Sunday, July 24, 2011

The First True Pinoy Burger

This is the result of watching Food Network Asia too much. I suddenly miss Hamburgers. Not just any burger. I miss the Tropical Hut Hamburger.

Before Jollibee and Mc Donald's became the icon for burgers in the Philippines, there was Tropical Hut Hamburger. We lived at the heart of Cubao for thirteen years and our apartment at Yale Street is 5 minutes away from the Araneta Center. The earliest  Tropical Hut Hamburger fast food store was located along the same arcade where Manila C.O.D. Department Store was situated.

This was the first Hamburger we've ever tasted. I remember my Dad bringing this home one Saturday afternoon as his pasalubong from work. The THH were generous in size, the beef patties were thick-cut and juicy but not overdone. No fuss and frills, just the beefy goodness of the first ever comfort food we came to love.

The other underated specialty of THH is their Spaghetti Special! The THH Spaghetti is the epitome of Pinoy's sweet-style spaghetti sauce with generous serving of slightly melted cheese and slices of sweet ham. Their menu evolved through the years to include the latest food fare. My other favorite from THH is the Tapsilog (Filipino style beef steak strips with fried rice and sunny-side up style egg) Their Cubao branch started serving this the 80s as a luncheon fare.

Before we left our home in the Philippines, THH opened a branch in our hometown in Sta. Rosa. My husband and I used to drop by at Tropical Hut even during week nights as an alternative to home cooked dinner. Their food repertoire now include salads, Pinoy dishes like dinuguan, kiddie favorites like fried chicken -- but my eternal favorite remains to be their original hamburger, spaghetti special and tapsilog.
Tropical Hut Hamburger

Partners In Crime

I had an opportunity to link up with old Cabuyao friends last July 21-22 here in Singapore. The F&HC Offsite is an annual event held in Singapore and the venue this year was the Marina Bay Sands. I'll talk about my MBS experience in a separate blog.

Meeting up again with old friends (...and when I say old, it means our friendships went back from years ago) made me realize I havent really laughed for a long time now. There wasnt really anyone who was good at cracking the sort-of-wholesome kind of green jokes, friends who have stories of misdaventures and mischiefs that could make me laugh 'til I cry, friends who are unabashed at making themselves sound or look silly just for the heck of it, friends who would stick it out despite me being me, and all that history.

Or friends who could listen to your woes and tears when you needed a shoulder to cry on. At one point in my life the past few months, the tears just came streaming down in solitude and I only had the rain to camouflage them.

This is a tribute to my friends from my old workplace. While work will never really cease to stop, the difficult days were easier because you have been there. I truly miss all of you.

My friendship with Ninnie is strengthened by a common clandestine bond. 
"Glo G" and I started out as project partners in 1998 and lunchmates since 6750 days.
Pretty much because we both get hungry by 11am. We also went through many shared EO days at the Plant and who would have thought our future home will be in the same Plant.

With Boss Ed and Ninnie. QA brought us together. In my case, I was their adopted member. Circa CLT days, we called ourselves the original outer circle.

My Kikay Friend at the Plant.
Zarah and I make up the formidable Liquids Initiatives Team then.
With 4 major initiatives per quarter. We were the good cop, bad cop team. Guess Who's Who?

We were batchmates at the B3 College held in SG, had a pact of solidarity.

Mommy Joyce is truly my mother and friend for all season.
Eversince my month 1 in the plant and we were seatmates at the front row of the Cabuyao shuttle.
Jas is my first mentor in PS and also a friend through the many episodes in my life.
One of the Best Team Ever! We were a team but we were also friends. Together we first brought to realization the MPO packaging dream of being Asia's best.

The title "partner in crime" last ended with Dwight so far.
We were friends since Liquids Engg days and we had gone through so many hilarious, forgettable, witty, desperate and argument-laden days. Our friendship even survived despite the expired Hopia- I thought he was being thoughtful leaving me a piece for merienda. He told me later it was expired!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our Weekend Baking Bonding (and how I learned to bake...)

I learned to bake in 5th Grade after joining the Culinary Arts Club. I didn't join just for the free tasting, though I would say it makes for an interesting fringe benefit. But I really did put into practice what I learned. The first cake I learned to bake was the basic sponge cake. I cannot forget this because while in the process of melting the butter, I used a small skillet and used high setting for the burner. The result? The melted butter caught fire and before I knew it, the whole pan was on fire! Anyways, the cake turned out fine (after repeating my batch of butter). Then I moved to Devil's food cake, cupcakes and muffins. I stopped baking sponge cakes after breaking our electric mixer (did something very stupid...) and only made the ones that can survive manual mixing (like coconut macaroons and brownies).

Baking has now become a weekend bonding for me and my kids. We take a special favor for muffins because they are quite easy to prepare, you can mix and match flavors and ingredients, it works best with tea or coffee and most of all, I better put to good use my Muffin Recipe book!

Kyla is my all around side kick- she helps me fetch some ingredients, mix the batter (when I'm done with the mixer) but she has to do it manually of course, add the choco chips or sprinkle the toppings. Kevin is our morale booster, patiently watching while we are at it. He even pulled a stool to sit near us.

The simple cheese cupcake is my favorite while the kids love choco-chip muffins. I will try the peanut butter variety as my next project.

Here are the samples of what we have made so far...

There are my first attempt to do Iced Cupcakes.
Loved the Blueberry Muffins. I used icing sugar as sprinkles.

And these are the Choco-Chip Muffins.
Last week I also baked Choco-Banana variety with Cream Cheese frosting.

Baking has now become one of our weekend activities.

There are many more muffin recipes waiting for me -- days of weekend bonding with the kids. I know that when they surely remember muffins, the fragrant aroma will bring memories of home.

Blueberry Muffin Recipe

125 g softened butter
140 g caster sugar
2 eggs
140 g plain flour (I used Gluten Free flour for Kevin)
1/2 tbsp baking powder
125 g dried blueberries
2 tbsp milk
icing sugar, for dusting

Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper muffin liners. Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs. Sift flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. The fold in the blueberries and milk. Spoon the mixture into the paper liners.

Bake in the preheated oven, 180 dec C for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer into a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust the tops with sifted icing sugar once the muffins have cooled down.

Makes 10-12 muffins.

*fold - this is a technique in mixing

Happy Baking!