Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review: Vanilla Cupcake Bakery

I have visited two branches of Vanilla Cupcake Bakery already - Trinoma and Glorietta 3. In general, the bakery is nice and comfy place. The interiors are a little bit whimsical. It has a certain feel of "Alice in Wonderland." It's a perfect place for people to have tea time or for kids to "play tea." It brings you back to your childhood. 

The Trinoma branch is located in the middle of the second floor near the Mindanao Wing. It is a bit noisy here, since you can hear the throng of people walking/rushing in. There is no real privacy to talk here. It has a limited seating capacity. Maybe that's why they built a new and bigger branch in Trinoma near the gardens. Though I have not visited this new branch in Trinoma, I like the Glorietta 3 branch better. You have more privacy here. There is more space, more chairs and even has its own comfort room. 

From the serving platter, water goblets, pitchers, glass jugs, and down to paper straws, these made their products more dainty and pretty to look at. I must admit I have reservations on food that are too pretty. I have this notion that most of the beautiful and perfect pastries are usually just pretty to look at and not really yummy. 

Their cupcakes and drinks were decorated and presented beautifully. I was in for a surprise. Their goodies tasted really good. They proved me wrong this time around. The cupcakes are moist. The icings have just the right amount of sweetness. It has a wide variety of cupcakes, from nutty, chocolate, cheesecakes, fruit-based cupcakes, pretty pastel frosted vanilla cupcakes, and coffee-based cupcakes. There is a cupcake for everyone. 

My son, Joaqui, loved it here. He wanted to try the different whimsical chairs in the bakery. He finished his chocolate cupcake so fast. If he really liked his food, he would finished it in five minutes or less. He was even offering me to try his cupcake because he said that it was really yummy. 

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery is a family-friendly cafe too. There are a lot of choices for kids and adults. They serve non-caffeine drinks. Our favorites are Smore's and the Very Vanilla drinks. It is a nice place to meet your girlfriends here for an afternoon tea or this could be the dessert/coffee place after lunch/dinner. It is a perfect lounge area for they have free WIFI too. Kids and adults will be entertained here, since they have an open kitchen where you can see and learn how they frost the cupcakes. 

This is a welcome addition to my family's list of favorite places.  =)

Note: The first four photos were taken from the Glorietta 3 branch and the succeeding photos were from Trinoma branch. 

Sticky Rice aka Biko

I have always wanted to learn how to prepare a native delicacy. I want to help in preserving Filipino heritage and family tradition by sharing valuable recipes. When we were kids, my mom used to cook the following native desserts for us: biko, maja blanca, leche flan and ube halaya. I remember that we took turns in stirring these various mixtures. it took a lot of time, effort and love to prepare them. 

I'm glad that my Auntie Becky, my dad's sister (a Kapampangan), taught me how to prepare this sticky rice. Even if she has migrated to the land down under for more than two decades, she still remembers how her mother (my grandma) cooked the sticky rice. 

Thank you, Auntie Becky for helping me on this one. Indeed, food creates wonderful memories for us. 

Let me share this recipe:


2 cans coconut milk (400ml/can) or extract milk from 3 coconuts to get 3 1/4 cups of coconut milk or 800 ml of coconut milk
! can condensed milk (330 ml)
1 1/4 cup muscovado sugar
1 kilo of sticky rice (malagkit)
6 cups of water


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Celsius. 
  2. Wash the sticky rice. Pour it in a big pot, and add 6 cups of water. Let it boil, and stir a little to prevent it from sticking to the pot. Cook until the water is just absorbed (half-cooked). Turn off the heat, and set aside. 
  3. In a bowl, mix the coconut milk and condensed milk. Pour half of the mixture into a saucepan and add the sugar. With medium fire, cook until the sugar is melted and the mixture is slightly thick (caramel). 
  4. Mix the caramel mixture into the sticky rice. For the caramel to be evenly distributed, divide the caramel mixture into two, add half of the sticky rice to pan of caramel. Then, add the remaining mixture and sticky rice. Stir well. 
  5. Transfer the sticky rice into 2 (8 x 12) pan. Flatten the rice and top it with the half of the coconut milk and condensed milk mixture. 
  6. Bake the sticky rice for 45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. 


Friday, June 7, 2013

REVIEW: The Royal Touch Gourmet Cupcakes @ SM Aura Premier

My son, Joaqui, was bugging us to visit the newest mall in town - the SM Aura Premier. He had seen and read the advertisement of this mall in a newspaper. He wanted to check for himself if it was really big and what it has to offer. Finally, we relented after two weeks of begging from him. 

It was a moderately sized mall.  It looks the same as SM Annex, but only taller, much more sophisticated, and has more stores. It was around in the afternoon when we got inside. It took us more than 45 minutes to park. Right away, we started to look for a cafe or restaurant where we can sit and order. Since it was a Sunday, almost all of the restaurants/stalls were full, and few  were opened yet. We decided to try a new cafe that is located only in SM Aura Premier.

The Royal Touch Gourmet Cupcakes, situated in the Lower Ground Level, has a nice ambiance. It is very elegant. The interiors definitely caught our attention. The chairs are comfortable, inviting us to really lounge and stay there. We wanted to check their menu so we could decide what to order. But the manager explained that they're on a soft opening so they don't have yet a menu. So we just asked her recommendations, their best sellers. We ordered the Cappuccino and Blueberry Cupcake (one of their best sellers) for me and Chocolate Cupcake with Choco Ganache for Joaqui. 

The cupcakes were served in elegant porcelain plates. It felt like we were really having an English tea party. It looked perfect. But the taste was a different matter. My son loves chocolate cupcakes, but was not able to finish this one. I tried it. The choco ganache icing was good, but the cupcake was not that moist. The former was not rich nor dense at all. It was more of a light choco cupcake. When I tried my order, I was really disappointed. It tasted more like a muffin for me. It did not have the sweetness of a cupcake. It had the texture more of a quick bread or muffin. It did not have the tender crumb that I was looking for. The presentation of the cupcakes was really cute, but they need to improve the taste of their cupcakes. 

We were almost done with the cupcakes when my cappuccino arrived. It took two follow-ups before my coffee came. The manager took note of that and apologized for the late delivery and explained again that they're just on soft opening. I saw that the other and late coffee orders were made before mine. Finally, I had my coffee. It look like cappuccino, but upon scooping the foam. I realized that it was just a thin milk foam. It was more of a latte. I tasted it. It was a latte. A big let down. Having been a real coffee addict and with a barista training on hand, I told them that I was not happy with my cuppa, a cappuccino should have three layers: a shot of espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foamed milk. In my cup, there was only a thin layer of foamed milk, about a tablespoon only. The manager apologized profusely and explained again that it was just on a soft opening. 

It was just a nice place to sit. But will we go there again? Maybe when they have improved their cupcakes and coffee. 


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Sunday, January 27, 2013


I've been meaning to cook a version of this, ever since I've tasted this pasta in an Italian restaurant in Tagaytay. Since I was able to buy fresh clams today at Centris Sunday Market, I had the perfect opportunity to prepare this one. 

A bit of background on this, "Vongole" is the Italian word for clams. This pasta dish is simply spaghetti and clams. You can prepare this dish in two ways: with tomatoes (in rosso) and without (in bianco). For my version, I like it without tomatoes. Others like to cook this too with cream or with white wine. Considering the low fat and high fiber 1400 calorie diet imposed on me by my Endocrinologist (due to hypothyroidism), I decided to forego the cream and white wine. 

It's yummy and light too! It's perfect for people who are in a diet. Following a diet does not necessarily mean that you'll eat bland food. It all boils down to choices, moderation and variety. This is one example of good food for health-conscious people. 

Also, if you're tied of eating tomato-based pasta, cream-based pasta or the olive oil-based pasta, try this recipe for a change. 

Buon Appetito!


500 grams Spaghetti or Spaghettini
1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1 kilo fresh clams
150 milliliters or or about 2/3 cup chicken stock or water
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup arugula, finely chopped
3 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions (making sure that it's cooked al dente). 
  2. In a pan (using medium fire), saute the garlic in extra virgin olive oil for 2 minutes 
  3. Add in the clams and cook until the shells open. 
  4. Pour the chicken stock or water in the pan and let it simmer until the liquid is reduced to half. Season with a dash of salt & pepper. 
  5. Add the Parmesan cheese.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and add the parsley. 
  7. Mix the clams with the pasta and top off with arugula. 
  8. Top the pasta with extra Parmesan cheese if desired. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Scrapped Ham Frittata

Food certainly brings back happy memories for many people, including me. My mom usually cooked this dish a day after Christmas when we had lots of leftovers. Since my sister gave me scrapped ham, I decided to cook the Scrapped Ham Frittata  so that my son would  get to taste and appreciate my mom's legacy. 

Scrapped ham is definitely tastier than the usual ham slices. It's great on its own, but more sumptuous with potatoes and eggs. 

And I was right! Joaqui loves this meal. I hope you'll enjoy this recipe too. 


3/4 cup Scrapped Ham, diced
2 small or 1 medium size potatoes, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed & finely chopped
4 large size eggs
1 tablespoon Fresh Milk
1 tablespoon Mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil 


  1. Heat a non-stick pan under a medium fire. Once the pan is hot, pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once heated, fry the diced potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are golden brown. Remove from fire and transfer the potatoes on a plate lined with paper towel to drain the excess oil. Set aside. 
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolk. In a medium size bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy (the bubbles are small). Whisk in the yolk, mayonnaise, milk, salt & pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan under a medium fire. Once heated, add the remaining oil and swirl the pan a little to make sure that it is well coated. Saute garlic and onion. Season it with a little salt and pepper. Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Add the scrapped ham and saute for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes. Spread out the ham & veggies to cover the surface of the pan. Using a very low heat, pour the whisked eggs over the ham & veggies. 
  5. Cover the pan with a big plate or an aluminum foil to cook the top portion of the frittata. Cook for 5 minutes or until the tiny bubbles disappear. 
  6. Slide the frittata into a serving platter, slice and serve. 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Monte Cristo

Ever since my dad had his first stroke years ago, we always tried to have a lighter Noche Buena fare. For Noche Buena 2012, I prepared Monte Cristo to complement my sister's Minestrone Soup. Monte Cristo is simply a french toast with ham and melted cheese. It's a leveled up version of french toast, a savory french toast. I'd like to share my take on Monte Cristo. This could be served for breakfast or as snacks or baon. Anything that has cheese is always a comfort food for me. :) 

Try this one for a change. I'm pretty sure that kids and adults will love this dish. It's a nice to have this too with a creamy tomato soup or any tomato-based soup like minestrone. 

Happy Cooking! 


2 Large Eggs
3/4 cup Fresh Milk
Salt & Pepper
8 slices of loaf bread
4 slices of ham
4 slices of edam or cheddar
4 slices of emmentaler or mozzarella
1 1/2 tablespoons Mustard

3 tablespoons Butter


  1. Prepare the batter - Whip the eggs and add the milk, a dash of salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside. 
  2. To make the sandwich - Spread a thin layer of mustard on 1 slice of the bread and spread a pat of butter on another slice of bread. Top the two slices of bread with edam and emmentaler cheeses and add a slice of ham in the middle. Enclose the sandwich. 
  3. Heat a nonstick pan and add a little butter about half a tablespoon or use a no-stick cooking spray and swirl the pan. While waiting for the pan to heat up, dip the sandwich in the batter. Pan-fry the sandwich, wait for the cheese to melt a little before turning the it to the other side. When the sandwich is golden brown & the cheeses have melted, transfer it to a plate with paper towel to drain the excess oil. 
  4. Slice the sandwiches into triangles and serve.