Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lemon Fusilli with Rocket

Here's an Ina Garten pasta dish that has become a favourite in our household. You'll notice we love rocket and we also love cherry tomatoes. Can I tell you how happy I am that my man does not mind vegetarian dishes, at all? Of course he looks for his meat and protein from time to time, but feeding him a bowl of pasta with veggies is so not a problem. Especially if it is loaded with - you guessed it, cheese!  
On weekends, I'd much rather spend quality time with him than with my kitchen. So this is when I usually whip up quick pasta dishes that will surely satisfy. It's also good timing because we can have it for lunch and have the whole day to burn off the carbs! This recipe is a bit on the heavy side, so that extra bonus is a big deal for me. 
Try it sometime. Even if Mr. Bee is not a big fan of pasta, this might meet his approval. If not, I'm sure your baby bees will love it.  

Here's my version, modified to make it a bit lighter and more garlicky:
-fusilli pasta
-olive oil
-minced garlic 
-light cooking cream 
-zest and juice of 1-2 lemons
-couple handfuls of arugula/rocket roughly chopped (Keep them slightly big so you taste the nutty/peppery flavor in every bite!)
-freshly grated parmesan cheese (super important)
-a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes 
Cook the garlic in the olive oil just until it softens and lets out its aroma. Add the cream, zest and juice of the lemons, salt and pepper to taste. Let it boil and then lower heat to simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.  Cook your pasta according to package directions and drain. Immediately after draining, while still hot, return to the pot and pour in the cream sauce. Stir and allow this to simmer for a few minutes until you can see that the sauce has been absorbed by the pasta. (In Ina's recipe she transfers the pasta to a serving bowl at this point and then puts in the veggies and cheese). I however, like to drop in the cherry tomatoes so they soften slightly with the heat. I turn off the heat and throw in the arugula/rocket and stir it with the pasta quickly. Then I transfer to the serving bowl and toss with the parmesan cheese. 
You'll end up with a bowl of warm, cheesy, nutty, zesty pasta that is so yummy and comforting. Perfect for a Saturday lunch. Quick enough so that you can get back to lounging around. 

This will make about 4 servings. You can make more and reheat it for meals throughout the week. Feel free to experiment as well with other veggies. I think these might work: spinach, basil, asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms. If you need the protein, grilled chicken should make a good addition.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mary Had

...a little lamb. Oh and some natural mint jelly!

I have never actually been a big fan of lamb, but seeing a bottle of Carol Hall's mint jelly made me think twice about serving it for dinner one night. Honestly, in terms of flavor, there is actually nothing too fancy or too different from the mint jelly's we've had in the past. What sold me was the fact that the jelly was clear and not green, but still had the same sweetness, crispness and minty-ness to it as the mint jelly's that we're used too.

More than anything it makes me think twice about the number of "useless" additives we've been putting into our system all these years -- colorants, preservatives, stabilizers just to name a few.
Through the years we find out about things we can do without, where cooking is concerned at least. I guess we all learn the hard way... that there is no secret to great tasting food except for going back to the basics.

Speaking of basics, sharing with you the most basic of lamb recipes:

Marinate Lamb chops in olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper and light soy sauce.

Brown for about 4 mins on each side in your bbq grill or in a skillet coated with great tasting olive oil.

Before serving top with some fresh rosemary if desired.

Serve with Sinangag. Oh and the mint jelly!

Happy Breakfast

Did I ever tell you how much we love, no absolutely adore breakfast? The excitement for weekends usually includes excitement for a wonderful home cooked breakfast or a nice brunch in a cafe by the beach down the road. We just love the happy feeling or starting the morning right with a cup of coffee and a plate of either of the following:
-eggs benedict (more on that in another post)
-or a good old classic Pinoy breakfast.

Weekends are perfect for big breakfasts like these because we actually have the time to savour the coffee, the food and the happy breakfast vibe. Weekday breakfasts are usually just a quick bowl of oatmeal, cereal with milk, yogurt and fruit or toast with cheese. But, I decided to prepare a special weekday breakfast just yesterday, a
Monday. I wanted to surprise my dear husband on his birthday. What better way to brighten the Mondays we all dread with a pleasant meal, I thought. So there I was bright and early at 7am preparing a surprise treat for him upon his arrival from his 2 - 9am shift. Yes he works crazy hours even on his birthday, so I had to do something to make him feel special.

Nothing says good morning like a cup of coffee and of course, orange juice. To make it more exciting, I freshly squeezed an orange, muddled in some kiwi and a couple slices of lemon. Instead of lemon, I added a teaspoon of powdered iced tea to give it some kick. This definitely brought a smile to his face.

Next on the menu was a delectable fritata of scallions, mushrooms, asparagus and vintage cheddar cheese. Yummy! This is so easy to make.

In a skillet (were only two so I used a small one) melt about 1 tablespoon of butter. You'll want to use an oven proof skillet. Saute some garlic and the scallions lightly. Add in the mushrooms and asparagus once the first two ingredients slightly soften. Cook for another minute two.

Add in 3 eggs that have been beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper. I added a splash or milk to make it extra fluffy. Stir the mixture in the pan for about a minute and the leave it over medium heat. Top with grated cheddar cheese and stick the pan into an oven at 200C for about 8 - 10 minutes until the eggs set. Serve warm with toast or on its own.

Next on the menu was one of our favourites:
banana pancakes. As one of my favourite Jack Johnson songs goes:

Can't you see that it's just raining
Ain't no need to go outside...
But baby, you hardly even notice
When I try to show you this song
It's meant to keep you
From doin' what your supposed to
Like wakin' up too early
Maybe we could sleep in
I'll make you banana pancakes
Pretend like it's the weekend now
And we could pretend it all the time 
Can't you see that it's just rainin' 
Ain't no need to go outside 
Ain't no need, ain't no need
Rain all day and I really really really don't mind
Can't you see, can't you see 
We've gotta wake up slow
So of course in this case, he DID notice. As good as he said they were, they did not stop him from going back to work and pretending like it was the weekend. I guess we'll just sleep in and wake up slow on the Saturday then.

Here's the Banana Pancake recipe I used, which is inspired by one of my heroes, Martha Stewart.
Whisk together the dry ingredients:
-1 cup flour
-2 tablespoons sugar (I used raw sugar just because I like the flavor better)
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

Then, add in:
-1 large egg beaten lightly
-1 cup milk
-2 tablespoons butter - I forgot this part and they still turned out really good. Pretty cool, my pancakes were that much lighter then! Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

Now, slice two bananas 1/4 inch thick. Melt some butter in a skillet (this part I would NOT omit). Place 5 banana rounds in the pan and spoon batter over each of them. Her recipe says to make one mini pancake per banana slice which results in really cute mini banana pancakes. Being a weekday morning, I didn't have the luxury of time so I just made regular sized pancakes of them. Flip when ready as you would a regular pancake and cook the other side until golden brown. Keep warm in the oven and serve with more butter, maple syrup or honey.
Definitely a yummy meal to keep you home all morning. Enjoy!

Haut Chocolat

So while on my recent trip to Chicago, I discovered Vosges Haut Chocolat. The first time I read the description  I had a mental picture of hot chocolate in a cup and a side of churros, instead of "Haut Chocolat" which I figure is their version of Haut Couture but for chocolate. So before even trying them I knew that I was in for something along the lines of super fancy chocolates dressed in Louboutin's and clad in Dior.

I may have been too literal but I guess the point of Vosges is to dress the cacao in one or more flavor combinations that actually work. And just like the churros with hot chocolate, I guess it's the combination of sweet and that unexpected saltiness in every bite that does the trick.

With Vosges variety of flavour combos like olives and champagne or sea salt and toasted coconut you almost get a full meal in every bite!

Is there anything as "Haut" as this over there? I'm curious to find out what the Oz version might be.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Somewhat Osso Bucco

Had some friends coming over for dinner one time and this is what I served them.
You may want to try it sometime if and when Mr.P needs to load up on the protein!

The recipe is a bit rough but I know you'll get it!!!

Somewhat Osso Bucco

15 pieces beef short ribs about the size of your flip video
Marinate in garlic and light soy sauce.

Brown the meat in olive oil on all sides, once brown remove.

To the oil in the pot...
Add 1 medium onion chopped
3 roma tomatoes chopped
about 8 cloves of garlic (3 of which went to the marinade)
put the meat back
1 cup white wine
add 1 can tomato paste
2 cups water / or stock
bay leaf

Simmer on low - medium for about 1 hour
add 1 cup white wine again
about 1 tbsp. oregano
2 cups chopped carrots

Simmer again for another hour.

Serve over lemon garlic olive oil orzo (for trina and emilio), or rice (for paolo and lucca), and a side of lemony garlic pesto

Hope you like it!

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday dear friend!

Here's a little belated birthday present. It's a picture I took while strolling around Chicago's Navy Pier one sunny afternoon.

Here's to a year of more food in the company of loved ones, and more food to satisfy your tummy as well as your heart.
Have a great birthday!

Cheese Monster and Tea

If Mr. P truly is the cheese monster you say he is -- then sharing with you the perfect accompaniment to most of his cheese fixes.

We've all tried pairing membrillo, quince or even fig with our cheeses, at one point or another right? But black tea??? Who would have thought it would go just perfectly?

In one of the local coop's here in the city, I discovered this bottled preserve that hails all the way from Wisconsin. The jams are carefully handcrafted by a couple passionate about creating perfect artisan preserves. Sounds super fancy I know, but what I find, is that this recipe is fairly easy to make.
If you ever find the time to make your own preserves, just by substituting the liquid component of the recipe to a potent brew of your favorite tea you'll end up with this sophisticated blend of flavours. 

I actually haven't tried altering this recipe to include tea in it just yet... but maybe Mr. P might beat us to it.

My Version of Fig and Tea 


  • 16 cups fresh figs
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 12 cups of strong boiling earl grey tea  (I would think something like Earl Grey will works best)
  • 8 cups white sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lemon, sliced


  1. In a large mixing bowl place figs and sprinkle with baking soda. Pour the boiling water over the figs and soak for 1 hour.
  2. Drain figs and rinse thoroughly with cold water. In a large Dutch oven combine the sugar and the 4 cups of water; bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the figs and lemon slices to the syrup in the Dutch oven and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Spoon figs into hot, sterilized jars and spoon syrup over figs, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Top jars with lids and screw bands on tightly. Process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.