Enter this sweet, slightly fizzy tequila-based drink made with one of our favorite Chinese candies: haw flakes. (We know you pretended they were sacramental bread once upon a time!) The red discs are melted into a syrup which you can also mix into another liquor of choice. You can even use it in making (alcohol-infused?) desserts.
So you’re planning to cook up a mean mousse or cream soup, but the thought of paying a hundred-plus bucks for imported dairy cream doesn’t stoke your appetite quite in the same way. Enter all-purpose cream: a pasteurized and reconstituted version of the real stuff made with milk fat, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and other ingredients that allow it to behave much in the same way—at a fraction of the price. (And that’s aside from having a longer shelf life and being able to stand at room temperature while unopened.) But do they actually taste like cream? How do the different brands compare?
Note: We tried each brand of all-purpose cream both out of the carton (chilled and shaken before opening), and whipped. None of the brands on our list specified the fat content of their cream.
Alaska comes up thick right out of the packet. Glossy with an off-white quality (which reminds us of jarred mayonnaise), it holds its shape and has a voluptous feel on the mouth. Whipping it aerates the mix, but keeps it relatively on the thick end. Likely due to the buttermilk powder in the ingredients list, it carries a strong buttery note which isn’t unpleasant, but keeps it from tasting more neutral than we’d like.
Magnolia’s comes up on the opposite side of the spectrum: out of the pack, it’s relatively thin with a viscous consistency. It thickens slightly when whipped, developing a slightly thinner yogurt-like consistency, which might not be enough if you’re using it for mousses or other desserts but isn’t a problem for soups or stews. Flavor-wise, it gives you the taste of heated milk (hello, Maillard reaction)—not unlike evaporated milk—which carries its own appeal, but isn’t the most neutral one around.
Right out of the container, Nestle falls right in between the two previous brands in consistency. Whip it, however, and—though it gets oddly opaque and almost too white that it looks closer to mayo than to real dairy cream—it develops an impressive thickness that stays put even when the bowl is turned upside down, and holds its shape when left in the fridge overnight. It’s also the cleanest-tasting of the lot, initially milky before ending with a rich, fatty creaminess that lends a richness to just about any dish you can imagine.
The Verdict: Nestle
With the cleanest flavor profile of the three brands, Nestle’s all-purpose cream is our top pick. It’s runny enough from the container that you can easily add it to savory dishes, yet whips up to an especially thick consistency that stays that way for a long time.
Green saag is an Indian curry made of green vegetables. It typically uses mustard leaves and spinach, but really, any leafy thing you have leftover in the fridge will do. While it’s often eaten as it is with naan bread, the cuisine has allowed it a few variations such as saag aloo (with potatoes) and saag gosht (with goat). This time, we’re transforming it into a breakfast dish, fusing it with another Middle Eastern specialty: shakshuka.
Green(s), eggs, and (no) ham.
If the recipe is too veggie-forward for your taste, add more cheese to cut through the earthy flavor. (But for those still complaining, we think you should really eat more vegetables.) Keep to the basics and enjoy it with naan bread (or regular grocery-bought pita bread), which also doubles as an effective scooping agent. It’s quite addictive, so you’ll find it easy to finish the whole plate. Heck, you can even try tricking the kids into getting their daily dose of nutrients.
Jen Dacudao began her baking journey in 2013. The cupcake craze was at a high, so she veered away from the trend by making cheesecake bombs and truffles. She worked at a gym then, and (ironically) her sweet-tooth boss let her sell her goods there. She realized she had a real potential in baking, so she took a certificate course and started working on Happy Pill Desserts.
The brand didn’t fly immediately because life happened—I got married, had a baby, and resigned from work. But this new mother’s gotta do what [she still dreams of doing]. It was a constant back and forth in the kitchen. But I got through it with pure hustle and smart scheduling.
Usual cookie flavor combos include Classic Chocolate Chip, S’mores, and Dark Chocolate Reese’s.
From the start, Happy Pill Desserts’ signature products were its hefty cookies, inspired by the cookies from Levain Bakery in New York City. The idea of the cookie cakes, however, were only borne out of a last-minute need for Jen to make a cake for her husband’s 30th birthday. She had nothing but cookie dough at the time; so she baked a bunch of of them, stacked them up, then (since drip cakes were a thing then) drizzled syrup on top. It was “compact, festive, and delish,” making it an instant hit.
The cookies are gigantic. But it’s so sinfully good, with it’s sugary aftertaste, chewy dough, and gooey chocolate bits, that finishing a piece in one go is bound to happen—we’re speaking from experience. Make sure to microwave it at 20-30 seconds on high (if you’re taking it out of the fridge) to get it at its peak form.
Happy Pill Desserts
A home-baker that makes celebration cakes, specializing in hefty cookie cakes.
Chino Cruz of Baker on East helps us kick-start the celebration at home by sharing his recipe on Pride Flag Cookies. The addition of rose water in this butter cookie recipe gives it interesting floral taste notes, giving it enough depth to rise above it’s usual simple form. Making this is easy enough that you can do it yourself, but we suggest rounding up the gang to mix colors and cut up rainbows with. It’s a fun activity to do before next week’s Metro Manila Pride Parade (side note: support the cause)!
Manila has always been a bustling city; and Taft, in particular, is a stretch that’s constantly plagued with day-to-day events. From pedestrian (can we call them that, even if they don’t cross via the “Ped Xing‘s?”) activities to random street-side sights, there’s no escape. Heck, even the side streets have something going on most of the time.
So it’s practically miraculous that Latitude Bean+Bar, a new specialty coffee shop on Pilar Hidalgo Lim street (a stone’s throw away from Taft!) was able to shield itself from the busyness of it all. The quaint cafe lures you in with hip, classy interiors, but it keeps you in with well-prepared cups of joe, whose beans are supplied by a local roaster in Quezon City.
This pair, plus one of their Monocle issues—sounds like a great afternoon.
They have the usual espresso and milk-based beverage options, plus a handful of snacks and pastries. One of their creative concoctions, though, is their Cold Brew with Coconut Water—a light, refreshing drink that balances the stale bitterness of the coffee with the mild sweetness of the coconut water. We suggest pairing it with their New York Cheesecake, a sinfully sugary treat that’s sure to please any sweet-tooth.
Toy Story 4 premieres today; and just like any other Pixar-crazed millennial, we’re stoked to see what happens to Woody and the gang. And since we’re all about food here, we’re particularly excited to see some representation via Forky—a toy fork, in case that wasn’t obvious. As an ode to the franchise’s main character, here’s a cowboy-approved take on baked potatoes. We’d say we thought of Mr. Potato Head here too, but that’s not really painting a good picture isn’t it? Sorry, kids.
Barbecue sauce is fairly simple to make, but you can also settle for bottled variants to save time. Don’t worry about dousing too much onto the shredded chicken; the addition of sour cream cuts through it anyway, lending to a well-balanced mix of salty and tangy. Enjoy big spoonfuls that contain every ingredient to get the most out of all those flavors and textures.
When one thinks of chicken wings in Metro Manila, the first name that comes to mind is probably Frankie’s. The “New York Buffalo Wings” shop spoils diners with 14 different flavors, from the Classic Buffalo to Nagoya Tebasaki. Our favorite (and apparently, a lot of other people’s go-to, since it’s still one of their best-sellers) is the Salted Egg wings, with it’s umami flavor and mild spice.
What came first—the chicken (wings) or the (salted) egg?
This version’s powder only has a subtle salted egg flavor, but it sticks to the chicken so well to the chicken that you’ll taste it in each bite. The addition of dried kaffir lime leaves gives it a nice tang that cuts through the richness of the salted egg. For a healthier alternative, swap out the wings with cut-up chicken breasts, instead. Or go ahead and toss the powder into whatever snack—fries, potato chips, chicharon, whatever. You do you.
Much as Filipinos love a cup of joe, not everyone loves black coffee’s bitter or acidic bite. Enter non-dairy creamers: coffee creamers that may come in liquid or powdered form (most brands we have locally are of the latter sort) made with solidified glucose, vegetable fats, and other not-so-natural-ingredients (which for sanity’s sake, we don’t recommend you obsess about). Dissolved into coffee or tea, they instantly add a balancing creaminess for a fraction of the price of real dairy versions, aside from touting a longer shelf life. (And don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, but it can be oddly tasty nibbled on straight up in powdered form, too.) How do the different brands on the market compare?
Consumed by itself (if you’re into that), Angel’s creamer is barely sweet, allowing its powdered milk-like notes to come through. It does the job of rounding out the bitterness when mixed into coffee, but tends to taste flat—unless you pile on the sugar.
You get a toasty, vanilla-y aroma as soon as you open the Coffee-Mate package. The plain creamer is mildly sweetened, and brings forward a rich, fatty sensation as it melts on the tongue. With its said vanilla notes and rich mouthfeel, it synchronizes especially well with coffee.
Creamall immediately hits you with its saccharine profile when you eat it plain. It’s the sweetest of the bunch, its richness only coming through as a whisper. Stirred into coffee, it adds a mild sweetness—you won’t need as much additional sugar. It lacks the creaminess you’d expect to follow however, and the resulting liquid feels thin and watery.
The Alaska Corporation’s entry to the coffee creamer market is only subtly sweet, when consumed by itself, yet carries ample richness. It harmonizes beautifully with coffee, contributing creaminess that rounds out any bitterness of the coffee without blocking it out and lingering long on the tongue.
Pepper’s Pick: Kremtop
Kremtop’s subtle sweetness paired with its full-on richness makes it our top pick, both for stirring into your A.M. cup of joe and for eating by the spoonful. Coffee-Mate comes close; its vanilla-scented and sweetened body makes it a less neutral choice, but it makes for an especially blissful cup of coffee anytime.
Happy Father’s Day to the men, the myths, the legends—our dads. Today, let’s show our appreciation to the guys who bought us our first toy, taught us how to drive, and—for some—started our love for food. Skip the grand lunch, and bond with your old man (and the rest of the family) in the kitchen instead. Trust us, he’ll love having an excuse to stay at home today. You’ll still have something delicious (chef-approved!) to eat at the end, anyway.
The Bistro Group‘s Chef Josh Boutwood (of Savage and Helm fame) dropped by the Pepper kitchen with his daughter Malaya to show us their end-of-week tradition: cooking Sunday Roast. The recipe’s multi-step procedure (don’t be fooled though, it’s super simple!) gives everyone in the family something to do—including wash the many pots, pans, and utensils after. It’s also a way to teach young kids a few kitchen skills, such as slicing, shredding, and hand-mixing.
But of course, as Malaya says, the best part about this recipe is actually eating it with the whole family. The roast chicken, although deceivingly bare, is very juicy—you can actually taste all the spices in it. The vegetable medley is so vibrant, textured, and flavorful that even veggie-skeptic kids will have to stop themselves from eating it. And of course, the creamy, cheesy cauliflower with bechamel sauce will have you scraping everything from the bowl.