Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Carbo-loading Birthday Dinner at A Veneto

I turned 23 last Wednesday. How depressing can that get? I'll be 30 in no time...aaaarghhhhhh... Anyway, we had a family dinner at A Veneto Pizzeria Ristorante, Aguirre branch. I've been dying to check the place out since it already opened another branch in Glorietta. Since i'm the celebrant, i was given the liberty to choose what we'll have for the night. My fickle-minded self took over and i ended up ordering too much of one thing and too little of another. I had Amici's pizza in mind that night, so i ordered 2 large pizzas for a group of eight and 2 pasta. You can split the pizza into two different flavors, so we had: Cheeseburger Pie, New England's Best, New York Style, and Seafood Pesto Pie (roughly around 400php/large pan). For the pasta, we had Lasagna (200php) and Baked Ziti with Chicken (220php). I couldn't help but let out a loud gasp when the two orders of L-A-R-G-E pizzas finally arrived in our table.

The Baked Ziti (above) is good enough for five but the Lasagna is so small, i'd be conservative to say that it can serve two. As for the quality, i'm very happy to say that the resto did not at all scrimp on the ingredients for both the pizza and pasta. My top favorites are New England's (super generous mushrooms), seafood pesto (something new to try out), and the mozzarella-topped ziti. I just wished i should have ordered a white sauce pasta and some greens to start it all right. The second pan of pizza was hardly touched and even the monsters easily gave up after having their larger than life dose of carbo for the night. The selection of dessert is very limited. We were supposed to drop by at Conti's cake shop for some sweets but it's already a little past 9pm (the store closes early). So i just settled for their New York-style Cheesecake (80php) drizzled with caramel sauce to finish the night off. I'm not too happy with the peanutty graham base but i am so relieved that the filling is not a whip cream-and-jello-disguised-as-cream cheese type after all.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Cocolate a la mode

Cocolate is a borrowed term from a chocolatier colleague. I made this out of sheer curiosity since i've never tried combining two kinds of batter in a single pan for baking. The blonde base has coconut as its primary ingredient, while the top is of course, chocolate. That explains the name cocolate. These bars are best served warm when the chocolate top is in its gooey-est state, topped with any flavor of ice cream. I had mine with chocolate, cookies 'n cream, and tiramisu (aaaah...bliss). I won't bother with the recipe though. It's good but not the kind of shucks-it's-so-yummy-i-have-to-do-a-repeat-performance type of good. The monsters fought over the last piece though.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Chocolate Pudding Cake

This is what turned out when i tried to replicate the Chocolate Pudding Cake recipe i found in one of my fave food blog, bakingsheet. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 10" round baking pan. The resulting cake should have been more gooey than this had i not insisted to lengthen the baking time to 50 minutes. I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon for more flavor. As for the taste, it was not at all watery, and i kind of like the idea that this cake does not require a single egg in it. The cake is not even that sweet with the fudgiest texture you can ever imagine. Literally melts in your mouth, save for the cakey part at the bottom which is the result of the extra time the pudding spent in the oven. The no clean-up part is just an added bonus. A definite keeper.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Black Sticky Rice Cakes

My family spent the entire weekend in Sta. Cruz, Zambales to attend my lola's 14th death anniversary padasal. Anne and I went home a day ahead so i had to make my mom swear to buy me this native delicacy before heading back home last Tuesday. Now, the photos may not seem appetizing at all, but if you can only taste by looking at the photograph...you will realize that looks can be deceiving after all. Locals call it Linubyan or Lubi-lubi. Young sticky palay are harvested and roasted in a buho (don't ask, i dunno what it is myself), afterwhich is manually pounded to separate the rice from the skin (ipa in the vernacular) using the traditional bayo. The resulting product is black pinipig. It is then cooked slowly in coconut milk producing a moist, chewy texture with just the right amount of sweetness to make you want to ask for more. Forget about the carb and the...uhm...rather unappealing color...go to Sta. Cruz and taste it yourself.

Triple V Buffet at ATC

Two Saturdays ago, we had a Triple V dinner buffet at Alabang Town Center after Anne's oathtaking. I've been persuading them to just have an ala carte dinner in some fine dining resto but to no avail. The celebrant gets to pick the place you know. Thing is, i'm not at all that good when it comes to buffets. When confusion hits me...it just hits me. Anyway, the food is ok but the resto itself fell below zero. Hello...peeling interiors anyone? The cost per person is 295php for the Kamayan buffet and 425php for the ultimate buffet, which includes Saisaki, Dad's, and Kamayan. I almost hyperventilated when i saw the selection of desserts carefully laid out in the table. Some are good and some are awfully bad. The blueberry cheesecake did not even have the slightest hint of cream cheese in it! Talk about compromising quality over quantity. Good thing i was able to spot the halo-halo bar and make my own version sans the beans and the other bad stuffs that normally goes with it, topped with a very generous serving of leche flan and purple...yUm!!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Baked Baby Back Ribs in Blackberry BBQ Sauce

Mom bought me 1.5 k of baby back ribs one ordinary night. I don't know if she meant is as a surprise or a very practical joke because i don't have the slightest idea how to cook ribs. "Gayahin mo na lang ung sa Via Mare." Ehem...am i that good? As expected, the researcher in me took over, and i chanced upon a recipe of blackberry barbecue sauce (check out the review section...i'm quirkychef!) in the Internet which looks good enough to try. I don't have most of the spices which the recipe calls for so i still need to do some major revisions. The blackberry in the sauce kind of caught me instantly considering the blackberry preserves we bought at Sagada is still untouched in the kitchen. The black specks you can see in the picture are the actual blackberries. I have tasted fresh blackberries way back in our Sagada vacation where it grows abundantly and i don't quite like it (even the preserve) until i tried it with this recipe. No one among my family guessed what the secret ingredient is.

1- 1.5 k baby back ribs
Blackberry BBQ Sauce
1 c tomato ketchup
1/2 c blackberry preserve or jam
1/8 c brown sugar
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons each, minced garlic and ginger
dash of paprika and Italian seasoning
Combine all ingredients for the barbecue sauce. Marinate baby back ribs in the sauce overnight. Line baking pan with greased foil. Transfer baby back ribs in the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 2 hours in 300F/ 150C. Transfer the ribs in another pan and generously glaze with the remaining bbq marinade. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. The meat is so tender it will literally fall off the bone.