Friday, February 18, 2011

$20 for $40 of Food at Pablo Cantina

Oh my gulay (vegetables in Filipino. lol!)! I was soooo hungry a couple of weeks ago that I told Beb to take me to Pablo Cantina so that we can finally use our PLAY Hawaii coupon.

PLAY Hawaii is just like Groupon. Beb and I get emails from Groupon, PLAY Hawaii, and another company called Living Social for some great deals.  About a month or so ago, Beb called me and wanted me to purchase the Pablo Cantina deal before it ran out. He works at a printing company so he made one of their signs and saw that the menu sounded good so I bought it for him.  It was $20 for $40 worth of food.  It sounded like a great idea because we've never been here before and this gave us a chance to try something new for a change.

The hostess was very nice and asked us if we wanted to sit outside or inside, so I chose inside because it was a pretty hot Sunday. We got free chips and salsa while we waited for our meal.  They were refillable, I believe, but we didn't want to spoil out appetite for our entrees (even though I did finish the whole basket! lol!).

Beb got some pork tacos, which on the description said that it was the regular street food in Mexico.  I've always wanted to try it because they always feature this when Anthony Bordain or Andrew Zimmern visit Mexico, but it's pork... how sad... It came with rice and beans too. Beb thought it was ok... he wasn't as hungry as me but he did finish it... lol...

I got this stuffed pepper with cheese and chicken dish (man! I can't find their menu online so I don't know what it's called!). It was pretty darn good!  It also came with rice and beans but I stopped eating the beans when I noticed that there was meat inside and it looked like pork... ugh... and I chomped on some onions too... ugh... so I just enjoyed the entree which was pretty fulfilling by itself...

It has seasoned chicken, with a layer of cheese around it (or was it some kind of dough? I'm not sure... lol..), stuffed inside a pepper and then fried. Then it's covered in this yummy red sauce.  I though it was supposed to be a spicy dish because it said so on the menu, but it wasn't.

Since we had $40 to spend, I thought I should get a drink since Beb got an ice tea. I got a virgin mango margarita which was so yummy! I was sad it wasn't served in a real margarita glass though so I can pretend I was drinking the real thing... lol... It was soo good that I drank to fast and had brain freeze several times... ouch...

We figured that we might as well get dessert since we probably had enough money to cover it if $40 wasn't enough especially since I saw fried ice cream on the menu!!! Yay! I haven't had this in a while... especially since the best fried ice cream I've had was in the Taco restaurant that used to be right next to Good-to-Go Grill in Kapahulu, but was closed down by the same owner. So sad... it was the best ever... This one wasn't so bad either... it was pretty good (that I almost didn't want to share with Beb) but I thought it was kind of pricey.... It had vanilla ice cream inside which was still pretty firm after covering it in batter and frying it!  It was topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream... Yum!

And this is our damage... how cool is that?!  This is why I love PLAY Hawaii, Groupon, and Living Social!  If only, would extend to Hawaii now...

My ratings: 2 cherries for the service because even though it wasn't busy at around 4:30pm on a Sunday afternoon when we came, it felt like our waiter didn't have any time for us! He would bring us the menu and our food and leave as quickly as he could that we almost didn't have time to tell him the other items that we wanted like my virgin margarita!  He also seemed impatient when we needed time to think about something... So I thought the service that day wasn't great... and it looked like a slow day too! Maybe he was new... lol... 4 cherries for taste (I'm glad we were able to try something new!) but 2.5 cherries for price because it was a bit pricey... The food is pretty good actually, but I'm not sure if I want to come back again because of the price so 3 cherries for the probability that I'll come back again (probably when I really crave fried ice cream again or when I have money... lol...). I just love that these coupon places give us the opportunity to try something new for half the cost!

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1st Recipe of 2011: Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelet)

I was craving it for a bit and I totally forgot to ask my mom to make it when she was here on vacay so I decided I should finally make some Tortang Talong. Tortang talong is a Filipino dish and is basically a grilled eggplant omelet with some meat. It's great any time of the day and who knew that eggplants and eggs would make such a great combo?! (Filipinos did! lol!)

My ingredient list:
-a couple of long eggplants (best to go to an Asian market for this!)
-depending on how many eggplants you have, two eggs per eggplant
-1/3 pound of ground beef or so depending on how much meat you like (I use ground beef instead of the usual ground pork because you know that I don't eat pork or you could just leave this part out if you like)
-veggie oil
-black pepper
-salt (or garlic salt)

1) The first step is to grill the eggplants until all of the skin is brown, wrinkly, and a little bit burned. I don't have a grill so I used our oven's broiler and broiled it for about 5-7 minutes until it was brown and fully wrinkly.

2) While the eggplants are in the oven, I scrambled two eggs per eggplant in separate bowls and I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I added the ground beef raw if you can see the pink spots in the bowls because I was lazy but that was a stupid idea and should've browned them a bit, seasoned it, and added it to the eggplant and eggs later (you'll see what I mean later).

3) When the eggplants are done, you should let it cool to work with it again (unlike impatient me who burned her hands on the hot eggplant!). Then, using a fork, peel off and throw away the eggplant skin to reveal the inside (or eat it if you like but I think they remove it because it's not good after being grilled; idk). After removing the skin, spread the inside "fibers" of the eggplant as above because allows for greater egg-eggplant ratio in the omelet (or something like that! lol!).

4) Turn on the stove and let it warm up a bit before putting a few tablespoons of veggie oil. Let the oil heat up a bit before laying the eggplant on the pan and pouring the eggs on top. Then you should pour the cooked ground beef of top and let it cook a bit before carefully flipping over.

5) Because the meat was raw, I had to ruin my nice omelet shape on the first and second eggplant because I needed to break it up and make sure that the meat wasn't pink anymore (who wants a pink omelet??). This is why you need already-cooked meat.

6) On my third eggplant, I let it sit on its back longer to cook the meat and tried to flip it and create the nice omelet shape typical of this dish, but it flipped to shape like an American omelet! Oh well! I'll show you the next time I crave this dish!

7) To top this whole recipe off, the one and only condiment to use is Banana ketchup! I know it sounds weird but it's like a cross between regular ketchup and sweet and sour sauce found in Chinese restaurants! Try it! It's really good!  And good luck when trying out this recipe! I will post more soon!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes

So I was browsing some food blogs one day and saw a recipe for matcha green tea cupcakes, and since I love green tea, I decided to try and make it. However, I decided to use a green tea smoothie mix instead of genuine matcha green tea powder and I ended up making regular tasting, green-colored cupcakes, tasting nothing of green tea! Oh well!

So my friend J offered to let me use her genuine matcha green tea for my next experiment and so here is my recipe:

-3 large eggs (it was supposed to be 2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks; but I thought that was too much and Beb was busting my chops about it so, to compromise, I put in 3 large eggs... lol!)
-2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
-1 cup milk
-2 tablespoons baking powder
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (but I cheated and used the spreadable kind!)
-2 cups sugar

1) First, I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees. I then mixed the green tea powder and milk in a bowl.

2) Then I mixed in the rest of the dry ingredients as well as the butter together with a whisk until fully mixed (an electric mixer is best to avoid lumps in the cupcakes).

3) I then mixed in the green tea milk with the dry ingredients until fully mixed. If you're using a whisk, it'll be good to pour the mixture through a sift(?) to remove lumps.

4) I then pour it as carefully as I could into the muffin tray (you could use a circle or square pan too to make a cake!) and put it in the oven for 20 mins. After 20 mins, I used a knife (you could use a fork or a kabob stick) to poke threw a cupcake. If nothing attach to it, then it's ready. If the wet mixture sticks to it, then let it sit for a few more minutes until you check it again.

I let it sit for a bit then transferred them to a plate so that it doesn't cook some more.  If you look closely, you can see some white lumps and that's because the flour wasn't fully mixed; a mixer is best (I'll get it when I can afford one! lol!). Serve when cooled.

It had some green tea flavor and tasted pretty good, but I thought it was great warm with a scoop of Rosalani Macadamia Nut Ice Cream!

I think I'm going to try and continue to improve this recipe. I think a little bit of veggie oil will make it moister (?). I do want to try and make green tea cheesecake though! Someday soon!

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