Wanted: Beef, Prawns, and a Ton of Rice

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather of late and, as such, have also been feeling rather gluttonous. (But, who am I kidding?! I’m always gluttonous – only, it’s not too obvious most of the time.)

Times like these call for some serious sustenance and I can find anything more serious than a Yoshinoya Jumbo Plate – specifically a large gyudon (beef bowl) with three crunchy tempura prawns. The mix of the savory meat, the sweetish onions, the crisp batter, and the savory sweetness of the prawns is a combination I consider incredibly comforting.

Alas, in the meantime, I have to finish drafting a communications plan. *deep sigh* But, there’s plenty of time for a Jumbo Plate after hours; so…

A Decadent Birthday Cake for My Dad

My dad is 61 today and I was supposed to take him and my mother out to lunch. Unfortunately, thanks to several uncooperative people who don’t seem to be doing their jobs, I had to go to work today to get a few things done. Nevertheless, I decided to do something nice for Dad before I went to the office this morning.

My father always told me to play to my strengths whilst I was growing up. That, in itself, was a quandary, seeing how I didn’t know what my strengths really were until I was much older. Keeping his advice in mind, I decided to use my mad baking skills to make a most delectable cake. A chocolate one, of course.

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How to Make Stuffed Mushrooms at Home

While my family usually agrees to disagree, there is something that we all crave for every once so often: stuffed mushrooms.

I blame my mother for this. She just had to take us to Italiannis’ and just had to order the stuffed mushrooms. We all ended up hooked – hopelessly hooked, as a matter of fact. We’d usually go trooping over for these sinful dumpling-esque delights once a month, but a recent visit made us all recoil in horror. Imagine: P 450.00 for three niminy-piminy mushrooms practically swimming in a vat of tomato-streaked bechamel sauce! That price was fine when they served four fat mushies practically smothered in truffle-infused beef, but the recession notwithstanding, that was too much!

It was fortunate that I decided to do something about this atrocity over the weekend. If my family was going to enjoy stuffed mushrooms ever again, I would have to start making them at home!

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Red Mango: Gorgeously Healthy Creaminess

One of my most recent foodie discoveries is rapidly getting to be one of my favorites. Red Mango serves up some of the best – if not the best – frozen yogurt I’ve had to date. (Of course, that’s not counting the Intense Chocolate fro-yo from Fro-Yo’s, but then…)

Their soft-serve swirls of fro-yo have a moreish creaminess and has none of the disconcerting ice crystals that seem to mar the texture of most frozen yogurts. Plus, the tanginess is mild and only serves to make it more appealing. P 80.00 gets you a small but rather generous serve of the plain stuff and the green tea-flavored variant is priced at P 85.00; additional toppings go for P 10.00 a pop.

Personally, I love mine with strawberries, flaked almonds, and dark chocolate. It’s my personal way of adding a bit of devilry to an otherwise virtuous treat.

It’s Lent. What’s On Your Dinner Table?

I remember a part from Fr. Andrew M. Greeley’s novel Lord of the Dance wherein the Farrells are sitting down to a Good Friday dinner of baked whitefish and potatoes paired with a dry white wine. Now, this Holy Week repast may do for well-to-do Irish-American families, but you can just imagine the howls of protest if someone is foolhardy enough to serve such a meal in a Filipino household. It’s bad enough that your blood sugar is down from a day’s fasting, but to be expected to break your fast with a bland meal? You’ve got to be kidding!

My siblings and I were fortunate to grow up in a home where meals have never been bland or insipid even on Ember Days (the name traditionally given to Ash Wednesday, all Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday, all of which call for fasting and abstinence). There would be sarciado (a fried fish smothered in a mild tomato salsa; known as cardillo in the provinces of Rizal and Laguna), lumpiang isda (fried spring rolls filled with sauteed milkfish), and pinaputok na tilapia (tilapia stuffed with ginger, onions, and tomatoes, wrapped in banana leaves, and deep fried). Sometimes, a pork-free pinakbet flavored with bagoong isda will accompany these dishes; other times, suam – a soup made with corn and squash blossoms flavored with smoked fish – will be served as an appetizer. Fish or prawn sinigang was also an option, along with crisp-fried daing na bangus (salt-dried milkfish).

For those of you who want to serve something different from the usual fried-fish / steamed-fish / fish-in-soup menus, here are a few ideas from several popular local restaurants for your Lenten menu:

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