ONE other delightful breakfast treat that I made with a few slices of the soft and delicious loaf bread baked and sent by Chef Rae Aldrin Hao Lim of Conspire Bakery, courtesy of good friend Bel Castro, was French Toast. The bread slices were big and thick and therefore perfect for French Toast. It is simple and easy.
1. Beat egg, milk, vanilla and cinnamon together. Pour into a square or rectangular shallow dish.
2. Heat nonstick pan. Brush with butter.
3. Soak a slice of bread in the egg mixture. Turn to coat the other side. Place in hot pan and cook over medium heat until browned. Turn to cook the other side.
4. Remove bread from pan, and repeat until all bread slices have been used up.
5. Serve with butter and honey/maple syrup/pancake syrup.
I LIKE bread. I used to have only sandwich, pastry or bread for breakfast. These days, though, I usually have a little pancit (most of the time Pancit Bihon or Pancit Miki-Bihon) with my sandwich because I need extra energy throughout the day to personally take care of my husband Raff, who has had a second stroke in June 2019 and is still confined to the bed. But, still, what completes my breakfast is the sandwich. It could be anything from peanut butter and jelly sandwich to tuna with Parmesan cheese sandwich.
But the higher purpose of having bread constantly in the house isn’t my sandwich. It is that bread is one of the important ingredients that go into my husband Raff’s tube feeding formula. So, more than a week ago, with Luzon thrust deep into the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or lock-down, I biked around our subdivision in Cainta, Rizal, looking for loaf bread to buy but could not find any (Laguna had just announced the province’s own lock-down). I panicked. But good friend Bel Castro of Enderun Colleges came to the rescue. I met Bel several years back, on a trip to Singapore upon the invitation of Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Philippines to cover the vegetarian food scene in the Lion City. There were actually four of us journalists in the Singapore trip that time, but Bel and I were the only ones who had a vegetarian itinerary. We shared a tour guide, and our schedule of daily activities were exactly the same. By the time we left Singapore to head home to Manila, we were very good friends.
Anyway, Bel responded to “the shortage” of loaf bread in Cainta following the lock-down of Laguna, which is where the factory/commissary of a major bread manufacturer is located. She asked Chef Rae Aldrin Lim, her former student and founder of Conspire Bakery, to offer reprieve, and he gladly provided bread. All six huge loaves of freshly baked bread that provided more than what Raff’s tube feeding formula required. So, one morning, I decided to make Kani Sarada Sandwich using ingredients from the ref, including Chef Aldrin’s soft and delicious loaf bread. Had it for breakfast for two consecutive mornings, and it was pure bliss with every mouthful.
4 pcs. kani (crabsticks)
1 pc. small cucumber
1 pc. ripe mango
pinch of salt
2 pcs. Green Ice lettuce leaves
1/3 cup Japanese mayonnaise
4-6 slices loaf bread
1. Blanch kani in hot water for a minute or two. Fish out and shred.
2. Grate cucumber into strips. Drain.
3. Peel and slice mango into thin strips.
4. Season with a little salt.
5. Tear lettuce into small pieces and add to the kani, cucumber and mango.
6. Add Japanese mayonnaise and mix gently together.
7. Use as filling for two to three sandwiches or enjoy as a salad. Or simply layer kani, cucumber, mango and torn lettuce leaves on bread, pipe with Japanese mayonnaise, cover with another slice of bread, and enjoy.
AS far back as I could remember, Friday has always been Ginisang Munggo day. At home, our Manang would always cook Ginisang Munggo on Fridays, and she always paired it with fried fish—which is the same thing other Filipinos do regardless of which province they come from. It is a given: When it’s Friday, you can expect Ginisang Munggo on the table, and if you are too tired or feeling lazy to cook, you can just go over to the neighborhood carinderia and buy an order or two of Ginisang Munggo. They will surely have it—and fried fish, too!
Even now, whenever it is Friday, I think of Ginisang Munggo. I used to cook it, but it takes time to soften the beans, and since Raff had problems with uric acid anyway, I stopped cooking it. Whenever I felt like eating Ginisang Munggo, I would just order. More so now that Raff is still confined to the bed after suffering his second stroke in June 2019. So, these days, when it’s Friday and I want to have Ginisang Munggo, I would just get on my bike and pedal my way to the neighborhood carinderia in our subdivision and buy. Although it has pork (I do not eat pork) and not much of the stuff that I like loading my own Ginisang Munggo with (small shrimps, tomatoes, ampalaya leaves, malunggay leaves and, whenever available, himbabao, as well), it still effectively satisfies my craving. So, there!
But I have always wondered why there’s a connection between Ginisang Munggo and Fridays. So I decided to find out by asking culinary heritage advocate Chef Christopher Guado Carangian, punong heneral of the Culinary Generals of the Philippines, an organization whose members dig deep into the history of each heirloom dish in an effort to preserve it.
There are two stories behind the Ginisang Munggo-and-Friday connection, Chef Chris says.
Story No. 1: “During the time when there were no refrigerators, people were buying their food stuff during weekends. So, most of the time, they had their best and most impressive meals on Saturdays and Sundays. The days would go by and by the time it’s Friday, there would be no more fresh meat and vegetables to cook with. Since munggo (or mung beans) does not spoil, people usually turn to it at this time of the week,” Chef Chris explains.
Story No. 2: “The other story, or explanation, has a religious background to it. During the Lenten season, priests encourage parishioners to abstain from eating meat. This is especially true on Fridays because Friday happens to be the day when Jesus died on the cross. Through time, this practice has become part of the Filipino culture and tradition, and so we got used to cooking Ginisang Munggo in our homes on Fridays. Carinderias would also always serve it on Fridays, and it would often be paired with fish. No pork allowed,” says Chef Chris.
DIFFERENT regions and provinces in the country have their own versions of kakanins (native delicacies), particularly the bibingka. Over in the Southern Tagalog island province of Marinduque, there is a rice cake called Bibingkang Boac, also known as Bibingkang Lalaki because it has eggs in it.
Bibingkang Boac is named after the capital of Marinduque, which is Boac, where it is a specialty. A huge bibingka that is as big as a pizza, it is made with tuba (coconut sap wine) in place of yeast, which explains why, when cooked, the bibingka stays moist on the inside despite being cooked thoroughly over burning coconut husks.
To enjoy this delicacy, Marinduqueños from other municipalities—Torrijos, Sta. Cruz, Gasan, Mogpog and Buenavista—often have to take that trip to Boac to get their hands on Bibingkang Boac. It is best enjoyed freshly off the fire.
A week before the National Capital Region lockdown followed immediately by the Enhanced Community Quarantine of the entire island of Luzon, I got to enjoy Bibingkang Boac, which my sister-in-law Lanie Zulueta-Marquez brought to the house along with boiled peanuts and suman from her and my husband Raff’s hometown, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque.
Bellefleur by Beatrix’s Strawberry Tres Leches Cake
BELLEFLEUR by Beatrix’s frozen cakes are something else. The product of careful planning and countless kitchen testing until the recipe has been perfected, they look awesome and taste as good as they look. And Bea Atienza, the brains behind Bellefleur by Beatrix, is just so good at layering her frozen cakes with stuff that work like magic together that she just keeps coming up with best-selling cakes one after another.
Her newest creation: Strawberry Tres Leches Cake. It is a brilliant follow-up to her extremely popular Mango Tres Leches Cake and therefore follows the same formula but with sweetness and general taste adjusted from what works with mango to what works with strawberry to make it just the right sweetness—nothing more, nothing less—for the particular fruit used. Leche flan sits at the bottom of the cake, with vanilla chiffon cake over it and then a generous layer of strawberry cream mousse, topped with slices of fresh Baguio strawberries and crowned with lady fingers soaked in a delightful tres leches sauce.
“We use local strawberries because we want to highlight their natural sweetness and vibrant color. Apart from that, we also want to help local farmers uplift their lives through our products,” explains Bea.
The Strawberry Tres Leches Cake and other equally refreshing frozen and refrigerated cakes and pastries are available at Bellefleur by Beatrix, Ground Floor, Unimart, Greenhills Shopping Centre, Club Filipino Ave., Greenhills, San Juan. For inquiries or orders, call 0945-1234577 or 0928-6215669. For delivery, call 0917-8128730 or 0917-8258730. The store opens at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 8:00 p.m.