raclette is a firm, pungent cheese from Switzerland that is the center of a popular winter social event in the Alpine parts of Europe. The cheese is made of cow’s milk and is salty, and can come in variations made with wine, pepper, and herbs. I bought my Raclette cheese at Shopwise Libis for 145 pesos /100 grams. It is interesting to know the history behind the Raclette dinner and its modernized version .

Photo via thekitchen.com
Photo via thekitchen.com

The word “raclette” comes from the French word “to scrape.” Raclette makes up a simple meal that was enjoyed by shepherds in the fields. They would boil up some potatoes, and heat a stone and melt a bit of the raclette cheese on the hot stone. Once melted, the cheese was scraped off and served on top of boiled potatoes and sliced cold meats, charcuteries, cornichon pickles, and pickled onions are traditionally served on the side. A dry white wine is best to accompany this dish. severin raclette Raclette preparation does not have to be limited to the classic way it was prepared in the medieval ages. Here is another useful site on “A Guide to Easy & Fun Gourmet Raclette Recipes“. Many raclette recipes are surprisingly easy to make . Just Innovate!  I decided to create my own simplified version using a combination of Raclette and Emmental Cheese. Here is my Raclette dinner version: Sliced Baguette (instead of potatoes) Sliced Pickles (I couldn’t find pickled onions) Raclette cheese, 100 grams (Bought this at Shopwise for 145 pesos/100 grams) Emmental Cheese, 100 grams ( 100 pesos for 100 grams) Asparagus Cherry Onions Bacon slices Swiss sausage raclette grillI heated everything on the top grill and added slices of raclette and emmebtal into the small nonstick pans. There is only one switch for the Severin Raclette party grill so I turned that on. raclette prepration The veggies , cherry tomatoes and asparagus were brushed with olive oil.  The degree of heating depends on you. I just turned it off when the cheese melted below the grill. raclette grill by severin   Then I plated the bread, sausage and other veggies first before pouring the melted cheese on it.  My husband loved it. He wants to try out other cheeses in the future like our native white cheese in combination with Swiss cheeses. What do you think? raclette melting   That’s it.  A very simple and humble meal, yet very filling. My husband and I drank “Yellow Tail” red wine (instead of white sine) to celebrate our 30th years of married life.  What a great conversation piece.

severin raclette grill

You can purchase the Severin 4 pan Raclette Party Grill online at Lazada. Just click here.

raclette melted cheese

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severin crepe maker

Having Braun and Severin appliances in your kitchen

Mom bloggers were in for a treat when we got introduced to German quality brands : Braun and Severin appliances . My kitchen has almost all of the appliances I needed but for sure, I need additional ones to complement my existing ones. Well the treat is we got to know two quality and reputable brands with modern design and practical features. They are  affordable too. Let me give you a preview on some of their small appliances.

For instance, the Severin appliances makes an outstanding impression in any kitchen, like tasty snacks can be prepared at the touch of a hand. Take a look at the Crepe Maker ( 2,195 pesos ). You can have a crepe station for their family members. It is such a fun way to prepare snacks.

severin crepe maker

Severin makes cooking and baking create sweet treats easily with their mixer ( 3,995 pesos ) and bread maker ( 5,695 pesos).

severin mixer

 

severin bread maker

One of the easiest way to prepare healthy food is through juicing. I usually drink green juice just before bedtime. You will be glad to know that Severin has a slow juicer at an affordable price of 8,995 pesos.

severin juicer

You can purchase Severin Style Juicer online through Lazada. Click here.

My favorite appliance is the Raclette Party Grill ( 1,895.00 pesos) because this is good for interactive dinners and great conversation. I plan to have a Raclette dinner during our wedding anniversary .

severin raclette

Braun TributeCollection Food Processor( 8,795.00 pesos) is very useful in any kitchen , to facilitate repetitive tasks in the preparation of food.
braun food processor

Braun Omelette Multiquick 3 Hand Blender ( 3,695.00 pesos) is quite handy for the preparation of omelettes and quick mixing of liquids.

braun mixer

I am such big fan of home cooking . With the help of kitchen aids and small appliances, the convenience of cooking makes it so much fun. Whip up culinary delights with food mixers and processors. Create your own delicious loaves with a Severin breadmaker. Whether you’re a rising cook or see yourself as an expert cook, Braun and Severin offers a wide range of small kitchen appliances that is perfect for your kitchen.

severin products

Braun and Severin appliances are carried at Gourdos, Rustans, and major appliance stores. or

You can purchase Severin appliances and Braun appliances online through Lazada. Browse Severin appliances and Braun appliances .

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Tips in Cooking Adobo


My husband is fond of buying me recipe books or any books about food. One such book is The Adobo Book (Traditional & Jazzed Up Recipes) by Reynaldo Gamboa Alejandro and Nancy Reyes-Lumen. Not only do you get recipes of various authors but trivia and essays on adobo. The Personal Styles reflect the cook’s preferences. You should read the more than 100 adobo recipe variations ranging from Pork Adobo in Buco Juice, Adobong Tsino, Microwave Adobo, Fresh Oysters Adobo, Adobo sa beer and so much more.

My daughter who is now based in Germany once asked me how to cook Adobo. I told her there are many ways to cook Adobo, of course. What I’d like to show from the “Adobo Book” are tips for cooking adobo which is entitled the “10+ Commandments in Cooking Adobo”. I am sure you will learn a tip or two even if you have been cooking adobo for years.

1. Pork Liempo is best, tastiest and is better with skin-on. When cooked, becomes sticky and gelatin-y and helps thicken the sauce gloriously.

2. Simmer! Cook meats in low fire from start to finish (till meats are tender) and sauce is reduced [Cook uncovered in the last 10 minutes]

3. The usual ratios are

  • 1 kilo meat (chicken or pork): 1/2 cup native vinegar (reduce accordingly to acidity of vinegar).
  • 1 kilo meat (chicken or pork): 1/2 cup vinegar: 1/4 cup water
  • Soy sauce can range from 2 tablespoon to 4 tablespoon per 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 kilo meat: 1/2 cup vinegar or acid: 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2-4 tablespoon soy sauce: 5- 10 peppercorns: 1 laurel leaf

4. Cook chicken separately from pork. Flavors come out better. Then combine later when serving.

5. Always have salt in adobo. It helps balance the acidity.

6. Crush peppercorn at the last minute to retain its aroma.

7. 1 medium-sized laurel leaf can add flavor and aroma to 1/2 kilo meat. If you have the chance, use fresh laurel leaves.

8. Garlic. Crush only when about to be used. If left in the marinade overnight, it will lose its strong flavor. Be generous with garlic.

9. Braise meat first in, first out till brown. Then simmer till tender. For a better finish, bake at the last 15 minutes.

10. Mix with liver spread or mashed liver. Broiling or roasting liver over coal adds a nutty flavor.

11. Adobo with gata. Gata can be combined with coco milk and coco cream.

12. Do not stir vinegar till it has cooked. That is, when all the acid has evaporated. Your nose will tell.

13. Cook covered and on low heat (also called simmering)

14. The “Flow Chart” of Cooking Adobo

Marinate –> braise–> simmer –> tenderize –> fry –> reduce –> keep for a day –> serve!

I bet you didn’t know all of the above tips. I must admit that I wasn’t aware of Tip number 10 where you add liver for a nutty flavor.

When it comes to the adobo dish on regular basis, I serve 3 variations of adobo: the Classic Adobo Recipe, the Chicken Adobo in coconut cream and White Adobo.

What about you? How many adobo dishes do you regularly cook?

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ANCHOR MAPLE: Bringing a New Taste Dimension to Traditional Filipino Dishes

I only use premium ingredients when I bake and my first and only choice  for butter is Anchor. Taste and quality has always been a hallmark of Anchor products so it’s always my only choice be it butter or other dairy products.  Anchor Butter has been around for decades and has been a staple in many Pinoy households like mine. It is such an indispensable ingredient in my kitchen. To my pleasant surprise, I discovered this Anchor Holiday pack where one gets Anchor Maple Butter for free with the purchase of two Anchor butter packs.

anchor maple butter pack

This is my first introduction to Anchor Maple blend. Hmm, the word “maple” reminds me of the syrup that I add to my pancakes. Looking at the label, I discovered that Anchor Maple Butter is a blend of the creamy goodness of butter and the natural sweetness of maple syrup. Maple syrup is very popular in North America where it is used in a variety of dishes, from pancakes and waffles to baked goodies and even savory dishes.

I imagined Anchor Maple comes with a sweet-salty creamy combination. I couldn’t figure out how to use it until my cook pointed to the recipe at the back of the carton. Oh, a Maple Rum Cake . That got me pretty excited because I wanted a different kind of cake for my Noche Buena.

I am naturally curious and adventurous when it comes to new food experiences be it an original recipe or to put a new and refreshing twist to traditional dishes.

Another surprise awaited me. Together with other food bloggers, I discovered the many versatile uses of this new compound during a traditional Christmas feast. I had no idea where the mystery venue was until we arrived at surprise of surprises…Lolo Dads.

lolo dads

The five-course traditional Christmas feast was prepared by Chef Ariel Manuel of Lolo Dad’s.  According to Chef Manuel: “It’s always exciting to work with a new ingredient and discover its possibilities.” And discover it we did.

Each dish was injected with the sweet, salty and creamy goodness of the new Anchor Maple flavored butter blend.

anchor maple butter

Of course, Anchor Maple Butter can simply be taken by itself as a spread that goes well with a variety of breads for breakfast or merienda.  But that would only be half the story.

Chef Ariel added a twist to the butter by whipping up a butter spread with special ingredients.

anchor maple butter dip

I couldn’t wait to try the rest of dishes and check what Anchor Maple Butter had to offer.

The Anchor Maple and Honey Glazed Duck Ham was a revelation. Ham-style Duck is not well-known in the Philippines as we traditionally prefer pork. But the Duck Ham glazed with Anchor Maple and honey will give even premium hams a run for their money. The glaze provides a rich coat over the fatty duck skin, with just the right mix of saltiness and natural, woodsy Maple sweetness. It framed perfectly the slices of succulent duck meat without being cloying or overwhelming. This dish is a must-try for any celebration.

duck liver

Anchor Maple and Honey Glazed Duck  made of Duck Liver Terrine , Confit of Cantaloupe and Newly popped Corn salad.

Anchor Maple Butter also brought a delectable salty-sweetness to the crunchy Newly Popped Corn Salad. This is a healthy option for those disciplined souls watching their waistlines.

Espresso of Chestnut soup Anchor Maple Foam and Ham Flakes

The second course is Espresso of Chestnut soup from Anchor Maple foam and  Ham flakes. I took in the aroma of maple buttery goodness before I sipped my soup. It was neither too rich or bland.

Chef Ariel explains  how he arrived at every dish that is placed on our table.

with chef ariel manuel

Traditionally –prepared seafood dishes got even better with an infusion of Anchor Maple Butter. This was particularly delicious in the preparation of the poached Philippine Sea Bass (Apahap).  The delicate natural flavor and aroma of the fish was enhanced by the subtle incorporation of the butter-maple combo.

Pimenton infused Oil Poached Fillet of Seabass

Pimenton Infused Oil Poached Fillet of Sea Bass, Sauteed Lobster Vol-au-vent with Anchor Maple and Caviar Sabayon.

Before proceeding to our next course, I rinsed my palate with sorbet.

sorbet

The Rib-Eye Steak and Braised Short Ribs were made juicier and more flavorful with a basting mix of  Anchor Maple Butter.

Roast Eye of Rib Eye Steak with #anchormaple Cafe de Paris Braised Short Rib filled Fried Potatoes

Roast Eye of Rib Eye steak with Anchor Maple Butter Café de Paris , Bruised Short Rib filled fried Potatoes

Red Velvet waffles generously topped with whipped Anchor Maple Butter rounded off the feast. I thought it was clever of Chef Ariel to use a breakfast item like waffle for this pretty dessert.

Red Velvet with whipped berries

Red Velvet Waffle with whipped Anchor Maple and Cheese Cannoli , “Ber” Berries.

There seems to be an almost infinite number of ways one can enjoy this new variation on an old favorite.  You can check out the Maple Rum Cake I baked for my family for Noche Buena. Oh, it was such a hit. You can easily bake it because the recipe is so simple.

anchor maple kit

If you want to know more how to make your dishes better with Anchor, just head off to their facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/AnchorHomeChef .

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10 ways to prepare @The_Holiday Hams for the Noche Buena

Before anything else, CDO Holiday Ham sends Christmas greetings to all Pinoy Food Blog Readers through Chef Rob Pengson. Isn’t that sweet? Listen to the greetings below:

To top it all, Chef Rob Pengson 10 ways to prepare Holiday Ham recipes for you to feast using premium cut Ham from CDO.

A sample recipe is the Caramelized Orange Ham with Mustard Sauce. The combination of mustard with orange is just delectable. It isn’t the usual pineapple sauce that is normally prepared at the noche buena table. Most of all the use of premium cut Ham is made from one whole boneless meat from the hind leg which is the best cut of pork for hams. Hind leg ham is tastier and meatier compared to the more common shaped hams. Most of all the premium-cut hams have no extenders. The appearance, taste and texture can speak for itself.

Caramelized Orange Ham with Mustard Sauce

Ingredients for the ham and sauce

For the Ham:
Whole Ham
3 tbsp Cajun seasoning & smoky misquite (or any
like seasoning powders)
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
ground cloves and allspice for seasoning

For the sauce:
olive oil
chopped shallots
white wine
whole grain mustard
cream
bayleaf, salt and pepper


Procedure:

Preheat oven, pls buy rack and sheet pan small and medium, line bottom with foil.

Check out the rest of the 10 recipes.

You can visit their wesbite, www.holidayham.com.ph, Facebook Page
Twitter: @The_Holiday

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Easy and smart holiday cooking tips from Samsung digital appliances

The Christmas breeze and holiday treats mark the beginning of the Yuletide season. Endless family gatherings enjoyed with bountiful and sumptuous meals are just around the corner. Samsung Digital Appliance shared some holiday cooking tips through Judy Ann and Ryan Agoncillo who are excited these days as they celebrate their second year as a family this Christmas. The two are self-confessed food lovers and so this season won’t be complete without them spending time with their children in the kitchen! Despite their busy schedules, the lovely couple stir love and excitement in the family by cooking for each other and for the kids. Ryan and Judy Ann shares some tips for easy and smart cooking in the kitchen:

1. Pour in the Flavor: Instead of using water for steaming, braising or making soup, consider using stock, broth or wine. For example, use vegetable stock when cooking rice instead of plain water.

2. Butter is Better: Salt is most of the time used for adding more flavor to your cooking, but nothing beats the creamy burst of flavor from added butter. Take the low-salt option for those who are health-concscious.

3. Less Water for Microwave Cooking: Microwave oven-cooking evaporates less moisture from food. So, reduce the liquid specified in your recipe by ¼ cup of water from each glass. Thus, if you are supposed to use 4 cups of water, you will need only 3 when using the microwave oven.

4. Under Cover Cooking: Cover your food if the recipe requires it. This traps heat into a pan better, and food will cook faster, enabling you to shut off the stove sooner and save electricity.

5. Cleanliness is a Must: Splatters and spills are a given when using a microwave oven. Always clean your microwave oven inside and out before you pop in a new dish to prevent food from spoilage.

For Judy Ann and Ryan, smart cooking means smart parenting. Like most parents, they only want the best for their kids. With this, they choose the one and only trusted brand in home appliances, Samsung Digital Appliances. When it comes to kitchen matters, Judy Ann and Ryan use a Samsung microwave oven for reheating their favorite meals. Its slim and contemporary design makes it a welcome and aesthetic addition to any kitchen and its Triple Distribution System heats food evenly and thoroughly. This spells delicious meals in minutes.

—End of Press release from Samsung—

I too am a proud owner of Samsung digital appliances like the Samsung refrigerator that survived Ondoy’s flood, and a Samsung microwave oven. I can truly vouch for the trustworthiness of their appliances. Did I mention that I also love their quick services when I needed them to check if my refrigerator was working properly?

Not to mention their other products. Just this week I purchased two new Samsung products: the Samsung Galaxy note and a 1.5 HP Samsung wall mounted airconditioner (inverter).

So yes, with groundbreaking technology, Samsung Digital Appliances serve up high quality design and performance in each product – exactly what every household deserves.

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Food Styling anyone?

Food styling is the art of preserving food’s natural appeal in front of the camera. It is used for editorials, print and TV advertising, packaging, marketing, public relations, and film. A food stylist is responsible for making the food look delicious and “alive” during a shoot or a project.
Last May 7, Chef Theo Zaragoza conducted a food styling seminar at the Maya Kitchen in Makati. Chef Theo talked about the difference between food styling and food presentation. Unlike plating, styling food isn’t simply arranging it on a plate to look delectable. In styling, one must work with food at room temperature whereas in presentation, cold food must be served cold and hot food must be served hot. Oftentimes, food used in styling is meant to be held and not eaten.

Knowing the camera angle is another important aspect of food styling. The stylist must “design” and position the food accordingly for an overhead shot, side view, or at eye level. One has to look out for sharp contrasts and make sure that the photo or shot is balanced, including food composition. Chef Theo emphasized that people eat with their eyes before they eat with their mouths and so it is very important to keep the food appealing to the sense of sight.

Attendees were divided into groups and were given a hands-on experience on food styling. They were taught how to fluff a salad plate by using tissue paper underneath the greens to make it “pop out”, where to spritz water beads to make it look fresh and not weighed down, how to produce grill marks without a grill. They were also taught how to layer trifles, roast chicken using a browning agent and a torch, and how to achieve that mozzarella effect in pizza commercials. He even gave the recipe for fake ice cream.

Chef Theo has a degree in Industrial Design and eventually pursued his love of food by taking up culinary courses at the Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center and Makati Shangri-la Culinary Academy. Later on, he attended The Culinary Institute of America to perfect the technique and art of food styling under Delores Custer. He is the Managing Director of Resultado, a food styling firm.

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Pandan Iced Tea

pandan-iced-teaPandan is one of the most versatile leaf to use in the kitchen. I add it to rice and even as pandan flavor to chiffon cake. The fragrant aroma is so refreshing that you can even use it for pandan iced tea. Here is a refreshing drink you can use for your party.

8 cups water water
5 pieces pandan leaves
2 Tablespoon sugar
shaved or crushed ice
a drop of green liquid coloring (optional)

Procedure:

1. Boil water.

2. Add pandan leaves. Cook for 3-5 minutes

You will know it is done when the aromatic flavors start to fill the kitchen.

When boiling pandan leaves (the liquid is actually yellowish. Adding tinge of green color will give a greenish hue to the drink later on).

3. Add 2 Tablespoon sugar

4. Get a taste of the cool mixture through a spoon.

5. Adjust sweetness if needed.

6. Strain the liquid mixture. Add a drop of green liquid coloring (optional). Cool.

5. Serve on glass with crushed ice. Add washed leaf on the rim of the glass for a touch of color .

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