Green Tomato Salad

It was the week after Labor Day, and the last of the tomatoes in the Summer season was being sold at our local Farmer’s Market. It was where I spotted some gorgeous green tomatoes from one of my favorite vegetable vendors.

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I initially thought of making some fried green tomatoes but quickly changed my mind since I don’t relish the thought of frying and the cleaning up after that goes with it.

This turned into a refreshing salad instead that I served with my Peruvian roast chicken.

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You will need 1-2 green tomatoes, one small white onion, one cucumber, and mint leaves. Rinse your tomatoes and cucumber ( I used Korean cucumber) and slice thinly. Please do the same thing with your onion but let it soak in cold water for a few minutes to take the bite out of it (this step is optional). Arrange your tomatoes, cucumber, and onions in an alternating pattern on your serving platter. Sprinkle some mint leaves on top. Drizzle your dressing made up of 2 Tbsp. White wine vinegar, 1 tsp. Salt, 1/2 tsp. Black pepper, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of sugar.

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French Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

We had a layover at Changi Airport in Singapore during a recent trip to Manila. I know I should not miss the opportunity to visit their TWG Tea Boutique in the few hours we are there. TWG stands for The Wellbeing Group, a well-known Singaporean luxury tea house chain. I bought several kinds of tea, and while browsing, the box of Earl Grey Shortbread cookies caught my daughter’s eye. We knew we had to get it since my girls love Earl Grey Tea. I just regret not getting more than one box.

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Since I bought a tin of French Earl Grey from them, I just thought of making our shortbread cookies.

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This recipe was from the Foodnetwork website by Claire Robinson. I followed the recipe, except I didn’t use a food processor. I just used a pastry cutter to blend in all the ingredients. This seems to be the easiest recipe for shortbread, but next time, I’ll make one wherein you roll the dough and use a cookie cutter to get even and uniform circles.

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Eggplant Omelet with Ground Beef

I have several versions of this recipe but this time around I stuffed it with ground beef. The easiest recipe for “tortang talong” is the one where you just simply dip the roasted eggplant in beaten eggs before frying. This recipe is a little bit more involved since you need to prepare the filling ahead.

Make your filling by sautéing 2 minced garlic cloves and one small chopped onion in a bit of olive oil. Cook until onions have become translucent. Add about 1/4 lb of ground beef and cook until a bit browned. Add 1/4 cup diced green or red bell peppers and cook just until the vegetable has softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.

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First, you need to grill or broil your eggplants. You can do this on top of your stove if it is gas, or inside the oven or outside grill. The purpose is to soften the eggplant and to make it easy to peel off the skin. Wash and dry your eggplants. Then lay it on top of a grill mesh specifically made for stove top use. Let the skin blacken all over. When cool enough to handle peel of the skin. Then flatten the flesh using a fork creating an oval shape.

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Beat 3 eggs in a shallow rimmed plate wide enough to fit your eggplant. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Then dip your eggplants making sure to coat both sides. Carefully add your ground beef mixture on top of the eggplant making sure not to spill the filling onto the sides. Gently spoon some of the egg mixture on top of the filling.

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Get a non-stick pan and heat 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil or any neutral oil until hot. Carefully slide in your eggplant. Slide into pan stuffed side up, when it’s brown on the bottom carefully flip it and continue cooking until brown and a bit crisp on the other side. We eat this for lunch or dinner with steamed rice and ketchup.

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Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta

This is a pasta dish I served on my birthday. It’s my first time making it, and it turned out pretty well, I may say so. I love smoked salmon, and it’s addition to any dish makes it a bit luxurious.

To make, cook your pasta according to the package directions. Don’t forget to salt your water. I used 3/4 lb fettuccine but you may you spaghetti or linguine.

While your pasta is cooking, prepare your sauce. Get a wide skillet and place over medium heat; add five cloves of finely minced garlic to 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Cook until fragrant, then add one medium-sized chopped white onion. Continue cooking until onions are translucent then add 1/3 cup white wine. Let this boil until it’s reduced in half. Stir in 2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and let it simmer for a few minutes. Season with a dash of paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Drain your cooked pasta and add it to the pan. Toss until noodles are evenly coated with the sauce, you may add 1/2 cup pasta water if the sauce seems dry.

Transfer pasta onto a serving dish and generously top with smoked salmon pieces. Sprinkle with dill and grated parmesan cheese before serving.

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Fettuccine Al Nero Di Seppia (Squid Ink Pasta)

I have always wanted to try making squid ink pasta ever since I made my own Paella Negra a couple of years back. I was torn between making pasta with the squid ink sauce or making the dish using the dried Squid Ink Pasta you can usually get from specialty stores.

For this recipe, I decided on making the squid ink sauce using the bottled cuttlefish fish ink I recently bought at Eataly in the Flatiron district. I scoured the Internet for the perfect recipe and after reading and comparing dozens, I came up with my own.

First up, prepare your squid if using fresh by cleaning and gutting it then cut it into rings. I used 2 medium-sized squid. For the shrimp, I just used the frozen raw jumbo shrimp from Sam’s club which I defrosted. I used about half a pound for this recipe.

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Place the shrimp in a bowl and add 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/2 tsp. paprika and a dash of olive oil. Mix until shrimp is well coated with the seasonings.

Get a non-stick skillet and place over medium heat. Fry your shrimp until opaque and has changed color for about a minute on each side. Remove from pan and set aside

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Cook your pasta according to the package directions. While pasta is cooking prepare your sauce. In a wide skillet place, combine 4 – 5 cloves of finely chopped garlic with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and cook over medium heat until garlic is fragrant. Then add 1 medium-sized chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add 1/2 cup white wine and bring to a boil until it has reduced to about half. Add your squid and cook until just firm to the touch, it will only take about a minute or so. Then remove the squid and set it aside together with your shrimp. Then add the puree of 3-4 Roma tomatoes (I cut the tomatoes in half and removed the seeds then let it pass through a box grater and discard the skin) and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Stir and cook for 2 minutes then add 1/2 – 1 cup pasta water and 2 Tablespoons of the cuttlefish ink. Continue to stir and cook until everything is well blended and the sauce has turned black and thickened a bit. Add the cooked pasta and the squid into the pan and toss until every strand of pasta is coated evenly with the sauce. Season with salt to taste.

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Transfer pasta onto a plate and add your shrimp and sprinkle some parsley on top.

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Peruvian Roast Chicken

This has become one of the family’s favorite dishes. I first made this at the start of the pandemic, I wanted to serve something other than the usual roast chicken. It’s packed with more flavor since it uses different kinds of spices. Peruvian cuisine is influenced by Spain which may be one of the reasons why we love it. Since Spain has the strongest culinary influence on Filipino food.

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious. This for me gives the perfect balance of flavor and taste I was looking for. To make you will need one whole spatchcock chicken. I got the Bell & Evans brand from Whole Foods.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F

Rinse and pat dry your chicken. Rub the chicken with the juice of one lemon and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside.

In a small bowl mix the following: 3-4 cloves finely minced garlic. 1 Tablespoon paprika, 1 Tablespoon Cumin, 1 Tablespoon Olive oil, 1 teaspoon Oregano, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, juice and zest of 1 lemon. Mix well. Rub the marinade all over both sides of the chicken. Transfer your chicken on a roasting pan lined with foil.

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Place chicken in the oven and roast for about 1 hour. While chicken is roasting baste every 20 minutes or so with it’s pan juices or with your marinade. I usually reserve a bit for basting.

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I serve it with rice and garlic aioli. For the aioli, mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 yogurt, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, salt to taste and a sprinkling of parsley flakes.

You may use chicken drumsticks, wings or thighs if you don’t have spatchcock chicken.

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Fried Danggit

When my nephew and his girlfriend came to visit us last month, they first made a quick stop at a Filipino Restaurant cum grocery store in South Jersey. While there they asked if they can get anything for me and sent me photos of their selections. I immediately spotted a small container of fried danggit and this is one of the goodies they gave us.

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Cebu is known for dried danggit, and it is where I had it for the first time. I remember I ordered it for room service at non-other than Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu, during our honeymoon. We rarely eat this since one has a funky smell when you cook it, and I hate having my house smell of dried fish. Two, finding it here in my neck of the woods is not easy. So this, for me, is a treat.

I served it for breakfast the next day with garlic fried rice and sunny side egg.

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Pasta with Tomato Butter Sauce

I made this pasta dish when my girls invited their friend who is vegetarian for dinner. I happen to chance upon a video on Youtube featuring this meatless pasta dish. It looks easy enough to make with just a few simple ingredients.

To make start by cutting in half 3 pints of cherry tomatoes and set them aside. Then chop a medium-sized onion.

Get a large skillet and place over medium to low heat. Add a stick of butter and saute your onion until soft and translucent. Then add your tomatoes and season with a teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook for 25-30 minutes over low heat. Make sure to stir it once in a while to prevent it from burning.

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While tomatoes are simmering cook your pasta according to the package directions. I used spaghetti pasta but fettuccine or linguine would also be good options.

After about 20 minutes you can see the sauce thickening a bit and the skin of the tomatoes softening and starting to burst. Gently press the tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon while stirring. This helps the flavor of the ingredients to blend well. Before the end of cooking time add 1 cup of pasta water and stir. Then add your pasta and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add about a quarter cup of basil leaves that has been torn to pieces. Add more pasta water if needed and top with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

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I was a bit skeptical when I started making this but after tasting the end product my mind was blown away by the taste and flavor of this pasta dish. You would not even notice that it is meatless.

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Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

One thing I share with my dad is my love for peanut butter. The first brand of peanut butter I was introduced to was Lily’s peanut butter slathered in pandesal. I believe most Filipino children in the 70s are familiar with and grew up with this brand. Later on, we would always buy a jar of Jiff or Skippy whichever is available from Rustan’s or Landmark every time we would go grocery shopping.

I had my first taste of grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich from Oliver’s Super Sandwiches the HK franchise sandwich shop in Glorietta that opened in the 90s. One time my dad handed me a brown bag from the store when he picked me up from work. He knew I would be hungry as we almost always hit traffic along South Expressway on the way home. He said he chose it since he knows how much I love peanut butter. I still do, and I sometimes eat a slice of bread with peanut butter for dessert.

This blog is dedicated to my dad who is no longer with us. Every time I eat this I am reminded of him and all the memories we have sharing the love for this food.

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To make, get 2 slices of bread (I used oat but you can use whatever you prefer). Slather one side with peanut butter, then layer it with banana slices. Place the other piece of bread on top.

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Get a skillet and place over medium heat. Add a pat of butter and carefully place your sandwich and cook until browned and a bit crisp. Then flip and continue to cook until brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and slice in half. Serve with a cold glass of milk.

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Asparagus Fries

The first time I had asparagus fries was at Barn Joo a Korean gastropub on 35th in New York City. It reminded me of Zucchini fries which I also love. I usually get a pack of asparagus from Sam’s Club. It’s a 2 lb bag and I have a little less than half a bag left so I decided to make this before it goes bad.

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To make wash your asparagus and set it aside. Place in a shallow container 1 cup all-purpose and add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and 1 tsp. garlic powder. Mix until everything is combined. In another container beat 2 eggs. In a third container mix 1 cup panko bread crumbs with 1 tsp. paprika.

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Dredge your asparagus in the flour. Then dip in the beaten eggs. Last coat it with the panko breadcrumbs mixture, make sure to press firmly to coat. Repeat with the remaining asparagus.

Get a skillet and pour about an inch of oil. Place over medium heat. Fry your asparagus in batches until golden brown about 2 minutes. Drain in paper towels.

Serve with a dipping sauce of mayo and ketchup, we also like to dip it in Chick-fil-A Sauce.

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