Lorie and I made a late night trip to Shopwise to see what was available. (This was on our recent trip to Manila. You might think that there is already a Shopwise in Palawan!)
We found some special brown Spanish mushrooms whose name I later discovered were rovellons. Thinly sliced them and some button mushrooms and threw them into hot olive oil with some garlic already cooking. Added soup stock, salt and pepper and waited for the soup to reduce to its full flavor. The picture is a bit blurred from the heat of the soup.
Found fresh salmon and decided to poach them for the main dish, as this was the healthiest preparation I could think of, considering Mama's cholesterol level. Prepared a potful of court bouillon of leeks, flat leaf parsley, lemon slices and carrots. Poured in two cups of fruity Argentinian Gran Trillo white wine into the water and added black peppercorns, whole coriander seeds and a couple of bay leaves. The secret to a tender salmon is making sure it cooks as it is simmering - never boiling.
The recipe called for a lemon caper sauce, but it had cream.... so I just surrounded the salmon with some mashed potato I made for the kids, and sprinkled it with paprika to add some color. Tastewise, it was not a good idea, as the potatoes masked the light lemon flavor of the fish. I should have just pureed something or made a light sauce for it. Well, no one complained. But next time, I will plan the sauce earlier.
As the salmon was poaching, the vegetables were roasting in a coat of olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs in the 400 degree oven and the boiling water was cooking the spinach fettucini to al dente.
The eggplant, celery, carrots, squash, peppers and red onions were thinly sliced and lined on a baking sheet for optimum caramelization. When they were done, I just tossed the cooked pasta on the baking sheet of roasted vegetables so all the precious extra virgin olive oil from the pan would be wiped clean. I let everyone add fresh parmesan cheese to the sweet vegetable pasta.
Dessert was purchased the day before at Sweet Harmony in Taytay, Rizal. It is a multiple-venue location for events. It is owned by the folks who run Paul Calvin's Deli in Fort Bonifacio. A whimsical atmosphere dominates the place. There were metal flowers as big as truck wheels in the garden. During Christmastime, there are giant figures of the characters from the Nativity Scene.
This facade welcomed us into the bakeshop where I hoped they had stock of Braza de Calabaza for dessert the next day.
Yes, Brazo de Calabaza, as in: squash. Instead of egg yolk, they used kalabasa. Mama suspected that the mixture had condensed milk, as its texture and consistency were similar to ube halaya. We watched the baker roll in the squash mixture into the egg white sheet, and dust confectioner's sugar all over it.
On the dining table, much of the white dust on top was gone, as it was not refrigerated on the way to Mama's house. But it was so yummy! Shelf life was five days, but it lasted for an hour.
And while I was busy in the kitchen, Tita Corinne and the kids made a surprise poster for Mama. Thinking of cutting it up into rectangles, laminating them and using them as placemats later - instead of just rolling it up and keeping it.
We flew back to Puerto Princesa the next day.
Happy Birthday, Mama! See you again soon! We love you!