Friday, November 27, 2009

White Is the Color of Sin

It's weird how we associate the color white with goodness, when some truly evil things come in white packages.

At a shoot for another mag, I got cupcakes and some cake to style a couple of setups. Some wonderful home bakers supplied us with these so-good-they're-bad treats (all white, as I requested):

The lovely Dessert Fairy, Karla Hernandez, provided us with equally lovely cupcakes.

Pretty cupcakes in full bloom

She can do colorful icing, but for this shoot, she stuck with white, and even tweaked her cake recipe to come up with the whitest cake possible. Since I needed them for a floral setup, I requested that the frosting be made to look like flowers or just a simple swirl. She gave me both. As I looked into one box, I admired the lovely toppers, before she even pointed out that she created different "blooms." She actually rattled off real flowers as she pointed to each cupcake, so I'm kind of convinced that she moonlights as a florist.

Karla lived in the US for a while, and so was used to US ingredients. When she got back to the Philippines, she was aghast to find that the quality of the ingredients here is rather...different, to say the least. She has experimented with many different brands (she's still on a quest to find the perfect non-gritty confectioner's sugar, but she's found some she could live with), so you can be sure that you're getting quality stuff.

Gay Vazquez sent us a macadamia sansrival that the Yummy Magazine managing ed was raving about.

You'll go nuts over this update on the sansrival.

Our photog had his eye on this cake in between setups, and when we finally gave him the go-signal to chow down, I could hear him praising the almighty.

Gay describes this cake as "four layers of wafer mixed with nuts and frosted with rich and pure buttercream frosting that is melting in your mouth and topped with chunky macadamia big enough for the eyes to see and the mouth to feel. Gets better the longer it stays in the freezer." It is very very sweet, but the nuts--being so large--temper this sweetness.

And the last in this three-dessert feast is the tres leches by Karen's Kitchen.

Mapapa-"leche!" ka sa sarap!

Karen is known for producing cakes that have made it onto some "10 (or 20) best" lists that have been well-circulated on the net. The tres leches is made by soaking the cake in three different kinds of milk. The center is all gooey and milky, encased in a surprisingly soft and not at all soggy cake. These are all surrounded by a thin layer of smooth icing and topped with big white chocolate shavings. I can only have small slices at a time due to its richness. But I could certainly have several slices staggered throughout the day!

Of course, after we shoot, we eat. Just another reason I love my job.

Contact The Dessert Fairy through 0928-5241166 or email You can also check out her stuff at

Get your own 7 x 11 macadamia sansrival for P900 (kasuy sansrival is P650). Call Gay Vazquez through 0917-3010615 or (02) 631-0125.

Come face to face with sin itself by ordering a tres leches cake for someone's birthday...or no occasion at all. Contact Karen's Kitchen through 0917-5394986 or (02) 898-2280. See more of her goodies at

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pino: Playful Pinoy Food

I'd been wanting to try an absolutely sinful dessert: a deep-fried chocolate bar which, I was told, was available at Pino Resto Bar. Deep-fried chocolate bars are nothing new; I first heard about Snickers bars dipped in batter being one of the most unhealthy snacks available in the US, and read about Scotland's notorious deep-fried Mars bars. Fortunately (or unfortunately), this shamelessly rich creation has made it onto our shores.

Doodle art on one wall.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The menu shows some Filipino favorites used in inventive ways. Some Pino standbys are bagnet (used in kare-kare, for example) and sisig (on...wait for it...carbonara!). H and I started off with one of their newer offerings: mini sisig tacos. At P185, I thought it was a bit pricey for an appetizer at a neighborhood cafe--that's more than an entree at Banapple! But when it was set down in front us, I understood why.

There were eight little tacos in all, filling enough for two! Each little shell was stuffed with sisig, lettuce, salsa, aioli, and cheese. Extra yummy with the surprisingly spicy Jufran hot sauce!

Next up, our entrees. H opted for the red wine adobong tadyang (P210), described as "adobo-style short ribs slow cooked in red wine, served with steamed rice and mango salsa." The ribs were fairly tender, and the adobo was a bit unusual in that it had a very strong flavor of anise.

I was craving for something crispy, so I went for the bagnet and tofu stack-o with mushroom rice (P225).

The bagnet and tofu stack-o is Pino's version of tokwa't baboy, with the soy sauce and vinegar served on the side; the bagnet thus maintains its crunchiness. The bagnet, in thin strips, didn't come close to the divine ones we had in Ilocos, but they hit the spot. The rice was very flavorful, with shitake mushrooms dotting it here and there.

The food might seem a bit expensive, but I think they're reasonable given the servings. I barely had room for the grand finale, but I sucked it up in the name of research (riiight). I ordered what I had gone there for: the chunky choco tempura (P125).

It's a chocolate wafer bar covered in tempura batter and deep fried. As if that weren't bad enough, it's served with some vanilla ice cream and some strawberry syrup! Once you slice into the bar, the melted chocolate oozes out of the tempura coating. There's a play of textures, with the light batter, sticky melted chocolate, and crunchy wafer bar, and the warmth is tempered by the cool ice cream. It's the very definition of evil. I didn't finish it out of guilt.

Now I have to run every day for the rest of the week.

Pino Resto Bar is located at 122 Maginhawa St., Teachers Village, Quezon City. Contact them through (02) 441-1773. Open daily from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm onwards.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Recipe: Easy Tuna Pasta with White Sauce

The sauce is a bit runny, but the husband loves it as is. "I can eat this every week!" he declared after tasting it. If you prefer a thicker sauce, however, just add a bit of flour. Measurements are approximations--the fantastic thing about cooking is you can adjust according to your taste!


300g spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 can tuna (I use the solid one in vegetable oil)
1 can evaporated milk
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp ground pepper (I use black, but white pepper would disappear into the sauce, if that's what you want)
White wine (optional)
Grated cheese

1. Saute tuna in its own oil. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan, mix milk, butter, ground pepper, and wine.
3. Once butter is melted, add tuna.
4. Pour over spaghetti noodles and top with cheese.

Serves 3 to 4.

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