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.





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!).

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

 

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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