Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Frozen Mango Brazo de Mercedes from Aggy's

I've had frozen brazo de mercedes before but they are usually delivered to our office during production meetings and shoots and I have no idea where they came from.

While Hubby and I was driving around BF, we saw that Aggy's was selling them. Aggy's has been in BF like, forever. I remember my mom used to buy birthday cakes there when my brother was still young. Their cakes are usually so colorful and so well decorated.

Anyway, Hubby and I decided to buy a small Frozen Mango Brazo de Mercedes to try at home. Frozen Brazo de Mercedes are typically made with a graham sugar crust, topped with a cream filling (made with egg yolks and milk), a layer of ice cream and topped with a pillowy meringue.

This one looks good enough. Hubby wasn't a fan though. He didn't like the crust because it was too sweet. I thought the crust was a bit salty (?). I'm not sure what's going on with Hubby and me since we are having two different experiences with the same cake.


Hubby loves gelato, ice cream and anything cold and sweet. We went to Caramia in Ayala Triangle after our lunch at Seryna. He had his usual several scoops of gelato. He usually gets the gigantic cup, which never fails to make the servers laugh. People usually just order a single scoop for themselves. Hubby usually has two or three.

I had a slice of caramel cake. Caramia's caramel cake is good but it's no match to Costa Brava's.

Anyway, hubby was happy ... and sated...

Seryna - Little Tokyo

A few weekends ago, Hubby and I were finally able to dine at Seryna, in Little Tokyo in Makati. Seryna had great reviews from friends and we wanted to try it too. The place is always full, so come early. Seryna closes in the afternoon so be sure to come before 1:00 p.m. for lunch and after 5:00 p.m. for dinner.

Hubby and I tried the bento boxes. Hubby got the the Sukiyaki bento. He said the Sukiyaki was too salty but everything else in the bento was good. (Hubby is partial to the Sukiyaki I make at home, he he he)

I got the bento with the grilled tuna and tempura. I liked it, the sashimi was so fresh and milky. I didn't like the miso too much because it was a tad too salty also.

Hubby and I also tried the Shabu-shabu salad. Chicken fillets laid on a bed of greens and smothered with sesame dressing. Not quite what we had in mind when we think of shabu-shabu. We probably won't order this again.

Over all, Seryna is a good resto to try. The ingredients are very fresh and the serving very generous.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dreaming about.... ninjas!

Sometimes I daydream about kicking butt. I love action movies as much as I do chic flicks. One of the movies that that has by far the most kick-ass fighting scenes that I've ever seen is called Ninja Assassin, starring Korean actor and pop sensation, Rain. I just chanced upon it a long time ago while watching TV late at night. The movie is ridiculously bloody though (I didn't like that part).

The training that involved in making the fight scenes is just insane! Months of martial arts and strength training, just for this movie. Insane, I tell you.

I really admire Rain's dedication during his training. OMG, that must have been so hard, martial arts, weapons training and stregnth training for six hours a day, six days a week for six months. His diet would have been the hardest. Just thinking about it gives me the hibigeebies.

Ninja Assassin, kick ass fight scenes. Too bad the story line was absolute crap.

(image from screenrant.com)

What a waste of good talent. I hope Rain gets another chance in making good Hollywood action movies. He deserves it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eye candy can cook!

I like watching asian dramas, as long as they are not dubbed in Tagalog. My current favorites are Japanese romantic comedies starring Hayami Mokomichi from Zettai Kareshi and Rebound. Hayami Mokomichi is just too damn tall, dark and handsome. Dreamy.

(images from mysoju.com)

I just finished watching both series and both plots were kinda ridiculous and predictable but I loved them anyway. I'm weird, I know. Those cheesy dramas are my secret guilty pleasure, as long as they're not dubbed in Tagalog, which ruins my viewing pleasure.

Anyway, I was looking for more comedy/romantic series where this actor has starred in and while surfing the net, I found out that he cooks too (with two cookbooks published!), for real! See!

(Images from Tokyohive.com)

He even got a daily segment in a Japanese morning show called Moco's kitchen:

Is this guy for real? He's got a velvety voice, he's tall, dark, handsome, popular, successful, probably rich and can cook to boot! Maybe he's really a cyborg like his role in Zettai Kareshi.

In case you can't tell, I'm totally crushing on Hayami Mokomichi, like a pimply thirteen year old.

Papa John's Pizza

Last Sunday, after some errands, Hubby and I had a quick snack at Papa John's n their newly opened branch in BF. Papa John's originated in New York City. There's a branch near Hubby's office in Maiden Lane (Wallstreet) and he would usually go there (during his business trips to NYC) to have a cheap lunch. A big slice of pizza sells for a dollar.

The shop here in BF is quite more fancy than the hole in the wall pizzeria in New York City. I haven't been to any Papa John's yet, whether Manila or NYC. So, this is really a first for me. Hubby was quite excited to go in (he gets that way about pizza, he he he).

The pizzas are hand tossed and prepared fresh upon order order. The kitchen looks clean, thank goodness.

All pizzas come with a cheese dip and a piece of jalapeno pepper on the side. We tried the Papa John's Special (forgot what's it's really called, sorry) with olives, pepperoni, bell peppers etc. We opted to order the small one only since pizzas with thick crusts tend to pack a wallop in your tummy. For me, the pizza was not too bad, not too great either. Personally, the cheese dip that came with it was absolutely vile. It tasted like cheap melted butter mixed with cornstarch. The jalapeno pepper however, was a nice touch, it provided a mild zing when eating your pizza.

Hubby and I also tried the pizza bread (forgot what's it's called, sorry), and a ranch dipping sauce to dip with it. I have to say, the dips were a major disappointment for me. I know what ranch sauce/dressing tastes like, and the one that they served us tasted like sweet tartar sauce. So, I'm not sold on the dips and wouldn't order extra. If you order the pizza or the pizza bread, they come with free cheese dip.

Hubby of course, sneaked an order of rootbeer float. Sometimes I feel like I'm dining with a two year-old, but I love him to bits anyway.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chocolate Eclairs

Hubby really likes chocolate eclairs. He always orders them whenever we are at Starbucks or any restaurant that have them. I've been meaning to bake it from scratch for the longest time but I always feel so intimidated with the many processes to complete this dessert.

Today, since Hubby is sick, I decided to make his favorite dessert, to make him feel better. I spent pretty much the whole afternoon making them. OMG, you can't even begin to imagine the amount of dishes and paraphernalia that we had to wash, just to make these babies.

Hubby didn't want the Eclairs to be too sweet, so, I lessened the sugar a bit and I used dark chocolate ganache for the glaze. I used Gale Gan's recipe found at the Food Network website, below is the recipe:

Chocolate Eclairs

2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I used 1/2 teaspoon Mexican Vanilla)
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1 cup water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, plus 1 extra, if needed
Egg Wash:

1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons water
Chocolate Glaze:

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the saucepan. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.

Pastry: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time. Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog) onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. You should have 8 to 10 lengths.

Egg Wash: In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together. Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet. Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or just use your fingertip). Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip, gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside (don't stuff them full).

Glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.

Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.

Since this is my first time making Eclairs, it took longer to make and I made a few errors, like using an extra egg for the pasty, which made the pastry too soft and fluffy. Overall, I think the recipe turned out ok. The pastry looked so cute out of the oven. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to pull it off since it involved cooking the dough on the stove before baking it.

I used dark chocolate for the glaze, which is a bit bitter (Hubby likes dark, that's why I used it). I shouldn't have lessened the sugar on the filling though for a more balanced flavor.

This recipe is also the same for cream puffs! I think I'll make that next time.

Hubby asked me, "Where did you get the bread?"

Hello, I made everything from scratch, why do I you think I slaved all afternoon baking?

Seafood Boil .... my version

Hubby's been sick for the past few days. I guess it's due to the rainy weather that we've been having for the past few weeks. He's also been working extra long hours at work (more than the usual long hours.... Haaay).

To cheer Hubby up, I decided to cook today and bake his favorite dessert. After buying some of the ingredients from the market, I started my very long day cooking and baking. The baking adventures will be on my next post :-)

While I was watching TV the other night, I saw a seafood boil cooking demo and wanted to try something similar at home. I Am so glad I made this because the recipe is so good. I've a changed the recipe based on the things that were available in the market and some things that were already in my pantry.

Simple Seafood Boil

Olive oil
1 Chorizo de Bilbao, cubed
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small red onion
1/2 kilo mussels, cleaned
1/2 kilo clams, soaked in water for two hours, to remove the sand
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 small potato, cooked and cubed
1 roasted green pepper, charred skin removed and then cubed
1/2 can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 1/2 cups parley leaves, chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon

1. Sauté chorizo in olive oil, add garlic and onion and sauté until fragrant. Do not brown.

2. Add all mussels, clams, stewed tomatoes, potato, green pepper and corn. Cover and simmer just until the shells open. Maybe five minutes or so. NO need to add salt.

3. Add in lemon juice and lemon zest, parsley and butter right before turning off the heat. You need a lot of parsley for this.

So good! The lemon zest, lemon juice, parley and butter really compliment this dish, do not scrimp on that when you are making this. I was finally able to use my micrplane (yey!), which I bought way back in November at William Sonoma in New York.

I would imagine, adding lemon grass to the broth and some cilantro would also have a Thai feel to the dish and would also be good. I would probably try that next time. This dish will have many repeat performances (and several variations) in our home :-) Try it!

For desert, we whipped up some Mais con Yelo (literally means, corn on ice). Here's a super quick recipe:

Ice Cubes
Evaporated milk
Sugar or condensed milk
Cream-style corn

1. Blend ice cubes, evaporated milk, sugar and some of the cream style corn in a blender.

2. Place remaining cream-style corn on glasses and top with blended corn and milk mixture.

How was your Saturday? :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Oh baby, baby, baby....

Last weekend was a very lazy one for me and Hubby primarily because I've been sick and having allergies again. My allergy meds rendered me unconscious for twelve hours at a time. Hence, the over abundance of sleep.

Once I've finally come to, I had the weirdest feeling come over me. I thought of babies and how come everybody got pregnant except me! Friends and family who were unable to conceive suddenly conceived and now are about to or has given birth. Told you it was the weirdest thing ever. I suddenly had this maternal desire to carry my own biological baby in my arms.

Poor Hubby was the brunt of my outburst. I saw him get deflated with my sudden longing for motherhood. I tell you, if he could somehow magically conjure up a biological baby, he would have done it to appease me. It's really neither of our faults we couldn't conceive. It's just a freak of nature that we are lacking what other couples merely take for granted.

Anyway, here are some funny, embarrassing and frustrating comments from well-meaning friends, family members and acquaintances.

What I really really dread the most are family reunions and get-togethers.

"O ano? Buntis ka na ba"
"Wala pa ba?"
"Aba, kelan pa kayo mag kakanak?"
"Ano ba problema, bakit wala pa?"
"Nagdadasal ka ba?"

If I could just put a sign on my shirt that says

"No, I'm not pregnant yet, just fat"
"I don't know when I will be"
"I can tell you what's wrong, why we haven't conceived but, I don't feel like it"
"Yes, I pray"

Hubby is the only male heir to their family name, to add insult to injury. So the pressure of populating the world with little ones bearing his surname is doubled. My mother-in-law even offered me a bribe! You know, to speed things up.

I also get two-bit advice from people that I barely know. Like:

"You prop your feet up against the wall after intercourse so that the sperm will not escape and know where to go and then shake your legs so that they can get there faster." I'm like, Dude, the sperms are made to know exactly what to do, where to go and go there as fast as they could.

"Ma'am wala ka pang anak? Haay naku. may papainom ako sa iyong magic juice, yung isa naming kasama hindi magkaanak anak din eh, ngayon tatlo na anak" "Seven hundred fifty lang per pack nung juice"

Riiight, magic juice.

I get religious advice too.

"Nagsayaw na ba kayo sa Obando?" There is a festival in Obando, Bulacan that is believed to help childless couples to conceive, once they dance together in the yearly festival. Hundred of childless couples flock there every year hoping to be blessed with children.

Hubby, my hubby, dance in public, in sweltering heat, with thousands in attendance? Don't think so. Next advice please.

Wear only boxers. Yup, did that too. Oh, you mean Hubby?

Doctors and nurses all give us advice. One expensive procedure after the next. I remember one incident, Hubby's doctor asked for a sperm count. We were at a clinic and I asked the cashier how much it cost and Hubby got pissed. I said, "Why, what's matter?"

"Your voice is too loud, everybody could hear! You even asked if I could do it in the bathroom!"

Bwa ha ha ha.

I get envious remarks too:

"Buti ka pa Miss Leics, anytime, anywhere!" Ahhmm, we're not rabbits, you know.

Family side comments like:

"The elders in our family are dying, we need to re-populate the family!"

Whoa, apocalypse?

I am in my ripe old age of 37, certainly on the late side for conceiving children. I get sudden bouts of wanting my own child. But I don't get them often. I guess I'm approaching middle age and worry about Hubby and me getting old and no one being concerned if something happened to us.

One priest friend even told us that there's an orphanage in Tagaytay that we might want to consider. He would choose a light-skinned baby for us, so that we can pass off the baby as our own. Personally, I would prefer having my own biological child first before considering adoption. If we are to consider adoption, I only like to adopt my brother's kids. I tried, but he wouldn't let me. He he he.

Some friends even suggested conceiving via in vitro. But what's the point of having a baby if we are not the baby's parents?

So for now, at least, my only baby is Hubby.