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.





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.





For the love of tomato

11 05 2013
Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_01

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.

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_00

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_10

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_02

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_11

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_03

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_04

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_05

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

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_06

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_07

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

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_08

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_09

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.

 

Angel_Hair_Pomodoro_12

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





Inception

30 01 2012

“WHAT IS it that you really like to do?”

“Eat.”

 

Just one of the many incarnations of my Shrimp Sinigang (shrimps in a tamarind-soured broth, with lots of fresh vegetables)

That was asked of the late Julia Child over a dinner of Sole Meunière.  I could be asked the same question, and I would’ve said that same thing – E–A–T.  It was exactly this same unbridled passion for food that fueled the inception of this blog.  I may be writing about so many mundane things but I never lose sight of what I really like to do – food and eating it.  Lots of it.

I’ve been going through my archives and I realized that I have snapped some rather nice photos of food which, apparently, are some of those that I’ve been missing too.

So I thought about putting them all together here.

I must love shrimps so much that I must have photographed every single dish of “sinigang” (meat, fish or shrimps in a broth soured with tamarind, with lots of fresh vegetables) that I have ever made with it in recent memory.  Sometimes I would cook shrimps “sarciado” style (a sauce of tomatoes with a hint of soy sauce) or just poached in a heady mixture of soda (Sprite or 7-Up) and beer (Corona is best, San Mig Light would do).

A good pot of sinigang starts with the freshest catch.

 

My family is well aware of my "shoot-first-eat-later" policy.

 

A different batch of my Shrimp Sinigang

 

These two were ready for their close-up. So I snapped a tight shot.

 

I told you, I would take photos of every single Shrimp Sinigang I would make. Haha!

 

I made this one here in Singapore. The shrimps are of the "white" variant, against the "black tiger prawns" I would usually get in the Philippines. The greens are garlic chives which I sort of re-discovered here in the Lion City. I love it and it goes with most anything.

 

This one is "sarciado" style.

 

Shrimps, this time steamed (or poached) in clear soda and beer. Yum!

 

Once I made them with oyster sauce and thought they would be perfect tumbled in a serving bowl full of fresh coriander leaves. They looked so rustic and so tasted so delicious!

I cannot love shrimps and totally forget about shellfish.  I’ve always loved Manila clams in a ginger broth.  And mussels that are just steamed with lots of finely minced onions.  As for fish, my Mama has this recipe of tilapia that is poached in lots of fresh tomatoes and calamansi juice that I just find to be truly and utterly divine in its simplicity.

Fresh Manila clams ("halaan" in Filipino)

 

Manila clams in a ginger broth. This is one of my all-time favorites!

 

I would have this dish with lots of steamed white rice that would soak up all the sweetness from the natural juices of these bivalves.

 

Mussels ("tahong" in Filipino). Here in Singapore, I learned that when referring to these I have to be very specific as to call them "green" mussels.

 

This is again one very simple dish but it is something I love love L-O-V-E to bits. Again, lots of steamed white rice completes this. And oh, the dipping sauce of pure calamansi juice should not be forgotten. I don't put fish sauce in the dip anymore because I want the natural saltiness of the mussels to shine through.

 

I didn't make this dish but I thought about putting this photo here, sort of to just underscore just how much I love seafood, shellfish in particular. This is seafood ramen, a "pasalubong" from one of my brothers.

 

This is my Mama's original, simple recipe. One of those five-ingredients-or-less thing that would turn out to be truly, utterly divine. It's called "Pangat na Tilapia sa Kamatis at Kalamansi" which I loosely translate as Poached Tilapia in Tomatoes and Calamansi.

While I may throw fancy names of salads made with delicate designer greens when I make orders at some posh restaurant, at heart I’m just really a simple boy who derives ultimate pleasure in simple greens tumbled with a generous squeeze of citrus, a splash of cheap vinegar and a sprinkling of coarse salt and sometimes, a couple of grinds of the pepper mill.  I wouldn’t even bother to put in extra virgin olive oil when I make my salads at home.  My staples have always been cucumbers, tomatoes, and obviously, lots of fresh coriander.  When I fancy having okra, I would have it steamed first.

Some of my Filipino salad essentials – spring onions, tomatoes and fresh coriander.

 

Fresh Coriander Salad. This one, I made to go along with my Adobo (pork or chicken braised in vinegar and soy sauce).

 

Fresh Salad of Cucumber, Tomatoes and Onions. I would usually have this with fried or grilled fish.

 

We eat with our eyes first. And isn't the contrast of red on pale green, against purplish hues so inviting?

 

Didn't I say I could make this everyday? Here, in this one, the shallots were sliced differently.

 

Sometimes, I would make this salad with fresh seaweed which is plentiful in the Philippines.

 

This salad literally bursts in your mouth that it can give even a simple meal a festive feel – even if just within the confines of one's palate.

 

Steamed okra would be nice in these salads too. I had this salad for about almost a month when I was going through one of my crash South Beach diets. Hahaha! (The two weeks of that diet actually prohibits tomatoes!)

I love making my pasta sauces from scratch.  And for that, I use the best Roma or plum tomatoes I could find.  Just a good coating of extra virgin olive oil at the bottom of the pan, lots of minced garlic, many dashes of cayenne pepper, a bunch of roughly torn fresh basil leaves, and a snow cap of the best parmesan cheese and I would have a supper that is as Italian as it could get wherever zip code I may be at.

I had this tomato pose for me before it had to serve its ultimate purpose – to be in my fresh pomodoro sauce!

 

The tomatoes have been "cored" and scored, ready to be blanched, the first step to making my fresh tomato sauce.

 

I may reach for a bottle of Prego or Ragu or Bertolli from time to time, but nothing beats making pasta sauce from scratch.

To me, the lowly instant noodle packs are not lowly at all, especially when prepared not according to package directions but to my exacting, idiosyncratic specifications, and topped with a heap of steamed fresh spinach.

Steamed fresh spinach, the perfect accompaniment to a couple of packs of instant noodles.

 

I love spinach so much that sometimes, they end up overwhelming the plate. They would be even so much more than the actual noodle dish.

 

When there wasn't fresh spinach in the market, I'd settle for onion leeks. Here, I had them cut on a bias, then steamed before being mixed with the noodles.

And this chance to go through my archives reminded me that I don’t mind making my chicken broth the old-fashioned way – which, I have to say, has been the same way Tyler Florence and Gordon Ramsay make theirs.  I use it for my “tinola” (chicken in a ginger broth with fresh green papaya and chili tops) and for my “mami” (Hong Kong style egg noodles in soup).

My broth always starts with the holy trinity, the mirepoix of onions, celery and carrots.

 

The mirepoix is added to a deep pot where the chicken is. I usually used a whole chicken.

 

When I don't have a whole chicken, bits and pieces will do. To the holy trinity of mirepoix, I would add a head of garlic, peel and all, and a palmful of dried thyme. I add water just enough to cover everything and then bring the pot to a boil for a good two hours – at least.

 

This noodle dish, which was simply "mami" but I decided to call "long-life noodle pot", was one of those that would make use of my chicken broth.

 

I think we have the best, most flavorful, most comforting Chicken Congee recipe at home!

 

I miss this a lot – "Tosilog" (TOcino, SInangag, itLOG). This is a Filipino combo plate of sweet cured pork, garlic fried rice, and a sunny side up.

 

I made this Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles. My recipe is an adaptation of Tyler Florence's.

I love food.  And sometimes, I feel like I could do something great with this passion when the right time comes.

I want my food, like life, to have a kick. Now that's taking the expression "spice of life" literally.

 

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





Breaking in a pan

3 05 2010

A tomato that made it to my fresh sauce. I like how the stem and the remainder of the corolla form a five-pointed star!

NOW THAT I am much much older, it has become quite important to me what first dish I cook in a new pot or pan.  To me, it has become a tradition – much like seasoning a new cast iron skillet.  It’s a necessary step.  It takes time.  It’s quite important.

Over the weekend, I bust open yet another box of years-old – but still new and in-mint-condition – cookware set.  This time, it was the box of all-stainless steel Tools of the Trade BASICS.  My sight locked on to the 9.5-inch heavy bottom skillet in the set.  I held it in my hands and for a moment, I had to scramble for the wall as my knees quivered with the many ideas that cropped up in my head.

Stamp at the bottom of the new pan I decided to break in.

 

This was also the first time I used this Farberware Stainless Steel Acier Inoxydable Rostfreiedelstahl Ladle!

I turned for the refrigerator door and it was in that fluid motion that I found lots of fresh tomatoes (on top of the refrigerator), so it was a no-brainer what I’d break this new pan in with.  I’d break it in with a classic – my (angel hair) pomodoro!  That is, “almost” classic, as the basil leaves in the ice box had gone past its sell-by date.  I had to make do with just the tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, lots of fresh garlic, cayenne pepper, and Millel® parmesan cheese.

The dish turned out great.  This pan was sure off to a good start!

The fresh tomatoes, bathed in natural light!

 

Notice that I removed the bases of the stems.

 

I would always remove the bases of the stems, almost like coring an apple.

 

Notice that I scored the skins. Doing this makes peeling much much easier.

 

A couple of ingredients to make the best sauce ever, cayenne pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

 

I love a lot of extra virgin olive oil in my pasta sauce!

 

Depending on my mood, I would either have the garlic in 1/8" slivers, or, as in this case, finely minced.

 

Four to five dashes of ground cayenne pepper would usually do the trick!

 

The finished sauce!

 

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