Friday, September 9, 2011

Chronicles of a House-crasher: Simple Joys

ShSh's Donatan owners Sheila Collado and Sheena Ramos flank their baking mentor, Chef Mitchie Sison (hehe)

It has indeed been a very, very long time since we had a cook-out. Everyone in the group has been incredibly busy that we never have any time to gather; well, we do, but in pockets--low-key meetings with one or two members, a quick dinner in the middle of the work-week (Marion, Mitchie sometimes), hi-hellos when we bump into each other, or while aloft in the office elevator (Jaja), week ends of stolen periods after mall tours (Ivan, Nikos, Kara). True that some of us went together on an overseas trip (oh, but I forgot to write about it here!), but after that, it was hard to get together again.

So tonight was a pleasant occasion: well, there wasn't anything to celebrate really, but Shey and I crashed Chef Mitchie's house on the premise that we really had to take a mini-break from the all mundaness/over-excitement/increasing stress gradients.

In true Mitchie fashion, (and she always seems to know what we really need at every specific moment) we were fed of the simplest yet the most satisfying comfort food: pasta, soup, donuts.

Menu was Aglio Olio, Roasted Pumpkin soup, and Faux-nuts in fancy flavors (green tea, original lemon glaze, caramel and chocolate).

Simple, elegant, yet comforting: Mitchie's Aglio Olio

I was told that in making the Aglio Olio, Mitchie had to roast halved garlic bulbs in an oven, of which cloves were doused generously with good quality extra virgin olive oil along with lemon zest and juice. Pasta was stirred in, with fresh parsley and basil, too. This was served piping hot with chunks of Feta cheese.

It was an elegant dish. If I had to describe Mitchie's Aglio Olio as if it were a woman, I'd say that she's simple and perfect on her own, but with all substance and class. As you get to know her, you'd find that she's got these layers and you'd be surprised that you've been beguiled by her charms-- you're healed of your afflictions. She's your comfort.

This Aglio Olio's tartness, combined with the silky Feta curds and that particular taste that basil has, are what gives it body. An odd occurrence, considering that Aglio Olio is specifically what it's name implies: oil-based and therefore, thin in texture.

A hug in a bowl: Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon and Sage

Oh, and the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Sage. I was too focused in gulping my serving, so the only things I heard about the process in making the soup were that Mitchie seasoned the pumpkins before roasting them in an oven.

It was beautiful. Rustic, even. It felt like a hug in a bowl. I liked that you can feel a hint of grit and it wasn't too smooth, that it had the shock of sage's slight bitterness, that it had almond slivers, and that it had bacon. It was wonderfully thick, and  lent balance to the Aglio Olio.

We wanted to earn our keep (haha!) and to keep up, of course. Shey and I were Mitchie's assistants (albeit NOISY, LAST-DAY-NG-COMMENT KUNG KUMOMMENT assistants) and Mitchie taught us cooking methods. :)

We met new friends, Yeast. Here's the mixture with Yeast.

She taught us making dough from scratch: mixing oil with milk and eggs. Oh, and we met new friends: YEAST! We made these tiny babies very happy by mixing them into water and putting them into the mixture and feeding them sugar. Shey and I took turns in mixing.

Tada! Shey and I were fascinated!

Taking turns in kneading the dough

We shaped them into flattened balls and removed the centers. Centers were "munchkins". 

There they are! Doughnuts! 

We prepared glaze while waiting for the dough to rise.
Matcha powder. This is what's used for those green tea cakes and cookies. 

So many glaze options!

Shey and I came up with a silly name for an imaginary donut business: "ShSh's Donatan". It was even "ShSh Faux-nut Donat" and had another monicker before that.

Wonderful discovery: those green-tea flavored cakes and frappes use these pre-packaged green tea powder, which is AWESOME.

cinnamon + sugar

salted caramel + bacon

lemon glaze + almon slivers

lemon glaze + salted caramel

spiced choco + chocnuts

salted caramel + spiced choco glaze

green tea + almonds

choco sprinkles

green tea + pistachio 

I loved the caramel-bacon, salted caramel, and green tea ShSh Donats.

I've told my friends that I'm the type who REALLY, REALLY HAS TO SPEND AND DO SOMETHING NEW whenever I'm stressed. But this night with good food and very good friends gave me a high that a shopping spree can't beat--and I can't wait to do this again.

tea and donuts after a good meal with some of my most favorite people: best anti-stress

*edit: photos are care of Chef Mitchie