Cooking with my Tita Nora
RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza (The Philippine Star) - November 25, 2019 - 12:00am

There are exactly 30 days left until Christmas day, still enough time to shop and get gifts for your family, friends and loved ones. Just in case you’re still in a quandary about what to get them, here are a few suggestions:

Shameless plug No. 1: The Let’s Cook With Nora cookbook. If I may say so, this one’s the bible of all Filipino cookbooks. It was written 50 years ago by my Tita Nora Daza, who also happened to be my ninang. It has been reprinted countless times and is a certified bestseller. Nina Daza-Puyat, Tita Nora’s youngest daughter and my cousin, gave it a fresher look and updated the recipes. It took Nina almost two years to kitchen-test every recipe and make them more contemporary using ingredients that are available to today’s home cooks.

Tita Nora was married to my Papa’s older brother, Tito Boy. Growing up, I was always in awe of Tita Nora. She was so beautiful with her perfectly-coiffed hair, alabaster complexion and always-fashionably dressed. She spoke four languages: English, Spanish, French and Tagalog. She was a jetsetter who traveled regularly to New York, Paris and Manila, where she had restaurants. In New York it was Galing-Galing; in Paris, it was Aux Illes Philippines; and in Manila, it was Au Bon Vivant, the first French restaurant in Manila. It was because of her that I learned how to eat French onion soup, tenderloin steak with sauce bernaise and salad nicoise in my early teens.

Many of my friends tell me that had it not been for this cookbook, they would never have learned how to cook. I remember Tita Nora saying that the cookbook was a success because she put the exact measurements, ingredients and procedures, all of which Nina kept in the updated version. Unlike some chefs, Tita Nora shared her recipes and kept no secrets. And so, if you have male and/or female friends who want to learn how to cook but have no idea where to begin, by all means grab a copy of this cookbook in National Bookstore for P695 per copy.

Shameless plug No. 2: A box of Empanadas from Casa Daza by Sandy Daza, son of Tita Nora and host of Food Prints and Casa Daza on the Metro channel. His empanadas are flavorful, filling and flaky, and best eaten when they’re hot and crunchy. I also like the fact that they’re not oily at all. Even when you put them in the ref, they retain their crunchiness. I love having a piece for breakfast or merienda, and they come in three flavors: original (beef and pork), chicken and chicken curry. At P60 per piece, you can’t go wrong. Call or text 0917-1490021 to place your orders. 

OoohMommy by Nina Paz. Nina was my schoolmate from grade school till high school. Because she has always loved cooking for her family, she’s decided to venture into the food business. My personal favorites are her lengua (P580 for 500g), smoked salmon mousse (P395 for 250g) and chicken liver pate (P290 for 250g).

Baby Pat ensaymada by Pearl de Guzman. Her ensaymadas are huge, dense and filling. They come in 12 flavors: classic, ube, Nutella, salted egg, parmesan, speculoos, tablea, latik, ham, gruyere, green tea and peanut butter with chocnut. (My favorites are the classic and ube flavors.) At P2,450 for a dozen assorted pieces, the cost may seem steep. Keep in mind, though, that two people can share one ensaymada. All I need in the morning is half a piece and a good cup of coffee. Call or text 0933-3189449 to order.

Banana walnut bread (P1,000 per loaf) by Roshan. The first time I tried it was when Tita Dolor brought a loaf to one of our dinner parties at Law’s place. It was so moist and flavorful, and simply divine. Roshan’s chocolate chip cookies (P1,200 for a dozen) are gooey and heavenly, too. Call or text 0917-1647786 to order.

Cora’s black kutsinta (0943-4712033). I got curious the first time I saw this because it was jet black, and I think its color comes from coffee. Color aside, it’s chewy the way I like my kutsinta  and not too sweet. It comes with caramel sauce and latik on the side if you want it to be even sweeter. Cora’s kutsinta is always a hit when I bring a bunch to potluck parties. At P125 for 60 pieces, this is a steal! Call or text 0943-4712033 to order.

Pardon for the first two shameless plugs, like they say, you can choose your friends but not your relatives. But the first rule of writing is to write about what you know, and I know these things will make great gifts. Happy shopping!

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