Monday, December 1, 2014

Vegetable- Clam Marinara

In a way, Marinara is an all- around sauce. Since it's made with fresh tomatoes/ tomato sauce, herbs, garlic, red wine, olives and capers it's perfect as:

1. Pasta Sauce
2. Dip/ salsa for croquettes, chips,  burrito, etc...
3. With a little water, as soup paired with your preferred bread.

I personally thought with it's name "Marinara", the sauce should come with seafood. Apparently, it's just basic tomato sauce made of fresh ingredients.

Today, I made some Vegetable- Clam Marinara. The clams in this recipe is optional. I just so happen have a supply of my favorite red clam sauce so I decided to throw in a can.

Ingredients:
  • 250g spaghetti noodles or any pasta of your choice (cooked al dente)
  • 1 whole garlic (minced)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (sliced thinly or chopped)
  • 1 eggplant (chopped)
  • 2 medium red tomatoes ( chopped)
  • 1 can of whole button mushrooms ( chopped, I prefer fresh mushrooms)
  • 1 400 g can of chopped tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can Red Clam Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried basil or 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil  
  • 1/8 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2tbsp Parmesan Cheese
  •  a dash of salt and black pepper granules


Procedure:
  • Cook pasta until firm/ al dente. Set aside.
  • In a sauce pan, heat olive oil and saute minced garlic until light brown.
  • Add chopped red tomatoes, green bell pepper, egg plant and mushrooms. Stir until vegetables are half- cooked.
  • Add Red Clam sauce and simmer for a few seconds.
  • Add, canned tomatoes and Parmesan cheese then mix everything evenly. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve sauce on top of the pasta or mix the pasta in.

Note: 

Set aside a little of the chopped parsley for garnishing.
Add red wine as desired. I did not include red wine in this recipe, because the Red Clam sauce is already a good base for seafood marinara.

Meat or any seafood is an option. You can add anything you want to make this your own. I just like mine to be filled with vegetables and I did not add any meat or sea food because the Red Clam sauce is just amazingly rich with flavor and real clams.

Friday, November 14, 2014

An Early Gift For My Kitchen--- ELBA Cookware

I've been using an induction cooker for 3 years now. It just so happen that the unit we are renting while we wait for the other condo to be finished doesn't allow gas ranges or anything that runs on gas. Since it's just temporary, I agreed to use an induction cooker and ditched my old gas range.

Through the years I've seen the miracles an induction cooker can do. The only downfall is in case there's no electricity, it won't run. Which leaves you with nothing if you don't have left- overs or anything cooked ahead if there's a situation that will require to shut down power.  But I'm thankful that for every emergency situation like typhoons, sudden Meralco maintenance and the likes, I'm able to keep up and still serve my family home-cooked food. One will just have to check the news, get updates, be aware of  anything that involves emergency measures.

Over-all with an induction cooker around, our monthly budget increased because we don't buy Gasul anymore, the budget for a gas tank that costs around 800php went back to our savings. At the same time,  there's no big increase with our electric bill even with an additional induction cooker. Also, we've freed ourselves from the threat of a gas leak.

Now, that we're preparing our new home, my new kitchen, I've decided to stick with an induction cooker. But this time, I've upgraded my equipment, an ELBA cookware.
ELBA Cooktop Induction
E 230 - 002 IS

ELBA Range Hood 
706AP Series
Since, we will live in a condo,  I feel that I don't need anything bigger. I've decided to buy a double induction. At the moment, I'm only using single induction, but I can already cook more than 2 viands on special occasions, what more if I have 2 burners. 

With an induction cooker, food cooks faster with the right amount of heat which is supplied evenly throughout the pan being used. The stove top remains cool even when in use--- so safety (check!) and of course, it's easy to clean.

I've also included a range hood that will suck in unwanted smell and oil. This will also protect my kitchen walls and cabinets from stains.

I chose ELBA because of it's durability. My parents' cookware is also ELBA, but theirs is bigger. Most kitchen items nowadays are made in China, but I was able to find something from Italy. It's more expensive but hey, it's okay as long as I know I'm using a reliable cooktop that will make cooking more fun and easy.

We haven't installed the ELBA set yet because we're having our kitchen counters custom- made. I'll post about it as soon as it's installed or I must say, once we've moved- in our new home.

Next on my list are new pots and pans and other kitchen accessories.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

LEGO Utensil Holder

I found inspiration to make this through a pin on Pinterest. Check it here.

Since my little boys are LEGO masters and my husband is a collector, I made use of some extra bricks not being used to make my own LEGO utensil holder. Here's what I've accomplished so far.
I want to make it bigger, I'll buy my own LEGO bricks soon so I can make a small LEGO corner in my kitchen.
Inside, I made a divider so that my cooking ladles won't slip and so that it will not get tangled with each other, especially with my spatulas.

The fun part of having little kids around is I get to play myself. I thought they would ask for the bricks back. But when they saw my utensil holder, my eldest son told me to keep it and he likes it a lot and I should make some more. He even gave me his opinion to make it higher. Well, that's my goal so it can hold my kitchen stuff properly.

Cake Pieces

From cupcakes and small pastries, I've shifted to baking cakes. My family loves cake. Even on a regular family lunch or any gathering there should be cake on the table. We've tried almost every cake in the market. From commercial birthday cakes and specialty cakes sold at any bake shop and even restaurants. These cakes doesn't come in cheap. A regular specialty cake can cost for as low as 700php and as much as 1,000++php.

Since we're so into cakes, I've decided, why not bake our own. For the past 2 months, I've made a total of 5 cakes in different flavors and types. My first project was my son's birthday cake. I made an 8", 2 layer Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache. It was very good. From there, I went on with more. There's Red Velvet which is my Dad's favorite, a traditional Sponge Cake and recently, I made 2 cakes in a span of 1 week: 

Chocolate Chiffon and Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Other than the old-fashioned sponge cake, I concentrated on Chocolate cake recipes because everyone loves chocolate. Chocolate is easy to make and is easy to coat around the cake. Chocolate can perfectly go with any other frosting as well. 
My Chocolate Chiffon was soft and fluffy, but my mom advised me that I could have gotten better results if  I used a tube pan. Well, the reason why I didn't use the usual tube pan was because I want to decorate the cake and fill it with chocolate ganache.
My Chocolate Chiffon is a 2 layer cake that has a thin chocolate filling in between. Coated with my favorite chocolate ganache and with swirls of buttercream frosting and chunks of dark chocolate on top.

The kids loved it! My siblings  and my parents ate it with their coffee. I was at my mom's house when I baked both the Chocolate Chiffon and Chocolate Mousse. She has a bigger oven and her kitchen is more spacious. It feels good to be able to work in a bigger kitchen, I also noticed that work is done faster.

Chocolate Mousse is one of my favorite desserts, whether it's served as a cake or as plain mousse with some fresh fruits.

My first Triple Chocolate Mousse turned wonky:

1. The cream for the top layer did not turn stiff that I have to just pour it on top and straight in the fridge.
2. Some time in the middle my dad lowered down the temperature of the fridge.

So imagine... the topping problem could have been solved if the cake was refrigerated longer and was in proper temperature. The following day, my mom and I tasted it and well, it's still okay with me. It's ridiculous not to have a slice. Later in the day, the whole cake looked better after setting the right temperature.

This picture was the wonky part. Please bear... Over-all, it was delicious!
The following week, I went for another try this time, in my own kitchen. I made half of the recipe from what I originally prepared and I used my Chewy Brownie recipe as cake base.  The second attempt was way better.

The chewy brownie at the bottom held the whole thing together. I also used a glass baking dish so when refrigerated, it cooled the whole cake easily.
Wonky or not, I'm still proud of myself being able to come up with such treats. Before I spend so much on a box of cake. Now, as long as I have the ingredients around, I can bake more than 1 cake of different types. It's all worth it, especially if it's for the love of seeing my family happy and for the fun of  baking!