Just Tried: Snails!

It’s been a while! My golly! I haven’t written anything for weeks. I feel so bad for neglecting this baby (my blog). I have so much catching up to do when it comes to writing.

The past few months have been like a rollercoaster, especially at work. Year-end is always crazy in any office, I think. November and December workload felt like giant waves slamming against the huge rocks of Laswitan in Surigao! I had to give up yoga because I needed all the extra time I could get to meet deadlines. We’re down to the last three weeks and everything shall be over after Q4 sign-off.

While I have mostly stayed at home these past few weeks, I still had some mini adventures from time to time. There was also a lot of eating (more like pigging) out lately that’s why I gained a few pounds lately. My clothes are now tighter than when I first bought them. Oh dear, I need to go back to yoga and lose weight!

Before my uncle, Greg, went to the US to be with his family for the holidays, he invited me and Mom to have dinner out. I initially suggested going for Italian food at Mamma Mia in Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City, but Uncle Greg went looking around while waiting for us. He then discovered El Corazon, the Spanish and Filipino fusion restaurant where I brought Mom to for Mother’s Day. So, back to El Corazon Mom and I went.

We ordered the same Paella Valenciana that we did last time. We highly recommended it to Uncle Greg because we really loved it back in May. With it, we ordered Seville (shrimp gambas sautéed in olive oil and garlic, served with a basket of Pan de Saland what my uncle went there for, Caracoles (escargot in coconut milk).

I have never tried snails my whole life so that night proved to be an adventure for my taste buds. Armed with a wooden skewer to poke and take out the flesh inside the shells, I started going through this appetizer with Uncle Greg while he shared stories of how his Japanese guests loved eating the snails from a different restaurant. Mom didn’t want to try and could not be coaxed to try them at all so uncle and I helped ourselves to the plate of kuhol. None for her meant more for us!

I honestly and truly loved them! The meat from these snails reminded me of the meat from tahong (Asian green mussels) because they somehow have similar texture in the mouth. They weren’t mushy nor were they gummy. They weren’t the melt-in-your-mouth type, but they had this perfect amount of chewiness. Paired with creamy coconut milk sauce, my taste buds were having a party eating the escargot! I wanted to get a second order!

And the gambas? So delicious! The shrimps were cook just right, not gummy at all. There was just the right amount of olive oil to spread on the bread that came with the appetizer so the shrimps were not swimming in oil. However, I still love the gambas from Lorenzo’s Way better. I can’t figure out why but it has something to do with the garlic. Nevertheless, the dish was enjoyable.

Meals are best eaten over awesome conversation. Uncle Greg never runs out of amazing topics to talk about. That night, he shared with us his experience reading the book, Ikigai, and how fascinated he was over this Japanese secret to a long, happy life. This led us to a discussion on the corporate culture in Japan to their education system to their values and discipline that I almost booked a trip to Japan right there.

For dessert, we went to the Hello Kitty Café where we ordered L’Opera cake, Kahlua Cream Cheese Torte, Strawberry Peanut Butter Frappe, and Cappuccino (dear Italians, please don’t get mad).

At the café, our uncle finally got to talk to my sister’s Korean boyfriend over video call. It was so funny because we were in one video call with my sister while the boyfriend was in a separate video call. So many gadgets were involved and thanks to technology, I think the boyfriend passed level one of my uncle’s “interrogation.” I wonder how many more levels there are to go.

Back to dessert, the L’Opera cake was great! It wasn’t too sweet, the cake was tender but not mushy, and the chocolate was rich but not too milky. The cream cheese torte, was also delicious but after a few bites, my taste buds did not want to have any more of it. That being said, I think four people can enjoy that small cake. The frappe was refreshing and did not taste of artificial flavoring. I sure hope I am right in assuming that they used fresh strawberries for it.

I cannot wait for my next food adventure with Uncle Greg. He’s currently enjoying being with his family in the US, especially his grandson, Ell. I hope to meet that kid one day because I live for his mom’s IG posts about him! He loves food like his grandpa and so I look forward to future food adventures they’ll have together.

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Just Baked: Cream Puffs!!!

“Maybe  there’s no scientific evidence of desserts curing what ails you, but if you ask me, the jury’s still out on science anyway. ” ― Crystal Cestari, The Best Kind of Magic

Cream puffs are one of the treats Mom used to buy us when my sister and I were kids. Despite not being a frequent treat we received, I remember loving cream puffs so much because of the custard filling. I didn’t like the filling too sweet though. I wanted them just right.

When I eventually started working and had my salary, I used to buy cream puffs from a Beard Papa’s stall in Glorietta until one day, I noticed that the stall was no longer there. A few years later, just recently, I discovered that Beard Papa’s is reopening in Glorietta. This time, it’s not just a stall; it’s going to be a shop!

While waiting for Beard Papa’s to open though, I decided to attempt making cream puffs in my own kitchen. I looked for recipe after recipe until I discovered the recipe from Kitchen Conundrums with Thomas Joseph segment in Everyday Food’s YouTube channel. I also searched for the video on how to make the filling that they dubbed as the No-Fuss Pastry Cream. It was the perfect recipe for me because I did not have to think about tempering the eggs to make sure they do not scramble and all the “fuss” that comes with making pastry cream.

What I did find difficult though is piping the batter and the pastry cream. I watched a lot of YouTube videos where the baker pipes stuff out of a pastry bag without looking like he or she is struggling or exerting any effort at all! My hands and wrist hurt a lot after.

I was surprised at how much they puff up. They looked so tiny when I piped them out. I left them to bake while I piped another batch and ten minutes later, they were already big! I remember turning around to check my oven only for my eyes to almost pop out of my head when I saw how much they have risen.

I was very sure then that they were going to have this huge air pocket inside for the cream to fill. They were so light once out of the oven!

I may have gone overboard with some because I filled them too much that some pastry cream oozed out the other side. Nevertheless, I was so happy I finally got to make these! It was just one of the treats I would think about but not dare try. Not anymore! I was hooked!

Please do check out the links of the recipes I linked above. They really are beginner-friendly and taste amazing!

I still cannot wait for Beard Papa’s to open soon.

Just Whipped: Coffee Choco Chip Ice Cream

“There were some problems only coffee and ice cream could fix.”  ― Amal El-Mohtar, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories

One problem I got is this humid summer heat. The peak temperature in the country ranges from 33°C – 36°C and combined with the humidity levels, those would normally feel 5 to 6 degrees hotter.

So, I decided to make another homemade ice cream using just whipping cream and condensed milk. I have tried it before with my chocolate chip ice cream and it was delicious, albeit a little too sweet.

I found a recipe for no-machine coffee ice cream from Honest Cooking and noticed that it only used 200 grams of condensed milk (equivalent to 200 ml) whereas the whipping was at 600 ml. So technically, the condensed milk was only 1/4 of the mixture. The last time I tried to make no-machine ice cream, there was only about 50 ml difference between the whipping cream and condensed milk. I decided right then to give this recipe a go, knowing that it was not going to be too sweet.

But because I wanted my ice cream to have something to bite into, I decided to add chocolate chips. I also decided to add vanilla because Gemma Stafford from Bigger Bolder Baking, from whom I first learned about no-machine ice cream, said it aids in the proper freezing of the ice cream.

65428112_unknownI used Anchor Whipping Cream this time. I remember Anchor being the brand of my powdered milk when I was growing up. I wondered if I was going to like the whipping cream from the same brand.

I used the same condensed milk and chocolate chip brands from my first ice cream attempt. I also just used whatever instant coffee I had at home.

65428192_unknownFirst, I whipped up my cream into stiff peaks just like I did the last time. Once there, I added the instant coffee to my condensed milk. I did not dissolve it in water anymore. I was under the impression that introducing water to the mixture may cause crystallization that might make the ice cream really hard once frozen.

65428368_unknownOnce dissolved in the condensed milk, I added the mixture to my whipped cream base. I mixed them until well combined. After that, I folded in my chocolate chips into the ice cream mixture.

I tried to taste a little bit of the ice cream and found that one packet/sachet of the coffee was just right and that the ice cream base was not as sweet as my previous attempt. Everything was just right! And so, I placed the in my tin ice cream containers knowing I was going to love it later on.

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Six hour later, my coffee choco chip ice cream was ready to be served! I’m so happy!!!

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You can already judge how hot it was by looking at the spots that were almost melting already.

The verdict? I really, really loved it! The coffee was not too strong but it helped make the ice cream taste less of the condensed milk. The ice cream was not too sweet, which was exactly how I envisioned the recipe to turn out.

I shall be trying to make fruity flavors next time. Mangoes? Strawberries? Avocado? Hmm… The possibilities are endless!

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

 

Japanese Cheesecake Attempt No. 1

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” -Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

Japanese cheesecake recipes have taken over my Facebook news feed and YouTube suggested videos for some reason. While I remember my friend, Joan, making me try a cake from a Japanese bakeshop called Kumori, I am not sure if it was Japanese cheesecake. It was called Signature Hanjuku Cheese.

Anyway, what’s with the Japanese cheesecake? It’s the fluffier version of the American cheesecake. It’s so fluffy that it jiggles! Jiggles! So cute!

Anyway, I tried searching for recipes and there weren’t many of them out there. Also, most of the recipes had too many steps to follow. Then, I found Tasty’s video:

It looked fairly easy so I decided to try it.

I weighed out and measured my ingredients and went on to mixing the batter.

It was my first time separating yolks from the whites. I messed up two and they ended up being scrambled with canned tuna. But the experience was so fun. I felt a sense of accomplishment every time I got to separate an egg’s yolk from the white. Oooh! The yolks look adorable!

I beat the egg yolks and combined them with the melted butter and cream cheese in milk. Then I added my flour and cornstarch.

Then, I proceeded to whisk the whites. It was my first ever attempt at making meringue and I realized that it was quicker to whip cream than to make meringue with stiff peaks.

Once the meringue was done, I folded them to the yellow batter, a quarter at a time. It was so fluffy that it was almost spilling off the bowl!

This was the stage I had difficulty second to the egg yolk separation. I did not want to knock out so much air but I did not want to undermix either. I was not sure if I mixed the meringue into the batter thoroughly.

Now off the oven! I lined my springform pan with foil to ensure that water will not seep into my batter because baking this cheesecake involved steam.

So cute! Almost an hour and a half later,

I had my cheesecake ready!

It was fluffy and jiggly! I decorated the top with icing sugar.

The real test though was the inside. And so, I cut myself a slice.

For the most part, it was really fluffy. But, I noticed a thin layer towards the bottom that did not bake like cake. Rather, it was like baked custard.

Despite that, it tasted really yummy! Even the custard-like part. It was soft, fluffy, and not overly sweet. Oh, and it made me feel happy knowing I made it.

I checked the recipe again to see where I made a mistake. True enough, I made less meringue than I was supposed to. The recipe called for 8 egg yolks and 13 egg whites. 13! Just because I saw 8 egg yolks, I assumed the same count for the whites automatically.

Maybe that explains the dense part. Maybe it was my mixing. Or the oven temperature too?

Regardless, it was a lesser disaster than I was originally expecting. The top was nicely browned and not burned, it was fluffy and it was jiggly too! Except for that thin layer of custard, it was really, really good.

I shall try to make it again soon. I truly want to master making this adorable cheesecake. I really hope to succeed at my next one. Lesson learned: double check the ingredients.

Just Whipped: Chocolate Ice Cream (No Machine)

“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.” – Thornton Wilder

Summer seems to be here in the Philippines! The sun’s hotter, there is not much rain, and the malls are now selling swimwear and sunscreen more than ever! It’s the season for buko juice, tan lines and ice cream!

I am not that into sweet foods but ice cream is something I have always loved. I got it from Mom. She can finish a pint in one sitting (we only have ice cream occasionally) and she taught me to sprinkle it with cornflakes to have something to bite into. Plain, smooth ice cream is not our thing. The chunkier, the better!

Despite my disappointment in my attempt with Gemma Stafford’s 3-ingredient coconut cookies (click here for blog post), I still think she has other lovely recipes up her sleeve. I saw her YouTube videos of no-machine ice cream using just whipping cream and condensed milk so I gave it a go. I found her recipe in her Bigger Bolder Baking blog and I decided to make a chocolate ice cream using her base.

I bought myself some whipping cream from Chocolate Lover‘s branch in Makati City as well as some small, white marshmallows. Then, I got myself some condensed milk, cocoa powder (transferred it into a jar already) and some mini chocolate chips.

I whipped up 2 cups of whipping cream until I reached stiff peaks.  It did not take long for the cream to get there.  Since I used a hand mixer for this one, I’d say about three minutes on high speed? I remember getting impatient because the cream was still too runny. I took my camera with one hand and turned it on and when I looked back, I had stiff peaks already!

Then, I added 14oz of condensed milk and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. I lightly mixed with a spatula first before going back with the hand mixer because I did not want to powder my face with the cocoa powder. I stopped as soon as it was well incorporated into the whipped cream. It looks a bit light in the picture because of the lighting in the room but it’s actually more chocolatey than that. Reminds me of Wendy’s chocolate frosty though.

Then, I folded in some chocolate chips and not-so mini marshmallows. We want our ice cream chunky!!!

I originally wanted to make chocolate rocky road ice cream but I did not have nuts on hand so I had to look for something else to put in. No matter what, the marshmallows had to go in! I love those stuff.

Once mixed well, I transferred them to these super cute can containers I also found in Chocolate Lover. So festive! I figured that the can would make it quicker for the ice cream to freeze.

After freezing them for more than six hours, ta-da!

The verdict? It’s yummy but too sweet for my liking. I should probably use just two-thirds of the amount of condensed milk. My taste buds have changed over the years and I cannot finish the amount of ice cream I used to eat in one sitting as a child. I did remember Gemma saying she used a fat-free type of condensed milk because it was not as sweet. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing here in the Philippines.

There I have it! My very own chocolate ice cream that I whipped up myself. It’s sweet, very rich, and really cooling for a hot summer day! I am not planning to eat a pint in one sitting though. Hahaha…

I want to try making strawberry ice cream next. What other flavors would be nice?