What is the Filipino family's favorite bonding activity? Having a meal together! That's how Asia's Songbird Regine Velasquez's relationship with cooking started.
At the launch of her new cookbook Bongga sa Kusina, Regine says she first fell in love with cooking because because she wanted to take care of her husband, singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid. "Siyempre nagpapa-cute ako sa asawa ko, na-career ko ang pagluluto and I actually loved it."
Regine admits, however, that a lot of her early dishes were experimental. "Not all were edible," she quipped. "But practice lang yan, eh. You have to keep cooking, and then masasanay ka. You'll come up with dishes na hindi mo alam kung san nanggagaling. You just need to find your inspiration. Mine is my family," she says, adding that she is thankful for chef Jonah Trinidad for their one-on-one cooking sessions.
Cooking for her son Nate, though, was a different ball game altogether. When he was just starting solids, Regine made homemade baby food from all kinds of vegetables. "Ang favorite niya is chicken and asparagus. Ang sarap naman kasi talaga nun. I'll bake [the chicken and asparagus with] kaunting-kaunting salt lang [and a brush of] butter, and then I osterize them together--and he loves it," Regine shares.
Now that he's 4 years old, Nate has already developed his own taste preference in food and can be very picky. But Regine has learned a few tricks as a mom. "He doesn't want to eat vegetables so I hide the vegetables. Bine-blender ko, and I put it in his food. So he doesn't know na he's actually eating vegetables."
Nate's ultimate favorite food now is sinigang, which Regine finds healthy. "You have protein, all the vegetables, and the stock is very nutritious kasi andun na lahat yun." Aside from sinigang, Nate also loves crunchy food, which he gets every now and then when Regine serves him fried chicken. "But I know na habang lumalaki sya, his taste preferences will also improve, and I’ll be able to teach him to eat healthier," Regine says.
For her cookbook, Regine decided to feature the dishes that she and her celebrity guests cooked in her lifestyle show Sarap Diva. The show has been on air for four years and sometimes she features as many as three recipes in one episode. Here is one of her all-time faves, which she says is great for when you're having guests over.
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Regine’s Rosemary Crusted Tanigue with Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce Prep time 10 minutes Cooking time 35 minutes Serves 3 to 4 persons
Here's what you'll need: 2 pieces (250 grams) tanigue fillet with skin on Juice and zest from 1 lemon 1 cup Japanese breadcrumbs ¼ cup butter, softened 3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped Salt and pepper
For the lemon butter sauce: 1 cup butter 3 cloves garlic, minced ¼ cup cream Juice from 2 lemons Zest from 1 lemon Dash of paprika Salt and pepper
Make it! 1 Preheat pan griller or griller to high heat, and oven to 200°C.
2 Marinate tanigue in salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest for 10 minutes. Grill tanigue for 3 minutes on each side. Place on a baking tray.
3 Combine breadcrumbs, butter, and rosemary, then season with salt and pepper. Top tanigue fillet with the breadcrumb mixture.
4 Broil in oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
5 To make lemon butter sauce, melt butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic and cook until light brown. Turn off the fire. Whisk cream slowly. Add lemon juice and zest. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper. Serve on the side.
Aside from her own recipes, Regine also named three of her favorite dishes in the book. These are dishes made easier so that moms wouldn’t be afraid to cook them every day for their family. Two of these are Michelle Van Eimeren-Morrow's Hainanese Chicken and Alessandra de Rossi's Veal Osso Buco.
Having her own cooking show is a dream come true for Regine. She continues, "It's nice when people come up to me and say, 'You know, I love your show and I really learned a lot from it.' 'Yung pinakagusto kong comment is: 'You know, when you cook, it feels like you're talking to me.'"
And, yes, Regine would love to put up her own restaurant someday. "Having a restaurant is like having a baby also, you have to devote your time and energy for it," she says.
For now, her restaurant is at home where Nate watches her cook everyday. "He’s very interested. He says he wants to be a chef. Meron nga syang lutu-lutuan na maliit kasi nakikita niya ako na nagluluto lagi. Nakakatuwa," she adds.
Bongga sa Kusina, P395, is co-presented by PLDT Home and is published by Summit Books and is now available in book stores and newsstands.