My colorful childhood spent in California and other places around the world enriched my palate.
I am the second of four siblings, and I grew up in a large household in Davao City. My parents loved to entertain. We have had as guests former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Corazon Aquino, Gloria Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, Benigno Aquino III and even President Duterte, and these VIPS either stayed at our guesthouse in the family-owned Eden Nature Park or at the family compound, or simply shared a meal with us.
Thus, home-cooked meals fit for state leaders were always stewing in our kitchen, headed by our cook, Manang Linda, who has passed on.
I first learned how to cook when I was in high school in California. That’s how my mother, the late Fe Misa Ayala, taught me to be independent. She was also a very adventurous soul when it came to food, so she opened up my eyes to various cuisines.
One of my most favorite dishes would be the köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) at The Swedish Place in Half Moon Bay, California. I first tried it when I was a teenager. I still remember how good it was, such that I recreated the recipe for Christmas lunch last year.
I also made an appetizer, my chicken liver pâté, which I served with caviar for noche buena.
½ c panko breadcrumbs
¼ c heavy cream
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp whole milk
½ tsp all spice
1 large beaten egg
1 tsp Knorr Chicken Powder
Ground pepper to taste
1 lb or 450 g ground beef
1 lb or 450 g ground pork
Mix all ingredients and use a small ice cream scooper to form the meatballs. Panfry the meatballs in 6 Tbsp unsalted butter.
Whisk together the following until smooth:
2 c beef stock
1 c heavy cream
½ c all-purpose flour
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the fried meatballs, and continue cooking until meatballs are heated through, about 5 more minutes.
Chicken Liver Pâté
1 lb or 450 g chicken liver
1 stick butter
1 c sliced onions
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp green peppercorn
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp black pepper
¼ c cognac
In a large skillet, melt 1 stick butter and add bay leaf. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, peppercorn and chicken liver. Add thyme, pepper and cognac. When alcohol evaporates, remove bay leaf. Remove from heat.
Put cooked liver into a food processor and pulse until you are happy with the texture (I like mine smooth and creamy). Add parsley. Transfer into a bowl or jar.
Optional: To preserve the pâté, melt 2 sticks butter and skim off the white solids. Cool a little and pour over the pâté. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve. —CONTRIBUTED
The author is a housewife and breeder of champion line beagles.
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