Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ABC Wednesdays | C - Cheese

Happy mid-week, everybody! It's time for another week of ABC Wednesdays, and for this round, I am sharing - Cheese!

Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms.

Cheese consists of proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. It is produced by coagulation of the milk protein casein. Typically, the milk is acidified and addition of the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed into final form. Some cheeses have molds on the rind or throughout. Most cheeses melt at cooking temperature.

Hundreds of types of cheese are produced. Their styles, textures and flavors depend on the origin of the milk (including the animal's diet), whether they have been pasteurized, the butterfat content, the bacteria and mold, the processing, and aging. Herbs, spices, or wood smoke may be used as flavoring agents. The yellow to red color of many cheeses, such as Red Leicester, is formed from adding annatto.

Source: Wikipedia

There are many types of cheese, but Cheddar seems to be the most popular here in the Philippines. Most household use it for their sandwiches and cooking, and I have to say it is also the type we use for our pasta and homemade pizza, simply because Parmesan and Mozzarella are very expensive, and Cheddar is such a great  alternative. Nowadays, many kinds of cheeses are available in supermarkets, allowing people to discover its varied textures and flavors. Among those I have seen include: Feta, Blue Cheese, Cream Cheese, Ricotta, Parmesan, and Mozzarella. Some kinds may not be available in most supermarkets, but there are deli shops that sells a big range of cheeses.

The Philippines also has its own unique kind of cheese called Kesong Puti (White Cheese), made from unskimmed carabao's milk, and is similar to cottage cheese. I hope I can show an image here, but I cannot find any in my files. Maybe when letter K comes around, I'd share it. :)

Mozzarella en Caroza

One of my favorite Cheese dishes would be Mozzarella en Caroza, which I tasted at C' Italian Dining in Angeles, Pampanga (2008). Big chunks of mozzarella cheese deep fried and served with pomodoro sauce and mushroom slices. Cheese and tomato sure goes well together, that whenever I see deep fried mozzarella sticks (served with tomato sauce) in different Italian restaurants I visit, I can't resist ordering a serving.

At home, one of the simple cheese dishes I always prepare is the Cheese and Green Bell Pepper Sticks, made using strips of cheddar cheese and green bell pepper wrapped in spring roll wrappers. It's a good finger food and appetizer, and sometimes, I eat it as my meal.

I have mentioned that I love cheddar cheese, but there's one more cheese I love:

Cheez Whiz!

What's your favorite cheese?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

ABC Wednesday | B - Bagnet

Late post for ABC Wednesday.

When one speaks of Ilocos, one of the foods that will come to mind would be Bagnet. It's quite similar to Lechon Kawali, but what makes this different is that this uses the double-fry technique making it really crispy.

Sister! Bagnet on Display

When you travel to either Ilocos Norte or Ilocos Sur provinces, the Bagnet is a common thing to see in the public markets and even on the road side. It's sold per kilo, but because it's three times more expensive than raw pork (that's because the meat shrinks), some people just opt to dine at restaurants serving this. Of course, there are more people who would buy bagnet per kilo and eat it at the comforts of their homes.

Some people cook their own bagnet - usually done by boiling big chunks of pork on water seasoned with salt (some add peppercorns and bay leaf) until tender, then hang to dry overnight. It will be deep fried in oil (authentic Ilocos Bagnet is cooked in lard - meaning its own oil), hang to dry again, and fried for the second time. Bubbles at the skin is naturally produced when cooked in oil, but some cooks would stab the skin part with fork to achieve such effect.

Bagnet for Dinner

In Ilocos, this is usually eaten with rice, and the popular partner would be KBL or Kamatis, Bagoong, Lasona (tomatoes, fish paste, and shallots).

Kare-Kareng Bagnet

Some restaurants now incorporate Bagnet into several dishes and is used in other dishes like Pinakbet and Munggo. Innovation keeps going and nearly two years ago I was able to eat a dish called "Kare Kareng Bagnet," a dish that usually uses ox tripe or ox tail and even pork leg.

Most of the time, I see Bagnet looking dry and tough to chew, but really, it's crispy yet tender. However, as much as this one is very delicious, it is advised not to eat much of it because it's high in cholesterol. Well, I guess there's no harm when eaten moderately. :)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dari Creme in Bacon and Herb & Garlic

I have never been a fan of butter. I guess ever since, we found it quite expensive, so margarine has been our better alternative. Dari Creme has always been my favorite (the classic one, not the buttermilk flavor), and I love it on hot pandesal!

Dari Creme in Bacon and Herb & Garlic

During our last grocery shopping, one of the listed items we need to buy is a block of Dari Creme. Surprisingly, there wasn't any available. Checking the dairy section for something we could buy, my sister pointed at the new Dair Creme margarine - Bacon and Herb & Garlic. I told her I have seen blogs featuring this product (and raving about it), so I placed in a one of the two flavors.

True to the flavor it represents, it does tasted like bacon and herb & garlic. Between the two, I love the Herb & Garlic more, which I use not only on hot breads for breakfast, but for cooking as well. I love using it on my fried rice, and I even use it whenever I cook chicken or pork adobo! The Bacon flavor is okay, too, and I am thinking of cooking carbonara next time using it.

But of course, I still crave for the classic Dari Creme every now and then.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Recipe | Labong Meatballs

My sister and I are traveling to La Union later this month to attend a cousin's wedding, and as early as now, we are already thinking what stuff to bring. Whenever we're in La Union, we always stay with our Aunt Julie, who not only acts as our guardian, she's also the one who prepares our every meal.

While we were there last October-November, she prepared this dish as her potluck dish for a reunion party. I gave it a taste and liked it, so when we traveled back home, she included a kilo of bamboo shoots in our "take home" bag, which allowed me to try her recipe at home.

She didn't give me the exact measurements, so this recipe is basically based on the cook's preference, but if you wanna try it, here's how I did the meatballs when I served this dish to my family:

Bamboo Shoots Meatballs

Labong Meatballs

  • about 1/4 kilo Bamboo Shoots
  • 4 pieces pork longganisa (the garlicky regional kind - Vigan, Lucban, to name a few)
  • OR 1/8 kilo ground pork, mixed with minced garlic, salt, and ground pepper
  • egg, beaten lightly
  • flour or cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)
How to Cook:
  • Prepare the bamboo shoots. Typically, some markets sell this already prepared (my mom prefers to buy the actual shoot because it's cheaper), but the cuts may be a little too big for your meatballs, so you can chop it more depending on your preference. Next, boil the bamboo shoots for about 30 minutes, drain and allow it to cool. When already cool, squeeze out excess water. Best to do this hours before you cook your meatballs, or maybe the night before.
  • Prepare the meatballs. Loosen up the shreds of bamboo shoots and add everything in - seasoned ground pork or longganisa (be sure to take out the casing if you're using longganisa), egg, oyster sauce, flour or cornstarch, salt and pepper. Mix everything until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Heat a pan with a little oil and fry a pinch of the mixture and taste it. Adjust the seasoning of your meatballs mix if needed, then shape mixture into balls. 
  • Deep fry the balls until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with ketchup.
Bamboo Shoots Meatballs

I remember, when Aunt Julie served this at the party, her friends thought it was chicken because the bamboo shoots did look a lot like flaked chicken. While it had more bamboo shoots than meat, it still had this meaty taste to it, making this one a good way to minimize the meat intake. One thing I noticed though, the balls can be a little too chewy, so it's best to serve this with some soup.

I am not sure if I can pick another recipe from my Aunt when we travel back there considering we will be attending a wedding and a baptism party the next day, but if she prepares something unique, I'll take note of it and share it here on the blog.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bacolod Chicken Inasal (SM Fairview)

Bacolod Chicken Inasal
G/F SM City Fairview, Annex 2
Quirino Highway cor Regalado Greater Lagro, Quezon City
+63 (02)332-5939

I love chicken, and one of my favorite chicken dishes is the Chicken Inasal. My first taste of this dish was something I personally cooked, and although I am not sure how good it turned out to be (of course I found it delicious), but for some reasons, that first taste of Chicken Inasal became my benchmark. In SM Fairview, I think there are four to five restaurants offering this dish, but one I haven't tasted prior to this food trip (of course) was Bacolod Chicken Inasal.

Bacolod Chicken Inasal

I have heard about this restaurant months, even years back, but their location in the mall has got to be the reason why I always forget to visit it. Located almost the the corner end of the annex area, I only got to know there's a branch in SM Fairview when I had dinner with mom and sister at Tong Yang, which was across this store. Anyway, my brother and I went for an early Christmas grocery shopping that day, and since there was a very long line at the check-out, I decided for brother and I to eat lunch at the mall. We didn't bring that much money (because we were quite certain we would eat lunch at home), and thinking Bacolod Chicken Inasal's prices would be reasonable, we headed there.

Bacolod Chicken Inasal

The dining area wasn't that big, but it was neat and organized. The bar area in the middle looked cute, and it gave us a good way of communicating with the staff should we need their presence.

They have a lot to offer, but given the budget we had, we chose to go for rice meals.

Isabella's Chicken

Isabella's Chicken
If my memory serves me right, this dish was inspired by the telenovela Judy Ann Santos and Coney Reyes did years ago. I am not sure if this one's baked or grilled (or maybe fried), but it sure tasted different from the typical Chicken Inasal. Gravy was the main dipping sauce, which tasted okay, but I still asked a little saucer with calamansi so I could make my own dipping sauce. As for the chicken, it was tender and seasoned just right, but I found it a little dry.

Chicken Inasal - Pecho

Chicken Inasal - Pecho
My brother chose to go for the signature dish. Like most Inasal restaurants, customers can choose for the chicken part they prefer, and since my brother's trying to stay away from oily food, he went for the pecho, or the breast/wing part. The basting might be oily, but the chicken itself was dry. The taste made up for it, though... it was good and was able to satisfy us.

Brother's meal had a free glass of Iced Tea; my meal didn't have any drink included, and I went for a glass of Sago't Gulaman, which I found delicious.


Black Sambo ni Mom
Their desserts are very affordable that it enticed me to choose one. Of all the desserts on the menu, this was the one that caught my interest and I was glad I ordered it. It had this feel of very soft gelatin slash panacotta and the contrast of flavors between the two layers of Sambo plus the chocolate sauce made it a great ending to our meal.

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Jenn, the Foodie

I come from a family who loves cooking and eating. I never had any formal training in cooking and that I taught myself how to cook based on the handed down recipes, but I could say that I can cook good food. In 2008, I started documenting my food trips for my travel blog, and since I have quite enough to start a food blog, might as well put all those food trips in one location. Thus, a food blog is born - thanks to the new Friendster Blogs. However, due to several problems, I was left with no choice but to pack bags again and move here instead. Here's the permanent address, promise! Enough talk, let the food trippin' begin! {Know More About Me}