A heart, skip and a beat away from pesto

15 02 2010

Fresh basil leaves

ACTUALLY, GARLIC, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese away from pesto.  That’s what extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves are to me.

Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Dizon Farms has the sweetest and most fragrant basil.

I stock up on these so whenever I’m just lazing around and suddenly feel hungry, I can whip up divine pasta – either pomodoro or aglio olio.  When I’m fortunate enough, I can even cook these for someone special.

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

Finally – Honey Calamansi!

31 07 2009

UNFORTUNATELY, I haven’t chanced upon one on any of the shelves I had ravaged these past days.  It’s quite ironic that about a month ago, I had held a bottle of it in my own hands and transfixed it with a long, emotionless stare; while inside my head, a debate was ensuing, especially since I wasn’t particularly keen on the merits of calamansi in a fancy sounding vinaigrette – in a commercially bottled one at that!

That’s from my post a week ago.

Grocery Basket - Honey Calamansi Vinaigrette

Dizon Farms Honey Calamansi Vinaigrette

Last Tuesday, I went to SM Supermarket in Makati, where I first saw “this.”  And where a month ago, all that “emotionless stare” above was happening.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Funny enough – or maybe because of something in my physiology that precluded logical thinking – all that I got at SM was this bottle of Dizon Farms Honey Calamansi Vinaigrette.  For the greens, I decided to go to Rustan’s.

So here was how a spur-of-the-moment grocery basket looked like.  The big bag of Basic Necessity’s SaladTime mung brean sprouts was intended for those moments when I would enjoy my pho (Vietnamese – errr, Vietnamese-inspired – noodle moments).  I threw in the San Remo angel hair because I have this gut feeling I’d crave for angel hair pomodoro before the weekend is through!

Grocery Basket - Rustans 00

In the basket – Sunsweet hydroponic hearts of Romaine, Basic Necessity's SaladTime Arugula & Mixed Greens, Basic Necessity's SaladTime Mung Bean Sprouts... San Remo Angel Hair, Basil Leaves!


Grocery Basket - Rustans 01

Waiting to ring up my purchases!

For Spider-man – Salad of mixed delicate greens topped with pan-grilled black tiger prawns in an oriental dressing

23 07 2009

IT ALL started with the honey calamansi vinaigrette that best friend Spider-man tasted on a trip North.  When he came back to work the following Monday, he couldn’t stop gushing about that salad that he had.  “eNTeNG, have you ever had honey calamansi vinaigrette on your salad?  Sarap!”  Honestly, I’ve never had.  But of course I was all ears to all he was saying because the talk was about food.

Salad for Spider-man 00

Black tiger prawns to be pan-grilled for Spider-man's salad!

And since it is still his birth month, I promised to make him a salad dressed with that same honey calamansi dressing he so loved at that first taste.  And I’m keeping that promise – almost, but not quite.  You see, simple as the dressing may sound – all you need are just freshly squeezed calamansi juice, extra virgin olive oil, pure honey, salt and pepper – I was still opting to just use the Dizon Farms version available at all leading supermarkets.  Unfortunately, I haven’t chanced upon one on any of the shelves I had ravaged these past days.  It’s quite ironic that about a month ago, I had held a bottle of it in my own hands and transfixed it with a long, emotionless stare; while inside my head, a debate was ensuing, especially since I wasn’t particularly keen on the merits of calamansi in a fancy sounding vinaigrette – in a commercially bottled one at that!

But quite surprisingly, I didn’t even opt to whisk my own honey calamansi from scratch!  I opted for the next best thing – Dizon FarmsOriental Dressing.  ConvenienceConvenience.  Besides, putting all the components of the salad will take care of the labor of love part.

I love to “name” my salads so loftily – fanciful even – and so lengthily!  For this one, I’m calling it Spider-man’s Salad of Mixed Delicate Greens, topped with Pan-Grilled Black Tiger Prawns in an Oriental Dressing!

Salad for Spider-man 01

Dizon Farms' Lollo Rosa (from the Asian Salad Kit) and Dole's Hearts of Romaine go to this salad.

For the mixed delicate greens, I’m using Lollo Rosaboth the green and purplish leaves – and Hearts of Romaine.  Those were the only ones available last night.  Usually, I’d always put arugula and iceberg lettuce.  I prefer salad greens from Dizon Farms, Basic Necessity’s SaladTime, Dole and Sunsweet (whenever I long for the buttery taste of their hydroponically grown hearts of romaine).  Apart from the highest quality these brands are known for, I love it that their greens are already completely washed – some with mineral water, and some three times even!

For the black tiger prawns, I always make sure to start with the freshest catch.  I buy them only when I’m going to use them.  Never frozen!  I clean them well, remove the heads and carefully devein each.  I season one side with just a kiss of salt and pepper, and put that side down on a well-heated heavy bottom skillet.  That’s when I season the other side.  Once the prawns start to curl up, I flip them.  One more minute and they’re done.  I leave them on the pan to “carry-over” cook, and to cool before packing.  Whenever I have them on hand, I squeeze orange juice on the prawns as they sizzle away on the pan.  I hit both sides with a generous douse of the orange juice.  By the way, as much as possible, I only wipe my pan with pure canola oil ever so lightly.  Just a very thin film to cover the bottom.

Salad for Spider-man 03

A few minutes and the prawns are done!

As I had to bring this salad to work today for Spider-man, I packed the greens separate from the prawns and the dressing.  To keep the greens cold on the ride to work, I pack its container with the ice replacement gel packs that I would save from my Royce’ Nama Chocolates!  I first put the (recycled) ice packs in a Ziploc bag before I put it on top of the container of the greens.

I guess Spider-man would be a happy camper with this salad.  He’s actually saving this for his dinner tonight.  And no matter where he decides to enjoy this filling salad, he need not worry about cutlery.  I threw in an Oneida® Silversmiths fork in the bag.

Salad for Spider-man 02

Another shot of the salad greens before they're packed!

I heart wansuy

20 07 2009
Wansuy - Wansuy 00

Freshly washed Dizon Farms wansuy (or, "wansoy")

I’VE NEVER realized just how much “wansuy” (fresh coriander leaves) can divide a household than when I found myself finishing a whole cauldron of crab and corn soup I made from scratch, perfumed with fresh wansuy.  To put things in perspective, imagine the soup to be Pasig river, and the fresh wansuy the growth of lotus on the surface.  You get the picture.  My brother hated the dish, considering I was so proud about it.  Hahaha!  I literally ate my words – with lots of wansuy to go with them!

I’ve always believed that wansuy is an acquired taste.  Some say it tastes like soap.  Those really unforgiving with their comments actually liken it to bugs.  If you don’t actually like wansuy yourself, you’re free to choose which simile would give life to your loathing.

But as for me, I’ve loved wansuy eversince I was a kid.  I’ve loved it so much that to this day, I would snack on bunches of it whenever I chance upon them at the supermarket.  I love it so much that it actually made my foodie list of 25.

Last week, I chanced upon lots of fresh wansuy!  Unlike when I was a kid when we’d have to go to Echague in Manila to get wansuy, nowadays I can count on Dizon Farms’ fresh produce line up to get that and more.  A kilo of wansuy costs Php 430.00.  I usually would get 250 grams’ worth!

Salad - Wansuy 02

I love my wansuy salad! Perfect with grilled or fried fish.

As usual, I made my fresh salad of ripe, plump roma tomatoes, vidalia (white) onions and lots of the wansuy, dressed with lots of fresh calamansi juice, and exactly a tablespoon of vinegar, with salt and pepper to taste.  I tore the wansuy with my own hands as opposed to chopping them with a stainless steel or carbon steel knife.  This salad went well with lots of fried tilapia!

Wansuy - Shrimps with oyster sauce 01

Shrimps with oyster sauce... with wansuy!


Wansuy - Shrimps with oyster sauce 02

Another shot of a wonderful lunch!

The next day – on a wild wild whim – I garnished shrimps with oyster sauce with lots of the fresh wansuy.  I’ve never done this before but surprisingly, it worked!  The shrimps were a gift.

Both meals were rounded up with heaping servings of steaming hot white rice.

Wansuy - Shrimps with oyster sauce 03

Wansuy went perfectly with shrimps with oyster sauce

The bounty of the cupboard, the bounty of the garden

17 03 2009

SOMETIMES, ASIDE from making the time to cook for someone, there’s nothing like getting the sudden rush of inspiration – yes, to cook for someone.  Last Sunday, while doing my own “special” grocery shopping, I saw Millel shaved parmesan cheese.  Not everybody carries this – the shaved variant – that even when all I had made were just a couple of steps into the expanse that was the sprawling supermarket, my radar locked onto the short pile on the refrigerator shelves.  I made a mad dash towards its direction, ready to tackle anybody who would attempt to beat me to the stack.


I picked a couple of the 125-gram resealable plastic packs.  I just so love the packaging – resealable.  Though at home, never has a 125-gram pack seen the light of the next day the moment it gets opened.  Hahaha!  To my cart already aching from the weight, I threw in a couple of packs of basil – one repacked with saran wrap and generic labelling, and one in a cute white-and-green “re-usable” (at least to me) tub; a one-pound pack of San Remo Angel Hair; a small bottle of Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil; lots of fresh roma tomatoes; and a can each of Hunt’s Stewed Tomatoes and Diced Tomatoes (the label says “Basil Oregano Garlic”).


I stared at my slowly-getting-filled cart and I knew that my brother would be very happy when I got home.


Thrown in for good measure, I grabbed a couple of sacks of SaladTime’s “Arugula & Mixed Greens” and a bottle each of Dizon Farms’ Honey Mustard, Oriental, and Pineapple-Basil dressings.  Yum!


I’m all for making my vinaigrette from scratch (having learned at home and from the school of “From Martha’s Kitchen”), but I would never raise an eyebrow at really good commercially available stuff.  And I do swear by Dizon Farms’ bottled dressings!


So here, let me share with you the fruits of my labor – my Angel Hair Pomodoro, and my Salad of Arugula and Mixed Delicate Greens in a Pineapple-Basil Dressing.  I just love how this pasta turned out.  The shaved parmesan just really looks oh so elegant compared to its grated kin.  The pineapple-basil dressing lovingly stained the arugula leaves.  And its arresting tanginess was the perfect foil to the light peppery bitterness of the arugula.




At least half of my sauce is always made from fresh roma tomatoes I blanch and peel myself.



Fresh basil! With the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, I could very well have caprese salad!



Angel Hair Pomodoro. Doesn't the shaved parmesan cheese make this simple dish such a beauty?



The sight of an arugula leaf, lightly stained with the vinaigrette, tempts me to no end.