A standing ovation for Joy Virata’s crepes
KITCHEN SPY - KITCHEN SPY By Heidi Ng () - April 14, 2005 - 12:00am
The names Zeneida "Bibot "Amador, Baby Barredo and Joy Virata are synonymous with Repertory Philippines. Together with the actors and production crew that make up the company, the three pillars of Rep are responsible for the longevity of the theater group. With Amador’s demise, Virata plays an active role again in the theater’s direction.

Last April 8, the play Whose Wife Is It Anyway?, by British playwright Ray Cooney, had its gala. Virata was excited with the project because it was the first time Rep adapted a foreign play to a Philippine setting. Since the play’s theme of a politician getting into trouble because of his philandering is so common locally, the company decided to stage this hilarious play.

When you talk to Joy Virata, you sense the passion she has for theater and acting. She joined 10 years after it was founded, and her unwavering support and dedication to the company is evident. As Rep’s associate artistic director and consultant for audience development, she is hungry for new audiences, and for more support of its endeavors.

Staging plays is neither easy nor cheap. "Since they knew my background, they asked me to take over audience development, marketing, and producing. I like to organize compared to other artists, and I have a way of thinking that’s good for business," says this business administration graduate. She is also at the helm of Repertory’s well-loved children’s theater.

However, Virata is hopeful that the recognition the company gained all these years will propel Rep to greater heights. As the wife of former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, it was difficult for her to get a job, since most openings would be in conflict with her husband’s job. So, she dabbled in theater to keep her mind working, while raising their three kids without a nanny. Acting was one of her many talents and her holistic development was honed by taking up voice and performance at the UP Conservatory of Music, dance with Douglas Nierras, directing via a British Council course in Middlesex, England, acting via a course on Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. However, she also dabbled in other pursuits ranging from cooking to sewing!

"I was taking my masters in industrial management in UP when my hubby was invited to work for the government. Prior to that, he was working in SGV. I couldn’t find any job because of conflict of interest, and I couldn’t be hired by any firm," she states. "So, when my kids were already in elementary and high school, and my mother would help me baby-sit, I would dabble in sewing, voice lessons, and cooking."

She claims not even knowing how to boil water before she got married, but now she declares she loves cooking. Her "children" at Rep can attest that she makes the best crepes, and they would snack on them during their rehearsals.

She likes reading cookbooks and trying out the recipes. She also has a grandson who would help her cook on weekends.

"I used to have sit-down dinners for 12, and I made soufflés which sometimes would stay flat!" She adds like an expert, "It is just a combination of egg whites and the steady temperature of the oven."

Nowadays, she doesn’t fear her soufflé going flat because she has a better oven. She can make flambé, bake cookies and cakes, and create wonderful pasta dishes.

Today, she shares with Philippine STAR readers what her Rep children call the "best crepe ever" and a delicious pasta dish that has just the right amount of olives and ripe tomatoes. Joy Virata should take a bow. Her cooking prowess, like her acting, does deserve a standing ovation. Bravo!
Cream Cheese Crepes
For the crepes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsps. butter or margarine, melted

For the cheese filling:

1 7-oz. package cream cheese
2 Tbsps. sugar
2-1/4 tsps. grated orange peel
1-1/2 Tbsps. orange juice
2 Tbsps. chopped nuts, either pecans, walnuts or almonds

For the orange sauce:

1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 Tbsps. cornstarch
dash of salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1-1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup nuts, broken
2 Tbsps. butter

For the crepes:

Place the ingredients in a blender in the given order. Blend for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides. Blend for another 30 to 60 seconds until smooth.

You can also mix the ingredients in a bowl with a wire whisk or hand mixer. First combine the flour and eggs, adding liquid ingredients gradually. Beat until smooth. Add the other ingredients. Makes about 16 crepes.

There are a number of crepe pans. The easiest to use is an electric crepe maker. You can also make the crepes in a small eight-inch heavy non-stick frying pan.

If using an electric crepe maker, pour the batter into a glass pie dish and dip the cooking side of crepe maker into this.

If using a frying pan, pour about a kitchen spoon of batter into a lightly greased but hot pan. The batter should be thin enough to spread up to the sides of the pan. Tip the pan from side to side to make the batter spread evenly. Brown on one side, then loosen the sides with a spatula and flip onto a piece of wax paper. If the batter is too thick, add more milk or water.

For the cream cheese filling:

Soften the cream cheese. Blend together the sugar, grated orange peel, orange juice, and chopped nuts. Whip until fluffy.

For the orange sauce:

Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and dash of salt. Blend in the 1/4 cup orange juice.

Heat 1-1/4 cup orange juice to a boil. Stir in the sugar mixture and cook until thick and clear, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add the nut and butter. Stir until the butter melts.

To make the crepes:

Spoon two tablespoons cheese filling across the center of each crepe. Roll.

Place the folded side down on a shallow ovenproof serving dish. You may fill the pancakes ahead of time, and chill in the fridge until needed.

Just before serving, pour the orange sauce over the filled pancakes. Heat the pancakes in an oven until the sauce bubbles. Serve warm.

You can also add a little rum to the orange sauce for extra flavor.
Pasta Siciliana
1 onion
1 eggplant, small
1 green bell pepper, small
1 can anchovies
10 black olives, pitted
1 Tbsp. capers
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 400-g. can tomatoes, whole or chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Peel and grate onion. Peel and finely chop the eggplant. Finely chop the bell pepper. Drain anchovies. Cover the anchovies with milk and let stand 10 minutes. Drain well to remove the salty taste. Chop the olives, anchovies, and capers finely.

Heat oil in pan. Add onion, eggplant, and pepper. Cook, stirring well until the eggplant is soft. Add tomatoes and basil. Crush the tomatoes well with a fork or potato masher.

Cover the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add the anchovies, olives, capers, and parsley. Season with pepper. Cook for five more minutes. Spoon over cooked pasta. Serves six.
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Feedback is welcome. E-mail starkitchenspy@yahoo.com.

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