Archive for Pasta

Angry Cook

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from relationships, it’s that no one likes being the victim of misdirected anger. So as I was on my way home, extremely livid and frustrated, I had to remind myself not to lash out on the unsuspecting boyfriend.

Beef Lasagna

I was also not excited about the fact that I still had to make two trays of lasagna after a long day at work and a bad mood. Ever since I watched the movie, Like Water for Chocolate, I’ve believed that your current mood affects your cooking. Foul mood equals foul tasting food. I was very tempted to order lasagna from somewhere but the perfectionist cook in me resisted. So I hurried over to the grocery, bought my ingredients, got home and quietly cooked.

Vegetable Lasagna

I huffed and puffed as I peeled and chopped my aromatics. I waited for the anger to subside, but the dark cloud over me just would not go away. An hour and a half later, my two trays of lasagna were cooked and I still felt horrible. So I turned to my ever reliable shoes, laced up, and stepped out for a run. The moment I took that first running stride, I knew that I was going to be fine.

I have a feeling that my lasagna is too salty but that’s ok. I think it’s better that I took it out on the food rather than on my defenseless boyfriend, right? My co-teachers will just have to load up on water during lunch. 🙂

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Spaghetti Bolognese

What a month April has been. Even with the Holy Week break, it was still extremely hectic. With all the traveling, work and more work, getting enough sleep has been my number one priority. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I actually wished for both and am very thankful that I’m getting my fill, but sometimes you just want the world to go on pause while you catch your breath.

We barely have one month left before school closes for summer and time is just passing by so quickly. The kids and teachers are all feeling the crunch. But soon enough, all our alarms will be temporarily off and the summer vacation will be upon us. In the meantime, we all try to deal with the pressure with as much grace as possible.

Being under all this stress makes me look for comfort food, and it was quite timely that Mike requested for a spaghetti dinner. Spaghetti bolognese is one of my favorite dishes to cook because everyone tends to enjoy it. It also allows for mindless cooking and eating, which I absolutely love.

So tonight is all about de-stressing, especially since tomorrow will be a long ass day – early morning run then work ’til late for the 6th graders’ Night of the Notables.

So to all you tired ones out there, go ahead and make yourself a bowl of your comfort food. Sit on the couch, watch TV or curl up with your favorite book or just enjoy the quiet. Take a deep breath and relax.

One day at a time.

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Basil Pesto with Mayo?

The heat has been unbearable and it’s taking every ounce of my will power not to turn the air-con on the moment I get home. I am also running out of summer clothes and am this close to wearing my singlets to work (those things are quite airy).  It’s now wonder the malls are packed because with this Manila sun, free air-conditioning rocks.

The upside of this weather is that I tend to stay in my room longer, watching my favorite cooking shows. The other day, The Barefoot Contessa was featuring recipes for a portable picnic – simple recipes but sure to be crowd-pleasers like, basil pesto pasta, tomato feta salad and this scrumptious looking lemon cake.  My mind went crazy with excitement, trying to think of reasons to invite friends over so I could feed them.  Right now, I’m thinking, carbo-loading party!

Her recipe for basil pesto intrigued me because it involved an ingredient that I would never put in my pesto – mayonnaise! But I know better than to doubt the Barefoot Contessa and her culinary instincts. So without thinking twice, I went ahead and put a large dollop of mayonnaise into my basil pesto and lemme tell you… my basil pesto will never be the same again.  You don’t actually taste it in the pesto because the mayo emulsifies so well with the olive oil that it gives it a richness and a creaminess that you will certainly miss. I do suggest though that you use good mayonnaise such as the Japanese mayo.

Go ahead and try it. You can thank me later 😉

You can find all the recipes from that episode here.


  • 3/4 pound fusilli pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.


  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

* Recipe from

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Tomato Chorizo Pasta

Pasta dishes are probably the fastest meals you can whip up in the kitchen. All you really need is some garlic and olive oil, and you’re done. Fortunately for our hungry bellies, we had more than that last Monday night when Mister M came over.

I tossed whatever I found in the ref into the pan and came up with a pretty good dinner. Red, ripe tomatoes, chorizo, onions, garlic, fresh basil, chili flakes and lots of olive oil. I must have had three servings of pasta but was only slightly remorseful. This was too good! Thinking about it now is making me want to cook it again. Mmmmm.

Tomato Chorizo Pasta

  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • about 7 (very ripe) tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. chorizo, minced
  • 1 tsp. pepper flakes
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • any kind of pasta, cooked

In a pan, heat olive oil and saute’ onion and tomatoes until tender. Add chorizo and garlic and saute’ for another 5 minutes.  Add chili flakes, salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Add basil. Toss in the pasta and serve.

How fast was that?!

No wonder the scale said I gained three pounds. Tee hee. Oh, well.

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What’s For Lunch?

Penne with roasted garlic and pancetta is what’s for lunch.

I love recipes that use simple and few ingredients but still manage to produce a wonderfully flavored dish. I guess that’s the art of cooking – being able to maximize an ingredient’s full potential.

This dish is so easy to make that anyone can probably make it under 3o minutes.

Ahhhh. I love non-working holidays 🙂

Penne with Roasted Garlic and Pancetta

  • 3 heads of garlic, roasted (how to prepare roasted garlic)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c. all purpose cream
  • 1/4 c. sliced pancetta or bacon
  • chili flakes
  • flat leaf parsley (or any herb you prefer, like basil)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/8 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. penne

Using one garlic first, remove it from the skin and mash with a fork.  Set aside.  Remove the garlic from the two remaining heads and set aside.

In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until transparent and soft.  Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown.  Add the mashed garlic and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle the chili flakes, parsley and add the rest of the garlic. Add sauce to the pasta while hot.

If the sauce gets too thick, you can always add a few tablespoons of  water or chicken stock then simmer for a few minutes

*It’s always best to work with fresh ingredients so feel free to add whatever you might have in your kitchen or garden.  Tomatoes and mushrooms will work wonderfully with this recipe, too.

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Of Gourmet Paos and Good Friends

Yesterday, two of my closest friends H and M, opened up their new home to us. The text invite said, ” Gourmet Siopao and beer for lunch.” Sounded just like my kind of Saturday, and it sure was.  It was such a treat to be among wonderful people, in a beautiful yet cozy environment where all we did was eat, drink, talk and laugh.


The siopaos by Gourmet Pao were hard to miss. At approximately 6-7 inches in diameter, these steamed   buns looked like they would be a challenge to finish because they were really massive. Deciding on what flavor was also tricky just because there were so much to choose from. I ended up having the Chucho, which issiopao filled with ham, cheese and chorizo.  This one didn’t veer so far away from your regular bola-bola siopaobecause of the similarities inpork flavor, except this one is oozing with melted cheese. I also tried the Tuna Dekada, which is filled with tuna, capers, egg and cheese – my instant favorite.  There were probably five other flavors to try but I was just too stuffed to venture that far. Simple food like Gourmet Paos are perfect for entertaining. They are hassle-free to serve and are definitely crowd pleasers.

Gourmet Pao

Gourmet Pao


Chucho, chorizo with cheese


M also served this eggplant dish. I’m guessing is was sauteed in onions, garlic, tomatoes and the best part – daing. This was so delicious, I was eating it until late that evening.

Eggplat with Daing



The beginning of what promises to be a well stocked bar. Looks pretty complete to me.


Since we had planned to go to the nearby mall for a while, I suggested that we do the groceries and that I cook dinner. We decided to go with a simple pasta dish with shitake mushrooms, basil, tomato and cream paired with a tuna Nicoise salad.  And because it was supposed to be a hassle-free evening, we chose to just grab one whole rotisserie chicken.


Tuna Salad Nicoise with Lemon Vinaigrette


Shitake with tomato and basil cream pasta

We ended that day unbelievably stuffed but mostly glad to be among good friends.

Thank you, H and M for welcoming us into your beautiful home and for giving us the honor of being your first guests.

Shitake Mushrooms with Basil and Tomato Pasta

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 small red bell peppers, minced

3 tomatoes, diced

2 packs of shitake mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup all purpose cream

a handful of fresh basil

1/4 cup water or chicken stock

salt and pepper

your choice of pasta

In a nonstick pan, heat butter and olive oil.  Saute’ garlic until fragrant, then add bell peppers. Saute’ for another 3 minutes or until bell peppers are tender.  Add shitake mushrooms and 1/4 cup liquid. Cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes, remembering to stir once in a while.  Add cream, salt and pepper. Mix with pasta and serve.

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Portobello Mushroom Ravioli

What do you do when you have a good amount of baby Portobello mushrooms, relatively strong muscles and the whole afternoon? Make mushroom ravioli!

Baby Portobello Mushrooms

Baby Portobello Mushrooms

Among all the mushrooms, Portobellos have got to be my favorite, probably because it of it’s meaty and earthy taste.  I love grilling these mushrooms because doing so intensifies the flavor.  Considering that these mushrooms are quite pricey, I wasn’t about to let them rot in the ref and go to waste.

mushrooms on a stove-top grill

mushrooms on a stove-top grill

I’ve only made ravioli once before and was not that successful. I remember that first batch being too thick so the ravioli wasn’t as delicate as it should be. This time, I made sure to make it as thin as possible and since I was only using a rolling pin, I was in for a good workout. Making ravioli is quite easy, only requiring eggs and flour as the main ingredients.  The challenge is in the rolling. Making this dish is really a labor of love. (My forearms are hurting as I type this.

For the filling, I cooked the mushrooms on a stove-top grill

combine all ingredients in a food processor and chop coarsley

combine all ingredients in a food processor and chop coarsley

until soft and caramelized five white onions.  I chopped them coarsely in a food processor along with a few sprigs of flat leaf parsely, half a cup of mozzarella cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  This is a very simple but very flavorful ravioli recipe that could stand alone or go well with a basil pesto sauce or a marinara sauce.   I thought it went perfectly with a glass of white wine.

Portobello Mushroom with Caramelized Onion Ravioli

For the Filling:

•    200 g. Portobello mushrooms
•    5 white onions
•    2 cloves of garlic
•    4-5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
•    ¼ c. olive oil
•    ½ c. mozzarella cheese
•    salt and pepper

Ravioli dough recipe.


Cut out circles about 3” in diameter using a cookie cutter. Place 1 ½ tsp. of filling onto on circle. Making sure that sides are moist, cover with another circle and secure sides by pinching.  Boil ravioli in water for 5 minutes ot until they float to the top. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or sauce of your choice.

Portobello Mushroom Ravioli

Portobello Mushroom Ravioli

Enjoy, preferrably with a glass of wine 🙂

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