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.





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.





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.





My spaghetti alla carbonara

18 05 2013

THE WONDER of home cooking lies in its simplicity.  You fling open the refrigerator or cupboard door and just take it from there.

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My spaghetti alla carbonara! Rich and creamy and yet, no heavy cream!

I feel that the cuisine that renders itself best interpreted at home is Italian.  Their food focuses on the simplest of ingredients, the easiest of preparation, but all leading to maximum effect.  A plate of pasta always seems so special.  And perfect for quieting down after–midnight hunger pangs.

Which is exactly what I’m doing right now as I write this.  I’ve just arrived from another long day at work.  And however tired I may be, I reckon that the 10 minutes total time I need to make my pasta–fixation–of–the-moment will be time well spent.

Having been cooking for close to three decades now, I know that by the time the pasta is al dente, I shall be reaping the rewards of my solitary dinner awash with the feeling of an incredibly indulgent spoiled child.

As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.  Spaghetti alla carbonara is a Roman invention.  So I find it quite respectful to cook it as the Romans do – which means totally devoid of the heavy cream that the Filipino version swims in.  Traditionally, spaghetti alla carbonara is made with olive oil, guanciale or pancetta, fresh whole eggs, equal parts of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano–Reggiano cheeses, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

Dried spaghetti usually takes 12 minutes to cook.  Since I always cook my pasta one to two minutes less than what the package tells me, I decide on 10 minutes.

This is how I make one portion.  As applicable, I indicate the brands I actually use or prefer.    Feel free to use yours.  Some are clearly substitutions (I don’t have guanciale or pancetta right now!).

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_00

Refrigerator and store cupboard essentials to a most satisfying spaghetti carbonara!

 

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_01

One whole egg when I’m less hungry. Two when I really am. Of course, two means I’m making enough for two portions, but to be consumed by only me. Haha! It is important to use UV-sterilized eggs. And oh yes, bring it to room temperature first.

 

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Regardless of whether I’m doing one or two portions, I use three to five rashers of Danish streaky bacon every single time.

 

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On this one time, I used exactly only three rashers.

 

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I’ve always loved De Cecco dried pasta which I believe is simply the best. But I’m pleasantly surprised to be enjoying Arrighi lately!

 

 

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I know that salt is salt is salt. But there’s something about MORTON® coarse Kosher salt that just makes any dish more delicious.

 

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MILLEL® remains to be my favorite parmesan cheese. I’d buy it in wedges which I’d snack on without ceasing. But whenever there’s no MILLEL®, there’s always Kraft® or Perfect Italiano™. Its flavor is bold but not quite strong.

 

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In my recipe I say “dice” the guanciale, pancetta or streaky bacon. But you can just simply slice it any which way you want.

 

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A serving portion for one needs about a quarter of a pound of dried pasta. That’s a quarter of a pack or box. To clarify, this again is a portion for one – make that, “one eNTeNG.” Two less hungry people can share this amount.

Bring water to a boil in a pot that is deeper rather than wider.  Add about a tablespoon of Morton® coarse Kosher salt (this is not the time to make your pasta water as salty as the Mediterranean!) and cook about a quarter pound of De Cecco®, Arrighi® or San Remo® spaghetti.  (I set my timer at five minutes so I can check the pasta halfway through.)

To a heavy bottom skillet on medium flame, add a kiss of Bertolli® Classico olive oil (“mild taste”) and three to five strips of SuperFresh® Danish streaky bacon that have been diced.  While the fat renders out, crack one large whole egg into a bowl and beat it until frothy.  In a separate bowl or on to a huge wooden cutting board, grate half a cup each of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano–Reggiano cheese.  Or, just cheat by using Kraft® 100% real grated parmesan cheese – nothing wrong with that.  Add the cheese (or cheeses) to the beaten egg and freshly crack lots of McCormick® black pepper into the mixture.  Stir to combine.

Drain the pasta when it is done, but set aside about a quarter of a cup of the pasta water.  Add the pasta to the egg and cheese mixture and quickly toss it well.  You’re essentially cooking the egg with the heat of the pasta.  To further emulsify the sauce, add the pasta water gradually – you don’t need to add all of it in.  Now, add the crisped streaky bacon, a splash of the rendered out fat (already mixed with that “kiss” of the olive oil), and toss all together.  Taste for seasoning.  As needed, you may add a little more cheese and black pepper.

Enjoy!  Didn’t I tell you that this can make you feel rewarded, spoiled, and incredibly indulgent?  Heaven.  I’m in heaven.

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_08

The ease of making pasta lies in the fact that the sauce will almost always be ready by the time the pasta is done. That is, “al dente”. For my spaghetti alla carbonara, I start rendering the bacon (fat) after I have plunged the dried pasta in the boiling water. From this point, total cooking time should be 10 minutes almost exactly!

 

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_04

Get ’em sizzling. To a heavy bottom skillet on medium flame, add a kiss of Bertolli® Classico olive oil (“mild taste”) and three to five strips of SuperFresh® Danish streaky bacon that have been diced.

 

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_19

Get it crackin’! While the fat renders out from the streaky bacon, crack one large whole egg into a bowl and beat it until frothy. To this, you add the cheese or cheeses. No hard rule as to how much, besides “as much as you want of equal parts Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano–Reggiano.” My recipes will never hold you under s tyranny.

 

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_05

See, sometimes I don’t even follow my own recipe. On nights when I would feel as over incredibly indulgent as lazy, I wouldn’t even mind beating the eggs until frothy before I dump the cheese and freshly cracked black pepper in. Clearly it works just fine. Just don’t start by whisking vigorously or you’ll end up with cheese all over your face.

 

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This is the golden sunshine of a sauce, waiting to be hit by the heat of the pasta. This is quite “savory” – the cheeses are nutty, the egg creamy, and the freshly cracked black pepper oozing with boskiness. Yum.

 

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_10

Getting there. The pasta and the bacon are done. At this point, all you need to prepare for is to.. toss, toss, toss… and toss well! Make sure you did set aside a little of the pasta water! The starch that the dried pasta gave off to the water will help further emulsify the sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

 

Spaghetti_alla_Carbonara_11

I do beg you to please try to follow my recipe. BUT, nothing is keeping you from tipping the pasta over to the pot where the bacon rendered its fat. Again, one of those lazy nights. Haha! The only drawback of doing this is that the strands of spaghetti will be coated with the oil and fat, and to a certain extent, will make it a bit difficult for the (egg) sauce to cling to the pasta. But the result is delicious just the same.

 

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In keeping with the lazy mood I was in on the night I took this, I poured the sauce on to the already-mixed spaghetti and bacon. Then, I tossed like crazy.

 

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I tumbled the tossed pasta back into the bowl where I mixed the sauce. I have to say, this was such a delicious, scrumptious bowl I brought back to the bedroom with me.

 

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This was the last one I made. Just last night. Make that way past midnight! This bowl was the result of all the steps outlined in my recipe.

 

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I must’ve slurped my way through the spaghetti. Hahaha! It was so good.

 

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Spaghetti alla carbonara loosely translates to “coal miner’s spaghetti”. Like the other pasta I’m quite fond of, spaghetti alla carbonara has an interesting story. Legend has it, Italian men who work in the mines would whip this dish up quickly for lunch time. The generous sprinkling of black pepper reminds them of the coals. Hence the name. Hahaha!

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





The BrenDarryl – a recipe

8 08 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The BrenDarryl

For the dressing you will need

¼ cup Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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

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

A pinch of Morton® Coarse Kosher Salt

A fresh crack of McCormick® Black Peppercorn

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

 

The star of my wonderful dressing!

 

All the ingredients for the perfect “The BrenDarryl!”

 

For the salad you will need

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

Yummy™ Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple

Gaucho® Green Argentina Packham’s Pear

Millel® Parmesan Cheese (Shaved, not Grated!)

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

Green with envy – apples and pears!

 

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

 

Prawns!

 

Wild Rocket!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

We’re grillin’!

 

The prawns are now done!

 

Brenda calls these perfectly pan-grilled prawns.

 

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

 

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





Salad days and a piece of cake

29 07 2012

IN EVERYTHING we do, we make memories.  In time we come to accept that there are memories we fail to make.  And that we don’t have to regret those.  But those that we can make, while we have the time, we have to and we do.

Dinner at BrenDarryl’s

So yesterday when I received an SMS from my good friends Brenda and Darryl that they’d love to have me for dinner at their place, I knew it was time to put a stop to work on a Saturday, hop on the train on the purple line, and meet them up at the block that has become one of my homes here in Singapore.

The photos doesn’t do enough justice to Brenda’s Almond Berry Chocolate Cake. I agree with here that baking your own cakesounds intimidating, “sounds” being the operative word. Because it is quite easy and fun once you get the hang of it. Her chocolate cake is fast becoming the stuff of legends. It started with an inspiration from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. But as is always the case with Brenda, she puts her stamp to it. Here it is in an incarnation that includes a filling of berries and slivered almonds, and a frosting kissed with the goodness of espresso. Yum!

 

A thin slice of the cake. This is fit only as a starter because you will end up asking for more. Notice the dense crumb? It’s dark, moist, and absolutely scrumptious. The filling of berries and almonds, and the frosting dotted with the same, provide another layer of flavor and texture. I love this piece of cake.

Thoughts of finally having a taste of Brenda’s Barefoot Contessa-inspired chocolate cake were too good to pass up.  From my end, I realized that it was a chance to treat them to my Australian Baby Wild Arugula with Green Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear Salad in my now-signature Honey–Calamansi dressing, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side.

While I prepared the prawns, I put the grill pan on to a low-medium fire so that it would be waiting for me to get ready, not the other way around. By the way, this is now “my” grill pan. Hahaha!

 

Preparing the prawns. For this salad, I reckon that five prawns per serving portion would be great. Five happens to be my favorite number.

 

The prawns have to be washed well, shelled leaving only the tail intact, and then deveined.

 

Most of the ingredients for my now-signature salad. So far I’ve been making this for only the really special people in my life. I still have a list to work through – more people I want to make this for.

 

The calamansi makes all the difference in the dressing. Brenda and I agree that it wouldn’t be the same if we use limes.

 

Only when the salad is to be served do I start grilling the prawns. It goes without saying that the baby wild arugula should be kept in the refrigerator crisper at all times.

 

The prawns are lightly marinated in a mixture that echoes the flavors in the dressing. Lightly, and only for a few minutes because you don’t want them to be a ceviche. On a whim, I would crack on to them a few rounds of the black pepper mill.

 

Much like a good piece of steak, I turn the prawns only a single time. They are allowed to cook on each side for only a couple of minutes or less, never more. My rule with prawns is that the moment they curl up, it’s time to turn them over. And then I probably would count only 30 seconds then they are done!

 

The Brendarryl, “Australian Baby Wild Arugula with Green Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear Salad in eNTeNG’s signature Honey–Calamansi dressing, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side” is ready to serve! That’s how I will call it on my restaurant menu.

 

Cold Storage didn’t have the Argentinian pears I use for this salad. So I only had the Granny Smith apple this time around. This and the previous photo are courtesy of Darryl.

 

Brenda said that the prawns were perfectly cooked. And that the greens were just kissed enough by the dressing.

 

The Brendarryl, the star salad at the restaurant in my head.

My friendship with Brenda and Darryl has been perfect in all its imperfections.  It’s the kind that is give-and-take, and in time has been beautified by shared interests and experiences, and in a few instances, weathered through an overcast sky of misunderstandings.  In a world where a lot of things have become so cheapened, our friendship is one that has refused to be so.

Brenda & Darryl – Wherever you may be, I know that with you, I will always be home.  Yes, compared to when you first told me about this change in your life, it’s finally sinking in.  I will definitely miss the two of you.

Brenda

 

Darryl

 

 

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