Saturday, July 28, 2007

Basil Overload

I’m going crazy over basil! I can’t stop experimenting with it. Aside from the chicken curry recipe previously posted, I've come up with two new ones.

Hope you'll like them!

Ham, Cheese with Basil Omelet

Pasta in Tuna and Basil in Cream

Ham, Cheese with Basil Omelet

I’m a breakfast person. I love breakfast but I only get to enjoy a really good breakfast every weekend. One of my favorite breakfast dishes is omelet because you can do practically anything with it.

Just this morning, July 28, I prepare ham, cheese and basil omelet.


1 onion, chopped
3 slices of cooked ham, chopped
Button mushroom, chopped. (I used the canned one. For this recipe I used up 1/3 of the can. For the unused portion, I place it in plastic container and then refrigerate. I make sure I don’t store it too long. At most, around one week. Most likely, I’ll use it up tomorrow anyway.)
1 small carrot, grated. (I find it easier and faster to grate than to chop finely.)

Bunch of basil, chopped
Grated cheese. (I always make sure I have ample supply of queso de bola. During Christmas I look forward (and am very thankful) to getting them as gifts. Some say it’s a “too traditional” gift but who said tradition was all bad?)
Salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 eggs, beaten. (I usually add milk but this time I added around 3 tablespoons of mushroom water – the one from the canned button mushrooms.)
Oil for sautéing and the omelet.

Procedures - The filling
1. Put oil in a heated pan
2. Sauté onions until translucent

3. Add ham, sauté for at least 1 minute

4. Add carrots and mushroom

5. Add basil. Sauté for 1 minute and then remove from fire.

The Omelet Pan – very helpful in making the perfect omelet.

My love for cooking is mostly influenced by my Mom, Maloy. What I admire about her is how she’s able to play with taste. How she’s able to remedy too salty, too sweet, too bland dishes. She’s also great with sauces – the sawsawan. It was because of my Mom that I learned to appreciate the slimy saluyot – she told me to squeeze fresh calamansi over it.

Despite being based in Dallas, Texas, her cooking-influence is still there – she sends me kitchen stuff and gadgets. For this recipe, I’m using the non-stick omelet plan she sent. Oh yes, like any other Filipino bases abroad, my parents send us regularly balikbayan boxes full of different items. Used and brand new items. We’re always excited and thankful to get them. I’m always excited to find out anything to add to my kitchen.

Preparing the Omelet

1. Beat eggs
2. Add mushroom water
3. Add salt and pepper
4. Heat the omelet pan
5. Put some oil (optional) before putting the egg mixture
6. Put the omelet filling at the middle and top with grated cheese

7. Flip the sides of the egg to cover the filling

8. Serve hot.

The omelet went well with corned beef and fried rice. Breakfast was good today.

Pasta in Tuna and Basil in Cream

For this recipe, I used my leftover (uncooked) pasta. I had some fettuccine and twist. Any pasta will do. Just cook it following the instructions printed on the packaging. I don’t wash my cooked pasta over cold or tap water. I just drain. Once my sauce is cooked, I set aside some sauce for topping and then throw in the pasta on the hot sauce for even distribution/coating.

For the sauce it’s important to prep the ingredients first. Cooking time is approximately 10 minutes.

Sauce Ingredients

2 onions, chopped
½ head of garlic, chopped
1 can tuna in vegetable oil, drain oil and set aside
1 can of button mushrooms, drain water and set aside
Bunch of fresh basil, chopped
1 can all purpose cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta and set aside – drain but don’t wash cooked pasta with cold water. I do that only when I use the pasta for salad.
2. Heat pan and put oil from canned tuna
3. Sauté onions. Once translucent, add the garlic
4. Add tuna
5. Add salt and pepper to taste
6. Add basil
7. Add mushroom water and cream
8. Simmer for 3-5 minutes
9. Put noodles in sauce
10. Serve hot

My eldest son, Renmund, volunteered to be my "model." He wanted to have his picture taken while enjoying the dish. He loves pasta. He says his favorite are Italian dishes. For him all pasta dishes are Italian.

I had some leftover sauce. I used it the next day as filling for omelet. It turned out ok. Sorry, no pictures this time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Viajeng Cusinang Matua

I'm going to attend this! I'm so excited. I love Kapampangan food. My maternal grandmother, Lola Luz Lising Domingo, is Kapampangan and she was into food - extravagantly!

Kapampangans are one of the more food-passionate people. I hope to learn more about Kapampangan food - the culture behind it.

For those interested, contact details are found on the image.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Simple Joys - Irvin's 7th Birthday

It took time to post this because I was lost for words for the intro. I couldn't figure out how to start the story. I initially started with a parenting angle - how rewarding it is to a parent to see that you did something right as far as parenting is concerned. Then again, that would be just about me. At the last minute of posting this, I still had to change the introduction. No words can capture the experience and the emotions – literally.

What’s the story? Well, it happened April 27, 2007. Irvin, our youngest, celebrated his 7th birthday then. We originally planned to have a swimming party because Irvin loves water – may it be the beach or the pool, even the bathtub . Unfortunately, some things happened and funds got diverted and spent; to make the long story short – we couldn’t afford a swimming party. Irvin said it wasn’t important to have guests so long as we bring him and his Kuya Ren to a pool with slides. That’s not a problem here in Cavite – there are lots of resorts nearby.

The 27th was a Friday. I couldn’t take a leave but was allowed to go home early. The plan was to buy some food on the way home but the traffic was a killer. It was getting dark and the priority became to just reach home. Bahala na. There was a good local bakeshop in Imus, that’s where we decided to buy the cake – chocolate decadent. Irvin loves chocolates. He’s a sweet-tooth like his Papa.

We played a little trick on Irvin when we got home. Instead of the cake, I presented to him an enseymada (served in one of my meetings, didn't have time to eat my share). We told Irvin that we couldn’t afford to buy food because we didn’t have enough money. Irvin gave me a smile and a tight hug and just said “It’s ok, Mama. You know enseymada is my favorite. Is it ok if I don't share?” Of course, I said yes. We lit a candle, sang “Happy Birthday,” he blew the candle and he was happy. I was in tears seeing him so content.

Serious and intimate with his birthday wish

Happy with his wish and his "cake"

Enjoying his "birthday cake"

As Irvin was digging in his trick birthday cake, I went to the car and brought out the real one. He didn’t get it right away; he thought it was a gift. When we opened it, he was surprised that there was another cake. So we told him the enseymada was just a joke. He placed the enseymada aside but reiterated that he’d finish it later, he’ll just taste the "real" cake. We lit the candle and did the birthday song all over again. He was happier.

The next day, we went to Watercamp – a pool with slides, just as he wanted it.

Let's sing! Or just listen...

I included some videos of songs that I like. I intentionally reduced the sizes of the screens because what's important for me really are the songs, not so much the videos. If you want to sing along, just click the titles or description for the lyrics.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

So-So Father’s Day All Because of Breakfast

Come Father’s Day, it was my turn to treat Erwin. I decided to start the day early. So how do you start a good day? With a good breakfast of course! So off we went to my favorite place – no other than Tagaytay. I wanted it special that’s why we went all the way to Tagaytay looking forward to great breakfast and a great day. Since I read so much about it, we went to Breakfast at Antonio’s. Looking at the menu, the food was on the pricey side, but we’re the type that feel that price is relative, so long as you’re getting your money’s worth, then there shouldn’t be any problem.

I had Eggs Florentine and Erwin ordered Italian Omelet. Both of us had a cup of coffee.
Eggs Florentine

Italian Omelet

We paid close to P1k. As I said, price is relative. This time, I was relatively disappointed. Why?
• Coffee was not refillable. You’d expect at least one refill if the price is P105 per cup. There was nothing spectacular with the coffee, by the way.
• The servers/waiters do not smile and are not very friendly. They’re not rude but you don’t feel any warmth at all. In fact, they seem very cold. No “welcomy” atmosphere at all. The guard at the parking space seemed more approachable.
• It was not warm or hot that morning but the waiters were perspiring profusely. It could have been excusable or understandable if we also felt warm (it’s temperature this time) but we didn’t. The weather then was just right. The sights of profusely perspiring food servers make you worry about the food. It’s a good thing food is served covered.
• Service was slow. Since the servers do not look at you, it's so hard to get their attention. When you finally have it, there's another waiting time for whatever you requested - the menu, a glass of water, the bill, or your change.

My verdict? The food was ok but everything else is disappointing. If we just talk about the quality of the food versus the price, it’s forgivable. But in its entirety, overrated. Nothing compels me to come back to try the other dishes in the menu. When I like a restaurant, I make it a point to come back for two reasons – first, to check if they consistently do have good food and good service; and second, now that I have a reason to come back, I have a reason to try the other dishes. With Breakfast at Antonio’s, well, maybe I will try again; I just have to find a reason to do so. Right now, I don’t.

Because of the not-so-exciting breakfast, we were not able to jump-start the day properly. The original plan was to go around till noon and try another restaurant for lunch. Since the energy went pfft we just went to Good Shepherd to buy some pasalubong and then to Mahogany Market (another disappointing experience), then by noon, we were already home.

Oh, well. I know my next Tagaytay breakfast will be better.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mother's Day Treat

My husband, Erwin, made plans to celebrate mother’s day. The kids begged off saying that we should just go on a date and not tag them along. Of course, we knew that they just preferred to spend the day in front of the PC and the Playstation without us nagging them to stop. We didn't argue considering they only had a few days left in their summer break.

Lunch at Taj of Tagaytay
Erwin and I are fond of Asian food – our very own Filipino cuisines, Singaporean, Thai and Indian. Indian seems to be more accessible nowadays. So far we’ve tried Bollywood at Greenbelt 3, Kashmir at Pasay Road, Queen’s at Jupiter, and a few smaller eateries within Makati.
On this special day, we had lunch at Taj of Tagaytay. Loved the food, liked the place. Maybe I’ll like the place even more when it’s totally finished – some parts look like its still being constructed.

We had…

Beef Samosa, P120.00. It’s like empanada served with tamarind sauce.

Mutton Kebab, P220.00.

Chicken Masala, P330.00. Love this. The chicken was very tender and the curry was not too overpowering. The waiter recommended that we have it with Plain Naan (P90.00). This dish would also go well with rice.

Since the servings were relatively small, we made additional orders of Chicken Tikka, P240.00, and Roti Chanai (P130.00). I think Roti Chanai is better with the Chicken Masala.

We ended up ordering too much. Despite the not-so-big portions, the food was so delicious, thus, satisfying regardless of the size. Aside from the food, Taj has WiFi and is open 24 hours. It also has a small spa and I think an inn. We wanted to try the spa but the area was not enclosed. Relaxation needs some privacy, right?

There's Always Room For Dessert

After the very heavy and very satisfying lunch, we had to drive around a bit to make room for dessert. It was easy to just jump right away to dessert but I wanted to enjoy it. As they say - patience is a virtue. We had Strawberry Cheesecake and coffee at Bag of Beans. I've tried their products before but this was my first time to dine in.

The enclosed area, where we had our coffee, was so cozy some patrons couldn't help but doze off. It was a perfect siesta place. Good thing the coffee was strong enough to keep us up, and refillable too. I always think that's how coffee should be - good and with free refill.

Erwin had a blast taking pictures of the greenery and an insect or two.