My mentor

I was watching Jamie at Home on Discovery Travel and it is really inspiring how his dishes are so natural, so simple, so direct. It's a wonder how the general population could not have had their grubby hands on his cooking. This is so far removed from Top Chef, as everything has no pretensions, no hype. With command of fresh herbs, his own garden, ingredients that are top quality. And mind you, he does not need to endorse anything. He is his own god, or at least mine. Jamie Oliver continues to inspire me in my cooking, unfortunately lately I have not been doing much of that lately. But my Scribe is filling up slowly with his inspirations. As with all aspiring chefs, one has to have a mentor, and Jamie is one that I would not mind working for as long as I live. He made a wonderful salad with roast peaches and parma ham and fresh greens from his own garden, dressed in something as simple as a lemon and EVO mixture. Lovely.
My cooking will definitely jump off the springboard because of his straightforwardness, his honesty in cooking. Where can I get the application form to get into Fifteen?


What do you call that place between the waking world and dreamland?

Early this morning, groggy with sleep, I had the greatest idea on what to post on this blog for this week. It was one of those moments of unique inspiration that grips you with such voracity that even the great Shakespeare would be put to shame. Ideas flowed through my head, tugging at my brain here and there, screaming for me not to visit the sandman. Great recipes that would have made the banquets of royalty have been spelled out right before me, in it’s neatest format, ready to be written down. An involvement of vegan dishes and what role they played in society. As for that, veganism and vegetarianism is a preference, like we prefer dark meat over white meat. To each his own. Cauliflower as if by some ethereal imagery danced before me before being plunged into of olive oil with slivers of garlic and chili pepper and chopped up broccoli sprouts. Then stuffed into cannelloni tubes  and laid out over fresh tomato sauce and lemon juice. Stage left and copious amounts of creme fraiche are poured over the pasta, with parmiggiano falling so delicately on the top, like fresh snow in November covering the undulating hills of your favorite sledding playground. Distant smells triggered the images to be place in the oven until golden brown, my eyes all this time struggling to close, only to be yanked open to feast on the al forno that could be. Sleep. Come to me.

Before I could partake in the luxury of blissful dozing, after having struggled in the limbo between dreams and wakefulness, my half dilated vision caught sight of the myriad of cooking books that I have yet to lay my pen to, the images of great dishes that should be immortalized and shared with the rest of the world. Contents of the books that would grip the culinary world by its cholesterol choked heart strings, shake the very foundation of conventional thinking, redefining glorious moments in culinary history. A tome on the benefits of the humble bitter gourd, despite popular evasion. The durian and its place in the annals of flavors that is yet to be tapped and exploited to such common  mediocrity eliminating its uniqueness in the first place. How cooking is bastardized at the local McDonald’s, and the eventual revolt against their philosophy of food and imagery of inherent ineptitude of what sustenance should be. Thousands of solutions to what a turkey should be basted when roasting, then dissolving into where I should plot a vegetable garden, what should go in it, where the hell will I get the seedlings for those purple potatoes. Fresh ripe tomatoes that could be culled and served with really nice fresh lemon fruit. How call center agents live through their day feasting on instant noodles and blood pressure inducing amounts of cheap coffee. Why would they subject themselves to nasty food and meager sustenance in the middle of the night with the rest of the world slumbering and dreaming of what the morn brings. Then a  scribble, a passage in a book that presented a haiku in a ten-syllable-too-much form that really explained where I am now:

“I have always Known

that at last I Would

TaKe this road. But yesterDaY

I did not KnoW that it WoulD be today”

It is that last thought that remains in my memory of this morning, before falling into the abyss of what would promise to be the prelude to what a great life should be. Those ideas are now eluding me, disappearing into white puffs of oblivion. I reach out to them, only to evaporate and flow as mercurial wisps through my gnarled fingers.  Forgive my prose, but it would give you insight on what I believe how great thinkers in our time would experience epiphany in sleep or just waking moments from sleep. Unfortunately, that title has yet to be bestowed upon me by the greatest chefs. Words fail me.

Sweet dreams are made of these...

Last night at church I realized something, or had a deja vu of something, that should have been done a long time ago. It is in between the hymns and high upon the balcony that a thought has come to me, directing me on where I should go. It is a realization that I had my way paved out for me, or I paved out for myself. Either way, the last six months are so was for naught if I did not do something about it now.

Around November last year something happened that changed the winds that were blowing. Since then I did not have the passion, the will to excel. For the longest time, had no wind vane to direct me. All that was important to me was to get the bills paid, to have a roof over our heads, just enough to get by. And because of the law of attraction, no matter how meager or phenomenal my take home check was, that is just what I did. I would look at other people, green with jealousy, wondering how a schmuck like that could get ahead. I get news from my alma mater, about classmates who become general managers at great hotel chains. Friends who have put up their own businesses. People I know who had no direction ten years ago has raced on ahead of me and is now enjoying a life that was I was meant to command. Somewhere along the way I lost sight of the dream.

I got into this industry because i had a dream. And that dream come to me once again as a thought during mass. I looked up into the ceiling of the great arches, then at the people around me. There was Rossana, the one significant person who has been with me for the last nine years. And the angel we were blessed with, our little Maxine, who is busy fidgeting with a piece of paper, distracting herself from the her version of boredom in a cavernous building. They deserve better. The status quo is good enough, but reaching my dreams will have them reach their dreams too. And all the other people in the same row, in the same balcony, in the same building. Going to church is for giving thanks, and to hope. Each one of us is living the dream, or is still dreaming. The thought was that I still had that dream. No amount of persuasion, coercion, behavior adjustment or psychological abuse will ever change that. My dream was, is, to have my own restaurant. I know it is to some people like living a life of servitude. But if you look at it closely, are we not all living a life of servitude? The biggest CEO of Sony is providing a service of entertainment. The head honchos at Google a giving us new and easier ways to take advantage of the internet. I merely want to feed people good food, have good company, and go home feeling great and looking forward to the next day. It is not much for my own glorification, but a restaurant is what is a measure of what I can do, and a measure of how I can connect to the community. All the things I have been doing in the last 20 years have been leading up to my own restaurant. Every tedious task, every person I meet, every ingredient I touch and marvel at, should be contributing and be part of that dream. I still have a dream. I will not let anybody squash it, nor will I squash anybody because of it.

I once heard someone say that a man is defined not by what he does, but by the choices he makes along the way. Now is the time to be the better man, to be the better person. If I am to have my own restaurant, let this be the first step for me. As a personal chef, this will lead to bigger things, to the next step, bringing me closer to the first restaurant that will make everybody around me happy.

THat is what dreams are made of…happiness…contentment…inspiration…the people around you. You dream not because you have to pay the bills, satisfy everybody, keep out of trouble. you dream because it is what make life your own. By choosing to follow the dream, I have already taken control of my life, again. Pray for me. That the dream will always be there.


Cool T-Shirt for the Culinary inclined

Hey Foodies and Chefs! Starting a new T Shirt series featuring famous culinary quotes and recipe prints.  To order, just send me a message and I will send you all the details. Best of all, free shipping to anywhere in Metro Manila!
Check out the designs on the Facebook Fan Page!
Also, you can now send an email to our new!


Flapjacks anyone?

We have pancakes every Sunday. It is a kind of expectation that they are fluffy, absorb rich syrup like a sponge and steaming hot. Everybody likes to see a great stack on the breakfast table, next to maple syrup (which I recommend getting from S&R) rich butter and blueberries.

Store-bought mixes are varied and available in most major supermarkets. Whenever I go to groceries I take a look at what is new, what is selling, and what I know has been losing out. Some are so good it is a wonder why the company selling it has not branched out  My favorite is pancake mix from Maya Kitchens. They are rich, consistent, and downright delicious. The following recipe is an emulation of that famous brand. The batch is enough to make 32 fluffy pancakes. Leftover mix can be stored in an airtight container for convenience. Made in advance, the mix will keep for about three weeks.

For the basic mix

  • 6C sifted all purpose flour
  • 1tbsp baking soda
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 6tbsp refined sugar

Sift together all ingredients and store in an airtight container. As a variation, you could replace 2 cups flour with 2 cups Hershey’s unsweetened Cocoa powder or Vahlrona Cocoa Powder. For diabetics, 2 tablespoons of Equal sweetener instead of sugar. To add a bit of spiciness, add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

When you are ready to claim domestic goddessness, do this:

  • 1 1/4C Mix
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 C fresh milk or water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Combine egg, milk and oil in a bowl. Whisk together thoroughly
  2. Add to hotcake mix in bowl, mixing until moistened. Do not over mix. Batter must be smooth. If too thick, adjust by adding water. What you are looking for is that the batter should coat the back of the ladle completely.
  3. Ladle batter onto a hot griddle. Cook until top forms bubbles, then flip over. I prefer heavy cast iron griddles, as the heat is even and are non stick like teflon pans.
  4. Serve hot with good maple syrup and butter. Confectioner’s sugar also can be sprinkled un top to add that certain zing!

It is also fun to add sliced vienna sausages into the batter. I don’t know why, but it just works and it’s delicious! Other good additions? Cheddar cheese, Havarti Cheese, peanut butter, slices of banana, apples, raisins, the possibilities are endless!

If you have any other pancake recipes, or you have your own adventures on this recipe, let me know. Post it up. I invite all of you to rant and rave and leave a comment. This recipe will also appear on my facebook page, in case you are interested.