Foodie Life

“Healthy” feasting at the third FOOD Magazine FOOD Tastings cooking class

Let me just tell you a couple of things you missed during last Sunday’s third leg of FOOD Magazine’s FOOD Tastings cooking class series.

First was a table loaded with a full spread of “healthy” food from five different chefs. Healthy was interpreted in so many ways this day! (And let me tell ya not all of them were actually “healthy” in the traditional sense of the word haha!)

There were loads of beautifully decorated dishes in the event, guaranteed to make your mouth water at first glance.

There were also a lot of dishes with some pretty scrumptious eggs and sauce on top.

And of course, there was once again one of my BFF’s Gilbert eating every crumb of the sample dishes with his usual gusto. (And can we just take a moment to appreciate his lashes!)

But I’m not here just to talk about what you missed. It wouldn’t be fair to fill your screens with yummy food and just walk away right? This was an afternoon filled to the brim with delicious recipes and generous food samples, and though I wish I could allow you to reach into the screen and grab some of that yumminess, I’ll share the recipes instead so you can try your hand at making these on your own!

It was a rainy afternoon but the Eastwood Atrium was packed with loyal readers of FOOD Magazine raring for some yummy healthy food. The event began with some opening remarks by the host Cynthia Patos, previous winner of Lifestyle Network‘s The Clash, who now has a TV show on Lifestyle.

After a warm welcome from FOOD Mag’s Editor-in-Chief Nana Ozaeta, the event started at full swing.

Seated close to the front, I took a little glance towards the back and immediately had the feeling that many were starting to get excitedly hungry already, especially since the first ones on the stage was the duo behind Fitburger. Burgers that are healthy? Well, YUMMMM.

Anthony Macaraeg is the co-owner of Fitburger who also works as a fitness coach. Now we all know burgers aren’t exactly what one would call “health food” (not especially for girls!), but for many male body-builders, it’s a good combination of protein, carbs, and veggies. As someone who religiously works out and watches what I eat, I believe that a good diet is one where there is balance. It’s NOT about starving yourself and working out like a maniac without any sustenance.

To live a healthy lifestyle, it’s very important to know exactly what you’re eating. At Fitburger, their burgers are 95% grass-fed lean ground meat and only 5% fat, plus they add some oatmeal into their patties to give it a fibrous boost. Another good trick to give the patties some flavour without adding preservatives is the addition of mustard, which they both add to the patty and brush on the patty while cooking it.

By the way, they gave a good tip to avoid having your burger puff up too much while cooking: leave a little indent on the patty.

As Anthony narrated the recipe, Chef RD Robles prepared the patties and assembled the burgers. The Eastwood Atrium started smelling heavenly. Another adaptation they made to make the burgers more on the healthier side is using whole wheat pita bread as well as homemade mayo and tomato ketchup.

For the Breakfast Burger, it’s actually layers of melty cheese atop an omelette with bell peppers, then there’s some double smoked bacon resting on the beef patty, before all of that is enveloped in whole wheat pita bread that’s been squirted with homemade mayo and ketchup.

This is a carnivore’s favourite type of sandwich!

The other burger they made is their classic Fitburger, which is essentially layers of lettuce, onions, tomatoes, plus a sheet of gooey melty cheese on top of a hot and juicy Fitburger patty. Again it is nestled between whole wheat pita breads squirted with homemade mayo and ketchup. Ain’t that a beauty?

And just so you know, this not-so-pretty sight is legit. He’s really this matakaw.

The next chef that took the stage is from Tefal, one of the event’s main sponsors. Chef Deejay Santos was probably the only one who shared a recipe that I would consider to be legitimately healthy. And oh so delicious.

He made Mediterranean Chicken Couscous, starting with cooking 2 cups of couscous in a bowl or container with a lid. You basically just pour in 2 cups of boiling water on the couscous, give it a little stir, then cover it up. Easy.

Next came cooking 2 to 3 pieces of cubed chicken breast fillet that’s been seasoned with about 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano. In his Tefal pan, he added 2 tablespoons olive oil (NOT extra virgin! You can’t use that for cooking) and sautéed the chicken. Then he added 1 cup cubed zucchini and cooked it together with the chicken until the chicken was completely cooked through.

Now you can turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup each garbanzos (chickpeas), black olives, and diced tomatoes. At this point the couscous will be ready and you can just mix it all together with the chicken.

The dressing was a tangy affair of 1/2 cup olive oil (now you can use extra-virgin), the juice of 2 lemons, 1/4 cup cane vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, then salt and pepper to taste. Whisk all that up and just drizzle all over your chicken and couscous, then garnish with hard-boiled egg wedges, some cilantro, maybe a dash of paprika even.

I’m a fan of grains like couscous and quinoa so I gobbled this up in a flash!

Up next, Chef Matthew Bates from The Early Bird Breakfast Club took to the stage to prepare two yummy breakfast dishes. First was a Breakfast Sausage Tart, which, let’s be honest, is a really good way to start your day with a bit of indulgence. I happen to like sausage so no complaints here.

You can buy pre-made crusts or use your favourite pie crust recipe, cut into the size you want, then just bake it for a bit with some pie weights on until lightly golden. Take it out of the oven and let cool as you cook the filling: Sauté 5 grams onions, 15 grams bacon, 60 grams sausage, 10 grams tomatoes, 10 grams mushroom—- all of which have been chopped already. Distribute your filling among your pre-baked tart shells and pour some beaten egg, but don’t overfill so the egg doesn’t leak out. Top with cheese and pop into the oven. Reminds me of a quiche, only sans the cream since eggs are used to bind the tart together. That’s certainly healthier by miles.

The other stuff on that plate is really just Chef Matthew’s efforts to “funkify” this dish, but the star is the tasty tart. The veggies add a good touch of healthy though. Would love this with something spicy as a sauce!

Chef Matthew’s other dish is Poached Salmon Aioli on top of whole wheat toast. The trickiest part is poaching the salmon and the egg really, but just cook the salmon in some stock until it feels firm on the outside but is still a bit pink inside. In poaching the egg, adding a bit of vinegar into the water helps to cook your egg whites more quickly so you can still get that soft egg yolk inside a fairly firm egg white shell.

Making sure the egg and salmon are dry, it’s now a matter of plating the salmon on top of freshly toasted bread. The egg goes on top of the salmon with a dollop of aioli, lemon wedges, and some parsley.

Gilbert always has to make this chameleon face in every event we go to. ALWAYS!

I love salmon. I love poached egg. Needless to say I gobbled this up even if the bread had become a bit hard since it was cold already. This is certainly a lot less calorie-laden than a smoked salmon egg benedict with dripping hollandaise sauce, if you ignore the fact that the poached egglet on our sample portion MIGHT be quail egg. It’s really tiny.

Whew. We still have two more chefs to go! The taste-test servings this time around were very generous but I still had a lot of room in my tummy for more! 🙂

The next chef is a familiar one, since she was present during the first FOOD Tastings class. Actually Chef Nancy Dizon-Edralin cooked a similar dish then too because she also made Seafood Noodles with Squid Ink Sauce. The only difference is this time she used Sapporo Sotanghon instead of normal pasta. And this time the squid ink in the pasta we got to taste test was a lot darker. Sotanghon is easier to prepare than pasta anyway, since you just let it sit in hot water for 5 minutes basically, then drain.

True to her style she asked for a volunteer from the audience, and this guy came running up the stage like a sprinter. He assisted Chef Nancy in cooking the dish, starting with heating 4 tablespoons olive oil in a wok, then sautéing 6 cloves minced garlic, and 1/2 cup diced onions until translucent. 1 cup of diced tomatoes is added and cooked until soft. Half the tomatoes are then removed and set aside to avoid overcooking them.

Now the seafood goes in: 200 grams each tail-on prawn, ring-sliced squid, medium mussels, and clams. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until seafood is fully cooked through, around 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Now for the black sauce! Return the tomatoes and add 1/2 cup chicken stock plus 1 tablespoon squid ink slowly to avoid splattering and staining your clothes! Simmer for 3 minutes then season with salt and pepper. Chef Nancy removed the skillet from the heat before adding in the sotanghon. The sauce will cling immediately to the translucent strands.

Finally it’s all just a matter of plating the noodles with the seafood, and showering it with some chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

As a bonus recipe, Chef Nancy also prepared some Mango Graham Cashew Cream Parfait. Basically just layers of cashew-graham crumbs with whipped cold cream and mango. You can’t go wrong with this sort of thing I think.

Finally we get to the last chef of the day, Chef Robby Goco of Cyma and now Green Pastures fame. He was going to make salad and a paella, which got everyone in the crowd excited.

The salad is a Pad Thai Salad with Spicy Cashew Dressing. I can vouch for cashew dressings after having made one before and basked in its epicness. I already knew this was going to be yummy just by the mention of that sauce.

For the salad, all the veggies were shredded to resemble thin vermicelli noodles: 100 grams lettuce, 45 grams carrots, 30 grams red bell pepper, 30 grams red cabbage, 45 grams cucumber. The spring onion (15 grams) was chopped, plus 5 grams torn basil and 5 grams tom yao. For additional flavour, chef recommends flavoured sunflower seeds, some shrimp, and scrambled egg.

To make the all-important sauce, 120 mL soya oil is placed in a food processor, along with 10 mL lime juice, 30 grams cashew butter (basically pureed oven-toasted cashews). 15 mL Sriracha or other chilli sauce, 15 mL honey, 10 mL rice wine vinegar, plus 3 grams cilantro. Whiz that all up until the consistency of a smooth dressing. Now just assemble your salad and pour that sauce in.

Below is the plate we got, which was a very pretty work of art indeed! If you look at the veggies on this plate, all of them are sourced locally from farmers in the province, and all of them are grown without artificial fertilizers. Local and organic are philosophies Chef Robby Goco treasures in his new restaurant Green Pastures.

The most important bit Chef Robby discussed while making this was supporting local farmers whenever you buy your produce. I wish I could do like him and personally get to know local farmers who can supply me with some organic vegetables with quality I can be sure of. This is also a way of eating healthy, because knowing where your food comes from and the processes undertaken to grow them helps you to know whether the very thing you put in your mouth is “clean” or not.

The last dish, and perhaps the most impressive one as well, is his Mushroom and Kale Paella. This is a legit dish they serve in Green Pastures by the way (the salad is available only in their Eastwood restaurant as of this writing), but Chef Robby was kind enough to share the recipe with us. I’ve personally never made paella at home but I sure was inspired to try after this. Did you know: Paella done right can be dished out in less than 15 minutes!

So in a 10” paellera, heat 15 mL of olive oil until it starts smoking. Sauté 100 grams small diced onions until translucent, then add 70 grams shiitake mushrooms, 50 grams button mushrooms, 30 grams oyster mushrooms, and 30 grams enoki mushrooms, all thinly sliced. Cook until brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Add 50 grams minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add 100 grams grated tomato and 2 grams Spanish paprika. The rice used here is local Red Rice (100 grams) from Ifugao, if I’m not mistaken. Sauté mixture, distributing the rice evenly in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Now the 250mL mushroom stock is added and brought to a boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes.

Now we get to the “fun” part– actually, it’s the dangerous part which nobody should not do at home if inexperienced with a blow torch! They burned a sprig of rosemary, took off the paellera’s lid, threw the burning sprig into the pan and covered again. This helps to get a rosemary infusion into the paella. Remove the paella from the heat as this infusion goes on.

Finally the add-on’s for the paella will be made. There’s the 180 grams kale that’s sautéed briefly in olive oil until a bit wilted; and the 50 grams whole oyster mushroom lightly dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried until golden. (Deep fried isn’t exactly healthy but with the mushrooms it’s SO SO GOOD!)

To plate the dish, a poached chicken egg is placed at the center, surrounded by the kale and mushrooms, then drizzled generously with Saffron Aioli and Paprika Oil.

The flavour of this dish, thanks to the mushroom stock, gives it a bit of a truffle-like flavour. It reminds me of a light truffle risotto, but oh that poached egg and crispy fried mushroom just adds so many good notes and textures to this dish. Absolutely delicious!

I’ve been wanting to go to Green Pastures for a while now and this paella certainly has me convinced to pay it a visit ASAP!

So there you go! There are some very differing ideas when it comes to “healthy” as far as the recipes in this class is concerned, but there’s more than one way to eat healthy I guess. Needless to say, the food was delicious. Just look at the smiles on our faces! Two happy campers right there!

To highlight just exactly how delicious, Gilbert actually waited to get the Breakfast Burger by Fitburger (his favourite obviously among all the prepared dishes this day) after all of the attendees have left the venue. He basically asked everyone who would listen to give him the burger and he did not leave the display table until he got it. Yup, score a WIN for him!

As for you my dear readers, congratulations on reading through all of this! HAHA! I’m glad you’re still with me! I hope you learned some awesome recipes just like I did, (or at least inspired you to try similar ones) and I hope this convinced you to join the final leg of FOOD Magazine FOOD Tastings this coming November. You’re not just going to learn things, you’ll also get to actually taste the dishes the chefs whip up! 😉

If you need more information, here are the first two FOOD Tastings events Gilbert and I attended: Pizza & Pasta Class and Let’s Cook Pinoy class. Keep an eye out for the announcement of the final FOOD Tastings class!


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