Monday, May 29, 2006

Well it's Dine&Jam week again. Someone also booked the place for a private party on Friday so we're seeing two events this weekend. I still haven't decided on the menu. I've got another class with Chef Giorgio again on Thursday. Maybe I'll decide by then hehehe.


Dine & Jam 4

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Societa' Dante Alighieri

My 2nd cooking class today with "DanteManila." I must say Chef Giorgio is the best cooking teacher I have ever had (after my mother, of course)! When I first saw the list of sauces we were to learn I was a little disappointed. I thought some of them were much too familiar: carbonara, puttanesca, a quattro formaggio, pesto Liguria; but there were some surprises too: penne in a sauce that he called boscaiola, and another one of his own invention which he simply called tagliatelle dello chef. I thought wrong about the sauces I thought I was already too familiar with; I learned quite a few secret tricks that I never would've thought of, and realized there'd been some things I'd been doing wrong. So now I'm learning from a real master! Man, that stuff was good!...more on that when I have the time

As I mentioned I learned a whole lot today, some of which goes against traditional (Filipino?) kitchen wisdom. It was good for psyching me up for another catering gig tomorrow, and Dine & Jam 4 next week...

By now you'll have realized I don't intend to give out any recipes or cooking secrets here. I'm not being selfish, just careful. After all, I intend for my own resto to come out of all this. Do Email me if you're curious about any of my recipes.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Middle-Eastern Coffee-Spiced Chicken

It's always fun to take inventory of the ref & pantry, and cook something up using whatever's already there. This week I cheated a little bit after I'd decided on the menu & stepped out to buy some anise seeds, and some prepared mustard.

After initial scans of the stocks I'd almost decided to go for a mexican menu (tortillas in the freezer, nacho chips in the pantry, plenty of tomatoes for salsa, and newly ripened avocadoes that my folks had brought home from Batangas), but I really wanted to try something new. Then I remembered that I'd been meaning to experiment with using coffee to spice a meat dish. I found some chicken in the freezer, and decided to run with it. I'd been reading some about using coffee in cooking, and I'd been toying with several different approaches to it. At around 5pm I decided I was gonna go for a Middle-Eastern spice treatment.

broiled bird in caffeine
Middle-Eastern Coffee-Spiced Chicken
basically broiled chicken using a coffee & spice basting sauce

Finjan Kirfee
a traditional Arabian drink, it's a tisane made from anise seeds, cloves & other spices, garnished with walnuts

Muttabal
a simple eggplant, garlic & sesame seed paste, same as you'll find at any kebab place

Cucumber & Yogurt salad

Roasted tomato & onion "skewers"

The Muttabal was added as an afterthought, when I realized the main dish lacked accompaniment. Had to send Tim out for eggplant. The coffee posed a problem when we realized we were fresh out of filters for the coffee-maker. Ace & I decided (with much hesitation) that we were just gonna have to live with using extra-strong instant coffee hehehe. Turns out we were fresh out of instant, too, so we bought some from the sari-sari next door.

The progression of aromas as we were preparing the basting sauce was mouth watering, and got us all excited. The coffee lent great color to the broiled chicken. Ace kept a watchful eye on it, basting the pieces every few minutes. While that was happening, I had plenty of time to prepare everything else. The eggplant & other veggies went into the broiler with the chicken. I didn't want to lose the tomato's juices and so we didn't skewer them as is traditional. The eggplant was cooking a little too slowly & so I took it to the stovetop & roasted it pinoy-style a la tortang talong hehehe. Fresh out of sesame seeds for the muttabal [aaargh]. Pine nuts & a little sesame oil did nicely.

I gave some thought to making a rice pilaf, but I figured plain rice would do. I had one leftover Curry Naan from BreadTalk. Unfortunately I didn't have time to make my own naan or pita bread. Ace came up with the brilliant idea of using the flour tortillas in the freezer as a substitute. He fixed it up with some olive oil & curry and they went into the oven with everything else. They turned out a lot lighter than pita or naan would've, of course, but they were pretty good too, and looked nice on the plate.

I made the drink last, and it only took a few minutes.

Another beautiful meal! Too bad I couldn’t take better photos. My food styling & photography both need work hehe. Besides I was much too eager to chow down already! Man oh man, did we ever demolish that dinner spread!

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