Ahhhhh, good food.

This is also an open letter to March, the month. What I want March to do is to dispense a few extra hours, even days – whatever it takes just to delay April’s arrival. The days seem too short for comfort, and as much as typing this surprises me, I just want to put it out there that I don’t want cooking school to end. I’m just having too much fun! Too much, it seems, that I’ve been lounging under the radar for a while now.

A change of pace is great. One of the perks of being a student is that once in a blue moon you get to go on a field trip! And how many people can say that their field trip itinerary involves eating at a really great fine dining restaurant? Like I said, I’m having too much fun.
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So I’m just going to devote the rest of this space to the photos, and the little stories along the way because it’s already 1am and I have midterms in a few hours. But still, I’m here!

The Goose Station is tucked in a building and nestled in an area of Bonifacio that is more quiet, and doesn’t get a lot of action 24/7. In fact I would have had difficulty finding it if I went by my lonesome. It’s owned by the same chefs that run the school I go to and most of the staff are graduates of said school. I wouldn’t mind working at The Goose in the future, just so you know. (fingers crossed)

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Now the butter. Then the bread. That’s a mini baguette.
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For the snack we were served foie gras mousse in a flaky cone. It was followed by a lumpiang hubad served on a prawn cracker and a tuna tartare. I wish I could have had a second (and third) helping of the tartare, because it was delicious. It had a little kick of wasabi to it, which was simply perfect. I also keep on remembering how good the velvety foie was, served out of the box and in a nice cone.
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I don’t have much to say about the roasted tomato soup with parmesan foam, except that it hit the spot really well. It’s nothing spectacular…it’s just really good simple soup.
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The salad could be a meal in itself…and here lies its complexity. It’s made up of sweet potato sticks, little cubes of cured bagnet, watercress puree, salad greens, and drumroll…a piece of crisp chicken skin, a perfectly seared scallop AND an egg yolk that has been cooked sous vide (under a vacuum). Mix all of these components together – the smooth velvet liquid from the egg yolk, the crunch and salinity of the chicken skin and pork, the crisp taste of the greens and the juicy scallop… and you get a rich orchestra of flavors in your mouth. I was amazed.

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At this point the main course was well worth the wait: we were served a chicken roulade stuffed with Italian sausage and pistachio, adobo jus, green beans, smoked onion and a squash puree. All the components made sense. A big shout out to the roulade itself, which was made with (and I hope I’m right) chicken thigh, which I hold in high regard. I was a happy camper.

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To cap off our lunch, from Gourmandise patisserie, eclairs and spiked chocolate truffles. I made a mess with the truffles, and my personal favorite among the eclairs was the salted caramel.
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Here’s a parting shot of Gustare, which I didn’t expect to find just beside The Goose. It’s basically a low-profile food and pastry takeaway/commissary + kitchen lab, owned by Ginny Roces De Guzman the author of Bake Me A Cake, one of my favorite cookbooks. I didn’t get a chance to buy anything from the shop, but with products like santol bagoong…I’ll definitely be back.

In more ways than one.
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The joy of homemade mayonnaise

Sometimes I think I get too much sleep and even that isn’t enough. The bed is my refuge, my perfect excuse to just lounge around and do absolutely nothing productive. It’s gotten me into trouble loads of times – more than anything else, it goes perfectly well with my habit of procrastinating.

Coming home was perfect timing, according to my mom. I went home last Saturday and the day after was the start of the morning novena masses leading up to Christmas (misa de gallo). Waking up at 3:30 in the morning just so I can properly get ready at 4 is a challenge. We come home after the mass and I just plop myself on the bed and the next thing I know, it’s already lunch time. Ah, the life of a bum. I’ve been there, done that and got the shirt but maybe there’s a part of me that wants more shirts.

But I try, God knows I try to make breakfast count, whether it’s eggs en cocotte (eggs baked in singe serve ramekins), my default brekkie when I’m in the mood or toast with whatever spread is available. Coming home fresh from cooking school does have its perks – I find myself working faster, knowing and doing more. If only I can keep everything orderly and clean (close to impossible).
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There’s joy in being able to make things from scratch. Homemade mayonnaise just sounds so fancy, even if it isn’t. It’s labor intensive and since I have yet to try shortcuts, a lot of elbow grease and arm work is needed. At least it’s a semblance of working out. The key is to just keep whisking, keep whisking, keep whisking, while adding the oil little by little by little.

Mayonnaise is a mixture of two unmixable liquids, in this case oil and vinegar, and whisking creates that emulsion. So far I’ve been making it for two consecutive days now, and strange as it sounds, I actually like the arm work that goes into it. It just goes so well with ham, salad greens all over a single slice of toasted bread. It’s the open-faced sandwich of the season. Mom uses the mayonnaise in her salads and I’m thinking of making a spread out of it soon.
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Like I said, getting myself out of the bed can be a struggle, but if it means being able to revel in whatever finite satisfaction a good breakfast with the family holds, then it’s worth it. Making mayonnaise from scratch is also worth it.
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Mayonnaise

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
  • oil (around 1/2 – 1 cup, I prefer to put it in a squeeze bottle because it’s more convenient)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • honey, optional

In a bowl combine egg yolk, vinegar, mustard. While whisking vigorously, add the oil a little at a time. Repeat this process until the mixture begins to thicken and emulsify.Photobucket

Meat and Malunggay Frittata

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At around 7:00 am you can still find me in bed, probably snoring, probably aware that people have woken up already, but most of the time, I don’t have a care in the world. That’s me at 7:00 am. Since my departure from school, being a student and teaching, that has been my routine. I just love sleep.

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Breakfast begins at 9:00 am, that is, if I’m actually in the mood to cook myself something decent. The people in the house are long gone, and I’m left to my own devices. Sometimes, I just wait to have my first meal of the day during lunch at my grandparents’ house, which is just next door.

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But I have my moments too. Moments where I just focus, zone in, get a pan ready, grab things from the fridge and cook. I think I may be on to something here with “one-pan” wonders. Yesterday it was pork with tomatoes for lunch, and today…breakfast/brunch was a really great frittata.

A frittata is just like an omelet, only studded with meat and vegetables, and usually finished off in the oven. You might even throw a pie crust here and there. I remember eating an amazing breakfast buffet at the hotel where we stayed in Hong Kong. There was an “egg station” where all you had to do was point at the fillings you wanted with your eggs, and the chef will make a frittata out of it. There was no oven work involved, and with his small spatula, he masterfully flipped the egg in the equally small pan to cook everything perfectly. It was a damn good frittata.

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And this one? I’d like to believe it’s just as good – probably even better. I had this idea of adding malunggay or moringa leaves to the frittata from a recipe that I read in one of our food magazines lying around. Malunggay, in the Philippines, is usually added to soups, like chicken tinola, to impart an earthy taste that goes perfectly with the ginger in the soup. Strangely enough, when I’m trying to describe malunggay’s taste, the thought of ginger comes to mind.
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It’s crazy overwhelming how nutritious malunggay is. It makes perfect sense to have it for breakfast because the leaves have quadruple the calcium content of regular milk, among other nutrients. We’re lucky enough to have a small tree growing just outside our fence, so all I had to do was grab a bunch.

What’s great about this recipe is that this can easily be a blank canvas. You can replace the chorizo and the meatballs with whatever deli products you might have lying around, keeping in mind that bacon makes everything better (haha). But seriously, don’t skip the malunggay.

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Chorizo, Meatball and Malunggay Frittata (serves 4 – 6)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • malunggay leaves (I used 2 small stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 – 8 meatballs, quartered (or your choice of deli)
  • 3 – 4 chorizos, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (or you choice of deli)
  • 1/8 cup frozen green pease (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
  2. Remove the malunggay leaves from the stems and wash under running water.

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    Make sure you remove the leaves from the stem

  3. Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add the milk. Beat until everything is incorporated well. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until lightly brown and fat renders.
  5. Add the meatballs and green peas. Stir to incorporate everything together.
  6. Pour the egg-milk mixture onto the pan. Sprinkle with the malunggay leaves.
  7. When the edges of the omelet have begun to set, remove from heat and place it in the oven. Allow to cook for 10 – 13 minutes, or until the frittata has set all the way through.

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    The edges have begun to set

  8. Remove from the oven (use an oven mit, the pan handle may be hot) and serve immediately. Enjoy!