Pasta al Pangrattato. Almost.

And so, I found the chance to cook my first dish out of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last week (yes, this blog post is too late, but at least I get to publish this; so).

As the the book warned, Pasta al Pangrattato was going to be quite dry, unlike most pasta dishes. I substituted many of the indicated ingredients — like dried thyme leaves instead of fresh ones, canned tuna instead of anchovies, and chili sauce instead of the real thing.

It turned out too spicy, but tolerable. Perhaps next time I should go easy with the chili and the thyme…

Pasta al Pangrattato

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Cornstarch + shoes

I am currently in a state of mild frustration over a pair of Sperrys that squeak.

One wiki article said I should put ample amount of talcum powder or cornstarch into the shoes’ soles, let it sit overnight, and the annoying squeak would be gone.

Not!

On the contrary, the squeak became louder.

Perhaps I should put a little water into the soles as well, to let the cornstarch harden? How about putting some eggs and salt and pepper as well? And throw in some rosemary, too?

I’m just fascinated at how kitchen stuff can go beyond the sink, ref, or cupboard. Shoes and cornstarch — who would ever link them in a common endeavor? (…which in my case, is a powdery fail…)

shoes

The revolution begins

Bragging 70% off its original price, the hardbound copy of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution¬†sat on National Book Store’s display table like a super creamy mango float.

I bought it.

Once I got home, I read the first few pages and leafed through all the rest with incremental zeal. I thought I just found the ‘beginner’s cookbook’ that’s so me: feasting on foods quick, sans frills, tasty, and cheap.

Next Saturday, I still start probably with Chicken and Leek Stroganoff. ūüôā

Oliver

French piece

I did my first French toast today yesterday. Too bad I didn’t have cinnamon. But the vanilla and butter and milk turned out okay. I had fun immersing the bread into the egg-milk-vanilla concoction and frying it to a golden brown and somewhat puffed up because of the eggs.

French Toast

And then I added an omelet for more fun. Plus the yogurt — I don’t actually know why I suddenly threw it on the toast. The combination didn’t seem to go very well, so I immediately scraped it off; yummy.

But the toast wasn’t very good. It only looked very good. I suppose it’s the lack of flavor; cinnamon could really have made it awesome. I settled with honey to sweeten the food. It was okay.

Note to self: Buy cinnamon.

Update: This morning I re-fried the leftover toast. Not much difference from yesterday’s. Then I friend an egg using butter — tasty! And fatty.

French Toast Redux

Frozen lemon gratings on glorified corned beef

I bought some lemons and froze them. For some reason, I believed a Facebook post that said it’s good to freeze whole lemons and grate them — peel and all — over certain foods for that distinct pungent twist.

Corned beef

Distinct it was. Pungent it was. And boy did my lips twist for the food’s bitter after- and (even during-) taste!

I tried out the supposed trick on this glorified canned corned beef. I put some basil leaves and spring onions as well.

I think I’d rather have the ¬†beef sans the fruit and herbs.

 

Liking adobo sweet and dark

In hopes of replicating a caramelized version of the unofficial national food of the Philippines —¬†adobo —¬†I spent about two hours cooking this on Wednesday night.

Sweet adobo

It’s adobo, alright, but not caramelized. And it’s too dark brown — some parts are even black — but that’s just a sign of how savory it is. I also added a bit of honey to this; it made a slight difference, but just¬†slight.

Three days later, the dish is still unfinished. It’s so flavorful that one meat cube requires about a cup of rice to enjoy. And every heating of the thing just makes it better than ever, like wine over time.

I’ll try doing this again, but with better ingredient proportions — and perhaps with pineapples.

I am Julia’s grandchild

I had to extend my working visit in a small town in Rizal province yesterday. The days-long monsoon rains flooded some roads going back to Manila. So my bosses advised me not to travel anymore.

Of course, I was not too happy with the rains. I knew many people were suffering because of the floods. But the extra night in the resort where I’m billeted afforded me some sought-after time and minimum comfort to watch some movies I’d been longing to watch.

As you know, I’ve been suffering from the “cooking bug”, the symptoms of which include watching cooking-related flicks. A few days ago, I already downloaded some of these films; I only waited for the time to watch them finally — which I did, at last, last night.

No Reservations (2007) was the second film I watched. Meh. I was looking for a Ratatouille type of story, where the protagonist beats odds and eggs to be transformed from being a mischief to a great chef, though I like other interesting storylines as well. But No Reservations isn’t either.

Well, okay, the story has its good points too, particularly regarding love for family and diligence. Oh, and Catherine Zeta-Jone is absolutely beautiful. And the insider take of the kitchen was OK, too. But that’s it. Even the romance between Kate (Zeta-Jones) and Nick (Aaron Eckhart) didn’t quite click.

It was Julie and Julia (2009), the first of the two I watched last night, that caught me laughing and crying silly. First of all, I’m a devout Meryl Streep fan; she’s just amazing amazing amazing. And the 180-degree change of character of the Streep and Amy Adams tandem from their Doubt (2008) success was also another factor why the film’s very notable.

But, of course, it’s the story — or rather, the stories — that captivated me. I’ve only been recently introduced to the genius that was Julia Child, but after watching the movie, I began to admire her more — like writer Julie Powell did (though her adulation for Child approached absurdity).

Anyway, Julie and Julia is wonderful. If you’re a struggling beginner like me, you’ll find this film instructive and comforting.

One thing, though, that struck me somewhat was how I began to see a bit of myself in Julie. She had this blog about her cooking adventures and misadventures… Sounds familiar right? For one second, I thought I just lost my reason for being. But, of course, my circumstances are totally different from Julie’s: didn’t I say I’m a single man in his mid-20s, working for an NGO and taking his MA studies on the side,¬†and¬†having recently discovered the joy of being gourmetmaybe and sometimes actually turning into a mischef?

Ye nameless, delish dish

So this is another of those nameless dishes I often end up with.

It begins with trying to do something “creative” with a can of tuna flakes and eggs. The latter ingredient has become some sort of staple because of its supposed protein content: I wanna gain weight!

Throw in some veggies in a spatter of olive oil, and voila — add the parsley for more green stuff.

Turns out yummy.

Tuna flakes

Carbonara!

I really should get an honest-to-tastiness camera soon. Look at how grainy and speckled my first (and smooth) carbonara has become!

Ehem.

Yes, I’m rather proud of this. A fan of almost everything Italian, I totally enjoyed making this hour-to-prepare wonder.

Too bad I didn’t have linguine pasta on hand, so I settled with leftover penne rigate. ¬†(And I used to not distinguish them; I just knew they were pasta. Progress!)

Carbonara

So it was wonderful. The parsley and mushrooms also added extra zing. And that Wuthering Heights¬†copy over there? — It’s just there.

When Remy learned to cook

“Anyone can cook!”

That’s the catchphrase in one of the two movies that inspired me to try cooking as a hobby:¬†Ratatouille!¬†(The other movie is¬†Babette’s Feast.)

Last Friday I watched the film again just for fun. I like how it illustrates cooking as¬†beholding¬†a lot of explosions and poetic wisps of flavors, and how one taste marries another to produce one that’s better than their sum.

The story is not as awesome as the stuff involved in it (namely, food), but it’s an eyecandy of a flick about gourmet cooking and beating the eggs and odds.

If you haven’t seen it for some while now, go watch!