When we were growing up, our kitchen was filled with activities with Mom at the helm. I recall coming home from school, climbing our staircase and instantly smelling the sweet or savory treats she had whipped up in her big, bad oven.
Baking or cooking was not love at first sight for me, not even with all the latest gadgets and recipe books at my disposal. Perhaps I was scared I would make a mistake as baking is an exact science, or maybe I just did not see the essence of it.
I found myself looking through food magazines in Mom’s collection and seeing her attending all these classes in baking and cooking. Later on, she would enroll me in teen cooking classes during summer breaks, hoping that I would pick up the apron and spatula. I indulged her by enrolling in one of Chef Reggie’s classes as I began my journey to cooking.
It was an on/off relationship between me and the stove.
Fast-forward to getting married and nurturing my family of three. I was one of the pioneers in event planning, but retired at the peak of my 17-year career due to fatigue. Add to that my son’s prodding that I spend more time with him.
Deciding to concentrate on the home front, I started enrolling in short cooking courses. Thanks to Instagram and YouTube, I was able to research recipes and tweak them to fit the palate of my family.
My husband’s job in the beverage industry came in handy as I was further exposed to the culinary world. The business gave us travel opportunities, and our many foreign trips would always center around visiting the market, enjoying the local fare, discovering restaurants or making reservations in Michelin-starred places.
Over the course of time, I found myself cooking not just for family, but for friends to try. I uncovered the passion burning within and saw myself being creative in serving home-cooked meals. It was a jumpstart for me, opening my kitchen to their critiques and needing their honest feedback so I knew where my core competence was and where I fell short.
Eventually, Peppy’s Kitchen (@peppygiftstidbits) opened its doors. I suddenly found myself thrust into selling some of my well-loved food items through Instagram and started accepting challenges that my clients-turned-friends requested from me. I would say, the demand has been constant and the reception warm. I am glad I discovered this creative side of mine before it was too late, as I challenge myself further to deepen my passion for cooking.
I am sharing with you well-thought-out recipes that I have tweaked and made my own. These are the ones close to my heart, and were suggested by my son the foodie.
500 g beef tenderloin or rib-eye, thawed inside refrigerator (make sure it doesn’t bleed out), cut into one-inch cubes
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp light soy sauce (Kikkoman)
1 Tbsp liquid seasoning (Knorr)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins)
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1. In a bowl, mix marinade mixture with the cubed beef. Marinate for around 15 minutes before frying.
2. Preheat a shallow frying pan with oil and butter, medium to high heat.
3. Add the beef into the pan with its marinade. Be careful not to overcook the beef; 1-2 minutes per side should be enough.
4. Set aside cooked beef.
5. In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon oil, put in the sliced garlic. Be careful not to overfry. When it turns light brown, remove pan from stove and top the cooked beef with the garlic chips.
Sidings for the Beef Salpicao:
Preheat oven to 425°F before you start assembling your potatoes.
3-4 medium sized potatoes (Baguio variety will do), sliced into about 1/2” thick rounds (Mojo fries style)
¼ c butter, unsalted
4 Tbsp chopped garlic
¼ c flour
¼ c full cream milk + 2 Tbsp cooking cream
2 Tbsp chopped spring onion
Salt and pepper
1. Prepare the cream sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the chopped garlic. Make sure the garlic does not turn brown.
2. Add in the flour, whisking to incorporate it well.
3. Add the full cream milk slowly to thicken the roux. When it is thick enough, add the cream but do not make it boil.
4. Add the chopped spring onion and salt and pepper to taste.
1. In a Pyrex glass casserole dish, lay out the thinly sliced potatoes in one layer. It’s nice to overlap the slices.
2. Pour some of the cream sauce over the potatoes. Make sure the potatoes are covered in sauce. Grate Gruyere and mozzarella cheese on top of the cream.
3. Repeat 1 and 2 until you’ve used up all your potatoes. Make sure that each layer of potatoes is covered with the sauce so it won’t dry out.
4. Cover your casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven. Then uncover and cook for another 10 minutes until the top layer is brown and sizzling.
2 Tbsp butter
½ c blanched spinach, chopped (I use Emborg from Lander’s, roughly around 5 balls)
¼ c cream cheese, cubed
¼ c water
¼ c Gorgonzola cheese (cream variety), cubed
¼ c grated mozzarella cheese
1/8 c Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic power
1 tsp salt
1. In a sauce pan, melt the butter, add the spinach until incorporated well. Since I use frozen spinach, I make sure it’s not clumpy anymore.
2. Add the cubed cream cheese and make sure it’s melted.
3. Add the cubed Gorgonzola cheese.
4. Add the water slowly. I try not to use all of the ¼ cup of water because I do not want my consistency to be too watered down.
5. Season with garlic powder, salt and a pinch of crushed black pepper.
6. Add the mozzarella cheese last so the consistency won’t be too stringy.
7. If you used blanched spinach, you will need to use a food processor or high-speed blender to make sure spinach is finely chopped. You can skip this step if you use frozen.
8. Transfer to ramekins or a small baking dish.
9. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
10. Bake uncovered in a toaster oven for about 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top is brown. A toaster oven or the broil function of your oven will be the best for this, roughly around 150°C or 300°F.
11. Serve with crostini bread, chips or crusty bread like sourdough.
The author, who retired from the wedding industry five years ago, runs her food and beverage ingredients businesses Peppy’s Kitchen (Instagram: @peppygiftstidbits) and Stasero Phils. (@stasero_ph).
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