A good day at Kettle

I turned twenty-three almost a week ago. It wasn’t a spectacle. I spent it at the restaurant, baking breads and plating a few dishes for a crowd of twenty people (which in my book, is already stressful). My birthday week was my last week interning at The Goose, and as I’m writing this there’s a smile on my face because I survived three challenging months at the restaurant I’ve always wanted to work at. I’m left with a sense of accomplishment, but also uncertainty. I have plans I want to happen, a few paths I want to take but everything isn’t set in stone. Of course I’d love to (finally) earn my keep but more than half of my body and brain is screaming for a vacation. (Am I too demanding, universe? Do I even deserve a vacation?)

I did have two golden Sundays in a row though. The first one I spent with my friends I’ve had since high school at this little restaurant called Kettle. One blog I read about it warned that I shouldn’t make a mistake of ordering one dish per person because the servings are generous to begin with.

It totally makes sense that the five of us ordered six dishes then. Two orders of buttermilk fried chicken, four pieces of boneless chicken thighs and six pieces of cornbread all in all. The chicken was everything good in the world about dark meat – juicy and flavorful.
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The blogs were right. It’s great chicken, partly because of the fact that people actually go the extra mile to serve uncomplicated, boneless chicken and partly because the same people know flavor. It’s not as if demolishing a bone-in chicken isn’t hard. I’ve had a solid reputation of “cleaning” the chicken well, leaving only the bone (sometimes even cleaning up after people’s chicken mess!). But not everyone is gifted with such profound talent.
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The rest of the dishes whizzed by: lamb adobo, a shrimp po’boy sandwich, angus corned beef hash (a great breakfast item that I might go back to Kettle for), and the surprise of the day, seared salmon on a bed of cold soba noodles and a mango relish on the side. I didn’t order it, they did. I had this look on my face that questioned their motives, but I caved in. It was served at an inconvenient time, when we were about to be filled to the brim with all the protein and fat that came before it. I think I said to them, “You ordered the salmon, you eat it”, or something to that effect. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy salmon. But I didn’t condition my mind for salmon, so I was less than enthusiastic.
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They began to devour it, taking the soba by the forkful then piercing the salmon to get shreds of juicy meat. From them came a nod of approval. “Masarap” (delicious). It was my turn to taste it, still on the fence.

Looking back I didn’t see why I was so worked up to begin with. It’s a dish that plays on the richness of the salmon with the freshness of the soba and the cleansing effect of the mango relish. The dark horse was delicious indeed.

We were too hungry that day, so I think ordering too much didn’t allow a lot of savouring to happen. But I was in the company of great people so I didn’t mind it too much.

There’s a part two y’all! Wait for it. Meanwhile, follow me on instagram, because it has more food than selfies. I’m on twitter too!

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9 mornings: Buttermilk Pancakes with Coconut Syrup

My mom’s ninang is an amazing baker. She makes the best puto maya I’ve ever tasted. It’s basically sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf topped with shredded coconut and muscovado sugar. Admittedly, what I look forward to isn’t really the puto maya itself, but the toppings. There’s something about muscovado sugar (unrefined brown sugar with a strong flavor akin to molasses)  that gets me riled up in a good way. The sensation of biting into these large clumps of sugar, melting in your mouth spreading the strong, almost overpowering sweetness, is priceless. So when puto maya isn’t available, I might as well wolf down a heaping tablespoon of muscovado and it’s Christmas day in my head

Yesterday, I was pretty beat up after making those cupcakes. I have yet to fill all 54 pieces with crushed peaches. I told myself that I really have to make something easy today, or else I’ll crash and burn.

So what could be more easy than simple syrup? Coconut syrup to be exact. What makes this recipe simple is that I used coconut milk in a tetra pack, eliminating the need to go to your neighborhood vegetable stand and buy coconut shreds. I could have just easily bragged that I went the extra mile and extracted coconut milk from scratch but no, I was pretty lazy today.
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But I wasn’t too lazy to the point that I didn’t look for something to pour the syrup over. Bananas were the obvious choice because Sareala (banana slices cooked in coconut milk and muscovado) is also something common in our household. Pretty obvious but the combination lacked ‘oomph’. Pancakes? Buttermilk pancakes? Now you’re talking.
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I’ve been meaning to post my recipe for buttermilk pancakes for a while now. Today I hit two birds with one stone. These pancakes aren’t too sweet, which we like. This makes for a really great easy afternoon snack.
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You don’t even have to wait for the holidays to partake in the festivities. These are fun pancakes yo. They dance, sing and jump for joy (haha). Well not really: I did the  jumping.
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Buttermilk Pancakes (makes around eight 4 inch pancakes) adapted from Joy of Baking

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (in a pinch: 1 cup milk and ½ tablespoon vinegar)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ – ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons melted butter plus more for greasing the pan.
  1. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Add the sugar and melted butter. Whisk until sugar dissolves.
  3.  Add the egg-milk mixture into the flour mixture by making a well at the center of the bowl. Whisk together until the batter is mixed well but STILL SLIGHTLY LUMPY.
  4. Grease a nonstick pan with the melted butter over medium heat. Gently ladle batter (around 60 ml or ¼ cup) into the pan. When the surface starts to bubble, after 2 – 3 minutes, gently turn the pancake over. Cook the remaining side until lightly browned, around 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve with the coconut syrup.

Coconut syrup

  • 200 ml coconut milk (around 3/4ths cup give or take)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
  1. In a small pot, combine everything except cornstarch.
  2. Heat over medium flame until it bubbles.
  3. Add the cornstarch and regularly stir to prevent the liquid from burning.
  4. Adjust sweetness to your liking. When thick and slightly reduced, remove from heat and drizzle over pancakes.

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But don’t jump for joy too much though. There’s so much going on in this world that tragedy really sobers us up. It may bring forth so much physical and emotional destruction, but in the wake of all of mayhem, the goodness of people also shines.

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