Thursday, July 31, 2008

Presto Pasta Nights #74: Salmon Vegeroni Twisties Salad

It's a healthy, colorful pasta salad this time around. I have made a number of red sauce and cream based pasta dishes but it's very rare that I share a salad recipe for Presto Pasta Night. So, it's Salmon Vegeroni Twisties Salad for this week which, is by the way being hosted by no less than passionate food blogger Ruth Daniel's of Once Upon a Feast.

Kids common repertoire of meals definitely includes poultry and meat. But how would you encourage them to have the other essential members of the food pyramid in particular seafood and vegetables? When you have kids to entice at the dining table, you tend to be creative and adventurous. For this particular dish, colour and shapes are the elements of appeal. For the less favourite items, their flavours were made to be subtle in release. And to encourage a big mouthful, sweet, creamy and juicy are the overall top notes.

Did I say it’s healthy too? Vegeroni Pasta is made from 100% durum wheat, with no artificial colourings nor flavourings and preservatives. It’s also cooked in just a matter of 10 minutes. Salmon on the other hand, is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. It’s the good fat that is hyped to increase the immune system and prevent certain heart-related illnesses and cancer. Although it’s canned, you’re still guaranteed with the same benefits as the fresh one as long as you’re buying the premium, 100% natural. You can also consider the brined one; where no other ingredients were added except salt to flavor it. Plus some servings of vitamins and minerals from the fruits and vegetables, what else can you ask for?

What you need:
½ of 375 g fussili pasta, 1 small can of pineapple tidbits, 1 small red bell pepper (cut in cubes), 2 small cans of pink salmon (drained), ¼ cup cheddar cheese cubes, 1 small red onion (chopped), 1 small carrot (cut in cubes), 2 tbsps pickle relish, ¼ cup corn kernels, salt and pepper to taste, 3/4 cup mayonnaise, parmesan cheese

How to make:
Cook vegeroni twisties pasta according to package directions. Wash in cold water and drain. Mix vegetables, salmon and cheese in a salad bowl. Toss in cooked pasta and cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise and blend well. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese just before serving.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tomato Basil Bruschetta and Spicy Tuna Pasta Twist (Snacks for the Meeting)

When you were not able to perform your task and did not deliver what were expected from you, what do you normally get as a consequence? Penalty! This is what my colleagues and I got from not being able to meet the deadline for one of our KPMs (key performance measures) at work. That is, for having our report turned in late we have to face the unwanted outcome. Our punishment? We have to prepare snacks for the operations meeting. Can you really consider that as a punishment? Well to feed a bunch of foodies, to some extent for our pockets, it is going to be. But to our daring appetites, it’s a granted desire. So, with a budget at hand, we came up with the following dishes and happily shared hefty bites of these.
Tomato Basil Bruschetta
What you need:
1 bulb of garlic (finely chopped), 10 pcs medium sized tomatoes (cut into cubes), 3 tbps chopped fresh basil leaves, 1 pack quickmelt cheese (cut into cubes), 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing onto the bread, 2 pcs of french baguette (sliced diagonally), 3 tbsps balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, grated parmesan cheese
How to make:
Mix garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar and basil leaves in a large bowl. Toss in tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and mix well. Let stand for 15 - 20 minutes. Brush each slice of baguette with olive oil and add 2 tbsps of tomato mixture on top. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Toast in the oven at 150°C for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is just about to melt.
Spicy Tuna Pasta Twist
What you need:
500 g pasta twist or spirals, 1/2 cup of pasta water reserve, 1 large red onion (chopped), 6 cloves of garlic (chopped), 4 cans of hot and spicy tuna flakes (drained), 1 large can of button mushrooms (sliced thinly), 3 small tetra packs of all purpose cream, salt and pepper to taste, 1 1/2 tsp dried and ground whole basil leaves, 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
How to make:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside 1/2 cup of pasta water. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. Add mushroom and tuna flakes. Sauté for a minute. Season with salt, pepper and ground basil leaves. Add all purpose cream and pasta water. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in the pasta and blend well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

YUMMY published my mail!

Yesterday, a colleague excitedly showed me a copy of YUMMY magazine’s August edition. Little did I know that she’s off to break some good news? “Have you seen this?” she asked me while showing a page of the magazine. Momentarily, I got wide eyed with what was before me; my e-mail to YUMMY last June was published in their latest edition. Truly elated, more than I am! I didn’t expect that my e-mail would land into their picks. What I sent were actually words of delight for the magazine that had influenced me in many ways. I remember making a post about it here when I started buying issues of it. Thank you YUMMY! You keep on bringing genuine foodies with such gastronomic reads!

Monday, July 28, 2008

It's a Mozzarella Sunday (Tomato Basil Pasta with Mozzarella and Baked Mozzarella Chicken)

When it comes to preparing pasta dishes, I adore how Giada de Laurentiis of Food Network does this thing seamlessly. Most of her creations had me salivating to high heavens. As a result, I almost always wanted to carry her recipes into our own platter. Recently in one of her shows, she made her favourite pasta that reminds her of her childhood in Italy. When I saw her plated it scrumptiously and avidly dig into it, I just know that this is one dish I would like to try. From the way it looked through her mouth-watering chews, the dish seemed to be healthy and appetizing. True enough, when I prepared it at home, I was more than delighted with the taste. The dish is so simple to prepare and mildly flavoured. With the subtle blend of flavour notes of garlic, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, the overall taste is so natural to savour. Truly delicioso! Likewise, the pasta complements the whole dish. It does not overpower and the size perfectly suits my kids' little sensory orifice. What with the melted mozzarella cheese smothered onto the entire dish? A small serving is just not enough.
Tomato Basil Pasta with Mozzarella

What you need:
1 1/2 cup salad macaroni pasta, 4 medium sized tomatoes (cut in cubes), 1 large bulb of garlic (crushed and chopped), 3 tbsps chopped fresh basil leaves, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese (cut in cubes), 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

How to make:
Cook salad macaroni pasta in 4 cups of boiling water with salt and a little oil. Drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a pan. Sauté garlic and tomatoes for 2 - 3 minutes. Add pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Stir in mozzarella and basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Because there was still enough mozzarella left from the first dish, I might as well stretch this cheese indulgence to the fullest. Was there another dish made? You bet I did. So here’s my Baked Mozzarella Chicken that left us fully stuffed last weekend.
Baked Mozzarella Chicken
What you need:
1/2 kg chicken breast fillet, 275 ml tomato sauce, 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, olive oil for frying, 5 cloves garlic (minced), salt and pepper to taste, chopped coriander leaves as garnish

How to make:
Season chicken fillet with salt and pepper. Pan-fry in olive oil until lightly browned. Transfer into a baking dish. Pour over 1 tbsp of fried olive oil. Add tomato sauce, garlic and mozarella cheese. Bake at 350 F until the cheese melts. Serve on a platter and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Attending Pre-school... How tough is it going to be?

Yesterday, I took my 3 year old son to a trial class in a nearby learning center here in the south. My initial desire was actually to homeschool him in his toddler years. But because there are a lot of learning centers for pre-schoolers that had mushroomed out, I was intrigued to evaluate and try if there's any that will suit my child's needs. So, after much cajoling from one of the teachers, I finally yielded and we went to try out. The program started with what they call "discovery time". Initially, the kids played freely with all kinds of educational toys available and were encouraged to mingle with their classmates. The teacher coined this as the necessary conditioning process before getting the kids into the real-deal of the class. When it comes to kids these young, things shouldn't be hurried. And I do agree that making them comfortable at first is a must. At the same time, I thought that kids once again rule here! As I watched them play, I can imagine a voice echoing, "only when I'm ready, teach me." This is precisely the case why I want to test the water first. I'd like to see the consistency in my son's desire to go to school. I want to measure his preparedness prior to making the investment. This is no easy thing for him and for us, his parents therefore, it goes without saying that it must be worth it.
After two hours, we found out that my son is advance for that particular program. His vocabulary is above the others that the teacher anticipated a problem to occur later on. She recommended that we try the next level then. In this program however, he'll be the youngest in the lot. Honestly though, I would prefer to bring him in the later choice than the former. But other serious thoughts kept lingering through my mind. As I watched my son experience his first time in class, I can't help but entertain some worries. What if he wants to have potty time, who'll assist him? What if somebody from the class turned out to be a bully, who'll shield him from the danger it might bring? Will he learn the way I expect him to? Will the teachers' skills and patience sustain him to become a wholly educated young? I know that this is a common dilemma any parent would face in this chapter of his child's life. And I am just about to cross that path. Had it not been for a difficult environment we're living, perhaps the degree of my predicament will be lighter. But who knows, our parents would have undergone through the same process too back in the old days. Still, I've yet to deal with the question: attending pre-school, how tough is it going to be? How was it for you?

La Paz Batchoy (in 3 Forms)

If there's one traditional noodle dish that's been popularized and made phenomenal in the Philippines, that would be no other than Iloilo's La Paz Batchoy. It's a noodle dish made with round egg noodles or miki , pork meat and organs, crushed pork crackling, egg and vegetables in a meaty soup stock . Ted's La Paz Batchoy claims to have the original taste of this noodle soup. In fact, it brought a significant number of branches in the Metro to carry its mission of giving Filipinos "the opportunity to savor the exotic and exquisite taste of the original La Paz Batchoy". I remember heading to one of its branches sometime ago to sample all the different types of batchoy it offers. Basically, what I found is one type of broth that can be served with different kinds of noodles. Depending on your own preference you can have misua, sotanghon, bihon or miki. Among all these, I liked best the Extra Super Batchoy that uses miki as noodles. The least however, is the Extra Miswa. The miswa absorbs the soup quickly that consuming it is synonymous to a marathon eating. Otherwise, you'll end up with a soggy noodle dish. Also, the strong taste of miswa masks the other flavors that only the umami taste is left lingering through your palate. But to prove that this noodle soup continues to conquer the noodle market, it's consumption has evolved in many forms. Very recently, a leading fast food chain introduced its own take of La Paz Batchoy at an affordable price of Php 25 per serving.

La Paz Batchoy Fast Food Version

Served in a small bowl, the fast food version comes with thin-round noodles, a slice of egg and few meat pieces, garnished with chopped spring onions, strips of napa cabbage, fried garlic and a heaping spoon of chicharon (pork crackling). Taste wise, it's generally acceptable albeit salt peaks are perceivable and short in meaty after taste. It's overpowering with a chicharon top note. For the price, who would't be intrigued to try it out? There might be some limitations with the serving size though. It's really too small.

The next form of La Paz Batchoy that's been available in the market for more than a decade already is Lucky Me! Supreme's instant version. It comes in three sizes now; the regular bowl (good for 1 -2 servings), mini bowl and pouch. These are sold at a price range of Php 11 - Php 25. This consumer good was given a product innovation award by Philippine Association of Food Technologists (PAFT) back in the 90's. Lucky Me!'s version promises its consumers of "savouring the flavor of hearty southern Filipino noodle soup with enjoyable spoonfuls conveniently possible". To put it simply, it's for the people on the go who wishes to experience the richness of La Paz Batchoy but doesn't have the time to prepare it. Evidently, it's making you have it whenever, wherever you want it.

Instant La Paz Batchoy in Cup / Bowl

Instant La Paz Batchoy in Pouch
When I tried the fast food version with it's very small serving size, I was left craving for more. Hence, upon reaching home, I was prompted to cook my own variation. The beauty of making your own food comes with no limitation on anything at all. Cook it just the way you like and consume it like no other can. Ha ha! So with much gusto, this is how I prepared mine.
Home Cooked La Paz Batchoy
What you need:
250 - 300 g miki noodles (washed in cold water), 6 cups soup stock (broth), 250 g pork strips, 125 g liver (chopped in bite size pieces), 4 hard boiled eggs, pork cracklings, fried garlic, napa cabbage (chopped in strips), spring onions (finely chopped), 1 small onion (chopped), 5 cloves garlic (minced), 2 tbsp canola oil, salt and pepper to taste
How to make:
Prepare the broth by boiling the meat and liver with salt and pepper. Take them out and set aside the stock. Sauté onion and garlic in a heated oil until fragrant. Add the pork and liver. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for a minute. Put a handful of noodles in a small bowl. Add slices of hard boiled egg and sautéd pork and liver. Spoon over enough amount of stock (just the right amount to cover the noodles, make sure it's still hot) and garnish with garlic, cabbage, spring onions and pork cracklings. Serve immediately.
This La Paz Batchoy tale enlightens us with the many food choices available to us. Whatever or whichever drives us to purchase and choose what we’re having at any given time, be it our mood, the type of meal occasion, or our own liking, it is certain that our preference varies and so must be the choices. Thus far, sensorial liking is in fact, personal. And the challenge to create a competitive repertoire? It's a knotty thing to do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spicy Tuna Fritters and Kangkong (Water Spinach) with Ground Pork

I wonder how many homemakers adhere to their menu plan religiously? As, I, for one, am a usual violator of this task. Have you ever experienced visualizing a meal that’s supposed to welcome you home from work? If you're the one preparing it, you probably have played in your mind the ingredients and the best way to do it as you head home. But the moment you reached your kitchen, you suddenly changed your mind and decided to cook something unplanned. I just had that particular moment. For some reasons, I opted for these dishes which, can actually be included in Robin Miller's repertoire of Quick Fix Meals or Rachel Ray's 30 minutes meal. Hah, I think I made the reason more obvious then. But generally, whichever case it may be, either you go as planned or veer away from it, nothing compares to home-cooked meals.

Spicy Tuna Fritters:

vegetable oil for frying, wanton wrappers, 1 small can of hot & spicy tuna flakes, 1 small onion (finely chopped), 5 cloves garlic (minced), 1 whole egg, salt and pepper to taste

How to make:

Mix tuna, onion, garlic, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Wrap 1 tsp of mixture in a wanton wrapper. Fold ends of wrapper to form a triangle. Fry tuna triangles in oil until it turns golden brown. Drain in paper towels. Serve with sweet-chili sauce.

Kangkong with Ground Pork
250 g ground pork, 3 bundles of kangkong (trimmed), 1 small onion (chopped), 4 cloves garlic (chopped), 2 tbsps canola oil, 1/8 cup oyster sauce, 1/4 cup water, pepper to taste

How to make:

Heat oil in a wok. Saute onion and garlic until fragrant. Add pork and saute until tender. Add kangkong (stalks first then leaves) and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add oyster sauce, water and pepper. Boil and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

Eleven Minutes was touted as Paulo Coelho's second international best seller next to The Alchemist. According to the author, it was his boldest story ever made. Must agree, I would. It's a story about a woman who lived a life full of emotional and physical struggles in the pursuit of her dream. It's a plot enriched with love, lust, melancholy, sacrifice and hope. Maria (the protagonist), an innocent girl turned into a prostitute, instinctively took the winding road in realizing her dream. Unfortunately, her journey didn't happen the way she expected it to be. It didn't provide her a smooth run but a tougher and highly pebbled one. It even came to a point of almost losing her true self in exchange of awakening, sexual experiences.

When I bought this book, I didn’t have a slightest idea of what eleven minutes exactly means. My impulse just trusted the name Paulo Coelho in having it. Half way through the pages (more or less), I learned that it’s how Maria coined her work as a prostitute. Perhaps to mollify the guilt that's resting inside her, she made herself believe that she only loses her pride, experiences humiliation and abuse, in eleven minutes. Tolerant that afterall, she submissively performs her work only in a matter of eleven minutes. Then, she can redeem her self again.

This novel is about self-discovery and how human life normally faces the battle between free-will and determinism. In Maria’s case, she was able to endure the battle and came out victorious in the end. She was able to transform her eleven minutes into a lifetime. Whenever we face such life’s conflict we were always left with different choices. One, we allow ourselves to be taken by the flow and let destiny gets its toll on us. The other, we take full control and drive our lives to whichever way we want. But is it always more fruitful to have the later choice? Yes, for some may be not for others. At any rate, the choice is always ours.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tuna Vegeroni Pasta (Presto Pasta Night # 72)

My Pasta story for this week started with my wandering in the kitchen. I exactly didn’t know what to prepare. I’m not craving for anything neither did my kids. I rummaged around the kitchen cabinets and drawers and found a can of tuna, Italian spaghetti sauce and vegeroni pasta spirals. Inside the refrigerator, there are carrots, cucumber and red bell pepper. I gathered all these things together on the kitchen table mulled for a while and voila! I’m cooking Tuna Vegeroni Pasta in a pan.

When I plated it, unfortunately, the pasta looked too orange-red for me that the colourful vegeroni pasta spirals were already well too hidden. Lesson learned? Vegeroni Pasta is better prepared with white sauce or practically anything but red sauce. The nice colour combinations of the pasta albeit well hidden, still provided that distinct veggie taste. Thus, I would rave about the taste more than the plating. Taste wise, there’s nothing sophisticated in here, it’s very straightforward. It’s a union of flavour notes of seafood and vegetables rounded by tomato taste with a slight sourish back note. On the whole, this is a healthy pasta dish.

What you need:

1/2 of 375 g pack vegeroni pasta spiral, 1/2 cup of pasta water, 1/2 cup carrots (cut into cubes), 1/2 cup of cucumber (cut into cubes), 1 small red bell pepper (seeds removed and cut into cubes), 1 white onion (chopped), 4 cloves garlic (minced), 1 small can tuna chunks or flakes (drained), 250 g italian spaghetti sauce, 2 tbsps olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

How to make:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside 1/2 cup of pasta water. Heat olive oil in a pan. Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. Add tuna and continue sautéing for a minute. Add carrots, cucumber and red bell pepper. Mix well. Add the tomato sauce and pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Boil and simmer for 2 - 3 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta and blend well before serving.

For other mouthwatering pasta dishes, check out Ruth Daniels round up in Once Upon a Feast. Our pasta queen is hosting this week's event.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

MAMMA MIA, ( How can we resist you?)

It’s been such a long time since my husband and I were able to watch a movie together in big screen. Since the arrival of the kids, time seemed to be so out of the way for this much missed leisure pursuit. So when he invited me to see the film MAMMA MIA, I didn’t hesitate to give my nod. The first time I saw the movie trailer, I was already intrigued. It gave an impression of a happy, fun-filled, feel-good movie, just my kind of taste for a film. And gladly, it did not disappoint me at all.

The story started with a girl’s dream of meeting her long lost father to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. To live this dream, she invited the three men from her mother’s past but only to find out in the end that neither of them can identify who her real father is. From there, the story will evolve into love being rekindled coupled with good laughs that maybe contagious at times, and a showcase of friendship that lasts a lifetime. All these were musically woven by no less than ABBA’s greatest hits. Had I not been aware that I was watching a film, I would have mistaken it into an ABBA’s music videos rolled into one. But honestly, it was fun and yes, enjoyable. It’s a musical film, and I must say that this is by far the best that I have watched in this particular genre. I practically grew up with ABBA’s songs. My aunts and uncles were all fans of them so much so that their music became poems and teenage lullabies to me. Seeing these timeless songs come to life, was real entertainment.
I can only care less on whether the film was really shot in Greece or not. The cinematography alone made me dream of a Greek Island getaway outright. On the actors, it's the cutest of Meryl Streep that I have seen. She's light and funny here. She's so unlike any of the previous movies she had made. This lady really stretched her acting abilities well too wide. With Pierce Brosnan, oh boy, this man certainly aged so well. There's a particular scene (when he's watching Meryl Streep sing together with her friends) where he exudes real charm and sexy appeal. I liked his shot there. However, I find him too stiff whenever he sings much more when he danced. Nonetheless, it's a new thing to watch from Pierce Brosnan. With the rest of the actors, they were all enjoyable to watch.

Overall, this movie promises you of a good time. Beyond that, it can also be inspiring and musically magical.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chunky Choco-Oatmeal Cookie

In as far as baking cookies at home is concerned, I am a newbie. I hardly make any or rather, I actually didn’t try to attempt at all. But since I have little palates to please with certain requests I can’t simply ignore, I had to endure the challenge of perfecting one. We had enough muffin and cupcake bashes in our kitchen but it seemed that our baked goods saga is bound to last for long. Only the kids know when, perhaps until the day their throat resists the sugar rush. So, it’s all about cookies the other day.

Different types of cookies exist in abundance. But the truth is, they are just combinations of flour, sugar, fat and eggs unless other variations are intended to be made, that will make a different ingredients list. At any rate, the first four are considered the foundations of the cookie. Proportions may be played around and substitution may be considered to make a cookie recipe specific to ones’ own liking.

In my case, I tend to value texture next to taste. Texture is an essential sensory attribute that greatly affects the overall acceptability of food. And when it comes to munching cookies, I prefer those profiles that not only swank of rich taste but those that exhibit yummy-licious bite. By that, I mean soft, gooey-chunky over crispy and crumbly. To achieve this, most players in the recipe should perform their vital roles properly. In general, quality soft cookies require: quality ingredients used in the proper ratios and the right time and temperature combinations for the baking process.

It may sound too technical, but actually with a reliable recipe at hand and just the needed knowledge with a dash of inspiration, you will be able to give your family and friends any type of cookie they may desire. For us, this is the cookie we like.

What you need:

1 whole egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
150 g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1 oz. bar dark chocolate, grated

How to make:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream butter and both sugars in a mixer bowl. Add egg and vanilla extract.
4. Gradually stir in mixture of dry ingredients and blend well.
5. Fold in oatmeal and grated chocolate using a spoon.
6. Drop 1 tbsp of dough 1 1/2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
7. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to Cook by Hamlyn

Meet my favorite companion these days, my new cookbook entitled - How to Cook by Hamlyn, a division of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. This book has been out in the market since 2005, and I'm glad that it's still available in the local bookstores. It isn't just a kitchen companion it could also be a favorite coffee table book. There are a lot of things to learn, from the basics of cooking to the practical application. It has all the essentials on the subject of cooking such as the ingredients we normally used as well as the instruments and methods that go with it.
The book is divided into 4 parts. The first chapter focuses on the basic description of the ingredients or foodstuffs that are typically used in cooking. In here, you will get to know some details about your favorite fruits, vegetables, spices, meats, seafood, poultry, noodles, pasta, rice, grains, technically everything imaginable in your kitchen. In the second part, it shows the things we have to do in mastering the basics of the culinary art. Chapter 3 discusses the simple techniques we have to employ to any of our favorite dish to make it real wow. The last part, incorporates everything into practice. There are meal planning and suggested menus too.
How to Cook, promises its reader of everything h/she needs in one volume to create great dishes, by providing practical, everyday advice in the kitchen as well as serving as a source of inspiration for cooking. What's even better, the book is not costly. Judging from its content, the book is fairly priced at P635. Hence, it only proves that not all good things must come with a high price.

Lucky Me! Supreme LID the way, Save the Earth Supreme Lid-Design Making Contest

Another contest in the block! Calling all moms and dads who have College and Highschool students, you might want to have your children join this worthy contest.
Lucky Me! Supreme brings you its Lid-the way, Save the Earth Lid-Design Making Contest. It's a competition open to all College and Highschool students who have talent and interest in art and designs. Here's the mechanics on how to join:

1. All designs must center on the theme: "Concern for the Environment".
2. No proof of purchase is necessary. You may send in as many entries as possible.
3. WINNER gets P50,000 CASH and will be regarded as the winning design on the Supreme bowl lid. That's COOL!
4. People's Choice Online Winner gets P10,000 CASH.
Log on to for contest details and to download the Lucky Me! Supreme lid template.

Now is the chance to make the creative juices flow and our environmetal concern put into action. Let those pens and paints do the works and grab a wonderful price. What's more, you'll have a chance for your art to be featured on every lid of Lucky Me! Supreme Bowl, what could be more rewarding than that?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Name this Dish Contest Winner

I had a nice time reviewing the entries for this contest. I didn't expect that the dishes will go a long way in as far as naming them is concerned. From "funny sounding" to "lip-smacking tone", I was impressed by the ideas thrown in. Thank you very much to everyone who participated. I hope to have you again in the next Our Taste of Life contest.
I voted for the best name that I think will best describe the dish in all its authenticity. So, without further I do, I'm happy to hand over the P1000 Poquito Mas Gift Certificate to Cookie of Schroochchronicles for winning the 1st price. She gave the names that matched the ideas I have in mind while preparing them. She named the 1st dish, "Eggs Bernardo" (play on Eggs Benedict). Isn't this authentic and with personal touch? What better way to name your dish than having your name attached to it? :-) The 2nd dish, she named it "Pizztini, Pizchetta or Pinoy Pizchetta". What I particularly liked among these three suggestions is "Pizchetta", it's exactly where the dish took off, pizza and bruschetta. Thank you Cookie, for your sensorially fine ideas. With those great suggestions, I am now officially calling my dishes: Eggs Bernardo and BCT (Basil, Cucumber, Tomato) Pizchetta.
Doris of Chronicles of Doritos also made good recommendations with her entry. She called the dishes: ECG (egg-carbs-greens) Salad and Garden Fresh Bruschetta. She's getting a box of personally baked cookies - Chunky Choco-Oatmeal (my favorite these days, I will also include this recipe in my book) for winning 1st runner-up.
Again, congratulations to both winners! I wish you a mouthful of enjoyment with your prices!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Soba Noodles with Vegetables in Sweet Soy Broth (Presto Pasta Night # 71)

Last week, I had an Italian recipe. For this week’s Presto Pasta Night, I’m having Japanese. This week's event is being guest hosted by Gay of Scientist in the Kitchen. I bought a pack of Zaru Soba from the supermarket 3 weeks ago and it’s been resting in the kitchen cabinet since then. My plan to make a Japanese dish was obviously enslaved by some form of procrastination. Seeing my daughter increased her appetite for noodle dishes these past few days, pushed me to get this Japanese noodle done. I don’t know if my being a Product Development Specialist for a noodle company influenced my family’s liking for noodle dishes. In some way, probably yes. Thus, it’s typical to find any noodle or pasta dish scrumptiously sitting on our dining table.

Soba is a lightly brown colored Japanese noodle made of buckwheat flour. It is usually served hot or cold and can be prepared in soup or dry. It’s smooth and has a soft-chewy texture which, makes it a kid friendly type of noodles. Because of its neutral taste, it is a good ingredient for healthy recipes. Making fresh Soba Noodles is easy. But there are important techniques to keep in mind too. You can find out here.

As you see from the photo above, I made two versions of Soba Noodles with Vegetables in Sweet-Soy Broth. The one with freshly cracked egg on top is for the adults in the household and the other on the right side, for the kids. The generous serving of vegetables on the kids' bowl is part of my intention to urge them to like vegetables more. The authentic Japanese version of this dish used dashi stock. But since it's prepared primarily for my kids to enjoy, I used meat stock in my recipe.

What you need:

1 300 g pack soba noodles, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup mirin, 4 cups of meat broth, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup julienned carrots, 1/3 cup chopped chinese cabbage, pepper to taste, fresh eggs

How to make:

1. Cook Soba noodles according to package directions. Don't forget to wash it with cold water after cooking to wash away the remaining starches.
2. Combine sugar and mirin in a saucepan. Heat slowly until the sugar dissolves.
3. Add the broth and soy sauce. Bring to a boil.
4. Add the vegetables and let it simmer until the vegetables are cooked just right.
5. Add a handful of soba noodles in individual bowls. Bring in some amount of sweet soy broth (just enough to cover the noodles in the bowl).
6. Crack 1 fresh egg on each bowl while the soup is still hot. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lemon Graham Squares

When it comes to home-made desserts, I love those that can be easily made at home. In particular, those that shies away from hard to find ingredients and the long wait for indulging. If there’s one very flexible and easy to work on ingredient for dessert making, nothing compares to Graham Crackers. It's affordable, readily available and can be transformed into any of your favorite dessert items such as pies, floats, cakes, polvoron and so on and so forth. You can have it baked or simply chilled.

Being a cracker that is sweet rather than salty makes Grahams different from others. That is why; sometimes it is called a sweet biscuits in crackers form. The original Graham Crackers is made of coarsely ground wheat flour that makes it good for our digestive health. Hence, years ago, Grahams was touted as a health food item for its high fiber content. Today, it has remained to be a favourite snack food or dessert in many households, mine included. In my quest to have a new grahams recipe, I browsed through my new Cook Books to get some inspiration. In the book Rush Hour-Recipes, I stumbled upon a mouthwatering, luscious food shot of Lemon Squares made of whole shredded Wheatmeal biscuits. Briefly, I thought of a Graham Crackers version. I rushed to the kitchen counter and moments later, I was busy perfecting my own take of Lemon Graham Squares. The sweet, sour and tangy character of this pretty layered squares makes you salivate for more. The interesting melange of citrus zest and sweet note instructs you to munch more and more. The soft texture gives the overall bite enjoyable. Now, wouldn't you dare to have a sweet bite? What you need:
25 pcs Honey graham crackers (must be MY San), 300 ml sweetened condensed milk, 250 ml all purpose cream, 1/3 cup + 3 tbsps lemon juice, 1/2 cup confectioner's powdered sugar, 1 oz. melted milk chocolate
How to make:
1. Prepare the filling. Mix together in a bowl condensed milk, all purpose cream and 1/3 cup of lemon juice.
2. Layer the graham crackers in a dish (five pieces per layer). Add 1/3 cup of filling and spread evenly on to the grahams. Repeat this layering of grahams and filling four times and finish with graham crackers on top.
3. Do the glaze. Add 1 tbsp at a time of remaining lemon juice into the powdered sugar and mix well.
4. Spread the glaze evenly on top of the grahams.
5. Melt 1 small block (1 oz.) of milk chocolate on low fire and drizzle onto the prepared layered grahams.
6. Chill for a few hours or overnight to soften the crackers for a good bite.
*This recipe will make its way to my Book in the making. If you will try it, I will appreciate a feedback or any further suggestion. Thanks!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Name This Dish Contest!

Win P1000 Poquito Mas Gift Certificate by giving names to the featured dishes in this post.
I'm inviting all food enthusiasts to join our new contest entitled "Name This Dish". I'm writing my first ever food book and I've started to screen the recipes that I will include in the overall concept of the project. Last weekend, I've prepared two dishes which were inspired by my desire to go healthy these days. Apparently, I was lost for words on how to rightly call these dishes. Thus, it turned out to be an exciting contest to have here in Our Taste of Life.

To help you put a rich sensory lexicon into it, here are the recipes or the descriptions of the dishes:
Dish #1:

(from bottom layer to top)

8 pcs asparagus, (stir-fried in 1 tbsp olive oil)
2 triangle slices of loaf bread with liver pate or liver spread
1 soft-boiled or poached egg
vegetable salad, (2 tbsps chopped fresh basil;2 tbsps chopped parsley;2 small tomatoes, diced and seeds removed; 1/8 cup diced cucumber; 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar and freshly ground pepper)
parmesan cheese
Dish #2
The second dish can be considered either a pizza or bruschetta. Originally, the inspiration of this dish is really a pizza. But since I used a different bread and when it came out from the oven, I realized it could actually fit into a bruschetta too!

It is a french bread layered with the following ingredients: quickmelt cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, chopped garlic, basil and olive oil. Baked at 175°C for a few minutes until the cheese was melted.

There you have it folks! Create the most appropriate and tasteful sounding name to grab a dining opportunity for a superb Spanish, Latino, Filipino and Mexican food offerings only at POQUITO MAS SPLATINO CUISINE. Send me those suggestions and win a delightful gift certificate worth P1000.00! E-mail your entries to sherra(underscore)bernardo(at)yahoo(dot)com
I will accept entries until 11:59 pm on Friday, July 11 and the winner will be announced on Sunday, July 13.
Poquito Mas' two branches are located at:
Paseo de Sta. Rosa
Paseo de Sta. Rosa 1
Don Jose, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna
Westgate Center
Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel. #: (632) 7711334, (632) 7711325

Friday, July 4, 2008

Steamed Tilapia Fillet on Sayote Tops Ensalada

Food minus and food plus are the talks in the Food Industry now. It's either you make the bad stuffs less or fortify the food with what is lacking and claim that the addition make the food healthier. That's basically the trend in food development today. In my kitchen, I think it's about time to take this direction too. Hence, it's only apt to have steamed fish and vegetable salad on our plates came family dinner time. I would like to share these recipes in particular to those who have started to prefer healthier food alternatives. Incidentally, the meal will also make a good entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Pam of Sidewalk Shoes.

Did it already occur to you why a seafood dish is best paired with vegetables and vice versa? Whenever we take any, we always long for its partner, right? Maybe it has something to do with the dish being light for the tummy that's why we like to have some more. On to the dish, Chayote Leaves (or Sayote Tops in Filipino), is one of the popular vegetables locally. What I particularly like about this vegetables is it's clean, neutral taste. I can barely taste the greeny note. It is leafy, yes, but very subtle in flavor. Thus, it really is perfect for an ensalada (spanish for salad). Similarly, among the locally farmed fishes in the Philippines, perhaps it is Tilapia that'll rank to the top in popularity. It can be cooked in a number of ways. But it is typically served fried in Filipinos' dining table. For now, I would like my family to savour nothing but clean taste (like clean labels in commercial products). Hence, steaming and tossing are our way of cooking; Steamed Tilapia Fillet on Sayote Tops Ensalada is our meal.
Steamed Tilapia Fillet:
What you need:
2 pcs tilapia fillet, 3 tbsps oyster sauce, 2 tbsps olive oil, 4 cloves garlic (minced), pepper to taste
How to make:
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Rub the mixture into the tilapia and wrap in aluminum foil.
3. Steam until flesh becomes white.
Sayote Tops Ensalada:
What you need:
1 bunch of sayote leaves (blanched), 3 pcs tomatoes (seeds removed and cubed), 1 small onion (chopped), 1/4 cup calamansi juice, 2 tbsps fish sauce
How to make:
1. Mix and toss all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Chill for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Breakfast at Mocha Blends

I declared on my post here that Mocha Blends is now my comforting Coffee Place. I also mentioned that this coffee shop is bound to offer more. Hence, I went back to the branch near our place to sample their breakfast plates. Was I glad I did? For the taste, it’s the same notes you can duplicate (or even do better) at home. In the selections, there’s nothing unique to look for. Basically, the menu has the same breakfast plates being offered in other restaurants. With the way it has filled our tummy, the meal is value for money. For a little over a hundred bucks, it would pass a decent, substantial pick. So, what makes it a better option then? If you wake up one morning looking for a heavy, breakfast meal; longing for a strong coffee to match it with amidst relaxing ambiance and some generous servings of WiFi, this is your kind of place!