Summer Citrus Salad
I'm often invited to food tastings and restaurant reviews and would often times ask for the "Lady Iron Chef's" spirit to guide me. There are no secrets to food tastings anymore, though, at time bloggers and reviewers go out of bound in their say about the food served to them. There are talks on the side of being biased, making the review extra appealing for the readers which eventually turn out to be their customers. Let me just point out that I try my best to give my honest to goodness opinions in all my reviews.
Well, that being said I was again able to sample some signature dishes which will be flaunted on October 19's fundraising event dubbed as Dine for the Youth, organized by ASSAP (Aktibong Samahan sa Paranaque).
But this time, it was a one of kind. The invited diners were to rate the dishes which were more pleasing, then were asked to choose which would make it to the list of the menu to be served on the night of the event.
Here are what we had.
First on the parade was Summer Citrus Salad prepared by the chef of Urban Farm. It was the photo on the top of this post.
A refreshing take on the usual ho-hum salad. The usual daily greens were graced with orange slices, grapes, baby tomatoes and what do you know crispy fried calamare. The choice for dressing was impeccable, with citrusy and a subtle hint of sweetness from the balsamic vinaigrette.
Just in the nick of time, came Chef Toper de Guia, owner of Toperios Catering carrying bags of piled up covered hot bowls of what seemed to smell like a buffet.
There is just something about pineapples that when you add it to any savory dishes it amps up the flavor, giving it a tangy yet sweet sapor. Chef Toper's version is a dish of rolled up cured pork slices "cooked like ham" (hamonado) in pineapple juice spiked with aromatic spices and glazed with brown sugar. I like that he retained the marinate in the dish itself when served, it is actually where all the flavor is.
I must admit that I was blown away with this rendition of Caldereta or Kaldereta. Gata in a Caldereta may seem to be incompatible. But I found myself all wrong and the heck with standards, there are always room for good changes, specifically in a bowl as good as this!
Chicken Cordon Bleu with Blue Cheese
This served in classy dinners is considered pedestrian, but with a few tweaks on the ingredients it somehow raises above the norm. In this case, instead of typical cheddar or any Swiss cheese, Blue Cheese sauce was added. Though blue cheese is understandably not for everybody, gourmands will swoon over this relish. Moreover, the chicken roulade is tasty, soft and crusted thinly.
Hoisin sauce is a combination of fermented soy, garlic, vinegar, and usually chili and sweetener. It has a very strong salty and slightly sweet flavor, which, if you're not used to authentic Asian flavors, you may find slightly objectionable.
The noble pork tenderloin slices were marinated with it and served with the marinate cooked into a sauce , which has hoisin as well.
Roast Orange Chicken
Have you tried marinating your chicken with other citrus aside from calamansi or lemon? Well I did! With an orange juice. It rendered a sweet taste and a tinge of zest. The chef also added some spice to give it enough kick.
Stir-fried Tofu with Chestnuts
If you had enough meats already, how about a vegetarian dish. Tofu and crisp vegetables are quick pick me ups for a healthy meal that when partnered with the dishes above will make a sure-fire feast of a dinner. The silken tofu were crisp fried while the vegetables, such as carrots, green and red bell peppers, and if I'm not wrong, two different kinds of mushrooms (button and black fungus). The mushrooms made it rustic and aromatic.
For the final sweet course, Ysabel Belarmino was the one consigned. Leveraged from the family of good bakers and experiences from Larcy Gatchalian of Larcy's Cupcakery Cafe, expect an array of classic desserts with each one being distinct from the contemporaries.
If you think you have gotten over some pieces of macaroons you better not think twice with these. Her signature mini coconut cuppies are a cherished family heirloom which for sure to be enjoyed for decades to come.
I used to bake these long, long time ago and my only qualm when making them were: where to use the egg yolks (since I've always failed on making leche flan). With the recipe I used I would need egg whites from eight eggs. However, in her case she doesn't need to put aside the egg yolks, she uses both, whole eggs. Ooops! Did I give away her trade secret?
That is why these coconut macaroons are golden, richer in flavor, denser with a custardy texture. I'm what you call an "in-betweener". I like sweets but I don't like it tingly and hair-raisingly sweet. So I love it when a dessert is concocted based on the taste-factor, not on how the recipe was composed and followed. If you are into pastry and baking you know what I mean.
Ysabel's treats are not too sugary, so no need to be guilty when gorging on mounds of these goodies.
Another attractive dessert sampled to us is the Blueberry Cheesecake. Let me be honest, I'd prefer a baked cheesecake over some whipped up refrigerator cake. But then, once again, I came dumb-founded. I would have eaten my words literally when I had a couple of fork-bites with her cheesecake.
She told me the story of how she was able to perfect her concoction. Apparently, she had tried all gelatin products for her recipe. Like any baker, refining their product, she had several twixt cup and lip. Now as you can see how the cheesecake stands up firm and perfectly-shaped. The texture however is very smooth. With the gelatinous blueberry toppings, every bite was heaven.
Lastly, must I say that I found my kind of brownies! My brownie recipe is way different from hers, cause mine comes out moist. If you have nibbled on KFC's brownies and enjoyed it, well this makes better than theirs. Again, without the horrifying sugary bites. It was my first bite of brownies for years already and I got a bit steamed up, specially when she opened the plastic box carrying these chocolatey squares.
Ysabel's brownies are dense and cakey with the top layer crunchy.
Isn't this a promising feast or what?
Stay tuned for more updates from the food establishments featured here.
To check out Toperios Catering visit their Facebook page HERE.
For more info about ASSAP group activities and projects, kindly call 09176655311.