Monthly Archives: March 2010

Vongole Pasta

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I was gawking at these live white clams when I chanced upon them at SM Hypermarket at The Block in SM City yesterday. They were contained in an aquarium-like casing along with the other great seafood finds when I saw them. I was silently raving and enjoying the site of live seafoods like catfish, suaje, etc. right smack in the middle of an air-conditioned grocery! Why, you can hardly find live clams sold even in wet markets!

So goes my excitement that I immediately grabed a kilo or so. Now what to do? Almost instantly, I remembered Ginny Roces-de Guzman’s rendition of Vongole pasta (Vongole means ‘clams’ in Italian).

I tried my hand in whipping up this Italian dish today and savored every morsel of this pasta. Meatless, healthy and uber tasty, Jake and I finished the whole pan!

I like any dish that’s been infused with wine. With this pasta, I used a South African white wine called Kamala Chardonnay Semillon that Jake and I bought from Wine Depot last Saturday. The wine just put everything together, I mean, the dish rocked because of it. And, together with the clam broth and the flavors of garlic and onion it just spelled– BANG! Ahhh, super good!

The recipe was lifted from Ginny’s family cookbook called, ‘Celebrations’. I’ve been crazy hooked browsing this book. The recipes just make me drool, page after page, picture after picture.

I’ve drawn out my next projects from that book, the cold tomato and sour cream soup, crispy fritters, oriental glazed duck with wild rice pilaf, pao de queijo, mackintosh pie, etc. Can’t wait to try them!

*The book and the story behind the ‘Celebrations’ cookbook will be featured in the May issue of FOOD magazine.

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Shepherd’s Pie

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It’s one bombastic dish when all ingredients make you go for seconds. In this case, my favorite sauted beef and creamy mashed potatoes– yes, the savory tandem called shepherd’s pie. The original dish calls for the use of lamb or mutton although the use of ground or roast beef has become  a  preference among foodies overtime.

I usually make this when there’s leftover mashed potatoes in the ref. Why, the overnight version of these tubers tend to be more firm and flexible that makes baking and slicing it afterwards easier.

Okay, here’s how to do it. You will need:

Mashed potato

3 large potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup heavy  cream

salt and pepper to taste

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Boil potatoes. Drain once tender.

Mash with potato masher leaving the skin on.

Throw in remaining ingredients. Mash until all ingredients blend in.

Meat filling

3/4 kilo ground beef

2 tomatoes, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, minced

1/2 cup tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

oil

1 egg (egg white only)

In a skillet, saute beef in onion, garlic and tomatoes.

Season with salt and pepper. Add cayenne pepper and basil. Add a cup of water. Bring to a simmer until meat is tender and water has evaporated. Add tomato sauce. Simmer for five more minutes.

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In a pie dish, pour meat mixture and top with mashed potatoes. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with dried basil leaves. Bake for ten minutes at 350 deg c.

Fish Fillet for the Lenten Season

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It’s officially the  Holy Week and I’ve been pulling out seafood recipes from my mental recipe files. Growing up, I was gobbling up too many meaty dishes. So, whenever Lenten season happened, I was kinda forced to eat meatless fares that didn’t really get me excited, save for my mom’s sweet and sour lapu-lapu fillet. It was usually served to us on Good Fridays and was I just too delighted to have it!

And, now that I’m older and wiser(???), I’ve come to embrace the many exciting varieties of food that does not necessarily include pork or beef. I look forward to having meals with a simple combo of adobong pusit and ginisang munggo, or say, sinigang na tyan ng bangus and halabos na hipon.  Ahhh, now that got me hungry!

Pan-fried fish fillet

1 whole fillet of cream dory, cut into nugget size (or any fish meat of your choice)

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 cup parmesan cheese

2 cups japanese bread crumbs

1 egg. slightly beaten

1/2 cup flour

oil

Season fish with salt and pepper and marinate in lemon juice for 30 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl, combine Japanese bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Dredge the fish nuggets in flour, dip in egg and coat with bread crumbs.

Pan fry until golden brown. Place on kitchen napkins to rid off excess oil.

Serve with mayo-garlic dressing:  Combine 3/4 cup mayo, 1 tsp minced garlic, 2 tbsps lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Serve warm.

Stir-Fried Fish Hungarian Sausages

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Perfect for the Lenten Season, these fish hungarian sausages better make its way to your pantry soon. These sausages aren’t one of those meat-product-forced-to-be-healthy-therefore-should-be-made-into-fish thing (read: corned tuna!). The first time I sampled these, I was very impressed. It tasted very much like the REAL hungarian sausage. I liked the kunat component of the casing and the juiciness of the inside.

I sure found a gold mine again! My friend remarked the other day, “Grabe, ang tyaga mong umikot sa grocery!”, referring to my latest find when I scoured the freezers of SM Hypermarket along Quezon Avenue recently. Finding Fish stuff would relatively be easy but to actually find the great-tasting ones would be a tall order.

Okay, so what did I do? I did my favorite stir-fried sausages in my old-time favorite tomato-pepper sauce. I had a twist though– I smothered some mozzarella to it and it turned out even better!

I did this dish in my recent cooking demo and the audience liked it during the tasting portion. Hope you would too!

Stir-Fried Fish Hungarian Sausages

1 pack fish hungarian sausages, slantly sliced

1 can chunky diced tomato sauce

1 onion, minced

1 head of garlic, minced

1 tomato, quartered

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 green bell pepper, cut into strips

2 tbsps butter

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

olive oil

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In a skillet, stir-fry sausages until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

Using the same skillet and oil, saute onion, garlic and tomato. Add bell peppers and sausages. Season with salt and pepper plus the cayenne pepper. Stir in butter and tomato sauce. Simmer for about three more minutes.

(Optional)

Using  a microwavable plate, pour in some of the dish and sprinkle cheese on top. Heat on microwave for about two minutes on medium heat or until cheese melts.

My ‘Silog’ Fantasy

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To date, I have yet to stop dreaming of putting up a restaurant that would serve ‘silog’ dishes in a semi gourmet-ish plating. Raising the bar of the quality of some of our Pinoy favorite dishes by a notch higher remains to be my biggest advocacy.

A friend sent over to my place some  tocinolongganisa, bacon, ham, and burger patties for sampling. Tocino and longganisa would be the two Pinoy fave dishes I was referring to earlier that could just be my silog hotshots, the remaining three– the ham, bacon and burger patties would be the fab bonuses (the bacon being the biggest bonus!). Haay, I’m tired playing with my imaginary resto on Facebook’s Restaurant City, I want the ‘silog’ restaurant pronto! Haha!

The tocino struck a balance between sweet and salty-garlicky blending. I did not cringe because it got too sweet or something. It’s usually the case with the other brands. This one had the right timpla and the best glazing! Did I say that this tocino was MSG and Salitre free? It’s reduced fat, too. So, lesser evil, I guess.

tocino

The garlic skinless longganisa was my other favorite. Very reminiscent of the ones my mother and sister-in-law used to make in Cagayan De Oro city, it can well substitute my Chippy at any given time– ang sarap papakin! Great with fried rice or even in a pandesal!

skinless garlic longganisa

The bacon was extra good, crunchy, not too salty and a bit leaner than the regular bacon strips sold in the market.

crispy bacon

Meantime, the ham was a player too. I had it wrapped on some warm pita flat bread and had some fresh lettuce provide the crunch and umay breaker.

sweet ham

Finally, the pork burger patties. Quite unconventional as it made use of pork, the taste will eventually grow in you as you chew longer.

burger patty

Fondant Cakes, Etc.

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Pastry expert Aileen Lara is in the thick of baking action again. Yeah, and I’m not complaining. She had me sample her fondant cake with carrot cake filling and was I impressed! The cake was downright perfect in form and in taste. She had me going for seconds!

I noticed, and I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me, that most fondant cakes just look ravishing on the outside and totally hideous in the inside. I mean, hey, sure we want this pretty and all but the tummy down here clamors for some good-tasting filling!

By saying “good” , we mean taste and the “after-feeling” we get. Was it so good that it made you giddy for the next five hours? Was it so crazy delicious that you looked forward to eating it five minutes after you’ve eaten the last morsel of your cake?

Check to all after every food tasting with Aileen’s goodies.

I’ve known Aileen for two decades now and the passion for food, particularly baking has been consistent.

Picture below shows Aileen strutting her culinary stuff in the kitchen.

You’ll know if the pastry was made from the heart by the oomph you get after your first bite… yeah, something like love at first bite or something like that.

When you do business, you put you’re heart in it, if you don’t, the sugar won’t taste as sweet and engaging.

What I like about her cakes is that they’re fun, whimsical and dynamic. Very reflective of her own persona.

I just love these. It totally revvs up parties and special ocassions with the splash of colors of her pastries.

The recent cake she made was for a baby shower. A fondant cake with her signature carrot cake filling. I thought the whole ensemble was totally cute!

Look!

Slicing it, you’d see the filling peeping hello to you:)

For orders, you may message her through 0906.212.9084. She delivers cakes and pastries within Metro Manila:)

Rice Mania!

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Japanese sasashiniku rice grains

Lately, I have been crazy obsessed with RICE. More specifically, those rice grains used for paella , fried rice and those specialty dishes commonly used in Mexican or Indian cuisine. However, finding some good quality of grains  with a  friendly price tag  was a challenge.

I’ve already  scoured the shelves of Santi’s, Dinelli’s and other gourmet stores for some great finds of grains but only to find their prices too unreasonably exorbitant!

A box of about half a kilo of risotto reis costs about P280, arboryo rice about P800 plus at Terry’s Selection at the Podium.

Being such a grocery rat, I thought I’ve already explored all the big groceries in Metro Manila for some grain finds. Arg, I always ended up empty handed in my quest for those rice grains.

Until one day, I saw this:

I was floored. My, it was a universe of some hard-to-find rice grains!!!!! The  SM Hypermarket’s rice grain selection was crazy fantastic. It was like all the rice agricultural lands of Asia have converged here! Haha!

I could almost smell my basil chicken in coconut milk  on top my warm plate of basmati rice!

Or my baked hoisin ribs on a bed of my vita puro denorado rice..

The very aromatic rice jasmine flower got me imagining my steamed chicken with black mushrooms. I love these grains for it’s very aromatic and tender properties.

Or the malagkit rice for my usual arroz caldo or rice cakes..

The quality, affordability just had me smiling for the next thirty minutes. Finally, I found the rice treasure island! I did not find this selection elsewhere and I was too happy to hoard these grains! Haha!

My greatest grain find was the Japanese sasanishiku. It’s the next best thing when you want to do say, some paella, on a budget without sacrificing quality and taste.

ENDING: This happy dish  of  seafood paella   happened:)