Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Valentine's Dinner

At the French Corner, in Westgate-Alabang.

Amazing cuisine. Tantalizing plating.

Chocolate Marquise

Flambeed Fresh Strawberries

Perfect servings. Impeccable service. Romantic ambiance.

And free chocolates and a long stemmed rose for good measure. If that is not a great Valentine's dinner. I don't know what is.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

For those who fell in love over coffee and conversation...

Pure cupcake love inspired by coffee set ignited by chocolate and clothed in sexy black or seductive white.

Mocha Chip Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache and Heart-shaped Candy Sprinkles

Mocha Chip Cupcake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Heart-shaped Candy Sprinkles

I brought some of these cupcakes yesterday for my Friday night coffee drinking buddies as early Valentine's presents. I must say, this was an inspired lot. They sure gave us something to talk about.

After all, who can resist the enchantment of a sugar high, limitless cups of damn good coffee, and endless great conversations?

Happy Valentine's day, all!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Love

Last weekend, I spent hours making five dozen of cupcakes. It was tiring but worth it. On the left is my favorite among the bunch- fine dark chocolate cupcakes with special dark chocolate ganache. It is shamelessly bad for the diet but it is amazingly rich and completely addicting. So what is it about chocolate that makes you want to chow them down and throw all caution to the wind?

Here's some interesting information about chocolate that could shed some light on the subject.--

Chocolate comes from cocoa beans and contains about 300 chemicals (1)(2). The cocoa bean comes from the Cocoa Tree, which is native to Central America and South America. The beans are dried and then exported. Once the beans reach manufacturers they are processed and eventually made into the product known as coco. This is then used to make chocolate. The finished product is believes to have various side effects when consumed. Phenyl ethylamine (4) is one of the hormones present in chocolate. This hormone is similar to an amphetamine (3). It makes the neurotransmitters in the brain move more quickly (1). This helps a person who has consumed chocolate stay alert. This hormone is the same one that is known to produce the "runner's high" in long distance runners. It gives an energetic boost. Caffeine and Theo bromine produce a lifting of the spirits as well. Chocolate is known to contain some caffeine but not nearly as much as coffee or tea. One cup if cocoa contains only 0-25mg of caffeine, while the same amount of coffee contains 50-175mg of caffeine (5). In such a small concentration the caffeine in chocolate does not have the impact of other caffeinated foods, which are known to increase energy for a short period of time and than cause fatigue. However the little bit of caffeine in chocolate combines with the Theo bromine to produce a boost (1). Theo bromine, like caffeine, is a stimulant. The caffeine and Theo bromine in chocolate exist in small dosages but scientists believe when combined they have an impact on the person eating the food. This boost caused by chocolate is the reason why chocolate is harmful to some animals. For example the nervous and cardiovascular systems of dogs can not handle the stimulation chocolate causes (2). In addition to these chemicals chocolate induces cannabinoid and seratonin production in the brain. Both of these chemicals are related to happiness.

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

DIY Fishball Sauce

I've had the best fishballs in UP Diliman. Their fishballs being the commercially available ones, I cannot really say that taste-wise, they're any different from the rest. What's markedly different about them is that vendors there take pains in keeping their stalls clean and their food sanitary. It's a bonus that they also have very good dipping sauce which they keep pristine by serving the fishballs in elongated cardboard containers and only pouring the sauce over the fishballs in that container. Practically no dipping. Anywhere else, I always have my reservations buying these delicious deep-fried little morsels. Especially when I see people double dip their half-eaten stick of fishballs in the sauce containers. Yuck.

I do not go to UP as much as I did a couple of years ago and I really miss having my favorite street food there. And since I really can't eat them anywhere else, I've missed having it altogether. Good thing that I can buy fishballs from the market, in which case, I can just fry them at home.

As for the dipping sauce, I've learned to make my own at home. At home I can be sure what goes in the sauce. It's just as good as the street version. Plus, I can double dip all I want.

Fishball Sauce

1 1/2 c. water
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 siling labuyo (red chili pepper), sliced

In a sauce pan, dissolve cornstarch, flour, and brown sugar in water. Stir in soy sauce. Put pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Add red onion, garlic, and siling labuyo. Omit the chili if you prefer a sweet rather than a spicy dipping sauce. Reduce heat. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Simmer until sauce thickens.

Lazy Sunday Coleslaw

Sunday is always a lazy day in our household. It's a day when we wake up late, struggle to get out of bed only for tea and coffee only to crawl back up in the room, then, a few moments later, congregate back to the kitchen to prepare lunch. That is why Sunday lunch is almost always those meals that are easy to whip up with absolutely no frills. Today was no exception. We fried some store-bought fish sticks and steamed some vegetables. And that should have been it.
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