One of the most respected in the industry, chef Cyrille Soenen has found joy in creating his French specialties, from his famed restaurant Ciçou, at home (tel. 0917-5401811; @cyrillesoenencicou on Instagram).
His delicious specialties like duck liver pâté, pâté en croute and rillettes are now a text or a click away.
Browsing through his offerings, I was thrilled to see my favorite kouign-amann that I describe as a crisp, gooey, sugary, buttery pastry that resembles a cinnamon roll in shape, lacquered in caramel. Other variants are also available and can be had in a sampler box filled with classic, cinnamon, chocolate and even savory versions—herb, eggplant, mushroom, bacon and pizza flavors.
Those in search of authentic croissants and mini baguettes can now satisfy their longing with Cyrille’s ready-to-bake bread line.
The chef, on demand, will prepare roast chicken with herb butter or a whole roasted turkey for you. He can even marinate lechon de leche (roast suckling pig) in garden-grown herbs, mirepoix, white wine, olive oil, garlic, laurel, thyme, carrots, and onions. He stuffs the pig with mushrooms, onions, parsley and sausages.
Though seemingly common, the roasts that come from Soenen’s kitchen are made special by his French flavors and classical cooking techniques.
Chef Francis Lim has that very special gift of making everything he touches tasty. In the past three weeks, I have called his Tipple and Slaw Café (tel. 0917-7720756;
@tippleandslawkatip on Instagram) repeatedly to order everything from cheeseburgers to rice meals. I am impressed by Francis. His food is exciting, clean. His rice dishes are enthralling. To the eye, they’re an abstract painting of colorful vegetables, sauces and herbs, sprinkled with spices. Lim’s shawarma rice is visually rich. Each ingredient shines on its own, and at the same time complements the whole. Each bite gives off a new flavor sensation, so that eating becomes nothing short of delightful.
His steak with umami rice is also well executed. Like his other creations, the spice-laden beef is seasoned to perfection. Paired with umami rice, the dish is transformed into pure comfort, layered with so many flavors.
The Tipple Cheeseburger is also noteworthy. It’s an
honest-to-goodness, straight-up cheeseburger made with good meat and a slathering of divine cheese sauce, drizzled with even more goodness, wagyu fat aioli! This burger is easy to eat, and like his other creations, hits the spot.
Chef RV Manabat’s creations (tel. 0919-0670906; @chefrvmanabat on Instagram) bring me back to the good old days. His cakes have that old-fashioned appeal that triggers many happy memories and flavors of bygone treats, baked by lola and mom.
I am a fan of his signature Biñan’s Best Queso de Bola Cake—chiffon cake covered with thick custard (yema) icing, generously coated with finely grated queso de bola. I love it for its play of sweet with salty, and its simplicity.
I cannot wait to try his holiday Ube Bibingka Cheesecake, available only during the Yuletide season. It’s a classic cheesecake made richer with coconut cream, to which slices of Victoria salted egg for that “bibingka feel,” and a lot of queso de bola are added. The distinct bibingka flavor is mimicked by baking the cheesecake on a pan lined with banana leaves. Manabat is also a best-selling author. His cookbooks “Baking Secrets” and “More Baking Secrets” feature his baking journey, and the approach that he describes as homestyle. The recipes included are the tried-and-tested ones he has been churning out since he was 12 years old. The book includes kakanin recipes and his recent creations tailored for the Filipino taste and those wanting to put up a small baking business.
This pichi-pichi recipe is one he wishes to share with you.
3 c grated cassava (balinghoy/ kamoteng kahoy)
1 c refined sugar
1 c pandan water
½ c coconut milk
½ c melted butter/margarine
Drops of green food color
Freshly grated coconut for topping
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the freshly grated coconut, and stir until smooth and well blended.
Transfer the mixture to a square pan greased with butter. Steam over moderate heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until set. Let cool in the refrigerator before cutting into small squares. Top with freshly grated coconut when ready to serve.
To make the pandan water:1 bunch pandan leaves
1 liter water
In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring the water with pandan leaves to a boil for eight to 10 minutes. Let cool, and strain.
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