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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

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Whenever there are dinner parties at home, a pasta dish is always a staple. More often than not, it is my penne in cheesy-creamy tomato sauce that I serve and everyone seems to love this.

Just a couple of days ago, I celebrated my birthday and I thought of making this pasta dish again just for convenience. I have made this particular dish countless times, I can even make it with my eyes closed, really 😉

So, as I was walking along the grocery aisle looking for ingredients, I suddenly felt this need to cook something different and new. Searching for inspiration, I went to the the spices section to look for a new flavor profile. There and then, I saw a Cajun seasoning mix.

Looking back during my early college days, whenever my sisters would save up some extra baon and whenever I third wheel with them during their dates, we would go to TGI Friday’s and their Cajun Shrimp and Chicken Pasta is always a must order. Spicy and creamy, I find this simple chicken pasta dish to have one of the most amazing combination of flavors in the world of pastas.

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So after that flashback, I decided to make my own version of this TGI Friday’s classic.

Here’s my recipe:

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When I was young, I had this notion that pasta was just spaghetti in a beefy, sometimes porky, tomato sauce, loaded with hotdog slices and then topped with grated cheese.  I was then introduced to foreign cooking shows and learned about the other ‘spaghettis’ in the world -that it goes beyond hotdogs and tomatoes. When I moved to Manila, I was further exposed to more pasta dishes and among those that I fell in love with were Sbarro’s Baked Ziti and World Chicken’s Asian Pasta.

It was love at first sight with the Asian Pasta. I had countless attempts of recreating the dish and I never, in all my tries, have succeeded. And as much as I hate to say this, I gave up. However, these attempts of searching for the recipe led me to Kung Pao Chicken.

Sweet and spicy would definitely not be the first words that would come up when you are asked to describe a pasta dish. They seem odd, but it is exactly these two flavor profiles that make Kung Pao one of my favorites. Yes, better than the Asian Pasta. The delicate balance of sweet and spicy with a little kick of salty sets Kung Pao apart from your typical tomato+herb pasta recipes.

I have already posted this recipe years ago, but I decided to update the recipe with a few new ingredients and here’s the  better version of my old post.

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Carbs and cheese? You can’t go wrong with that! It is probably one of everybody’s comfort foods. But as sinfully good  a hot serving of mac and cheese seems, it can be quite boring. So to spice things up -yeah literally!- add some heat! Ok, so carbs, cheese and some heat? Man, we have a winner!

I’ve read a couple of times of how good mac and cheese  with hot sauce is. So when I had to opportunity to make one, I just had to do it. Problem is, on that very same night, I didn’t have hot sauce in the pantry. No Tabasco, not even Mama Sita! Haha! What I saw in the pantry was Sriracha. Perfect! I’ve always preferred Sriracha over Tabasco anyway.

 


For those who are unfamiliar with Sriracha, it is the Asian hot sauce. It is a Thai (I always thought it was Vietnamese) hot sauce  made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Unlike most regular hot sauces, Sriracha is usually tangier and sweeter. Personally, I find Sriracha more robust  in flavor than Tabasco, therefore perfect with my recipe!

And since July 7 is National Macaroni Day, make one today! Here’s my recipe

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Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti alle Vongole, Italian for spaghetti and clams, is one of my favorite pasta dishes and probably the easiest to make. I first tasted this dish at Trattoria Gourmet in Shangri-la Plaza Mall and instantly fell in love with it. The taste is so simple, it reminds me of Catbalogan, my hometown.

This dish is traditionally prepared in two ways: with tomatoes (in rosso) and without (in bianco). Traditional ingredients are limited to spaghetti, live clams, garlic, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. The live clams open during cooking, releasing a liquid that serves as the main flavoring agent and sauce. Others include white wine to the in bianco version of this dish but I personally prefer this without the wine. Unlike most pasta dishes, cheese is never added to this dish.

Aside from spaghetti, linguine is also a popular pasta used in this dish.

A simple description of this dish is that it tastes like the sea. Therefore, using fresh clams for this dish is a must. Here in the Philippines, halaan or Manila clams is used. I even saw an episode of Martha preparing this dish also using Manila clams. When in Catbalogan, I use mayahini.  It’s quite funny how expensive clams are here in Manila. A kilo of these can cost upto P100 in the supermarket while in Catbalogan, I can get the same quantity for only P30!

Here’s my recipe: (more…)

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Kung Pao Chicken

Kiong Hee Huat Chai!

Celebrate Chinese New Year and welcome the Year of the Metal Rabbit with this satisfying and hearty chicken dish.

Kung Pao Chicken is a classic dish Szechuan cuisine. This dish originated from the Sichuan (Szechuan/Szechwan) Province in Southwest China.

Although chicken is traditionally used, westernized version of the dish also uses seafood items such as shrimp and scallops , or other meats such as beef or pork or even tofu,  in place of the chicken ( typically only a single meat or seafood is used).

Allegedly, the dish is named after Ding Baozhen a Quing Dynasty official. He served as head of Shandong province and later as governor of Sichuan Province. His title was Gong Bao or palatial guardian.  The name “Kung Pao” chicken is derived from this title.

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The ingredients and general flavor of this pasta dish is  are reminiscent of Pizza Margherita. This recipe is a quick and easy healthy meatless dish. This goes well with my Focaccia. A perfect recipe when you are craving for a pasta with a simple & clean taste  and do not have the luxury of time!

Pasta Margherita

Quick and Easy Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Spaghetti* (cooked al dente)
  • 2 cups Red Tomatoes, diced (you may use canned tomatoes)
  • Fresh sweet basil, julienned
  • 1-2 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • Cheese
  • Salt and freshly cracked black peppers

Procedure

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Place in a large bowl
  2. While pasta cooks, saute garlic and onion in olive oil.
  3. Cook until onion caramelizes.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium low and add diced tomatoes.
  5. Stir well to incorporate the flavors well and cook for 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  6. Add water/broth, simmer for a couple of minutes
  7. Add salt and pepper
  8. Add basil and stir
  9. Toss in cooked pasta and mix well. Remove from heat.
  10. Serve on plates and grate parmesan cheese on top just before serving. (Ideally served immediately after cooking)

*In this particular recipe, I mixed spaghetti and penne for contrasting textures.

Enjoy this simple and healthy italian dish. If craving for meat, you may pair this with grilled chicken or grilled sausages.

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