A Day at Little Tokyo

>> February 27, 2011

Outdoor dining at Little Tokyo. I love sun.
My #1 must have when in a Japanese resto. Most of my friends don't like it, but I am totally crazy for it!
This is my #2 must have, gyoza.
Takoyaki, the vegetable ball :P
The bento box filled our hungry tummies.


Basic Greek Salad

A quick fix on a sudden crave for freshness.

- chopped green bell peppers
- chopped cucumber
- chopped tomatoes
- black olives
- extra virgin olive oil
- feta cheese
- vinaigrette

1. Toss all the vegetables together in a salad bowl.
2. Give it a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
3. A dash of salt and pepper to taste.
4. Mix in the feta cheese.
5. And then pour just the right amount of vinaigrette to dress.

I prefer a little bit of vinaigrette so it doesn't over power the taste of green freshness in the vegetables.


Veggie Bacon on French Toasts

>> February 16, 2011

Mark and I have been trying to stay away from red meat as much as possible so we always pack our fridge with vegetarian meat alternatives, in case we get these momentary carnivore cravings :P.

This is what a vegetarian bacon looks like. Although made from soy (and other vegetarian stuff), the texture is very similar to bacon. Easier to cook, and it gets crunchy too. The taste is not exact, but it could pass for real bacon. It doesn't wrinkle/curl like bacon though, but the crunchiness is good enough for me to make myself believe it's bacon.

So on Valentine's morning, I made nice french toasts with cinnamon and syrup, and laid the bacon on top of it. I wasn't actually sure if the bacon will go harmoniously with the sweet toasts, but according to Mark, it was fine :P.


A Visit to Chef's Table

>> February 15, 2011

Mark took me out for a dinner date last Saturday at Chef's Table in the Fort Bonifacio, Global City. We used the Valentine's day as an excuse to have a 5-course dinner in this quite popular restaurant. Chef's Table is owned by a quite famous chef in the city, Chef Bruce Lim, who I knew from a food show on the Asian Food Channel. Anyways, here's a short summary of our dining experience.

I was welcomed with a single pink rose, super nice :).

Checked the set menu for Valentine's Day.

Chili on this yummy cocktail, very interesting. That's my date btw, distracting me.

Shellfish and seafood explosion in coconut-lemon grass soup. Super yummy!

It's actually a set of four food samplers but I didn't take photo of the balut dish because it's not that photogenic and I don't eat it. This was also where the picture taking stopped. I was starving.

The food were great and was very pleased with the taste. I have a ridiculous obsession with salt, but I never needed one in this meal. The taste is just perfect. What I was trying to figure out during our dinner was that the set menu didn't seem fit for a dinner date. The menu have shellfish and crab as main course, something that I will never order if I'm out on a date with a prospect lover/boyfriend. If you can remove an oyster, a clam, or a mussel from its shell with a fork and a knife without touching the shell and not making a big mess, then it's not a problem. Thing is, girls will be girls. On a date (a potential bf that I like big time), I'd normally order something that's easy to eat. Not necessarily to eat like a bird, but just something that's not messy. Girls can get tensed specially when they are out with someone they like, and of course, we want to impress and make the evening perfect. What more if you'll eat crab? lots of squeezing and digging in and finger licking action. I squirted crab sauce (whatever it is called) on my face twice trying to crush it to get to the meat. Luckily, I was with my husband-to-be and we were already over that impress/get impressed, turn offs and ons stage hah.

After the delicious meal, I realized that the menu does actually fit, may not exactly for teeny dates, but for Valentine's day. Everything was an aphrodisiac, from the soup down to dessert. Plus, touching food (with clean hands please) is quite intimate and seductive. How could I miss that (well, I was hungry and couldn't think right)?

Anyways,I wasn't quite wowed by the dark chocolate panna cotta. I'm not really big on desserts, but it's quite chewy for a panna cotta. Also, it was quite weird that they served my main course when I wasn't done with my appetizer yet. Not really a biggie, but the table was quite small to accommodate 2 big plates on one side at a time. The dessert was also served a few minutes after serving the main course. It's not also a big deal, but I would want to have my panna cotta to be nice and chilled :). We also ordered a cocktail that never came, then found out after 20 minutes that something broke in their system that caused our cocktail order to not reach the bartender. Doh!

Well, maybe it was just a busy evening.


Plants Update : A Month Old Tomato Plant

>> February 11, 2011

Only a month and few days had passed, but look at my tomato plant! I never thought I could ever grow something from seeds. My baby tomato makes me feel so proud :). I know it's too early, but I can hardly wait to see it bear fruits!

Tomato leaves up close.

My mint is also growing like crazy! Hello Mojito!


Geeking Out on Recipe Booklets

I went out yesterday to get supplies for my arts and crafts project for the valentine's day. While waiting for Mark, I dropped by at a bookstore and found interesting recipe booklets. There are tons of recipes online, but it's still nice to have these printed booklets on your shelf and browse the old school way. So I bought 4 to add in to my collection.

I'm totally digging it and very excited to try some of the dishes!


Loving Strawberry Season!

>> February 8, 2011

I love strawberry season because I get to make and eat my favorite breakfast - strawberry on toasts!

Toast bread, slice up ripe strawberries and just spread it on top of your toast. Since strawberries aren't really that sweet, you can re-enforce sweetness by pouring a little bit of pancake syrup or honey.

Happy Tuesday!


Simple Chocolate Cupcakes

>> February 2, 2011

My very first attempt to make cupcakes was on Mark's birthday last January, and I wasn't quite pleased with the outcome. I never baked, so I thought it would be a nice surprise to make an effort to bake for his special day. The recipe I was following was quite basic, but due to lack of baking knowledge and skills, I failed. My 6-year old niece (who's well-known to have a big appetite on just about everything) didn't even finish one piece. My cupcakes tasted and looked more like a kababayan, a Filipino pastry that can be found in almost every local bakery in the Philippines. Worse, kababayan tastes better and softer than what my "trying hard" cupcakes.

After researching and reading more about baking, and getting a little help from my baker friend, Noriann, I dared to conquer my cupcake dreams once more - and I nailed it this time!

 I got this simple chocolate cupcake recipe from www.joyofbaking.com. I found it nice, straight forward and simple, specially for a beginner like me.

I didn't want to end up with a bunch of cupcakes that I and Mark won't finish, so I halved the ingredients which made it perfect for two hungry stomachs.

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling hot water
90g all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 190C.

1. In a small bowl, put the boiling water and cocoa powder together and stir until completely dissolved. Let it cool down.
2. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder and whisk them together. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the butter and the egg together.
4. Stir in the sugar. Using a rubber spatula, mix them well until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.
Note: It is very important to not over mix the cupcake batter so do not over blend.
5. Pour the flour mixture gradually. Continue mixing with your rubber spatula.
6. When it's completely integrated, pour the cocoa mix.
7. Set your electric mixer in low speed and mix everything together for about 20 seconds. Do not over mix.

When you are done with the batter, you can now pour it in cupcake sheets and put it in your cupcake pan. You can sprinkle chocolate chips once the cupcake batter is in place. Bake for about 15-20mins. Use a toothpick to check if the inside is still moist or cooked.

Serve it with a dash of confectioner's sugar.
Soft, moist, and tasty. Just the way I like it.


Bubble Blahs

I work and live at night time. I am a person deprived of natural light. I rarely cook in the morning as I'm almost always asleep, else busy with house chores. As much as I love natural light in my photography, I'm afraid I don't usually have that luxury, unless I sacrifice my sleep, or make an effort to stay up longer during the day to do a cooking + photo session. So I depend on my flash, and sometimes, available light from my fluorescent bulbs. Although, in my opinion, nothing beats the natural light, I am, so far, satisfied with my shots using my flash that I learned to love.

I always look forward to the weekends for some sunlight.

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