About Chef Danny

Danny de la Cuesta’s creative and artistic career spans three decades of prolific output in design, training and consultancy. He graduated in the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication majoring in Broadcast Communications. He pursued his Second degree in Business Management with concentration in Fashion Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University, USA. He has been designing fashion since the late 70’s, with rich local and international exposures through retail, export and fashion shows. In 1994, he opted to broaden his horizon by extending his artistic calling by means of embarking into a career in Culinary Design. He became the first National Champion of the San Miguel Culinary Cookfest which paved him to pursue a Diploma in Culinary Arts at the Le Cordon Bleu Escole di Cuisine, London Campus, England under the tutelage of Chef Michel Boucheret. He was the past Editor in Chief of Cook Magazine and an active member of The Creative Media Professionals Guild of the Asia and the Pacific.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cook Magazine November Issue

A Progressive Feast

 Transporting our annual family reunion for thanksgiving in Ilocos Norte did not make it difficult; in fact,
it made it more memorable for us.
Two years ago, my maternal aunt, Perpetua, the beloved linchpin around whom my family
revolves suddenly felt that a trip from Ilocos Norte to Manila for our annual TUMBA-an Ilocano day of thanksgiving and prayer
for the family’s faithful departed celebrated every 2nd day of November in time when harvest is almost done, was not, at age 87,
what she wanted to do. It seemed like an extremely reasonable decision, although TUMBA without Nana Perpet was not what we
wanted to do either. Instead, we did the understandable; we packed up and took TUMBA to her.
When I became a chef fifteen
 years back, I volunteered to prepare the yearly TUMBA luncheon on the precondition that every family member attending should
contribute to the ingredients needed for the menu. I had packed a carton of essential equipment: my huge heavy oval Le Creuset
pan: a couple of knives that are my third arm and a full neck to knee white Egyptian cotton apron- my indispensible cooking uniform.

Another carton held bottles of four different wines, I joyfully gathered as gifts from friends and business associates. Tucked
within the wine bottles were jars of cashew nuts from Antipolo, dried candied ginger from Chinatown, and mammon tostado from Malabon. 
I had gone over a market list with my cousin, Manang Waya, in advance. She delegated each family member what to put in the feast:
two marinated jumbo free range chickens from Magnolia, beef shank ‘Bulalo’ from Tagaytay, ham bones from Excellente in Quiapo,
Spanish chorizos from Shopwise, and Baguio veggies from Divisoria. My cousins residing in Ilocos volunteered to bring in the Milagrosa rice,
pig trotters from their bagnet store in San Nicolas Market, some of the newly harvested sweet potatoes, frozen sofrito from last summer’s
tomato harvest and lots of sun dried, seedless duhat soaked in Tanduay rum last may for my dessert creations. All of these were waiting
for us when we arrived, looking like culinary road warriors, the day before the feast.  As usual, I felt the enormous sense of relaxation
that comes with advance planning. With the menu I devised, I knew I could do the main course & desserts in a breeze: Lauya is a stewworthy
number I adapted from my grandma’s recipe book.
Lauya is probably one of the regular Ilocano holiday fares. In the old days, grandma cooked
Lauya on a vast caldron that simmers all night, hardly bubbling. It used to be the hallmark of the middle-class Ilocano kitchen.
On that special
occasion, however I made a tribute to this magnificent Ilocano dish in the style of French Bouilli, the Italian Bollito and the Spanish Cocido. 
I began by throwing all the ingredients in a huge pot to slow cook tough meats all night. The most important components are the meats I chose
 for their diversity of flavors. I threw a chunk of cured pork meat and dried sausages, bone-in beef shank, pig trotters, ham bones, whole
free-range hen and beef offal into the caldron making it tender by long and slow simmering together with its other elements- chickpeas, carrots,
potatoes and savoy cabbage which generated a seductive smell while it metamorphoses into a very flavorful and rich caldo. The velvety succulent
 meat fell off the bone they ate it with a spoon.
Lauya is traditionally, served in at least in two courses. The first course is always the strained
caldo called Sopa de Fideos – pure, golden and rich, with some noodles. The second course is all the veggies plus the meat for carving and is
eaten with a dipping sauce of vinaigrette. It is a very filling meal, extremely tasty and satisfying. It takes hours to eat the repast most often
the button of your pants gets undone and a big smile swathe your face.
Logistically, the preparation for the rest of the feast was easy to tuck
in the two-day reunion of 18 people.  The morning of All Souls Day while everyone were in the church cemetery for the tumba rites, I prepared
the dessert- my own celebration of duhat. I assembled the ingredients for the duhat crunch-a trifle of biscotti drench in duhat wine from Vigan
and Magnolia cream cheese and another dessert, the duhat . Too many duhat? Not for a berry lover and a holiday sentimentalist like myself.
The truth is the different textures and temperatures of these two desserts just emphasized the possibilities of our local berry rather than the
 blueberry desserts appearing on trendy restaurant menus.
I solved one last holiday dilemma with my progressive feast: presents. As I prepared
 the Duhat Bread Pudding with Orange custard Sauce and the Duhat Cashew Nut Trifle, I decided they were too good not to share. So I began to
 multiply quantities and search for local baskets for packaging. Then I asked my cousin, Gasat, to ship these treats complete with recipes, off to
 absent family members and friends, a logical-and fitting-extension of this truly progressive feast.


Lauya Ingredients:
10 oz dried chickpeas,soaked overnight
9 oz fresh pork belly

4 oz bone in beef shank with marrow bone, sawn accross
1 pc Magnolia free-range chicken
½ kl beef offal
3 pcs Spanish chorizos
1kl Chinese ham bones
1kl pig's trotter, split
1 whole garlic bulb
2 bay leaves
8 black peppercorns, crushed
1 small onion, studded with 2 cloves
1 1/2 lb Savoy cabbage, quartered
2 carrots, in big pieces
2 leeks, short lengths
1 lb new sweet potatoes
2 tsp fish sauce

Several hours before cooking, brine all the meats.
Choose a large stockpot. Pack in all the meat, skin side down. Line the bottom of the pot with
beef shank and ham bones, followed by the offal. Fit the pork belly, chicken, pig’s trotter, on uppermost part of the layered meats.
Add the garlic bulb, leeks, bay leaves and peppercorns then cover with water. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum that rises.
Leave it to simmer on very low fire for about eight hours.
 Drain the chickpeas, add to the pot, cover and simmer on the lowest possible heat,
checking occasionally. Halfway through, add the onion stuck with the cloves.
In a second casserole, put the quartered cabbage, all the vegetables and all the sausages.
 Add water to cover the ingredients and a fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are ready.
Drain the vegetables and sausages.
Slice the sausages. Arrange the vegetables decoratively on a platter and put the sausage slices on top.
Remove the meats from the main pot,
collecting the chickpeas together. Remove the marrow from the bone and slice it into the chickpeas. Slice all the meats. Arrange the meats and chickpeas on a platter, moistening them with a little broth.

Sopa de Fideos

4pcs medium sized tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 pc onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 cup fettuccine, cut into 2”long

3 cups of lauya broth

Place the tomatoes, onion, and garlic into a blender, and pulse several times to get the mixture moving; blend until smooth, 30 seconds
to 1 minute.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, and stir in the pasta. Fry the pasta gently, stirring often, until the pasta
 is golden brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour the tomato mixture into a large saucepan, and stir in broth and noodles. Bring to a boil,
and reduce heat to medium low; simmer until the noodles are tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and stir in the
cilantro; simmer 2 more minutes to cook cilantro.

Duhat Bread Pudding with Orange custard Sauce
16 slices bread, crusts removed and cubed
1-1/2 cups duhat, soaked in rum
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/4 cup butter, melted
½ cup diced,
candied ginger
6 eggs
4 cups milk
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Custard Sauce
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 orange peel strip (1/4 inch)
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

 For the Pudding
In a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish, layer half of the bread cubes, duhat and orange peel. Repeat layers. Drizzle with butter.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla until blended; pour over bread mixture. Let stand for 15-30 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 65-75 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
For sauce
In a heavy saucepan, beat egg yolks and sugar. Stir in cream and orange peel.
Cook and stir over low heat for 20-25 minutes or
until mixture reaches 160° and coats the back of a metal spoon.
Remove from the heat; discard orange peel. Stir in extract.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with bread pudding.

Duhat Cashew Nut Trifle
12 ounces dried duhat soaked in rum
2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
3 tablespoons finely chopped cashew nuts
1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
24 ounces crumbled Mammon Tostado
2 pcs Mamon Tostado for garnish (optional)

For the compote
In a medium saucepan, combine duhat, 2 cups of the sugar, and 2 cups water.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat;
cook for 8 to 10 minutes until Duhat begins to swell.
Let compote cool completely.
Make cream filling:
Using a wire whisk, beat cream cheese,
brown sugar, remaining cup granulated sugar, and vanilla until well combined.
Gradually add heavy cream; continue beating until soft peaks form.
Assembling the trifle
Arrange 1/3 of crumbled toasties in a serving dish.
Spoon 1/3 of compote over crumbled mammon; spread to sides of dish.
Dollop 1/3 of cream filling over compote; spread to sides of dish.
Sprinkle chopped nuts all over the cream filling. Repeat twice, ending with cream
filling and cashew.
Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 1 day.)

By: Chef Danny De La Cuesta

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nibbling on appetizers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When the weather turns humid and hot, do as the Europeans do: prepare a selection of small savory dishes and make a meal of them.
Call them antipasti in Italy, amuse-guenees in France, mezethakia in Greece or tapas in Spain, these small flavorful dishes are important components in the Mediterranean lifestyle which is eaten before a meal or a meal in itself. Whether it is a tiny or melting Spanakopita of Greece, Italian Marinated Mushrooms or maybe Spanish Salted Cod Balls these little snacks play an integral part in the Mediterranean culture of communal eating, amusing and nourishing.
Small savory appetizers are perfect entertaining options because most foods can be prepared in advance except for fried dishes as they should be served straight after cooking. Appetizers are intended to whet the appetite they tend to be those dishes which are rich in spice, garlic, lemon and vinegar.  All these dishes very well match olives, chunks of rustic country style bread and a choice of any chilled glass of Spritzer, a Bellini, Mojito or your favorite wine.
Summer is the best time to appreciate this lighter cuisine. Produce gets better as the season advances. Appetizing dishes suit the mood after a long day, when the sun’s heat is tempered and the light is waning, and everyone wants to drift outside to grasp some summer night breeze. And since most of them can be made ahead and eaten at room temperature, mix of textures, tastes and aromas are limitless; it is important to consider a contrast of colors and flavors and use fresh seasonal produce when choosing the selections. 
I have learned to eat this way in London when I was training in Cordon Bleu. Countless times, I have sat on the terraces and courtyards and nibbled my way through a series of little dishes in the company of friends. Flavors zing and zip in concert conversation which will halt now and then as we  pop crisp potato balls laced with basil into our mouths, sop a bit in olive oil from the mushrooms with a piece of bread, or sipped  bubbly Bellini’s. The lull is always momentary, however, for as anyone who has spent any time in the Mediterranean knows, conversation is as important an ingredient to life as food and wine.
In fact, I think that these finger foods stimulate discussion and thought. It’s impossible to resist inspiration after a mouthful of cucumber and feta cheese salad. And once inspired, it is imperative to share, which is why these dishes demand at least a small group of friends. Best of all, this manner of eating is good for enduring summer. Because it is prepared with light hand and eaten in moderation, it is the perfect make away with the scorching summer heat. Inspired by Mediterranean dishes, these recipes I share offer healthy, delicious sustenance not only for the body, but for the soul. They signal, too, a way of life that includes sunshine and postprandial naps, lots of time to sip and nibble, to discuss the important things in life with friends, or to stare in to the distance with impunity.
Truly, small dishes are perfect for midsummer treat. Try these recipes that will sure warm your hearts.…
Marinated Mushrooms with roasted Red Bell Peppers

The small, individual champignon mushroom is usually marinated ideally with herbs. Dishes based on the combination of mushrooms are actually quite rare in traditional Mediterranean cookery. But lately, I have begun combining mushrooms with intensely flavored vegetables and bell peppers are one of my most popular among them. 

2 cups of white wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon of salt
2 lbs button mushrooms, stems trimmed
2 pcs red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and sliced
4 pcs bay leaves
2 all spice berries
1 garlic clove, split in half
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 branches fresh rosemary

1. Boil mushrooms in vinegar, peppercorns, salt and water in a medium heat till tender.
2. Transfer in tea towels and pat dry. 
3. Place mushrooms in dry jars alternating with roasted peppers, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves.
4. Completely cover with oil. Close the jars tightly and let it sit in dry place for at least 4 days. Mushrooms can lasts for several months. Serve with crusty bread at room temperature.

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)                                                                                                      t
This recipe taste like the pie I get from one of the Greek Town restaurants in Athens. Thank you so much, Michelle Dinglasan for lending me your recipe.  My son loved it!!! I used butter for my phyllo dough and I added a little salt and pepper, dill weed and nutmeg...
2 pounds spinach (steamed, squeezed, drained and chopped)
1 cup Kesong Puti, from DVF dairy farm (crumbled)
1/4 cup dill (chopped)
1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
1 bunch green onions (sliced)
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oilphyllo dough, cut into three lengthwise, buttered and sprinkled with pepper, dill and nutmeg.
1. Mix the spinach, kesong puti, dill, parsley, green onions, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
2. Brush the bottom of an 8x8 inch baking pan with olive oil.
3. To assemble the Spanakopita, portion some of spinach mixture onto each end of phyllo and fold into a triangle.  Place onto a baking tray.
4. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite yoghurt dressing.

Spanish Salted Cod Balls
                                                                                                                        Actually, you do not have to use salt cod; any meaty, salted fish will be a good alternative. after visiting Seville during a trade fair , I found that all the ...small cafes had a platter of cod fish balls and toasted bread on the table when you sat down as free appetizers to munch... they were made from the left over cod and bread from the previous day. We ate them and drank wine, it was great!.
2 lbs salted Lapu lapu, soaked overnight, boiled and flaked from bones
1 large potato, unpeeled, boiled, and mashed
2 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped, and fried
2 cloves garlic, crushed and fried
¼ cup self rising flour
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Extra Olive oil, for deep frying

Combine potato, salted fish, onion, garlic, flour, egg yolks and parsley in bowl.
Whisk egg whites until stiff then fold into the potato mixture.
Heat oil to 190F, drop heaping teaspoon of cod-potato mixture into the oil and fry till golden brown.
Drain in paper towels and serve with twist of lemon.
Greek Salad                                                                                                                                                              When you want a light refreshing side dish for a quick summer dinner, this Middle Eastern salad is a great go-to recipe. It's simple enough to throw together for an average weeknight dinner, yet elegant enough to serve an appetizer.
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled into ½ inch
4 cucumbers seeded and diced into ¼ inch
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ tablespoons dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint, ground till pulverize
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
Combine powdered mint, oil and lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper
Pour over the vegetables and toss well.
Fried Potato Balls with Cilantro
This is a popular street food in Morocco, where they are eaten plain or used as sandwich filler. They can also be served as an appetizer or as a side dish.
1 lbs potatoes, washed, boiled and push through a ricer.
3 pcs sweet potatoes, washed, boiled and push through a ricer.
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
3 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup Cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ cup olive oil for frying
Mix potatoes, herbs, spices, eggs and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper
Using 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture, form into small balls.
Heat oil to 375f then fry the balls till golden brown but being careful not to crowd them. 
Lift balls in paper towels and let it sit to drain. Serve with aioli sauce

Baba Ghannouj (Middle Eastern Eggplant dip) It is said that the woman who created this recipe pureed the eggplant just to ease the eating and digestion of her old and toothless father. Substantial and nutritious, it has a smooth, creamy texture, and a slightly smoked taste. It is traditionally served with pita bread but is good for tortilla or chip dips.
2 large eggplants, grilled till blistered and soft, peeled and drained then chopped
3 cloves garlic, mashed
½ teaspoon cumin
½ cup lemon juice2 tablespoon tahini
Pinch of cayenne pepper
11/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon parsley
Black olives to garnish
Process eggplant, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cayenne pepper and olive oil until creamy
Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with black olives
Serve with flat bread.

Mango Bellini
This is the version originated in the Famous Harry’s Bar in Venice. Instead of the usual sparkling wine and peach juice, mango juice and champagne makes this a tempting, and stronger variation. Served at celebrations, it is one of Italy's most popular cocktails.
1 ripe, sweet mango
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp sugar syrup
1 Tbsp mango rum
1 bottle champagne, chilled

Peel and pit mango. Process flesh with lemon juice until smooth puree is achieved
Sweeten to taste with sugar syrup. Strain
Add brandy to the puree and stir.
 Divide the nectar among chilled champagne flutes and finish the drinks with chilled champagne

Chef Danny de la Cuesta