Slaving over a hot stove makes a master

12 04 2010

THIS PAST weekend was the second long weekend in a row.  On Thursday, before I had the papers completely put away, the drawers locked, and the laptops shut down, I must’ve been asked at least three times what my plans were.  While most people were stuffing swimming gear in bursting luggages, I was calmly on my way home.  I couldn’t wait to hit the kitchen and just cook away!

While I would almost always find myself cooking for someone, I felt particularly inspired these past few days.  I guess Art Smith’s line on Top Chef Masters resonated with me so much that I couldn’t stay literally sitting down: “The best way to show your love is cooking for people.”

So, even in this scorching summer heat, I decided to slave over a hot stove and dish out food for the body and soul.

We have our own recipe for mechado that we use not only for beef but also for chicken and pork.  I remember my grandmother telling me when I was a kid how the name “mechado” came to be.  She said that the dish used to require for the meat (beef) to be sliced thinly and rolled around a strip of fat.  Cut across, the image brings to mind a candle, with the strip of fat as wick.  Wick in Filipino is “mitsa,” hence the name “mitsado” which is now easily spelled out as “mechado.”  Whenever we have the luxury of time, we use fresh plum tomatoes that are blanched and peeled.  The sauce has lots of finely minced white onion and soy sauce.  Quartered potatoes add more energy-giving carbohydrates to this dish.

Pork Mechado

Notice how tender the meat looks! "Mechado" is a Filipino meat stew.

As it is one of my brothers’ favorite, I made sinigang na hipon (shrimps in a sour broth of tamarind pulp, with lots of fresh vegetables).  I’m partial to black tiger prawns but since the market was out, I settled for the large white freshwater shrimps.  Each was bursting with lots of roe that made for a really flavorful broth!

Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimps in a sour broth of tamarind pulp, with lots of fresh vegetables). I took this shot the very moment the dish came back to a boil after the leafy vegetables were added.

A portion I served myself.

I made the simplest garlic fried rice.  I use lots of finely minced garlic, leftover rice, and just a pinch of salt in my recipe.  I rarely stain it with soy sauce.  Unless the color renders the whole meal more appetizing.  To go perfectly with this fried rice, I made a vegetable omelet – two ways, in the manner the actual omelet is made.  One is made with the vegetable filling mixed into the scrambled egg.  The other is made with the egg added first to the pan, and then the filling spooned onto just one side.  The other side is then folded over the filling.

I use one whole head of garlic for my fried rice!

I cut off the ends of each clove before I give them a good whack with the palm of my hand on the blunt side of the knife.

I always mince my garlic very finely!

I saute the garlic in a heavy bottom skillet, coated with just a smidge of vegetable oil. The fire is set to as low as it could go.

I don't want the garlic to really brown so the sauteing takes time. This way, the garlic becomes sweeter, infusing the pan with its essential oils.

Once the garlic takes on this light brown color, that's when I add the rice!


Perfect garlic fried rice! I use just a little salt which I make sure is evenly distributed throughout.


My camera battery died so the only vegetable I got to photograph was the green beans.


I do all the prep work myself. Working on the beans though is always challenging!


Two beautiful whole eggs go to each omelet.


One version of the omelet has the filling scrambled into the eggs.


A tight shot of the omelet bubbling away in the pan!


Half of the first omelet was gone before I could take a photo of it!


The other version of the omelet has the filling on one side with the other side flipped onto it.

The "free" side gets folded onto the filling.

The whole thing is turned over once.

Of course, there will always be pasta!  I fancy calling this as angel hair in a tomato basil sauce.  This is just my usual extra virgin olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil and parmesan cheese sauce.  I find that shaving the parmesan cheese is more elegant than grating it.  I put so much parmesan cheese on my plate that when viewed from the top, it looked like a pizza with a really cheesy crust!

Angel Hair in Tomato Basil Sauce


Notice how paper thing the parmesan cheese shavings are!

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

The kindness of friends

12 04 2010

THE EXPENSIVE do not really bowl me over.  Okay, they do – but not all of the time.  Sometimes, the simple things are the ones that really do.  And when they come from people who remember you, you realize exactly that these gifts are an expression of the kindness of friends.

I found this small pile on my desk and I felt really happy.  Finally, my worn out deep dark wooden chopsticks can get to retire.

I just can't wait to use these new chopsticks!


I knew it!


Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

But the words got in the way…

12 04 2010

EVERY GIFT is your way of expressing how you feel about another person.  Oprah Winfrey said that in her letter in the December 2009 issue of her O magazine.  (I feel the need to be specific with the credit, lest I risk doing a Manny Pangilinan.)

That simple yet powerful line came back to me when I received a couple of text messages over the long weekend, from one of my closest, bestest friends.  I call this my “almost” Morellato wristwatch.  Oh well.

Be still my beating heart...

Oh well...

The brand may not have gained prominence here in the Philippines, but I’ve fallen in love with it still.  It is not mass-produced, and each piece still comes from their plant right outside Padua in Italy where each item is made in accordance with their strictest standards.

The very next day, I texted my friend and asked him to return to the store and purchase the wristwatch!  Language barrier notwithstanding.

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.