Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pink & White Cupcakes

I love baking cupcakes.

Last Friday, I made some chocolate cupcakes and orange vanilla cupcakes.

Frosted them with vanilla buttercream. I tinted half of the frosting baby pink. To be honest with you I have no clue as to how to frost them properly.

I need to take that Wilton Class. Seriously. But I'm happy at how they turned out. Moist and yummy and chocolate-y and orange-y. The frosting was in my opinion, just right.

Cupcakes make me happy.

"me time"

Hi guys! I'm back. Well sort of. I'll be in and out of the blogging scene for the time being because WORK beckons. Yes, work! I'm working even in my sleep. Seriously. Work has a way of weaving itself into my dreams. I even wake up in the middle of the night thinking of how I can get through the following day unscathed.

Take today for example. I was at a loss on how to fund one final check. Sales were down because of the weather and people are spending less. Time was running out and so was my luck. I was about to go home defeated but I guess the Lord had other plans. I was able to cover that final check at the last minute. The bank closes at 4pm but they allowed me one final transaction at 4:45pm (thanks UCPB).

God must really, really, really love me. I am beyond grateful. I asked and He provided. (I wonder though if the extra stress is really necessary? Kidding Kuya Jess. Aylabschu!) Now I can enjoy my "ME TIME" on Saturday. "ME TIME" is the one day of the week wherein I can refrain from thinking about work. Although "ME TIME" entails waking up at 6:30AM on a Saturday, I don't mind because I get to don my ISCAHM jacket and toque and spend half a day in the kitchen learning different cooking methods and techniques from real chefs.

I first learned about ISCAHM (International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management) from Angkowl Neil, a friend from IRC days. He said "ok dun" but I wasn't sold on the idea. It was only when my aunt, Tina C. Diaz, answered my queries that I decided to enrol. She is the managing editor of Foodie magazine, by the way.

Here are some pictures from my "ME TIME ". I forgot to take photos of the different cuts of veggies and potatoes. My gosh my hand hurt from all that chopping. I didn't know that there are more than 10 ways to chop a potato. My knife skills were pretty rusty!

My classmates and I with Chef Sean and Chef Uli, Canadian and Swiss chefs.

different dressings and sauces.

Ceasar salad, pepper cilantro crusted tuna salad with shoe string potatoes, mesclun greens with apples and prawns, curried chicken salad, shrimp cocktail, thai beef salad, warm bacon potato salad. All plated by Chef Sean. YUMMERCH!!!

I will take, err, grab some pictures from my classmates and post them soon. Till then be safe!!!

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Thursday, July 2, 2009


Yup you read it right! Your eyes are not playing tricks on you.


I'll be AFK (that's Away From Keyboard ) starting tonight. I'll be in Manila for another medical procedure before my check-up. Nothing serious. Just need to make sure that I'm healthy healthy in time for my 3 month culinary bootcamp at ISCAHM which will in turn take up most of my time.

Having said that, I would like to apologize to my fellow SMS bakers and to our leader, Lorelei as I would be late in posting my completed challenges yet again.

Choco cookie baby!

Remember when I blogged about these cookies that I gave my grandma and Kate and how I hoped that they would enjoy munching on the cookies as much as I enjoyed baking them?

Well, I got an email from Kate yesterday with the following photo of Zandro after snacking on the double chocolate cranberry cookies. He's covered in chocolate goo!! Priceless!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Simple Pleasures

I had two easy days this week thus allowing me to do two activities that I love doing. I was able to cook and bake. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday was lasagna day.

I was checking out the cabinet, looking for something to cook when I saw the box of instant lasagna. Perfect. I don't have to boil water to cook the lasagna sheets. All I had to do was make the meat sauce and the bechamel sauce. Except for the bell pepper and milk, all the usual suspects for the sauces were in the cabinet. I asked Kuya Allan to chop the onions and garlic for me. Ate Cory bought quickmelt cheese and bell pepper while I scurried off to CSI for some other grocery items and the milk. Before that I dropped by my dad's office and had lunch with the parents.

At around 4 pm I began preparing the meat sauce. In the pan went some butter, olive oil, chili flakes. I added the chopped onions and garlic. I added about half a kilo of ground pork and then some chopped red and green bell pepper. Salt and pepper and paprika followed suit before I added the tomato sauce, some sugar, herbs, a dollop of heavy cream and a handful of quick melting cheese. At the last minute I decided to add some stewed tomatoes that I rough chopped.
I then checked if the sauce was seasoned properly then I let it simmer a bit while I began the bechamel sauce.

For the white sauce, I melted some butter (like Ina, I'm not afraid to use butter!) and added some flour. This is called a roux. After a couple of minutes of whisking, the roux had a consistency similar to cake frosting. I then added the milk slowly and slowly whisked the mixture until thick. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and nutmeg. I also deviated a bit and added some grated quickmelt cheese.

Everyone knows how to assemble this dish right? Ladle some of the red sauce onto the bottom of the pan then arrange the pasta on top of the red sauce. Ladle some of the bechamel sauce this time then add another layer of pasta. Alternately layer the sauces onto the pasta. Onto the last layer of pasta, I ladled some of the red sauce and some of the bechamel sauce. Then I sprinkled the top with some grated cheese. Since I used instant lasagna noodles I had to bake it in the oven 30 to 40 minutes. Reduce baking time if using fresh pasta or pasta that you cooked in boiling water.

Wednesday was cookie day.

Two weeks ago, Kate (she's the one in the white shirt) and I were chatting on YM and we we got to talking about food and chocolate chip cravings. About two days later she gave me a ziplock bag full of almonds, dates and a bottle of pho base which I will use on Vietnamese Night (heaven knows what that will be).

Last Wednesday, I decided to make use of the almonds and made some chocolate chip cookies using Melissa Murphy's recipe.

Here are some slices of cookie dough. I had to roll and chill the dough. See the specks of chocolate chips and almond?

After 15 minutes in the oven, the slices of raw cookie dough looked like this. Aren't they pretty? I also made some plain ones using half of the batter for my sister Tanya. Then I made some chocolate cranberry cookies as well. Please see previous posts for the recipes or better yet buy the Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

After cooling on the wire rack, I packed some cookies in 3 separate containers. One for Kate. One for my grandma and one for the family.

I hope they enjoyed munching on the cookies as much as I enjoyed baking them.

Till the next baking session :)

Be safe.

SMS Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies

I have a question.

Are these cookies suppose to like spread out a little? The reason I'm asking is because my cookies stayed exactly the same size.

They didn't spread out or have that sort of dome like top like the chocolate chip cookies I make. Maybe there's something wrong with the baking soda? Maybe it's because I used regular cocoa instead of the dutch processed kind. I dunno. I rolled them into small logs thus giving me bite sized cookies (think quarters) and placed them 1 inch apart on a lined cookie sheet to bake. Alas, they didn't "grow" in size. Not even a centimeter.

Don't get me wrong. These are yummy cookies. Moist. Like brownie buttons and I loved how the chocolate complemented the cranberries (sorry no cherries). I bet they would go well with a tall glass of cold milk.

I followed the other SMS bakers advice and I baked them no longer than 13 minutes.

Thanks so much Megan of My Baking Adventures for choosing this for the SMS challenge.

Do check out The Sweet Melissa Baking Book for the recipe, as well as my fellow bakers on SMS.