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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shabby Chic Dining - Designer Blooms Cafe

Taking a break from my unofficial designation as family driver.  

Oh, the heat wave that's scorching the country right now!  So what a welcome sight it was when, during a visit to my Mother, we stepped into this very charming little place at the Molito Complex in Alabang.

People in Metro Manila may well know Designer Blooms, the flower shop of 20 years, but this time, they set up this cafe that serves an organic menu of comfort food favorites.  

As we stepped inside its cool interiors, we were at once enthralled with eclectic dining arrangements and high ceilings.  There is a loft to accommodate more diners.  It was like stepping into one of Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic design books, what with the polished cement floors, wooden fixtures, and mix-and-match furnishings.  It's a sure magnet for women diners, as evidenced by the demographic present when we arrived here.

A wall of mirrors on the left and floor-to-ceiling shelves of potted plants for sale on the right.  

We also noticed the walk-in chiller with a selection of flowers for one to choose from.

Take note of their offer of business lunch that is available between 11am to 2pm, Mondays to Fridays.

Ours, however, was a really late lunch.  So we sat down with a bowl of their home-made potato chips (Php155/USD3.69) with a generous serving of their own aioli dip, and a pitcher of passion berry iced tea (Php235/USD5.60) to start with, although my daughter opted for their equally refreshing mango smoothie (Php196/USD4.67).

The seafood pesto mare (Php235/USD5.60) was highly recommended, and rightly so.  The kitchen staff makes their own basil pesto, with ingredients coming from their garden no less, and likewise with the fettuccini pasta.  A good reason why we had to wait a little for this dish to be served.

The four-cheese pizza (Php235/USD5.60) came in with a freshly-prepared dough, a crunchy exterior yet with a chewy interior, with a generous serving of different cheeses.

The vegeterian panini (Php215/USD5.12) I preferred to be served with a side salad (although you can also have it with potato chips as an alternative).  

Then to cap the meal off, the homey goodness of apple pie ala mode (Php285/USD6.79) says it well.  

It's a bit pricey for lunch.  Our total bill (including an additional order of soda at Php85/USD2.02) with a senior citizen's discount came to about Php1,656.68 (USD39.44). But a homey yet stylish ambiance, and organic meals made from scratch make up for it.

Designer Blooms Cafe
Molito Complex
Madrigal Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa
Contact No. +63 2 512 0353

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Light Mother's Day Menu

Yup, the official recognition of your and my Mom is just around the corner.  I'm sure though that many will opt to go treat one's Mom out for that day, but in case you prefer a simpler, laid back celebration, why not prepare a brunch for her?  

I am sharing my recipe for crustless quiche with leek and gruyere cheese.  I had this on offer for my friends and former officemates when I prepared their diet lunches before.  Without the crust, that would mean you get to enjoy a filling meal that will cost you only 260 calories, instead of 460.  

And for dessert, a recipe for cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.  This, however, is a regular recipe so it'll give one a whopping 335 calories for each medium-sized puff.  But you can lessen the guilt by using sugar-free vanilla ice cream for the filling, and there you have a compromise.  :-) Serve with a bottle of prosecco or your choice of bubbly, and you have quite an elegant spread that will make you and your Mom pampered.  


Crustless Quiche

3 medium stalks leeks
1 Tbsp. olive oil
   salt and pepper
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups whole milk 
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350 deg. F/180 deg. C. Grease 10-inch quiche dish, if you have one, or a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.  Cut off roots and trim dark green tops from leeks.  Discard any tough outer leaves.  Cut each leek lengthwise in half, then cross-wise into 1/4-inch-wide slices.  Rinse leeks thoroughly in large bowl of cold water, making sure sand is removed.  Transfer leeks to colander to drain, leaving sand in the bottom of the bowl.  Repeat this process of cleaning the leeks until vegetable is completely free of sand.  Shake colander to remove excess water.

2.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute.  Add leeks and 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook 12-14 minutes or until leeks are tender and browned, stirring frequently.  Transfer leeks to prepared quiche dish or pie plate and spread evenly.

3.  Meanwhile, in a bowl using wire whisk, beat eggs, milk, cornstarch, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper until well-blended.

4.  Pour egg mixture over leeks in dish carefully so as not to displace the arrangement of leeks.  Sprinkle gruyere cheese.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Good for 6 to 8 people.

Serve with a salad of mixed greens, apple slices, walnuts and sliced parmesan cheese using a dressing made from a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey to taste.

Cream Puffs

For the choux pastry:
1 cup butter
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs

1 container vanilla ice cream

1.  In a medium-sized sauce pan, melt butter in water.

2.  Add salt and flour, and stir until a sticky batter is formed.

3.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until batter is smooth.

4.  Preheat oven to 400 deg. F/230 deg. C.  Grease two baking sheets.

5.  Spoon the prepared choux dough into 24 small rounds on each baking sheet, or 12 medium rounds for bigger puffs.  Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until each pastry puffs up and turns golden brown.

6.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on wire rack (around 20 minutes) before filling in with the vanilla ice cream.

7.  To fill the pastry, cut the puffs in half crosswise.  Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the bottom half secure the top half of the pastry on top of the ice cream.  Repeat with remaining pastry puffs.

8.  Place filled pastry in freezer for at least 3 hours.

For chocolate sauce:
3 squares or 1 oz. or less than 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup all-purpose cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted to free from lumps

1.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stir the chocolate pieces and the butter until they are completely melted.  

2. Remove from heat and, stirring constantly, add the all-purpose cream in a thin steady stream.  

3. When mixture is smooth, stir in the confectioners' sugar and beat vigorously. Stir in vanilla and let cool slightly to thicken a little.  Take out the cream puffs and pour the icing over each pastry.  Serve. 

** You can serve the extra chocolate sauce on the side, or use it for other confections later, just heat it up a little.  The sauce can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.