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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Celebrating 5 years...

I can't believe it's been five years!

Indeed what a great ride it's been!  I created my food blog which I appropriately called Impromptu Diva.  As most impulsive decisions go, a change had to be made and I came up with Skip to Malou... And yeah highlighting my name Malou is like shouting to the world that I am Filipina. “Ma- what?” they would ask… so I would tell them my standard reply: “It’s Malou, like skip to my Lou,” and that helps them with their pronunciation. They would say May-Lou!  Hmm I thought Skip to Malou is a catchy name, so why not name my blog SKIP TO MALOU?  

And oh yeah it's been five years... and I can't be happier where I am at now. My culinary journey has taken me to places I never would have imagined.  

Starting this blog has led  me to reach a much wider audience.  I have broadened my reach further thru teaching cooking classes and guestings on TV and in articles in magazines. For the past year, I've run a very successful pop up restaurant featuring Filipino comfort food.  Also, I've started a cooking channel on Youtube, which incidentally has more than two million hits!  And along the way, the greatest gift this journey brings is meeting wonderful people... and that includes YOU!  You who would spend time reading my blog... You who would remind me that I have not written in awhile... YOU who would leave comments .. yes YOU who fuel me when my gas is low.  THANK YOU dear readers!

Also, I can't thank enough my husband, who throughout this 5 year journey of mine has remained supportive (and sane, hehe).  He has been my editor, my official taster, my menu planner and my videographer.  He's always there to listen to my stories upon stories about the blog... and about the blog... and yes, more about the blog. haha.  Thank you Christian!

Thank you to my three wonderful children.  They've been my inspiration behind so many blog posts.  They are in fact the reason why I started the blog.  Thank you Heather, Isabelle and Joey.  You made  my role as a MOM so enjoyable and fruitful... I can't help but to share it with others.

Lastly, my family and friends and my kapaMEALya... for constantly supporting me throughout the journey.   For brainstorming with me... For giving me inspiration, for mapping out my SKIP TO MALOU plans and goals.  I thank you all.  You know who you are!

From the get go, I started sharing recipes with a focus on Filipino food.  Why not? Filipino food is the food of my childhood and the food of my soul.  Food pundits say that Filipino food is the next big thing. So it's an exciting time for Filipino food proponents like myself.  Ultimately, my goal is to help transition Filipino food from an ethnic curiosity to a fledgling mainstream cuisine.

And to celebrate my fifth year anniversary, I am changing my logo.  While it's true that SKIP TO MALOU was derived from my name, I also would like to say that I am now from the LOU, hence the arch, and the star at the bottom is from the flag of my home country.  Thank you Nancy Ilagan Neal of NBMI Design for executing  the idea.  And thank you Maxene and Oliver for all the help.

And here's a new episode with my STL KapaMEALya on YOUTUBE  to celebrate the occasion   For this episode and the previous one were directed by Ina.   And Ina, I can't thank you enough for this and for all the wonderful support.

Click on the photo below and I hope you enjoy another episode on HOW TO MAKE KARE KARE!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Salo Project: An Epic Event

The Salo (a gathering) Project-  moveable pop up dinners by Yana Gilbuena is a series of  epic events.

Yana has been traveling across the US doing what she does best - cooking a feast for a gathering of adventurous diners; she believes that to best understand the culture is thru food. And that's exactly what she brought to STL: The experience to eat with a big group Kamayan style on banana leaves, yet with refined dishes is just amazing. On top of that she's doing this for a cause: for the victims of typhoon Yolanda.

Thank you Yana for inviting me to be a part of this noble cause. I truly enjoyed working with talented Filipino chefs, supported and made possible by the friendly staff ofWinslow's Home headed by the owners, executive Chef Wil, Angela and Nowell. I've also always wanted to collaborate with Joel Crespo of the Guerrilla Street Food fame, and having said that, Salo is a dream... a sweet dream. 

Thank you also to the adventurous diners and the unfailing support of my family and friends. Honestly your endless support is what fuels my passion to promote and celebrate Filipino food.

The fierce and the force behind Salo: YANA GUILBUENA

Hats off to you Yana for pulling it off with every single dinner that you create from state to state... This is a noble and courageous project. More Power!

Prepping up my dish of DINAKDAKAN.  I call it the SISIG of the North

Met another Filipio Chef, Nowell Gata, who was a powerful force at the back of the house.

Chef Nowel executing Yana's  Squah Flan.

Joel Crespoo co-owner of the Guerrilla Street Food truck;winner of the best food truck in the US.  They served DINUGUAN for SALO.

The executive chef of Winslow's Home(the venue) Chef Wil  Fernandez-Crus, together with Sauce editor in chief Ligaya Figueras

The adventurous diners

My KapaMEALYA (my ever loyal family and friends)

SALO rockstar Yana Gilbuena pouring her ginataan concoction over fried hito

The venue: WINSLOW"s HOME,  where it brings you to s different era.  It used to be a grocery store but the owners gutted it down in to a bohemian chic resto cum bookstore, cum kitchen store with up cycled everything.  I just loved the hip ambience.perfect for an epic event

Serving my Dinakadakan and a short spiel.

My daughter Izzy and foodie friend Maxene... in the foreground are beers from Urban Chestnut who sponsored the beer pairing for the event.

My friend Gerome with the "special" in the menu: BALUT

Balut-brave eaters

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Let's MEAT-UP 2

Let's Meat Up is an initiative of Meat Livestock Australia's (MLA) Philippine Office to promote awareness of premium quality Australian beef and lamb. I've been developing recipes for MLA for the past few years.  I aim to share with home cooks my mouth-watering beef and lamb recipes in line with MLA's Let's Meat Up program.

Last year, I had the opportunity of cooking in front of home cooks showcasing my original recipes.  And on my recent trip to the Philippines, I did the same thing.  Yes, I was excited to do it last year as it was my first time but I'm doubly thrilled this time since, a: it is in a larger venue (Kitchen 1B, a high-end organic gourmet restaurant and I love the modern ambience), b: in front of a bigger audience (Food Media and Manila Mommy Bloggers) and  c: with a better set-up (in an open kitchen and with a DJ hosting the event).

That's me prepping in the kitchen.  I was lucky to have the whole kitchen crew of Kitchen 1B helping me out during prep time.  Their expertise in mise en place came in handy.  I couldn't have done it without them.

An overview of Let's Meat Up was presented by Paul P. Perez; country manager for Meat Livestock Austrailia for the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Through the years, I've developed more than 30 recipes for MLA.  It feels good to see my recipes in print.  Hmmm... is a cookbook next in line?  Maybe?  Fingers crossed.  I am throwing positive vibes to the universe that I would have a cookbook soon!

Out of the 30 recipes that I created, I cooked 5 dishes for tasting.  No worries, I will be sharing all five recipes that I cooked for this event in later posts.

To start with a bang - I am sharing with you the most raved recipe for the event, which is the Mango Tango Australian Beef Tenderloin. The recipe appears at the end of this post.

Do you see me behind the counter? Well with me was my kitchen assistant Lito, who was very efficient in helping me.  The lady in red is DJ Jada of Jam 88.3. She acted as the  host/commentator who made the event even more livelier.

I cooked 5 of my original recipes.  Right after each dish was cooked, it was immediately served for tasting.  I thought it was scary... there was no room for error.  I felt like I am being judged like the ones you see on reality food TV. Fortunately, after each bite, all I heard were wows and oohs and saw thumbs up.  It's gotta be the Australian meat that I used that made my dishes so tasty :).  But thank you MOMMY BLOGGERS, it felt good for all of you to be on my side.

Photo-op with the lovely Mommy Bloggers. It was great meeting these ladies who are so much like me--- a wife, a mom and a BLOGGER... and we can all relate to having deadlines for our posts.

I can't thank enough the MLA Team Manila headed by the country manager Mr. Paul Perez for giving me this opportunity to collaborate with them.  Cris, thank you for your patience and your calm and smooth efficiency in coordinating the event.  Therese and Sigrid, thanks again for the feedback and support.  And of course Joyce, thank you so much for the bringing in the audience.  You guys rock.  

I look forward to doing more gigs with MLA Manila in 2015!

Mango Tango Beef Tenderloin

2-3 lbs beef tenderloin
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
salt and pepper 
2 tbsp olive oil

Pre-heat grill to medium high.
Season the meat generously with salt and pepper.  Lather with olive oil.
Then sear the sides of the beef until it’s nice and brown.
Lower the heat and cook for another 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the beef.
Remove the beef from the grill and brush with butter.

Mango Tango

Mix together sliced mangoes, scallions and tomatoes. You may also add chopped cilantro. Set aside.  Mix together 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1/3 cup vinegar, sliced onions, 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger, 1/2 tsp of chili garlic sauce, salt and pepper and sugar  to taste.  Drizzle a little sesame oil.  You may add chopped Thai Bird's Eye Chili. 

Toss the mango tango together with the sliced beef tenderloin.  Mmmm good!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

My Purple Yam Stint

5 weeks.

That's how long I took off for my recent vacation in the Philippines.  I sit here quietly reminiscing - and the first things that come to mind include two significant cooking gigs during my visit.

First off - my stint as a guest chef at Purple Yam Malate.  And second, my gig Let's Meat Up, an initiative by Meat Livestock Australia wherein I shared my recipes to a group of bloggers and the media.  I'll share more details of the latter gig in a future post.

Now I can hardly sit still.  Thoughts start to flood my mind every time I attempt to write. I have a hangover.  Well, from my vacation rather than from alcohol.  But today I shed off the sluggishness, the headache and the thirst - I say to myself:  HEY GIRL, BACK TO REALITY.. TIME TO WORK!

One of the biggest achievements in my culinary career is to be invited as a guest chef by world-renowned Filipino Food advocate Ms. AMY BESA.  You see in my book, Amy is the hottest name globally in promoting Filipino food.  Together with her husband Romy Dorotan, they brought Filipino food to the mainstream in New York city when they opened the highly acclaimed Cendrillion.  They then moved to Brooklyn to open Purple Yam.

Now for a flashback (insert music and animation here): Last year, I got an invite from Ms. Amy to meet up with her while we were both visiting Manila.  I couldn't believe it! She mentioned to me that she will be opening Purple Yam in her ancestral home in Malate.  "I would love for you to come and cook once we open" she said.  Did she just say I could come cook with her?  Well yes she did.

So let's fast forward to this year.  Days before my trip I couldn't decide whether to go home, but alas a private message from Amy Besa was the voice of reason.  So after a few days, I found myself packing my bags and went for a 5 week vacation.

On the last week of my stay, surreal as it may seem, I was briefing the  Purple Yam team. Imagine my excitement because one, I will be cooking at PURPLE YAM, and second, I will be showcasing the cuisine of  Tuguegarao, my hometown.  Indeed, preparing Ibanag cuisine is very special to me.

To feature Ibanag Cuisine, I named the dining experience Pabirillayan or sharing (the love for Ibanag Cuisine).  The food I shared is close to my heart.  It is the food of my childhood - the food of my soul.

Thank you Amy for giving me this opportunity.  It warms my heart to know that someone who is way up there in the culinary field treats me so special.  Thank you for giving me the confidence to "just do it".

Thank you especially to the Purple Yam team and my brother-in-law for your help with the recipe development and execution... And a special shout out to my new found friend Chef Cocoy Ventura.   Cocoy brought fresh vegetables all the way from Isabela despite the rainy conditions and helped out prepping for the event.  Thank you Mama Isi and Nangnang for procuring the freshest ingredients  that I took with me to Purple Yam.

Lastly, thank you to all my family and friends who attended the special lunch I served last Oct. 18th.  You continuously support me in so many ways.  I could not have done this without you.

I'm so grateful, I'm so happy that I am close to tears.

Here are the photos I'd like to share with all of you... Enjoy!

Briefing the team with what Ibanag Cuisine is all about

I could have not done it without collaborating with these young and very talented PY team.  Also included in the team is my brother in law Oliver, who helped me conceptualize the menu

The Purple Yam team: Chefs Joesph, Patricia and Rap  Also included here is Chef Cocoy Ventura who came all the way from Isabela, and of course Ms. Amy Besa

So grateful to see old friends from childhood and college 

Celebrities in the house!

My daughter Izzy, who was with me throughout my trip home ---thanks Izzy.  And my sister in law Donna and Oliver's family, who unselfishly hosted us during our stay... 

My nephew Enzo with his girlfriend Eenah and my pretty niece Ayi, and again my lovely daughter Izzy

Chef Cocoy enjoying the food.

My brother Paul and wife Sigrid cuing up to get Amy sign her cookbook.

Sinanta: a combination of flat noodles and glass noodles with Cagayan river clams, chicken and shrimp with crustacean broth

Fried Fillet of Catfish with Dinengdeng Puree

Amy's dedication on her book Memories of Philippine Kitchens, which reads: Dearest Malou, As I've said I am a fan.  What a delicious meal you cooked at our home in Nakpil.  You are a goddess of Philippine food and culture.  I'm stoked.  I am truly your biggest fan.

Friday, August 29, 2014

My 4 Minute Thrill on TV

Wow! I just did another segment on a local morning TV show.  And the excitement is as thrilling as the first time I appeared on the boob tube. 

I was featured on Great Day St. Louis on KMOV Channel 4 as the Food and Lifestyle  expert to do a gadget round up on how to throw the ultimate labor day bash even on a budget.   This is to help viewers to end summer with a bang. 

But it was challenging - as the verse "the show must go on" meant nothing to me until I experienced it yesterday.  Phew! It is funny now in retrospect but a few minutes before the I was "live" on TV, I had to go through different challenges, that I couldn't even think about being on the show.  But then .. yes I have to say it: THE SHOW MUST GO ON... lol!

Here's the link for you to check it out.  But before you view it, let me say thank you to the hosts of Great Day St. Louis, Kent, Virginia and Matt for making me feel at ease in front of the camera.  And to Patti and Daniella, thanks so much for all the help and moral support.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Turon (Fried Banana Rolls) with Grape in Red Wine Reduction ala Mode

"Why did you stop blogging?"  

Half asleep, I gave him a glance and saw his face lit by the glare of his smartphone.  I looked at the clock by the bedside and it read 11:30 pm.  

"It's 11:30" I mumbled as I pulled myself back to sleep.

"I've been reading your blog and I'm immensely enjoying it.I wish you were blogging again"


I froze... and then suddenly I'm awake.

His words resonated deeply within me.  He sounded like the voice in my head, nagging me over and over again the past few months.  And I guess it's time to start writing again. 

Besides from being busy with my You Tube Channel, my business partner, Marita, and I started  a Filipino pop-up restaurant here in STL called Almusal.  We run the pop-up (offering brunch) every second and fourth Sundays of the month.  Almusal is actually a Filipino term for breakfast.  But we take the meaning to be more than just breakfast. We want Almusal to be your "first" meal on our take of traditional Filipino food.

Wow, I could feel my face light up as I type these words.  Indeed I'm thrilled that after blogging for several years, I'm actually in the kitchen cooking the recipes I've been sharing and developing through this blog.  I love to put my own take on traditional recipes, and  our team at Almusal does just that.  And to passionately spread the love for Filipino food... I am excited to report that it's been doing more than what we expected. (If you want to know more about Almusal please feel free to check out our Facebook page here.  But I'm sure as I resume blogging, I'll be telling more details about the pop-up brunch we offer).

Along with saying that I am back, I am thrilled to announce that I have been selected to be a VIP Blogger for a Dole promotion.  I am taking part as an official Peel the Love Blogger Ambassador in STL. 

Yes folks, Peel the Love  is a year long DOLE campaign that celebrates the fun, irreverence, and whimsical side of bananas.  A highlight of this campaign is the ongoing Peel the Love Summer Banana Cabana Tour.  This tour aims to cover 26 cities across the country that started during Memorial day and ends on Labor day.  They will be in the St Louis area on August 14-16 : Walmart in Manchester at 201 Highlands Boulevard or August 16 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Walmart in St. Peters at 2662 Jungemann Road.

Do stop by at the Banana Cabana for free tastings of smoothies, dessert and FREE bananas.  There will also be free recipe cards and coupons.  Food, fun and all things bananas! I'm sure you'll  be inspired and surprised by the new recipes shared. 

And while we're talking (or going) bananas, let me share with you a recipe of one of the most raved desserts at Almusal.  It's Turon (Fried Banana Spring Rolls) with Grapes in Red Wine Reduction ala Mode, also called An Ode to Elvis.

Turon (Fried Banana Rolls) with Grapes in Red Wine Reduction ala Mode

For the turon
1-2 pcs Dole banana, sliced into strips (pick the ones that are firm)
6 pcs. spring roll wrapper
3-4 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup oil for frying

On a flat surface, lay the wrapper shaped like a diamond in front of you.  Now put a piece of sliced banana on the bottom of the wrapper.  Sprinkle brown sugar and roll the bottom of the wrapper over and tuck the sides in and continue to roll like a cigar.  Seal the edges with water.

Deep fry the rolls in a hot pan of oil until golden brown.  Now discard most of the oil and add more brown sugar into the pan.  Allow the brown sugar to caramelize. Drain excess oil on a tray lined with paper towel.

For the Grapes;

2-3 tbsp of white sugar
1 cup Red wine
1 cup grapes.

Put all the sugar and red wine in a pan.  Swirl and allow the sugar to melt.  Add the grapes and let it simmer until the sauce is reduced to a sticky texture.

Assemble the dessert the way you like it.  You may serve like I did, or you could put them altogether in a bowl.

The inspiration behind this treat is  the  Elvis sandwich ; the famous sandwich consisting of sliced bananas, peanut butter and jelly - sometimes with bacon - a known favorite of the King, Elvis Presley. I tried to infuse a Filipino street food favorite which is Turon (Fried Banana Rolls)

So come on, sprinkle some nuts, scoop some ice cream and pick a turon and dig in.  Enjoy

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dear Blogger... | How to Make Filipino Style Spaghetti

Dear Blogger,

No, I didn't desert you silly... I'm still here.  I am just spending TOO much time with Youtube, your sister... and  you see we hit it off quite nicely/

I'll still be around and as you see, I am sending peeps over to grab the recipes around here. Also, I'll be posting the new links as I post there too.  (Oops , I think I will try to catch up with that as I think, I am a little behind in sharing it over here).

I am thrilled to tell you that I'm getting new friends there too. As a matter of fact, I'm overwhelmed.  For instance my post on Pineapple Glazed Ham got over 13,000 views, isn't that exciting?

So here's the latest video on HOW TO MAKE FILIPINO STYLE SPAGHETTI.  Filipino Spaghetti what??? Yes come and watch it to find out what makes it distinct.  And please let me know what you think about the video... I'm a newbie over there so I really need your feedback!

 I know I posted the recipe here before and that makes me think that you two will do fine two-gether.

See you there!

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