Category Archives: herbs

Parsley Pesto

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My school co-parent/good friend, Annette Alberto,  had us dine at their place sometime last year for a playdate with the kids and some good evening of chat with us, parents. Her spread of salpicao, pasta and salad left me bewitched big time as we left their crib. I specifically took fancy on the pasta (of red sauced spaghetti) siding that perfectly blended with her spaghetti. She said it was to add a new dimension to the taste of the spaghetti. And what dimension it was!

I held back my peace and never asked EXACTLY what went into the sauce but the most I gathered from her was that she put parsley, olive oil and garlic.  Okay, the parsley was to be the sauce’s lead star.

Fast forward to today, I readied the chopping board for some tedious chopping of parsley, garlic and to be swigged into a good kind of olive oil. Yes, I made pesto, alright, although I had second thoughts calling it “pesto” in the strictest sense of what it means.

Pesto is a traditional  Italian sauce, made up of basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and a handful of pine nuts. It is usually incorporated into pasta noodles, brushed onto crusty breads or used in flavoring grains, meats and other dish staples.

The sauce I made defied a coupla things–  First, the basil was replaced by pasrley, it used LOTS of chopped garlic, did  away with pine nuts (or any nuts for that matter) and used parsley leaves instead of basil leaves. Hand made and not blender-produced, ha! But lemme tell you– THIS WAS  SO GOOD!

The unique characteristic of parsley is in its subtle “fresh” taste. It was  a welcome departure from the usual strong and sometimes overpowering taste of say, basil or rosemary.

Bottle it up, use it the way you use basil pesto– you’re good!

Thanks Annette for the inspiration. Parsley is my new basil! Mabuhay ka!

3 cups parsley leaves (curly or flat), finely chopped

1 1/2 cups olive oil

2 heads of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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Combine all ingredients. Do not use food processor. You may store for future use.

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Beef Cannelloni

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I was pleasantly surprised to find a pack of cannelloni pasta at S&R last I did the grocery there. Cannelloni pasta should be a welcome change/addition to my pasta family. Why, my spaghetti begged for a day-off  today. So, newbie cannelloni took the centerstage in my kitchen for some rich, beefy and cheesy pasta.

This is excellent with some clear soup and a glass of white wine (naks!). I love, love, love capping my day with a relaxing chat with my hubby, Jake, over some good serving of pasta and a glass of wine, on certain nights. It just winds me down in the best possible way.

Anyway, here goes the recipe:

1/2 kilo ground beef

10 cannelloni shells

1 can diced tomatoes

1 large tomato, chopped

1 onion, minced

1 large bell pepper

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup grated jack monterey cheese (or your favorite cheese)

1/2 cup chopped ham (optional)

3/4 cup fresh milk

1/4 cup butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

4 tbsps flour

salt and pepper to taste

oil

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped

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1. Saute beef in garlic, tomato and onion in oil and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Add ham. Cook until meat is tender. Set aside. Let cool for ten minutes.

2. Once cool, mix in egg and flour. Stuff uncooked cannelloni with beef mixture. Set aside.

3. Using the pan used for the beef mixture, pour in tomato sauce and milk. Simmer for five minutes.

4. In a greased pyrex dish, pour about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce mixture. Lay down cannellonis giving a 1/4 inch-space in between each piece. Pour over the rest of the tomato sauce mixture. Top with cheese.

5. Bake in a preheated oven (160 c) for an hour. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with your favorite toast.

Farfalle in Pesto And Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

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“Mommy, you’re the pasta queen!”, I couldn’t be more flattered when Sam referred to me as that. She delightedly finished her plate of ribbon pasta in pesto and sundried tomatoes in a jiffy. Quite a surprise there,  considering Sam’s preference for unflavored pasta and all.

But hey, before somebody raises a howl, it was just Sam labeling me as the ‘queen’, okay? Chill! In her eyes, I am. So be it! Haha!

Healthy, tasty, meatless and fanciful, this pasta has the x-factor kids would love to eat. The very pretty ribbon pasta (farfalle) should be the main attraction here to get kids into eating it. Then you load the pasta with all the healthy flavors that taste just as great.

Okay, for this dish you will need:

1/4 kilo ribbon pasta (farfalle)

1/2 cup pesto

3/4 cup sundried tomatoes

4 pcs shitake mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup kesong puti, diced

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 tbsp dried rosemary

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, minced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

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1. In a skillet, saute onion garlic, olives  and mushrooms. Add cooked pasta. Mix in pesto and sundried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Add dried rosemary. Serve.

2. Top with parmesan cheese and kesong puti. Serve with your favorite toast.

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Bangus Belly ‘Sandwich’

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This is perfect for bangus belly fanatics. It’s steamed, stuffed with all the healthy stuff, covered and cooked in fresh banana leaves. Potentially the perfect partner for your ginisang munggo sa hipon or your pinakbet, this dish should work its way to your menu soon, somehow.

Easy to make, too.

Just season two whole bangus bellies with salt and pepper. Chop 1 tomato, 1 onion, mince three cloves of garlic and chop 5 leaves of basil (optional). Dump everything on top of  one bangus belly.  Drizzle with canola oil. Cover with the other bangus belly on top (fat side down) to ‘sandwich’ the filling.

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 Loosely cover with banana leaf.

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Steam for 45 minutes or until cooked. Serve with the vinegar-soy sauce dressing ( 1/4 cup suka, 4 tbsps toyo, 1 minced small onion and 1 siling labuyo. Just mix all ingredients).

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Deep-Fried Cheesy-Herbed Chops

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Am reminded of my grade school days when pork chops made up my usual baon. They were either fried or stewed in tomatoes and mixed with peas and carrots. Porkchop meat is a great cut because it has the delish triumvirate of meat, fat and bone! Ahh, don’t you just love biting on that moist, juicy and tender porkchop?

Today, I had a fatless porkchop butterflied (aww, did you just ask for the fat and bone?). Sorry! The porkchop today wanted to be a butterfly!

I pounded meat until it got half its original thickness, seasoned the butterflied chops with salt and pepper.

Then I filled it with slices of cheddar cheese, basil and chopped rosemary (optional) leaves.

Then dredged it in flour, dipped it in 1 beaten egg, then dredged again in Japanese breadcrumbs.

Deep-fried until golden brown. Served hot.

The Oven-Dried Tomato Experience

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So, this is the real thing. Plump, juicy and verrry ripe, these tomatoes just got me grabbing my apron for some soiree with my fresh batch of  these fresh and dewy tomatoes. Yes, I’m a kitchen mad scientist again and will train the spotlight, this time, on these picture-perfect cancer-fighting ingredient.
fresh ripe tomatoes for the caldereta base
It was once believed that this fruit was dangerous to be eaten as it was called “lycopersicon” in Latin that meant “wolf peach”. Obviously, people have already gunned down that belief. Why, it’s been the rockstar of most major cuisines all over the globe for many, many years now!

pre-baking of the tomatoes

I use this as base for a great number of my pasta dishes. The flavors just well embrace the pasta when it’s mixed together. Like lovers of fifty years, they just jive in perfect harmony. Yep, it’s the perfect marriage, hands down.

They can go well with other ingredients like pesto, tuna, cheese, chicken or in soups and stews. Given this flexibility, it is wise to jar them up in an air-tight container and put in ref. Life span can reach up to a week in the ref depending on how perfectly sealed your container is. Freezing is a method you may use, too, as it can preserve these oven-dried tomatoes for up to three months.

Now, what to do:

Pick about a dozen plump and ripe tomatoes. Boil them in water until their skin burst. Drain from water and set aside. Remove skin. Let it cool.

Meantime, preheat oven at 120C. In a baking pan, lay down your tomatoes for the prep phase. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped herbs of your choice (my faves include rosemary, sweet basil, tarragon and oregano thyme). One or two varieties of herbs will do, no biggy. Throw in 6 cloves of chopped garlic. Drizzle generously with olive oil and a quick swig of balsamic vinegar (optional). Bake until the tomatoes begin to shrivel, about an hour. Remove from the oven and drizzle some more with olive oil. Seal well.

 Ahh, this can’t be real!

oven-dried tomatoes

Dishes that go well with this coming soon. Promise!

‘Herbed’ For Life!

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herbed linguine

herbed linguine

I guarantee you  that plucking fresh your herbs straight from your garden is best. The freshness translates into great food and the best appearance. Lately, Ive been gaga over planting and growing my bunch of herbs. Thought I’d share with you the ones  that I love to use.

My HERB  ‘must haves’…

flat parsley

flat parsley

 I usually use chopped Italian flat parsley as if its the final ‘accessory’ to almost all of my dishes. Aside from the flavor it gives, it spruces up the fare once sprinkled onto it. I prefer the flat versus the curly because the flat type is easier to sprinkle and yields a ‘fresher’ taste .

oregano

oregano

My ‘love affair’ with oregano dates back about more than a decade ago. The only herb I had in our garden in QC. Why? Because it was the easiest to maintain. You can pluck out all the leaves you want without worrying that it might soon after that wither and die.
Oregano is best with meat dishes, soups and pasta. I usually use it for my spaghetti meat sauce and even for my beef lasagna.

 

sweet basil

sweet basil

I was first introduced to sweet basil during my 1st attempt to make my pesto sauce ages ago. Since then, I’ve been “basiled” for life! Haha.
I keep a jar of homemade pesto at home or if I don’t have the pesto ingredients available, I just chop these basil leaves and mix in oil then bottle them up. It’s so flexible, you may use it as rub, marinade, salad dressing, flavoring to a number of fares, etc.
Ahhh, basil your food! Come on!
tarragon

tarragon

In a recent party at home, I forgot to pay attention to the beverage ‘department’ of my whole menu ensemble. I even forgot to buy juice and softdrinks!
I was too engrossed whipping up the party food.
As guests trickled in, they started asking for water. Ah, that one naman I had. ONLY, the pitcher and of course the water in it looked too plain and boring.
Like as if it presented itself to me as it sat on my window sill, my tarragon plant had the “put me in! put me in” appearance. So, as if a tiny voice prodded me, I put in a coupla bunches of tarragon right smack in my ice cold water! Voila! It was the most BEAUTIFUL pitcher of water I’ve ever laid my eyes on!!! Hahaha!
And to think that it was JUST water! And, the taste was extra refreshing.
You may substitute tarragon with mint or sliced cucumbers, too.
There.
edsa garden house

edsa garden house

The best herbs are found at The Edsa Garden House at the Mla Seedling Bank along Quezon Ave. cor Edsa and  at the Lung Center sunday market along Quezon Ave.
PS– Will post the recipe for herbed linguine next time.