For the longest time, I had seen Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Mario Batali, and them likes fry up zucchini flowers like it was nothing. It was nice and orange but I never could imagine how it tasted. I hardly ate flowers. I see a rose petal on my soup from a wedding — I take it off.
That said, it took a trip to Italy two years ago to find out that there’s something nice and lovely about this zucchini flower dish. I fell in love with the balance of the herbs, the nice gooey cheesy ricotta, and the crunch of the flowers. As soon as I got home, I was wondering how can I do it… can I even do it?
Since then, I’ve been trying to chance upon some zucchini flowers but never really managed to find anything close to it until last week when my uncle cooked pinakbet with some squash (kalabasa) flowers. It looked like the zucchini flowers but I wasn’t quite sure it would work. So I gave it a shot today and the experiment was a success. I think I’m ready to be a chef!
Fried Kalabasa flowers ala Tuscano
I took after this recipe and modified it a little to my tastes. Rather than using ricotta cheese, I mixed parmesan and quickmelt cheese. Herb choices were slim in the market but they had lovely leeks which I just minced and put it in the cheese concoction. The flowers were also smaller so I had to use lesser batter.
We had no egg this morning but I figured that if I just make a tempura-consistency for my batter, it might just work. Mix cold water with the flour, season with some salt and pepper, and voila!
This dish turned out to be a really nice, even better and crispier treat compared to what I had in Tuscany. Blame it on the tempura batter or something but in the end, it was a sublime gooey snack. It wasn’t as laborious as I had imagine either. Needless to say, my first shot at localizing something I had abroad with supplementary local ingredients worked wonders.
I’ve always been fond of Tilapia. It’s not exactly the poor man’s fish but it is a versatile fish for dishes.
You can fry it crisp, grill it, cook it in coconut milk, and in this case, steam it.
Steaming tilapia was something we do in case we get tired of eating our fish fried. It is a healthier alternative and the flavor of the fish is heightened by the ingredients in it. I for one love cooking it like this because it’s nice to suck the juices out of the tilapia head. And the beans add a bit of biting saltiness that matches quite well with the rice. More to that, prep time and cooking time takes less than 20 minutes. Beat that Rachel Ray! >w<)v
Anyway, on to the recipe!
Hee hee hee!! I think the curiosity for cooking Korean Beef Stew at home was when a friend and I were driving home on a hungry night and I found myself drooling over the thought of eating a nice warm broth of Korean Beef Stew.
Now, I got one of these cookbooks compiled by Good Housekeeping and saw a recipe for Korean Beef Stew. I’m never a beef buyer because I can never seem to cook it right. I go as far as ground beef and sirloin or breakfast strips. More than that… nu. But today, the flavor of spicy broth on a sweltering afternoon compelled to get some beef shanks and cook at a nice slow pace while I read some Kundera.
When I was a kid, I used to hate our local clam, halaan, WITH A PASSION. I can never understand its taste. It’s slightly tart, gingery, salty, sometimes grainy (especially if it wasn’t cleaned well) and gummy. My folks always prepared it the same way, boiling it in hot water with some ginger. UGH! It was such a dreadful fare that I often excused myself from the table and went back to bed. No bland clams please, kthx.
It wasn’t until, again, one of my aunts who worked in Italy came home and showed me how to enjoy these clams with pasta. Known to them as Pasta con Vongole, this sweet yet briny dish completely changed my opinion of halaan/vongole forever.
Last weekend’s trip to the market brought me back to my aunt’s pasta. A little inspired by the freshness of clams, I thought I’d give it a shot in cooking one of my favorite pasta dishes. This is a very simple and easy dish, stripping the flavors to its barest essentials.
What I love about Pasta con Vongole is it’s a dish that doesn’t overcook the seafood nor do the other flavors compete with the taste of the clams. In fact, if your seafood is fresh, this is one of the best dishes to taste the freshness of the clams. If you can get your clams fresh, then this is the perfect dish for it!
My experiments with pesto started when an aunt from Italy came home and started to make her pesto. The first thing she asked my mom was to buy some fresh basil, which 15 years ago was completely unheard of in our islands apart from its dried counterpart. So she decided to create a different kind of pesto, pounding a large bunch of Italian parsley (kinchay) along with some garlic. There were no pine nuts easily available nor did we have Parmesan cheese back then. With piping hot pasta, she tossed her green mashed concoction and called it pesto. It was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
For years, I really didn’t give myself a shot in making a batch of pesto like my aunt did. But a really expensive bottle of pesto compelled me to find a cheaper and probably better alternative to the ones bought from the groceries.