Tinapa, Tomato and Truffle Linguine

I know, I know, sue me for fading into relative obscurity every now and then. It hasn’t been easy, you know, lounging and purging myself of all worldly pleasures before I dive into my internship. Yes, that was the plan – give myself a month to addle around, before all focus shifts to making sure that I survive this career. (Which reminds me! A year ago today, I wrote this, and it has made all the difference. I’m amazed)

But apparently the universe has its own time-table, and a string of events made my vacation drag on a longer than I intended it to be. Jad happened, among other things. You might be wondering how I’m holding up. It’s been more than a month now. It still hurts, my friends and I are still reeling from what happened. But we find ways to move along, which, I think, is vastly different from moving on. Life waits for no one.

So, I’m in a celebratory mood right now. For almost a year now I’ve been religiously going to the gym, and it has paid off. When I started I was at 21% body fat, a little over the normal for me. Then it went down to 17%, and just this morning after a session with my trainer I’m at 14%!

I’ve always struggled with my weight. I didn’t feel good and I didn’t like how I looked. Things got better in college, but it was still a battle of fluctuations.

It was only last year that I decided to hit the gym and keep the weight off. That was the initial goal, but it eventually evolved from a mission of pure vanity to simply self-improvement. It’s about feeling good by feeling strong, surpassing old goals and creating new ones and always challenging yourself. That mindset isn’t too farfetched, and is actually pretty helpful considering the industry I want to dive right into.

And I choose to celebrate this little victory by making really good pasta. Yes. Yes. Yes.
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It has all the good stuff: linguine, shiitake and button mushrooms, olive oil, garlic and onions, dried tomatoes, a little bit of pesto, smoked tinapa/milkfish. For absolutely good measure, a nice little glug of truffle oil.

I had that for lunch and it was a tasty little thing. What you have before you is not much, and that’s because I ate most of it already. I was too eager to dig right in.
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Tinapa, Tomato and Truffle Linguine

serves 2

  • 80 – 90 grams linguine
  • 1 piece smoked fish/tinapa, flaked
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes (sold in a jar with oil)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil from the bottled sundried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon pesto
  • half a garlic bulb, peeled and minced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
  • olive oil, as needed

In a medium sized pot, boil pasta in salty water according to package instructions, reserve around 1/8 cup of the starchy water.

In the same pot, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot. Add the oil from the tomatoes. When it’s hot enough, add the garlic and onions and saute until fragrant. Add the tinapa, tomatoes and pesto. Season according to taste. Mix well and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Add the pasta water and the pasta. Mix everything together and transfer to a plate. Drizzle with parmesan cheese and truffle oil. Serve and enjoy!

Spreading some goodness with McCormick

I love herbs. In fact, I have an herb garden growing a thousand miles away back home. I just hope that as of writing this, they haven’t died yet. Fingers crossed that my instructions haven’t fallen on deaf ears.

Before I dove into the practice of using fresh herbs, McCormick has always provided me with a good supply of dried ones to use in everyday cooking. My go-to selection would have to be basil, rosemary, paprika and thyme. It’s amazing that this company can do so much to introduce the world to a variety of flavors neatly packed with convenience, made available in your everyday go-to supermarket at reasonable prices. This time, they take it a notch higher by introducing their new line of…….wait for it…….SUNSCREEN LOTIONS.


spf 30 anyone?

I kid. McCormick, please forgive me, I just had to say it. But seriously though, who would’ve thought sandwich spreads could taste even better? Apparently they did. And here they are with their new line of Bread Spreads, which were launched at Fully Booked Top Shelf to a crowd of bloggers and media representatives.


rosemary lemonade (!)

Every table was provided with a generous serving of breads and crackers, together with the three Bread Spread variants: Pesto, Herb Parmesan and Garlic.

On bread, herb parmesan and pesto work best. Both have natural textures in the spread: parmesan and basil bits, respectively. The garlic wasn’t bad, on the contrary, it does taste pretty darn good, but we were impressed with the first two more.

Even if I was not impressed with the garlic on bread, I can imagine the garlic to work with meals like barbecue, fish and chips, even tempura-style vegetables. And just to prove how versatile these spreads can be, McCormick also invited Chef Stephanie Zubiri to demonstrate three dishes flavored with the bread spread line. Even if these 75-gram 0-trans fat squeeze bottles are geared particularly as an in-between for sandwiches, they can do wonders to flavor other dishes as well – think pasta, stuffed chicken breast, and naturally, salads!


Chef Stephanie Zubiri with host Patricia Hizon


Clockwise from right: Garlic Herb Lemon Zest Carbonara, Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breast with Roasted Veggie Millefeuille and Pesto Orange Salad with Balsamic Dressing

After the demo, a few lucky members of the audience were also treated to two games. The first one was a 20-minute team challenge to whip up three dishes using the spreads. The next one was easier – a sandwich tasting game where you had to guess what bread spread was used. All in all, people had a jolly good time.


Personally I’m excited to see how far I can stretch the Bread Spread’s versatility. You get the convenience of not having to worry about digging deep into a jar just to get most of the spread, the versatility of having another flavoring element in your mix of ingredient arsenals, and of course, the great flavor that the brand always promises.

McCormick Bread Spreads are now available nationwide and priced at 75php per tube.

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9 mornings: Garlic, Pesto and Lemongrass Chicken

The holidays can be stressful. Here I am again, apologizing for an inability to post anything edible yesterday. I was supposed to share this recipe a few hours ago, but the holiday rush caught up with me and I was left out of breath.

At around 11 pm last night I finally filled all 60-ish cupcakes with peaches and strawberry jam for my mom’s office mates. This morning as soon as we got back from church, I perused one of my first ever cut-out recipe cookbooks (basically a drawing book with snippets of recipes from magazines to the back of a milk can) for simple buttercream frosting. Frosting a cupcake is murder on my self-esteem, since it’s always been a hit and miss with me and nicely piped frosting. I almost cried. No joke.

Then my friend R came over and brought her handmade gift boxes to put the little devils in. But as luck would have it, I forgot to tell her that I’ll frost the cupcakes so she didn’t take that into consideration when she made the dimensions (but still her boxes are really nice and I’ll probably post pictures next time). I can already imagine my mom’s officemates opening their boxes, and probably wondering why the top portion of the cupcakes are sticking to the lid.

Things like that happen. When you’re caught up with making sure everything’s perfect, most of the time it’s disappointing when you feel that the universe is against you. So this little project (“9 mornings”) didn’t really live up to the hype (that I just imagined in my head). But it’s not the end of the world (or is it?). Maybe if there’s something I got from this experience, it’s that you don’t have to force things to happen. Sure cooking involves patience, skill and technique, but without the love for all things edible, all you’re left with is a vapid, aseptic white plate.

This chicken recipe, which isn’t vapid at all, was made at the top of my head and I went along with whatever combination I was craving for. I was surprised at how good this was. The chicken meat practically fell of the bone and it was still tender and juicy. I’m definitely light-handed when it comes to seasoning with salt. The seasoning measurements aren’t really 100% spot-on but that’s why people invented liquid seasoning afterall.

Garlic, Pesto and Lemongrass Chicken (serves 6 – 8 )

  • 5 chicken thighs
  • 5 drumsticks
  • 1 head of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 – 3 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 2 inch strips
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons bottled pesto
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon rock salt
  • a few dashes of freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • for seasoning the chicken: salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F.
  2. Clean the chicken pieces well. Pat dry using a paper towel. Arrange pieces skin side up on an oven-proof dish. Season with salt,  pepper and red chili flakes.
  3. Make the paste: Combine garlic, lemongrass, pesto and olive oil in a bowl, making sure that everything is mixed well. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Tuck the paste under the chicken’s skin and try to distribute the paste well. If there is leftover paste, rub it on the chicken pieces.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour or until chicken skin is browned. Flip the pieces over to brown the other side. Bake for another 10 – 20 minutes.
  6. When chicken is brown and tender, remove from the oven and serve hot with a steaming bowl of rice. Enjoy!


My Weekend

This weekend I was supposed to be really really productive. I told myself I would bake my first cake on Saturday, then make palabok on Sunday (today). And here I am with no recipe to blog about.

Last night was also rough for me; I was tinkering with different theme options for my blog (the one thing i hate about wordpress.com (not self-hosted) is that free customization is difficult, blogspot is more flexible) so if you stumbled upon an uglier version of my blog last night, well that was me playing God/cosmetic surgeon. The funny thing was, at the end of it all, I ended up with the layout that I started this blog on! But I did somehow manage to delete the items from my sidebar so that’s something I have to construct again.

But I did go to the Tzu Chi One Mega Fair today. The local chapter organizes this annual one day event that gathers all kinds of merchandise under one roof. A portion of the profits, I believe, go to their charity. There were food and garment stalls, a dog show and a very emaciated Angry Birds mascot. So you can figure out what I was particularly interested in, and it wasn’t the mascot.
I was a nice surprise that local under-the-radar dessert businesses did set up shop.

Of particular interest is this squash cake from Emy’s Kitchen. It’s not really a cake. It’s more of squash puree probably baked/steamed in a mold. It tastes like squash (go figure), but it has the texture of a really solid bread pudding. Plus it’s studded with meat and shrimp on top, so it’s like you’re already eating lunch. This was interesting and really filling.

In other news, remember the shrimp gambas that I made a few posts back? Well opening the fridge yesterday I saw there was still a bowl that had all the shrimp heads + one piece of shrimp. Now instead of giving it to our dog, I decided to use it for the pasta dish I made for lunch!

It’s incredibly simple: cook a handful of pasta (good for two) according to package instructions then make the sauce. Just melt a small square of butter (around 1/8th cup) in a pan. Add minced garlic and onions and red chili flakes. Then I added around 3 tablespoons of bottled pesto and a tablespoon of the same chili garlic sauce I used for my szechuan eggplant. Then add the leftover gambas. For good measure I added a few spoonfuls of the starchy pasta water so the sauce can adhere to the noodles well. Drain the pasta and toss in the pan and that’s it. It had all the right amounts of garlicy and pesto-y savoriness and heat. Really great lunch.

 So I guess my weekend wasn’t as unproductive as I thought it was. 
Yellow Daisies Desserts – for the candy canes
contact: (63)9163720021
Emy’s Little Kitchen – tablea, cupcakes and squash cake
contact: Emy Gamboa @ (062) 955-3114 or (63) 933-6942-386
Ju D’s Products Philippines – for the cookies (the Tzu Chi people probably sourced these)
50 Greenmeadows Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines 
contact: (632) 633 – 1188 or email them @ jud_fruitcakes@yahoo.com
update: after a few hours I tried Ju D’s Ginger and Dark Choco cookies. WOW, it tastes great! you have to try it!