Happy Thanksgiving!

I may not be an American but I am married to one so every year we try to celebrate the thanksgiving holiday. Sometimes with a simple roast chicken and other times we go all out and bring in a big bird. Today, we are celebrating because I am thankful for so many things. The last year alone took away many loved ones while the last few weeks were truly earth shattering for the Philippines. Though these events may be painful, they also serve the great purpose of putting things into perspective. I am blessed and for that, I am truly grateful.

My mom’s turkey with stuffing on the side, my crusted mashed potatoes and pumpkin soup, my sister’s orzo salad

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Bamba Modern Bistro

One of my oldest and dearest friends recently opened a sweet little restaurant in the heart of BF homes. Bamba Modern Bistro is settled on Aguirre st., which is known for its many eateries. I was excited to spend the afternoon sampling her delicious dishes over ‘beergaritas’ and hefty bouts of laughter.

The restaurant is small but has separated dining areas: outdoor seating which is casual and 2 separate indoor seating areas, one is tiny, perfect for an intimate date or a small party of 6 and the other, the main dining area. It is so quaint and comfortable which is very indicative of the food: comforting and relaxed. Fine dining made more approachable, or comfort food elevated.

I love this setting…

We started with the B.L.T.C., a hearty canapé topped with bacon, marinated lettuce, sun dried tomato and ricotta. These big bites are very tasty so if you favor bland food, you may not be sold. It is predominantly salty with sour notes. We also had the Le Cochon Sliders, which was my favorite of the day. It starts of with soft rolls stacked with a red cabbage slaw, crispy pork belly, fried wanton and a special eel sauce. I know, it sounds like a heart attack on a plate but it is really worth it. The pork belly is the definite star, fried to a perfect crisp then re marinated in a soy vinegar dipping sauce. I thought that I would not finish because it is quite a big plate but I savored every last morsel!

B.LT.C 280Php

Le Cochon Sliders 350Php

For our mains, we opted for pasta. Her idea of ultimate comfort food is Spaghetti Bolognese. It was everything you would expect from one: firm noodles and a tasty meat sauce, My pick was the Duck Ravioli, pasta filled with ground duck and ricotta in a porcini cream sauce.

Spaghetti Bolognese 200Php

Duck Ravioli 495Php

For dessert, I opted to try What’s My Name Again which is a simple combination of chocolate, cream and crunch. It was alright, but you know me, a bit of a dessert snob. I did thoroughly enjoy the box of Bettina’s Kitchen ensaimadas I took home.

What’s My Name Again?! 150Php

Like I predicted, it was an afternoon of yummy eats and hilarious conversation. I didn’t expect happy hour to start quite so early, but frozen beer or not, it is always a blast when catching up with this chef and wonderful friend! I love you Teens… Only you have the power to make me laugh until my tears fall out.

Sipping a Beergarita with my great friend, chef and owner Cristina Legarda

Yolanda Aftermath…

After every bad storm has hit the Philippines, I wonder what is worse, nature’s wrath or the aftermath? In this case I have no words… My heart is broken. I cannot even comprehend how the survivors are coping. Our brothers and sisters have lost everything. It wasn’t just the houses, but their homes. It wasn’t just jobs, but their livelihood. It wasn’t just their city, but hospitals, schools, orphanages. It wasn’t just a an acquaintance, it was their mother, their husband and in the worst cases, their children…

I am trying my best to not ask ‘why’ or where God was on that day because my beliefs tell me to have faith. But I need to put it out there that my country did not, could not have deserved this type of destruction… Please Lord, take extra special care of these victims at this time of immeasurable need. Please Guardian Angels, do not leave their side.

At this point I would also like to break my silence about all the finger pointing and the small ‘wars’ that this mess left in its wake. Let us stop with the negativity. In an already devastating situation, let us not focus on what people should have done or could have done, especially if we are not in a position to make those decisions and trust those we have put in power. Though I know it is frustrating because of the countless donations, whether it is P5 or 5 million and the time and energy we have all put into relief, we have to believe no matter how hard our patience is being tested, that they will go to those in need in the soonest time possible. TO THOSE WE HAVE PUT IN POWER, I trust that you see the desperation. I know many of you are doing everything you can but I have also been jaded by the years of corruption I have witnessed. If you can, please make sure that all the donations in cash and kind go STRAIGHT TO THOSE IN NEED. No playing favorites, no red tape, no biases. And dare I say it, NO TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE SITUATION OR THE HELP COMING IN.

I am but a citizen who may not see or understand what is truly going on but my tears have not stopped for days. Like everyone else, I am doing the little I can and clinging on to prayer, wanting to see a change.

I will not use this to post my chosen benefactors or relief operations because by this time, I have seen EVERYONE doing their part. I am so proud of my relatives, friends, acquaintances and even strangers I see making a difference on the news and on social media. We have truly come together as one. I am also so humbled by the international assistance we have received. It gives me faith in humanity. A special thanks to all the international journalists who brought us the world’s attention and to all the military forces, both Philippine and international. Your tireless efforts from the ground truly brought immediate assistance. You are ALL heroes.

My heart goes out to everyone who was affected by Yolanda, directly or indirectly. If there is one thing I am positive of, it is that the Philippine spirit is truly waterproof.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

When I prepare meals for my family, I usually like to mix something kid-friendly with a dish that my husband and I can enjoy. This gives my daughters an element to look forward to, as well as the chance to appreciate something out of their comfort zone. Tonight I am preparing buttermilk-fried chicken (kid-approved) and serving it with a mushroom risotto (husband-approved). The fried chicken is crispy yet light on the palate while the risotto is smooth, rich and flavorful which makes it a great combination, taste wise. The chicken is deep fried, while the risotto uses a very minimal amount of extra virgin olive oil so it is also well balanced.

Mushroom Risotto & Buttermilk Fried Chicken

This dish may seem like a fete but it is actually quite easy to put together. Because nothing needs to be pre marinated, you can make it as long as you have the ingredients at home. If not, here is a quick grocery list with items that you may not readily have in stock.

Grocery List

Chicken drumsticks

Buttermilk

Fresh mushrooms

Arborio rice

Flat leaf parsley

Begin by preparing your kitchen tools. For the chicken, you will need 1 bowl to bathe the chicken in buttermilk, 1 small strainer and one bowl for the dredging mixture, tongs, a small, deep pan for frying and 1 large strainer and bowl for cooked chicken to rest and release excess oil. For the risotto, a pot to heat your chicken stock, a measuring cup to measure your rice and your wine, a cheese grater, a shallow pan and a wooden spoon.

Recipes

FRIED CHICKEN

9 chicken legs

2 cups buttermilk (you may substitute this with 1 can evaporated milk + 2 tablespoons cane vinegar)

Dredging mix:

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

paprika

salt

pepper

oil for frying

Procedure:

  1. Clean chicken and season with salt and pepper
  2. Let the chicken bathe in buttermilk for 30 minutes to an hour
  3. While waiting, prepare your dredging mix: Sift together flour, cornstarch, paprika, salt and pepper and combine
  4. Heat oil (enough to cover majority of the chicken pieces) on low. Do not go over this because then chicken skin will burn before the inside cooks
  5. When oil is at the right temperature, dredge chicken, piece by piece, completely coating it
  6. Fry for around 6-8 minutes on each side
  7. Place cooked pieces on a strainer to get rid of oil
  8. Serve warm

MUSHROOM RISOTTO

FRESH Mushrooms (I like to mix Portobello, shitake and button)

1 medium sized white onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 cups chicken stock

1 cup white wine

1 cup Arborio rice (do not wash this rice, the starch is needed to thicken your dish)

EVOO

salt

pepper

fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

flat leaf parsley

Procedure:

  1. Bring chicken stock to a simmer and set aside
  2. Clean mushrooms and slice to desired size
  3. In a shallow pan, sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent and garlic is tender
  4. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper
  5. Add the rice and combine with the onions, garlic and mushrooms until completely coated
  6. Begin adding your chicken stock, one ladle at a time so it slow cooks
  7. Add a half-cup of wine in between the stock. Do this until your liquid is done and rice is fully cooked
  8.  Turn off the heat, add your parmesan cheese and give one last stir
  9. Serve hot and garnished with fresh flat leaf parsley

It’s a complete and hearty meal but I always like to get a few greens in so a side salad or steamed broccoli is the perfect finishing touch… Enjoy!