Friday, September 27, 2013

A Lenten treat

For the last 14 years, it has been tradition to follow the Stations of the Cross in Calatagan on Good Friday and end with a pot luck merienda for our community members. This was my farewell treat! ... Cream cheese with sour cream and onions, topped with salmon roe and garnished with green onion on wheat bread squares.

Pretty in pink

Little girls and big girls alike can't get enough of Hello Kitty!  What can be more adorable then for a little girl's birthday giveaways than Hello Kitty shortbread cookies packed in clear bags with matching polka dotted pink ribbons!

Regina turns 20 with a Bacolod feast!

Birthday milestones from childhood are traditionally celebrated on the 1st, 7th, 13th and 18th year.  For one living in the United States however, it is the 21st year that calls for a celebration.  My daughter, Regina moved to New York not even when she was 18.  So, home for the holidays before her 20th birthday which is just a few days after the new year, we celebrated somewhere in between with a Bacolod feast.  No cooking for me this time, it was all about styling the tables with a very festive look of Negros, with shredded colored Japanese paper mixed with the very famous Bacolod sweet delights.

Friday, September 06, 2013

A Spanish Tapas and Paella Dinner

Spanish food embraces a world of sun and color. This served as my inspiration in preparing and styling this dinner to start the new year, 2012. To my twin sister, it brought back memories of the orange trees and flowers in Seville, Andalucia, Spain.

Baked aubergine, red pepper and anchovies

Jamon Serrano and manchego cheese

Pan fried scallops and chorizo with parsley salad

Meatballs in red sherry sauce

Paella Valenciana

Mushroom Paella

A Christmas eve tradition

Christmas is a time when family traditions are observed and passed on to generations. For so many years since I was little I helped my mother prepare Christmas dinner for family, relatives and friends. Moving forward with my own children now, Christmas dinners would still be with my family although this time my mother prepared the feast with her own helper. Picking up from this, I started my own tradition, preparing Christmas eve dinner for my helpers. It's that time of the year when we reverse our roles. My girls set the table and I do the cooking. It's our way of thanking them for helping us with our household throughout the year. So on this occasion, they are our guests and dine in style on our very own dining table before heading off to their own families.

A White Christmas collection

A white Christmas is associated with images of snow filled holidays. For me, it evokes elegance. For the year 2011, I produced a limited line of food and gift items, all enveloped in white. Packaged in the same color with touches of gold and silver, they were simply elegant.

Creme de Menthe chocolate truffles with white candy sprinkles

in silver boxes with white and gold ribbon

White bean dip with Italian parsley and pita chips with oregano

packaged in white serving dish and tureen with hand made embossed serving instruction cards

Starburst cupcakes - chocolate cupcakes with chocolate glaze and mint flavored buttercream frosting

and Smoked Salmon Cake - layered bread cake with salmon and capers wrapped in cream cheese, cucumber and caviar for that special Christmas eve dinner

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A very special private dinner for two

You'll never know what you can do unless you just do it!

On November 20, 2011 with much hesitation, I prepared a very special private dinner for my aunt and her husband who were visiting in Manila. Not only were they to attend a wedding, they too were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. So what could be more special than a surprise private dinner in their own studio apartment they rented for their stay.

Going back to the planning stages, I received an email message from my aunt asking if I could do this for her. As I had not done any dinner outside my home since I started my private dining, I politely declined. Not wanting to take no for an answer, she told me to think about it as she really wanted to surprise her husband. As this was something new to me I wanted to make sure there would be no hitches, so off I went to my first task, an ocular inspection of the studio unit. Okay, this could be done I thought to myself but keeping in mind that this was their first wedding anniversary, I wanted to give the couple privacy while having their meal.

There was just no way this could happen in a small studio unit. Voicing out my concern to my aunt, again she wouldn't take no for an answer and found a solution to this. I could use the kitchen of another unit in the same building that another wedding guest had booked. Sounds easy enough but the unit was on another floor. But by this time, I had already agreed to do it so everything was in my hands now. I had to find a way to access both units easily. You see, all residents and guests could go only to their floors with their elevator cards. I could have borrowed from both of them but I was able to get a one day elevator pass that could get me to both floors. Little did I know that I would still have to go down to the lobby each time I went to the other floor!

But no worries, if that was the only way, then it will be done! Having figured this out, I set out to do the rest of the planning. I did a mock set-up and chose a three course menu that was quite easy to execute. I personally selected music that would be compiled in a disc as a souvenir together with a box of home made chocolate truffles. I chose every single item that would contribute to the ambience, from flowers to candles and created a personalized welcome card.

On November 20, 2011 while the couple was out all afternoon, I beautifully set up a table for two, created a lovely ambience and delivered the rest of my equipment to the other kitchen above.  At 7:00 pm, the couple walked into their unit and with that, my aunt called me down.  Seeing her husband in tears, I knew that this would be a very special evening.

Yes, I did it and to my own surprise, I was able to pull it off.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Pleasant Surprise!

I Google searched Minnie Puno blog just to see what's out there and was pleasantly surprised to find this. Didn't even know of this feature!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another wedding anniversary dinner for my dear sister

Since I started my private dining venture, my sister has celebrated her wedding anniversary twice in my home. Here is another dinner I lovingly prepared for her in 2011 choosing again pink flowers to go with her wedding color motif. With this I added another special touch, chocolate truffles in silver boxes tied with a very light pink ribbon as giveaways. Another addition to this year was a special guest, her youngest niece! Too bad I'm unable to do this anymore for her as I am now based in New York.

White bean dip with Pita chips

Roasted tomato and basil soup

Roasted beef tenderloin with caper sauce

Lemon poached pears with caramelized mangoes and Limoncello chocolate truffles

Creme de Menthe chocolate truffles in pretty boxes for giveaways

And the evening's special guest, who's no longer a baby now!

An Asian dinner: a repeat (2011)

The same menu need not go with the same decor, so with this Asian repeat I scoured my cabinets in search of items to style my dinner. You don't have to look far to create these table settings. I chose simple flowers to sit in clear glasses and an ornate Asian silver tea canister I found in my kitchen. I borrowed a striking red Vietnamese table runner from my sister and used a Buddha incense stick holder given by my brother-in-law. For another table, I used an old glass water pitcher with silver trimming, an ornate Asian looking silver pumpkin any my gold table runner to go with my red tea light holders complementing the setting. Put together, it gives it an Asian vibe.

An Asian dinner 2011

By now, I'm kinda getting the hang of hosting, cooking and plating dinners. So here's another challenge I decided to accept. A group of doctors decided not only to try my private dining but to watch me prepare their dishes! This was new to me and although I warned them that my kitchen cannot accommodate all of them at one time, they were open to moving in and out of my kitchen in groups. This was exciting and it turned out to be another fun evening as not only did I demonstrate the cooking, I asked them to actually try doing some of the procedures called for in the recipes. With their laughter adding spice to their dinner, everything just turned out right!

Again it starts with the menu, Asian this time, and everything else follows. I always choose to do my own hand embossed menu cards to create my brand so that is a given, then the styling just flows with the evening's theme. Not to forget the music to complete the ambience.

Sauteed scallops with Cilantro chili butter and Orange jicama salad

Asian mushroom soup

Thai barbecue chicken with Jasmine rice

Asian poached pears with Ginger chocolate truffles and Caramel lychees

A Birthday Barbecue

March is a big month for birthdays, with four celebrants in the family. On March 6, 2011 we decided to do something different. Out with the sit down dinners this time so we had a barbecue instead. No formal table settings, no special menus, just plain old simple burgers and hotdogs with the usual side dishes of baked beans, corn, potato salad and spaghetti. But flowers always add a nice touch so I chose a bundle of spring flowers to complement two special birthday cupcakes I prepared - citrus cupcakes with buttercream frosting and red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow icing and candy sprinkles. Blessed with gorgeous weather, it was all sunshine and cheers!

Cheers to the birthday celebrants!