The BrenDarryl – a recipe

8 08 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The BrenDarryl

For the dressing you will need

¼ cup Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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

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

A pinch of Morton® Coarse Kosher Salt

A fresh crack of McCormick® Black Peppercorn

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


The star of my wonderful dressing!


All the ingredients for the perfect “The BrenDarryl!”


For the salad you will need

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

Yummy™ Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple

Gaucho® Green Argentina Packham’s Pear

Millel® Parmesan Cheese (Shaved, not Grated!)

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

Green with envy – apples and pears!


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




Wild Rocket!


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


We’re grillin’!


The prawns are now done!


Brenda calls these perfectly pan-grilled prawns.


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


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

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.






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