Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cookies, Cupcakes and Kebabs

Before I bore you to death with the story of my recipe tests, I would like to take this opportunity (naks, parang artista) to thank my friends who have gone out of their way to help me get started.  I know this will sound cliché as hell but this would not have been possible without their pushing me forward. I am really grateful for their putting up with me and for waking up early to accompany me to the cake supplies store, for making sure I have all the ingredients I need, for their constructive criticism and of course, for inspiring me and reminding me of the possibilities. (*tear*) Thank you very much for making this project a helluva lot easier.

So, moving on with the recipes, I decided to test my chocolate chip cookies first as they seemed to be the easiest to prepare. I got my ingredients together and equipment ready, and even borrowed the Kitchenaid from my aunt next door (I’m contemplating getting one real soon. Any sponsors?) and I got down to business. First impressions with the recipe are that it doesn’t take much time and effort to get the dough together and that the dough tasted really good raw (if you are pregnant, ill or your health is otherwise compromised, I really do not recommend consuming anything with uncooked eggs in them. Most chocolate chip cookie doughs do). 

This dough was very easy to work with. So after spacing them out properly on the sheet tray so they won’t stick together when they bake and making sure that the oven was at the right temperature when I popped them in, I thought to myself, “What could possibly go wrong?” Well, a number of things.

Since I was using a lightweight aluminum tray to bake them in, the bottoms got cooked faster than the rest of the cookie, turning them too brown, some even burnt. When I had my friends taste the cookies, they could not get past the acrid aftertaste of the slightly burnt bottoms. And though I was able to pull some out of the oven before they turned rock hard, my friend Charo said that the cookies could be a little chewier. I do like my cookies very chewy so I made a batch the following day and made sure I followed the recipe precisely. After mixing the batch, I promised to myself to the dough to rest overnight, as the recipe explicitly recommended. A recommendation I obviously ignored, when I baked off the previous batch cookies only after 30 minutes or so in the refrigerator.  So as I waited for the dough to rest while battling with my low emotional quotient, I decided to move on to the wonderful world of cupcakes.


I stood over the tiny cupcake tins and the fancy cupcake paper liners and thought what would people be thinking after finding out what I’m up to now. After two years of cooking school and several jobs later, my career has been reduced to cupcakes. CUPCAKES. I bet my next-door neighbor can bake cupcakes. Heck, I bet my dog can bake cupcakes. So why the hell am I making cupcakes?!

The truth is, I love cupcakes as much as the next guy. Well, as much as the next gay guy. I love how dainty they can be and how creative you can be with them. It’s not exactly Larousse Gastronomique material, but honestly, I love making them just as much as eating them. And as this is the search for the thing I’d be happier doing, cupcakes would be a good addition to the repertoire.

With the small oven and workspace that I had, I surprised myself when I was able to make a large batch of three flavors today: Vanilla, Chocolate and Red Velvet. Despite my requests to move the cupcake taste tests some other day because it was already late and I didn’t have my icings ready, my friends insisted in coming over to taste them. I was surprised yet again when they found that the cupcakes were really good. And they didn’t even have frostings yet! I say I was surprised because normally, they wouldn’t hold back on their criticisms because that’s the kind of friends they are; the kind that tells you the truth. Albeit they had a few criticisms here and there, they thoroughly enjoyed the cupcakes. Which made me even happier. But what made my evening was the dinner we had at Chef Dogan’s Turkish Grill and Restaurant in Katipunan Ave. QC. Guess what? The place is named after the chef who owns the place. And guess what!? He happens to be Turkish! And they serve up really good Turkish food.

Okay, this entry is going everywhere and right now it looks like my kitchen: a spectacular mess.  I’m sleepy and it’s been a long day of cookies, cupcakes and kebabs and I’m dying to go to bed.

Good night, y’all. XOXO.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

When life gives you lemons, make freakin' lemonade

I like to cook.

No. Scratch that. I love to cook. I love rummaging through our fridge and seeing what I could produce with the minimal ingredients I have. I love the sound it makes when you sear beef on a smoking hot skillet, or the aromas that fill your house when you bake an old-fashioned apple pie. I have my parents to thank for this. Aside from being in a family of good cooks and hearty eaters, they unreservedly paid for my culinary education in the top cooking school at the time. This is where I learned most of what I know about food now, and more importantly this is where I found and stoked my passion for food. Frankly, I live for the day when I could just cook for family, my friends and myself every waking day of my life. No worries, no responsibilities. Cooking only for the absolute pleasure it brings.  But if there is one thing I’d love more than cooking, and this may come as a shock to you, it would be eating.

Sadly, because of my current financial and employment status (status: unemployed and broke-ass), cooking for the absolute pleasure it brings shall remain a fantasy for now. By the way, in that fantasy, I play a female: the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. And while I salivate over the images in my head of my non-existent kitchen barn and herb garden in the Hamptons, I have to deal with my reality: I need a job. The realization that I have not been able to hold a position for longer than a year at the ripe age of 25 feels like a sucker punch in the gut. This is not to say that I did not put in the work. Oh believe me, I’ve worked. I’ve worked in a cruise ship as a pastry cook and cruise ships have a reputation of having the toughest, most backbreaking kitchen jobs in store for anyone who is crazy enough to get on board.  I’ve worked in a catering venue and restaurants during the most demanding months of the year. While these jobs could potentially be rewarding, I could never bring myself to stay there for longer than a year. I guess I get bored easily. I don’t know. All I know is I’d be happier doing something else.

Which brings me to this journal. I’ve had an idea for a very, very long time now. In fact, it’s been so long that I forgot, remembered, then forgot, then re-remembered this idea countless times in the past that I felt the need to document it lest I’ll forget it once again and miss the opportunity to see this good idea bear fruit. So here we are at the start of my journey to find that something else that I’d be happier doing. This journey begins with the concept of the most basic and primal means to earn a living: sell something for something. With the skills I’ve learned and whatever tools I have invested in, food for money is the most obvious choice. Though I am confident of my culinary skills, going into business scares the bejesus out of me. I have so many questions running through my head: Will it work? Will they like it? Will I resort to becoming a callboy (as in a boy who works in a call center teehee!) Will I starve to death and go homeless? For the sake of sanity, I cannot leave them unanswered. And the only way for me to answer them is to take the plunge and hope I don’t hit the bottom and crack my head open. If in the off chance I do hit rock bottom, I would have this journal to look back upon and see where and how things went wrong.

I have no business background whatsoever so I will start with the stuff I know. I’ve begun writing down my recipes and I have planned my week to include canvassing suppliers, taste tests and maybe taking a few good shots of the products I plan to sell. I’m done waiting for something to happen and now I know I can and will make it happen. I have a plan and I’ve suddenly got a busy week ahead of me. Wish me luck.
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