Sunday, June 11, 2017

[Review] Pares Retiro

The main facade of Pares Retiro with the self proclaimed tagline of being the best in town

Pares is a braised beef dish that is quite popular in the Metro Manila area. Flavor-wise it is very closely related to asado with its sweet and savory thick sauce with chunks of very tender slow cooked cuts of beef usually with a lot of ligaments. You can often see pares being advertised in smaller street corner eateries or carenderia and is usually served with steamed rice and a light beef broth.

I was able to try out this new restaurant in Tomas Morato that specializes in the beef pares but they do have a lot more to offer in their menu. The restaurant is called Pares Retiro and somewhat elevates the pares carenderia in a more fastfood type of vibe. A large sign declaring that the restaurant is still on its soft opening is seen at the entrance and posted in the walls of the establishment. I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of the menu items but instead of being sidetracked I was determined to give the dish that the restaurant was named after a try.

The place is very bright and cheerful

Me and my friend ordered the pares with sisig combination rice bowl and ordered extra side dishes of tokwa't baboy and adobong kangkong. The portions were smaller than I initially thought (for the price). All the dishes did not disappoint though.

From bottom left clockwise: A bowl of steamed rice with sisig, adobong kangkong, tokwa't baboy and the house specialty beef pares

 The place can be a bit crowded during the time we visited and that was on a weekday during dinner time. Parking is also limited and may be 3 cars deep so if you are parked in the outermost be prepared to move your car when somebody else is leaving or if you are parked in the innermost spot be patient with the expected delay in moving the other cars out of the way. The restaurant is 24 hours though so the customer density will for sure be varying widely depending on the time (and how near it is to mealtimes). Not all locations are well suited for a 24 hour establishment but I believe that this area will not lack any patrons since pedestrian and vehicular traffic is more or less present all the time.

If you happen to stop by, go try the numerous other items in the menu and leave a comment if you liked those too. I will definitely come back.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Chicken Arroz Caldo

Chicken Arroz Caldo (chicken ginger rice porridge) and hard boiled egg served with kalamansi-patis condiment to taste. Tastes even better with a light drizzle of sesame oil.

See my previous post for the recipe here

Chicken Arroz Caldo

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

BBQ beer beef short ribs

Slow cooked BBQ beef short ribs. Felt inspired to cook something nice yesterday and this is what I came up with. I haven't really cooked like this in a long time since I came back and it is good to once again explore and experiment. It turned out tender and tasted great. A lot of unusual ingredients on this one.  Fig vinegar,  lots of Spanish Paprika, oregano, salty soy sauce, light beer, Coconut sap sugar to lend a subtle sweetness,  Shichi-mi tōgarashi for that hint of spice, and a dollop of a commercial BBQ sauce just to get that slight smoky hickory flavor. Served with buttered French beans on a bed of faux couscous made from Cauliflower lightly seasoned with smoked salt. #homecookedmeals #dinner #bbqshortribs #cookingexperiments

Monday, March 28, 2016

[Recipe] Reduced Sugar Polvoron

Polvoron is a type of crumbly shortbread popular as a dessert in the Philippines and can be traced to Spanish influences in local cuisine (it is a kind of Mantecado). I remember fondly making these when I was young with my family. It is usually pressed into disks but I did not have the polvoron press device so I made do with a silicon cupcake mold (which explains the huge sizes). Note that this isn't exactly sugar-free since it has crumbled Chocnut in it but I would think that the amount in the recipe is minimal. This is in fact the second Polvoron post, the previous one was made using Splenda.
Reduced Sugar Polvoron with crumbled Chocnut

1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered milk
4 packets Stevia sweetener (Equal Stevia)
4 packets sucralose sweetener (Splenda)
1/4 cup butter
optional: 3 pieces crumbled Chocnut (a peanut chocolate sweets)

In a clean skillet, brown the flour until light brown careful to mix it thoroughly during heating so that the flour would not burn. It imparts an undesirable bitter taste if you brown the flour too far. 

Remove from heat. 

Mix in the butter and try to make sure that all of the flour is mixed with the melted butter until it gets clumpy yet crumbly mixture.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients. I use a spatula to scoop and smear into the skillet to mix thoroughly. 

Mold the crumbly mixture into disks and place in the refrigerator to harden. It should be hard enough to pick up but breaks into powder in your mouth. Enjoy :) 

Note: Although I use sweeteners that are heat stable, I can imagine that you can adapt the same recipe to your preferred non sugar sweetener. If your preferred sweetener is not heat stable, make sure that the flour butter mixture has cooled sufficiently before you mix in the sweetener packets of your choice. Using half and half Stevia/Sucralose is just a personal preference.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

[Recipe] Passion Fruit Ice-Cream (Reduced Sugar)

I have just recently bought myself a Kenwood Ice-cream maker as a birthday and Christmas gift and this was the first thing I have made. The recipe is loosely based on a recipe from Epicurious. Instead of frozen pulp, I had a packet of fresh passion fruits in the refrigerator (I had bought a bunch of fruits to celebrate the New Year but just ate one piece each – it is one of those family New Year traditions I still practice). It was of the golden yellow slightly elongated variety (not the purple round ones). I am diabetic so I wanted the sweetness to come from a mix of artificial and natural (low glycemic index) sweeteners. The coconut sap sugar is an interesting addition since it has a unique caramel like flavor and it imparts a brownish color to the whole mix. As soon as I bought the Ice-Cream maker I wanted to try it right away and was a bit disappointed to learn that you actually needed to wait a full 24 hours before you can begin (that is how long the freezing bowl needs to be inside your freezer, luckily the bowl fit inside but I had to do some clever rearranging of the stuff that is already inside). It turned out ok for a first attempt and the sweetness is not so overpowering and you can still taste the bit of sourness when you bite into a thick portion of pulp (you may add a little bit more sweetness if you so desired but this level of sweetness was perfect for my taste). Using the fresh fruit with the seeds in it, I like the crunchy texture whenever I bite the seeds.
Passion Fruit Ice-Cream

3 eggs 
8 pieces passion fruit 
600 ml all purpose cream
1 tablespoon honey 
2 packets Sucralose sweetener (Splenda)
4 packets Stevia sweetener 
2 packets coconut sap sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  

**Additional notes on the sweeteners: I am attempting to substitute the sweetness of 3/4 cup of refined white sugar, a lot less that what the original recipe called for. The color of the end product was influenced mainly by the brownish color imparted by the coconut sap sugar. I am assuming that most sweetener packets are packaged to contain the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar in terms of sweetness.

Ice-cream Maker 
Double Boiler pot (I don’t own one but I used my stainless steel mixing bowl on top of a pot of boiling water)

Prepare the Ice-Cream maker as per manufacturer’s instructions (mine required storing the freezing bowl in the freezer for at least 24 hours prior to the operation of the machine). 

Remove the pulp with seeds from the Passion fruit by cutting the fruit open and using a small spoon. Set aside and let it chill (covered) in the refrigerator. Whisk together the sweeteners with the 3 eggs until well mixed in a bowl. 

Heat the cream until it just starts to boil making sure to whisk it every minute or so. Remove from heat as soon as it starts to boil. 

Either place the whisked egg mixture in a double boiler or what I did was to place my stainless steel mixing bowl on top of a boiling pot and whisk the mixture while adding the hot cream into the mixture little by little. Do not allow this custard mix to boil as it will break. Continue whisking the custard as it heats up (the original recipe states until the custard registers 170 degrees F on a candy thermometer but I could not find mine so I just waited until it was steaming slightly and just about to simmer). Remove from heat and let it cool completely before adding on the fresh passion fruit pulp. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator before starting the ice-cream maker. Use the machine as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Target consistency is like soft serve ice-cream. Transfer into tubs for additional time in the freezer to firm it up.