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Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Between Wolfing and Snacking

For the past few weeks, I've been more in tune to dining out. Some are old haunts that are worth coming back to, and some new ones that really deserve a visit.

1. The steaks at Hollywood Steakhouse located at the Seven Suites Hotel Observatory along Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City.

2. Persian Grill's Beef Kebab and Lamb Chops (Valero Street, Salcedo Village)

3. The Smoked Salmon and Mango Salad at Le Bistro Boheme (Blanco Bldg., Leviste Street, Salcedo Village)

4. People watching with Eggplant Chips at Pazzo Power Plant

5. Coffee at Alexandre (Bonifacio Global City in front of the SBDA)

But in the end, if you want some healthy snacking, try making Brocolli and Cauliflower Au Gratin : )

brocolli florets removed from 1 head
cauliflower florets removed from 1 head
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 stick of butter
2 Tablespoons or more of flour (depending on consistency desired)
1/2 cup of evaporated or full cream milk
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

- poach brocolli & cauliflower florets in a casserole of chicken stock for 15 minutes or until crisp tender
- drain vegetables from stock and keep stock for other cooking purposes. meanwhile, set vegetables on a shallow dish
- in a separate small pot, spray a little cooking oil to prevent the butter from being overheated and melt butter
- gently whisk in the flour to form a roux, but it should still be runny and not creamy
- pour in milk while stirring continuously until creamy
- season with salt & pepper to taste.
- pour white sauce over the vegetables and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese followed by the parmesan cheese
- bake in an oven toaster using top & bottom heat sources for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and browns
- serve alone as a snack or as a side dish to your own steak or fried chicken

This is a great dish to serve the kids - its colorful, creamy, and flavorful. You can also mix in canned corn kernels after baking to make it even more irresistible.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Comfort Food a la Francaise

Ooh la la! Another French restaurant in Makati caught my attention during one of those times that I was in Salcedo Village. It had an inviting homey facade, and so I towed the first few people who were available to try it out with me - my brother and daughter. Both were willing companions for my food samplings especially since for my daughter, we are always in search of alternative providers of her favorite dessert - the chocolate souffle.

La Cuisine Francaise is located at the ground floor of Paseo Parkview Condominiums, which building is just across the Paseo Uno commercial center. Upon entry, we were greeted by a polite staff in a very cozy ambiance filled with flowers and well-set tables. We settled ourselves in one of the tables lined against the wall and the seats were plumped up with French toille pillows. We were instantly served with a small plate of amuse bouche and our glasses filled with water to whet our appetites.

An examination of the menu told us that they are quite proud of their terrines, so we tried the Duck al'Orange which was served with a side of salad. It arrived in a serving that was good enough to be shared between two people together with a basket of hot baguette slices and rolls of creamy butter. The terrine slice (Php245 per) was served thick and taste nothing but of fresh, clean ingredients. This was accompanied by a tangy mustard dijonnaise. On another day, I would take this as a light meal on its own. But I'm here to try and get a taste of everything. So, in the spirit of everything la nourriture confort, my daughter had the Normandy Porkloin with apples (Php475). This is normally served with mashed potatoes but the kitchen was very accommodating when she preferred it with plain rice. While normally, it is quite hard to expect a porkloin to be tender, this one was, oh so almost melt-in-your-mouth, but not quite, so you can enjoy its meatiness. The apple sauce wasn't heavy either and the natural fruitiness just came out to complement the pork. Truly comforting.

My brother, on the other hand, ordered the Roast Chicken Provencal (Php350) which is a quarter of a spring chicken, all perfectly roasted together with the cloves of garlic, served with a gratin of potatoes, and a side of greens clothed in home-made French dressing (what else?). Chicken may be the usual "safe" choice you make when you are in a new restaurant, but the freshness of the ingredients just takes centerstage and you'd suddenly wonder why not take the "safe" choice?

For my part, I was hoping that my Moules Mariniere (Php615) will be that equally simple stew I was expecting. However, I was surprised that it came in a saffron-based broth with a generous sprinkling of minced vegetables. While the mussels stew was indeed flavorful, it was my preference that it be simply braised in the mussel's own broth, white wine, and garlic. I think I prefer Katrina Kuhn-Alcantara's version (at Cuillere, Serendra).

The Chocolate Souffle was another disappointment. It wasn't completely cooked so it came out like a chocolate egg - solid on the outside, but liquidy on the inside. I don't know, but this isn't how I know a souffle should be. So I suppose, for my daughter, the chocolate and vanilla souffles of Zuni (Greenbelt) still reign supreme in Metro Manila.

Nevertheless, La Cuisine Francaise is a place I'd like to come back to, but maybe when I get my bonus. It's homey and welcoming atmosphere, their very attentive waitstaff and well-timed kitchen has its price, of course, but will certainly feed le corps et l'ame.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Go Fish!

Well, what do you know...Lakbay Mesa's first anniversary came and went (!)

While I try my best to put in entries as regularly as I could, handling my food business while at the same time keeping my day job has proved quite challenging. Admittedly, one of them had to suffer (just a little). But for those few people out there who've read one or two of any of the entries here, I'd like to thank you for taking the time. I regret that I wasn't able to make an anniversary entry here but I'll have to forgive myself for this since the recent typhoon "Basyang" blew me over, including our electricity connection for over a week! Thank God that our water supply wasn't affected. I suppose counting one's blessings is still in order...

To mark a more frugal situation such as the rise of gasoline prices, electric bills, and other basic commodities, a simpler menu would probably be welcome. But instead of reaching for the nearest burger joint, I recommend eating fish instead. I suppose at present, one of the cheaper kinds of fish in the supermarket would be the cream dory. While I do remember this particular chain email I received about the supposed truth behind cream dory farming or what is called the Panggasius fish in Vietnam or some other Asian country, maybe for our purposes, I'd like to recommend buying cream dory that is farmed from our native waters like the ones produced by Saranggani Bay, which sells at competitive prices alongside the imported ones. Check your friendly supermarket.

Actually, this recipe is quite easy to make and makes the fish very tasty. It's a great idea for a weeknight dinner, just like the one we had this Tuesday.

Chinese Style Fish Kebabs


1 kilo cream dory fillets, cut into chunks of 1 in. by 1 in.
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. ginger, sliced into thin strips
1 Tbsp. sliced spring onions
1 tsp. sesame seeds


1. Skewer fish chunks into thin barbeque sticks that have been submerged in cold water for a few minutes.
2. Mix the other ingredients together and marinate the fish sticks for 15-20 minutes.
3. Heat a grill pan that has been coat thinly with corn oil in medium fire.
4. Cook the fish sticks 3-4 mins. on each side, while brushing it with remaining marinade to keep the fish moist.
5. Serve while hot with noodles or rice