Thursday, July 31, 2008

US Black & White Chocolate Crunch Muffins at S&R

These are soooo good. If you frequent S&R and you've been seeing these delicious looking muffins that they sell in packs of 4's and 6's but have been hesitating on picking up a pack for one reason or another, let me tell you this: you don't know what you're missing. S&R carries several different flavors of muffins- e.g. chocolate chip, poppyseed- but the Black and White Chocolate Crunch is the only flavor that I've tasted so far. Recalling my previous baking experience with chocolate, I think I can say that these muffins are made with very good chocolate. Its "dome", as its namesake suggests, is crunchy, courtesy, I think, of a drizzling of sugar prior to baking. In addition to the sugar are generous chunks of white chocolate, some of which sink halfway into the muffin batter while it bakes. These makes sweet little surprises as you bite into the muffin.

It is big and dense and yet very moist and at Php184.95, I think it's a very good deal. All this muffin praise is making me hungry and I think I am beginning to sound like an ad commercial. So I'll end here and drown my muffin craving with some more of 'em muffins.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How do you like your Longganisa?

I like mine sweet and salty and a little spicy. I've tried quite a number of longganisa (Philippine chorisos) in my lifetime. Lots of different flavors, sizes, and textures. I am not too good with names, and longganisa names are no exception so I won't even try to list them down here. Anyway. For a time, I liked the sweet ones that oozed with pork fat and made sticky with sugar caramelized during the cooking process. But I outgrew that. More accurately, my metabolism outgrew it. Then I got to try the really salty ones. I didn't quite like those. Except for those itty bitty ones that I had in Platito, which I liked very much, especially with vinegar. I liked the ones from Jollibee that resembled hotdogs in texture rather than the traditional longganisa. I still order them for breakfast every once in a while. I also liked those skinless sweet longganisa that tasted a lot like tocino. Been a long time since I had one of those though. One longganisa that I am currently loving right now are those that my mom gets from the market. She says it's homemade by her suki. Hmmm, a lot of really good foodstuff comes from home. No surprises there. So, like I said- sweet and salty and a little spicy.

To cook the longganisa, we boil some links in about an inch of water for a few minutes in a skillet. We let the water boil away over medium heat. At some point when the water is almost gone, some of the oil from the longganisa will naturally seep out into the pan. Along with the oil is the sugar from the longganisa causing some caramelization. When the water is all gone, and the sugar is beginning to caramelize in the oil, you will have to add a little more oil wherein you will fry the boiled longganisa. Let it fry for a few minutes, taking care not to singe the sugar to avoid bitter longganisa. Serve it with rice (to mop up all the juices from the longganisa) and you have a lipsmacking good longganisa meal. I like this manner of cooking longganisa better because this way I am sure my longganisa is cooked to the core. I hate having to bite into a longganisa only to find out that the inside is still cold. Ngii. Other ways to cook longganisa is by straight frying (no boiling) and grilling. How do you cook your longganisa?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Tribute to our Old Suha Tree

We have a suha (a.k.a. pomelo, pummelo) tree in our backyard. It's been there for at least twenty years. It's a healthy and beautiful tree with its fragrant deeply verdant leaves and narrow spiny trunk and manifold slender branches. It stood out like a muse among the towering coconut trees.

For about the first decade of its life, our suha tree has not borne any fruit. We took care of it, watered it well and used some organic fertilizer on it, but for a long time, it seemed that it just was not interested in producing any fruit. That did not bother us though, we just felt lucky enough that the tree grew and thrived in our backyard at all. See, we live in Cavite. Suha are known to thrive only in certain areas with, perhaps, a particular type of weather or land condition, like Davao or Bulacan, certainly not Cavite. That is why when it did start sprouting flowers and eventually carry fruits to full term, we felt like a miracle has befallen us.

Another strange thing about the tree was that it bore fruit all year round. The crop however produced small, dry, and bland-tasting fruits. It was like that for a few years such that we never quite bothered to eat the fruits. The fruits would later on grow a tad bigger but nothing changed taste-wise. A couple of years ago, somebody had suggested that we bury panocha (raw palm sugar or unground muscovado sugar) around the ground where the suha tree grows because it will allegedly produce sweeter fruits. So we did that. It couldn't hurt, right? With the panocha in the ground, the next batch of crops ripened and, well, nothing changed. Still the same dry, and bland-tasting fruits. We buried a number of panocha after that, nonetheless, until we gave up on the idea.

Until one day, one fruit came out sweet and juicy. We waited for the other fruits to ripen in the tree, and come tasting time, they were all as sweet and juicy as their older sibling. I am not sure if the panocha had anything to do with it, it's been a long time since we buried one after all, but the most amazing thing is that we now have sweet and juicy suha, plentiful and growing in the backyard, all year round.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chocolate Musings

A couple of days ago, I made these:

This is me jumping on the bandwagon that is called the "cupcake". I started with Red Velvet. After that, I cut up my brother's Dove chocolates and made cupcakes out of them, too. Then, for a friend's birthday last July 14, I made them out of Belgian chocolates. They all turned out great and I thought, well, maybe I can use just any other chocolate. What could possibly go wrong?

I ran with the idea and bought a bar of unsweetened baking chocolate from the nearest chocolate supply store. It tasted horrible, from a chocolate eating point of view. But it should be fine for baking, right? It is, after all, baking chocolate. Wrong.

My friends who tasted them will be the ones to tell me that I am over-reacting. They're not that bad, really, I must admit. And they did look nice after all. It's just that the premium quality albeit expensive chocolates made better tasting chocolate cupcakes, more moist, and fluffier. Whereas this one tasted a little too dry and bitter for comfort. (Come to think of it, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.)

Mental note: always use chocolate you actually enjoy eating on its own.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A (Short) Subic Vacation

Been to Subic a couple of weeks ago. I have never been there before this trip. I've heard a lot of good things about the beaches (never got to one because we had to cut short our stay), the shopping (fantastic!), and different (and strict) road rules though. And yeah, I've heard about the steaks. We got there a couple of hours after lunch so the first order of business when we got there was to get us some food. We were supposed to meet up with our friends first who went ahead of us there but we were hungry, so. Anyway, we drove around the base to try to find that American steakhouse that we've heard so much about. But we got flagged down violating road rules doing that so we finally decided to go to our meeting point with our said friends.

The meeting point was at Royal Subic/Pure Gold Duty Free. Fortunately, there was a restaurant there called Steak and Coffee (Two of my favorite things!). It wasn't the one that we were looking for, but it will have to do. Like I said, we were hungry.

The sign on the wall declared "U.S. Steaks". Price was reasonable. We ordered the ribeye. Considering that we were yearning for big chunks of good quality meats grilled to medium rare perfection, we were a tad disappointed with what we got. But when you're hungry, it will have to pass.

At the house that we were staying at, we ended up eating in for dinner. I was cajoled in to making my Spaghetti with Giant Meatballs, and with fresh basil flourishing around the backyard, I was just too happy to accede. I threw in some Spicy Seafood Pasta (I used just shrimps this time) for good measure and one friend fried up a few kilos of bacon and a can of Spam! Talk about a smashing good dinner. That definitely made up for my dismal lunch.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ready for lunch?

I haven't posted in a while so I decided to make a quick post before I run down to the kitchen to make lunch. I called my mom, who does market duties in the morning, earlier to get us some good tenderloin. And some large tiger prawns.

Obviously, I'm in the mood for a little surf and turf lunch. I'd been talking to a friend of mine who was brainstorming for new grilled food additions to their restaurant's menu a few days ago and that got me craving for grilled food. Today, I get the chance to act on that craving.
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