Monday, June 21, 2021

Mom in her kitchen (and her recipes, too!)

Apples & Lemons

IN THE kitchen, recipes are passed to the next generation. The heir is always that wide-eyed kid watching in awe of how fast mom can whip up a family favorite, a recipe she inherited herself from grandma.

There are secrets mom will pass on to the heir -- a secret ingredient, an unknown process and the most basic rule: a well-organized kitchen. Everything should be in its place and within easy reach, it speeds up the preparation.

As secrets are passed on from one generation to the next, the kitchen keeps evolving. Today, the busiest room in the home is filled with gadgets that make the task of cooking easier and more convenient for the user: digital appliances, multi-functional machines, and space saving storage system, in which the golden rule of “everything should be in its place” can be kept as sacred as the well-guarded recipes.

“Kitchen cabinets today are highly-efficient. A drawer or a cabinet door can be opened with little to no effort at all. It can be designed to accommodate what the user requires, and with the right accessories, multiply the storage space. There are no deep crevices and hard to reach corners anymore. Every inch of precious space can be utilized and accessed with ease,” shared Honeylet Lim, manager of Merlgen Euro Designs, a homegrown company specializing in customized modular cabinets.

Although Merlgen can suggest a tried-and-tested kitchen design, the chef is king (most often it’s mom). Space assignment and organization will adjust to how the user can perform tasks efficiently. Merlgen will create the mom-chef’s comfort zone.

Mom Letlet Salvador nurtured her food businesses, Leandro’s Catering and Happy Home, to success. A weighty volume of tried-and-tested home cooking-style recipes -- with no scrimping on quality ingredients -- is the source of the menus.

Her kitchen at home should be able to whip up dishes for the big family with varied cuisine requests. As she can pull recipes easily from her book, so should be with the ingredients.

“I have no secret. Organization and easy access are important to anyone who cooks. I prefer wide drawers and cabinets. The most used cooking implements are the closest to the prep table and cooking area. These occupy the top drawers with the lesser used cookware on the lower cabinets. These are segregated according to use and material, like wood, metal and silicon.”

Since she has to be ready to cook according to request, she must be ready with her ingredients.

“I have separate cabinets for ingredients, one for wet and one for dry. In each cabinet, I compartmentalize ingredients according to cuisine- Japanese, Spanish, etc. The Filipino has the largest compartment and the most accessible because these are used most.”

Baker-turned-office mom Booboo Maramba say’s keeping her kitchen area organized means she maximizes her now-limited time at home. Efficiency is key.

“I gave up baking as a business for office work, but I do bake for the family. I still manage my home kitchen the same way I know best. Organization, accessibility and proximity are necessary. I like the kitchen to be clear of everything. That's why I have lots of cabinets to store the gadgets, dinnerware and utensils. I take it out whenever I need it. The most essential stuff is within reach and these are in the top drawer, perishables are in one cabinet, another for big containers, which are stored in big, low cabinets.”

Working mom Jessa Sisi says, “I have a small kitchen but I make it work for me.”

The cabinets were designed to maximize the small kitchen space. In it she was able to assign spaces for cookware, utensils and an area where she can prepare a meal for four. Practicality is what makes her kitchen sleek, neat and manageable.

“Through the years, I have managed to create a workable and efficient kitchen, small as it may be. Everything in it is constantly used. I see no need to buy extra pots and pans just because I like them, I only keep what I need. It’s like mastering minimalism -- having what is useful and maximizing its use.”

Having built several successful food businesses, Lena Benedicto of the Golden Brown chain of Restaurants, has suggestions on kitchen design for a smooth workflow. But at home her design rules. She has a specific way to arrange her kitchen with maximized storage space.

“I want everything in its place and must be accessible. Prep area has overhead cabinets to store dry and bottled seasoning and canned goods separately. All appliances are in one big cabinet.”

Cooking is on an island counter with cabinets under the range to hold all sorts of pots and pans.

To each her own and whatever the style is, moms always make kitchen tasks quick and easy. On how to organize and run a kitchen, truly they know best. Let Merlgen Euro Designs be a part of mom’s kitchen legacy.

What’s cooking in mom’s kitchen?

When Merlgen requested moms Letlet Salvador, Lena Benedicto, Booboo Maramba and Jessa Sisi to share one of their favorite recipes, they quickly pulled one from their recipe box. Try to whip these dishes in your kitchen.

Letlet Salvador’s Shrimp Gambas

* 1 kg Large shrimps, peeled, deveined, tail on (20-24 g per pc)

* 20 grams minced garlic

* 1 tsp Spanish paprika

* 2 Tbsp olive oil

* 2 Tbsp butter

* 1 tsp lemon juice

* 1 tsp salt

* 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

* Shrimp fat from the shrimp heads

Collect shrimp fats by cooking peeled shrimp heads in olive oil and passing on a sieve and set aside


* 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

* 1 tsp tabasco


1. In a pan, put olive oil and butter and then add garlic. Cook until fragrant

2. Add the paprika

3. Add the peeled shrimps and shrimp fat.

4. Season with salt and lemon juice. You may also spice it up with Worcestershire sauce and tabasco

5. Garnish with red pepper flakes


Booboo Maramba’s Heirloom Date Bars

Make filling first.

Pour 1 cup of water in a saucepan.

Add in 300grams chopped, pitted dates.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer while stirring until the mixture becomes pasty.

Cool to room temperature.

Grease of a 13”x9”x 2” or a 10”x 10”x 2” pan. Set aside.

Then make the crust:

Melt 160 grams salted butter. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the following ingredients:

* 150 grams of quick-cooking or half rolled oats

* 180 grams sifted all-purpose flour

* 100 grams brown sugar

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix well. Then slowly pour in the melted butter and mix thoroughly.

Put 1/2 to 2/3 of the crust mixture onto the bottom of lined pan.

Pat down with the back of a spoon.

Pour the cooled filling over the prepared crust, spread evenly.

Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the filling.

Bake in the 35oF preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.


Lena Benedicto’s Crispy Fish Roll

* 1 kilo fish deboned and shredded

* 1 onion chopped minced

* 1 tbsp minced garlic

* 1 pc carrot diced

* 1/2 cup raisins

* 1/4 cup green peas

* 1 tsp salt

* 1/4 tsp pepper

* 3 tbsp chopped celery

* 2 tbsp chopped singkamas

* 1 tbsp sesame oil

* 40 pcs lumpia wrapper


Saute in oil, onion & garlic. Add all remaining ingredients.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain juice.

Spoon 2 tbsp. of filling in each lumpia wrapper.

Fry wrapped lumpia until golden brown.

Serve with sweet chili sauce or with crushed garlic and vinegar.


Jessa Sisi’s Penne Pasta with Sarangani Milkfish in Oil

* 250 g cooked penne

* 1 bottled Sarangani Milkfish in oil, removed bones

* 3 tbsp. Olive oil

* 2 tbsp. minced garlic

* 1/2 cup sliced tomatoes

* 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves or 1 tbsp dried basil

* Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil, saute garlic, sardines and tomatoes.

Toss in pasta and stir gently until well heated through.

Add chopped basil and turn off heat.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


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