Mushroom and Ricotta Breakfast Slider

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Yesterday, I did something out of character: I actually did hardcore grocery shopping. By hardcore I mean I had a list of things to buy, an even longer imaginary list of things to cook, and the palpable desire to just cook at home.

The sad, peculiar truth of my 2012 was that most of the time I only cooked when I was in school, and then resorted to various fast food takeaway when I got home. At the back of my head I thought about convenience, and….yeah, that’s about it.

Over the holidays I developed a few cravings that haven’t been curbed yet. I’d consider that a good thing because now I can say that I have the gumption to cook. I feel inspired not to resort to Chowking delivery, my default go-to website when the hunger creeps in. (Don’t worry Chowking I still love y’all)

Essentially one of my favorite meals as of the moment is the sandwich. My dad loves sandwiches more than he loves rice. When I was home for the holidays, he would toast a few slices of loaf bread, cook scrambled eggs and sear the ham I made and eat everything for dinner. When I got back from vacation, more than once I found myself thinking of eating a sandwich for dinner. I thought about what I would put together, what flavor combinations would work, and if a splash of maple syrup would make any multi-decker even better.

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Warm bread that’s crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, crisp salad greens, sautéed fresh mushrooms and ricotta cheese. This combination has been rolling in the fields of my imagination for a few days now. This was the first of many excuses I told myself why I desperately needed to go to the grocery. I just had to have it for breakfast today and I did. I can’t believe breakfast got me this excited to wake up. It’s uncanny because it’s really not me. Brunch is usually the first meal of my day for as long as I can remember.

Maybe that’s a good thing – how I’m developing new habits. I don’t know how long I can sustain this feeling but if it would get me back on a revitalized track to eating healthier, blogging and cooking more…then by all means, lez do thiz.

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Mushroom and Ricotta Sliders (serves 1 – 2)

  • 2 – 3 small pieces pan de sal, sliced in half
  • salad greens, washed, enough to fit in one layer on the bread
  • 3 – 4 pieces mushrooms (I used fresh button and shiitake), sliced
  • ricotta cheese, as needed

In a pan, add 1 tablespoon canola oil over high heat. When the oil is hot enough, add the sliced mushrooms and saute for around 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble: place the salad greens on top of the sliced bread, then the mushrooms and top with the ricotta. Top with the other half of the bread to make 2 – 3 sandwiches or make open faced sliders so you can have 4 – 6 pieces.

The day my salad was on TV

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I was in the car with my mom, on the way to a party, when I got the phone call.

It was my friend, Jayne, who is/was also known as the former child wonder “Kikay”. She works for the local arm of ABS-CBN, hosting a weekly features show every Sunday. Apparently the next episode they were taping was about environment awareness, and they have segment devoted to organic farming. An organic farmer, I am not, but I did mention to her in one of our conversations that I did want to have one in the near future.

They featured the garden that I posted about, the one that the “universe” led me to. I actually owe Kikay for introducing me to the place, after a few weeks of searching.

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She thought it would be a good idea for me to do a demonstration on how to make a salad from the greens that they plucked from the farm. I was a bit on the fence when she pitched the idea to me, because I was really worried about my credibility. But eventually I realized that it was an opportunity that doesn’t come often, so I just threw all reservations out the window and said yes. A big fat yes.

To cut the long story short, they shot the scenes at home. My mom was pretty excited to see her house on TV, so I think she screamed louder when they showed an establishing shot of the front of the house.

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Kikay at the farm. (The video quality online isn’t that good)

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apparently I was supposed to teach her how to make a salad

I’m not really a salad buff. My mom is the one who usually makes the salads, so I asked her for a few pointers so I won’t make a complete fool of myself. And I think I did my stint as a public speaking teacher justice, because I didn’t freeze up, and I didn’t stutter too much. Give me a few more years and that Lifestyle Network show will be mine.
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Basic Salad + A Dressing Duo

  • Your choice of salad greens: I used romaine and loose-leaf, washed and cleaned
  • tomatoes, halved (quarter if they are large)
  • 1 red onion, sliced OR 1/2 a white onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into strips
Combine everything in a bowl. Serve with the dressings on the side.
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the tomato vinaigrette is the one infront of the asian dressing

Asian Dressing – begin with equal amounts of sesame oil and honey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Adjust taste according to preference

Tomato Vinaigrette – In a blender, place 1 cubed medium tomato, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, a dash of salt and pepper, and a light splash of honey. Blend until combined thoroughly. You still might have bits of tomato. You can either pulse it some more to liquefy it or serve it as it is.

Serve both dressings on the side, with the salad. Enjoy!

I’d just really like to give a shout out to Kikay for that opportunity (I will never rue the day we became friends), and to the whole MagTV Crew as well!  

MagTV is shown every Sunday, either at 8:00 or 8:30 AM.

That quiet plot of land

For the past few months, I’ve been tending to a few herbs in plastic pots. I water them almost everyday, make sure they aren’t infested with pests, and spend a few minutes daily ogling at them. Watching them won’t hasten their growth, but it’s the uninterrupted quiet that I enjoy.

I started with basil, rosemary and mint. When I believed it was time to “expand”, I went online and found an herb garden in Laguna which ships herb pots nationwide. The shipping fee was exorbitant, but heck, I thought it’ll be worth it. I ordered tarragon, cilantro, parsley, celery, thyme, lavender and dill.
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When the LBC guy came and handed me a box with the ‘this side up’ pointing the wrong way…I knew I was in for hell. True enough, I carefully opened it and found soil everywhere, herbs haphazardly arranged, some damaged beyond repair. Only the tarragon, dill and celery survived. I’ve learned my lesson since then, and I resigned to the idea that herbs will always be a rarity here in my city.
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But thanks to a few people who pointed me in the right direction, the universe led me and a few of my friends to this little plot of land in Lantawan, Pasonanca that grows some herbs and salad greens that I can actually use.

It’s actually been a long time coming: a blog-friend, Charm, told me about this place a few weeks ago, but she didn’t know the exact location. Then a friend who works at the local television station whose weekly show actually featured this way back, asked around and found out it was in Lantawan. Next I found out that a former classmate of mine apparently lives nearby, knows that the place exists but hasn’t been there exactly. The final knock on the door came when my host-friend featured the organic garden in their show again, and well, this afternoon we FINALLY paid the place a visit. The universe was listening.
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The place is unassuming. Only a little placard that greets you at the entrance guarantees that you arrived at the right place. The place isn’t expansive, which makes sense because the market for herbs and salad greens isn’t a big one. But give it a few more years, and I have a feeling people will grow (no pun intended) to be more receptive.
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The weather was cloudy but extremely humid, which didn’t make for a pleasant trip. When we arrived, the caretaker told us to just go to their resto (another blog post about that soon!) if we wanted salad greens. It was pretty obvious that the place wasn’t in full harvest mode. There were more seedlings than full blown greens.
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Accordingly, the owners of the farm use organic farming methods to sow and reap their produce, which is always good. Slightly challenging, but good.
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Here’s the anticlimax: I didn’t take home any herb! Strangely enough, it didn’t feel like the right time to buy a pot or two. That’s probably my only explanation right now. Well, that, and I probably can’t use it all the time. Practicality trumps desire.
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But it wasn’t a loss. At least I got to see the place for myself, and I’ll probably point my mom to the garden where she can buy salad greens at a cheaper price, because she’s the salad buff. And corny as it seems, my search is finally over, I can finally say that I know where to get the herbs that I need for my own garden. The outside world probably can’t understand how the thought process of an herb enthusiast/grower pans out, but I know that you know what I mean.

And here’s a shoddy map to help you on your way. Thank you, Paint.
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(I live in Zamboanga City, Philippines)