The beginner goes to school

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I didn't tell mom where I was going until the last moment. Actually, she wouldn't have known if hubby hadn't let it slip (bad hubby! Palo!). At my age and status in life, I am still subject to my mom's monitoring that I've always had when I was sixteen, worse, eleven.

Here's how our conversation last Friday went (and this is how similar conversations generally go):

Mom: May pasok ba kayo bukas?
Me: (nonchalantly) Mayroon.
Hubby: (clueless as always) Mayroon po. Ako po mayroon. Si Karen wala, pero may pupuntahan siya.
Me: (throws discreet dagger looks at hubby)
Hubby: (absolutely oblivious to me)
Mom: (to me) Saan ka pupunta?
Me: Diyan lang.
Mom: Saan nga?
Me: Diyan nga lang.
Mom: Ano 'yun?
Me: Cooking class.
Mom: (looks at me incredulously) Cooking class?
Me: (nods, feeling weak all over) Thai Cooking Class. Wala trip ko lang.
Mom: Ano 'yun, buong araw?
Me: 10 to 2 lang.
Mom: May bayad?
Me: Of course. Pero naka-promo siya.
Mom: Magkano?
Me: Nasa nine hundred.
Mom: (looks unconvinced that it's "mura lang")
Me: Kasama na lahat--apron, ingredients, everything.
Mom: Mahal.
Me: Mura na 'yun.
Mom: E saan nga 'yun?
Me: (hesitates but spits it out anyway) Sa Chino Roces.
Mom: Saan?
Me: Chino Roces.
Mom: Sa Makati?
Me: (nods) Sa Magsaysay Institute.
Mom: Saan doon?
Me: Doon siya sa Waltermart doon.
Mom: Ang layo.

Since I've already registered for this class, she wasn't anymore able to do anything about it (believe me, even at my age and status in life, she will try to stop me).

Growing up with a mom like that, I'm sure it will no longer surprise you that I'm not very much of a traveling person. To be honest, I don't even know how to commute to Makati. So, needless to say, until the day before, I was not very certain how to get to Chino Roces Avenue. Hubby was supposed to accompany me. He wanted to go and visit Don Bosco Makati, but they had work scheduled that Saturday so I was going solo. It was great that I was able to ask my cousin Joyce, who works somewhere in the area, for directions, else I don't know where I would've ended up. But I had faith in the Alabang terminal (I've constantly joked that one can get anywhere from Alabang, even to Hong Kong) and I am sure, as insan Joyce pointed out, that one will take me near there.

So the moment I got off the jeep at Alabang, the rest of my July 16 was an adventure (and I haven't even started cooking yet, LOL). You've probably heard the line "dayuhan sa lupang tinbuan". I felt just like that--a tourist, asking the vendors lining the bangketa where to ride going where I was going.

The trip wasn't difficult at all. I just took another jeep ride, after getting off the bus at Mantrade, and there I was. Actually, I got off too early (excited? Hahaha!), and I had to walk along the gates of Don Bosco Makati for a minute or so to Waltermart.

Caramel frap for here for Karen (yes, that's my real
name--among a few others)

I was there very early; Waltermart was still closed. I ordered a caramel frap and sat down at Starbucks, whiling the time with a newspaper. The moment the rest of Waltermart showed signs of waking, I went up to the fifth floor (I was finally able to bring out the longganisa sandwich I brought along with me) and found the impressive facade of the Magsaysay Institute for Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

The moment I saw MIHCA, I was actually *kilig!*. LOL.
I can't believe it--I REALLY got HERE all ALONE!

I almost immediately made a couple of new friends, Teteth and her boyfriend, Reggie. While I was filling up my registration form, I noticed that most came with either their partners or a friend. Maybe one time I'll bring mom along, of course, if I could handle another looooong conversation ("Sasama ako?", "E bakit ako samama?", "Anong gagawin ko doon?", "May bayad?", "E 'di doble babayaran mo?", "Mahal."...yeesh).

Another alias I go by.

The class began with a short lecture. There was a lot of us, I think over 30 or 40 people. Two chefs handled the class, the main being Chef Mike Navarra. He briefed us on kitchen ethics as well as the recipes we were expected to cook that day.

Lecture by Chef Mike Navarra.

I found myself grouped, naturally, with Teteth and Reggie, and Joel, who was also solo and happened to be sitting next to Reggie. Turns out Joel is already a pro, and the class was given to him as a gift. It was great to have him, as he was quite comfortable during the lab.

Here's a rundown of our menu:

Thai sinigang, Tom Yum Goong, Teteth's favorite

Chicken Satay, the real thing!

Pork Stir Fry with Green Curry, my favorite

The Thai pancit, Pad Thai

Simple but yummy dessert, Sticky Rice with Mango

I'll admit--it was mostly Joel who did the cooking. Hehehe. He's a pro--works at the Midas Hotel. I did my best to be as useful as possible. I had a hand in prepping the ingredients, stirring, making bantay whatever's on the stove.

I heard that instruction in MIHCA was good, even better, compared to some other culinary schools. Even for just a half-day course like the one I took, the chef-in-charge didn't skimp in teaching valuable know-how and sharing tips and tricks. We made sauces, curries and everything else from scratch so that we could enjoy Thai dishes anytime, even if bottled ready-made ones are not available in the supermarket.

Chef Mike and a handful of MIHCA students
went around to assist the participants. Here
he demoed and produced the lovely green
curry (inset) for the entire class to use for
for the pork dish.

If I didn't attend this class, I would never have known that Thai cuisine wasn't that complicated. We finished dish after dish in a few minutes, as most involved stir-frying and overcooking would be a crime. What would probably be my main problem is finding some of the ingredients. But recently, weekend markets have popped up here and there (though I have yet to visit the one in Ayala Alabang) and even SM Supermarket has expanded its product line.

Group 1: me, and (L-R) Teteth, Reggie and Joel

Teteth was kind enough to snap this commemorative
photo--the first of many more MIHCA adventures.

I had a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the next one, even if I came out of this one smelling like fresh cilantro. ^_^

*BB*

Baon food: chicken sandwich

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All of my life, I had had nothing but tuna sandwich spread. My older brother used to make it--mayonnaise mixed with tuna in oil (sans the oil), with sliced onions. Then I learned it and tweaked it to my taste--with pickles to make it a bit sweeter (or I used sandwich spread). Further along, I modified it again--added carrots cut in tiny cubes.


Then maybe I got fed up with tuna. I don't know. I replaced it with cooked chicken.


Entering a time space warp from an eternity of tuna:
chicken sandwich spread (shigi-shigi-makashigi-uma...)


One time I was doing groceries, I grabbed a bottle of capers more on impulse and curiosity more than anything else. If eaten on its own, it's weird--sour, salty, blech (the one I got is in vinegar). But I mashed a few pieces (again out of impulse and curiosity) and tossed it into my chicken spread.


Food for the aliens: capers


I was certainly surprised how the capers behaved with the rest of the ingredients of the spread. It made the flavor more full. I even popped a few more pieces into the container.


The lovely Japanese mayo, made lovelier by thestar-shaped hole on the bottle.


Another recent discovery for me was Japanese mayonnaise. It's rather expensive, so I use it sparingly. But even if I skimp on it, it adds just enough of its presence to make a lovely sandwich. I also add chopped parsley now, making the spread taste "fresh".


Chicken Sandwich Spread (the way I do it)
Cooked chicken (in a bit of salt), shredded
Mayonnaise (can be Japanese mayo) or sandwich spread (or both proportioned to your taste)
Carrots, chopped
Capers, mashed
Parsley, chopped (optional)


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Backtrack barrage

Hi there! ^_^ Wow, my last post was...MARCH?! Goodness, the months suddenly flew by so fast! Hubby and I are on our seventh month together now. =)

So here I am, drafting posts for upload like crazy. Boy, do I have so many stories to tell. I've tried cooking a number of dishes over the past few months (came up with or tricked up some, too). Last May, hubby and I finally pushed through with our Palawan trip (Baker's Hill hopia!), and just the other week, I attended my first ever cooking class. So just before I encounter more stuff to blog about, I must get all this up.

Watch out for new posts very soon. ^_^

*BB*

WCS turned ILYS: Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce

Monday, July 25, 2011

I don't get to see my in-laws often. To be honest, I'd rather spend the weekend somewhere nearby, if not at home. There's also Saturday night choir practice and Sunday morning mass service midway through the weekend, so going somewhere far is not really advisable. Usually, it would just be hubby who would go to Calamba on random days. So when I do go to visit hubby's family, I've made it a point to bring something, usually ulam. Once, I also bought some of my Cheater Cookies, which my mother-in-law liked.

After a very long while, I visited with hubby just this Saturday and brought some Stir-fry Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce.

Stir-fried Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce

I'm very happy with this stir-fry. It's simple but really delicious. My mom told me it was something worth serving to guests and my dad complimented me that I've really gotten good in cooking (palakpak ang tenga, hehehe). Hubby's parents liked this dish, too. They even served it to a couple of guests who dropped by their house shortly after hubby and I finished lunch.

Because we planned to leave early on Saturday morning--supposedly at 8:00 AM, but because I suddenly decided to make a cheater breakfast, we were not able to leave until almost 9:00 AM--I planned to already cook the evening before. However, I had to render overtime on Friday night. Hubby and I arrived home almost 11:00 PM. We just took a quick break then went to work. I asked hubby to help me prep up as I had two recipes in line: the beef dish for lunch, and my very own chicken sandwich spread for the choir's after-practice merienda.

"Men for a Month" featuring...hubby! Hahaha!
While the rest of the world sleeps, here's
me and hubby toiling away in the kitchen

As I said, I love this recipe. My only complaint is not on the dish, but on the meat. Beef takes so long to cook, even if you have them sliced thinly. I'm afraid of pressure cookers so don't suggest that I use one. The good news is, because it does take time, the flavors in the sauce would have been well absorbed by the meat and all the waiting would be worthwhile.

Stir-fry the beef until it changes color.

Not the usual sequence. The garlic and onion
come in after the beef has been stir-fried.

The bell peppers make this dish colorful.

Add oyster sauce, water and brown sugar. Season with
salt and pepper, stir in sesame oil. Before serving, you
may top with spring onions and sesame seeds (if you
have). Easy, no?

With the two recipes, I finished sometime between 2:00-3:00 AM (take note, the beef was still somewhat rubbery, hahaha). Hubby already went on ahead and went to bed an hour before and I let him go lest he started slicing his fingers. ^_^

Other recipe this evening/midnight/early morning: Chicken Sandwich Spread

Stir-fried Beef with Garlic Oyster Sauce
Recipe in Yummy Menu for a Month and Yummy.ph

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