Saturday, July 28, 2012

Go Green with Zucchini Carpaccio

Hello! I've been silent for a week, yes, but to tell you the truth, I've been containing my excitement the whole week through! At last, now I could write about the reason why.  Here, let me tell you.

Close friends and family know that I like green. Mint green, apple green, lime green, I love them all! That's why the first time I came across Patricia Wells' Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado and Pistachios I so fell in love with how it looks. I kept dreaming about it but I couldn't complete the ingredients as avocado was not yet in season then. Until one day, a friend gifted me with a bunch of avocados. (Thanks to Ruby!) So there, I remembered the zucchini with avocado salad. 

 I'm not very good at choosing good avocados and deciding when they are ready to eat.   I just learned that there are several varieties of avocado. Definitely it's not the Hass variety because this type turns purple to black. The ones I have stay green even when ripe. I believe this is of the Reed variety

Taken from the Green Wala Blog Site
 I experimented on the recipe for the first time last Sunday, using my Mandoline slicer to get  thin uniform slices of the zucchini. 

Preparing to slice just half of the zucchini for a start
It took me some trial and error the first time I sliced the zucchini. I had to find the most appropriate number to get the ideal thinness. It took me two to three rotations of the mandoline slicer until I finally settled to number 1. (By the way, my Madoline Slicer was given to me by my friend, Malette, in the early 90s, when I was a very young wife and mother. I have learned to love it more and more each day.)

Thanks to my Mandoline Slicer. Another favorite kitchen mate that has made my life in the kitchen so enjoyable!
Preparing to add lemon zest salt and juice dressing to the zucchini slices
Waiting for the zucchini to absorb the lemon zest dressing
Voila! Here it is, minus the pistachios
 I really had no idea how raw zucchini tasted as I usually made ratatouille and zucchini fritters for my family. I must admit I felt awkward as I was about to taste the raw zucchini with lemon dressing. Surprisingly, I was enamored with the taste! It called for raised eyebrows when my husband heard my noisy plead for my younger daughter, Ana Cristina, to take pictures of the finished product.
 I so love the perfect blend of lemon on the zucchini that I wanted to share it with my friends (because except for ratatouille, my family is not very fond of zucchini :( Such a pity!). And so I did! I gave my veggie-lover officemates a taste of it. I was not mistaken, they also liked it. It also blended well with the raw talinum (talilong) Charisse brought for lunch. I promised them I would bring more of it the following day.

 And so, I repeated the performance I did last Sunday. This time, with chopped pistachios, to perfect Patricia Wells' recipe.

          Thanks to Daisy for the lemon!     This time I sliced the zucchini lengthwise. 
                                           I was so contented at having hit the desired thinness.

 Spur of the moment decision--- I also decided to give Chef Dolly a taste of it. If you read my previous post, "The Salad Experience --- Inspired by Chef Dolly" (click here), I featured some of her nutritious vegetable salads there. 

My hands trembled and my heart thudded with excitement as I alternately arranged the zucchini and avocado slices together, trying hard to copy the way Patricia Wells did it, praying at the same time that my new discovery would meet the standards of Chef Dolly's taste buds (you see, one time, I saw her slowly chew, with her eyes closed, a slice of homemade chicken longganisa brought in front of her, and she guessed what shortening and specific part of the chicken was used).

Well, I believe my efforts were worth it as Chef Dolly said she liked it :) and she also let me into an important secret that spells success for this dish. ONE SHOULD CATCH THE AVOCADO BEFORE IT GETS RIPE (manibalang in Tagalog). And this I found out for my own self the second time around. JUST POUR ENOUGH AMOUNT OF LEMON ZEST DRESSING TO COAT AND BE ABSORBED BY ALL THE ZUCCHINI SLICES as excess dressing would make it watery if allowed to stand.

So here's my Zucchini Carpaccio!

With chopped pistachios

Here's how Patricia Wells' original recipe for Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado and Pistachios looks.

Photo taken from
Wanna try it? Oh please do! And kindly do me a favor. Please write on the comment box below your own experience on this menu. I would love that!

Happy weekend!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stories from the Cupboard: Feature No. 1 --- My Kitchenmates

     Two weeks ago, my post talked about Aling Charing's recipe book ("Masasarap na Lutuing Pilipino ni Aling Charing) that I have always used in the kitchen when I was a young wife. Today, I'm posting about my other favorite kitchenmate, Del Monte Kitchenomics.
     I got my very first Del Monte Kitchenomics recipe from SM Grocery store. My husband got it from among the Del Monte products on the shelves. Reading through the very first copy I had paved the way for me to become a member of the Del Monte Kitchenomics Club. This entitled me to a regular subscription of their recipes by postmail. See some of these in the collection I have made through the years---

Credits to Ana Cristina (my youngest daughter) for the photo
     I have more of these but these are just a few of what I have actually tried. Oh, I just found those recipes very useful. They kept me company while my two kids were growing up. Del Monte Kitchenomics Club offers simple, easy-to-cook, healthy recipes at very practical cost.  A real friend to a newbie in the kitchen!
     Here, let me share with you some of my favorite starter Kitchenomics menus:
      Menudo a la Cubana (click here for the recipe) - This used to be a regular menu on our dinner table when my kids were still in grade school. I liked to cook this because my kids and I like the sweet taste brought about by the saba (cooking banana) and it is very appealing to the eyes. 

Menudo a la Cubana by Del Monte Kitchenomics
      Kitchenomica  Burger (click here for the recipe) - I also used to cook this dish for the kids' baon (pack lunch or snacks). An effective substitute to the burger from the favorite and popular burger store!  I like this because it is very nutritious, with grated carrots, malunggay (Moringa) leaves and gabi as its major ingredients. Even my office mates loved it! I cooked this several times and it worked well with the kids until they noticed the malunggay leaves popping out of the patties! 

Kitchenomica Burger by Del Monte Kitchenomics
       Karekareng Manok  (Chicken Stew) (Click  here  for the recipe) - This is one of the family's favorites. I experimented on several recipes for this dish using different brands of Karekare premix but I would always go back to the original Kitchenomics recipe which doesn't use any premix at all, just peanut butter (short cut to the process of grinding peanuts) and coconut milk.  I confess I would often substitute beef, ox tripes or pata (pork legs/trotters/knuckles) for the chicken while still using the rest of the ingredients. Here's my own version of the Pork Stew.

My Pata Karekare using the Kitchenomics Karekareng Manok recipe
     Longganiza Kitchenomica (native sausage) (Click here  for the recipe) - I also tried this  recipe, longganisa being my husband's favorite next to tocino (sweetened cured pork). Well, my homemade longganiza tasted good! My mother also loved it! It's just that I'm not very fond of doing dishes which require wrapping, rolling or forming into balls (like meatballs), unless I have somebody to assist me with the task. With this dish though, I prefer using wax paper than plastic wraps in shaping the longganiza. 
Longganisa Kitchenomica by Del Monte Kitchenomics
      Tuna Sisig (spicy tuna) (Sorry, there's no online recipe for this in the Del Monte Kitchenomics website. I wonder why?) - Ever since I discovered this recipe, my husband has never ceased liking this dish that has a healthy twist from the original spicy and fatty pork sisig. Made of fresh tuna fillet, it could be mistaken as beef.  All our friends who have tasted this during a luncheon fellowship at home liked it. Here are the ingredients.
       For this dish, you will need:
1 small (1/2 k) puso ng saging (banana heart), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 2
1 head garlic, crushed
2 large onion, chopped
1 siling haba (green finger chilies), sliced
350 gms fresh tuna fillet, chopped
1 can (140 gms) Del Monte Tomato Sauce

     And for the steps, here's how:
1. Boil puso ng saging (banana heart) in 2 cups water and 1 tsp iodized salt for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain, discard the hard middle portion, then chop finely. Squeeze to remove excess liquid. Set aside.
2. Saute garlic, onion and sili. Add 3 tbsps soy sauce, puso ng saging, fish and Del Monte Tomato Sauce. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring.

Tuna Sisig using the recipe above
      There you are, very easy, isn't it? You should give this recipe a try! You'll love it! It's healthy too! I prefer to use the white banana heart than the red one.
      Of course, I won't ever forget the Kitchenomics pan de sal or loaf bread pizza which I used to make using a variety of toppings (ham slices, tuna chunks, corned beef, sausage, bell pepper, mushroom, onions sprinkled with grated cheese melt) over a tablespoon or two of Del Monte Pizza sauce. 

Homemade Pizza using pieces of loaf bread or pizza crust!!!
       My neighbors had a taste of this during a Tupperware Party which I hosted at home. I also brought a sample of this pizza using pan de sal which my co-staff nurses enjoyed for midnight snacks.
     What I love most about Kitchenomics recipes is that they're very much Filipino so the ingredients are available locally. True to its vision, Del Monte Kitchenomics has continued to come up with budget-friendly recipes that are easy-to-do, delicious and nutritious. Today, the Del Monte Kitchenomics website allows members to receive invites to events, free cooking workshops, budget-saving promos and access to their downloadable Kitchen Companion. Like other foodie blog sites, members also get the chance to send in their own recipes for other members to share!  

The Del Monte Kitchenomics homepage
      Today, there are a lot of food networks that offer online recipes. A little click here and there would give you lots of ideas to choose from.  I've been doing exactly that... facing my laptop on the kitchen table as I manage my ingredients. Oftentimes though, I would still fumble over my recipe box in the kitchen to look for my favorite Del Monte Kitchenomics recipes. 
     Thank you, Del Monte Kitchenomics for having been such a great mentor and kitchen mate all these years!  
     I wish I could share all my experiences about all the Kitchenomics recipes I've tried. Hmmm... that would mean quite a number of blogs in the future eh?! 
      Meantime, this would be all. How about posting in the comment box below the recipe you are fond of? I would love it very much if you do that.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Arroz Valenciana: an all-time Favorite

       Another foodie blog to bid this weekend goodbye. This post features a very popular Visayan dish---Arroz Valenciana, which you will find in almost every home during fiesta, weddings and any special occasion in my hometown in Negros Occidental.
     I have seen various forms of this recipe. Some use coconut milk. Others would use tomato sauce, resembling paella. No wonder! This dish is referred to as Poor Man's Paella. Why is that? Arroz Valenciana is a variant of Paella, a famous rice dish originating from Valencia, Spain.

    The major difference between Paella and Arroz Valenciana is the manner of preparation and the ingredients. While Arroz Valenciana is basically cooked on stove, paella is baked, using special ingredients such as wine,  seafoods, vegetables and  the expensive spice, saffron.

         Now, for my Arroz Valenciana, I usually use the following ingredients:

1 kilo malagkit (glutinous or sticky) rice
Turmeric powder
Water (1:1 ratio with malagkit rice + 2 cups)
3 tbsps oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion
1/3 cup chicken
1 cup shrimps
1 cup chicken liver
1/2 cup pork liver
1/2 medium sized carrot cut into strips
1/2 medium sized red and green bell pepper cut into strips
1 can cooked green peas
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Banana leaves (foil or wax paper) large enough to cover lid of pan
3 pieces hard boiled eggs as garnish

The ingredients
Malagkit Rice
  1. Wash rice. Remove excess water. Mix turmeric thoroughly with rice. Set aside.  
Turmeric mixed with malagkit rice
                2. Sauté chicken in garlic and onion. Add shrimps, pork liver and chicken liver.  Simmer for 3 minutes.
                3. Add 1 cup water. Let boil.    
                4. Add rice and water. Allow the rice to cook.  Add water if necessary.

Malagkit rice simmering in water

                5. When water is almost absorbed, add the vegetables.
                6. Cover tightly.  (Banana leaves, wax paper or foil may be placed underneath the pan cover 
                     to make a tighter seal)

               7. Reduce heat to very low. Continue cooking, mixing every now and then (to prevent formation 
                   of crusts at the bottom of the pan) until rice is fully cooked.

 8. Garnish with hard boiled eggs cut into strips before serving. 
   You may play around with the ingredients. You need not mix the chicken, chicken and pork liver and shrimps all at the same time. Any two (chicken and liver, or shrimp and liver) of these will do. Pairing chicken or shrimp with either pork or chicken liver always gives an extra flavor to it.

     Now you may enjoy this very popular Visayan dish which has already captured the hearts of many people all over the country! 

      Happy cooking! :)

      Need any help? Please feel free to post in the comment box below. I would love to hear your question!
Linking to:

All recipes are on Petitchef

Saturday, July 7, 2012


     Hello there :) Had a busy week, going home very late for three days straight so... I feel I need to give myself a pamper today. I didn't go to the market today as I usually do on Saturdays. Instead I took hold of my crochet needle and ventured on a new pattern I've been wanting to work on for the past weeks. Will feature that in a separate post next time.

     Meantime, I just would like to share quite a number of digital frames I made out of just one photo. Here's the original photo (credits to the official photographer of the participants of the 14th Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner Program! I like this! :) Thank you!)

     Here are all the digital frames I made out of this one picture. 

     There they all are... quite a number, yes, I took time to explore the different designs of Photo Frames Online. I featured this as part of my previous post entitled, "Exploring the Art of Photo Editing" last year. It's just a matter of picking the right design for the right picture and I dare say this again, it's really very addicting!

     Well, I believe this is all for today though I still have lots of topics in store for the coming days.  :)