eNTeNG c”,)™©’s Angel Hair Pomodoro Redux

25 11 2008

My post last November 21, where I shared my own recipe for eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  Angel Hair Pomodoro, gave me hunger.. no, let me correct that..  craving pangs!  My friends and family know, that quite ironically, for someone who loves food so much, I have imposed a personal injunction for me to go on a no-carbs diet.  It all started with that first long weekend in August.  It was the perfect time to get something started (with much encouragement from ‘Superman‘).  So I did start my own version of South Beach Diet  no rice, no pasta, no oriental noodles, no bread.  Huwwwwaaattt?!?!!

And I have actually remained faithful to this diet, shedding off ~15 lbs.  from when I started!  Now, I’m training my sights to reviving my 4KM  5KM fun runs.  The last time I joined one, I was the “most improved”, clocking in an improvement of about 30% from my previous best time.  I need to do this again as my diet-only weight loss has plateaud at 15 lbs.!  And since a month back, I had reluctantly consented to giving myself “cheat” meals, having a little rice.. and a little pasta.  But only stress at work had broken my resolve to stick to my diet.

And recently, as I was trying to point out, my eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  Angel Hair Pomodoro post won over me  a classic case of ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’

I checked our pantry (‘pantry’.. I think that’s too much of a word!) and found a couple of 14.5-ounce cans of a product that I now swear by  Hunt’s Stewed Tomatoes!  They were so good.  I used everything in the can, tomatoes, juice and all.  I chopped them coarsely, and used them in place of the ‘usual’ tomatoes in my recipe.  The stewed tomatoes were so good that I ended up munching on them while I worked in the kitchen.  Trust me, they were that good.  But then again, I am a tomato lover so you have all the right to doubt me as well.  Hehehe.

The resulting angel hair pomodoro?  It was so good.  So yummy!  It was verging on the ‘sweet’ side, which I think, was a big plus because it was as Italian as you could get, but it was something that was kid-friendly too.  It actually reminded me of one of my own favorites from Café Bola, their ‘Tomato Basil‘ pasta.

Channeling Mark Straussman, chef and owner of The Campagna Restaurant in New York, and author of the book The Campagna Table, I exerted effort in making my plate pretty.  I twisted the angel hair (from a certain height over the pan), twisting as I went to putting it on the plate.  Then I topped the nice bunch of pasta with more of the chunky tomato sauce.  And of course, lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

For added points, I served my angel hair pomodoro on one of my ‘Manhattan‘ plates from the ‘Bar Lingo‘ series of ‘The Pottery Barn‘.  I have a collection of those, which I got from the States.

Here are a couple of pictures I took with my Nokia 5310 Xpress Music cellphone.


eNTeNG c”,)™©’s Angel Hair Pomodoro, made with Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes. Yum!.. Served on the 'Manhattan' plate from the 'Bar Lingo' series of 'The Pottery Barn'.


I was making a presentation for our upcoming CEO visit so I had to bring my angel hair pomodoro with me to the study table..

eNTeNG c”,)™©’s Angel Hair Pomodoro

21 11 2008

A NUMBER of people kind of know that I am harboring thoughts of becoming a chef.  I do.  Will I go get myself the education to be one?  It depends on a lot of things.  Though this I know for sure – I don’t see it happening in the immediate, sensible horizon.  If I’d look back to everything that has passed so far in this year, I see moments when I found myself standing on the precipice of change.  You’re guessing it right.  I didn’t jump on the chance to take my life to a totally different course.  Don’t get me wrong..  I’m so loving my engineering job.  But sometimes I find myself thinking I could be a chef.  Oh well..  at least I think.  I think therefore I exist!



eNTeNG c”,)™©’s Angel Hair Pomodoro... Can't help but take this shot!


So while that is not yet true, I just make sure I have as much time in the kitchen, whipping up my ‘signature’ dishes as much as I can.  One that I truly love is what I have started to call as eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  Angel Hair Pomodoro.  Sometimes, when all else just feels so wrong, I make this dish.  Eat.  And just feel all my cares wash away.  Sometimes, my brother would really request for this – on a whim – in the middle of the night.  Check out the time stamp on the picture above.  I loved how this one ended up looking like that I couldn’t resist to take a shot!



How did my love affair with angel hair pomodoro start?  It was all because of Italianni’s, way back in the day, at their first branch in Greenbelt, along Legaspi Street in Makati, near Nandau.  Whew!  I had to catch my breath with that desciption!  Hehe.  I can still vividly recall how pretty the dish looked like, served in the pan it (most probably) was cooked in.  The diced red tomatoes – sometimes, both red and a little yellow tomatoes – glistening with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil would always be impossible to resist.  That has been how I have loved pasta made – tossed well together with the sauce, and not just topped with it.  Even after a big bowl of my favorite Rosemary & Potato Soup, I could still clean up a huge serving portion of this pasta.  Hey, even a whole one!  As the years went on, I had made a number of attempts to perfect my angel hair pomodoro, especially before I left for my year-and-a-half-long assignment in the States.  The recipe I’m sharing here is the closest I got to perfection.


How much do I love this?  You have to know that this dish was my any-night dinner in Folsom.  It’s simple and quick and needs just a few ingredients.  Quite a number of my friends have liked this as well and would even request me to prepare them some (Millet and Agnes … even Boojie liked it a lot!).  If I wasn’t expecting company, I would eat this dish straight out of the pan, while standing by the kitchen counter.  Sarrrap !!!  The secret to its quickness is having all the sauce ingredients and cooking utensils ready.  Dry angel hair pasta cooks in just two (2) minutes so I start sauteing the sauce while bringing my pasta water to a boil.  That way, the sauce and the pasta get ready at about the same time.  I’ve found out that De Cecco makes the finest dry pasta.  But here at home, you may use San Remo because I think they’re the only ones who make angel hair.  This recipe is good for two persons for a generous dinner or for four persons for a light snack or lunch.  But I almost always end up eating everything!  So this is just good for one eNTeNG  c”,)™©.


700g to 1000g of ripe ‘San MarzanoRoma tomatoes or baby pear tomatoes

   (I actually use more!)

   or  a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (‘La Valle is a good brand)

4 to 6 Tablespoons of the finest extra virgin olive oil (I use ‘Bertolli’)

8 ounces or 225g angel hair pasta (‘De Cecco’ or ‘San Remo’)

5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly (about 1/8-inch)

pinch of cayenne pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

12 or more fresh basil leaves

Grated Parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)

   or freshly shaved Parmesan cheese (“shaved” looks more artistic!)

coarse salt


Blanch tomatoes in briskly boling water for about 5 to 10 seconds.  Plunge the tomatoes into an ice-water bath and then remove the skins and the seeds.  For a really ‘wet’ sauce, you may not remove the seeds.  That would be okay.  But DEFINITELY remove the skins!  Chop the tomatoes coarsely (or in small cubes) and set aside.  Fill your pasta pot with enough water according to the pasta package instructions.  Cover and bring to a rolling boil.  Then, in a 12-inch saute pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to very low (as low as you can go), then add the garlic and the cayenne pepper.  Cook this together slowly, with occasional stirring, to infuse the olive oil with the aroma of the garlic and the bite of the cayenne pepper.  The garlic will slowly take its distinctive, faint golden color (without actual browning!!!) while its flavor marries beautifully with that of the oil and the cayenne pepper.  Add the chopped tomatoes and let it simmer.  At this point, the pasta water should have come to a rolling boil.  Add the angel hair pasta and cook it al dente, which, based on my experience, is always at least one minute less than the manufacturer’s recommended cooking time.  When the pasta is about to get ready, tear the basil leaves into the tomato sauce.  Drain the pasta and quickly toss it together with the sauce.  Give the pasta another quick stir and voila !!!  You have a sumptuous Angel Hair Pomodoro dinner.  Serve it while it’s hot, with a generous topping of freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Have some more of the cheese to pass around.  Enjoy 🙂

Capellini Pomodoro Parte Uno

22 04 2014

(Sent this to seven of my colleagues and friends who have been brave enough to try my cooking.)

ON A ‘culinarian’ whim, I had the sudden inspiration to make my “signature” “Angel Hair Pomodoro” last night.  It is one of those moments when I feel that I have the best of two things – not feeling to be under the tyranny of a strict recipe, and, being able to fling the door of my refrigerator open, see a seducing pile of roma tomatoes from WinCo (all 24 of them) and knew exactly what to do.

Only the freshest ingredients go to my basic pomodoro sauce.

Only the freshest ingredients go to my basic pomodoro sauce.

The sauce I made only has the following:  WinCo Roma Tomatoes “picked” at the “pick” of freshness as they sat in crates , Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 6 Cloves of Garlic (minced atop the golden film of oil, using Wolfgang Puck’s all–stainless steel garlic press), A Few Shakes of Ground Cayenne Pepper, and 18 fragrant leaves of Simply Organic Basil, hand–torn at the moment of addition to the gently boiling sauce.

The tomatoes were handled all by hand – cored/seeded, scored (the skins!), blanched, peeled, and roughly diced.  I have a dedicated cutting board for tomatoes (#NO_TO_CROSS_CONTAMINATION).

The pasta of choice is Barilla® Angel Hair – cooked 30 seconds shy of package instructions.

The cheese will be Stella® Parmesan, shaved not grated – bagged in Ziploc in separate portions.

My own chef wannabe ideals dictate that I serve pasta fresh the whole time – from the stovetop to the table in mere seconds.  But I’m taking a chance today J…  The pasta was cooked, prepped and refrigerated at around 2:00 AM, and the sauce was done about 5 minutes after that.  It was cooled and then refrigerated while still in the pot.  It was later scooped to the serving containers a few minutes before darting through the front door as my carpool honked.  Haha!

Unless they’re obviously in the blue GLAD, I am using now the two–compartment rectangular wonders that are the Rubbermaid take alongs J

The containers are not to be returned.  While the OEM does espouse re–using their wares, eNTeNG’s Catering Services devotes dedicated serving containers to its topnotch clientele.  You may recycle, re–use, re–purpose as you deem fit.

Every care and attention to detail have been given to the edible work of art that shall be delivered to your desk.  If you feel the sauce is not enough for the amount of pasta , please feel free to adjust just how much noodles you’d consume, to your preference.

Homemade pasta …  can be brought to you by eNTeNG.

For everything else…  there’s MasterCard.  Accepted the world over.

I spend time to prep the tomatoes well – cored/seeded, scored (the skins!), blanched, peeled, and then, roughly diced.

I spend time to prep the tomatoes well – cored/seeded, scored (the skins!), blanched, peeled, and then, roughly diced.


My trusty Wolfgang Puck Garlic Press!

My trusty Wolfgang Puck Garlic Press!


Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG c”,)™©’s MunchTime™©. All rights reserved.

Amadeo pomodoro

14 05 2011

My angel hair pomodoro made with fresh tomatoes purchased from a "coffee place". No parmesan cheese, no cayenne pepper... but perfect just the same!

PILES OF fresh produce taking up residence in close proximity to fruit-bearing trees seem to have irresistable appeal.  The setup easily conjures images of “from the tree to the table in no time.”  Though tomatoes, regardless of their provenance, never fail to consume me.

My friends and I have been frequenting this “coffee place” near work.  It’s originally a coffee place until it morphed into a casual dining place proud of its homecooked meals.  But this post is not about lunch here just yet.  This post is about the fresh tomatoes I got from them, with which I made one of the more unforgettable incarnations of my self-proclaimed specialty – eNTeNG’s Angel Hair Pomodoro.  With parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper conspicuously absent from the recipe, the tomatoes and their literally bursting freshness shone bright in a sauce made deep red by the fruits’ natural color and not by nature-identical food dyes.

A kilo of fresh tomatoes!


This tomato was the first I picked out from the lot.


Preparing the tomatoes for this sauce was quite a departure from my usual method of blanching. This time, I "flash-steamed" the tomatoes before I peeled and seeded them. Of course, by "flash-steamed" I mean simply using the steamer, not some highly industrial process.

I noticed right outside this restaurant a couple of tomato plants, their weak stems sprawling over loose rocky, sandy soil parched under the unforgiving heat of the midday sun.  I lifted my head right after capturing their image with my trusty Canon IXUS 860IS, and that was when I noticed the pile of bright red and yellow tomatoes.  I couldn’t care less whether they were picked fresh.  Moreso if they came from the plants outside.  I just had to have them.

Tomato plant right outside the "coffee place".

At a measly twenty five pesos a kilo, I actually felt I stole them.

The tomatoes were so fresh and red (the flesh at least), they made for this delicious, really generous sauce.


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Ziti Pomodoro and a storm

31 10 2009
Ziti Pomodoro 00

eNTeNG c”,)™©’s Ziti Pomodoro whipped up as a storm ravages outside.

JUDGING BY the sound of the sustained winds and the rain outside – right this very moment at 2:12 AM (how very New York – the “212” I mean) – Typhoon “Santi” (international name: Mirinae) has made landfall finally.  It’s actually storm signal number three.

The seeming endless parade of tropical storms has continuously put a damper on weekend plans.  For like a month now.  But I will not surrender to the gloom.

What would I do?  Cook!  It’s such a comfort.  As I write away, I have beside me my second helping of my Ziti Pomodoro.  It’s basically my Angel Hair Pomodoro except that – quite obviously – I used ziti instead of angel hair.

I fear for the impact this latest storm will have on a literally weather-beaten people.  But with a little prayer and this plate of hot pasta – and yes, with a song – I’ve got this feeling that we’ll get by.

Ziti Pomodoro 01

eNTeNG c”,)™©’s Ziti Pomodoro

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

The perfect pomodoro

15 10 2009
Perfect Pomodoro Sauce 02

For the perfect pomodoro sauce – Hunt's Diced Tomatoes and Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes with fresh romas.

I’VE BEEN seriously needing comfort lately.  Just one of those moments when it suddenly feels so cold you need to pull the covers over your head just to keep warm and get some sleep.

And it sucks when your favorite warm blanket still needs to be tumbled to dry.

One restless night – when yet another shallow low-pressure area had gathered enough strength and winds blowing from the right direction – I got up searching for comfort.  Trust me, it wasn’t as sleazy as my words made it sound.  What I wanted was just a really good belly-pleaser.  And when I stared at the cupboard, I knew exactly what to make for myself.

My usual angel hair pomodoro.

Perfect Pomodoro Sauce 03

I prefer really ripe – yet firm – roma tomatoes.

Yes, I know what you may be thinking.  Yet another one of those pomodoro posts.  But this one turned out so good I just have to post here the combination of the different kinds of tomatoes that gave me what I would shamelessly claim to be my perfect angel hair pomodoro!  (“My,” not “the.”)

In place of the tomatoes in my recipe, I used one can each of Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes and Hunt’s Stewed Tomatoes, and seven ripe plum tomatoes.  (Hunt’s Stewed Tomatoes are so good I snack on them straight out of the can!)

The resulting sauce, tossed with steaming hot San Remo Angel Hair cooked 45 seconds shy of package directions, felt like a tight embrace on a restless night.

Fresh greens to zoozh up the red

1 11 2014

I HAVE played with my angel hair pomodoro recipe so often that it has come to erase whatever iota of doubt I may have had towards the theological concept of reincarnation.


My ANGEL HAIR POMODORO in one of its many incarnations, yet again.

My ANGEL HAIR POMODORO in one of its many incarnations, yet again.

I guess it is its simplicity that predisposes it to my fickle mindedness.  It calls for only a handful of ingredients – often always stocked up in my pantry and refrigerator crisper – that now it hardly feels like an actual recipe at all.  You can see just how often I have played with it by simply running a search in this blog.

Its latest manifestation calls for a generous sprinkling of fresh whole basil leaves.  This means cooking the sauce only up to the point when I will need to add the fresh basil leaves, which I would tear by hand (never chopped with a knife to prevent the blade from bruising this delicate herb).

What results from this change is a pasta dish with a balance so palpable that you’d savor the cooked goodness of fresh roma tomatoes that have broken down into the sauce, as the fresh basil leaves explode with freshness in your mouth with every crunch.

Each forkful of this pasta dish is the perfect balance of al dente angel hair, perfectly cooked sauce of fresh roma tomatoes, and perfectly crunchy fresh basil leaves.

Each forkful of this pasta dish is the perfect balance of al dente angel hair, perfectly cooked sauce of fresh roma tomatoes, and perfectly crunchy fresh basil leaves.

This is so good that I would never feel the need to reach for the wedge of Parmigiano–Reggiano and the vegetable peeler to shave paper–thin slivers of yumminess that can only come from hard, granular cheese from the area west of the river Reno.

It really doesn’t call for any added touch.

Having the basil still bright green adds to the enjoyment of having this angel hair pomodoro.

Having the basil still bright green adds to the enjoyment of having this angel hair pomodoro.


Of course, the requisite aerial shot of this edible work of art, a play of colors, textures, and flavors.  Parmigiano–Reggiano highly optional, totally unnecessary.

Of course, the requisite aerial shot of this edible work of art, a play of colors, textures, and flavors. Parmigiano–Reggiano highly optional, totally unnecessary.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

For the love of tomato

11 05 2013

With tomatoes, garlic and basil, I’m always halfway to a satisfying pasta.

THE TOMATOES are not San Marzano, the kind ripened by the kisses of the Neapolitan sun.  They’re not even the more accessible Roma.  They’re from Malaysia by way of Cold Storage.

Except for Bertolli that originates from Lombardy, none of my store cupboard essentials for my fail–safe pasta boasts of direct Italian provenance.  The garlic is from China and is packed clustered in bulbs of a few cloves each, ready to be thrown in to bak kut teh (pork ribs soup).  The cayenne pepper is a Kiwi.  The basil leaves – bunches of heady perfume – come proudly from Malaysia too.  While suspiciously named after a Catholic saint, the angel hair pasta hails from Down Under.  The grated parmesan cheese, as if snow falling on cedars, trickle down on to the pasta all the way from the States.

The coarse salt I use to make the pasta water as salty as the Mediterranean and the sauce tasty and balanced is Kosher, from Chicago, and is endorsed by one of my favorite chefs, Rocco DiSpirito.  Oh, there’s at least one more Italian connection after all.

I’ve been fixing myself a huge bowl of my angel hair pomodoro for about five nights in a row now.  And I don’t see the craving letting up any time soon.  I’ve been in dire need of comfort that only it can provide.

The byproduct – the study in globalization that makes it to my heavy bottom skillet just before I toss the finished dish on to my shallow bowl – never ceases to amuse me with its apparent depth.


In the middle of the night, I would suddenly have the urge to make this pasta. Whenever I’ve run out of supplies, I can just walk to the nearest Cold Storage. If it would be past 10:00 PM, I’d go to Fair Price Xtra.



It’s quite important to wash your fresh produce well. As you can see, I just throw everything in my trusty IKEA strainer and wash away. I rub the skins of the tomatoes pretty vigorously while singing. Hahaha.



The thing about making pasta is that with experience, you shall never be under the tyranny of the recipe. On a whim, I count three or four tomatoes to go to the making of my sauce. No hard and fast rules.



I’ve espoused blanching the tomatoes first, then peeling off the skin and de-seeding them before they are used. But sometimes, a rough dice, with skins and all, doesn’t hurt.



For this meal in minutes, a rough dice would do just fine. The flavor of Malaysian tomatoes does not come close to San Marzano or even Roma, but what it lacks in that department (“flavor” in the context of Italian sauce) it more than makes up for with it meaty flesh.



Making this five nights in a row would surely put a dent on my extra virgin olive oil stash. Here I am, finishing yet again another 500-mL bottle. Fortunately for me though, when Kuya Michele left Singapore at the end of his months-long assignment, he handed down to me ALL his remaining grocery items. There were bottles upon bottles of this golden green culinary jewel of an oil.



The sauce starts with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper every single time.



Making this is always a two-burner affair. You make the sauce as you boil the pasta away – always 30 seconds less than what the box or package tells you. It’s because I always tip the cook pasta over into the sauce. And they always finish about the same time.



Nothing splatters likes tomatoes. You shall know this once the roughly diced fruit hits the hot oil.



The moment the angel hair is done – in all of one and a half minutes only – I tear the basil leaves on the bubbling sauce. I tumble the pasta on to this and I’m ready to eat.



What I take to my mouth with every bite is a shameless amount. Haha! No wonder that a pound ogf dry pasta lasts me only three servings.



On some nights, I’m so hungry that I see the extra step of plating to be such unbearable delay. So I eat straight from the pan. Anyway, I never would share this. Hahaha!

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

La Vita è Bella

10 12 2012
Italian Lunch - Group 04 THANKS Original

The writing on the paper says it all.

MAKING PASTA for Italians is like hitting your head with the biggest rock you picked up on a leisurely stroll on Orchard Turn.  It sounds like a recipe for disaster but you do it just the same,

Not one to back down from a self-imposed challenge, I, along with Kiddo, whipped up an Italian lunch of pasta and risotto for our four dear Italian compadres Michele, Paolo, Claudio and Michele last Saturday.  (Yes, two Micheles.)

We intended to hit a home run – or, going by Italy’s favorite sport – make a goal, so we asked (okay, more like forced) Claudio if we could have the lunch at his place.  I thought, it could’ve at least imbibed by now the essence of the Italian spirit – the flavors borne on the sun-kissed Mediterranean, smacked with the temperament that can only come from the boot-shaped peninsula and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily where the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate meet.

If everything went well, I could charge it to the golden green extra virgin olive oil and the perfumed goodness of basil.  If from the initial sizzle created by garlic hitting hot oil everything went downhill, I would allude to the considerable seismic activity, characteristic of the country, which could wreak havoc on even the best-laid plans.

The planned menu reads prettily on paper and speaks boldness on the part of two Asians who for the most part could’ve just very well been tinkering with one of the most recognizable cuisines in the world.

TheBrenDarryl (recipe here) – Australian Baby Wild Arugula Salad with sliced Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side, in my now-signature Honey–Calamansi Dressing.

Angel Hair Pomodoro (recipes here)

Farfalle alla Genovese (recipe here or here)

Risotto Zafferano (recipe by Kiddo)

To start the meal, we passed around a loaf of ciabatta from a “Milano” bakeshop in Takashimaya, and for dessert, we couldn’t have gone more traditional and Christmas-y than with panettone which I sliced and served with three kinds of gelatocrème brûlée, coffee and vanilla.  Three bottles of red wine were popped through the course of the meal, their origins being a veritable testament to globalization – one came from Chile, another from Australia, and the third one from France.

The day started quite early as Kiddo, Claudio and I agreed to do the groceries at the Cold Storage at Takashimaya the morning of.  What was initially planned to be a dash-and-go turned out to be a surprise gathering as we bumped into Paolo (there for groceries) and Michele (there for breakfast and some takeaway bread).

Italian Lunch - Group 05 Cold Storage

What did you know. We first bumped into Paolo. Then on the way out, we saw Michele.


Italian Lunch - Group 06 Cold Storage

Michele says HI to the camera!


Italian Lunch - Group 07 Cold Storage

Now, let’s try a proper photo. Hehe.

Together, we took that leisurely stroll back to their serviced apartment and I kept my eyes wide open for the biggest rock I could pick up and hit my head with.  Haha!

Italian Lunch - Apartment 00 Chandelier

I fell in love with the lobby of their apartment from the first time I saw it. The chandeliers are nice. Simple lines, wrought iron work, and individual lights that evoke images of votives. Like sending prayers to heaven.


Italian Lunch - Apartment 01 Ceiling

Lovin’ the high ceiling and the skeleton globes.


Italian Lunch - Apartment 02 Lobby

The place is all dressed up for Christmas already. I love that tree.


Italian Lunch - Apartment 03 The West Wing

A part of me expected Martin Sheen to show up at some point.

Once there, Kiddo and I proceeded with all the prep work – peeling, cutting, and slicing – while at the same time turning on all four burners to heat pots and pans, some of which had to be borrowed from Paolo’s and Michele’s places.

Italian Lunch - Solo 01 Cooking

Whenever I cook at other people’s places, I always get this kind of shot. How does this happen? Someone calls out for you, you turn around to acknowledge, then the shutter is set off. I like this one.


Italian Lunch - Food 00 Ingredients

First thing I always do regardless of where I’m cooking is lay down all the ingredients. I pick what I need as I move along with the cooking. The steaks were for Paolo as he doesn’t eat seafood.


Italian Lunch - Food 01 Mushroom Ragout

The mushroom ragout for the Farfalle alla Genovese is done. The two pots on the left are water for the pasta – one for the farfalle, one for the angel hair.


Italian Lunch - Food 03

The food has landed on the table!


Italian Lunch - Food 06 Risotto Zafferano

Kiddo’s Risotto Zafferano


Italian Lunch - Food 05 Angel Hair Pomodoro

Angel Hair Pomodoro, made with only fresh tomatoes. In deference to Claudio’s sensitivity to “uncooked” cheese, I didn’t sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.


Italian Lunch - Food 02 Farfalle alla Genovese

Farfalle alla Genovese


Italian Lunch - Food 07 French Red Wine

The third bottle of red wine that was opened was French.


Italian Lunch - Food 08 French Red Wine

I loved how the label verbiage described the wine. “The wine is expressive and full-bodied yet unpretentious…” Could’ve been describing a person. Haha! Michele did a fine job reading the description in French.


Italian Lunch - Group 08 Lunch

I think lunch went okay. Haha!

More than anything, Kiddo and I wanted to keep the time as much as possible.  It would be a shame to keep guests waiting.  When the clock hit 1:00 PM – the appointed time on our invitation – I closed my eyes for one brief moment and imagined in my head the voice of Padma Lakshmi saying, “Hands up!  Utensils down!”  This meant slashing the salad off of the menu simply because I had yet to assemble the individual plates.

We sat down like one big happy family, expressed our appreciation for the food we were about to share, and just dug in.  Before we were about to finish, Michele and Claudio started asking for the speeches from “the chefs.”  I kept glancing at Kiddo and kept making sheepish grins thinking those would get me off the hook.  But our guests were serious about wanting to hear speeches.  Claudio, having already heard me deliver one at an office event, just wouldn’t let me get away with it scot-free.  I had to speak.

So with an iPhone5 trained at my countenance, I spoke.  It’s always just a good thing to keep on remembering the two lessons (among countless others) from my childhood that have never left me:  I was raised to never talk to strangers.  And to never ever be afraid to express how I feel (in my heart) and what I think (in my head).  So I spoke.  I had to.  I couldn’t put up with pretending not wanting to speak my mind.  Hehe.

Eventually, the Italians responded with their own “speeches.”  The one thing I could never forget from what they said was that by sharing a meal with us – me, Kiddo, and our other Asian friends (Chin Eik, and then Shook Yee, were there too) – they actually express their respect for us and their willingness to be our friends.  I paraphrased but that was essentially it.

After lunch was cleared, it was time to move on to a more pressing concern – to learn to play mahjong.  While Shook Yee, Chin Eik and Kiddo coached Michele, Paolo, Claudio and Michele, I proceeded with preparing the dessert course.  The panettone and gelato were store-bought (Cold Storage Specialty) but they didn’t have to be served looking like they did.  So I reached for Claudio’s pristine bone china pieces from the cupboard, set on each a thinly sliced wedge of panettone, and three rustic scoops of gelato, one each for the crème brûlée, coffee and vanilla.

Italian Lunch - Group 00 Mahjong

For most of us, it was time to learn mahjong! Chin Eik, Paolo, the very lovely Shook Yee, Michele, eNTeNG and Kia Leh (Kiddo).


Italian Lunch - Group 09 Mahjong

Soon enough, the Italians were making a killing at the game. Haha!


Italian Lunch - Friends 00 Claudio Michele

Michele and Claudio celebrate a win by singing Queen’s “We Are The Champions”. Haha!


Italian Lunch - Mahjong 00 Fave Tiles

My favorite mahjong tiles


Italian Lunch - Mahjong 01 Almost Win

An almost win for me


Italian Lunch - Mahjong 02 Win

Finally, a win for me!


Italian Lunch - Mahjong 03 Cheat Sheet

We had a cheat sheet written on the mahjong paper, courtesy of either Shook Yee, Chin Eik, or Kiddo.


Italian Lunch - Food 09 Panettone

Panettone, the traditional Italian Christmas cake, the dessert of choice courtesy of Claudio.


Italian Lunch - Food 10 Panettone with Gelato

Panettone with Gelato Three Ways, ready to be served.


Italian Lunch - Food 11 Panettone with Gelato

Each dessert portion is a thin slice of panettone, with a rustic melange of crème brûlée, coffee and vanilla gelato.

By the time each finished his or her share of cake and gelato, we looked at the leaderboard in shock and awe that one of the Italians, very new to the game, made us bite dust.  Paolo made an unprecedented three-win streak.  Michele (Kuya) chalked up two wins (celebrating one with a rendition of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” together with Claudio), as well as Chin Eik.  I don’t recall how the others fared.  But I do know that Shook Yee won the last game.  And somewhere in between, I walked away with a win too!  Haha!

We spent another hour talking about all things Italian – everybody in the guest list has been to Italy except me – before heading off to Takashimaya for dinner at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Beanstro.  Around past 11:00 PM, we went on our way back to their place for the final nightcap.

Italian Lunch - Group 05 Elevator

On the elevator ride down, on our way to Takashimaya for a little shopping, coffee, and dinner for me. Haha!


Italian Lunch - Food 12 Beanstro Menu

The BeanSTRO Menu


Italian Lunch - Group 02 CBTL Beanstro

The gang at BeanSTRO by CBTL at Takashimaya


Italian Lunch - Food 15 Beanstro Pasta

My Roast Chicken and Tomato Concasse Pasta


Italian Lunch - Food 16 Biscotti

We brought back some Almond-Chocolate Biscotti from CBTL.

Needless to say, on this third leisurely stroll on Orchard Turn done in the space of one fine day, I was hoping against hope to find the biggest rock to hit my head with.  What was my business making pasta for Italians?  Then I realized I needed not a reality check because in their kind words that peppered the day’s many conversations, I recognized gratitude, appreciation for effort beyond the fruition of perfection, and a tolerance for what one’s best can offer.

I can’t wait for the next get-together.

Italian Lunch - Solo 00 Christmas Tree

Of course I’ve got to have a photo by the Christmas Tree at the lobby.


Italian Lunch - Group 01 Christmas Tree

By the same Christmas Tree, here with Michele, Claudio, Shook Yee, and Kiddo.


Italian Lunch - Solo 02 Lobby

Anywhere there is a mirror. Haha!… As you can see, we had the lobby all to ourselves. This was one of the best late night conversations I have had in a long time.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

The BrenDarryl – a recipe

8 08 2012

WHEN MY mother finally promoted the barely-ten-year-old me from pulling on her apron strings to standing on a stool, leant over a heavy-bottom skillet steaming with a sauté, I thought that all I was getting was a free facial and impish bragging rights that the kid in me had his way.  Little did I know that it would ignite in me a culinary passion so fervent it pierces through my collective consciousness to reveal itself every chance it gets.

Like most everybody, I believe to have grown up having the best “anything” ever, coming from our home kitchen – adobo (meat or vegetable braised in vinegar and soy sauce), nilaga (usually, pork ribs soup), sinigang (meat or fish in a soup soured with tamarind fruit), tinola (chicken in ginger-flavored broth with green papaya and chili tops ), pancit (fried noodles), kare–kare (oxtail stew in a sauce thickened with ground peanuts and glutinous rice), and just about everything else.

These are the flavors of my childhood.  These are the tastes that transport me back to being that kid in the kitchen.

In time, I’ve learned how to cook.  And with that came the confidence in my skills.  At restaurant dinners, I’ve started to find amusement in figuring out the key ingredients that go into a dish, and how it is prepared.  Mastering the basic techniques, eventually I’ve become more experimental, bold in whipping up something on a whim – sometimes, something not even entirely Filipino.

One of my relatively recent bursts of culinary inspiration is my now-signature Honey–Calamansi Dressing that I use on my Australian Baby Wild Arugula Salad with sliced Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side.

That’s quite a mouthful to say every single time I get asked.  So it has become imperative to name this salad.  I call it “The BrenDarryl,” in honor of my close friends Brenda and Darryl, who enthusiastically appreciated this creation when I first made it for them for dinner.  In the restaurant in my head, it is the star salad, sharing stellar billing with other name-droppables “Caesar” and “Nicoise.”

The response to The BrenDarryl has been so overwhelming – almost enough to push a mere mortal to delusions of culinary grandeur – that I’ve decided to share the recipe here.  You’ll be surprised how simple it is.  What makes it so irresistibly scrumptious?  The answer is likewise so simple, trite, and undeniably suffused with cliché – love.  (If you’re cringing, you should’ve been warned with the mention of “cliché! “)

Cook with love in your heart.  See, there’s a reason Wolfgang Puck always tells us to “Live!  Laugh!  Love!”

The BrenDarryl, my Australian Baby Wild Arugula Salad with sliced Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side, all drizzled with my now-signature Honey–Calamansi Dressing.


The BrenDarryl

For the dressing you will need

¼ cup Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Lune de Miel® 100% Pure Honey (I use either plain “Fruity & Floral” or “Orange Blossom”)

3 tablespoons Calamansi Juice (or the juice from 7 of these “little limes”)

A pinch of Morton® Coarse Kosher Salt

A fresh crack of McCormick® Black Peppercorn

All that you need for my now-signature Honey–Calamansi Dressing.


The star of my wonderful dressing!


All the ingredients for the perfect “The BrenDarryl!”


For the salad you will need

Hussey & Co.® Wild Rocket (Baby Arugula, kept in the refrigerator until needed to be served)

Yummy™ Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple

Gaucho® Green Argentina Packham’s Pear

Millel® Parmesan Cheese (Shaved, not Grated!)

Prawns (Shelled, deveined, with the tails left intact, five per serving)

Green with envy – apples and pears!


Lune de Miel 100% Pure & Natural Honey in Orange Blossom




Wild Rocket!


Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, honey, and calamansi juice well in a large bowl, until almost emulsified.  Season with the kosher salt and black pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Peel the apple and pear and slice thinly.  To prevent oxidation, toss the sliced fruit in a little dressing.  Cover with cling wrap and set aside in the refrigerator.

Marinate the prawns in a little dressing for about 10 minutes, at most.  Grill on a non-stick (grill) pan.  Once they curl, turn over and allow only 30 more seconds to cook.  Remove immediately from the heat.

Begin assembling the salad by tossing the wild rocket (baby arugula) with just enough dressing to “stain” the leaves but not weigh them down.  It is best to use a large salad or mixing bowl for this purpose.

On a plate, spoon a loose handful of the wild rocket (baby arugula) and on top, generously sprinkle shaved parmesan cheese.  On the side, scoop slices of the apple and pear.  Finish with five of the pan-grilled prawns.  Optionally, extra dressing may be drizzled on top.  Voila!  The BrenDarryl is ready to be served.

The pots and pans are ready! When I last made The BrenDarryl, I also made my Angel Hair Pomodoro while Brenda delighted us with her signature Bruschetta.


The pasta water is boiling in the pot on the left while the sauce is simmering in the one on the left. As a rule of thumb, I heat the grill pan while I prepare the prawns.


The lightly marinated prawns are now ready to hit the heat!


We’re grillin’!


The prawns are now done!


Brenda calls these perfectly pan-grilled prawns.


This is how little dressing I use in staining the wild rocket (baby arugula) as I prepare the salad for serving.


Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved