THREE weeks ago, I was with a group invited to a housewarming. Good friends Fredda and Vince now live in a cliff overlooking the sea in the northern Cebu town Liloan. The house is scenic, with a backyard herb garden and a cut-flower garden in front. As if this were not enough, the covered porch had climbing roses just starting to bloom.
It was a refreshing afternoon stay, with “natural” music playing in the background as the waves below slammed against the rocks. Adding to the delight was the Martha Stewart-like hosting and cooking skills of Fredda.
We had heavy snack fare like bam-i, empanada, lots of fruits and even lemon sherbet. After a few minutes of arm-twisting, she finally shared some of her recipes for the gourmet food she made us sample.
“I’m trying out my grandma’s recipes today,” Fredda said, as she set down a tall pitcher of lemon juice. “I made it with fresh lemonsito juice with one cup boiled lemongrass. I added cucumber sliced into 1/4-inch rings.”
The drink wiped away our thirst and made us ready for the next item Fredda served us: Fried mozzarella cheese.
“My grandma knew we loved cheese and so she indulged us. Just cut mozzarella into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Dust with flour then dip in one cup buttermilk or plain milk. I rolled it in Japanese bread crumbs that I flavored with one teaspoon salt, and garlic powder and cayenne pepper to taste. Be sure the oil is hot enough when deep frying it.”
Cheese can indeed be made better!
Capping the day, I should say, was the sherbet she served on frosty ice cream cups.
“It’s a simple recipe using one cup whipping cream mixed with juice from one lemon and one cup plain yogurt. I added sugar to balance the acidic taste. I left some plain, but in one tub I added cubed mango. I froze it for five hours, stirring the mixture every 30 minutes or so.”
What a wonderful way to say farewell to summer. The sea, the breeze and lemon sherbet had just become another mental photograph of summer that I can take out when the rainy days come.