A Roman invention so good my eyes rolled back in my head

15 03 2015

“SIR, WHAT you want is authentic Italian.  Our chef regrets that he would stick to our recipe and hopes you would consider trying it.”

Now if only every wait staff could feign rejection with an underhanded compliment like that – I do remember a half–smile cracking from the corner of her lips – then this world would be a much better place.  One turned down customer at a time.

A Roman invention tweaked so good, it has got to be the best I've ever had in the Lion City!

A Roman invention tweaked so good, it has got to be the best I’ve ever had in the Lion City!

 

Having had a lid put on my brewing revulsion towards the addition of cream into their Pasta Carbonara – not to mention the decidedly deliberate omission of lots of freshly cracked black pepper – I allowed my slightly damaged ego to order the dish.

It came right after I had devoured a couple of starters – the Foie Gras, a Chef’s Exclusive, and the Thai Beef Salad – and with the first forkful gave me a gastronomic euphoria that screamed in my head so loud, I had unknowingly let out not a few scrumptious “moans”.  The decibel level seemed to have alienated – more like, embarrassed – all those at my table that they had considered moving away.

This place gets mad props from me on presentation.  This humongous pristine white plate dwarfs the sliver of pan-fried foie gras nestled on a piece of garlic toast, meant to be stained with the dried fruit compote and dusted with a little bread crumbs.

This place gets mad props from me on presentation. This humongous pristine white plate dwarfs the sliver of pan-fried foie gras nestled on a piece of garlic toast, meant to be stained with the dried fruit compote and dusted with a little bread crumbs.

 

 

Asia is represented in sporadic scatterings on the menu.  This Thai Beef Salad is redolent with the whiff of lemongrass and sweet basil, perfectly perfuming perfectly medium rare meat.

Asia is represented in sporadic scatterings on the menu. This Thai Beef Salad is redolent with the whiff of lemongrass and sweet basil, perfectly perfuming perfectly medium rare meat.

 

The screams would come with every bite so I knew that it could only be quieted down with succumbing to its whim – asking for a second portion.  Usually I would save any repeats to a subsequent visit.  But the craving was unrelenting, demanded by my synapses right there and then.

 

An attempt at flat lay on my Pasta Carbonara, which at first bite I knew would be the first of at least two.  Right there and right then!

An attempt at flat lay on my Pasta Carbonara, which at first bite I knew would be the first of at least two. Right there and right then!

 

Plate number two.  Flat lay number two.  This also came to be known as "Gone in 60 Seconds"!  Hahaha!

Plate number two. Flat lay number two. This also came to be known as “Gone in 60 Seconds”! Hahaha!

 

So I did, notwithstanding the wait staff’s eyeballs bulging out of their sockets.  Not that I needed those to remind me that I was probably having more than enough.  My S$ 80++ tab at the end of the meal told me that.

For the first time ever here in Singapore, I insisted on leaving a generous tip for the servers and pulled them aside to convey a very personal message: “Please tell the Chef that this has got to be the best Pasta Carbonara I have ever had islandwide.”  I have a very exacting recipe and expectation, so I felt pleasantly surprised to be so welcoming of change – to not be in control of what goes to my plate.

I didn’t mind the addition of the cream.  I loved having my palate wrapped in the comforting nuttiness of parmesan cheese redolent in the sauce.  I didn’t miss the black pepper.  I didn’t notice the parsley.

And most of all, I didn’t mind the bill.

P. Bistro Café (http://www.p-bistro.com/) is at 142 Owen Road Singapore 218941. Contact them at +65 6392 2333, or through info@p-bistro.com.

 

The very inviting, cozy bistro interiors greet you from the very moment you fling open the front door.

The very inviting, cozy bistro interiors greet you from the very moment you fling open the front door.

 

"Damn, girl, excuse my French."  The signage on the way to the upstairs sitting area.

“Damn, girl, excuse my French.” The signage on the way to the upstairs sitting area.

 

Everything on the Carbonara description on the menu earned a check from me – except the cream.  And yes, the omission of lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

Everything on the Carbonara description on the menu earned a check from me – except the cream. And yes, the omission of lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

 

Copyright © 2015 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Sinigang na sugpo

24 11 2014

OUR HABITS become our character.  The thought hits me first thing Saturday morning when, after hitting snooze on my alarm for the fifth time, I darted through the door and elbowed my way through fresh seafood at the weekend wet market.  I only mean to say that it’s fast becoming a habit.  The profundity of the opening line was purely unintentional.

One of my weekend market basket stuffers: Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg).

One of my weekend market basket stuffers: Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg).

 

This one told me she was ready for her close-up!  Haha.

This one told me she was ready for her close-up! Haha.

 

But if I would be so profound – however unintentional – then I would be better off if I’d cook not only for myself but for a couple of my closest friends as well.  We’ve been moving in very different circles since moving to Singapore.  But that didn’t mean we had to lose the friendship.

My resuscitated fascination for blue crabs seems to be something I shall enjoy in solitude.  Something about having to work really hard for one’s meal – all those legs, claws and shell one has to go through – makes people think twice.  So staring at the day’s catch, showcased no better way than spread on white tiles so pedestrian yet so fitting, I had a thought:  maximum pleasure for minimum effort.  Prawns win over crabs.

I made my way through the biggest, fattest fresh prawns, S$ 24.00 for a kilo, making sure that while I work out my ingredients list in my head, I wouldn’t be making my dearest blue crabs feel left out.  I snapped up a couple of those too.

I thought my friends would appreciate a taste of home.  So the prawns just had to be made into “sinigang” – meat or fish in a broth soured traditionally with tamarind pulp, to which are added lots of fresh vegetables.  My previous posts about it are here.

I realize I haven’t really put up a proper recipe of it here though.  Here is exactly how I make it.  This being the batch I brought to my friends, blanching the vegetables is a must to preserve their color and crunch as the dish travels.

 

KNORR® Sinigang sa Sampalok Mix Original (20 g), or “Sinigang na may SiliRecipe Mix (22 g)

Onions, one medium–sized, finely sliced

Tomatoes, two medium–sized, seeded, blanched, peeled, quartered

Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg)

String Beans (Long Beans), exactly 10, cut into 3” pieces

Daikon Radish, one medium–sized, cut into thin rounds

Swamp Cabbage (Water Spinach), one bunch, just the tops, cut from the stems and roots

Green Finger Chilies, four, stemmed, seeded, cut in half

MORTON® coarse Kosher salt, to taste

 

  1. In a stock pot, bring one liter of water, the onions and tomatoes to the boil. Simmer for about five minutes to break the onions and tomatoes into the broth.

 

  1. Add the KNORR® Sinigang sa Sampalok Mix Original (20 g), or “Sinigang na may SiliRecipe Mix (22 g).
As a kid and as my mother's kitchen apprentice, I used to prepare the sour broth using fresh tamarind that had to be boiled, mashed, and strained.    I call these the convenience of modern times:  KNORR® “Sinigang sa Sampalok” Mix Original (20 g), and “Sinigang na may Sili” Recipe Mix (22 g).

As a kid and as my mother’s kitchen apprentice, I used to prepare the sour broth using fresh tamarind that had to be boiled, mashed, and strained. I call these the convenience of modern times: KNORR® “Sinigang sa Sampalok” Mix Original (20 g), and “Sinigang na may Sili” Recipe Mix (22 g).

 

 

  1. Plunge the prawns in.

 

  1. When the prawns start to curl, add the blanched vegetables – string beans, daikon radish, swamp cabbage, and, the green finger chilies. Three minutes after the dish has come back to the boil, turn the heat off.

 

  1. Sinigang na sugpo” is ready to serve! Preferably, with heaps of freshly cooked, steaming hot Japanese pearl rice.
I packed the "sinigang" as beautifully as I could.  This batch was made for a VIP clientele and will have to travel from my flat to theirs.

I packed the “sinigang” as beautifully as I could. This batch was made for a VIP clientele and will have to travel from my flat to theirs.

 

I poured the broth and it's ready to be delivered!

I poured the broth and it’s ready to be delivered!

 

In this IKEA® bag are the "sinigang" and lots of steamed Japanese pearl rice.  Just a 10-minute train ride to the VIP client.

In this IKEA® bag are the “sinigang” and lots of steamed Japanese pearl rice. Just a 10-minute train ride to the VIP client.

 

One of the nice things about living in Singapore.  Even a homecooked lunch could be enjoyed with an awesome view.

One of the nice things about living in Singapore. Even a homecooked lunch could be enjoyed with an awesome view.

 

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





Flower crab sarciado

17 11 2014

“WHAT DO you mean it doesn’t translate?!”  I remember saying to the TV – complete with hand gestures and a raised voice – when the Indian Chef Maya Kaimal was explaining to THE Martha Stewart that her Spinach Thoren dish doesn’t have an exact equivalent English name.  She was talking about the “thoren” part, obviously.  She went on to describe what it means, in length, but she lost me the moment the mustard seeds started popping upon hitting the heated oil.  I just thought that it sounded like a demigod’s name.

(Don’t get me wrong by the way.  I adore Maya Kaimal.  She’s a favorite.)

eNTeNG's flower crab sarciado, or simply, “Sarciadong Alimasag"

eNTeNG’s flower crab sarciado, or simply, “Sarciadong Alimasag”

 

I got reminded of this as I attempt to blog about my recipe for “Sarciadong Alimasag.”  The “alimasag” part is easy.  It translates to blue crab, or “flower crab,” as it is more popularly known here in Singapore.  The “sarciado,” I’m not quite sure of.  I consulted Google Translate, expecting that its “Detect Language” functionality would determine the provenance of the word to be Spanish.  I hit the button and it turned up to be – “Portugese.”  But it shares the same fate as thoren.  No direct translation.

Sarciadong Alimasag” is a dish from my childhood.  It is the fattest blue crabs cooked in a sauce made by sautéing finely minced root aromatics garlic and onions with lots of finely chopped fresh tomatoes.  The salty savory quality to the dish is achieved by adding soy sauce.  For balance – of texture and nutrients, I suppose – string beans are added.

The secret to this dish is using the freshest flower crabs possible.  Here in Singapore, I’ve bought these from the lowest end to the highest end of groceries, both ending in much disappointment.  The crabs – though female – were bereft of the prized roe and worse, frozen to the point that reduces the meat to a pulp.  That is, if you’d be lucky enough to find any meat at all.  So I did what any self–respecting culinarian does, get up at the crack of dawn and head to the nearest wet market where wild–caught seafood could be had, fresh from the shores.  They may be iced in transit but never frozen.

The only stall at the market that sells flower crabs!

The only stall at the market that sells flower crabs!

 

The blue crates hold these blue crabs (blue for blue... it matches!).  A total of five, each with a couple or three layers of crabs.  By the  time I got there, there was only one crate left, with only one layer!  My luck!

The blue crates hold these blue crabs (blue for blue… it matches!). A total of five, each with a couple or three layers of crabs. By the time I got there, there was only one crate left, with only one layer! My luck!

 

This flower crab was ready for its close-up.  And my purchase.

This flower crab was ready for its close-up. And my purchase.

 

There was a mad rush for the flower crabs, and understandably so.  All the Aunties and Uncles who were buying would ask for their purchases to be prepped.  But for me, I do it by myself.

There was a mad rush for the flower crabs, and understandably so. All the Aunties and Uncles who were buying would ask for their purchases to be prepped. But for me, I do it by myself.

 

Today, I may have woken up to the opening strains of Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning,” but I’m blogging right now with The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” on heavy rotation in my head.  This batch turned out to be outstanding!

Here’s my recipe, kicked up a notch with the addition of a surprise twist.

 

Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil, a thin film on the pan

Garlic, 12 cloves (or to taste) finely minced

Onions, two medium–sized, finely minced

Tomatoes, four medium–sized, seeded, blanched, peeled, finely chopped

The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue, one heaping tablespoon

Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce, three tablespoons (or to taste)

Flower Crabs (Blue Crabs), fresh, wild–caught, 1 kg (SGD 13.00/kg)

String Beans (Long Beans), exactly 20, cut into 3” pieces

The usual root aromatics garlic (exactly 12 cloves) and onions (two medium–sized).

The usual root aromatics garlic (exactly 12 cloves) and onions (two medium–sized).

 

Four medium–sized tomatoes, already seeded, ready to be blanched, peeled and then finely chopped.

Four medium–sized tomatoes, already seeded, ready to be blanched, peeled and then finely chopped.

 

String beans (long beans), exactly 20, here already cut up into 3" pieces.

String beans (long beans), exactly 20, here already cut up into 3″ pieces.

 

Choose string beans (long beans) that are as thin as could be.  Reed-thin.

Choose string beans (long beans) that are as thin as could be. Reed-thin.

 

The onions and tomatoes already prepped.  Both should be chopped as fine as possible.   The garlic is saved, to be pressed fresh on top of the sauté.

The onions and tomatoes already prepped. Both should be chopped as fine as possible. The garlic is saved, to be pressed fresh on top of the sauté.

 

As a key learning from a company-sponsored cooking class I had attended, I have started blanching vegetables, as much as time would allow me, before I use them in my recipes.

As a key learning from a company-sponsored cooking class I had attended, I have started blanching vegetables, as much as time would allow me, before I use them in my recipes.

 

 

  1. Heat a heavy bottom skillet over low–medium flame.  I prefer to use the ones that are really wider than they are taller.  Add a thin film of the Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil or any vegetable oil.  In it, sauté the onions, then turn the heat low. Cover the pan to “sweat” the onions, about five minutes.
Step 1:  Sauté the finely minced onions over low–medium heat.

Step 1: Sauté the finely minced onions over low–medium heat.

 

  1. Once the onions have become soft and translucent, add the finely minced garlic.  I do so by pressing the garlic right over the pan, using my handy–dandy IKEA® garlic press.
Press the garlic right over the pan.  I use my handy–dandy IKEA® garlic press.

Press the garlic right over the pan. I use my handy–dandy IKEA® garlic press.

 

Look just how perfect the garlic comes out of this press!  #AWESOME!

Look just how perfect the garlic comes out of this press! #AWESOME!

 

  1. Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the finely chopped tomatoes that had first been seeded, blanched and then peeled. Turn the heat up to allow the tomatoes to breakdown into a sauce.

 

Turn the heat up to allow the tomatoes to breakdown into a sauce.

Turn the heat up to allow the tomatoes to breakdown into a sauce.

 

  1. After about five minutes, add The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue. Mix it well into the sauce.

 

This bottle of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue works wonders!

This bottle of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue works wonders!

 

This heaping tablespoon of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue lends a nutty, almost buttery goodness to the sauce.

This heaping tablespoon of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue lends a nutty, almost buttery goodness to the sauce.

 

  1. Season with Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce. Add one to four tablespoons of water, as needed.
It's time for the soy sauce!  Lately, I've been in love with Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce.

It’s time for the soy sauce! Lately, I’ve been in love with Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce.

 

  1. Once the mixture comes back to the bubble, arrange on it the flower crabs (blue crabs). Put the lid back on.
These three flower crabs are huge that they hardly have enough room in my wide pan.

These three flower crabs are huge that they hardly have enough room in my wide pan.

 

  1. My pots and pans have tempered glass lids so I can see exactly what’s going on. But if yours aren’t, check the crabs after being cooked covered for six to 10 minutes.

 

  1. When the crabs have turned color completely, add the string beans. Three minutes after the dish has come back to the boil, turn the heat off.
Add the string beans (long beans), this time already blanched, just when the flower crabs have completely turned color.

Add the string beans (long beans), this time already blanched, just when the flower crabs have completely turned color.

 

  1. Sarciadong Alimasag” is ready to serve! In my case, with heaps of freshly cooked, steaming hot Japanese pearl rice.
“Sarciadong Alimasag” (flower crab sarciado) is ready!

“Sarciadong Alimasag” (flower crab sarciado) is ready!

 

Will you just look at that?!?!?!

Will you just look at that?!?!?!

 

Good thing I made lots of Japanese pearl rice!  Just a little of the crab fat, stained on this rice...  is gastronomic heaven.

Good thing I made lots of Japanese pearl rice! Just a little of the crab fat, stained on this rice… is gastronomic heaven.

 

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





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.





Fresh wild mushrooms with oyster sauce

29 10 2014

THERE COMES a time in a culinarian’s life when recipes he can put together on auto–pilot need to finally be committed to paper.  Or, a blog post.

One such time is when one of my dearest friends – all the way from the City of Trees – hit me up with, “Any ideas on what to do with fresh mushrooms?”

"What to do with fresh mushrooms?! "  Here is a pile of fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

“What to do with fresh mushrooms?! ” Here is a pile of fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

 

Something about the sight of a pile of fresh mushrooms always just...  gets me!

Something about the sight of a pile of fresh mushrooms always just… gets me!

 

Slice the fresh shiitake mushrooms – caps, stems and all.  Do the same for white button, Swiss brown, baby bellos, and creminis.

Slice the fresh shiitake mushrooms – caps, stems and all. Do the same for white button, Swiss brown, baby bellos, and creminis.

 

As will be mentioned in the recipe below, all – except the oyster variety – should be sliced.

As will be mentioned in the recipe below, all – except the oyster variety – should be sliced.

 

I couldn't help but take an aerial of this beautifully, randomly piled sliced fresh shiitakes.

I couldn’t help but take an aerial of this beautifully, randomly piled sliced fresh shiitakes.

This – not the mushroom cream sauce – first came to mind.

 

Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil, a thin film on the pan

Garlic, six cloves (or to taste) finely minced

A medley of fresh wild mushrooms, 500 grams

Lee Kum Kee® or Woh Hup® Oyster Sauce, two to three heaping tablespoons

 

Heat a heavy bottom skillet over low–medium flame.  I prefer to use the ones that are really wider than they are taller.  Add a thin film of the Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil or any vegetable oil.  In it, sauté finely minced garlic.  I go crazy with the garlic sometimes and it could be really strong.  So err on the side of caution.

Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two.  I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk).  At two vacuum–sealed packs at 250 grams each, we are talking about 500 grams of mushrooms.  But you know me, I do tend to go crazy sometimes with eyeballing stuff and I’d end up throwing in more than that – putting a huge dent on what should be for the following day’s menu.

Allow the mushrooms to get heated through without stirring.  Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up.

At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce.  It has always been Lee Kum Kee® or Woh Hup® with me.  But feel free to use any brand you prefer.  Two to three heaping tablespoons should do it.

Fresh mushrooms do not take long to cook.  So I guess this should take all of only 10 minutes from when the minced garlic hits the heated oil.

I have this with lots of steaming hot white jasmine rice or Japanese pearl rice and I’m tremendously pleased – both by how satisfying this simple meal is and how quick it took from stove to stomach.

"Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two."

“Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two.”

 

"I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk)."

“I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk).”

 

"Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up.  At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce."

“Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up. At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce.”

 

eNTeNG's Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce is ready to be served!

eNTeNG’s Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce is ready to be served!

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





The Blue Kitchen angel hair aligue pasta

26 10 2014

THIS RECIPE is so good it will make you want to reach for your cholesterol–lowering medication just by reading it.

But at the same time, it is quite simple that it wouldn’t drive you nuts to curl your culinary biceps (if there’s such a thing) a hundred of times just to build the muscle needed to whip this dish up.

Today’s six–ingredient fix is my The Blue Kitchen Angel Hair Aligue Pasta, the result of still having a stash of a bottle of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue.  To someone not Filipino, “aligue” is simply crab fat, which if we’re being very specific, is not actually fat, but the heptopancreas, the innards that performs the function of both liver and pancreas.  Crack a crab open and it would be the stuff that lines the shell.  In lobsters, this is the tomalley.

Another one of my quick fixes involves a maximum of six ingredients.  This one features a new favorite bottled product – The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue!

Another one of my quick fixes involves a maximum of six ingredients. This one features a new favorite bottled product – The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue!

 

I made the acquaintance with The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue by way of a gift that found its way to the dining table at home.

I made the acquaintance with The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue by way of a gift that found its way to the dining table at home.

And to anyone Filipino or otherwise, I have to say that The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue is simply the best.  The operative word here is “pure”.  Topped off with just a tiny film of oil – it’s the perfect sunset orange hue, rife with the promise of almost buttery smooth goodness.  You taste the hint of saltiness – but not the salt.  They are online at http://www.thebluekitchen.com.

For this simple dish, all you need are

 

Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Garlic

The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue

De Cecco® or San Remo® Angel Hair Pasta

Fresh Kalamansi (Small limes, or calamondin)

Millel® Parmesan Cheese (optional)

 

I add up to six tablespoons of Bertolli® extra virgin olive oil  to a heavy–bottom pan over medium heat.  I use that much oil as this sauce tends to be on the dry side, with just the pure aligue alone.  Using my handy IKEA® garlic press, I mince five large cloves of garlic directly on to the oil.  All I need is to infuse the oil with the essence of the garlic.  The moment I catch a whiff of it – which should be within mere seconds from when the garlic hits the oil – I add about three heaping tablespoons of the The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue.  The moment the whole thing comes back to a slight bubble, I squeeze in the juice of three fat kalamansi.  All that’s left to do is to tumble in al dente De Cecco® or San Remo® angel hair pasta, which has been cooked according to package directions.  Once the pasta is completely stained with the sauce, it is ready to serve!  This one doesn’t even call for a sprinkling of salt at all.

This next step is totally optional (as I am very old school about the use of cheese on seafood–based sauces), grate – not shave! – onto this, as much Millel® parmesan cheese as you like.  Enjoy!

This has got to be one of the yummiest pastas I've ever had!  I would sometimes eat this straight out of the pan, standing by the kitchen counter.

This has got to be one of the yummiest pastas I’ve ever had! I would sometimes eat this straight out of the pan, standing by the kitchen counter.

 

All I prefer to add to my sauce is a squeeze of these fat kalamansi!

All I prefer to add to my sauce is a squeeze of these fat kalamansi!

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





Pasta as a judicious use of scarce resources

23 10 2014

THE THOUGHT of having breakfast fare three times a day frees me from the constraints of the orthodox timetable.  While it is to me the perfect excuse for all places that serve “all–day breakfast”, I find that the concept of freeing oneself from these constraints allow me to fling open the pantry and the refrigerator door and let my often scarce resources yield to my culinary creativity.

That, and feeling unapologetic for having pasta first thing in the morning.

My Mushroom Cream Pasta is obviously not timid, obviously not shy.  When I need an instant high, this is what I would OD ("overdose") on – fresh wild mushrooms in various states of doneness, swimming in cream.  Heady with the hint of garlic.  Kissed by salty goodness of parmesan.

My Mushroom Cream Pasta is obviously not timid, obviously not shy. When I need an instant high, this is what I would OD (“overdose”) on – fresh wild mushrooms in various states of doneness, swimming in cream. Heady with the hint of garlic. Kissed by the salty goodness of parmesan.

Today’s six–ingredient breakfast fix is my Mushroom Cream Pasta, the result of having a stash of

 

Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Garlic

Fresh Heavy Cream

Fresh Cremini and Shiitake Mushrooms

De Cecco® Angel Hair Pasta

Millel® Parmesan Cheese

 

I add two tablespoons of Bertolli® extra virgin olive oil  to a heavy–bottom pan over medium heat.  Using my handy IKEA® garlic press, I mince five large cloves of garlic directly on to the oil.  All I need is to infuse the oil with the essence of the garlic.  The moment I catch a whiff of it – which should be within mere seconds when the garlic hits the oil – I tumble in the sliced fresh cremini and shiitake mushrooms.  I make sure that I keep the mushrooms – caps, stems and all – in one layer.  I allow the mushrooms to sizzle away, stirring only at the moment when they’ve given up most of their yummy juices.  At this point, I pour in the heavy cream.  If you’d ask me how precise the measurement is, I’d say, put just enough to cover the mushrooms.  The moment the whole thing comes back to a bubble, turn off the heat and tip this sauce over waiting al dente De Cecco® angel hair pasta, which has been cooked according to package directions.  Shave – not grate! – onto this, as much Millel® parmesan cheese as you like.  Enjoy!  (Before any one of you accuses me of not seasoning the sauce with salt – knowing well enough that any underseasoned food is vile – the cheese takes care of this needed flavoring.)

By the way, a word of caution along the lines of the orthodox, this time with regards to preparing vegetables.  While everything else calls for thorough washing under running water, please do not do this to mushrooms!  The best way to prepare them is to wipe them clean with a slightly damp cloth.

For the mushrooms I cook into the sauce, I'm perfectly fine with keeping the stems.  For the garnish on top, just before serving, I just use the caps.  By the way, do you notice those plimp cloves of garlic peeking from behind the earthy brown pile of umami goodness?

For the mushrooms I cook into the sauce, I’m perfectly fine with keeping the stems. For the garnish on top, just before serving, I just use the caps. By the way, do you notice those plimp cloves of garlic peeking from behind the earthy brown pile of umami goodness?

 

Six ingredients.  10 minutes to prepare.  Five (or so) easy steps.  One bowl of goodness.  You eat this and you will realize that the world is as it should be.  That all is good.

Six ingredients. 10 minutes to prepare. Five (or so) easy steps. One bowl of goodness. You eat this and you will realize that the world is as it should be. That all is good.

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





Boise in a list of 40

16 06 2014

WE NEVER forget our first.  I mean to say, “firsts,” as well as all other things worth taking note of.  My first sojourn to the land of world–famous potatoes is coming to an end.  I allow myself to wax nostalgic and I’m not surprised that as I sip through my Tall Breakfast Brew with room for cream and brown sugar mixed in, I couldn’t help but break into smiles as my list of 40 unravels.

They say that life begins at 40.  I think I’m off to a great start.

01

I’ve been made aware of Boise and of Idaho more along the lines of being one of the best places to live in the States, and to raise a family.  I didn’t realize that this assignment would inadvertently allow me to tick off an item on another kind of list:  “TheCNN10 Dare To Go” List, http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/05/travel/cnn10-dare-to-go/.

"The CNN 10 Dare To Go" has Idaho on its list!  I have to say, I've ticked this one off!

“The CNN 10 Dare To Go” has Idaho on its list! I have to say, I’ve ticked this one off!

 

01_Arrival_00

eNTeNG, mere minutes from arriving at Boise Airport.

 

Welcome to IDAHO!

Welcome to IDAHO!

 

Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Hudson!  "And I DO like...  Hoo-hoo...  Living under your STOP LIGHT...  Hoo-hoo..."

Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Hudson! “And I DO like… Hoo-hoo… Living under your STOP LIGHT… Hoo-hoo…”

 

02

Somehow, it is indeed very nice to know that “in Boise, you are just within 15 minutes of almost everything.”

In Boise, all you have to do is hit the open road...  Always just about 15 minutes from everything!

In Boise, all you have to do is hit the open road… Always just about 15 minutes from everything!

 

03

In Boise, nature is beautifully and peacefully juxtaposed with modern–day technology.  I was first able to write about a similar observation on my first ever trip overseas, when I delivered a speech at a UN–sanctioned international conference for students held in Japan in 1990.

Sights in Boise are easy on the eyes.  The Foothills.  The Blue Sky.  The pristine white clouds.

Sights in Boise are easy on the eyes. The Foothills. The Blue Sky. The pristine white clouds.

 

04

I have never driven my whole life.  So that was the first and foremost concern I had when I learned about my trip to Boise.  Cue The Beatles:  “I get by with a little help from my friends”  Cue James Taylor:  “You’ve Got A Friend.”  And of course, cue TLC: “I don’t want no scrubs.  Scrubs is a guy who can’t get no love from me.  Hanging on the passenger side of his best friend’s ride…’  #Ouch!  Hahaha!

 

05

I was able to get my fill, to my heart’s content, of all the Boise State University (BSU) #BRONCOS merchandise I could get my hands on.  Sadly, I wasn’t as fortunate with University of Idaho #VANDALS.

Lovin' my Boise State U #BRONCOS jacket!

Lovin’ my Boise State U #BRONCOS jacket!

 

Hats galore.  The #BRONCOS are for me and my brothers.

Hats galore. The #BRONCOS are for me and my brothers.

 

06

FOR A place with stark interiors, the menu at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant on Broadway was daunting.  But just like what The Library of Babel T-Shirt says, “You can’t rule the world if you can’t decide what to order.”  So, armed with my own resolve to rule my own world, I zoomed into the taste of the familiar that seemed buried beneath an array of lunch specials and enticing combo options.  I ordered their Pho the first time I was there, and never looked back.  I also never ordered anything else.

Everybody I know has fallen in love with Dong Khanh's Spicy Chicken Meal!  Well, everybody but me.  Not because it isn't any good.  It is excellent.  But I'm all about the pho.

Everybody I know has fallen in love with Dong Khanh’s Spicy Chicken Meal! Well, everybody but me. Not because it isn’t any good. It is excellent. But I’m all about the pho.

 

My favorite Dong Khanh Beef Pho!  Probably the best I've had the world over.

My favorite Dong Khanh Beef Pho! Probably the best I’ve had the world over.

 

The perfect pho benefits from a generous heap of Thai sweet basil, bean sprouts, and jalapeno peppers.  And oh, a squeeze of fresh lime!

The perfect pho benefits from a generous heap of Thai sweet basil, bean sprouts, and jalapeno peppers. And oh, a squeeze of fresh lime!

 

07

YOITOMO in Downtown Boise may not be the best Japanese restaurant around, but their All–You–Can–Eat lunch and dinner specials are right up my alley.  And I give them a gold star for the most creative names for their dishes.

I've eaten all I could at this place.  At Lunch, and Dinner.

I’ve eaten all I could at this place. At Lunch, and Dinner.

 

I would go through at least five of these awesome bowls of the freshest vegetable tempura.  And I could slurp that dipping sauce...  if I could.

I would go through at least five of these awesome bowls of the freshest vegetable tempura. And I could slurp that dipping sauce… if I could.

 

This is how the FIRST sushi platter would look like.  Then a seeming endless flow would emanate from the general direction of the sushi chefs.  Haha!

This is how the FIRST sushi platter would look like. Then a seeming endless flow would emanate from the general direction of the sushi chefs. Haha!

 

For the perfectly cooked Japanese rice alone, I would keep going back to Yoitomo.  And I mean at least four bowls every single time!

For the perfectly cooked Japanese rice alone, I would keep going back to Yoitomo. And I mean at least four bowls every single time!

 

I knew I would miss these jalapeno bombers / poppers too.

I knew I would miss these jalapeno bombers / poppers too.

 

08

The undivided love and attention I usually give to an excellent piece of ribeye steak has finally had to yield to some level of sharing.  How could I not with those amazing sweet potato fries?  My first – Legend’s.

My first plate of steak and SWEET POTATO fries at Legend's.

My first plate of steak and SWEET POTATO fries at Legend’s.

 

A knife through the steak.  And a sweet potato fry through the dip.

A knife through the steak. And a sweet potato fry through the dip.

 

When I did have a hankering for sweet potato fries, the one from Jack in the Box would do it for me just fine.

When I did have a hankering for sweet potato fries, the one from Jack in the Box would do it for me just fine.

 

09

Speaking of amazing sweet potato, the baked version served at Texas Roadhouse, the one with melted honey brown sugar oozing down to the sides, has always been worth subjecting my ear drums to decibel levels that will send me to the EENT someday.

I swear that there would be times that I was ready to totally overlook the steak in favor of that sweet potato!  My heart would've melted way before the butter or the brown sugar did.

I swear that there would be times that I was ready to totally overlook the steak in favor of that sweet potato! My heart would’ve melted way before the butter or the brown sugar did.

 

A close shot of the object of my affection.  Gustatory affection, that is.

A close shot of the object of my affection. Gustatory affection, that is.

 

In my ecstasy over the sweet potato, I have totally forgotten about the rolls at Texas Roadhouse.  Served hot, fresh from the oven, these are arguably the best buns in town.  Haha!

In my ecstasy over the sweet potato, I have totally forgotten about the rolls at Texas Roadhouse. Served hot, fresh from the oven, these are arguably the best buns in town. Haha!

 

This steak had to fight with the sweet potato and the rolls for my affection.  The latter often win.  (But I finished every steak I ever ordered!)

This steak had to fight with the sweet potato and the rolls for my affection. The latter often win. (But I finished every steak I ever ordered!)

 

Texas Roadhouse boasts steaks handcut under refrigerated conditions, within the premises.  The display alone would make anybody's mouth water.

Texas Roadhouse boasts steaks handcut under refrigerated conditions, within the premises. The display alone would make anybody’s mouth water.

 

10

My seatmate on the Portland–Boise leg of my incoming flight told me that real Idaho potatoes could not be had in Idaho.  If they ever could, they would cost an arm and a leg.  Fortunately, to make my now–famous (haha!) chicken–pork afritada and beef mechado, Winco Foods keeps me covered by stocking up on the best potato in the world!

I love grocery shopping so much that I would often have my photo taken in front of WinCo, among others.  All the time I would wish that a breeze would make those broad stripes and bright stars wave.

I love grocery shopping so much that I would often have my photo taken in front of WinCo, among others. All the time I would wish that a breeze would make those broad stripes and bright stars wave.

 

Seen at WinCo – New Crop Idaho!

Seen at WinCo – New Crop Idaho!

 

My now–famous Chicken/Pork Afritada.  #BBF Steele became fond of this.

My now–famous Chicken/Pork Afritada. #BBF Steele became fond of this.

 

I did bring my very Filipino Chicken/Pork Afritada to the office for #BBF Steele.

I did bring my very Filipino Chicken/Pork Afritada to the office for #BBF Steele.

 

I would often go to WinCo not only for the potatoes but for – and actually more so – the tomatoes!

I would often go to WinCo not only for the potatoes but for – and actually more so – the tomatoes!

 

11

Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine, the current office cafeteria concessionaire makes the best Sugar Cookie.  She doesn’t make a lot of it per batch so when she does, I would hoard them.  I share some and the rest, I portion and ration to my own self as much as I could to delay the ultimate gratification.

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

 

12

I wish I spoke Italian.  So that I could fight with someone so fiercely, which is the perfect excuse to later make up over a pint of Haagen–Dazs gelato.

I did fall in love with Haagen Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato.  Guilty as charged!

I did fall in love with Haagen Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Guilty as charged!

 

Gelato reigns supreme over ice cream.  Well, sometimes.  Haha!  As you can see, there is real space devoted to frozen delights in my freezer.

Gelato reigns supreme over ice cream. Well, sometimes. Haha! As you can see, there is real space devoted to frozen delights in my freezer.

 

My eyes were always wide open for amazing deals such as this.  I'd see this and there would only be one logical course of action to do – hoard!

My eyes were always wide open for amazing deals such as this. I’d see this and there would only be one logical course of action to do – hoard!

 

With TOP NOTES and FINISHING NOTES, it felt like consuming edible perfume.

With TOP NOTES and FINISHING NOTES, it felt like consuming edible perfume.

 

13

For more wholesome pleasures, Tillamook Cake Batter ice cream is the perfect choice.  I can finish the half galloon all by myself until I get sick.

Tillamook's Grandma's Cake Batter is so good I could finish this whole 1.75QT tub in one sitting.  And on one occasion, I did.

Tillamook’s Grandma’s Cake Batter is so good I could finish this whole 1.75QT tub in one sitting. And on one occasion, I did.

 

14

The best store–bought gelato is Talentis Tahitian Vanilla Bean.  I get it for US$5.99 at Albertson’s.  And for US$3.99 only at WinCo!

I saw this pint on the shelf at Albertson's and just had to take a snap.  I took it home with me, fell in love, and haven't looked back since.

I saw this pint on the shelf at Albertson’s and just had to take a snap. I took it home with me, fell in love, and haven’t looked back since.

 

Talenti Gelato comes in a number of really scrumptious flavors.  And for just $ 4.39 a pint at WinCo.

Talenti Gelato comes in a number of really scrumptious flavors. And for just $ 4.39 a pint at WinCo.

 

Talenti Gelato goes for only $ 3.99 at Fred Meyer!

Talenti Gelato goes for only $ 3.99 at Fred Meyer!

 

I have to say, I fell in love the most with these two.

I have to say, I fell in love the most with these two.

 

15

A pint of Ben & Jerry’s will set you back by about US$ 4.00 at your friendly Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, or WinCo.  In Singapore, it costs S$ 15.00.  The exchange rate is US$ 1.00 to S$ 1.30, typically.

Gotta keep lovin' Ben & Jerry's for not being boring.  Well, anybody who makes Red Velvet and Coffee ought to be loved.

Gotta keep lovin’ Ben & Jerry’s for not being boring. Well, anybody who makes Red Velvet and Coffee ought to be loved.

 

16

Nothing beats homemade goodnessChase Mecham’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, his grandmother’s (secret) recipe, is so good it belongs to a prominent place on the supermarket frozen section aisle.

The perfect Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is homemade, and is by my awesome friend, "Chef" Chase Mecham.

The perfect Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is homemade, and is by my awesome friend, “Chef” Chase Mecham.

 

I intentionally set aside half of the pint Chase gave me.  On my actual last day in Boise, I savored this amazing homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream while waiting in line at the DELTA counter at Boise Airport.  I think it was the best edible item to cap a most amazing 120 days in the City of Trees.

I intentionally set aside half of the pint Chase gave me. On my actual last day in Boise, I savored this amazing homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream while waiting in line at the DELTA counter at Boise Airport. I think it was the best edible item to cap a most amazing 120 days in the City of Trees.

 

17

My first real experience of Mexican cuisine was at my mentor Ralph Kim’s family dinner at his sprawling home of a house.  I had a taste of unforgettable tacos and that killer of a key lime pie!

My mentor Ralph Kim and his wife and family put out a huge spread of authentic Mexican tacos.  It was a great first time experiencing this cuisine.

My mentor Ralph Kim and his wife and family put out a huge spread of authentic Mexican tacos. It was a great first time experiencing this cuisine.

 

Ralph made Carne Asada on his awesome, Bobby Flay-caliber outdoor grill, chopped them up, and it was the flavorful, juicy, meaty filling of the tacos.  I smothered mined with onions, cilantro and the homemade salsa.

Ralph made Carne Asada on his awesome, Bobby Flay-caliber outdoor grill, chopped them up, and it was the flavorful, juicy, meaty filling of the tacos. I smothered mined with onions, cilantro and the homemade salsa.

 

The flour tortilla was also homemade!

The flour tortilla was also homemade!

 

The Mexican dinner ended with a dessert sampler!  With the brownies and the "leche flan" is the unforgettable key lime pie.

The Mexican dinner ended with a dessert sampler! With the brownies and the “leche flan” is the unforgettable key lime pie.

 

18

I think the Boise Factory Outlet Mall is seriously underrated.  When you’re done shopping, you can actually soak in the awesome view of the Boise Foothills.  (Okay – I can hear you sayin’ that the same could be had right smack from the parking lot.  You have a point.)

 

19

Speaking of the Boise Factory Outlet Mall, I had a couple of field days there, rummaging through the CLEARANCE section at LeVI’S.  I used to only shop where it says S–A–L–E in big bold red letters.  But LeVI’S has changed this to big bold red letters that spell C–L–E–A–R–A–N–C–E.  I got several pairs for myself at only US$ 9.53 each after a further 40% was cut from the lowest–ticketed–price of US$ 14.98.  #SWEET.

"Take an additional 40% off already reduced items."  Were sweeter, more profound words ever uttered?!  Haha!

“Take an additional 40% off already reduced items.” Were sweeter, more profound words ever uttered?! Haha!

 

A wall of denim is always a good thing.

A wall of denim is always a good thing.

 

A pile of denim is also a good thing.

A pile of denim is also a good thing.

 

Sometimes, I just fold my jeans exactly how they would do it at the stores.  I find this...  what's the word...  ah, therapeutic.  Haha!

Sometimes, I just fold my jeans exactly how they would do it at the stores. I find this… what’s the word… ah, therapeutic. Haha!

 

20

My good friend Chase Mecham, the generous Baker King himself, would usually make his own mix of nuts, seeds and spices that he would throw into his dough mix – the image in my head involves a lot of wrist action like in flouring a counter top on to which the dough would be mercilessly slammed – but on the one he brought for me to sample, he used a mix he found at random at Trader Joe’s.  It’s called DUKKAH: A Nut & Spice Blend.  It was a whiff of inspiration.  Chase’s homemade bread had become my favorite.

My favorite homemade bread is by Chef Chase Mecham!

My favorite homemade bread is by Chef Chase Mecham!

 

What's one of the best things in the world?  Butter melting and sliding down hot toast!

What’s one of the best things in the world? Butter melting and sliding down hot toast!

 

21

I was running an errand at Sephora one day when I stumbled upon a kiosk that sells artisanal olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and focaccia so good I must’ve finished all the samples – cubed morsels of rosemary–perfumed goodness – while I carried on an animated conversation with the lovely shopkeeper.  She was so nice I ended up requesting a selfie with her.  And yes, one huge loaf of the bread!  The shop is called Olioteca.  They are online at http://www.olioteca.net/.

Zeppole Ciabatta is the perfect tasting bread to Olioteca's artisanal extra virgin olive oil.

Zeppole Ciabatta is the perfect tasting bread to Olioteca’s artisanal extra virgin olive oil.

 

Artisanal olive oils by Olioteca!

Artisanal olive oils by Olioteca!

 

My lambskin bag of French provenance was the perfect carrier for the very Italian loaf I carried around Macy's.

My lambskin bag of French provenance was the perfect carrier for the very Italian loaf I carried around Macy’s.

 

The requisite #selfie with the very lovely shop keeper.

The requisite #selfie with the very lovely shop keeper.

 

22

My good friend Jonathan Young makes a spicy marinara sauce so good, I had to restrain myself from licking the Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ in full view of the Building 36 lunch crowd.  Sometimes, whatever little sense of propriety a person has always comes in handy.

Al dente angel hair and smooth marinara sauce live together in perfect harmony.  Side by side on this Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™...  sometimes, why don't we?

Al dente angel hair and smooth marinara sauce live together in perfect harmony. Side by side on this Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™… sometimes, why don’t we?

 

The life cycle of this pasta ended with Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ so clean, short of being licked!

The life cycle of this pasta ended with Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ so clean, short of being licked!

 

23

I may have no problem strapping a Rolex on my wrist but at the same time, I do derive as much pleasure – if not more so – from all the discounts I have managed to score, shopping at ROSS, Marshalls, and TJMaxx.  And trust me, it is amazing the bursts of clarity that come with psychotic retail therapy.  I had formed some of my more brilliant ideas while taking a pause beside the clearance racks.  Right there, just beside the further–reduced bins.

 

24

I would wait for the Macy’s commercials on TV.  I love how the word “doorbusters” rings with much profundity.  My favorite Ralph Lauren Trail Sweater in navy blue cost me only US$ 19.60 + tax after 80% was slashed off the original price.  Major score!

Going all–out with Ralph Lauren, starting with this Trail Sweater that I got for a steal!

Going all–out with Ralph Lauren, starting with this Trail Sweater that I got for a steal!

 

25

I collect the beautifully designed “scent swatches” (cards) that are used to test perfume or cologne in department stores.  I re–purpose them into gift cards where I write my signature personal notes that come with whatever I give away.

 

26

I thought I was good at making the Filipino leche flan.  And then my good friend Chase Mecham‘s crème brulee came along, by way of one ramekin all to myself!  Same holds true for Filipino specialties that I realize could be made so much better by others – Rafela Sim’s mom Mamita makes the best “ginataang halo–halo”, Arvin Daguro’s wife makes the best “ginataang hipon”, and, Ricky Victor’s wife makes awesome pasta.

Rafela's Mamita whips up the best "ginataang halo-halo."  I had this regularly, lovingly sent over to me the whole time I was in Boise!

Rafela’s Mamita whips up the best “ginataang halo-halo.” I had this regularly, lovingly sent over to me the whole time I was in Boise!

 

I finished about five cups of piping hot steamed white rice with Arvin Daguro's wife Lea's "ginataang hipon."  (Shrimps in coconut milk)

I finished about five cups of piping hot steamed white rice with Arvin Daguro’s wife Lea’s “ginataang hipon.” (Shrimps in coconut milk)

 

27

#BBF Steele Stone’s lasagna developed in me a deeper appreciation for pasta doused in sauce that has been simmered for hours.

Major fist–bump–worthy homemade lasagna by my #BBF Steele.  The sauce is a study in patience as it is usually made to simmer for hours!

Major fist–bump–worthy homemade lasagna by my #BBF Steele. The sauce is a study in patience as it is usually made to simmer for hours!

 

#Selfie with #BBF Steele!  Of course I wore the Superman shirt in his honor.

#Selfie with #BBF Steele! Of course I wore the Superman shirt in his honor.

 

#BBF Steele with my other best friend, Zach, at the wheel.  They brought me out to lunch on this day.

#BBF Steele with my other best friend, Zach, at the wheel. They brought me out to lunch on this day.

 

28

#Hump_Day_Wednesday means a box of a dozen donuts – often from Country Donuts – shared with the best people you know.  This I learned from the example of #BBF Steele Stone.

It was inevitable that I had to account for my growing vocabulary while I was in Boise.  An eighth of my white board took down terms that would soon pepper my own sentences.

It was inevitable that I had to account for my growing vocabulary while I was in Boise. An eighth of my white board took down terms that would soon pepper my own sentences.

 

This unassuming box of Country Donuts has always been a welcome sight on Hump Day Wednesdays!  I miss these donuts.

This unassuming box of Country Donuts has always been a welcome sight on Hump Day Wednesdays! I miss these donuts.

 

#BBF Steele would often let me choose a donut from the box.  Like this chocolate–glazed one!

#BBF Steele would often let me choose a donut from the box. Like this chocolate–glazed one!

 

29

Eating gluten–free is not a fad.  With all the pasta I devour, I couldn’t imagine an easy existence if I were allergic to gluten.  So I give mad props to all those who whip up edible works of art that pack all the flavors and nutrients sans the allergens.  I’ve been fortunate to sample muffins and (Bundt) cakes made by Sandy Kralik and Heike Brown.  “There’s even no sugar in there eNTeNGJust bananas.”  They were so good that I went bananas.

The Sandy Kralik "There's–Not–Even–Sugar–In–There" Muffin!

The Sandy Kralik “There’s–Not–Even–Sugar–In–There” Muffin!

 

Heike Brown's luscious Bundt Cake.

Heike Brown’s luscious Bundt Cake.

 

30

Gotta love those oatmeal cookies made by Nick Kaiser.  I had to send him my 10–second review from the very first bite.

Not much to look at and doesn't photograph well (or maybe it is my limited photo skills) but these oatmeal cookies by Nick Kaiser are just awesome.

Not much to look at and doesn’t photograph well (or maybe it is my limited photo skills) but these oatmeal cookies by Nick Kaiser are just awesome.

 

31

Some of the best gifts I have ever received this past four months are handwritten notes.  And I would be remiss if I’d not make mention of all the handwritten cards I did receive.  I’ve been reading them over and over again.

Some of the handwritten notes, cards and letters I received while in Boise.  I have to say, these are the best things I'd remember the place – and my time there – by.

Some of the handwritten notes, cards and letters I received while in Boise. I have to say, these are the best things I’d remember the place – and my time there – by.

 

32

I would start my day with happy, fast songs that I think would put the spring to my step.  I can’t listen to Tiesto’s Red Lights without images of South Federal Way buzzing like neon in my head.

This song comes on the radio and my day would be set.

This song comes on the radio and my day would be set.

 

33

I am not afraid of color.  I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  On two occasions – once in Singapore and once here in Boise – I was told by someone that I bring “Gummy Bears” to mind.  Haha!  I find that to be a huge compliment as it came from two people whose opinions count.

Yes, I am a Gummy Bear!

Yes, I am a Gummy Bear!

 

34

Trader Joe’s opened in Boise on February 28, 2014.  Of course I was there.  After taking several snaps of the bottles of Cookie Butter on the shelf, I had the urge to clean all 35 bottles on display.

Of course I was there to welcome Trader Joe's to Boise!

Of course I was there to welcome Trader Joe’s to Boise!

 

I just had to take a photo of the display before I cleaned off this shelf.  I has to literally elbow my way to getting ALL of these.  I also got approached and asked about what cookie butter is and why I seem to be in love with the stuff.  I was happy to explain!

I just had to take a photo of the display before I cleaned off this shelf. I has to literally elbow my way to getting ALL of these. I also got approached and asked about what cookie butter is and why I seem to be in love with the stuff. I was happy to explain!

 

When I may not be in the mood for the butter, I nibble on the actual cookies that inspired the spreadable concoction.

When I may not be in the mood for the butter, I nibble on the actual cookies that inspired the spreadable concoction.

 

By my second visit to the store, they had already stocked up on the Cookie & Cocoa Swirl version.  This one gained a lot of fans.

By my second visit to the store, they had already stocked up on the Cookie & Cocoa Swirl version. This one gained a lot of fans.

 

A pretty common sight after just a few minutes at Trader Joe's.  Haha!  Yes, all I would need is about 10 minutes – in and out the door and DONE.

A pretty common sight after just a few minutes at Trader Joe’s. Haha! Yes, all I would need is about 10 minutes – in and out the door and DONE.

 

Made a friend at Trader Joe's.  Eric would always ring up my purchases and yes, I had to explain to him too my fascination with Cookie Butter.

Made a friend at Trader Joe’s. Eric would always ring up my purchases and yes, I had to explain to him too my fascination with Cookie Butter.

 

35

The very first car at the parking lot that I took a snap of has the license plate “BELLA”.  I thought the owner was a Twilight fanatic.  I couldn’t be more wrong.

Hello Gorgeous!

Hello Gorgeous!

 

36

I don’t drive but I do lust after cars from time to time.  I’ve had the longest and deepest longing for the MINI COOPER.  Some of the more recent important days of my life had been punctuated by a sighting of a MINI swooshing by.  I think of it as some sort of lucky charm.  There is a nice MINI I would see at the parking lot on some days.

eNTeNG & the MINI, at the Boise Factory Outlet Mall.

eNTeNG & the MINI, at the Boise Factory Outlet Mall.

 

... and at Albertson's.

… and at Albertson’s.

 

...  and even in Chicago!

… and even in Chicago!

 

37

I think I will miss my cubicle of 120 days – that little corner by the door of Room 113A.

The accounting of the final month of my assignment was handled by the Accounting Firm of Stone & Pritchett.

The accounting of the final month of my assignment was handled by the Accounting Firm of Stone & Pritchett.

 

And then...  it was DONE.

And then… it was DONE.

 

38

I am ending this assignment feeling so well taken care of by locals.  By those who have given me a ride to and from my apartment and “dream” destinations.  And by all my friends at…  Boise City Taxi!

I Heart Boise...  City Taxi!

I Heart Boise… City Taxi!

 

39

They say life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.  I would say, life is what happens when you actually live those plans.  I couldn’t have been anywhere else better in the last 120 days than in 83706, in this Gem of a State.

With this chocolate, I shall remember always.

With this chocolate, I shall remember always.

 

40

Food that provides real comfort could prove to be perfect for mopping up tears – cue here those singular nights of homesickness – and when made really really well, they could move an old man like me to tears.  Such was the oxymoronic delight that is the Blondie from the Mecham family kitchen, which, as I have unabashedly declared here, is equal parts home baking goodness (by his wife Jen) and a treasured family recipe.  For sure, I will miss this Blondie.

The BLONDIE of my wildest dreams.  'Nuf said.

The BLONDIE of my wildest dreams. ‘Nuf said.

 

The sweetest card came with the sweetest treat.  Thank you so much, Chase, Jen, Natalie & Elle Mecham!

The sweetest card came with the sweetest treat. Thank you so much, Chase, Jen, Natalie & Elle Mecham!

 

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





Breaking bread

5 05 2014

WATCHING BUTTER melt on hot toast – a slice from a hearty homemade loaf – is a sight so comforting that I couldn’t help but stretch my legs and rest my feet on the ottoman, clasp my hands behind my head, and think that all is well in the world.

A most scrumptious treat!  Butter melting on a hot slice of my good friend Chase Mecham's specialty bread!

A most scrumptious treat! Butter melting on a hot slice of my good friend Chase Mecham’s specialty bread!

And all is indeed well, especially when one realizes that a friend made this loaf.  In this day and age of information that travels at lighting fast speeds and emotions packed into 140 characters (or less), posted much sooner than when the emotions are actually felt right down to the bottom of your soul, the ultimate luxury is time.  And making bread takes time.

Ok, he did make use of the dough hook to help with all the mixing and probably, some of the work needed to knead.  But still, not too many people will opt to make bread.

This whole grain bread arrived at my desk tightly enrobed in cling wrap.  What made it all the more special was a mix of seeds and spices that permeated the wrap and escaped in coy luscious whiffs.  Once the loaf was sliced, the whiffs I caught translated to a subtle flavor on the dense crumbs.  I first tasted the grain, then the nuts while my teeth negotiated popping the sesame seeds.

My good friend Chase Mecham, the generous Baker King himself, would usually make his own mix of nuts, seeds and spices that he would throw into his dough mix – the image in my head involves a lot of wrist action like in flouring a counter top on to which the dough would be mercilessly slammed – but this time, he used a mix he found in random at Trader Joe’s.  It’s called DUKKAH: A Nut & Spice Blend.  It was a whiff of inspiration.

After having savored a slice bare, it was time to butter it up – literally.  And it stood well, no matter how I heated it up – on the conventional toaster, or zapped for 15 seconds on the microwave – ready to receive dabs of butter all too willing to melt and slide down.

DUKKAH was meant to be used as a dry “rub” after a hunk of crusty bread has first been dipped in olive oil.  By mixing it into the bread, it has to be said – the Baker King has cut to the chase.

I started with these couple of slices and popped a DVD in!

I started with these couple of slices and popped a DVD in!

 

This loaf passed the perfect doneness test!  (Do you know what that is?)  Notice the bits and pieces of the nuts, seeds and spices that beautifully dot the bread, in and out!

This loaf passed the perfect doneness test! (Do you know what that is?) Notice the bits and pieces of the nuts, seeds and spices that beautifully dot the bread, in and out!

 

An All-American healthy bread on top of my Italia bag.  This was such a welcome sight!

An All-American healthy bread on top of my Italia bag. This was such a welcome sight!

 

 

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





Marinara I want to master

5 05 2014

WHATEVER PROPRIETY remains in me – not to mention the little elbow room one is allowed in the caféteria – was all that prevented me from licking my Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ clean of what arguably could only be the best marinara sauce I’ve ever had that I didn’t reach for from the supermarket shelf, pour on a deep dish, nuke for a minute, and then toss with breathless–in–anticipation angel hair.

image (5)

A rosemary leaf perched atop a fork-ful of angel hair in the amazing Jonathan Young Marinara Sauce.

Except that in this instance, the last two actions – nuking and tossing – couldn’t be helped. This superb pasta meal for today’s lunch is, it has to be said, a lunch box treat from a dear colleague at work – the Mr. Jonathan Young.

It’s his own recipe. And for making the huge batch that he just did (they’re hosting a pasta dinner at home tonight), he used canned tomatoes – which to me is surprising as all the flavor I got from the first bite was a smack of fresh goodness. I could tell that the generous amount of finely minced garlic was allowed to sweat much in the extra virgin olive oil, rendering the sauce with a hint of “smoky”–ness that’s not arresting, like, if the garlic had burned. And like a bouquet of subtle perfumed essence, fresh rosemary leaves dot the sauce sparingly – and in the mouth, teasing the palate here and there.

I was warned by the “Chef” that this could be quite spicy. It was, but not the kind that hurts. It was actually like a subdued flavor layer all its own. The kind that allows the tart and the slight sweetness to manifest themselves first before it creeps from nowhere, making its presence known only by a gentle warmth that encompasses the robust flavors that I now call as indeed the best marinara sauce I’ve had in years.

It’s my friend’s own recipe. No, make that Chef Young. And how I wish I could just as easily reach for it from the supermarket shelf, pour it on to a deep dish, nuke it for a minute, and then toss it with angel hair.

Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ make for perfect containers to separate the pasta from the sauce.  Notice how smooth Jonathan Young's Marinara Sauce is, yet it is dotted here and there by finely minced garlic.

Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ make for perfect containers to separate the pasta from the sauce. Notice how smooth Jonathan Young’s Marinara Sauce is, yet it is dotted here and there by finely minced garlic.

 

A smack on the tissue was all that prevented me from licking the containers!

A smack on the tissue was all that prevented me from licking the containers!

 

The experience, as posted on my Instagram.

The experience, as posted on my Instagram.

 

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