Tuesday, February 23, 2010

P&P-- Prawn on Pasta

No one needs a special occasion to make dinner special. It's the company and conversation. Well... a glass of good wine can help the conversation going. This dish is an example of something simple but looks gorgeous and tastes really good. It's sort of down home if you serve it family style and it can also look classy as dinner-for-two and wine.

My husband loooves shrimps and prawns. Apparently, it's contagious because so do my sons. And because it can get pricey-- serving shrimps or prawns IS in itself an occasion! And so it always deserves a place in the weekend table.

When there is time to savor every bite...to talk about stuff from serious to utterly mundane... to laugh at unexpected jokes. Then again, when you have males at the diner table, somehow eating is at a rocket's pace!

My Mom's default gift for my husband is always 2 packs of succulent prawns, and obviously he is not complaining. So one I'm-not-yet-done-with-the-grocery weekend, with a pack defrosting in the refrigerator, I whipped out what could be found in my pantry and fridge.

I saw light mayo, grated quezo de bola, all-purpose cream, fresh tomatoes, spaghetti noodles.

Hmmmm, there's a possibility here I told myself. I really have no recipe as basis on this one, but I think it's like thermidore or croque monsiuer inspired.

It turned out pre-tty gooood and a change from the usual. I plated it for picture's sake, but I served it family style for my small but hungry brood. If you have all-male diners, you make sure everybody has an equal share. I kept the prawn head on, because it looks more appetizing that way. Besides, I get to eat them :-)

  • 12 prawns- split the back and devein, leave tail in-tact
  • 1 T light mayo
  • 4-5 T grated cheese (quezon de bola, parmesan or romano)
  • 1/2 T all purpose cream
  • ground pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 T finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
200 grm pack spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente in water with lots of salt
1/2 k fresh tomatoes, sliced and dried over low heat in the oven
olive oil
2 T garlic slivers
salt and pepper to taste

Mix light mayo, grated cheese, all-purpose cream to form a soft paste. Put a small knob in the slit made on the back of the prawn. Drizzle some olive oil on a pyrex dish and lay prawns side by side. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Cook in the oven till orangy-pink.

Be carefull not to overcook as you will have shrivelled and rubber prawns. Set aside.

In a deep pan, simply saute garlic in olive oil, add oven-dried tomatoes. Get the noodles out of the pot and put into the pan. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste. For family-style serving, get a big platter, place shrimps on top, pour the oil and prawn juices from the pyrex dish onto the pasta.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve immediately. It's a healthy, clean-tasting, good-for-you dish. Enjoy!

Shortcut Tip: If you have no time for oven-dried tomatoes, you can always get a jar of sundried tomato pesto. :-)

Send me a mail! It's kitchen.kitchie.koo@gmail.com
I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fusion for Two

I find it amusing that tomorrow, we will either celebrate Valentine's Day or Chinese New Year. One is typically an intimate dinner for two and the other, a lauriat for a group. To get the best of both worlds, the eve is reserved for the romantic in me. And tomorrow, will be reserved for the gourmand in me. Not a bad deal at all.

I checked my fridge and pantry and whipped up this pasta dinner I consider a japanese-italian fusion. Wierd? Unique? But I guarantee is yummy. And absolutely simple to do.

I found a pack of enoki mushrooms,also called golden needle mushrooms. They have tiny, tiny white, shiney caps and best for me when fresh. I usually see this in Japanese restaurants wrapped in bacon or beef bacon and pan fried. Another time I had it, it was simply cooked in little butter and served as a side dish with small japanese grilled meats.

Instead of being eaten as an appetizer, I figured if it is wrapped in bacon-- it can certainly go well with a cream-base sauce for pasta, like carbonnara or al fredo. The bacon, ties the fusion concept neatly together! I served it with crispy ciabatta slathered with garlic, basil and oil. Accompanied with chardonnay-- my husband enjoyed our simple yet satisfying dinner for two.

Enoki Wrap:

  • 1 pack of enoki mushrooms, cut off the roots and wash thoroughly. Drain and divide into 10-12 batches
  • About 5-6 strips of bacon, sliced in half, yielding 10-12 shorter strips

Pasta with Cream Sauce:

  • 2 cups of cooked pasta, spaghetti or fettucini
  • 1 T of butter
  • 6 T all-purpose cream
  • 1/3 c parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 T extra parmesan cheese on the side
  • freshly ground pepper
  • optional: thin ribbons of 2 basil leaves (chiffonade)

Cut your enoki mushrooms to a length of 2 inches. If you got a long one, cut the stalk in half and combine to make a thicker bunch. Simply wrap this with bacon and set aside, seam side down. You may secure with toothpicks.
Heat your pan or grill pan, then place the wraps, seam side down. Bacon shrinks and so as this cooks , it begins to tighly wrap the enoki mushrooms. You may also choose to bake especially when cooking a big batch for plenty guests. Set aside when thoroughly cooked.

In another pan, heat butter with all-purpose cream until it melts but not bubbling. Add the pasta and gingerly mix. Sprinkle 1/3 c of parmesan to evenly coat the pasta as you toss it. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and ribbons of basil. Split servings on 2 plates, give a final sprinkle of cheese and arrange the enoki wraps on top.

I enjoy different textures when eating, so a crusty bread for me, completes the experience.

Garlic Basil Olive Oil Bath:

  • Pound about 5-6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped in a mortar and pestl
  • Add about 6-8 leaves of basil cut into small ribbons (chiffonade)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 -1/3 c olive oil

Slather this mixture on crusty bread like french bread or ciabatta. Grill on high heat until crunchy.

Who says you have to go out in a fancy restaurant, get upset with the traffic and the crowd? When you can enjoy dinner and wine at home. Have great conversation, kiss every now and then, dance the slow dance without music. And cap it with an indulgent Royce's chocolate.

Happy Valentine!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mussels in white wine, post holiday recipe

I'm so sorry, it has been a while since I posted on my blog. Christmas was hectic and January just flew by so fast! Plus, my camera needed a new lense and I just couldn't post without the aid of a picture. To share the meal with you by way of a picture is just so important.

Well, the lense had been purchased finally and more cooking will commence soon.

Let me jumpstart with a simple, simple, SIMPLE recipe. I'm not sure if this is Italian or French, but I do know that it's a favorite of ours. It's an appropriate post holiday recipe, in case you have left over white wine. I find that this recipe is wonderful for two over intimate dinner...and just as great for a dinner of twelve guests.

I order my mussels (tahong) from a nearby grocery that orders it all the way from Roxas City. It's a good deal because it's only about P10.00 more expensive compared to the Cavite source-- yet it's big and plump and sweet. And nary a fear for red tide.

This is a great appetizer, served with garlic bread.
Then, serve a main course of pasta afterwards. And top it off with a simple dessert.
We use the mussel shell to spoon the broth. And slurp to the last drop!

2 kilos mussels, washed, cleaned, bearded and drained
2 T of finely chopped garlic
2 T olive oil plus 3 T butter
1 c white wine
1/2 - 1 c water
salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes

Get a deep pot, heat olive oil and butter until melted. The oil prevents the butter from burning.
Cook the chopped garlic until yellow. Not brown.
Add the mussels, then add white wine and water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a high boil and cover the pot.

After 5-8 minutes, the shells would have opened and this is a sign that it is cooked.
Stir a bit to make sure the broth bathes each and every mussel.

Sprinkle chili flakes for a subtle heat and serve in a deep bowl, immediately.
Serve with garlic bread. Accompany with a lovely bottle of wine and great music.