Monday, August 27, 2012

Phenomenal Tip: How To Cook the Perfect Steak At Home

We love eating out at restaurants that serve good steaks such as Mamou, Bistecca, etc; but more often, we enjoy having our steaks along with the experience of cooking it right in our own kitchen - on the stovetop. Yes, restaurant-quality steak can be done right on top of your stove. Because really, taking out the grill and flaming the charcoal is just too much work. My entire family looks forward to steak dinners, and we have it often enough with the minimum of effort and with good results - and of course, the much coveted grill marks to show for, too. :)

When it comes to buying good quality steaks, it is usually C's territory. There are three places we buy our steaks from, depending on who does the buying.

C goes to Santis's for the U.S. Black Angus rib-eye, and if he finds like-minded friends, he also orders American Wagyu rib-eye from Snake River Farm, enough to fill the entire freezer with nothing else but. Snake River Farms is exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Alternatives Food Corp. They supply to premium commercial food outlets, but they also sell to individuals, you just have to purchase one slab and find like-minded friends to share the huge slab with. Call their Ortigas sales office for your orders and they also accommodate free deliveries.

As for me, I am a different story. I find the prices of the 2 previous mentioned suppliers absurd, ridiculous, over the top expensive. Although I cook the slabs for him, I cannot bring myself to buy for him. Because if it were all entirely up to me, I would rather take one of the cheaper alternatives and buy the Australian brand, Meltique. At S&R, a box of five steaks only costs P1,599.95, so roughly about P320 for a slice.

Cooking steaks at home is one of the easiest thing to do, just follow these easy tips for cooking perfect steaks on the stove-top:

1. Buy a good quality steak. This is the most important of ALL the steps. There is nothing you can do for a steak that is not great to begin with. Our favorite cut is the rib-eye because it has have large pockets of fat, which add flavor and give the steak a moist, juicy texture.

Be willing to spend a little more for a premium cut, and I assure you it will be worth it when you take the first bite. And if you think of how much restaurants charge for a U.S. Black Angus rib-eye of Wagyu rib-eye, buying your own slab looks downright reasonable.

2. Bring the meat to room temperature prior to cooking. Bring your steak to the fridge one day before you cook it, and take it out to room temp about two hours before you cook it. This is really important because you will be cooking the meat for a very short time on very high heat. You don’t want to cook a steak that is still frozen in the middle and burnt on the outside.

3. Season your steak - generously. A really good piece of meat only needs two things: sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Pat the meat dry and sprinkle both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Seasoning your steak will help you get that great brown crust.

4. Prep the pan. Place the grill pan ( if you care for the grill marks) onto the stove top on high heat to preheat. You will know it is hot enough by placing a drop of water on the pan. If the water sizzles violently and evaporates, the pan is ready. Olive oil is not really a good oil to use when grilling steaks as it turns bitter at high heat; instead, it is better to use a non-GMO corn oil. I use the Marca Leon brand.

5. Sear the Steak. Cooking steak without overcooking it is all about putting the steak with a lot of heat very quickly. Consider the size of your pan and do not crowd your grill pan with too much cuts as this will considerably change the pan temperature and make the meat steam, and not sear.

Let the steak cook on one side without moving it for 3 minutes until the underside has those highly coveted grill marks and a deep golden brown crust. After searing, adjust the heat to medium to avoid charring or overcooking the meat. Do not cook the steaks at the super high heat the entire time, the outside will be burnt by the time the center cooks.

Be sure to time how long you cook your steak, You should flip a steak one time only. In addition, use tongs to move your meat around, not a big fork. Using a fork will puncture the surface of the steak and let the juices run out and cause them to be dry and tough. I usually cook mine 7-10 minutes each side, depending on the thcikness of the cut. You will have to experiment to find the cooking time that works for you.

6. Let the steak rest. Take the steak off the pan just before it gets to the desired stage (medium well, medium rare - depends on your preference) and let it "rest" on a plate for 3 to 5 minutes before cutting it up and serving it. Steaks need to rest so the juices can redistribute.

7. Savor the steak! That's all there is to it.

BUT, if you are still not convinced, read what Alain Ducasse has to say about Cooking Steak With Style: Easy Does It.

Alternative Foods Corp : +63-2-631-7228
Meltique is available at all S&R branches


Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Kitchen by Chef Chris

We first tasted Chef Chris' famous panizza when we went took the kids on a Pampanga Food Trip a few years back.  Since then, quite a few copycats have added this to their menu.  But for me, nothing beats the original, so when we learned that Chef Chris opened a new resto in Manila, C was quite overjoyed.  He first tried it with his college friends a few months back, and couldn't wait to return with us.  So we did finally last Sunday.
My Kitchen by Chef Chris is located near Paco Park, as the in-house restaurant of Oasis Hotel.  
We went straight after church, and were the first customers seated.  But pretty soon, big groups of families came and the place was packed by 12 noon.
Here's what we had for starters:
A complimentary bread plate with pesto/olive oil dip started our meal. I love European crusty breads, if C did not remind me to not stuff myself with the bread to make room for the food we ordered, I could've easily asked for a second serving.

KRISTINA PANIZZA bacon, ham, caramelized onion, sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms. PhP780.00

VERENA Panizza. Tomato and white truffle oil enhanced cheese sauce topped with scallop, prawns and sun dried tomatoes. PhP790.00

Filling up a slice with arugula, alfalfa sprouts (a sprinkle of chilli oil, if you want some heat) and rolling it all up into one tiny bundle of gastronomic joy.

Chef Chris was there during our Sunday lunch, dropping by our table twice to check on how we were enjoying the food. We shared with him how delighted we are that his culinary creations are now a convenient drive away.  

Here are the entrees we ordered:

RISOTTO POLLO E FUNGI. Pan roasted chicken fillet and assorted mushrooms blend to perfection in parmesan butter risotto with fresh herbs. PhP650.00.  The risotto was wiped out as soon as it was placed on our table.  The arborio rice was cooked to perfection, creamy but with a firm bite.

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA. Parmesan cream sauce with bacon, mushrooms. PhP650.00 

CHEF CHRIS FAMOUS WHOLE SLOW ROASTED CHICKEN. Seasoned with lemon, white wine and olive oil presented over aromatic chorizo pilaf garnished with roasted carrots, pumpkin and spring garlic. PhP1250.00 – good for 4 to 6 persons.  This one is very good, with the very flavorful and tender chicken meat falling off the bone. The siding of roasted squash was something new for me.  I hope to recreate this chicken dish in my kitchen one of these days. :)

BISTECCA. US prime angus flank steak with rosemary garlic marinade presented on oven baked potato slices and macedoine of olive oil roasted carrots, pumpkin and Italian broccoli. PhP1800.00 (500gr/18oz) – good for 2 to 5 person 
I've been spoiled with U.S. Black Angus rib-eye, so flank steak doesn't quite do it for me.  To add to it, we had ours medium well, since we had the kids with us; this resulted with the meat getting quite tough to eat.   C swore that the Bistecca was very good the last time he ate at My Kitchen with his friends, when he ordered the meat medium rare.  So if you are going to order this, make sure to get it medium rare.

PAN ROASTED SALMON FILLET WITH VIN SANTO BUTTER SAUCE bedded on lentils with Italian broccoli and golden fried potatoes PhP770.00 

All in all, it was a good dining experience.  Chef Chris has his signature all over the place; when he was not busy in the kitchen, he was in the dining area making sure everything was perfect for his guests.  The staff were attentive to our needs, without hovering. We will be back!

Oasis Park Hotel
1032-34 Belen Street
Paco, Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 521-2371 to 75

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's In My Cart

As much as I can, I try to rotate grocery shopping to at least three of my favorite groceries. Most often, this is when I get to discover items which become family favorites. I'd like to share with you what I put in my cart recently when I did my grocery-shopping at S & R.

Classico and Bertolli Brand of creamy alfredo sauce is always a must-buy. The kids love it when I toss in some mushrooms, freshly grated peppercorns, a generous sprinkle of grated pecorino-romano and parmesan cheeses, and finally a few drops of truffle oil. When I am out of time to prepare merienda for them, this is always a life-saver. My kids adore me because the sauce is so good that it gives the impression like I slaved in the kitchen.
The California Sunshine milk tastes just like the milk from the US... because as the label says: it is "REAL California Milk." :) It is creamier and less sweet than the Real Fresh or Cow Head brand, which I also buy.
Zanuy Soft Tacos is a perfect stand-by for the days when my kids crave for seven-layer dip.

And since I have a carniverous family, my grocery bill always racks up because of beef, beef, beef, and even more beef. Don't take me wrong, my kids love and eat generous servings of veggies; but because they are all involved in a sport that requires endurance, I need to make sure that they are eating enough protein to sufficiently aid their muscle development, most especially as they get into their adolescent years.

We regularly have steak nights, and usually, it is C who buys the steaks. But there are times when I feel like he goes crazy over the top when he is at Santi's on a steak shopping spree. Yes! Hard to believe, but it has happened so many times already! In an amount so crazy that it sometimes causes minor arguments between us.

I have been buying Meltique Beef during my last three visits to S & R. A box of five individually shrink-wrapped steaks only costs P1,599.95, so roughly about P320.00 for a slice. C is none the wiser because the marbling and the taste is consistent. Not bad at all. I have since resorted to making sure the freezer has a constant supply so whenever he asks if he needs to buy, my reply nowadays usually is, "there's still some." That will make sure his Santi's visit are far and few in between. :)

And because you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, here are some not-so healthy grocery choices that C made....

He just loves the choices of imported beers. He grabs a pack whenever we visit. It is not pictured here, but Stella Artois is also a fave, both his and mine; although I only can drink half a bottle of it. hehehe!:)
Microwavable chicharon! His food porn!

I know I have said countless of times that I limit canned goods, but I ease up sometimes and let them enjoy Delimondo's Corned Beef. My boys both love, love, love this. I limit serving this to about once every quarter. Yah, I know - Nazi!
I am not a coffee-drinker so I do not really go crazy for the frapuccinos of Starbucks, save for their Green Tea Frap. But my kids and husband love the Starbucks Vanilla and Coffee Frap that comes in a bottle. Ready to drink for whenever they feel like it!

How about you, what did you put in your grocery cart recently?
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Lock & Lock Introduces Glass Containers, Ceramic Coated Pans, Stainless Steel Cookware.

I was recently invited to the LOCK & LOCK Bloggers Kitchen-to-Table Presentation where we were introduced to the company's latest market innovations. Home-cooks will be happy to know that the options for our cookware continues to expand as Lock & Lock has just launched its premium line of food containers and cooking wares. 
Michelle of MrsMartinez's Raves & Rants, Jenny of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom, Eliza of The Painter's Wife, and ME
For most people, Lock & Lock is identified for its lock-tight plastic containers, but it is now also selling glass containers.  I know there are a lot of health-conscious women out there (me, included) who are trying to make the healthy switch from plastic containers to glass and stainless steel; from Teflon-coated pans to ceramic-coated pans ad stainless steel pots and pans.

The LOCK & LOCK Borosilicate Glass line are lidded glass containers are made with boroseal glass, a material that is heat-resistant and can withstand sudden changes in temperature.  These containers are microwaveable and oven-safe, very ideal for for busy home-cooks as it is a versatile cookware that easily transitions from kitchen-to-table.

LOCK & LOCK CookPlus Ceramic Coated Pans are made in such a way that heat is distributed properly and evenly.  Bulges on the inside surfaces are intended to distribute oil, and reduce the use of such.
LOCK & LOCK CookPlus Stainless Steel pots and pans are premium grade stainless steel pots and pans.  Although pricier, stainless steel is really the way to go if you value good health.  Since stainless steel is a natural alloy , there is no danger of chemical substances leaking into the food while cooking.  And since Lock & Lock’s CookPlus line has a 3-layer bottom structure made of high grade stainless steel, this only means that you are assured of a longer life span.

A presentation on how to use the LOCK & LOCK CookPlus Ceramic Coated Pan by Chef Cherry of Hwarang Restaurant.

Immediately after which, we got to enjoy the spread of Korean yumminess, starting with my fave, Samgyupsal.
Once the presentation was done, we were made to shop for our own choices of LOCK & LOCK items, and this is where we all went crazy over LOCK & LOCK!

As a generous way of showing their appreciation to all the loyal LOCK & LOCK customers, they will be having their first LOCK & LOCK WAREHOUSE SALE on August 18 to 21, 2012.  You can buy LOCK & LOCK items upto 80% off.  This offer is only available at their G. Araneta site located at G. Araneta Ave. corner Agno st., Megastate Bldg., QC (beside Sanctuarium)

LOCK & LOCK Boutique stores are located at: Shangri-la Mall, Eastwood City, Glorietta 4, Lucky Chinatown Mall, Alabang Town Center, Banilad Town Center - Cebu City.

all photos are my own; except those watermarked, which are from My-Mom Friday. :)

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fried Rice with Dried Scallops and Egg Whites

My family loves the Fried Rice with Dried Scallops of King Chef along Banawe st. in Quezon City.  We have never eaten at the restaurant itself, preferring instead to order take-outs.  And on the numerous occasions that we did, the Fried Rice with Dried Scallops is consistently on our list.

So when I found myself at the receiving end of a bagful of dried scallops, recreating it immediately came to mind.  Here's my version...

Fried Rice with Dried Scallops and Egg Whites
(Serves 6-8)

  • 1/2 cup dried scallop shreds
  • 5 cups cooled cooked rice
  • asparagus, or chinese broccoli stems
  • 6 to 8 egg whites (1 cup)
  • 3 sprigs of spring onion (when finely sliced/chopped, should come to about one cup, white and green parts separated)
  • 1 Tbsp chicken stock powder
  •  dash of salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Rinse the dried scallops and rub off any white film on their surface. Wash and place in bowl, covered with hot water overnight or upto 24 hours.
  2. Drain scallops, reserving the stock . Shred scallops by hand, discarding the hard muscles. Bake scallops in oven till crispy. Set aside for later use.
  3. Heat non-stick wok and put in 1/8 cup of oil. Fry dried scallops shreds until golden brown. Dish up scallops shreds leaving behind oil in wok.
  4. Whisk together the egg whites, the stock from the scallop until it reaches upto 1 cup full. Season with salt and pepper. Fry egg whites, scrambled until cooked, dish up. Do not overcook.
  5. (use the same wok, unwashed, but make sure there are no egg whites left in wok) Put in 1-2 tbsp oil into wok and put in sliced white parts of spring onion. Saute for 3 seconds and put in rice. Toss rice for about 3-4 minutes until rice is very hot and evenly coated with the oil. Toss in sliced asparagus. Season with chicken stock powder and salt. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. When rice is nicely seasoned, put in egg whites. Toss until evenly distributed. You may add in fried scallop shreds and green parts of spring onion now or sprinkle them on top of rice later.
  7. Enjoy it while hot!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wishful Thinking: {Wardrobe} Gray Tops and White Pants

After an episode of ramblings in red, my clothing palette preference has now shifted back to neutrals.  I just bought a couple of tees and button downs in gray that I have yet to break in.  Here are a couple of looks that says: clean, casual and chic... my inspirations on how to wear my gray tops.

Here's Gwyneth showing us all how she wears her gray tee

These two could easily be my uniform as a busy mom

This is my peg for lunch dates with the hubby

How to channel the fashionable tourist

And here's how you wear it with Hermes...

Loving the pairing with boat shoes

maybe this is how my daughter would wear it if she borrows my shirts

As for me, it is always better if it's loose and slightly tucked-in... 
all the better to hide the mommy (fl)abs.  tee-hee-hee!

image credits:,,,,,,,,

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Phenomenal Tip: Home Organization

Our homes should inspire us.  It is the place we come home to everyday to rest, to relax and enjoy the company of our loved ones. An organized home makes for a happy home.  

Ultimately, my effort to be organized is for the purpose of being an intentional role model for my kids.  And that is why in my home, organization is a never-ending process.  I know the benefits of being organized and I want my kids to benefit from it, too.  I want to model for them how organization can make them more efficient and productive.  Hopefully, they will take their cues from me as they see me practice what I preach.

Here are some of the things I do to keep our home organized:

1.  I like keeping my pantry and refrigerator/freezer items coraled in same-category containers

 2. I maintain the neatness and tidiness of kids' study area by giving each kid a big, personalized box to put all school related materials. 

3.  To encourage my kids to do self-initiated art projects, art materials are organized in a mobile art cabinet, which can be rolled into any room with ease. 

4.  A closet with a strong organizational system helps everyone along.  Because all our wardrobe closet and shelves are labeled properly, and small items are coraled in containers, our weekday mornings are relatively quiet even as I occasionally hurry the kids to get out of the door on time.  There is no mad rush for that missing sock, uniform or what have you.

5.  My kids' clothes are segregated using the dot technique, an organization solution that can grow with the family!
Read this to know more why the dot-system is THE star of my kids' organized closet.

Being an organized mom leads to having more time for myself, doing the things I actually want to do like catching up on my reading, giving myself a pedi... or organize some more.