Monday, December 15, 2008

Cranberry Cookies - Lasang Pinoy Sunday Edition #27


We watched a children’s Christmas musical yesterday.

Children have all the advantages in productions – they can do no wrong. They can forget their cues, mess up their lines, or even do nothing but stand on the side – yet they are guaranteed to steal the show regardless. They are just too cute. Too bad they grow up so fast, huh? ;oD

The kids in the musical were, I believe, ranging from 3 to 10 yrs old with a total of about 25-30 participants. It was just a wonderful play with a very good message befitting the holiday season. The kids were amazing. Such wonderful talents displayed at such tender age.

But what’s even more remarkable to me are the people behind the scene– the director and production staff involved. They must be extremely patient individuals who are so dedicated in what they do. You and I know that it ain't a piece of cake managing 30 kids in one room. Their attention span is very short. Throw in some tantrums here and there and that’s a guaranteed formula for mayhem to break loose. How challenging it must have been to put together such a big production like that, yet they managed to come up with an awesome presentation. So my kudos go to them all. And of course, let’s not forget the parents. Their support and commitment in taking their children to rehearsals every week made everything possible.

Watching the kids musical yesterday unexpectedly made me nostalgic. I had been involved in a number of musicals myself as a kid, and I remembered my parents - my Mom especially. She passed away last year. My mother was my #1 fan and my avid supporter. As I watched the kids, I thought that my mother no longer has the opportunity to see her own grand kid/s on a production like this some day. This made me shed a tear. I just had a moment - blame it on Christmas.

Anyway, growing up the only thing I know about cranberries are those that of the bottled ones, juice -that is. Being from a tropical country, hardly any berries grow in the Philippine climate. (There’s only one place in the Philippines (up north) that I know of where strawberries grow – in Baguio - a hilly land that’s approximately about 5,000+++ feet above sea level.)

My first encounter of real, fresh cranberries was only six years ago. It was a surprise to discover that these particular berries are super tart! Thankfully, my friend Holly introduced to me these delicious cranberry cookies – hmmnnn... This is definitely the way to eat these fruits.
These cookies are a part of my friend’s family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition. They are yummy! I particularly love the tang from the fruit balanced out by the sweetness from the glaze, and the texture from the pecan just rounds up everything. You won’t be able to stop eating them, promise! They should come with a warning sign like this: DANGER, THESE ARE ADDICTING!

My friend was kind enough to share with me her Aunt’s recipe of the cookies. And since then, I’d been making them every year during the holiday season.

In deference to my friend’s aunt, I will not publish the recipe here. But if you’re interested, do let me know and I’ll ask my friend’s permission if I can pass her recipe on to you. Email me at
I am serving these cookies to Lasang Pinoy-Sunday (La.Pi.S) Edition #27 (a weekly Food Photography meme, Filipino-style) and to Susan of Foodblogga for her Eat Christmas Cookies Season 2.

Come and help yourself to these wonderful cookies. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Apple & Horseradish Glazed Salmon

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…la,la,la,la..”

I found myself cheerfully humming this classic Christmas tune as I walked my dog this morning. I can't deny it, Christmas is evident everywhere I look.

Immediately after Thanksgiving, people brought out their varied Christmas decors and got busy with them. There are the lights, the blow-up figures, flowers, glitters and so much more. They come in different colors, shapes and sizes.

My own neighborhood has transformed itself into a mini-Christmas village – minus the snow, of course. Hello, we live in South Florida so the closest we get for snow are the myriads of twinkling lights that adorn the roofs and facades of most houses. It sucks that we don't get snow... or good, depending on your perspective. You decide.

Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to watch the decors going up all around me, with people’s creativity expressed in many different ways, on so many different levels. Some houses have modest decors, some barely to none at all, while some also go all-out you’d think their house is a store front showcase, or even better, a mini-theme park. It's Interesting. Captivating. Enchanting. Must be the Christmas spirit.

Even the weather has cooperated lately which literally added to the Christmas atmosphere that I’m feeling. We’ve had the most pleasant weather this past couple of weeks in South Florida. It’s been cool, and for those who know, having cool weather here is a real treat for us. This means that the temperature is between 40’s – 70’s. Just perfect.
In anticipation of the holiday feast, I’ve decided to keep my food as light as possible, if I can help it! I know that in the days to come, I’ll be stuffing my face again with food and sweets. This is just my pathetic attempt to relieve myself of guilt from over indulgence during this holiday season, you know.. :o)

Well, this salmon dish is perfect for those trying to minimize calorie intake (like I’m doing) at the onset of Christmas. This dish doesn’t scream HEALTHY, which is a good sign because food that look healthy most of the time means a BORING one, at least to me.

Truth be told, I approached this recipe with much skepticism when I saw the horseradish and the apple jelly. What a weird combination, I thought. But curiousity prevailed, so I found myself doing this dish. And am I glad that I decided to try. If you like some sort of a sweet-sour/tangy dish, then this is just for you.

Not only is this packed with flavor, but it is quick to prepare as well. And the best part is, it's still in keeping with with the holiday flavors --- with the APPLE jelly, ya know. ***wink***.

I got this recipe from one of my fave food subscription magazine, Cooking Light . This magazine is my go-to for light but tasty dishes. I am submitting this as an entry to Bookmarked Recipes event by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments

PhotobucketApple & Horseradish Glazed Salmon
from Cooking Light

1/3 cup apple jelly
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsps prepared horseradish
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick), skinned
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine apple jelly, chives, horseradish, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk.
3. Sprinkle salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
4. Heat oil in a large nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add salmon, and cook 3 minutes. Turn salmon over; brush with half of apple mixture.
5. Wrap handle of skillet with foil; bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Brush with remaining apple mixture.
6. Serve with couscous, rice or any neutral flavored side dish.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Molten Chocolate Cake

Have you ever been to a chocolate museum? I have.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Stollwerck’s Chocolate Musueum in Germany. It was definitely an exhilarating experience.

First of all, the smell of chocolate that greets you as you enter the facility is one big sensory assassination-in a good way- and my senses responded to the stimulus accordingly.

I was like Willy Wonka the first time he set foot in the chocolate factory. I must have had my eyes wide open to make sure that I didn’t miss any of the chocolatey sights to behold. Ooohhhh...chocolates in all it’s forms and colors. I was in cloud 9 that day!

It was fascinating to note the difference between each type of chocolate - from dark, milk to white. There were also interesting tidbits to learn, like the history of chocolate and how it came to Europe, and the evolution of chocolate from then up to the present.... But I gotta admit, I really wasn’t paying so much attention to what the tour guide was saying. How can I concentrate when there’s a chocolate fountain nearby spurting some dark silky flowing lava of chocolate?? And right next to it was a bevy of pretzels, wafers and cookies ready to be dipped into that chocolatey goodness! And it's free for everyone to try! Hmmnn... I would have gladly remained right at that spot by the chocolate fountain while the rest of the tour progresses!

But thankfully, I managed to control myself and I went on with the tour. Afterall, there's a promise of a reward - being able to purchase their chocolate products at half the price at the end of the tour!

Needless to say, I left that chocolate museum with a big smile on my face and a bag-full of assorted chocolates -- so happy, that I swear I had a skip in my step, like a little child. Yeah, good times....This memory still brings a smile to my lips...


Anyhoe, here's my Molten Chocolate Cake. I made this a while back, just shortly before I had to leave for my trip to the Philippines a couple of months ago.

I was watching Wolfgang Puck’s show (Live, Love, Eat) on TV when he happened to be making this decadent dessert. Eversince that day, the vision of that luscious-chocolate cake haunted me, that I just gotta make it. But as always, life interferred so it took me a few weeks before I finally had the chance to do so.

But at last, here it is. What could be better than a warm chocolate cake from the oven oozing with chocolate goodness from the center? And it's easy to do. Believe me, this super-rich, gooey treat is what you need for next time that chocolate craving hits you.

Molten Chocolate Cake
Wolfgang Puck
8 oz. unsalted butter
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/4 C. sugar
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Lightly sweetened whipped cream or good quality vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Raspberries and mint leaves, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put about 3 oz. of the butter in a microwave-proof dish or a small saucepan. Heat in the microwave, or in the pan over low heat, just until the butter has melted. Thoroughly brush the insides of 6 individual 8-oz. custard cups or ramekins with the melted butter.
3. Cut up the remaining butter into pieces. Put the chocolate pieces and the butter pieces in the top pan of a double boiler or a medium heatproof bowl set over but not touching simmering water. Heat them, stirring frequently, until completely melted and smoothly blended. Remove the pan or bowl from the heat and set aside.
4. Put the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer, or in a mixing bowl if you are using a handheld electric mixer. Beat the eggs and sugar together at medium-high speed until the mixture turns pale yellow, thick, and creamy, about 5 minutes.
5. About a third at a time, use a spatula to fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the flour just until no streaks remain. With a ladle or large spoon, transfer this batter to the prepared custard cups or ramekins, filling them about two-thirds full. Put the cups or ramekins on a baking sheet.
6.Bake just until the cakes have risen and their sides look firm, 10-12 minutes, taking care not to over-bake them. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, carefully remove the cups or ramekins from the baking sheet, and set them aside to cool slightly for about 10 minutes.
7. Unmold onto individual serving plates, or simply place a cup or ramekin on each plate for serving.
8. Offer whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for each person to eat with the cake, if preferred.


Finally, I made it. I’m posting my very first regular blog after so many weeks of being away. Many of you know that I’ve traveled back to the beloved country where I originally come from, the Philippines. I was there for 5 weeks. My father had an emergency issue with his health that needed to be dealt with. His right leg had to be amputated asap, due to a gangrenous wound that had not healed for 9 months. We were trying to avoid losing my father’s limb, but in the end, it was still necessary, as the infection was growing and spreading fast. That’s why I had to be home for the operation to support my father. My mom passed away of breast cancer just last year. And I am an only child, so it goes without saying that I am the only one my father has to lean on for support (no pun intended).

Anyhow, now that I’m back home in the U.S. with my dear husband, I can only hope and pray that no other emergency concerning my father’s health will take place ever again. It is not only financially challenging, but emotionally trying as well. I can only take so much of those!

In the meantime, I am happy to share with you that my father is doing much better and is getting stronger by the day. Thank God.

I was hoping to be able to get back on blogging immediately after I came back from my trip, but between the jet-lag and work, it was just physically impossible. And honestly, I lost my blogging “mojo” for a while due to my exhausted mind and body. But not to worry, I am slowly recovering.. and pretty soon, I will be prolific again! Promise!

Today, I would like to share with you my breakfast, reminiscent to the ones I had while growing up in the Philippines.

A traditional Filipino breakfast is a full meal with rice, usually fried rice. Some years ago, a TV comedy sitcom coined the term tapsilog - which refers to a breakfast combination of tapa (cured beef), sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg). This is a typical Filipino breakfast, but it was the show's "slang" that ignited its popularity, so much so that restaurants and even fast food chains have included these combo type breakfast meals in their menu. Since then, tapsilog has spawned so many other dishes (or slang terms, I should say) such as tocilog, (with tocino, the Filipino's version for bacon); longsilog (with longganisa, the Filipino breakfast sausage); and yes, spamsilog, (with SPAM, obviously) - all with fried rice and eggs.

SPAM is a favorite luncheon meat in the Philippines, but not enjoyed all too often because it is an imported stuff therefore, more expensive than local brands.

Anyhow, here's my spamsilog. I’m so proud to say that while Mr. J doesn’t count Spam as a favorite, but he willingly partakes of it with me every once in a while! I’d say that’s love, huh? :oD

This breaksfast is an easy one to prepare. For the spam, it is basically ready to eat so I just warmed it up a bit in the skillet. The eggs you can have however you prefer 'em --fried, scrambled, overeasy.. it doesn't matter. The only thing I really had to cook was the garlic fried rice, which I topped with garlic chips that I had gotten from the Philippines. Talk about garlic breath and all! You can bet no witch came near our house that day!

For the fried rice, it is best to use left-over rice. Don't use freshly cooked rice, as your rice will come out mushy. Make sure to separate the rice; I find that the easiest and best way to do this is to use your finger and work them through the rice to break the lumps. Lumpy fried rice is un-appetizing. Then make sure that your skillet/wok is hot.Just let your palm hover about 6" high over the skillet/wok, and when you feel the heat, then you're ready to start. And be ready to do everything quickly.

Sending a serving of this Spamsilog to
Ces of SpiCes, as my entry to this weeks's Lasang Pinoy Sunday Edition #25.

Garlic Fried Rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 c rice (see instructions above)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp soy sauce (opitonal)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fried garlic chips, for garnish

1. Set your skillet/work to high heat. When it's hot enough (see instructions above), add the vegetable oil.
2. Then add your rice. Stir the rice continously for about 3 mins. All you are doing is warming through the rice. Add more vegetable oil if you think your rice is dry.
3. Then add the garlic, followed by the soy sauce and pepper. Stir for 1 more minute.
4. Turn off the heat. Serve topped with garlic chips, if you like.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Coming soon... Mad Mixology!

There are rumblings in our kitchen, but alas, what could cause such a stir? Or perhaps a mix, such as this? LOL....

Today was a day just like most other at work, except for the sound of a UPS truck, and a rather small driver comparative to the large package he was carrying --- with my name on it. But what could be inside?

As the driver unloaded the package, a quick glance proved my suspicions were true! The kitchen gurus have spoken and a new KitchenAid Pro mixer has arrived. My mind was in a tizzy as I began to daydream about all of the stuff I could create with this appliance at my disposal. My officemates were quick to interrupt the fiesta I had going on in my cabeza (head) by mentioning that the 6-quart mixer was simply "too big" to be of use for my husband and I. But I know that time in all of its fullness will invariably prove them incorrect. Mr. J told me to start making tons of delicious food for ourselves and our friends, and in conversation mention, " hey, by the way, (I) made that with my new mixer"...LOL.

I will let these pictures and my future blogging tell the rest of the story.
Here's my new KitchenAid mixer in all of it's glory....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chop Suey & Elections '08


I am so glad that the elections are over. It was a drawn-out spectacle that left me really spent at the end of it all. It’s not just because the candidate I voted for didn’t win. It’s more because I’ve never been so much into all the drama that was the Elections ’08. In the last few weeks before the Election I felt burned-out; I wanted for everything to be over and done with. So you can just imagine how much anticipation I had on Election Day knowing that finally, the verdict will be revealed before the day ends.

Though disappointed of the fact that my candidate didn't make it, I have to admit that Obama’s triumph was a single event that changed the history of this nation. No doubt, it has impacted many a people’s lives not just in the US but all over the world. As I listened to him deliver his victory speech, I marveled at his charisma, that X-factor, if you may, that he possesses which attracted people to him, almost worshipping him like the Messiah. But more than that, I applaud him for all he has achieved. He has indelibly inked his name in history. My sincere congratulations to you, President-elect Obama.

Now, it is time to move on. I gladly wave adieu to all the political hustle and bustle that almost consumed me for a time. As a good citizen of this great nation, it is my responsibility to pledge support to our newly elected President in whatever capacity I can as an individual. I do hope and pray that he will have the wisdom that he needs to confront all the challenges that he will be facing when he takes office early next year.

Anyhow, enough about politics…….
Have you had those days when you want to eat something, yet you really don’t know what you want??? LOL… I had one of those days and that’s how this dish came about. I figured, I’ll just throw together my favorites (whatever I have anyways) and it should cure my unidentified craving. And I'm glad I did as this dish did really hit the spot!

I’ve mentioned in my earlier blogs that Philippine cuisine is heavily influenced by many cultures, predominantly Spanish and Chinese. Well, this one is an example of a Chinese-Filipino dish called Chop Suey.

Chop Suey or “mixed pieces” in Chinese consists of just that – stir-fried mixed pieces of vegetables with meat. In the Philippines, our Chop Suey version traditionally includes cabbage, chayote, cauliflower, carrots, red bell pepper, snow peas, fish ball, wood ear mushroom, quail eggs, shrimp and either chicken or pork.

Well, my version here is slightly different in that I just used whatever veggie I had on hand. Also in the Philippines, we usually eat this with plain boiled rice, but this time, I thought of pairing it up with cooked vermicelli (bean thread) noodles, chow mein style.

Let me tell you, this is certainly better than take-out. Any day. Any time.

Chop Suey (as shown here)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 /2 c vegetable oil
1/2 lb med sized shrimp*
1 med carrot, cut to about 1/4" thick
1 c cauliflower, cut into bite-size pcs
1 c broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 c red bell pepper, cut into thick strips
8 oz fresh baby corn (or 1 8 oz can)
1/2 head of cabbage, cut into bite-size pcs
1 tsp of soy sauce (or more)
1 tbsp oyster sauce (or more)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c water with 1 tsp of cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of sesame oil

1. Mix together the water, cornstarch, oyster sauce, sugar and soy sauce.
2. Heat a wok or skillet. Pour in about 2 tbsp of the cooking oil. Heat to smoking point.
3. Fry the carrots for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and paper towels and set aside. Repeat this process for the cauliflower, broccoli, baby corn, red bell pepper. Keep adding the cooking oil bit by bit as you saute your veggies, but set aside 1 tbsp.
4. When all the veggies have been stir fried, then add the last 1 tsbs of your cooking oil. Saute the onions till transluscent, and then add the garlic. Stir for 30 seconds. Then add the shrimp (or whatever meat you're using).
5. As soon as the shrimp turns pink (or your is meat cooked), return all the veggies to the wok/skillet, including the cabbage. Stir.
6. Then add the the cornstarch mixture. Stir until the sauce thickens and clears.
7. Adjust seasoning to your liking at this point. Add oyster sauce, if you want.
8. Season with pepper but be cautious with salt. Remember, the soy sauce and oyster sauce are already salty.
9. Turn off heat. Drizzle Chop Suey with sesame oil just before serving.
10. Best served warm, with rice or boiled vermiccili noodles.

* You may substitute shrimp with chicken or pork cut into bite-sized strips. To make a vegetarian version, substitute shrimp/meat with firm tofu cut into squares. I suggest marinating your tofu with soysauce for more flavor. Then saute tofu until golden brown.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Taste & Create: Pesto Pasta

"When are you going to blog again?" was Mr. J's question to me a few days ago. "Soon.." was my non-committal response.

I have to admit, I've been stuck in a rut lately. After my trip to the Philippines, I never expected that I would have a hard time blogging again. Don't get me wrong, the desire to blog never left me, and I've never stopped cooking -- it's taking the time to write, take photos and posting them up that I wasn't inspired to do somehow. It's as if my blogging "mojo" was sucked out of me. Ha,ha...

I don't know how others are able to get back into the swing of things immediately after a long break, 'cause I'm finding out now that it is not easy, uh-oh. Not for me, at least.. But I know that I should not stay in this rut for long, so in an effort to take myself away from it, I have decided to once again particpate in
Taste & Create. I figured, it would be a good motivation for me to get out of this stupor and force myself to blog again, huh?
For those who don't know, Taste and Create is a monthly blogging event where bloggers are paired up, and then the partners get to cook/bake something from each other's blogs. It's basically swapping recipes, if you ask me.)

And so here I am, barely making it to the deadline, but I'm here nevertheless. That's what matters, right?

For this month's
Taste and Create, I was paired of with Scrumptious of In My Box. Her blog is about the weekly CSA box that she gets from Eat Well Farm. It's not only a fascinating blog, but an enviable one as well. I wish I get the same fresh, organic produce regularly myself! Some people just have all the luck, huh? :o)

To keep things simple for me being that I'm not totally out of the rut yet, I decided to do her Pesto Pasta.... It looked so good to me and I needed something quick for lunch yesterday.

Her pesto is a vegan version, though, and since I am not one, I decided to do the regular pesto. (Check out her recipe here) For this, I changed up the nutritional yeast to parmiggiano reggiano - which I absolutely love! And for the veggies, I roasted a mix of zucchini and squash which I added to the medley of tri-colored spirals along with halves of cherry tomatoes.

All together, this pasta made up for a really colorful, light, healthy and quick but flavorful lunch.

Thanks, Scrumptious, for taking me out of this rut! And thanks Min, for hosting this month's Taste and Create. You did a good job!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm Back..

Hi, foodie blogville.. I am back in the homefront, after 5 weeks or so of being away. Whew! Wasn't that long??? Can't wait to get blogging again. But first, I just want to get over this jet lag. I'll be fine in a few days.... and then, I'll be back on board again!

Hope you'll come back to see what's up.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Hi foodie blogville... if you've checked my blog lately, you'll notice that it's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I have an important reason for this, which I am about to share with you.

I am currently back in my homeland, the Philippines. This was an emergency trip, as my father has urgent health issues that I needed to attend to being his one and only child. It sucks big time to see your parents get older and in failing health. If you're curious and would want to know specifically what the emergency is about, then please check my personal blog here and here.

Suffice it to say that I am having one of the most challenging times of my life and would appreciate if you can say a word or two of prayer for my father and our family.

I miss cooking and blogging. But I gotta do what I need to do, and for now, my priority is my father to get well. I may be checking in once in a while, but I won't promise that I will be able to post anything till I get back to the U.S. a couple of weeks from now.

Hope you'll continue to check my blog... For Jude and Bethany, thanks for the tag/awards.. I will blog about it later when the dust settles.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ricotta Pancakes With Roasted Apples & Prosciutto

I am thankful that when it comes to television, Mr. J and I don't have a problem as far as what shows to watch. We like almost the same programs - I watch what he watches, and he likes to watch what I watch. My only problem with him is when he's got the remote control - he changes channels so much I get dizzy! He loves to scan the channels, and when commercial break comes, his fingers get busy with the remote almost like an instict. He can't just stay in one channel. He just has to look around.

I know though, that this is a habit not unique to Mr. J alone. This is a guy thing. It must have something to do with the nature of men.. their nature to explore and conquer?

Anyhow, we were watching Tyler Florence over in FoodNetwork on Saturday afternoon. We just got intrigued with these cheesy pancakes. Coupled with the prosciutto and the apples.. this breakfast looked like a winner.

"Hmmnn... Why don't we try that?" Mr. J. said. "But you don't like cheese", I said to him. Mr. J always teases me because I love cheese a lot. He smiled and said, "well, it's ricotta. I'm willing to try it". So that settled it. I have no problem trying Tyler's ultimate pancakes.

So that very day I went to the grocery and picked up what we needed. Mr. J didn't expect for us to have the pancakes that very next day,so he was a bit surprised. Since it's Sunday, I thought it was a good time. So, why wait?

This breakfast then is a collaborative effort between Mr. J and I. I love it when we cook together. I made the pancake batter, but Mr. J took care of the flipping, and cooking. The prosciutto and apple wasn't much of a problem because both gets thrown in the oven.

As for these pancakes, one really has to be careful not to use too much heat. The pancake is different in that it cooks very slow, due to the cheese in it I suppose. So if you use very high heat, the outside will get burned and the inside will be raw.. that's not going to be good at all... So this breakfast particularly needs a lot of TLC (tender loving care). (Incidentally, in the Philippines, we call them HOTCAKES, and not pancakes..)

So just be patient, because you're going to be rewarded with a very delicious breakfast.. heavy and rich, but delicious. This breakfast sustained us, so much so that we didn't get hungry until dinner!
Ricotta Pancakes With Roasted Apples & Prosciutto
recipe from Tyler Florence

For the topping:
12 slices prosciutto
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional
4 Golden Delicious apples
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup

For the pancakes:
2 cups ricotta
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Butter, for cooking
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting, optional
1 cup maple syrup, warmed on stove-top

For the topping:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Lay the slices of prosciutto out in a single flat layer. Season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired, and pop into the oven. Roast the prosciutto until crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3.Cut each apple into thirds, remove the cheeks and discard the core. Slice each piece into 4 and toss with butter and maple syrup.
4. Transfer to a roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast the apples until they are fork-tender and slightly caramelized on the top, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on ripeness of the fruit.

For the pancakes:
1. Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl.
2. Sift the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the ricotta mixture and stir until fully combined.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gently fold into the batter.
4. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add a little butter. Cook pancakes at a time using a 6-ounce ladle or measuring cup to pour the batter into the pan.
5. Cook the pancakes on 1 side until they set. When small bubbles appear on the uncooked surface, flip the pancakes and cook until golden on both sides, about 6 minutes (or longer). Keep the pancakes on a plate set at the back of the stove under a dry towel to keep warm while you make the rest.

To serve, lay the pancakes on a plate and dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve with roasted apples, crispy prosciutto strips and warm maple syrup.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Brilliante Blog Award

I got my very first award, yay! Many thanks to Selina of Let's Chow for passing this award on to me.

When I started this blog, I was hoping to maybe meet some people but I wasn't really prepared to discover a whole "foodie world" out there; people from all corners of the world who share the same interest and passion in food as I do. Awesome.

It's been an exciting ride for me, so far, for the last 6 months. And I have learned a lot, which is why, in the first place, I thought of doing this blog. I wanted to learn more about food, about the cuisines from different countries. And along the way, I am meeting very talented, wonderful people. And I'm so glad.

Now, it's time to return the favor. I'd like to pass this award on to six other bloggers, following these simple rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when their entry is up.

So, for number 3 above, here are some little stuff about myself:
* Though I grew up in the Philippines where "balut" or fermented duck egg is a huge delicacy, I do not eat it. I tried but just couldn't swallow the stuff. It grosses me out.
* For the same reason as above, I cannot eat any food that has any animal organ in it such as liver, brain....... you get my drift.
* I love jazz and lyrical dancing, and have taken some lessons on it. I have been a dance minister in my church both in Philippines and in the U.S. So you'd understad if I tell you why I love the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance... love it!
* According to the latest typing test I've taken, I type 96 words per minute.
* When I was a kid, I wanted to become a CNN reporter, which led me to study Communications. I don't know what happened.. :o)
* I have a mini-spoon collection which I always get from souvenir shops whenever I travel to new places (cities, countries). So far, I've 52 of them and counting.

There you have it, folks. Now you know just a little bit more about me.

So, it's my time to tag 6 people. These are some of the sites I frequent:
Divya of Dilse
Jude of Apple Pie, Patis & Pate
Rita of Mochachocolatarita
TS of Eating Club Vancouver
Nicole of For The Love Of Food
Gert of My Kitchen Snippets

Have a good day to y'all!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Caprese Salad (Insalata Caprese)


It is a fact. Technology is taking over every aspect of our lives.

For the last decade, the advancement of technology from the medical to industrial to the telecommunications industry (most especially), has truly made leaps and bounds. Amazing.

So much have changed that I feel the world actually seems so much smaller than ever. The internet has done a huge difference in our day-to-day existence. Instead of writing letters via post/mail that will take days to get to the recipient, we send an email that only takes seconds to be read. Text messages have replaced personal phone calls. Photo albums are now gathering dust somewhere in favor of digital pictures that are saved in our computers. We can now all view videos together even if we are halfway around the world from each other, thanks to YouTube. News can be broadcast within seconds worldwide. Heck, we can now even date online. And with cell phones and every conceivable tracking device there is, “not being able to contact” someone has become short of impossible.

I can go on and on regarding the merits of technology but on the flipside of it are also its disadvantages. Technology has replaced our interpersonal communications that we have lost much of that valuable “personal” touch in the process.

With these techno-gizmos available at our fingertips, a question begs to be asked. Will there come a point that people will actually forget how to communicate personally? Worse, will the English language change to wazup, LOL and BRB, from hello, you’re funny and goodbye?

In a society that's laden with superficial standards which we don’t feel we always measure up to, computers have become our scape-goats. It is easy to hide behind our monitors to avoid being judged. How long before a personal handshake be completely replaced with the keyboard? Will a robot eventually take the place of a human-to-human, interpersonal communication? Hmmnn… food for thought.


I miss the good old, simple life sometimes. Yes, technology is good, but there are things in life that cannot be replaced with it. So once in a while, let’s remember those times before the internet, iPhones and iPods, shall we? Let’s make time for our friends and families by speaking to them in person, sending them cards with personal handwritten notes or even visit them in person, ok?

So with this post, I would like to remember our missionary friends (the Logan family) who are in South Africa. I have actually made this for them in the past as mentioned in my previous post, but thought that this dish deserves a post of its own.

This salad is not only pretty, but delicious as well. It is especially good for warm summer days when the last thing you would want to do is stand in front of the stove /oven and cook!

Moreover, this is a breeze to make. You can put this together probably within 5 minutes and you’ll have a fresh salad that will transport you to the isles of Capri -- with the aid of your imagination, of course! :o)

Insalata Caprese
(from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis)

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes like vine-ripened tomatoes*
1 pound fresh mozzarella
3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed basil leaves, torn or cut into thin strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
drizzle of fresh lemon juice

1. Slice the tomatoes and cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates in an alternating pattern.
2. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.
3. Scatter the basil leaves over the top and drizzle with the oil and lemon juice.
4. Serve at room temperature.

NOTE*: I used two types of tomatoes. I thought that the different shapes would help the salad look attractive. If only I found sun-gold yellow tomatoes or even heirloom ones, then this salad even look more "summery"...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Avocado Shake


Gosh, I hate going to the dentist. It’s one of those things that if only I can do without, I’d gladly refrain from having. I just can’t stand the sensation I get from someone picking on my teeth with metal, or the scrubbing/scraping/drilling/grinding, or the simple fact that you lay there with your mouth wide open for a long time that your jaw hurts! Uh-oh. Not pleasant at all.

Not that dentists are bad or anything. They’re not. In fact, I know that in the whole scheme of things, having a healthy set of teeth is really essential to our well-being. But I don’t know how or why I developed a negative attitude towards going to the dentist. Hmmn. It could be because the very first visit (that I fully remember) entailed a tooth-filling – and that horrifying, anesthetic-free “teeth-drilling” experience left me scarred for life? (Yep, not even a topical anesthesia was given!)

But I have to tell you this. In a 3rd-world country such as the Philippines, the people’s priority is to put food on their table; everything else becomes secondary – and that includes seeing the doctor for merely routine physical check-ups or regular dental cleaning. People there GENERALLY seek medical attention ONLY when there are already symptoms of disorder showing up physically; or when they are in actual pain; or when they already need urgent care. Once again, this is due to the lack of means to be able to afford regular visits to the doctor. Most folks there don’t have insurance policies; heck a lot don’t have a steady source of income in the first place and majority live below the poverty line.

Anyway, forgive me on my ranting about the dentist... You guessed it, I've just been there! Hah! And I needed to express myself. I'm fully convinced, whether it's in the Philippines or the US, I still don't like paying my dentist a visit!

So as a tribute to all dentists, here is something that you can enjoy, even if you are toothless. HAHAHAHAHA…. Presenting to you my AVOCADO SHAKE.


This is one of the things that I was so surprised about when I came to the US. I noticed that here, avocados are mostly used for savory applications – in salads and salsas. In the Philippines, I’ve only had this fruit eaten with a bit of sugar, as a dessert mashed with condensed milk and cooled in the fridge for a few minutes, or as a shake!.. (Oh yeah, I’ve had guacamole there, but back in my days, Mexican food wasn’t as popular as it is there now).

Avocados just remind me of my childhood as well. That’s probably why I like ‘em so much. Reminds me of those days when me and my cousins would run along the little plantation my grandparents had in their property. They have mostly “cacao” (cocoa) and banana plants as well as coconut trees, but there were a couple of huge avocado trees as well that would yield the sweetest, finest evergreen-avocados I have ever seen.

So here’s my all time favorite summer treat, second to mango shake, of course. (We can have this all-year round in the Philippines, actually.)
I am also sending this treat to Grace of A Southern Grace as an entry to her Beat The Heat event. This doesn’t require much to prepare – just a few strokes from the blender, and voila…. a refreshing treat!

Hope you try it.. it’s really good, filling and healthy too!

Avocado Shake
1 ripe avocado
1 cup evaporated milk (or fresh milk)*
1 cup crushed ice
3 tablespoons sugar (or more, depending on your taste)

Scoop the avocado from the pulp and into a blender. Add the milk, ice and sugar to desired taste. Blend until pureed. Garnish with slices of avocados.

NOTE*:You can substitute with condensed milk. Start with 1/4 cup and add some more until you get the desired creaminess and sweetness to your liking. If you use condensed milk, omit sugar as condensed milk is already sweet.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mussels In White Wine


Florida isn't called the Sunshine State for no reason. It truly lives up to its name because here, we live in a sweltering heat for most of the year. At times it feels like living in a huge oven cranked way up. It really does.

So rain in a place like this is truly refreshing. Its cooling effect is certainly much needed. It is a welcome respite to the daily humdrum of our lives, at least for me.
There is something about rain that is soothing. In the bible, rain means blessing. It symbolizes a fresh start, a new beginning.

Where I originally come from (Philippines), there were only 2 seasons – the dry (summer) and the wet (rainy) season, with the latter being longer because really, it rains even in the middle of summer.

As a teenager, I looked forward to the rainy season. For me, it meant curling up in my bed to read a good novel; or, I would simply sit by the window to look at the rain drops drenching the ground while the sun-stroked leaves of the trees and plants are being quenched by its refreshing shower.

It was during those rainy times that I learned how to daydream. Yes, as a girl, I’ve done my share of daydreaming. The steady sound of the rain pounding the roof, the occasional lightning that strikes and the roll of thunderstorm thereafter had a hypnotic-like effect that caused me to drift away into the land of fantasy. Most often than not, those fantasies were related to the romance-novels that I’ve read where I usually was the story’s heroine, or the love-interest of a gorgeous young Prince. Isn't that how it is when we're young?

(In those days, there were no computers, video games and cellphones.)

Oh well, those were the days. Now back to reality.

I made this dish a while back but I did this after a day of incessant raining. I felt that a warm soup getting home after work would be good for my tired body. And I happened to have these mussels which I originally purchased because I had planned on making “baked tahong” (baked mussels, a popular dish in the Philippines). But then, since I wanted soup, I guess the “baked tahong” will have to wait for next time.

Afterall, a girl is entitled to change her mind, isn't she?


Mussels Soup In White Wine
1 lb mussels
1 c white wine
1 c chicken broth/stock
1 pc shallot, finely chopped
2 pcs garlic, finely chopped
1/3 c spinach
2 tbsp parsely*, chopped
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Rinse and scrub mussels. Using a pairing knife, remove the strings that hang from the shells and discard.
2. In a pot set over medium heat, combine wine, shallots, garlic, and salt.
3. Simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the mussels.
4. Cover and increase heat to high. Cook until mussels are open.
5. Stir in spinach, parsely (or whatever herbs you want) and butter. Remove from heat. Discard any unopened mussels.
6. Serve immediately with a crusty bread. Garnish with chives.

*NOTE: You can use whatever herb you like such as basil or tarragon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Taste & Create XII: Ginger Cookies

It's really true. Time flies by so quickly when we are busy. I've had a full plate at work and at home lately, so it seemed just like a few days ago when I received the information on who my partner was for this month's Taste & Create... and before I knew it, I am a few days away from the deadline! Fortunately, I already know what to do and I got the ingredients on hand, so all I really had to do was to make time to do it! Nike's got it -- just do it!

For this month's Taste & Create, I am partnered with Divya of Dil Se. Divya is of Indian (Asian) descent. She, like me, somehow found her way here to the U.S. She is based in California, which is a melting pot of different cultures from all over the world. No wonder why her blog reflects this mix of Indian as well as American/Western cuisine.

It was easy for me to decide which one to do for the event. When I saw this in Divya's blog and read the recipe, it made my mouth water. That's a good sign, isn't it? So, I thought no further... Ginger Cookies it is!

Ginger is one of the most common spice for Asian cooking. The root has a strong, pungent flavor, while the dried/powdered ones have this sweet-spicy smell to it. A lot of Westerners do not really like it, or can't stand much of it in a dish. The flavor is indeed very strong when one is not used to it.

As for me, I grew up with it, so I love its flavor. Ginger also happens to have lot of medical benefits as well. In the Philippines, we have a traditional drink called "Salabat" which is made from boiling ginger roots in water (with a bit of sugar). I remember my Mom used to make this concoction for me whenever I get colds. Just try and see how effective it is. And hey, drinking salabat has a side benefit. It is supposedly good for your singing voice! So whether you're a professional singer or just a huge Karaoke singing enthusiast (like most Filipinos are), I urge you to try this and see if you won't be belting out tunes in no time. Hahaha.. (How about that, Susan of SGCC?)

While I love ginger in savory dishes, I love it in sweets just as much. For instance, gingerbread. I love this holiday treat but I've never gotten around to try baking one from scratch. And I thought that this cookie might have the same taste as that of gingerbread, so I decided to do it.

The recipe was easy and very simple. There was nothing more that I did to it; I simply thought of adding cyrstallized (candied) ginger on top for more flavor (and for looks too).

And boy was I right. The cookies have the same flavor going on as gingerbread with the combined spices of cinnamon, ground cloves and the ginger in it. The ginger candy at the center gives you that nice sweet-spicy-chewy bite that's just enough to give this cookie a little kick. Hmmmn.... the flavors of Christmas -- they're happy flavors!

Next time maybe, I'd minced the candied ginger and mix it in the batter so there'll be little specs of ginger goodness all throughout the cookie... what do you think?

This recipe is definitely a keeper. I will for sure be making lots of these come Christmas holidays. Thanks, Divya for a great recipe. No wonder why you love these cookies! And I love 'em too.

Maybe this will be Santa's new favorite cookie too?

(Taste & Create is a monthly food event created by Nicole of For The Love Of Food. Bloggers are paired off with one another and they have to do a recipe of their choice from each other...and of course, blog about it!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pork Medallions In Sherry Wine and Dried Cherries Pan Sauce

Unlike in the past when abstaining from eating pork was mostly because it was a religious taboo, nowadays the issue about this controversial meat has become more than that.

Pork is said to be one of the unhealthiest meat on earth. So many books have been written lately discouraging consumers to partake of this "dirty" animal. A number of research claim that ALL pork products is unfit for human consumption. One such research for instance, is that of Prof. Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg, MD. In his article from "the Adverse Influence of Pork Consumption on Health", he reports that pork allegedly contains homotoxine (human poison) or death enzyme.

However accurate these reports are, I would never know. But if you choose not to eat pork (or anything else) for whatever reason, then I applaud you for acting on your conviction. That is so admirable, and I am saying this with all my heart. As for me, I am not an advocate of abstaining on certain food nor on extreme diets (except if you have major health issues that necessitate you to do it). My principle has always been: balance and moderation and lots of exercise are the keys to a healthy living. When one lives in an excessive lifestyle (in all aspects), then one is surely bound to self-destruction. Thus, having said this, I will continue to enjoy partaking of this "other white meat" -- once in a while, that is.

Admittedly though, I have become health conscious and have been more aware of nutritional labels especially during the last couple of years. Maybe because my mother was stricken with the dreaded big "C", which eventually caused her demise less than a year ago. For this reason, my hubby and I try to eat healthy as much as possible.

Like I said earlier, I like to have my pork once in a while. For this dish, I used the lean cut of meat, pork tenderloin. The sauce in this dish is lovely, with its deep red color due to the red wine. It's rich and velvety. Make extra, I'd suggest, if you love saucy dishes like I do... Well, if you must know, Filipinos in general prefer saucy dishes. Since every meal is eaten with rice, we like to drizzle sauce over the rice and mix 'em up so our rice wouldn't be that dry... Yum! That's the way most Filipinos like their rice!

Ironically though, I did not serve this dish with rice. We had rice the past two nights when I cooked this dish so I thought, polenta would be the best alternative. And I was right. The polenta soaked up all the flavorful sauce of this dish. I also served steamed green beans with lemon along side this dish. Hmnn.. what a wonderful, balanced meal. Don't you think?

Pork Medallions In Sherry Wine and Dried Cherries Pan Sauce
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

1 cup sweet sherry (ruby port or other sweet red wine)
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
4 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 med onion, sliced (sweet or yellow)
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Fresh parsley springs (optional)


1. Combine first 4 ingredients.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat for 2 minutes. Cut the pork crosswise into 16 pieces. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
3. place pork in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove pork from pan.
4. Then saute onion in pan until soft and transluscent.

4. Stir in wine mixture, scraping to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat.
5. Stir in butter with a whisk.
6. Serve on a bed of polenta. Pour sauce over pork. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Simple Polenta With Fresh Parsley

3 cups water
1 teaspoons salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring the water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan.
2. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal.
3. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, milk, butter, parsley and pepper, and stir until the butter and cheese melt.
5. Transfer the polenta to a bowl and serve with Pork Medallions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hazelnut Tulipe

Ice cream!

It's got to be my husband and I’s favorite dessert. We are both so bad. We can possibly gorge down a whole container of ice cream in one sitting... if we don't control ourselves. But I'm glad to say that it hasn't happened yet, not so far anyways. Hahhaha.. Not that we are planning on doing it anytime soon, or ever. God forbid.

But I got to say, I've never had this much ice cream indulgement until I came to the US. In the Philippines, ice cream is more of an occassional treat for most families, so I've never really enjoyed a lot of it when I was growing up (except for the local ice-cream from the push-cart being sold in the street, which is more like a sherbet actually). But everything changed a bit when I started working. Ice cream became a familiar treat to my palate, as it was present on every birthday celebration there was in my office. That and cake. Couldn't be badder (yeah, i know, wrong grammar), but couldn' be better at the same time (now you know, I wanted my words to rhyme!). Ice cream and cake is the yin and yang of every birthday celebration, in my opinion. One is not the same withouth the other.

Anyways, back to my advent in the US. Imagine my delight in discoving the BUY ONE, GET ONE deals in the groceries for ice cream! Sweet!!! (Yeah, literally) My ice-cream starved pysche dictated that I should buy everytime there was a sale, so I began hoarding them in my fridge. Actually, I'm over exaggerating... but I was buying them more often than I should. But don't worry. I'm over that stage now (though I admit ice cream BOGO
 is still pretty hard to resist). 

Since summer is here, cool treats are in! And so, to celebrate my love for this frozen dessert, and to surprise Mr. J with something a little special, I made a tulipe - which is actually a hazelnut cookie curl.

I really do think that the addition of finely ground hazelnut made the cookie extra special. This was my first time to try doing this, so I was proceeding with caution. Yeah, some cookies did not come out successfully, but I did manage to get 4 good tulipes out of the 6 that I made. Pretty good for a first try, don't you think?

Next time though, I'll make it a point to follow the instructions to the T. I thought that the amount of the batter required for the cookie was too little that I doubled it. That was a major mistake. For the tulipe to be pliable, it has to be as thin as possible; mine came out a tiny bit thicker. Also, I chose to leave it a few minutes longer in the oven than called for, because I wanted crispier edges.. So as you can see, they are short of being burnt!

The ice cream is, of course, store bought. I have yet to try making a homemade one, when I get my ice cream maker that is. The recipe recommended vanilla ice cream, but I decided that Neapolitan is more exciting with its three different flavors.

Oh, the raspberry sauce is also homemade. Initially, I thought of doing a chocolate ganache for drizzling on top, but the dessert is already rich as it is, so I decided to go with the fruit puree instead.
As you can see, the presentation came out elegant. The tulipe surrounds a mound of ice cream in a crunchy embrace while it rests on a pool of raspberry sauce. No wonder the hubby exclaimed, "OOOH!".

That was music to my ears. :o)

Hazelnut Tulipe
1/3 c shelled hazelnuts (filberts)
1/4 c butter or margarine
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp rum extract
1/3 c unsifted all-purpose flour

Raspberry Sauce
2 pkg (12 oz size) frozen, unsweetened raspberries, thawed
1/2 c sugar
1-1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1/2 pint fresh raspberries (for garnish)
Mint leaves, for garnish(optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a shallow pan, bake hazelnuts 10-15 mins or until skins crack. Remove from oven; wrap in towel. When cool enough to handle, roll nuts in towel to remove as much skin as possible. Let cool; finely chop cooled nuts in food processor or blender.

2. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Grease and flour three large baking sheets. In a small saucepan, melt butter; cool. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar, the salt and rum extract until foamy. Whisk in melter butter, then flour. Add nuts.


3. Use the rim of a glass to make two 5-in circles on prepared baking sheets. (I made the marks at the back of the parchment paper). Spoon 2 level tablespoons batter onto each circle. Spread evenly to fill circle. Bake 5 minutes or until edges are brown. Spray the bottoms of six 6-oz custard cups with non stick cooking spray.


4. Using pancake turner, lift cookies from baking sheets; invert onto greased bottoms of custard cups. With fingers, gently mold around cup. If cookies are too brittle, reheat briefly in oven. Cool tulipes completely on wire rack; then lift tulipes off cups and place on wire racks.

5. Make raspberry sauce. Combine thawed raspberries and 1/2 cup sugar; let stand 20-30 mins. Using back of large spoon, press berries and any juice through a strainer set over a large deep bowl until only seeds remain; discard seeds. Cover raspberry puree and refrigerate until serving.

NOTE: I did not have rum extract, so I used coconut rum instead, and it worked! If you don't have hazelnuts, you may use toasted almonds. In this case, Amarretto Liqueur might be good to use since it's almond-flavored. Also, you can use strawberries for the sauce in place of raspberries. The puree can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. For a lighter alternative, you can fill tulipe with a low-fat frozen yoghurt. Or, you can fill the bowl with slices of fresh tropical fruit such as mango, kiwi, pineapple and papaya; top with vanilla yoghurt.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shrimp and Scallop Mediterranean Pasta

Compared to what we have from where I come from (the Philippines), everything in America is super-sized, or is geared to being one. And I mean, everything! That includes houses, cars, buildings, clothes, furniture, grocery items, fast food items and all things you can think of. I believe this is one of the results of a free enterprise. Competition is tough, that’s why every company there is has to fight tooth and nail to get their market. And how? Well, by catering to one of human nature’s weakness -greed - and sending messages that inculcate within us “the bigger, the better” mentality.

But I have to say though, in fairness, that this mentality is NOT unique to America. It’s happening all over the world, wherever free enterprise thrives. But you know what, in other places such as the Philippines, their concept of “BIG” is definitely not the same as what’s considered as such here.

Just to give you an example …. say for instance, clothes…. Here in the US, I buy my shirts usually medium (if I want it to fit well) or large (a little loose). But in the Philippines, my size is an XL (on a good day) or XXL (that’s really a bad day)! Whew! Can you understand the frustration I have when shopping there? ( That's why I maintain that America got it right with clothing sizes... Lol!)

Relatively, food portions / servings in America are also huge. That's why eating in a restaurant is always an experience to me..everytime. I never stopped being amazed at the portions the customer gets! It’s humongous! I’m telling you, one serving they give you here can already feed two Filipinos, at least. I am not kidding.

So when Mr. J came to the Philippines, it was also the reverse experience for him. The servings are much smaller back in my homeland, comparable almost to a kiddie portion here. Imagine my hubby's surprise when we ate at a local pizza place in Cebu (the city where I come from) .... we ordered a large pizza, and what came was the size of a round 8" plate. He looked at the pizza and at me in confusion and said, "that's it? This is personal size!" Yep, that's the size of the large pizza in the Philippines. One gets a much smaller small portion there, commensurate to the Filipino's tiny frames, maybe?

Why am I talking about this? Well, because the dish I have for you today is actually something meant for a smaller portion - it was originally an appetizer in a popular restaurant. This dish was without the pasta; just the saucy shrimps and scallops served with bread so we can dip it, and soak up all that wonderful goodness in a bite. I like it so much that I decided to experiment to try to re-create it, and turn it into a main course by adding pasta.
So, here it is. I am also sending this dish out as my entry to Presto Pasta Nights being hosted by Gay of A Scientist In the Kitchen.

Shrimp & Scallop Mediterranean Pasta

4 oz linguine or thin-style spaghetti
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
15 kalamata olives, half peices
4 tbsp sundried tomatoes (in olive),julienne
1/2 lb shrimps, small or medium
1/2 lb scallops
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbsp (or more) feta cheese, crumbles
2 tbsp chopped parsely or torn basil, for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a pot bring water to boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente.
2. In the meantime,heat butter and olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic and green onions. Saute until the aroma fills the air.
3. Add kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes - cook for 30 seconds.
4. Add shrimp and scallops, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until firm. Do not overcook. Remove shellfish from pan but keep warm.
5. Add chicken broth, white wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce until half the amount.
6. Return shellfish to pan. Add the pasta. Mix well.
7. Add the lemon juice, feta cheese and parsley.
8. Remove from heat. Serve garnished with torn basil and more feta cheese, if preferred.

NOTE: The measurements I have given you for the spices are all in estimates, as I was eyeballing everything. Pls. feel free to reduce or increase the amounts, according to your preference.