31 December 2010

Our Last 2010 Supper - Shrooms Bruschetta

We were a few hours away from dinner time. Mom and I still haven't got a clue what would work as a special appetizer. We had wanted to try the Jewish Baked Tomatoes with Mozarella which my friend, Lynda, had prepared during our get together pot-luck. Unfortunately, we couldn't find those big beefy tomatoes in the market places.

While we were preparing the ingredients for the other dishes, mom goes "I have an idea what we can cook", and writes a list of ingredients to ask the maid to buy. I kept asking mom what the dish is called, but she couldn't provide me with a name since there wasn't any.

She first tried it in the United States of America when she visited her brother's family. Her sister in law was at a buffet luncheon and chanced upon this tasty appetizer. Curious, she asked the chef for the recipe and tried it for her family. It apparently, was a hit.

Rather than naming it "The Untitled Dish", as was the case, I decided to baptize it Shrooms Bruschetta. Of course as always, we have tweaked the recipe a bit to suit our taste.

Shrooms Bruschetta

2 packs of oyster mushrooms, sliced*
1 sweet white onion, sliced into rings
3 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
salt and pepper
french bread, sliced
olive oil
Italian seasoning
grated cheese
Bacon bits (optional)**

*You can use any mushroom you like. My mom recommends Portobello mushrooms, but if that is unavailable, you can opt for button mushrooms or oyster mushrooms as a substitute.

**We opted to use bacon bits as they were convenient for us, but you can use other meat like ground beef or pork if you like. You can also discard adding any meat products and go vegan.

How to:
1. In a skillet, heat the butter until it melts. Toss in the onion rings and cook until onion has softened.
2. Add the mushrooms and mix. Add in sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms have browned.
3. Rub some olive oil onto bread slices. Put mushroom mixture over the bread slice and sprinkle a bit of Italian seasoning on top of each slice. Top with bacon and grated cheese.
4. Pop in the oven and leave there until cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.
We were able to make around 12 slices.

It was interesting. During dinner, my grandfather who rarely says anything about the food except when it's inedible, commended that he enjoyed this little appetizer. I guess that scores some real mean points for this baby.

We hope to be seeing more of this in the weeks to follow.

Our Last 2010 Supper - Lasagna ala Agoo

After almost a year of no cooking, I've found the perfect opportunity to use my kitchen skills. Having work for most part of the year, I would usually drag myself home and slump unto my bed into sweet repose. The kitchen was hardly a place of rejuvenation, for me. As 2010 comes to a close, I decided that a week long vacation would do me good. With time, I volunteered to take part of our last 2010 supper with my version of the all favorite, Lasagna.

I never really had a specific recipe for most of what I cook, and would only follow the biddings of my instincts at that moment. The recipe below is generally a mental calculation of the ingredients I used. In the end though, everything boils down to personal taste and preference.

Lasagna ala Agoo

1 pack of Lasagna noodles
Bacon bits
Grated Cheese

Red Sauce

3 tablespoon olive oil
1 head of garlic, chopped
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1/4 kilo ground beef
1 pack of 750 g Del Monte Gourmet Beef and Mushroom
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup of cubed cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried Herbs

White Sauce

bacon bits and edges
1 tablespoon margarine (optional)
1 head of garlic, chopped
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 can of sliced button mushrooms
2 tetrapacks of all purposed cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 can of evaporated milk
1 can of cream of mushroom
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
Dried herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Red Sauce
1. In a sauce pot, heat olive oil then add in chopped garlic and onion. Once onion starts to become translucent, put in the ground beef. (Note: We have some red wine going a little vinegar-y after air exposure and I decided to add two to three drizzles on the beef while cooking it).
2. Add in the pasta sauce and sugar. Mix. Throw in some dried basil and tarragon.
3. I was feeling a bit adventurous so I added a few dashes of turmeric, curry and Spanish paprika. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add in the cubed cheese to make mixture more creamy. I just really love adding cheese to my tomato based sauce. Simmer until reduced slightly. Set aside.

White Sauce
1. In a new sauce pot, fry bacon until crispy. I usually like using Purefood's Bits and Edges since it's cheaper and I don't need my bacon to be uniform anyway. I just try to slice them into bite sized bits though. They tend to have big chunks of fat which I use especially for this purpose. Strain bacon bits and leave bacon fat in the pot.
2. I know it's a bit fatty but when I think the bacon fat is not sufficient, I tend to add in a tablespoon of margarine. This is optional though. Once heated, I add in my garlic and onion and cook until onions turn translucent.
3. Add in sliced mushrooms and mix until mushrooms have browned.
4. Add in the all purpose cream to the mixture and mix. In low heat, wait until mixture begins to simmer. Once simmering, add in mayonnaise and evaporated milk, mixing until well incorporated.
5. Slowly, add in the cream of mushroom and mix until there aren't any chunks of mushroom soup left
6. According to taste, add in sugar, salt and pepper. Throw in part of the fried bacon bits.
7. Once again, I play with my herbs - mostly I added dried basil and a pinch of curry powder. I want my white sauce to be rich, but not too strong as to overpower the tomato based sauce.
8. Let this simmer until reduced. Set aside.

1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Usually add a pinch of salt and oil to prevent them from sticking to the pot. Once al dente, take them out of the pot and rinse in cold water to stop cooking.
2. In a baking pan, spread the meat sauce at the bottom of the pan then top with lasagna noodles. Then spread the white sauce over the noodles and sandwich this with another layer of lasagna. Keep alternating sauces and noodles. Make sure the topmost layer is sauce - either white or red.
Note: I had my sister help me out on this.

3. I left our lasagna in the fridge for a day since I prepared the lasagna ahead of time. (Make sure lasanga has already cooled off before popping in the refrigerator) I'm not particularly sure if it has an effect, but mom says it's better to wait it out a few hours before serving.
4. Top lasagna generously with grated cheese and remaining bacon bits.
5. Bake in oven until cheese melts. Serve.

I received quite a lot of commendations for the lasagna, which I am very proud to announce. It is a rather heavy and rich viand though, that I don't recommend partaking too much. Browsing through the ingredients list, I bet you can already compute how much calories a slice of this baby contains. Winks.

For the white sauce, I'd like to thank Marie Ong for getting the recipe. We first tasted the Carbonara Alfredo at Rommel's birthday bash back in college and were very much impressed. Apparently, it was Rommel's mom's recipe. Marie requested for it and eventually passed it on to me. I just tweaked it a bit to suit my taste. My Alfredo experience has never been the same after.

Looking Back - 2010

As firecrackers begin to simultaneously thunder and the skies start getting polluted with a magnificent show of dancing colors and smoke, everyone seems to be abuzz with New Year preparations. With the first decade of the 21'st century creeping to a close, dying to a new year of promises - I'd like to take this occasion to appreciate the many things that have made 2010 a memorable year for me.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” - Robert Brault

30 December 2010

Welcoming 2011 Calendars

This Christmas, I had that rare drive to Photoshop like crazy - and the only way to be able to so is if I would take on a project. Having long retired from being an artist, it takes a while to get back on track.

Inspired by one of my mom's give-aways a few years back, my boyfriend and I designed the following CD labels for 2011 - the year of the Rabbit. I really must give a hats off to the bf for all the patience and hard work he has exerted for this project.
Using old discarded CDs, which are plentiful in our household , we decided to recycle them into nice calendar give-aways to friends and officemates.

For presentation, I bundled the CDs together and secured them with a thick strap of plain colored paper. I would then put them on a small frame stand. The picture of the final product below.

It's a pretty neat idea that I would like to attribute to Dianne Tan, who first made CD calendars for my mom a few years back.

Have a hopping 2011!