A little bit of Subspace

It’s not every day that you get to encounter a cafe or coffee shop with quirk, punch and personality. There’s this little cafe called Subspace that’s been getting much hype lately,  simply because it tugs at the heartstrings of every single k-pop (Korean pop culture) lover in town with its drinks and decor straight out of a Korean Drama (‘Coffee Prince’, not that I would know).
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extremely cool: a chandelier made of wooden chairs

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It reminds of the this great student-centric cafe in Dumaguete (you will fall in love with Dumaguete), called Noriter that is also decked out in quirky Korean-inspired items. Either way, I’ll never be a fan of k-pop but I do appreciate a casual coffee shop with personality when I see one. Subspace doesn’t scream korean pop culture to the highest octave, but it makes good use of these elements, together with other pieces of vintage graphic art to deliver a look that’s fun without being over the top. And yeah, the place is basically Instagram paradise. Go crazy.
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who are these dudes?

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I had the much raved about Purple Potato Latte (140 php cold, 125php hot). There was a debate going on in my head on whether or not purple potato means ‘ube’, but after some research (thank you, Lori), I’m satisfied not to persist on the matter.
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Did it taste like melted ube ice cream? Not quite. Did it taste like kamote? (what?), No. It’s strange that I can’t seem to describe it properly, except to say that it’s good, I really did like it. I’m banking on this distinct aftertaste that I got after every sip, which, even after a few days, still lingers in my memory. That has to mean something good.

I know I’m asking for too much but I’d appreciate my Cream Cheese Danish (70php) to have more of a buttery taste. The cream cheese center was a good mix of sweet and slightly tart, and the pastry was really flaky, which is always good.  They just need to amp up the butter more.
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The Peanut Butter Latte (145php cold, 130php warm), another one of their bestsellers, could probably be an acquired taste. It’s basically peanut butter and coffee, and although it satisfies, it doesn’t have the punch that the Purple Potato Latte has.
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Like the danish, the Ham and Cheese Turnover (80php) is a great snack to go with your hot or cold coffee.
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The selection’s visual appeal is pretty good, although I’m curious to know if they make the pastries themselves or if it comes from a third-party purveyor.  At least there is one more reason for another quick visit.
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The only regret is that I didn’t order the cucumber-kani croissant. Next time.

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Fortune was on our side that day because apparently the cafe has a notorious reputation for being packed most of the time. The place is relatively small – I can imagine it accommodating only around 15 – 20 (probably even less) people at one time, so space is a luxury.

The Subspace experience ended on a high note for me and I’m already thinking of my next visit. You don’t have to be a fan of Korean pop culture to appreciate just how artsy subspace can be. You don’t even have to know that it’s Korean-inspired! It was definitely a feast for the eyes. First impressions matter, and Subspace delivered.

I’m not a fan of putting up personal photos on my blog, but this one is probably an exception. I just really like the shot. Don’t hate.
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Cream Cheese Mac & Cheese

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I think this simmering obsession started with a little plastic cup of instant mac and cheese mix. It was microwavable and ready in 3 minutes. I thought it tasted okay, nothing special, but since I didn’t have a benchmark for really really good macaroni and cheese, I didn’t really rely on first impressions.

I called it a “simmering” obsession because sometimes I scour recipes for inspiration, at the back of my head this image of that little plastic cup of microwavable mac and cheese always rears its ugly head. Sometimes I find myself in the middle of dinner, wishing I was eating macaroni and cheese instead. I know, it sounds strange coming from me, because I’m never one to regret dinner, unless I’m served liver of course.
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I’ve been going over recipes back and forth, knowing that there were still a few blocks of cream cheese sitting in the fridge almost ready to expire unless I make good use of them. There was an internal debate going on inside my head on whether I should cook the macaroni in the cheese sauce, or cook them separately then put it all together in the end. I decided on the latter, knowing too well my misfortune with under-cooked pasta. New Year’s Eve of 2011 saw me in the kitchen, pouring water every 10 minutes on a baking dish full of raw lasagna noodles which refused to cook, God knows why (because I’m an idiot probably). I learned my lesson and hopefully I’ll pass that little nugget of wisdom to my children, and they’ll pass it on the theirs, and so on, and so on. Of course google works, too.
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Anyway, I still had to google if Eden cheese is a universal Kraft product. Unfortunately, I think it’s not because it’s tailored for Filipino consumption. But don’t fret, I’d like to believe this is a standard recipe that welcomes substitutions – just don’t skip the cream cheese!

I would’ve liked this to have more cheese sauce, because c’mon, who doesn’t appreciate a lot of sauce? But as soon as it came out of the oven, I knew this would be good, and I was right. Dig in, and for good measure, help yourself to seconds and thirds. Well, I did.
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Cream Cheese Mac & Cheese (serves 6 – 8)

  • 300 grams macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup reserved starchy water used to cook the macaroni
  • ¾ cup grated Eden cheese
  • 1 225g bar cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • ½ tablespoon prepared mustard
  • Grated mozzarella cheese, for topping

Boil water in a pot. Add a little bit of vegetable oil, and a generous sprinkling of salt. Add the macaroni, and cook according to package directions. Stir occasionally to prevent pieces from sticking to the bottom. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy water for later use. Drain the macaroni and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add the flour and stir everything together until a thick cohesive paste is formed (the roux). Add the milk and the water. Season it with salt and pepper. Stir until it thickens.

Add the mustard, Eden cheese, and most of the cream cheese. Save a few tiny cubes for topping. Mix everything together over low heat and allow the cheeses to melt. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C.

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resist the urge to eat it straight from the pot

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It will be a thing of beauty

Carefully add in the macaroni, mixing everything to coat it with the sauce.Pour everything on a baking pan, and top it with mozzarella and dot it with the tiny cream cheese cubes.

Bake it in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and caramel brown specks have started to appear.

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See?

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!

No-Bake Cheesecake

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Baby steps. That’s what I told myself when I finally found a recipe for cheesecake that I was willing to try. Well, that’s what I tell myself every time I want to attempt another dish that requires skill, more than anything else. The thing is sometimes telling myself I need to take baby steps means I’m also leaving the door wide open for procrastination. Which happens a lot, when you’re me.

Cheesecake has been something I’ve always wanted to attempt. I remember, before we even had an oven (we finally bought a functional oven, along with building a new house, just a year ago), I would put together cream cheese, whipped cream and canned blueberries on a pie plate and call it cheesecake. I didn’t know better.

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I told myself I would finally start making a proper cheesecake once I had the proper equipment. The biggest revelation that I had? Cheesecake can be baked (Didn’t know that before!). The possibilities were seemingly endless.

Then we flash forward to the present time, where I can actually look back at all the attempts at it over the past few months. You read that right, past few months. Now, why did I never post anything about it here before? Well, let me count the ways:

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1. The first attempt was decent and tasted like ice cream, according to my friends. I wouldn’t know, I had tonsillitis. That happened over the holidays; I loathed the world.

2. Second attempt was for Valentines Day; I made it for no one in particular. As soon as I poured the filling into the springform and hoisted the whole thing up to put in the oven, the detachable bottom of the pan failed me. I had crust and filling running down my arms. Disgusting, really.

3. Vindication came when I finally made my best ever Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese and streusel. Food Frenzy even listed it as one of the most viewed recipes last February. Oh wait, a cupcake……..isn’t a cheesecake…..right?

4. Last Christmas I followed a cheesecake recipe to the letter. After diligently leaving it in the fridge to cool, slicing the whole thing revealed a runny center. I had to bake it again, and again, and again. Can you picture out a cheesecake that fell from the second floor (SPLAT!) and onto a serving pan – and then you bake it until it’s solid? Good, we’re on the same page.

Now here we are with cheesecake attempt # 5. And I must say I’m pretty pleased with the results. Creamy, surprisingly light cheesecake taste? Yes. Solid structure? Yes. A tasty topping? Yes.

The only cop-out? This isn’t baked. Yeah, cheesecake purists,  this is a no-bake cheesecake. No. Bake.

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The rationale for not baking it? For one, it’s relatively easier than baking. And most importantly, I don’t have to use my oven! You see, we’ve been having perennial power outages that last for around four hours per day, because apparently that’s what happens when you’re in a developing country. So, I managed to work my way around this little hitch.

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The taste has been balanced well – the slightly sharp taste of the cream cheese is tempered with the addition of whipped cream. This cheesecake is pretty heavy, so a moderate slice would go a long way. I’d say, this is a great way of exercising my chance at baby steps. But of course, I can’t wait to try the real deal next time. Successfully, I mean.

PS: As much as I want to blog about how I made dulce de leche, the idea of waiting two hours just to cook condensed milk in the oven, doesn’t appeal to me. The result of the waiting still yielded condensed milk, albeit just darker in color. Maybe I just need to refine the technique. If you want, just use condensed milk. But that’s just me at 21. Maybe me at 22 would be more appreciative. 

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Basic No-Bake Cheesecake (serves 12; adapted from The Best of Food Magazine)

crust

  • 12 – 14 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

cheesecake

  • 2 tablespoons (around 2 sachets) unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 bars (225 grams or 8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whipped cream (I used all-purpose cream)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) yogurt or sour cream
  1. Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well. With the aid of a spoon, press onto the bottom of a 9 – inch springform pan, covering it completely. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
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  2. In a saucepan, disperse the gelatin in water. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the granules to swell.
  3. Place the saucepan over LOW heat, stirring continuously until gelatin granules have dissolved completely, taking care that it DOES NOT BOIL, because boiling weakens the gelatin structure. Once dissolved (it will resemble runny syrup), remove from heat and set aside.Photobucket
  4. If using all – purpose cream: in a medium sized bowl that has been chilled in the refrigerator, using you hand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk cream until soft peaks form (when you lift the whisk afterwards, a “peak” forms on the surface of the cream)

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    those 'pointy' things are the 'peaks'

  5. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, or simply using your hand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. You may use the same hand mixer whisk you used to beat the all-purpose cream. Add the sugar, whipped cream and sour cream.Photobucket
  6. Pour in the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Continue to beat until smooth.
  7. Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan. Level the surface of the cheesecake with a spatula. Chill overnight. Serve as is, or with the topping of your choice. For the dulce de leche recipe, click here or herePhotobucket

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cheesecake and Streusel Topping

If there’s one recipe that brings back a lot of great memories – it has to be Red Velvet cupcakes. This was probably one of the first recipes, the first cake/cupcake recipe that I tried with stellar results. It was around mid-March of last year that I made a really great Red Velvet, as a response to Julie Ruble of Willowbird Baking’s call for a cheesecake challenge. I made Cheesecake Stuffed Red Velvet cupcakes with Streusel, and that pretty much set the bar on how I want my Red Velvets.
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March last year was a great month for me. Coinciding with the production of these great cupcakes, I really started to solidify my love for cooking. The last few posts in my old blog were devoted to food. The pictures, though not as great as I wanted it to be, reminded me of the baby steps I was taking.

Last year, I had around two weeks without anything to do after my final exams, so I cooked while waiting for my graduation. Graduating with honors left me with an incomparable high that took time to abate. And I’m glad I had to review for my licensure exam and put my blog on hold because that just made me go into food blogging more determined to put myself out there. I said goodbye to my old blog and here I am, reincarnated so to speak.
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And personally, out of all the recipes on my blog, I’m really happy that I get to share this one the most because, well, I love it so much. It has been a long time coming.

No Red Velvet I’ve tasted so far comes close (immodesty aside; hey, I don’t brag a lot). This time, however, after much thought, I decided to not to use Julie’s recipe and use Ginny Roces’ Red Velvet recipe from her book, Bake Me A Cake. There are a few subtle differences between the two recipes, but I just really hoped Ginny’s red velvet recipe would be as good as Julie’s.
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The verdict: after increasing the amount of chocolate needed, I’m really pleased with the outcome. For those of you who have tried Julie’s recipe, this is just as good. For those who have yet to make a red velvet, well, this is a perfect recipe to pave way for a fruitful love affair with the little cake flavor that could.

Moist crumb, with the perfect hint of chocolate, this was another crowd pleaser.
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You can forego the streusel, but I just think that streusel + cream cheese + red velvet is the one. Everything is done for good measure after all. And seriously, this is something full of good measure.
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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cheesecake and Streusel Topping (makes around 35 – 36 cupcakes OR two 9-inch round cakes; adapted from Bake Me A Cake by Ginny Roces de Guzman)

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1 cup/ 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Streusel
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed

Cupcakes/Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (I used 1 cup/1 block butter AND 1/2 cup vegetable shortening)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (liquid, like McCormick)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Make the cream cheese filling: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Make the streusel: In a bowl, combine the ingredients together and mix well. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, “cut in” the butter pieces into the flour and sugar mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  3. Make the cupcakes: preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Line a 12-piece cupcake tin with paper cups/liners. If you’re baking cake, line two 9-inch round baking pans with wax or baking paper.
  4. Using a fine mesh strainer, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl.
  5. In a bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat until light and fluffy, around 5 – 10 minutes. Add the eggs and the egg yolks one at a time, while continuing to beat until well mixed.
  6. Combine the evaporated milk, red food color, and vanilla in a bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure the batter is thoroughly mixed.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared tins, until halfway up the sides. Resist the urge to overfill. Using a tablespoon, add the cream cheese mixture on top.
  8. Two methods in adding the streusel: Method 1 – You may choose to add it immediately prior to baking. This partially melts the streusel and you are left with a few coarse crumbs on top (which is still pretty good). Put it in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake.
  9. Method 2 – After adding the cream cheese topping, place the pan into the oven and bake for around 5 – 7 minutes, or until the batter is beginning to rise. Remove from oven and sprinkle streusel over the batter. Return it to the oven and bake it for around 15 – 20 minutes more, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake. This will yield cupcakes with a more generous, prominent streusel topping. This is more taxing but if you’re after the streusel, then it’s really worth it.
  10. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or cold and enjoy!

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