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If you’re looking forward to the long weekend ahead, lucky you! (I always have work on special holidays so…) I know that a lot of people like to travel south to Tagaytay these days whenever there are long weekends, so I thought I would write about this restaurant we got to try the last time I was in Tagaytay, called The Wild Juan.

I’m going to change how I write my restaurant posts this year so that I can focus on writing about the things I enjoyed rather than focusing on how to rate them like some sort of critic, which I am not. However that doesn’t mean I won’t mention any negative experiences I had in a restaurant even though I enjoyed their food.



Take The Wild Juan for example: The staff were friendly enough but it took forever for our orders to arrive. Thankfully it was worth the wait. They also did not have enough clean glasses to be able to give our party of 9 some water, which was not good. I actually did overhear them saying this.

I guess it helps that you can keep yourself busy by looking through the interesting things on their shelves, but a restaurant not having enough glasses when the place wasn’t even filled to capacity is a first for me. Maybe it was a holiday and they were short on staff? I can only speculate based on what I observed, but this does seem to be the case.

Anyway, The Wild Juan is a three-in-one establishment that stands as a restaurant, a bed & breakfast, and a beer garden. Its chef-owner is Chef Thomas Murillo, and after a meal here, one word I would describe him is very much ‘creative’. He very much earns the label thanks to his dishes. Located along Nasugbu Highway, The Wild Juan is pretty easy to spot with its bright yellow exterior and ample signage.

The name of The Wild Juan carries with it the tagline “Where Southern comfort meets East and West“, which basically describes what you can expect with the food here. It’s like they’re saying any Juan can enjoy the familiar Filipino fare but also appreciate the Western influences added to each dish. It’s wild, but also close to the hearts of a common Juan. If you’re having a difficult time imagining exactly what that means, I think one meal here is enough to understand this tagline. They do deliver, I will say that, and you should read on to see what I mean.

The Wild Juan owns an organic farm, the Gorgeous Farm, right behind their Bed & Breakfast overlooking Taal. You can purchases their produce directly, but having an actual farm also ensures that The Wild Juan can serve up fresh veggies in their dishes. Their Juan Ensalada (Php 338) is a good example. It has fresh and crisp Romaine lettuce tossed in homemade Caesar dressing, then topped with crispy tawilis. If you’re not much of a veggies person but still want an appetizer to get you going, the Caldereta Wings (Php 288) is an interesting option. It’s basically fried chicken wings coated in a gooey layer of caldereta sauce, served with a creamy creole cheddar dip. The caldereta coating worked so well on the wings! I must warn you however that the dish might not come out ahead of your main course, so there’s that.

Juan Ensalada Caldereta Wings

One of their specialties is their Krispy Kasoy Kare-Kare or KKK (Php 568). Instead of just throwing the beef into the stew to soften, they deep fry the beef brisket to a crisp first. It gives an interesting contrast to the creamy cashew-based The Wild Juan Special Sauce. The use of cashew in place of peanuts for the sauce gives it an unusual flavor I really enjoyed. They also have a vegetarian option of this dish, which is the Vegetable Kare-Kare (Php 399). I do love the veggies that are included in a traditional kare-kare and eat them more than the meat, so I loved the combination of eggplant, pechay, string beans, and banana heart in this dish, swimming in that special Cashew Sauce.

Krispy Kasoy Kare-Kare

Their Black Native Boneless Lechon (Php 399 for 500 grams) is another specialty of theirs. They use the meat of the baboy damo they raised on their own, roast it until tender, then serve it with a special Barako Sarsa unique to The Wild Juan. I have to say, they really know how to make so many interesting sauces that make their dishes stand out even more. What’s more is that the The Wild Juan uses local ingredients to create them! I thought the meat of the black pig is just a little tougher than the regular pig’s, although it is enjoyable with the sauce nonetheless.

The standout dish for me was the Gumbo-Lalo (Php 558), which really showcases the Louisiana influence of the fusion dishes at The Wild Juan. It is a flavorful chunky beef shank stew with bone marrow, in a dark spicy gumbo sauce that will make you want to lick the bowl clean. Fair warning: You might end up eating more rice because of this dish!

Black Native Boneless Lechon Gumbo-Lalo

Another standout for me was the Dirty Rice (Php 268 good for 3-4 persons), described as a Louisiana-inspired Cumin fried rice with vegetables. This is one of my favorite versions of fried rice among all that I’ve ever eaten. The spices tingle the tastebuds in a way that makes you want more! I don’t know if a lot of people like the spice cumin, but in this dish it works like a charm. For me, it’s not too strong but it doesn’t shy away either. Despite being flavorful on its own, it pairs well with the other dishes at The Wild Juan.

Dirty Rice

After the round of main dishes, my doubts about the The Wild Juan because of the first impression I got from their service was watered down. I found myself curious about what else they had on the menu, and to be honest there were still a bunch of other dishes I was interested in, but we were full already and what we wanted was a bit of dessert.

I spotted the Risotto sa Gata (Php 208), which is technically not a dessert but an all-day breakfast option. It is a sweet one, so we tried it in the end. The risotto they refer to is local malagkit rice is cooked in coconut milk, then topped with crispy bacon. Cacao tablea ganache is then poured over the top. I wasn’t expecting the serving to be THIS big, to be honest. We had such a hard time finishing it up, and we actually did despite being stuffed. It was good! The coconut milk-based risotto was creamy and tasty, with the bacon adding a different texture and a salty component. The chocolate binds it all together. Good thing we ordered this for sharing. Ang bigat sa tiyan!

Risotto sa Gata

Because we had not expected the Risotto sa Gata to come in such a big plate, we over-ordered with Duecert (Php 198). It’s a clever pun to describe the pairing of two different desserts: the Cashew Tart and Calamansi Crème Brulee. The Cashew Tart is made from Bataan cashews that have been roasted and chopped, then baked into something that is a cross between a sticky pie and a blondie. Its pineapple marmalade topping cuts through the sweetness. The other dessert is a calamansi-flavored firm and sticky flan with a disc of caramelized sugar on top. It needed a bit more tang in my opinion.

Duecert

After having a literal feast at The Wild Juan, it was easier to forgive the missteps they initially had upon our arrival. Bumawi sila sa pagkain eh. Every dish we tried here was a memorable one, mostly because of the ingenious twists and the clever use of local ingredients on each dish. I think they managed to take the Creole influences and fit it in with the right dishes to the right degree, tweaking our Pinoy favorites but keeping them fundamentally still present in each dish. I also really loved the flavors of the dipping sauces they paired with certain dishes.

To be frank, The Wild Juan exceeded my expectations. I thought we would get Pinoy dishes with a sprinkle of Western influences here and there. I had not expected this clever adaptation of Creole flavors into the typical Pinoy dishes. It’s different yet familiar. I hope they can tighten up their service to complement their strong lineup of dishes. They do have quite a lot more on the menu that seem worth a try!

~~~

The Wild Juan

KM 68 Pinesville, Tagaytay
Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay City
Hours: Varies daily
Contact No.: +63 9154324196 / +63 9178404211
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Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.

If you enjoyed this post, do follow me on social media for more. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. See you around!

The post Interesting twists on familiar Filipino dishes at The Wild Juan appeared first on The Tummy Train.

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With the popularity of Instagram dessert businesses these days, it’s important to stand out in a crowded arena of cakes and pastries. Molten Minis by Go Eats seem to have figured out the unique identity they want people to remember them for, because I for one have not come across an online dessert business as literally “explosive” as this. Let me explain: Imagine a lava cake, except the molten lava parts of the cake aren’t just found on the inside, but on the outside as well. You get an oozing decadent dessert from the inside out, and all you have to do is pop a cake into the microwave.

If that sounds appealing to you, then I think you should get your hands on these Molten Minis.

I first came across Molten Minis by Go Eats through an Instragram ad, but then they surprised me by asking if they could send me their products for me to try. You guys know I am always prepared to share and support local business that I enjoy and believe in, but I can’t keep track of them all so I’m always grateful when they introduce themselves to me. If they had not, we wouldn’t be talking about these decadent cakes today. 

These Molten Minis are small cakes structured in such a way that the cream components on top and inside the cakes become molten once heated. The size of the cakes are bigger than the usual cupcakes, so they can definitely be shared with someone, but also not too big that you won’t be able to finish off a piece on your own. 

These Molten Minis go for almost 60 pesos per cake, which is a fair price considering the quality you get. Their box of 4 costs Php 249, while a box of 6 is Php 349. They sent me a box of six assorted flavors to try, and I honestly did not know what to expect when I first laid eyes on the Molten Mini cakes.

Obviously, I would never know if I would like these if I didn’t try them, and so I followed the instructions on the package and popped them in the microwave a few at a time. In hindsight, I should have heated them separately so that the molten cream didn’t run into each other.

It took longer than 30 seconds for my Molten Minis to be ready, but once they were, it was a pretty sight. You will know that your cake has been heated enough when the cream on top of the cake has completely melted down into a sauce. Any time I see something oozing from a dessert, it just makes everything feel extra exciting and indulgent somehow. 

Starting with a classic flavor, Molten Minis has their Salted Decadence. A moist blackout chocolate cake base is filled with salted caramel, and then topped with a dark chocolate ganache. I enjoyed this one because of the chocolate and caramel mix. The cake base has a classic chocolate taste to it. It’s quite moist and lovely. You can’t go wrong with a chocolate and caramel combo after all.

Salted Decadence Molten Mini

The Choco Bananarama was my surprise favorite from the bunch. The recipe used by Molten Minis makes a tasty banana cake that can be enjoyed on its own. With each bite, you get the sweetness and fragrance of real bananas in a moist cake. It has a banana sauce filling and a dark chocolate ganache that pair so well with the cake. I enjoy banana breads with various toppings, and chocolate is definitely one of them!

Choco Bananarama Molten Mini

Another good one is their Carrot Cream Cheese. You can see I’m a fan of the classic flavors Molten Minis have, and again I like the recipe they used for their carrot cake base. The cream cheese comes in the form of the filling while the topping is a white chocolate ganache. I’m not a fan of white chocolate to be honest, so I kind of just focused on the cake and the cream cheese filling when I ate this. I will say however that the white chocolate ganache they used isn’t the waxy and super sweet kind I hate.

Carrot Cream Cheese Molten Mini

Gimme S’mores is a play on the classic treat, starting with a chocolate cake base filled with dark chocolate ganache and some grahams. It is crowned with a mountain of torched marshmallow that oozes satisfyingly down the sides of the cake. I feel like this one would be a crowd favorite because of the nostalgia factor. It helps that it tastes good and the ganache in the center also flows out when you slice into the cake.

Gimme S’mores Molten Mini

The Pandan Butter Cream has a pandan cake base that’s filled with pandan macapuno buttercream filling. The topping is a pandan buttercream that melts and flows with a buttery texture to it. This one has a nice pandan flavor with a creamy macapuno undertone, but it is too sweet for me to take more than a bite or two. 

Pandan Butter Cream Molten Mini

Finally, there’s the gorgeously colored Ube Ooze. One for ube lovers, this cake is entirely composed of ube cake, ube buttercream filling, and ube buttercream topping. Both filling and topping have a great lava flow that is, like the S’mores variant, so satisfying to watch. I really like a solid ube hit in my ube desserts, and while this did have a nice ube taste, I felt that the sweetness of the cake overpowers the flavor a bit. 

Ube Ooze Molten Mini

Part of the charm of consuming these Molten Minis is being able to see that “lava” ooze all over the cake. You start feeling oddly more excited than you normally would eating normal cake. Although this aspect does make the Molten Minis unique, I honestly think that it’s not just some sort of gimmick. As I taste-tested each flavor, my impression was that the mixing and matching of the cake base, the filling, and the topping for each and every cake was carefully considered. The components fit in with each other perfectly. The quality of the cakes are pretty good too. You will find no dry cakes here!

With these Molten Minis, each cake base is good on its own already, but the experience of eating it- the mouthfeel- becomes even better with the molten sauce. Admittedly, some of the cakes are sweeter and more nakaka-umay than the others, but all in all, these cakes exceeded my expectations. If you like molten lava cakes and just generally like cakes, give these a go a let me know what you think!

To order, visit the GoEats.PH Instagram page. They also have some super cute photos in their Highlights that describe each flavor of Molten Minis. Enjoy!

~~

Full disclosure: I was sent product samples in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated above are my own. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

If you enjoyed this post, do follow me on social media for more. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. See you around!

The post Local Discoveries: Molten Minis cakes from Go Eats PH appeared first on The Tummy Train.

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There are many things you come to realize the older you grow; among them, things about friendship. Friendship is a lot less complicated as a teenager, when you get to see your friends nearly everyday and all you really worry about are grades, crushes, and projects. It’s only when you move on to your own paths in life that you see who remain true and who disappear into the ether. You may be wondering why I’m going on about friendship all of a sudden, but it’s what I find myself relating to these Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies.

There are desserts you share, and then there are desserts that just feel perfect to share with your oldest friends. To me, this copycat version Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies are that. When I had my first taste of these cookies, I immediately thought they would be perfect to serve on a fine afternoon at home, when you’ve invited a friend you haven’t seen in a while for a long catch-up session. There’s something about these cookies that evoke an old-fashioned feeling, while at the same time grounding you to the present.

I think that’s why I love food so much. There are those recipes and dishes that give you this profound feeling at a specific moment, and it sticks with you even when the last crumb is gone. It’s funny because what I should be telling you is whether these cookies are a dead ringer for the famous Levain cookies from New York. Well I have been to New York but I wasn’t able to visit Levain Bakery, so short answer: I have no idea. But these cookies are pretty good in their own right. You can ask everyone who got to try these when I decided to give half the batch away.

I think the charm of Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies is how despite being large, very well-constructed cookies on the outside, once you bite into one, you get an almost cookie dough-like interior. It gives a whole new meaning to the chewy chocolate chip cookie. Being a fan of that myself, I was pretty pleased to munch on these cookies. I found this recipe on a blog called The Pancake Princess, and let me tell you, I admire how they go out of their way to test recipes over there. This did not disappoint.

Admittedly, I don’t feel that these are the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever made, but the thing is, they have made me very interested to test out more recipes that create this kind of cookie. I went through other copycat recipes of the Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies and I already have two alternate versions lined up. You might have noticed the ‘Version 1.0’ indication on the title of this post, and that only means I’ll be putting on my mad scientist baker girl hat on soon. It’s an exciting time for my chocolate chip cookie-loving heart!

Recipe notes

The interesting bit about these cookies is how they are baked at a higher temperature than normal. It’s why the outside becomes cooked and set more quickly but the center remains cookie dough soft. The recommended baking tray is a light colored one, because dark colored baking trays tend to burn the bottoms of cookies too fast. (I know this from experience too.)

I decided to portion my cookies in my normal way using my normal cookie scooper, which means smaller mounds than the original recipe indicates. I think the scoop is equivalent to 2 tablespoons versus the 75 gram portions recommended in the original recipe.

As you can see, my cookies aren’t as tall and chunky as the photos you may see online. (Doesn’t make them any less delicious!) For a more true-to-Levain version of these cookies, you will need to scoop larger balls of dough for baking. On my next tries, I’ll make sure to get this part right!

PS. I really have to make a mental note to remember to line up at Levain Bakery the next time I fly to New York and try the original cookies. I think the first time I went, I was so excited to explore Manhattan I kind of forgot about unimportant stuff like eating and sleeping lol. Gosh I miss New York. I want to explore Brooklyn next time.

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies Copycat 1.0
Yields 15
Chewy chocolate chip cookies based off the famous New York Levain Bakery.
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup high-quality unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  2. 1 cup brown sugar
  3. ½ cup granulated sugar
  4. 2 large eggs, room temperature
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  6. 1½ cups cake flour
  7. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  9. ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  10. ¾ teaspoon salt
  11. 2 cups high-quality bittersweet chocolate chips
  12. 2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped*
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 410°F (210°C). Line at about three light-colored baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. 2. In large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together cold butter, brown sugar, and sugar until creamy, about 4 minutes. (You can do this by hand but it will be very tiring.)
  3. 3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. 4. Switch to a spatula at this point. Fold in the cake and all-purpose flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  5. 5. Scoop dough into 75-gram chunky mounds and place on the prepared cookie sheet, preferably baking 5 cookies at a time.
  6. 6. Bake for 11 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Let cookies rest for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. You can also eat them soft and warm around this time. The chocolate inside will be melty.
Notes
  1. *I recommend toasting the walnuts before using.
Adapted from The Pancake Princess blog
The Tummy Train http://www.thetummytrain.com/

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The post Making the famed Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies at home appeared first on The Tummy Train.

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Long before I started food blogging, I fell in love with coffee buns. The very first one I had as a little duckling was from a brand called Roti Mum, and I distinctly recall thinking it was one of the best breads I had ever eaten in my life. Coffee buns also possessed one of the most enchanting smells my nose has had the pleasure of sniffing. It’s this amazing combination of the scent of freshly baked bread, mingling with a deep, almost charcoal-roasted coffee aroma. 

I actually think that coffee buns are what started my love affair with coffee.

It was impossible to escape the smell of these. It beckoned you into the store, and before you know it you already bought yourself a whole box of coffee buns! If you’ve never passed by any Kopi Roti and Roti Mum shops, I guess you guys would think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. Whip up a batch of this so you will understand what I mean.

When I first started learning how to make yeast breads on my own, coffee buns were high up on the priority list. The first time I attempted these babies (SEVEN years ago!), I thought the results were okay considering I was still quite a noob back then. I remember the domes of my coffee buns sinking after cooling down. I also remember that the coffee I used for the topping barely tasted like anything at all. But oh what a difference years of experience makes! 

I’m not saying I’ve become an expert at making breads nowadays, but I will say I have learned a lot from all the bread-making I have done through the years. These coffee buns are one of the best things I have made to date, and it’s all thanks to the recipe from Rasa Malaysia. Even with my slightly botched first attempt, I never once thought to look for another recipe because I knew that I already had the perfect one in my hands. 

And so here I am, staring at the screen and wishing I could smell and devour these coffee buns by picking them out of the photos. 

These look, smell, and taste so much like store-bought coffee buns. If I had a lot of time in my hands I would probably make these at least once every month. Coffee buns are really one of my favorite things to indulge on!

The best part about coffee buns, aside from the fact that they have a fully delicious coffee taste, is that they go perfectly well with coffee. Hot coffee, preferably. I have always loved the way that the topping sucks in the coffee like a sponge when you dip the bread in. The moment you bite into it, the coffee squirts out from the bread in such a gratifying way. Oh man.

That’s enough discussion about how to eat these coffee buns, because I’m really starting to crave for them now. Let’s talk about how to make them!

Recipe notes

I don’t think making these buns are difficult, although they do require some time and a number of steps. I can’t stress enough how worth it these are though, especially if you are very far away from any coffee bun or kopi roti stores. Some people call these Mexican Coffee Buns and while I have no idea about whether these did originate from Mexico, it’s incredibly popular in Asia. Luckily, this recipe doesn’t require you to make any Asian starter tangzhong pastes. 

It’s a fairly straightforward butter-enriched dough recipe actually. You first mix together all your dry ingredients before adding in the egg and water to start the dough. Then you work the butter into the dough. The dough should be shiny and supple, and be a little bit sticky to the touch. I would rather have to deal with some slightly sticky dough during the shaping stage rather than add in more flour at the risk of making my bread less fluffy than I like. If you add in too much flour, you’ll get a tough bread.

If you’re not sure if it has enough flour, you can check to see if your dough is well-formed by doing the windowpane test. Take a little piece of dough and stretch it out into a thin membrane without breaking it. That’s an indication that the gluten is well-formed. (See pics in the recipe box below.)

Also, I highly recommend not skipping the milk powder. I know I listed it as optional in the ingredients list below because some people might not like it, but the milk powder adds a little something to the overall taste of the coffee buns methinks.

This dough rises up really really nicely after about 45 minutes in a cool warm place.

While your dough is proofing, it’s time to make the magical coffee topping. You’re going to make a coffee-flavored butter-based topping for your bread that’s sweetened by confectioner’s sugar. (This ain’t a diet-friendly bread, let me just say.) This is the thing that will spell the difference for your coffee buns so use good coffee powder!

I like to use Trader Joe’s Columbian Instant Coffee when I make this recipe and the results are always incredible. I love to drink that coffee to begin with. It surprised me not that it translates well into a coffee bun. Generally speaking, use coffee powder you like to drink, and use BLACK coffee powder, NOT 3-in-1!

Now that you’ve got your two main components ready, it’s time for the best part. Or second to the best part, because eating these is the best part. Let us prep these babies up for baking!

Punch down your risen dough and divide them into rounds. I ended up with 19 pieces of dough rounds with each weighing around 50 grams. Flour your work surface and your hands generously because these will be sticky to work with.

Flatten each ball slightly with a rolling pin, then place a cube of cold butter into the center. Wrap the dough around the butter, making sure to seal it inside. Cold butter makes this part easier to manage. Once you’ve finished filling all your dough with butter, leave your buns to proof another 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Once risen, it’s time to take your coffee topping, put it into a piping bag and get to work! Snip off about a 1/2 inch opening on the tip of your piping bag, and what you want to do is pipe the coffee topping in a tight circular pattern starting from the top of the buns down to about the middle part of the sides of your coffee buns.

You don’t want to pipe down all the way because that will be WAY too much topping. The point of this butter-based coffee topping is that once you put these into the oven, they will melt downwards and form a coffee shell over the buns. If you pipe until the bottom, the topping will just ooze down all over the place.

Here’s how they will look once they start cocooning the coffee buns as they bake:

This reminds me a little bit of the cookie topping from choux au craquelins. The best part about that topping is if you pipe on just a generous amount, you will get these excess bits of topping all around the bottom part of the buns. These are so good to break away from the coffee buns and munch on, you guys.

When I get a particularly big piece of extra coffee topping, I dip it into my coffee just because it sucks in all that coffee and makes a coffee explosion in your mouth! 

Just forget your diets for a moment and ENJOY these. (I know I do, when it comes to coffee buns!) I swear you are missing out if you don’t. And just look at that soft and fluffy and beautiful bread interior! I swoon at beautiful crumbs like that. 

Now that I have more mastery over making these buns, there was no way I would not make a post revisiting the process for you guys, so if you have any questions, just go right ahead and post a comment below. Or you can reach me at my other social media pages any time. Let’s spread the love for coffee buns! 

Coffee Buns / Kopi Roti
Yields 19
Just one whiff of these is enough to make my mouth water. I'm never going looking for another coffee bun recipe again because these are absolutely perfect.
Print
For the buns
  1. 500 grams bread flour
  2. 80 grams caster sugar
  3. 9 grams salt
  4. 20 grams milk powder (optional but good)
  5. 10 grams instant dried yeast
  6. 1 large egg
  7. 280 milliliters water
  8. 60 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the coffee-cream topping
  1. 1 tablespoon instant coffee/espresso granules
  2. 2 tablespoons very hot water
  3. 200 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  4. 150 grams confectioner's sugar
  5. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  6. 200 grams cake flour
  7. 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur, optional
For the filling
  1. 100 grams unsalted butter, cold
Make the buns
  1. 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add whisk together bread flour, sugar, salt, milk powder, and yeast. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and attach the dough hook.
  2. 2. In a measuring cup, mix together egg and water. Turn on the mixer at medium speed and gradually pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, kneading for about 10 minutes until the dough comes together.
  3. 3. Slowly add in butter and continue kneading till you get a shiny and elastic but tacky dough. (Resist the urge to add more flour to make the dough less sticky!) To test if the dough is ready, do the windowpane test. You should be able to stretch the dough into a thin membrane without breaking it.
  4. 4. Transfer the dough into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with towel or clingwrap and leave to proof for at least 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
While the dough is proofing, prepare the coffee-cream topping
  1. 5. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee in the hot water. Set aside for a moment.
  2. 6. Place butter in a separate medium bowl, then sift in confectioner's sugar. Beat together with a whisk until well-mixed and pale in color.
  3. 7. Gradually add in the lightly beaten eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift in the cake flour to ensure a smooth topping*, then use a spatula to fold in the flour.
  4. 8. Pour in the prepared coffee mixture and liqueur, if using. Mix until well-combined. Set aside at room temperature.
Once the dough is ready
  1. 9. Transfer the proofed dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch dough down gently to release the air. Divide dough into 19 pieces, 50 grams each. (For 20 buns, weigh each portion into 47.5 grams.) Briefly roll each portion of dough into rounds and flatten into a circle using a rolling pin.
  2. 10. Place 1 teaspoon of cold butter into the center of each flattened dough and seal the dough around it. Place seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and butter, placing each piece of dough at least 4 inches apart to give it plenty of room to expand.
  3. 11. Lay a towel or clingwrap over the buns and allow to proof for a second time until double in size, at least 45 minutes. About 20 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat oven to 420°F (215°C).
  4. 12. Once the buns have puffed up, place the cream topping into a piping bag. Snip out a half inch hole and pipe out the cream in tight circles around the bun. Pipe all the way until almost the top half of the bun is covered in the cream.
  5. 13. Bake buns for about 18 minutes**, until the cream has fully melted over the dough and has turned into a shell. Allow to cool and enjoy warm or at room temperature, with some warm or iced coffee of course.
Notes
  1. *I skipped this step when I made this batch and as you can see, the surface of my coffee buns aren't as perfectly smooth. I recommend sifting in the cake flour because it is quite lumpy.
  2. **I always bake my coffee buns one tray at a time because I'm paranoid like that, but you can probably bake two trays at a time with no problems depending on how evenly your oven distributes heat. I don't tend to rotate yeast breads when I've placed them in my oven, but do what works for you depending on past experience.
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia blog
The Tummy Train http://www.thetummytrain.com/

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One of the most gratifying things about this whole blogging thing is when I can sit down and write about a local brand with a glowing heart, because the moment we took my first bite of MC Special Rice, I knew I was going to rave about it. My mom loved it too actually. She was immediately asking, between spoonfuls of the rice, where and how to order.

For the longest time I have felt that our local brands have so much potential, if only we could put them on the spotlight more. As you guys know, I like to make listicles about local brands that I discover, whether on my own or by way of the brand’s introduction of themselves. But from those round-up’s, only certain brands end up being my real favorites. MC Special Rice has earned a spot on that list.

Healthy days with MC Special Rice

MC Special Rice is harvested from the province of Isabela, so every order made goes into supporting the farmers there. This direct relationship helps in keeping the price of the rice lower than what you find in supermarkets, but there is no lack in quality or freshness. The brand began in October 2017 so it’s a relatively young one, with the goal of making special unpolished rice more visible in Metro Manila. The brand’s office in Manila is located in Quezon City, and this is where the rice gets shipped out when you order.

The pride of MC Special Rice is their organic unpolished rice. By definition, unpolished rice is rice that has undergone less milling or “whitening”. Compared to polished rice, they retain more of the natural nutrients available in rice (fiber, zinc, iron, vitamin A among others) because they have not been stripped of all the bran layers.

Rice in itself isn’t strictly unhealthy, but the intake of too much of the wrong kind of rice becomes bad for us. That’s where MC Special Rice comes in. They promise pesticide-free and high quality unpolished rice at an affordable price because they want to promote a healthier lifestyle that is accessible to everyone. After trying their rice variants, I am inclined to believe them.

If you take a look at those dietary meal plan providers online, you would notice they make use of brown or red or black rice. These are all types of unpolished rice. Their higher fiber content makes you feel fuller faster, which prevents you from overeating. Most people enjoy white polished rice because of its easier-to-chew texture, but again, if we consider the health benefits of polished versus unpolished, it’s really hard to say that white rice is preferable from a health standpoint.

Kinds of unpolished rice

The health benefits of Brown Rice have long been brought to light, but I think it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that this rice has been proven to reduce cholesterol levels and can aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis (harmful build-up that can clog the arteries). The fiber content of brown rice also helps keep blood sugar levels under control, which makes it a good choice for people with diabetes.

Brown Rice at Php 65/kilo

Meanwhile, Red Rice contains a high amount of anthocyanin in its red pigment. Much like how anthocyanin works in berries, it also provides antioxidant properties to red rice, helping to combat free radicals in the body. It also contains iron, zinc, and vitamin E, which all work to slow the aging of cells and prevent cardiovascular diseases. 

Red Rice at Php 79/kilo

Black Rice (aka “Forbidden Rice”) is highly regarded in Chinese traditional medicine because of its health benefits. It is naturally high in antioxidants and detoxifies the body. It’s a good source of fiber, iron, and amino acids. It also helps lower the risk of diabetes and obesity, as well as promotes better heart health. 

Black Rice at Php 89/kilo

If you’re not sure if you will enjoy purely black or red rice, you can check out their Multigrain Rice, which is a mixture of brown, red, and black. If you are initially shifting from white polished to unpolished rice, I think this is a good introduction to the world of unpolished rice. This was the favorite in our house, and I totally understand why. It goes for Php 70 per kilo.

Multigrain Rice at Php 70/kilo

Honestly, I don’t eat white rice unless I’m eating maki or sushi, but I will gladly eat the multigrain rice of MC Special Rice because I feel super satisfied afterwards. I also like the other rice variants but this is a good everyday rice option, I think. I truly enjoy the texture and chewiness of the rice, especially when eaten alongside ulam that has some sauce.

Despite all the baking I do on this blog, I’m actually very conscious of my weight. The introduction of this brand is a very welcome one.

How to cook

The cooking process of MC Special Rice is the same as when you cook normal white rice. According to them, soaking the grains before cooking is not necessary, but it’s pretty much a habit in our home so we did it anyway. Soaking helps to remove some of the phytic acids that limit the minerals absorbed by our bodies from the rice. It also breaks down the harder-to-digest proteins of unpolished rice. Practically speaking though, soaking cuts down on the cooking time.

For every 1 cup of rice you cook, use 1.5 cups of water. Although the rice has a natural aroma, the folks at MC Special Rice recommend adding some pandan leaves and a pinch of salt for an amazing rice experience.

Once cooked, you will see the beautiful rice all puffed and fluffy. For the lack of a better term, pumuputok sila, and they are delightfully chewy and not rough at all actually. I really like the texture of all the rice variants. Now the only thing left to do is enjoy!

Buying information

As I mentioned, MC Special Rice ships their rice from their office in Quezon City. However, they also do meet-ups at SM North EDSA or Trinoma. (You Northerners are pretty lucky!) You can order MC Special Rice through the following channels:

If you have any more questions, please do inquire with them through these channels as well. I hope you guys give this a go and let me know what you think!

~~

Full disclosure: I was sent samples of MC Special Rice to try, but all opinions stated above are my own. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

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After making these Matcha Cupcakes for the first time, there had been only one thought left in my mind: It’s unfortunate that the original recipe only makes 9 cupcakes. With something as good as these, there’s no way that 9 cupcakes would be enough. There’s no way that a household of 6 could be forced to share just 9 of these scrumptious Matcha Cupcakes among them, because then some wouldn’t be able to have two cupcakes. I think you would want to eat at least two, once you get a taste of these.

These are possibly the best version of homemade Matcha Cupcakes I have ever eaten. I am really not exaggerating.

I have always found success in the recipes from Yummy PH, but after a bad experience with one of their matcha-related recipes, I was a little iffy about trying another one. Reading through this recipe however, I saw that the structure of the ingredients seemed fine. And well, CLEARLY things went well or I wouldn’t be writing about this now.

Recipe notes

This recipe is quite frankly made up of two main things: An excellent cupcake base, and an equally excellent frosting. The frosting can actually double as a spread for toast, and if you follow the recipe below you will definitely have some extra. The original frosting recipe can frost 9 cupcakes generously, and then some. Based on my personal preference for cupcake to frosting ratio (which is to say: NOT piling it on), I could probably frost 18 cupcakes with just this amount of frosting. My advice is to make a double batch of Matcha Cupcakes, because you will be craving for more.

The taste of these cupcakes- and therefore the success of this recipe- is largely dependent on the matcha powder you use. Good quality matcha will obviously yield a better tasting cupcake. Do NOT under any circumstance use sweetened matcha with all the added sugar and fillers, because it will not create the same Matcha Cupcakes as you see here. It will not be as green and it will not taste as nuanced.

The matcha powder I have been using for my baking is the Ceremonial Grade Matcha from Matcha King. This is a local business based in Cebu, and I can tell you their matcha has not failed me yet. Good-quality matcha can be a little pricey, but I definitely think it’s worth it. I mean, look at the gorgeous crumb this matcha powder has produced:

As always, I just want to add a little reminder not to overmix the cupcake batter in order to produce these soft and fluffy Matcha Cupcakes. They pair so dreamily well with cream cheese-based matcha frosting! This frosting will be making many more appearances in the future. I can already see it.

Matcha Cupcakes with Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 9
Deliciously soft matcha cupcakes base with a savory-earthy matcha cream cheese frosting. An easy recipe that yields a fantastic cupcake!
Print
For the cupcakes
  1. 1 cup cake flour
  2. 2 tablespoons unsweetened matcha powder
  3. ½ teaspoon baking pwder
  4. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  5. ¼ teaspoon salt
  6. 4 tablespoons butter, lightly softened
  7. ¾ cup sugar
  8. 1 large egg
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. ½ cup fresh milk, room temperature
For the frosting
  1. 1½ cups confectioner's sugar
  2. 1 tablespoon unsweetened matcha, or totaste
  3. 1 227-gram bar cream cheese, softened
  4. ¼ cup butter, softened
Make the cupcakes
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a regular 12-cup muffin tin with 9 cupcake liners.
  2. 2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (You can also use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes.) Add in the egg and vanilla extract, then mix until well combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix.
  3. 3. Over the wet mixture, sift in the flour, matcha powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. 4. Using a spatula, mix in the dry ingredients until some streaks of flour remain. Add in the milk and mix just until combined. (For the electric mixer, do this step on low speed. I recommend using a spatula though to avoid overmixing.)
  5. 5. Divide batter evenly among the lined cups. (I like to put a bit of water in the empty cups of the muffin tin.) Bake in the oven for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting
  1. 6. In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Sift the confectioner's sugar and matcha powder on top, then mix until well-combined.
  2. 7. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with your preferred decorating tip. Pipe frosting on the completely cooled cupcakes. Serve immediately or let cool in the fridge before serving. (Both are great ways to eat this delicious cupcake!) Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Notes
  1. The frosting makes a generous amount; a bit more than you need even if you pile the frosting on high. The leftover frosting make a fantastic spread for bread. If you don't want leftover frosting, halve the recipe for the frosting or double the recipe for the cupcakes. (I recommend the latter!)
Adapted from Yummy Philippines
Adapted from Yummy Philippines
The Tummy Train http://www.thetummytrain.com/

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Despite the slow start I’m having in terms of regularizing my posting schedule for the blog, I’m adamant about writing about these Peanut Butter & Kahlua Brownies. These brownies are almost hypnotic, with those psychedelic patterns of peanut butter on top. But really, what’s hypnotic about them is the taste. 

I almost halved this recipe when I made it, because it fills a huge 9 by 13-inch pan and that’s a lot of Peanut Butter & Kahlua Brownies for a household of six. But because I was trying very hard to finish this bottle of Kahlua we have at home, I shrugged and went ahead with the whole yard of it. To say that I’m glad I did would be an understatement.

These brownies need to be in your mouth.

Right now.

I came across these brownies a while back from the Handle The Heat blog, and I was drawn to it because of the composition: chocolate + peanut butter + coffee + coffee liqueur. I mean, how does something like that NOT be good? 

These Peanut Butter & Kahlua Brownies have an awesome fudge-like texture, and you get all the flavors I mentioned above in every glorious bite you take. It’s definitely a level up from the typical brownie that’s just all chocolate. It makes a good party recipe too because it yields a lot!

I was both happy and sad about making so many brownies at once. Happy because I had enough to send over to my gramma’s house for her to try; and sad because I don’t possess the sweets-driven palate that would make me want to stuff myself with these wonderful Peanut Butter & Kahlua Brownies. Sometimes, not having a sweet tooth can be a shame.

Recipe notes

There isn’t anything complicated about this recipe. Technically it’s a one-bowl recipe, except I guess for the saucepan needed to boil the Kahlua. During the part you’re working with the wet mixture, you have to make sure you mix everything very very well together. 

The resulting mixture should look a lot like a big bowl of smooth melted chocolate. Make sure to take a second and breathe in all the scents of peanut butter, coffee, and Kahlua wafting up from the mixture.

The tricky part is once again when you add in the dry ingredients. You have to fold in the flour and the other dry ingredients with a spatula, BUT you have to be wary of overmixing. It’s pretty much the same thing for most baking recipes. Make sure you mix just until the last clump of flour is gone, and stop! Dig your spatula down to the bottom of the bowl as you fold so that things get mixed around with the least number of folding needed. 

If you find some small streaks of flour or chopped chocolate peeking out through the mixed batter, don’t worry too much about it. Working the batter around too much once the flour is incorporated messes with the resulting texture of the baked good. You especially want this one to stay fudgy. It’s just more enjoyable that way!

After you pour the batter into the pan, drop the dollops of peanut butter on top. The trick to getting some nice swirls is not to overdo it. Run a knife through the peanut butter dollops in every each direction, but not to the point where the top becomes entirely covered with the peanut butter.

Once baked, the swirls almost look like marble patterns set on top of the chocolate. I love the way that it kind of lifts itself from the chocolate parts of the brownie. If there’s one thing I love more than a crusty brownie top, it’s a beautifully swirled one!

Peanut Butter & Kahlua Brownies
Chocolatey and fudgy brownies with delightful coffee and peanut butter notes. This is a great way to level up your brownies!

Makes one 9x13-inch pan of brownies
Print
Ingredients
  1. ⅓ cup good-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  2. 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  3. ¾ cup Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
  4. 57 grams (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  5. 1/4 cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  6. ½ cup vegetable oil
  7. 1 cup peanut butter, divided use
  8. 2 large eggs, room temperature
  9. 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  10. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  11. 2 cups granulated sugar
  12. 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  13. ¾ teaspoon salt
  14. 170 grams (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two sides to help unmolding easier later on. Grease the parchment and any part of the pan that is not covered by the parchment.
  2. 2. In a small saucepan, heat Kahlua just to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and espresso powder. Once the Kahlua is ready, pour it over the cocoa-coffee mixture and whisk until smooth.
  3. 3. Add in chopped unsweetened chocolate, then whisk until melted and combined. Whisk in melted butter, vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup of the peanut butter until fully incorporated.
  4. 4. Now add in eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Whisk until smooth. Switching to a spatula, fold in flour, salt, and chopped chocolate until just incorporated.
  5. 5. Pour batter into prepared pan. If the remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter is too stiff, heat it in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds until it loosens to something you can drip from a spoon. Drop dollops of the peanut butter onto different parts of the batter, then swirl it in using a skewer or a small knife.
  6. 6. Bake for about 30 minutes, just until the edges have set but the center will still be a bit soft. Let cool completely on wire rack in pan before unmolding and cutting into squares. The brownies will be too soft while hot and will break apart if you move it or slice into it too soon.
Notes
  1. Store at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Adapted from Handle The Heat blog
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Saigon Corner is one of those hidden gems in Quezon City that’s just waiting to be stumbled upon. Its homey interior is complemented by a menu filled with homestyle Vietnamese dishes. There is a ‘one big happy family’ vibe amongst the staff and the owners, and it helps the place exude a cozy familiarity akin to sitting down at a relative’s dining room in anticipation of a good meal.

It could also be that I have come to associate Vietnamese food with “comfort food” over the years. Pho especially is one of those warm and hearty things you could turn to if you’ve had a bad week and just want something to soothe your soul. 

I think it’s unfortunate that Vietnamese eateries aren’t as popular as Japanese sushi joints and KBBQ places. Nothing wrong with those two as I love them as well, but I keep waiting for Vietnamese food to have a similar momentum. I personally love how Vietnamese cuisine relies a lot on fresh herbs, spices, and veggies to add life to their dishes, whether it be their noodles, sandwiches, or even their crepes. The flavors and scents stemming from this cuisine is so unique. A squeeze of lemon and a couple of slices of chili (or a dash of Sriracha even) are the only last touches you need for a complete experience.

An experience which you can get from Saigon Corner.

The simplicity of the interiors of Saigon Corner give it a ‘feels-like-home’ ambiance, however it’s the small added details that give it a decidedly Vietnamese flair. From the woven walls to the fixtures that look like the iconic Vietnamese conical hats, there is a subtle touch that reminds you that you are about to get a taste of Vietnam in this place. 

The menu at Saigon Corner is a mixture of classic favorites and Vietnamese adaptations. There’s nothing dramatic or elaborate about the food. They are simply expertly cooked and delicious in their straightforwardness. The Beef Pho here brings me back to that first authentic bowl I had during my first ever visit to Vietnam, at a small restaurant by the roadside in Ho Chi Minh. It was cheap but it was so good it remains to this day one of my fondest food memories from Vietnam. 

Beef Brisket Pho – Php 265

Saigon Corner’s Beef Pho gives me the same kind of feeling. The broth is flavorful and the noodles slurp-worthy. It’s a bit amazing to think that a big shareable bowl is less than 300 pesos. 

Seafood Pho – Php 295

Similarly, you can get a bowl of Seafood Pho for less than 300 pesos, and while this was also delicious, I honestly prefer the Beef Pho. The satisfaction and heartiness of it is different, especially once you dump in the basil and the bean sprouts then squirt in some Sriracha.

Beef Salad with Noodles – Php 265

Pho aside, you can also give their dry noodle option a go. It’s actually a noodle salad with a generous serving of glazed beef. Pouring in Saigon Corner’s secret dressing gives the dish a bright flavor.

Summer Rolls – Php 135

Moving on to other Vietnamese classics, we also ordered these gorgeous Summer Rolls. Inside we have pork, shrimp, and lettuce. I feel like rolls like this is such a quintessential Vietnamese thing that it serves as an indication of how legit a Vietnamese restaurant is. Saigon Corner’s was fresh and tasty, especially when dipped into the peanut sauce. 

Vietnamese Traditional Banh Mi – Php 185

Their Traditional Banh Mi, though not the best I ever had, was pretty good. The cold cuts and the pate are flavorful, and the veggies are fresh and crunchy. I think I was looking for a bit more zing from the pickled vegetables. The bread is actually homemade and I quite liked the crustiness of it. The fact that Saigon Corner grow their own herbs too is a bonus. 

Vietnamese Crepe – Php 245

I normally enjoy eating Vietnamese Pancakes wrapped in lettuce, but the fat belly of this one beckoned to be torn open and enjoyed as is. It’s a little oily but I can forgive it considering the crepes are filled with many things I love, including bean sprouts and shrimp. The nuoc cham sauce adds a delightful tang and cuts through the greasy feeling. 

Shrimp Fried Rice – Php 235

The crepes also go well paired with the Shrimp Fried Rice. To be honest, this rice dish is bursting with enough flavor that you can eat it on its own and feel satisfied. Though not obvious in my photo, the serving is big enough for sharing among 3 hungry people, although the six of us made it work because we ordered many other things.

Vietnamese Buffalo Wings – Php 320

If you want to add a bit more variety to your orders, you can opt for the hot and spicy Buffalo Wings and the Salted Egg Prawns, both filed under the pulutan section of their menu.

Salted Egg Prawns – Php 315

The servings are smaller and prices higher, as one would expect from a pulutan offering in any restaurant. However, I can say that the taste of the Salted Egg Prawn is rather spot on. It’s got a more authentic salted egg flavor, although most of it is stuck on the shell. 

Final thoughts

If Pho Hoa is all you’ve ever known about Vietnamese food, then I highly suggest you make your way to Saigon Corner. The owners of this no-frills Vietnamese restaurant will welcome you in with a smile, and most importantly, a good selection of affordable and authentic-tasting Vietnamese dishes. Among my recommendations: Beef Brisket Pho, Summer Rolls, Traditional Banh Mi, Vietnamese Crepes, and the Shrimp Fried Rice. 

There’s a lutong-bahay or homestyle feel to every dish they bring out that reminds me of those small eateries on the roadsides of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh that serve up hearty fare. Those are always a bang for the buck, like Saigon Corner is. I don’t see how you could walk out of this restaurant without a satisfied stomach and a smile on your face.

PS. How come so many Vietnamese restaurants use the word ‘Corner’ in their name? The other one is in Makati, but frankly speaking, I like Saigon Corner better. 

My rating: 8.5 out of 10

~~~

Saigon Corner

40 Sgt. Esguerra St. cor. Eugenio Lopez,
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Hours: Mondays to Sundays, 11am to 11pm
Contact No.: (02) 368 0795
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Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but for the past few years on the blog, I’ve been ringing in the new year with a recipe post that involves some form of liquor. Usually it’s a baked good, but this year I decided to write about this Chicken Marsala recipe, which I have been sitting on for a loooong while now. I don’t know why it took me this long to find an appropriate time to post this, given that it became one of my favorite recipes the moment I had my first bite!

Chicken Marsala aside, I want to take this opportunity to write my wishes and hopes for the blog this coming year. 2018 was a massive struggle for me because stuff happened that affected my creativity and motivation. It was hard to get out of that hole for a time, but it’s all sorted out now thankfully.

I don’t really believe in resolutions I suppose. I’m a ‘start anytime, stop anytime’ sort of girl. I don’t really put too much weight on the when because I have come to realize that I have this attitude where as long as I really want to do something, I’ll get up and do it. But I also appreciate the feeling of a fresh start the new year brings, and so for 2019, I thought I’d try a different approach for the blog.

My readership numbers have seen better days, but rather than pressure myself to write more more more and get burnt out, this year I want to go back to finding the fun in what I do here. I want to post more regularly than last year of course, but I want to write about more meaningful things rather than post for the sake of posting. I do have one vow, and that is to make more videos for my channel. It’s something I’m actually excited about! I want to be able to post at least one video every month.

My wishes for the blog and for myself are clearly pretty simple, and now it’s only a matter of sorting out my work time and my free time to do all these things. I’m feeling fairly optimistic though I know it won’t be easy. I will tell you what’s easy though: this Chicken Marsala recipe, with tomatoes and mushrooms that add color and umami to the tender and sweet juicy chicken!

What is Marsala?

Marsala is a fortified wine originating from Sicily. Made with a combination of white grapes and a distilled spirit (usually brandy), it is aged in casks and usually used for culinary purposes. It comes in two forms: sweet and dry. The sweet version has a higher sugar content and is perfect for making desserts, especially authentic tiramisu. Dry Marsala meanwhile is usually used in savory recipes and for drinking.

This version that I used is a cooking wine only. Basically it’s a watered down version of Marsala wine. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t cook with wine that I can’t drink on its own, but I decided to give this a go since I wanted to experiment cooking with Marsala in a cheaper and smaller scale. I believe I got this from Landers early last year and then cooked with it immediately, but I posted the recipe only now because I had planned to try this again with real Marsala wine to compare. (I forgot lol. Next time!)

Marsala wine versus Marsala cooking wine: Marsala cooking wine is different from actual Marsala wine in that it is made with Marsala wine plus salt and other seasonings. This Pompeian brand has 14% alcohol content but it is for cooking only. I honestly don’t think it would be an enjoyable experience to drink this, but I was quite pleased with the outcome of the recipe. I can’t imagine how much better it would be with actual Marsala wine!

Recipe notes

If you have real Marsala wine at home, that would be better for the purposes of this Chicken Marsala. Dry Marsala would be the logical choice, but I’m not going to stop you if it’s sweet Marsala you have. However, I don’t want to be a snob about this cooking wine, because I honestly think my Chicken Marsala turned out really well even with just this.

This recipe version is super easy and is great for those who are new to Chicken Marsala, like myself. It’s built like a foolproof recipe, and the results are fantastic. As a first step, you want to sauté your mushrooms in melted butter, then add in the garlic and wine. Let it simmer to reduce then add in a slurry to thicken the sauce.

Just from the buttery look of this sauce, you can already tell it’s going to be delish!

In another saucepan, you’re going to pan-fry some chicken in butter and olive oil, until golden. The chicken has been dredged in some seasoned flour, and I really think that helps to improve the texture of the chicken and also helps the sauce to stick onto the chicken.

Finally, we mix together the chicken, the sauce, and the tomatoes. Make sure everything is well-coated, including the tomatoes. (I know I used too much chicken!) Allow the tomatoes to simmer in the sauce a bit until softened slightly. You can add salt and pepper as a last step if you wish. Just make sure to give it one last mix before dishing out.

And that’s that! This Marsala cooking wine pairs so well with chicken. It brings out sweet notes amidst the nutty flavor of the butter. The tomatoes pop with a burst of freshness in every bite, complementing the chicken and the mushrooms so well. My tastebuds were happy with this dish even though I ended up using too much chicken for the amount of sauce I ended up with. Nonetheless the flavor was still great especially after reheating!

If I managed to become a new fan of this ingredient called Marsala just with the help of a cooking wine, then maybe with real Marsala I’d fall head over heels!

Easy Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms & Tomatoes
Serves 3
A delicious way to serve chicken, this recipe makes use of sweet Marsala wine to complement its nutty and buttery flavor profile.
Print
Ingredients
  1. 100 grams long-stemmed mushrooms of choice
  2. 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 cup dry Marsala wine*
  5. 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  6. 1 tablespoon cold water
  7. 2 tablespoons milk
  8. ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  9. 500 grams boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  10. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  11. ⅓ cup flour
  12. 1 teaspoon favorite mix of dried seasoning (like a mix of basil, oregano, paprika, etc.)
  13. Pinch of salt and pepper
  14. ½ cup sliced or cherry tomatoes
Instructions
  1. 1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 8 minutes, until golden brown. Add the garlic and Marsala wine. Give it a little mix to combine, then allow to simmer gently to reduce the wine, stirring only occasionally.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, mix together the cornstarch and cold water to make a slurry. After about 12 to 15 minutes, add in the cornstarch slurry, milk, and salt. The mixture should start to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and set aside for a moment.
  3. 3. In a bowl, combine the flour, seasoning, plus salt and pepper. Toss the chicken pieces in this mixture until coated. Shake off excess.
  4. 4. In another skillet over medium high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter with the olive oil. Pan-fry the coated chicken for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. You might need to add more oil if you're cooking by batches on a small skillet. Transfer cooked chicken to the skillet with the sauce.
  5. 5. Return the skillet with the sauce and cooked chicken over medium heat and add in the tomatoes. Mix together until everything is well coated with the sauce. Let simmer briefly just until the tomatoes have softened a little. Transfer to a plate and serve. It's great with rice!
Notes
  1. *The Florio brand is a popular recommendation though I don't really know if you can find it here. I only used a Marsala cooking wine I bought from Landers and it turned out fine.
Adapted from Pinch of Yum blog
Adapted from Pinch of Yum blog
The Tummy Train http://www.thetummytrain.com/

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The post Easy Drunken Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms & Tomatoes appeared first on The Tummy Train.

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