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Merry Christmas from Mr. D’s Artisanal Sundries

Thank you to all who have made inquiries for orders of Mr. D’s Artisnal Philippine Wagyu Corned Beef. My next batch is unfortunately sold out but for the last minute shoppers I will have a batch ready the week before Christmas. Please email at jeremy@mrdelicious.ph for inquiries. Have a wonderful Holiday Season and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do (that pretty much leaves it wide open).

Thanksgiving with Mr. Delicious

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As an American living away from home, Thanksgiving dinner is a perennial matter of great concern. I spent my first Thanksgiving abroad in Nice, France. We decided to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for a mixed group of American, French and other nationalities. We scoured the entire region along the southeast of France looking for ingredients like fresh cranberries and molasses.

Most non-Americans do not fully understand how important a holiday it is for us. For many of us (myself included) we would put it above Christmas. This being said I have had many a sub-standard Thanksgiving dinner living around the world. The worst though was in Las Vegas. Without any prior plans we ended up at the Rio Hotel’s buffet for a dining experience that literally made my soul ache.

This is why I made sure to blaze this trail this year. I set out to create the closest facsimile of the real thing that I could possibly create here. Also I had the good fortune of timing being on my side with my newly constructed brick smoker/oven to roast the turkey.

Mr. Delicious Thanksgiving Menu 2012

Apple Wood Smoked Turkey

Traditional Stuffing with Bacon and Dark Stock

Oyster Mushroom Stuffing

Green Bean Casserole with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Fried Onions

Sweet Potato Casserole with Oat Crumble

1950′s Style Cranberry Salad

Mashed Potatoes

Cajun Dirty Rice

Lots of Gravy

Pumpkin Pie with Créme Anglaise

Starting with the turkey, I had about a 6kg (12lb.) bird that I brined for 12 hours. The brine consisted of 1 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of curing salt for 1 gallon of water. I then added sugar, apple cider vinegar, peppercorns, dried chili flakes and parsley stems. I dropped the turkey into a large bucket I use just for brining and pickling and poured the brine over it. Then I weighted it down with a stack of plates. Since there was not enough room in the fridge I kept it iced down for 12 hours. Then remove and rinse.

Once it was cured, I placed it in front of a fan for about two hours to dry and warm up before smoking. I used a combination of charcoal and apple wood, maintaining a temperature of about 235f (110c). It smoked for about 3 hours until an internal probe reads about 160f (70c). I would later finish it in a hot oven before serving.

My coloring could have been better but it tasted really damn good and the skin still became crisp

Stuffing is a very misunderstood side dish but one of my absolute favorites every Thanksgiving. I was raised on oyster stuffing, but unfortunately I could not find oysters in time (at least I had bacon). There are a couple tricks to making good stuffing. First cook your mirepoix thoroughly before folding it into the bread. Use a good brown poultry stock and season it well. Finally add lots of the stock. Keep ladling more until it can take no more. Then just bake until it’s hot in the center and slather with gravy.

It’s best when the top is crusty but the interior is moist and soft

Also unavailable were fresh cranberries. However I was able to substitute dried with some success. I decided to mold the cranberry salad like you might see in cookbooks from the 50′s and 60′s. This was actually quite simple. I gelled some cranberry juice with sugar and garnished it with slices of orange, persimmon and chopped walnuts. I molded it in a cake pan and just warmed it in water to release it from the mold.

My sweet potato casserole sucked in a big way. I need to find a way to better adapt the local sweet potatoes into this dish. The local camote is much starchier than what I’m used to in the States. The result was a really dry texture that I think could be remedied by puréeing it.

My wife (who is also responsible for my conspicuously better photos), prepared two different types of pumpkin pie, both made from the local pumpkin. One was a classic variety and the other was finished with caramel and chopped walnuts.

Though I have cut back on the number of private events in to focus on Mr. D’s, I do still enjoy an occasional event like this. I like to keep it very casual and unassuming. Thank you to all who attended. It sure as hell beat the Rio…

Sunday Rehabilitation

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It has been a busy time chez Mr. D of late. Mr. D’s Artisanal is a finalist in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Next Food Entrepreneur contest. Our group just finished our second weekend at Midnight Mercato in BGC. I would like to congratulate all of my fellow concessionaires competing in the contest for bringing their creative food concepts to bear. That being said, I hope I win…

I stopped in Salcedo Market yesterday and spoke to Marco Lobregat of Ministry of Mushrooms. He handed me a paper bag with a new variety of mushroom that he is growing called Milky Mushrooms (Calocybe Indica). With his assurances they would not make me see things he told me to take them and experiment with them. Challenge accepted.

These mushrooms are very plump and firm, sharing some characteristics of a portabella or button mushroom. They really need to be roasted pretty well, or next time I might try to grill them. They retain a pretty firm texture even after cooking and are really meaty.

One produce vendor had some really fresh camote tops (sweet potato leaves) and mustard greens and also some free range eggs. When you have really fresh greens for cooking the next day, I think it’s best to wilt or blanch them when their still freshest. These were simply wilted in a pan, covered with no oil or seasoning. Then I cooled it and put it in the fridge for the next day.

This afternoon, rolling out of bed after a long weekend of Midnight Mercato, this was the perfect ensemble to restore some of my energy.

Pan Roasted Milky Mushrooms, Wilted Greens, Poached Egg and Aged Balsamic

10-12 milky mushrooms, sliced in half

1 bunch mustard greens

1 bunch comote tops

2-3 good eggs

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shit ton of butter

oil for sautéing

1 tbsp cheap vinegar

1 drizzle aged balsamic vinegar

Set one large sauté pan on medium high heat and set up a second pan for poaching eggs. In a shallow high-walled pan put water halfway up and add the cheap vinegar. Turn heat to medium.

When the sauté pan is hot add oil and mushrooms with the flat side down. Allow them to caramelize mostly undisturbed until they develop a nice brown color and become aromatic. Move and rotate them as needed to even out the cooking. Once caramelized, add a shit ton of butter and most of the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Flip all of the mushrooms and baste them with the hot butter until they are cooked through. Remove the mushrooms and drain them on a plate lined with paper towel.

Add your greens to the same pan to pick up flavor from the mushrooms. Either wilt them or reheat them if they’re already wilted. Add the remainder of the garlic and season with salt and pepper.

Next poach your eggs, making sure the poaching liquid is at a low simmer. Carefully drop each cracked egg into the water and gently poach until the white is just opaque.
Gently lift the poached eggs out with a slotted spoon and drain off any water before plating. Season with salt and pepper.

Next just plate them all together. The greens make a nice bed for the poached egg and also, placing the poached eggs on the hot greens helps keep the egg warm. Drizzle some good aged balsamic around the plate to garnish. The runny yolk makes a delicious sauce for the plate.

Ukokkei is Open Again!

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It’s official! I just called and confirmed that Ukokkei is open again on Pasay Rd. in Makati despite rumors from the mayor’s office that they had no plans to reopen.

Please go and report back. I’ll be going in for a long awaited bowl of tan tan men very soon.

Edit, after visiting:

So I heard from Twitter that Ukokkei was open, picked up the phone and called. Indeed! They are. I was wrong in my earlier conclusion that they had closed for good.

I didn’t waste a minute from there. Traffic was grid-locked, as usual around dinner time in Makati, so I just hoofed it. When I arrived I was greeted by this sign, kind of explaining the closure.

The same chef was at the helm and an older Japanese gentleman was there that I presumed was the owner. I was one of the first to arrive but before long the restaurant filled up.

As much as I missed the tan tan men, the most classic ramen was what I really craved. In just a few minutes I was staring down at a steaming bowl of Shoyu Chashu with a cold Pale Pilsen on the side. There was an old man sitting next to me at the bar loudly slurping his noodles, eating it with rice. For just a fleeting moment, everything seemed right in the world.

After I finished my ramen, the waitress brought over a bottle in a paper gift bag. “Bottle of wine, sir” she said awkwardly to me. I was confused so I asked. She explained that they are giving a bottle of wine for each bowl of ramen today and tomorrow. Clearly they have responded to the negative press they have suffered from in recent months.

Welcome back Ukokkei.

Revolutions in Brewing-Katipunan Craft Indio Pale Ale

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I finally made it to the Collective on Malugay last week. If you haven’t been already it’s worth checking out if for no other reason than the cool urban art on the walls inside.

Essentially the Collective is a large warehouse space subdivided into smaller units which serve as an incubator for small, independent businesses. Up front there are a number of restaurants. Toward the back on the right side of the is Ritual. This is where I found my take away souvenir, Katipunan Craft Indio Pale Ale.

I have been wanting this for some time, an alternative to the perfectly mediocre San Miguel dominance of the Filipino beer scene. I don’t particularly dislike San Miguel, and do consume my weight in it on a fair regular basis. But there hasn’t been an active micro-brewer to represent the Philippines.

It’s a well-crafted beer. Balanced, a little hoppy and full-flavored. It made me want for a steaming pot of mussels and fries… might need to make this happen.

So here it is. I saw on Twitter that they are fermenting an Oatmeal Stout and that news makes me happy. Support them! Here’s their Facebook page and Twitter profile.

I don’t think they produce a huge amount of this beer, but now I’ve discovered it. I can only hope there’s enough left for the rest of you.

The Collective

7274 Malugay

Makati

Ukokkei Closed!

nOB3L

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Update: Ukokkei Ramen Ron has reopened!

What’s this? Ukokkei closed by the Makati government?

The notice couldn’t be worded any more cryptically but it smells fishy to me. We had our issues, but this makes me sad. Anybody have some information on this?

I want answers!

Still Looking for the Foie, Lusso-Makati

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LUSSO
Greenbelt 5
Makati
632-756-LUXE
632-756-5893

I generally avoid fine dining perhaps because I’ve been around it so much. It kind of reminds me of work, I spend more money and quite often leave disappointed. There are plenty of casual spots in town I would much rather go to.

Too often they will capture the look of a fine dining restaurant but not the substance, the meat of it. Manila in particular still has a long way to go to start opening true fine dining restaurants. Too often they capture the look of a fine dining restaurant (and the price) but when it comes to the substance, the meat of it, they ring hollow.

Lusso was opened Margarita Fores in Greenbelt 5 in 2009. The name is Italian but the menu reflected more of French or even American slant with a number of classic brasserie foods and sandwiches.

The interior is really well done by Jorge Yulo in beige and amber tones, featuring a large chandelier from the ballroom of the Peninsula Manila. There are nice cushiony chairs and the waiters and the napkins are both starched and pressed.

The service was well-meaning. They clearly had some training and had the best of intentions (which really is the most important thing). However from a technical (timing, communication, service technique) standpoint they were a bit awkward.

I actually got a little bit excited when I saw some of the items on the menu. Foie gras everywhere, bone marrow, confit de canard (duck confit), what’s not to love? First to arrive were the Truffle Chips. It’s an old trick but a good one. Even with the fake truffle oil they just taste good.

I’ll take a bag of these

Someone at our table ordered the Bone Marrow Vol-au-vent. It really seemed more like a passed hors d’oeuvre than a plated appetizer. I also stole a bite of the Demi Pound Burger (foie gras, cambozola bath, prosecco onions) that Lusso is known for. The burger was good but the foie was also not really detectable. I’m starting to notice an alarming trend develop here.

The Demi Pound Burger (only half shown here). I wish they spent less on expensive china and more on foie gras.

Of the two dishes I ordered both were disappointing. I began with the Foie Gras Brûlée. Maybe I was expecting something different and maybe I should have asked first, but it was really just a crème brûlée with the addition of a barely detectable quantity of foie gras. The foie was in small pieces in the center of what was otherwise a dessert. It was served with toast points but did not go well with bread. This dish suffers from a clear identity crisis.

Foie Gras Brûlée

So, a swing and a miss. Fine, let’s move on. I was still quite excited for my Confit de Canard. It looked really nice when it arrived and just as I was about to ask for Dijon the waiter brought some French whole grain mustard. Galing! The salad greens were very fresh and dressed perfectly with a nice pungent vinaigrette but the potato purée was completely unseasoned and had a bit of a gloppy texture.

But then I cut into the confit. The skin peeled off in one limp swath. Grrr! Now it’s personal! Clearly the skin had been fried, but then something else must have occurred. Either it was covered and allowed to steam soggy or it was microwaved. Either way I don’t care because they’re both amateur mistakes. The meat was also quite salty.

Confit de Canard, the color indicates it was fried crisp, but then allowed to become soggy.

All mistakes were forgivable up to this point but now they’ve ruined my favorite bistro dish. I guess now I should get to work on a confit de canard to redeem this experience.

In conclusion Lusso might be a nice place to go for a glass of wine in the afternoon with some light snacks. The ambiance is nice and they do have some good small dishes to have with drinks. I would not order the more expensive dishes on the menu because they make big promises they can’t keep. In keeping with the name, Lusso’s menu showcases a number of luxury ingredients. Unfortunately these luxury ingredients don’t really carry a presence to the plate.

Back from the Brink

Saffron-streaked fresh pasta right out of the roller

Saffron-streaked fresh pasta right out of the roller

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Holy shit! It’s been a little while hasn’t it? I’m a bad blogger, I know. But I never told you differently anyway.

It’s all for good reason though, I promise. One being the soft launch of my first product under my new brand Mr. D’s Artisanal, a Philippine Wagyu Corned Beef. The response has been really great, better than I expected. As I scrambled to scale up my production I also had a private event to prepare for this weekend. Hence, no blogging.

To those of you who have already ordered the corned beef, thank you and please provide your feedback. I have several other products in the pipeline as I begin to fill out a full product line of locally sourced and crafted artisan foods. I have completed my first test batch of naturally fermented dill pickles and I’m sourcing natural pork to produce a number of tasty pig products.

To those of you who are still waiting, thank you for your patience. I am producing my maximum output each week until I feed each and every one of you. I am cautious not to grow too quickly as my first priority is to maintain the quality of the product.

The private event was for a post-mass family meal on Saturday. My hosts were expecting up to 40 people and had requested lamb and seafood dishes. The event went well and my hosts were very gracious. Check out my menu below.

Rare Tuna Niçois

Tuna poached in olive oil, with fennel, citrus and herbs, quail eggs, French beans and potato, anchovy vinaigrette

Gambas (sorry no picutre)

Prawns, sofrito, chorizo, garlic

Saffron Agnolotti stuffed with Lobster, Sweet Corn and Chives

Roasted tomatoes, zucchini blossoms, saffron-lobster brodo

Coq au Vin

Roasted shallots and oyster mushrooms, bacon, glazed baby carrots

Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Cauliflower, asparagus, yellow squash, zucchini, lemon

Cashew-crusted Rack of Lamb

Brown butter eggplant, whole grain mustard honey lamb reduction

The tuna is gently poached to rare in extra virgin olive oil that has been infused with lemon rind, fennel, herbs, peppercorns and bay leaf

The filling of the agnolotti consists of lobster, shrimp and sweet corn. The sauce is much like a bisque made from the shells of the lobster.

Coq au vin. No coq jokes please.

Old dog, old tricks

Spices at Assad Mini Mart-Makati

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Edit: I do not own Assad and am not affiliated in any way with this business. This is only a blog post on Assad. If you have any questions about products they carry I suggest you call one of the numbers below. I will not approve any more of these questions in my comment section. Thank you!

-Jeremy

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I have found it to be a bit challenging at times to find all of the raw ingredients in Manila for the various cooking projects I have undertaken. Though selections in supermarkets have improved when cooking non-Filipino foods especially, you have to do a little searching.

That’s why I’m adding a new category to this website to assist others as I assume I’m not the only one. For any market report I do I will add a Where to Find tag for the primary items that can be found at a given market, beginning with spices at Assad Mini Mart. Most places in Manila still don’t have much of an online presence so I’ll help them along.

Assad Mini Mart is am Indian grocer with a good selection of grocery items and halal foods. They sell frozen and fresh flat breads, as well as dairy items and dried legumes. However the one thing I got excited about was their large selection of inexpensive spices.

I stocked up my pantry on a number of the spices that are either hard to find at the grocery store or prohibitively priced. In many cases you will pay 6-8 times the money per gram than you would here. Although if you are not too familiar with the looks of different spices you may want to ask for assistance because they aren’t exactly well labeled.

At the front counter they have a hot case with potato samosas for p15. I picked up four and made an all-starch lunch out of them. They have a nice curry kick to them and the tamarind sauce is perfect.

According to the calling card I procured they have three locations which I will list below. The one I go to is in Makati on Jupiter. As always feel free to contact me or leave comments if you’re searching for something in particular and I will do my best to point you in the right direction. Otherwise share your findings so we can have a consolidated resource here on mrdelicious.ph to assist home cooks in procuring ingredients.

Assad Mini Mart Locations:
Unit 1-A Eurocrest Building
126 Jupiter St., Bel-Air Vil,
897-2543

Midtown Executive Homes
1268 United Nations Ave.
526-1349, 526-5034

Door #5 Thaddeus Arcade, San Roque
Marikina City
645-1596

Paris Délice, Francofication-Makati

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Paris Délice
1 Juno Street, corner Makati Ave.
1209 Makati City, Manila
PHILIPPINES

Phone:+(632) 798 0740
FAX:+(632) 421 0162
E-mail: contact@parisdelice.com.ph

http://www.paris-delice.com/

Situated on Makati Avenue, Paris Délice sits amongst a thousand fast food restaurants like a tiny oasis of French-ness. Though it is a self-described “alternative fast food” it is without a doubt a higher quality option than its neighbors. It’s not just fast food. It’s le fast food.

There are a couple of things that make this place a stand out against Coeur de France, which is more of a perverted mutation rather than an oasis of French-ness. Paris Délice imports their bread and croissant dough from France. Though I would love to see a good local option, as far as I can tell this does not exist. So perhaps their importing solution is still best.

When I first moved to France I didn’t understand why anyone would ever get excited about a plain butter croissant. But when you try a good one, you understand. In the hands of a skilled baker they have a flaky, crispy exterior with a soft, buttery interior.

My favorite breakfast

Paris Délice is French-owned and the authenticity is evident. Though a very simple café concept it is very simple and focused. They offer sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries and a few pastries. The sandwiches are exactly like what I used to eat about 5-7 times a week when I lived in Paris. The one I keep going back for is the Napoléon, which is Rosette de Lyon (a dried saucisson or French salami) with cornichons and butter on baguette.

Butter is indeed a wonderful condiment

They also offer free WiFi and have a delivery service. The minimum order for delivery is p300 and there is an additional p30 delivery fee. I think it’s really smart of them to offer this service because good bread can be difficult to get in Manila.

If you find yourself experiencing any French withdrawal symptoms this is an easy and inexpensive fix. Bravo for making high quality convenience food. Combined with free WiFi and strong coffee these poor people will never get rid of me.