I love Kerot cake—you read that right! Actor, cook and entrepreneur Marvin Agustin’s Kerot cake, his rendition of the much beloved spiced, sweet vegetable cake, is remarkable!
Ironic, as this cake has everything I don’t like in a carrot cake, like chocolate chips and generous helpings of walnuts.
But Marvin’s Kerot cake is unlike many I’ve tried. It’s somewhat sophisticated, yet also feels homemade.
It is the coming together of flavors. The chocolate chips add a gentle bitterness; the walnuts lend it a slight earthiness.
The generous amount of carrots is evident, giving the loaf a natural sweetness, complemented by the perfect amount of spices. The cake comes together through a frosting that is sweet, tart and, to me, has notes of coconut. It is also very moist.
Another praiseworthy creation by Marvin is the ensaimada. It has soft and airy dough (somewhat reminiscent of a famous baker’s ensaimada, but this has more body to it), a delightful, gentle chew. The original recipe was formulated by his sister, May Galvez. The siblings now bake together to fill the demand for their baked goods.
Marvin, known for being a good cook, had for years disliked baking. His newfound passion is a result of his desire to learn a new skill and be productive during the pandemic.
Who would have thought that the “best coach would be Google and YouTube,” he said.
He churns out treats that are meant for those who, like him, do not have a sweet tooth but still derive pleasure from cakes and pastries, for as long as they’re sweetened just right.
Marvin (@marvinagustin on IG and FB) shares a recipe below:
Grilled Rosemary and Basil Chicken with Creamy Brown and Black Rice a la Marvin
2 pcs chicken thigh quarters, marinated in 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp each of fresh rosemary, fresh basil, garlic powder, paprika, 1 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper
Leave chicken to marinate at least 30 minutes. Grill in a pan with butter and a little olive oil.
2 c of cooked rice (a combination of your desired grains, brown and black rice or even adlai)
1/4 c onions
1 tsp garlic garlic
1/4 c celery
1/2 c cooking cream
80 g Gouda or cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Use drippings from pan-grilled chicken to sauté onions, garlic and celery. Add cream and cheese. Cook until slightly thickened. Add rice and season to taste. You may add more cream if necessary. Serve with grilled chicken and garnish with basil.
Peruvian roast chicken
Pollo a la brasa (chicken cooked in embers) is a classic that is served by polleros in Peru. The dish normally comes with a side of fries or chaufa, Peruvian style fried rice, and is paired with creamy pepper-based sauces called Aji.
Kevin Uy is our local pollero. The chicken man delicately rubs his chickens with his own spice blend before leaving them to marinate.
He then bastes and roasts them over embers for that much desired charcoal-grilled flavor.
Uy’s interpretation of the dish includes pairing the roasted pollo with Chorizo Fried Rice, Red and Green Aji Sauces and Boniatos (sweet potato croquettes).
Kevin’s pollo a la brasa and its accompaniments hit the spot! The fowl is aromatic. On the palate, it’s flavorful and very juicy all over, be it a breast or a thigh.
Dip the chicken in both sauces, then have it together with some chorizo rice and a bit of the sweet potato boniatos.
Oh, how the buds come alive with the combination of flavors—the delicious melding of cilantro, peppers and citrus. The play of smoky, meaty, spicy, sour and sweet is so, so good!
Chef Kev lived in Peru and worked in Central—not a traditional Peruvian restaurant, but his stint exposed him to the flavors and techniques of Peruvian cuisine. Tel. no. (0917) 702-1695
Chef Kev’s Chicken, Bagoong and Peanut
9 chicken thighs
1 liter chicken broth
25 g ginger
1 red onion
7 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)
5 green onions (place the greens in ice water for plating)
2 whole tomatoes, cut into 6
5 Tbsp bagoong
7 Tbsp peanut butter, creamy
4 Tbsp cane vinegar (for deglazing)
50 g green vegetable (snow peas, string/Baguio beans)
Marinate chicken overnight in 4 Tbsp Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, ½ c olive oil, pinch of salt and ½ c lime juice.
Heat oil and sear chicken pieces. Set aside.
Leave 1 Tbsp of oil in the pan and saute red onions and garlic. Deglaze with vinegar.
Add tomatoes. Add bagoong and peanut butter. Add chicken, ginger and enough chicken stock to submerge the chicken. Simmer covered for 1 hour or until sauce thickens. Adjust bagoong and peanut butter to taste.
Blanch greens and shock in cold water.
Serve chicken with rice, topped with greens.
www.reggieaspiras.com, @iamreggieaspiras on IG and FB