Mommy-time Over Musicals and Milo Dinosaurs

Today is quite special for me. You see, my eldest daughter is performing in her school musical. Initially, I was going to go with my sister and brother in-law but as I was headed out the door, my 3 year old pleaded and begged to see her sister’s performance. I was hesitant because I wanted to enjoy the show as well as take photos and videos so I knew I would have my hands full. To add a preschooler to that mix seemed like a crazy idea. But of course the softie in me caved when I realized how sweet and supportive this young girl was being.

So I took her, firmly telling her that she had to be quiet at all times and not complain if she got bored or hungry. As the curtains closed and the applauses softened I beamed with pride at my one daughter who took the stage and at my other one who rested comfortably in my lap, having done exactly as she was told. For this, she deserved a treat so I was set to take her on a one on one date.

Ham & Cheese Toast (with ham and veggies removed)

Luncheon Meat Toast

She wanted a grilled cheese so I decided to take her to one of my favorite quick meal stops, toast box. The Singapore franchise has light snack options and great lunch choices. It is easy and more importantly so reasonable. I spent under P400 for us both. She got the ham and cheese toast (which I had served with the ham and veggies on the side because that is how she likes to eat it) and I had the luncheon meat toast. And of course, I could not take my little one on a toast box date and not share a Milo dinosaur. I love this concoction. It is so simple, regular iced Milo with water topped with a generous helping of Milo powder. A true cheap but oh so awesome thrill. It never fails to remind me of my childhood because I used to have Milo powder with powdered milk and sugar and eat the dry mix with a spoon.

Milo Dinosaur

My Date

Garlic, Tomato and Pimiento Spirals – 5 main ingredients, 15 minutes

Let me start by saying this… I am one of those people that like to cook from scratch. I don’t really like bottled sauces, boxed meals or canned food. Being realistic though, there are days when I have to take shortcuts, and exceptions must be made, especially when it comes to preparing meals in a hurry. Today is one of those days. My husband is taking me on a last minute surprise and though I should be excited and fawning over how great he is, I must first get dinner on the table for the girls.

Pasta is always quick. It cooks in 9 minutes. This particular spiral one takes 7 minutes plus it is a fun shape that my kids love.

This meal is really simple and easy to prepare. It takes less than 15 minutes and results in clean plates and happy smiles (which also allows me to get ready and leave the house without a crying “Don’t go!” fuss).

  • 2 cups Spiral Pasta (to be cooked according to the package instructions)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 8 local tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup crumbled mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon Barilla Pesti alla Calabrese (a bottled sauce I will make an exception for)

Todays 5 Main Ingredients: Spiral Pasta, Barilla Pesti alla Calabrese, Tomatoes, Mozarella, Garlic

I start by putting a pot of water over high heat and leaving it to boil. While waiting, I prep my sauce ingredients by mincing the garlic then seeding and chopping the tomatoes.  After, I crumble the mozzarella cheese. Feel free to replace this to suit your taste preference.

At this point the pasta water will already be boiling so drizzle olive oil on it and add a teaspoon of sea salt then pour in the pasta.

As the pasta cooks I take my prepped ingredients and make the simple sauce. Heat olive oil in a shallow pan and set to medium. Add garlic and let soften. This takes around 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes and sauté. When garlic and tomatoes are tender, add the Barilla bottled sauce. If you taste this on its own it may seem too spicy to serve to kids but it becomes muted when mixed with the garlic, tomatoes, cheese and pasta. Once the sauce combines with the rest of the ingredients, add the cheese and leave it to simmer until it is completely melted into the sauce, about 3 minutes. You may season this is you like but I feel it is unnecessary.

I spoon the pasta straight from the pot so that a bit of the starchy water can add texture to the dish. A quick toss before serving and it’s ready. If there is one thing that I can promise, it is that it is a tasty and comforting dish. The flavor reminds me of homemade cheese pimiento spread. I am not going to pretend that it is the most healthy thing that you can give your child but it is not unhealthy either plus it still beats mac and cheese! I sometimes pair a meal like this with steamed broccoli or green beans for the added vitamins and minerals. Tonight, I opt for citrus fruit so that they don’t ask me for dessert!

Garlic, Tomato & Pimiento Spirals

As much as I would like to be super woman and serve them 4-course meals all the time, I have to be resigned to the fact that it is impossible. And today will just be a simple but yummy pasta… and it is all right.

Off to get excited and fawn over how great my husband is!

2nds Valentine’s Menu Offerings

2nds has always been one of my go to restaurants. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was invited to sample their Valentine’s Day special set menu. The upside is that I got to enjoy a good meal and great wine with friends. The downside? That it will only be available on February 14, 2013. I definitely think that this meal is worthy of the hallmark holiday. I am one for celebrating love anytime I possibly can so I’m quite the sucker for V-day. That being said, I want the flowers, the giant teddy bear, the candy and yes, I’ll take a damn good meal too please!

Tinapa Shrimp Cakes with Red Curry Remoulade

The appetizer was a nice tinapa shrimp cake. It was a base of smoked tinapa flaked and combined with shrimp chunks then breaded and fried to a golden crisp. It sat on a bed of red curry remoulade, my favorite part of the dish.

Seared Foie & Mesquite Grilled Chicken Salad

The salad course was simple mixed greens, cherry tomatoes and corn with a coriander balsamic vinaigrette. They call it the seared foie and mesquite smoked chicken salad. I dug into the foie gras first which was served on crusty bread with tomato jam. The bread was really nice and crunchy and the tomato jam cut the rich texture of the foie. Next, I sampled the mesquite smoked chicken which was easily the best thing on the plate. This chicken breast was so tender and was very flavorful. It was smoked, seasoned and grilled to perfection.

Malbec Braised Brisket

Seared Sea Bass

The main course was 2nds version of surf and turf – Malbec braised brisket and seared sea bass. I enjoyed the fish, which was well cooked and everything one would expect from sea bass. The creamy truffled sweet potato side was delightful. The beef was alright, the Malbec wine used in braising the beef did not lose its flavor so the sauce was nice. All in all it was a satisfying dish.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream & Chili Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme

As always, I was able to squeeze in dessert – a perfect chili dark chocolate pot de crème with crispy jamon bits. This had so many things going on but it worked together. I love mixing my sweet with my salty and to add spice and the bitter goodness of dark chocolate? Awesome. The honey vanilla ice cream with browned butter and almond streusel wasn’t bad either.

Wine Pairings

Chef explaining the dishes to the guests: Nadine Howell (photo courtesy) KC Montero, Angela Alcaron, Patrick Filart, Solenn Heussaff & Armand Del Rosario

2nds is located at 9th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio. (632) 8465293

 

Nomama New Menu Items

A few months ago I asked Chef Him Uy de Baron of Nomama to write a piece on our local wagyu from the Kitayama farms. Now, he has incorporated their products into his menu with some new items. He pairs the beef with the different varieties of mushrooms from Marco Lobregat’s Ministry of Mushrooms. Both products really go hand in hand. I am so proud of our local farmers and the purveyors behind these goods. Asides from being of good quality, they remind us of just how much our country has to offer.

Beef Tataki with Uni and Chips

He started us off with rib eye and used it in a beef tataki with a butter-garlic-uni-soy sauce, which did not disappoint. The first thing I noticed upon tasting the dish was that none of the other flavors overpowered the actual taste of the meat. It was so tasty on its own. It was also very tender. I find that some times beef served this way can be tough and have an unclean taste. This one did not!  I also loved that he combined textures by adding some chopped shitake mushrooms into the mix, which added to the overall flavor of the dish. The sweet potato chips were a great accompaniment. They were light and crisp and perfect for scooping up the tataki.

Thai Spiced Tri-Tip with Jasmine Rice and Pineapple Salad

The second course featured the tri-tip. It was crusted with cilantro and coriander seeds then seared and sliced thinly. I found the meat to be really nicely seasoned. It sat on a rice salad, which was made with glazed pineapples, toasted cashews, cucumber and tomatoes then dressed with a really yummy red curry dressing. I could have had a whole bowl of that rice. Each grain had that nice bite to it that well cooked rice usually has. The dressing just had that hint of curry, which allowed the coconut milk flavor to shine as well.

Soy Prawn Teppan with Uni Cream Sauce

Taking a break from the beef, our 3rd course was a simple prawn teppan with uni cream sauce, which sat on a light and beautiful bisque. I love prawns so this was heaven for me plus the bisque was so nice and buttery!

Milky Mushroom Steak & Striploin with Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek

The 4th and 5th courses were served as a duo of beef and mushrooms. The beef came in 2 ways, a roasted striploin with a salt and pepper crust which sat on shredded wagyu beef cheek. Between the two, I preferred the cheek. It was tender and delicious, braised in a tempura like sauce, which added a hint of sweetness. Chef Him topped the beef with a beautiful teppanyaki style oyster mushroom… Yum! The second element of the plate was the mushroom steak topped with fried onions. This is a new variety of mushroom called the ‘milky mushroom’ named for its creamy texture and white color. It had the same bold flavors that the beef had so I could have even had that alone, it is good option for vegetarians.

Teppan with Yuzu Gelato

With a meal this satisfying I was expecting the 6th course, dessert, to be ordinary… I’m glad I made space. He served us a fruit teppan with yuzu gelato which was excellent. A combination of mango, strawberry and kiwi were cooked and finished with a kaffir lime syrup. They were so sweet, almost candy-like. The gelato was wonderfully tart to balance out the sweetness of the fruit. It was topped with crunchy sesame brittle which just elevated the whole dessert. I was so full but had a second serving, what a sin!

Standing: Cuisinart’s Liz Tan, Chef Him Uy de Baron, Pinkerton’s Xandra Rocha, and I. Seated: Food Magazine’s EIC Nana Ozaeta, Ianne Evangelista and JJ Yulo

Nomama is located at FSS II Building, Scout Castor cor. Scout Tuason street. 63999 – 8813365