Recipe: Strawberry Ice Cream (No Machine)

Ever since I discovered this no machine ice cream recipe by Bigger Bolder Baking, I’ve been making this cold creamy dessert at home ever since. Not that I don’t like store-bought ice cream (I love ice cream, whatever brand it is), it’s because it’s easier and I can experiment with flavors. I can also make my favorite mocha flavor, a flavor that most local ice cream brands weirdly don’t make today. This method is so easy and guarantees a smooth ice cream every time. I made this flavor since I had strawberries lying around, a souvenir from a recent trip. I also made ube (purple yam) flavor but it didn’t have enough ube jam so it was kind of a fail.

Ingredients

350 ml whipping cream, chilled
½ cup condensed milk
2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries
½ cup of diced fresh strawberries

Procedure

1. Before making ice cream, make sure to chill your whipping cream, condensed milk, and strawberries overnight. And right before actually making it, chill a stainless bowl (or mixer bowl) and mixer whisks in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
2. Puree 2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries. Add a bit of water to help blender process it. Set aside.
3. Whip whipping cream using chilled tools until it doubles in volume and form soft peaks. Then add condensed milk and strawberry puree. Whip the mixture until it thickens some more, forming stiff peaks. Taste mixture and adjust according to your desired sweetness. Add more condensed milk if desired.
4. Using a spatula, fold in diced fresh strawberries until mixed through. Put the mixture in a container and freeze overnight.

Serves 6 to 8

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Baguio’s secret garden restaurant

It’s not located near the toruist-y areas nor well advertised. It’s so exclusive, the chef only accepts 30 customers at a time to dine in its beautiful garden restaurant setting. But the thing is, dining at this restaurant won’t cost you an arm and a leg, unless you choose the fine dining option (by reservation only). It’s the best kind of eatery—no waiting in line, no boisterous crowd, no bad food.

Mother’s Garden restaurant is tucked in a residential area on Quezon Hill. The narrow streets and steep roads have kept this place practically unknown. According to its owner, chef Therese Jison, most of her customers are repeaters, people who have grown to love her food and the restaurant.

View from the restaurant
View of the city from the restaurant

“I wouldn’t accept more than 30 people, we close the gate. I want to maintain the exclusivity of the place. Being crowded destroys the reason why people come to us because they know it’s a relaxed atmosphere, and you can even spend the whole day here. Sometimes I feel bad that I have to turn down people but I have to maintain the reason people come here,” she explains.

The atmosphere is indeed relaxing. The main dining area is fitted with typical iron and glass garden furniture, placed on a gravel floor. The space is surrounded by plants and animals, too, like the birds in the aviary and friendly dogs scurrying about. The rose garden is its al fresco dining area with two tables surrounded by rose plants and overlooking a view of the city. The fine dining section is located on the second floor, furnished with antique furniture originally from the owner’s family hacienda.

Mother's Garden's fine dining section
The fine dining section is fitted with antique furniture from chef Jison’s family hacienda

Since it’s situated on the side of the hill, the property goes down deep, about four floors down, divided into sections and levels like the herb garden, salad garden, citrus garden, an Igorot garden, the pottery/playground area, the animal cages, and a cottage exclusive to family and friends.

Apart from its charming setting, the food is the reason why people come back. The food here is not just delicious but actually good for you because the restaurant uses mostly organic ingredients that the chef grows herself in the garden. So expect pesticide free vegetables, hormone free meat, and GMO free fruits.

Chef Jison took up courses at the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. She previously owned two boats, rented out by different organizations, where she also worked as executive chef. She is now settled in at Mother’s Garden with her partner Heinrich Maulbecker, the former general manager of The Manor and the Hyatt.

Welcome cold cuts, champagne, and fresh strawberries
Welcome cocktail: assorted cold cuts, champagne, and strawberries and cream

According to chef Jison, she put up this place to create a small oasis in a city that condones bad urban development. While some greenery on the mountains still remain untouched, most areas in the city have been lost to over development. The restaurant reminds chef Jison of their family hacienda in Negros and her father’s family’s rice farm in Nueva Ecija. Coming from a family of planters, growing an organic garden came naturally to her.

Through the help of organic agriculturist Dr. Jose Balaoing, chef Jison was able to put up a flourishing garden. She has even extended her organic practices to her gardener Roy, who converted their own farm into an organic one, assisted by chef Jison. His farm, located at the lower areas of Benguet where more produce and livestock flourish, is the main source of ingredients for the restaurant.

Chef Therese Jison shows her salad garden
Chef Therese Jison shows her salad garden

“The chicken don’t grow very well in Baguio that’s why we grow our chicken and ducks at lower levels. The pigs are not fat because we make them run around. We feed them with grass and vegetable leftovers,” she says. “It takes a long time to plant that is why most commercial farmers use hormones to make them grow fast. Our food takes time to grow.”

During our three-day visit, chef Jison served us unforgettable meals that are both healthy and delicious. She first welcomed us with cocktails, a glass of champagne, fresh organic strawberries with cream, sardines on arugula, pear wrapped in ham, and homemade sun dried tomatoes. At dinner, she served fresh Greek salad, incredibly rich lentil soup with homemade chorizo, organic steak with burgundy sauce served with mashed potatoes and carrots, and this were all paired with a glass of Musso, a Spanish organic red wine.

Lentil soup with homemade chorizo
Lentil soup with homemade chorizo

The next day the breakfast is composed of fresh fruits, strawberries and cream, a tub of kesong puti (fresh cheese) with fresh herbs, fluffy pancake, bacon, and homemade sausage. I accompanied my breakfast with turmeric tea since I refrain from drinking coffee as much as possible.

After breakfast she toured us in her garden. She has an herb garden that grows lavender that blooms (very rare in the country), fennel, dill, rosemary, basil, etc. The salad garden is where hard to grow produce thrive like celery, rhubarb, kale, radish, and different kinds of lettuce.

Herb garden
Herb garden

Raspberry also thrive in her garden as well as lemons that bear huge lemons. Chef Jison’s garden is also home to several animals including a ram (named Hansel), pot bellied pigs, miniature chicken, rabbits, an injured eagle, wild hogs, and pigs.

For lunch, we picked from the regular menu. The pasta dishes are highly recommended like the Mediterranean chicken on a bed of spaghetti in red sauce with zucchini; and also the piccata milanese, fried pork cutlets served on a bed of spaghetti neapolitana. We paired the pasta with freshly squeezed lemonade made from lemons picked from the garden.

Piccata milanese
Piccata milanese, fried pork cutlets on a bed of spaghetti neapolitana

Chef Jison says that the restaurant changes its menu based on the available ingredients of the season—cold and wet season (July to October), cold and dry season (November to February), and summer (March to June). So expect different dishes every season.

Dinner that night was extra special, the chef cooked lechon de leche in her Greek oven. The roasted organic pig was less fatty and fall-off-the-bone meat tender. She cooked it Bacolod style, using lemon grass and pandan to flavor the pig. The lechon was accompanied by red rice, pinaputok na hito, flavorful pho, and crispy Thai spring rolls. We finished the meal with leche flan served on top of a sesame seed brittle disc.

Organic lechon de leche
Organic lechon de leche

The next morning, before leaving, we had our final breakfast and one of the best meals of the trip. Organically grown daing na bangus from San Juan in La Union, homemade longganisa, scrambled egg, and garlic red rice. We ended the meal on a sweet note with cubes of fresh mango.

Chef Jison ultimately hopes that someday, more farmers would choose the organic ways and more people consume organic food. “I’m doing something I like. Even my son would come in and eat. I’m happy because he’s not going to get sick. I am teaching the next generation how important this is. The delight of the person eating it, it’s worth giving them something organic.”

Breakfast combo--homemade longganisa, garlic red rice, and scrambled eggs
Breakfast combo–homemade longganisa, garlic red rice, and scrambled eggs

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Mother’s Garden, Upper Fairview Road, Quezon Hill Proper, Baguio City / +6374 424 3702, +63917 8693623, +63921 9776027 / Facebook/mothersgardenbaguiocity

What’s it like to drink liquid gold

Okay, it’s not actually molten gold because that would be dangerous. It’s actually whiskey. This spirit brand was named “liquid gold” because it holds the record for selling the most expensive bottle of whiskey in the world.

In 2013, The Dalmore sold its 1951 Constellation Vintage for $350,000 (P17.5M). That’s worth roughly about four condominium units or 17 cars or 87 engagement rings or a Ferrari or 50,000 tubs of ice cream or 35,000 boxes of pizza. A bit excessive, yes, but the Scottish whiskey brand is very proud of its tradition of making the world’s most pricey single malt whiskeys.

The Dalmore Constellation Collection
The Constellation Collection consists of 21 vintage whiskeys and is worth P18M.

Recently, the luxury whiskey opened its first flagship store in the Philippines at Uptown Parade in Bonifacio Global City. It houses some of the brand’s most expensive blends including The Dalmore 50, a 50-year-old scotch dedicated to its master distiller Richard Paterson. It’s worth P3.5M and it already has an owner. The store also houses the Constellation Collection a 21-piece set composed of vintage whiskeys including a 1992, 1980, and a vintage 1964. The collection costs a whopping P18M!

But how do The Dalmore make its single malt whiskey and what makes it so luxurious? Do they have stills made of pure gold? Do they use barrels made from 100-year-old trees? Do they transport barley on the backs of legendary unicorns?

Actually, the distillation process they employ is pretty much the same as other distillers but the similarities end there. First, they use fine quality barley that comes from one supplier. In fact The Dalmore got its name from the fields near the distillery. When founder Alexander Matheson discovered the location of the distillery in Cromarty Firth, the farmlands was so extensive and impressive he named the brand Dalmore which means “big meadow” in old Scots.

The water the distillery uses comes from a loch (lake) located in the highlands of Scotland. Loch Morie’s water comes from the melting ice of nearby mountains. According to resident whiskey expert of The Dalmore for Asia Adam Knox, the rugged terrain of the highlands is what gives their whiskey that distinct character.

The Dalmore 12
The Dalmore 12 is a versatile single malt that can be paired with all sorts of food and can also be used in cocktails.

“The very rugged terrain reflects the character of our whiskey. Compared to the lowlands with a flat landscape, the whiskey produced there has a more light-bodied character. Ours is robust and full-bodied, just like our landscape,” the British expert says.

The whiskey company also uses a flat top copper stills, which is extraordinary considering that most distilleries use swan neck stills or stills with elongated necks. Knox says that this also gives their whiskey a full-bodied character.

Now, when it comes to the casks, The Dalmore probably owns some of the best in the world. And unlike other distilleries that blend together spirit aged in different casks, the process it practices is the transfer method. This means that they first age the spirit in fine oak barrels for a number of years and transfers the spirit and finish the aging process into a different cask. Its finishing casks, the Spanish Matusalem Oloroso Sherry are 30-year-old casks from Spanish sherry house Gonzales Byass. The house exclusively gives the mature casks to The Dalmore.

“We are the only distillery permitted to source this cask so it can’t be replicated,” Knox explains.

The flagship store also carries the brand’s principal collection that includes its youngest whiskey, The Dalmore 12 (P3,200). This was the whiskey we were able to sample at the special dinner pairing. This whiskey has fruity notes like mandarin and a very smooth finish with hints of chocolate. According to Knox, The Dalmore 12 is the most versatile, which can be paired with food or be used in a cocktail.

We were also able to sample the King Alexander III (P11,800), which has a darker color with citrus and caramel notes and has a spicy finish of cinnamon and ginger.

The Dalmore 12 best paired with chocolate
The Dalmore 12 is best paired with chocolate, specifically, dark chocolate

So is it worth it? Personally speaking, I will not spend that insane amount of money on whiskey alone. The Dalmore, however, proves that it does not only produces the most expensive whiskeys, it also makes the best whiskeys in the world. One thing’s for sure, they make damn good single malt whiskeys.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

The Dalmore flagship store, Uptown Parade, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

Recipe: Bibingka Cheesecake

Pastry chef Gel Salonga discovered her knack for baking after taking a break from corporate work. Now, she bakes full time, crafting delicious cakes and pastries for Aurora Filipino Cuisine and Ted’s in Santa Cruz, Laguna. This recipe, she fuses the Filipino classic bibingka with cheesecake. I have to admit, I love cheesecake and I have to say, the salted egg topping works very well.

Ingredients

Crust
¼ cup melted unsalted Magnolia Gold Butter
1 ½ cups crushed La Pacita graham crackers
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Filling
5 (225g) pcs. Magnolia cream cheese, softened
5 pcs. Magnolia brown eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 ½ cups sugar
1/8 cup Magnolia all purpose flour
¼ cup Magnolia all purpose cream
1/8 cup coconut milk
2 pcs. salted egg, shelled and sliced

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the crust, then press firmly against the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan and bake for 15 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks, and mix smooth. Add the sugar, flour, cream, and coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan with the crust.
4. Top with salted egg slices.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cake cool in the oven with the door closed for 2 hours until set. This prevents cracking. Chill.

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe care of San Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center. For more recipes visit www.homefoodie.com.ph

Bibingka Cheesecake with La Pacita Graham Crackers 2
An option is to dust the side of the cake with toasted desiccated coconut

Trips and Eats: Laguna

Eating something new is an essential part of traveling. In fact, some people’s motivation to travel is food. Going to new places is not just about seeing famous landmarks, it’s also about experiencing and digesting (figuratively and literally) another culture.

Recently, San Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center hosted a “gastronomical and historical tour” of one of Metro Manila’s closest neighbor, Laguna. Located south of the bustling metropolis, the province is a favorite destination of city folks because it’s just an hour away and heaping with tourist spots to visit.

Pila town plaza and San Antonio de Padua church

Laguna is famous for hot springs, theme parks, shopping, nature trails, and so on. Food wise, it’s most famous for buko pie, espasol (tubular sticky rice cake), puto (rice cake) Biñan, and kesong puti (fresh cheese). These are pasalubong staples but when it comes to the province’s cuisine, only a few knows what’s really cooking. The province is not exactly famous for its cuisine like Pampanga, Ilocos, or Bicol are.

So, to discover its hidden treasures, you have to good deep into the province. Skip the tourist areas and visit the less crowded towns instead.

Our first stop was Pila. It’s a small town situated at the southern shorelines of Laguna de Bay. It’s probably one of the most charming places I’ve been to because of its provincial old town vibe. It’s like Baler in Aurora or Taal in Batangas, both of which are brimming with history and local culture.

The Corazon Rivera House, one of the heritage houses of Pila

Pila was declared as a National Historical Landmark because of the number of ancestral houses preserved and maintained in the area and of course because of its significant history. Home to 32 heritage houses, which were built during Spanish and American colonial times, the town is a charming reminder of beautiful town planning and development during the Spanish era. In fact, historians regard Pila as a living example of proper Spanish town planning

One of the houses, which also hosted us, was Corazon Rivera House located across the town hall. The house is being beautifully maintained by Corazon Rivera‘s granddaughter Cora “Tita Cora” Relova. The house was built in the American period and is made of wood and concrete, in red, pink, and white hues.

Tita Cora served us a classic Filipino merienda. Like Biñan, Pila is proud of its puto Pila, a plain white fluffy rice cake, cooked puto sa bilao style, a topped with Star Margarine. This is best eaten with Santa Cruz creamy kesong puti. Maja blanca (coconut pudding with corn kernels) was also served, as well as ice cold fresh buko juice.

Puto pila is a soft and fluffy rice cake best paired with kesong puti

The next stop was Santa Cruz, a town known for its itlog na maalat (salted egg) and kesong puti. This town is quite special because it is home to Aurora Filipino Cuisine restaurant, an eatery that advocates for the preservation of local cuisine. Owned by Chef Day Salonga and partners Chef Mon Urbano and Gel Salonga, the restaurant aims to expose the young generation to traditional Laguna food.

“Laguna cuisine is a melting pot of Quezon and Laguna. Here, we use gata (coconut milk) but our dishes are not spicy. Also the kind of gata squeezed from burnt coconut,” chef Mon explained. “Most of our patrons are older people because the young people don’t have an idea of our food. Having this restaurant is a way to reintroduce our food to the young generation.”

Aurora is housed in the ancestral home of the Salonga family. Built in the late 1920s, it’s one of the beautiful historical landmarks of Santa Cruz. Located on the busy Pedro Guevarra Ave., the house was converted into a restaurant last year.

Aurora Filipino Cuisine in Santa Cruz is housed in the ancestral home of the Salonga family, which was built in the 1920s

During our visit, Chef Day did a demo of one of its bestselling dishes, chicken wings adobo. It’s basically chicken wings cooked adobo style (without soy sauce) then fried to a crisp—fried chicken adobo! Aurora’s resident dessert maker Gel Salonga also demonstrated how to make her bibingka cheesecake. It’s a basic cheesecake recipe with additional ingredients including coconut cream and salted egg used as topping.

The restaurant is also famous for its other dishes including the minanok,(banana heart cooked in burnt coconut cream), tinuto (pinangat-like dish, minced meat with shrimp wrapped in gabi leaves then cooked in coconut milk), inalamangang baboy (Laguna’s version of binagoongan), among others.

Minanok, a traditional dish made from banana heart cooked in burnt coconut cream and served with maruya

Our next stop was San Pablo but the food adventure had to wait until the next morning. We checked-in at Sulyap Gallery Café, a very charming bed and breakfast. Owned and operated by Roy Empalmado, Sulyap looks like an old town in one compound. Its concept is similar to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar where the owner buys dilapidated old houses and rebuilds them into smaller versions and serve as villas at the inn. Its popular for mixing arts, culture, and food in one place.

We had a cold bottle (or more) of San Miguel Beer and shared interesting ghost stories before calling it a night.

The morning after, we had our breakfast at the bed and breakfast’s courtyard. Sulyap served its flaky bangus and pork tapa along with sauteéd Purefoods corned beef (with potatoes!), Magnolia pancakes, Purefoods Honeycured bacon, Magnolia eggs, and San Mig Coffee.

Sulyap Gallery Cafe is a charming bed and breakfast that preserves Filipino culture by rebuilding old houses in its compound

The next day, before going to Lake Sampaloc, one of the seven lakes in San Pablo, we made a stop at one of the bibingka vendors along Maharlika Highway. Keisha & Keith Plus Abby’s stall is one of the makers of native San Pablo bibingka. What’s different about this delicacy is it’s made of freshly milled rice, bahaw (day old cooked rice), and coconut milk. It’s made even more delicious by a slice of salted egg and a generous brushing of margarine. Another interesting fact is that the mini bibingka is cooked inside a makeshift oven fashioned out of old steel drums that use coconut husks as firewood.

San Pablo bibingka is made of fresh milled rice, bahaw (day old cooked rice), and fresh coconut meat

Upon arriving at Sampaloc Lake, we immediately headed to Café Lago, a restaurant owned by former Broadway actor Tony Marino. The restaurant served us its signature dish, the Café Lago Fried Chicken—crunchy fried chicken slathered with Star Margarine and garlic. My favorite pako salad was also served with it, which balanced out the not-so-healthy fried chicken.

Then Tony’s brother Mandy, explained to us how they are currently maintaining the lake. It was just a few years back when they started to rehabilitate the lake. Previously, it was full of fish pens, illegal settlers, and very polluted. The movement to save the lake proved to be successful as the lake is beginning to look like its old self, albeit slowly.

After this visit to Laguna, I realized that Filipinos really need to see more of the country. If you want your travel to be memorable, trying skipping the tourist spots and discover new places, which may just be a few hours drive away from you.

Lake Sampaloc, one of the seven lakes of San Pablo

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Visit www.homefoodie.com.ph for everything about food and recipes of your favorite San Miguel Pure Foods products.

Tim Hortons opens in Manila

From the north to the tropics, popular Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons finally opens in Manila.

I always thought that Tim Hortons was a restaurant rather than a coffee shop. So my expectations were crushed when I learned otherwise. I thought that by having the Canadian brand here, I would be able to sample authentic poutine!

I was not disappointed, however, because I was surprised how it has more choices than regular coffee shops, has unique doughnut flavors, and coffee prices that are super affordable.

Tim Hortons uses 100 percent Arabica beans
Regular brewed coffee starts at P70

Tim Hortons was founded by hockey player Tim Horton in 1964. It first opened in Hamilton, Canada and now has more than 4,000 branches worldwide. The Philippine branch is the first in Southeast Asia and was brought here by TH Coffee Services Philippines Corp., headed by its president and CEO Enrique Yap.

“Filipinos love coffee and doughnuts. We feel confident we’re going to succeed in the Philippines. Also, Filipinos like to try something new as well. We believe we got an excellent product and service. We make things fresh in the store, which is another key advantage that we have,” he says.

The modern interiors
Tim Hortons’ modern interior

Mr. Yap says that about 90 percent of the menu is originally Canadian. Ice blended drinks are something unique in the local menu because Filipinos love their cool drinks. The hot drinks are a must try, too. The “double-double” is a Canadian coffee standard popularized by Tim Hortons. It’s a cup of coffee with double cream and double sugar. The blend is perfect for the Filipino palate.

Drinking coffee here will not break the bank. Regular brewed coffee starts at P70 for a small and goes to P95 for a large (venti size) while cappuccino starts at P95. The priciest hot drink on the menu is a large café mocha at P130.

When it comes to doughnuts, there’s a lot to choose from. Recommended flavors are the classic honey cruller, vanilla dip (peppered with colorful sprinkles), and maple glaze. Present during the launch, Miss Universe Canada 2016 Siera Bearchell recommended the sour cream glazed doughnut. Classic doughnuts cost P40 each and P380 for a dozen while the signature doughnuts cost P50 each and P500 for a dozen.

Tim Hortons Philippines offers iced and iced blended drinks, items the original Canadian menu doesn't have
Ice Capp (cappuccino) P135

But probably the most popular are the Timbits or doughnut holes. The Timbits cost P10 each and P350 for 50 pieces.

The menu also extends to lunch meals. No rice meals, however. The lunch menu is composed of sandwiches and wraps. Must try is the steak and cheese panini, chicken bacon ranch wrap, and crispy chicken sandwich. Combo meals include a small iced coffee and potato wedges.

Tim Hortons also serve fresh salads (Caesar and garden) and homestyle soups (chicken and vegetable).

The coffee shop is set to open eight more branches in Metro Manila by June of this year.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

The first Tim Hortons branch is now open at the upper ground level, Uptown Place Mall, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City / Facebook/TimHortonsPhilippines