Monday, October 22, 2012

Shrimp, Mushroom, Pesto, Cream

Creamy Pesto with Shrimp and Mushroom Penne

A couple of days ago, I got a hankering for shrimp and pasta. Now I have a number of tried and tested shrimp and pasta recipes under my belt, but I was thinking about something new. So I surfed the web for a bit for fresh ideas for delicious pasta recipes, and the combination of shrimp, mushroom, pesto, and cream sang to me. For this recipe, only fresh button mushrooms will do, and not the canned sort.

The fresh mushrooms lend a distinctively sophisticated flavor to the rich aromatic sauce that no can of mushrooms could ever hope to achieve.

Creamy Pesto with Shrimp and Mushroom Penne

1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
9 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 kilo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup prepared pesto sauce (see recipe here)
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
dash of chili powder
250 grams uncooked penne pasta

Cook penne according to package instructions.
While the pasta cooks, saute garlic in olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent. Melt in butter. Add mushrooms and let them sweat in the pan.
Put in shrimp and saute briefly. Season with salt. Pour in wine and let the shrimp cook until the wine almost boils away.
Add cream, pesto sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Season with chili powder and stir until combined. Toss in cooked pasta until uniformly covered in sauce.
Serves 4.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Food Tripping in Bohol

Tarsier Sanctuary
As in Cebu, it was also my first time to visit Bohol. While only a catamaran-ride away, these two places could not be more different from each other. Bohol is quiet with long stretches of road with not a soul or structure in sight as Cebu is a bustling city, much like Manila.

Chocolate Hills

Despite the different sights and experiences those two destinations have given me, they are the same in that I was never wanting in food in both places. (It took a couple of days when I got back home for my body to get used to not eating full meals every four hours.) One of the most memorable meals I had in the Bohol-Cebu trip was on the Floating Restaurant in the Loboc River Cruise. At first, I was not too crazy about the idea of having lunch on board a moving vessel, more so on a river, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised about how I enjoyed the whole experience.

Loboc River

Loboc River is a serene river and its water is a beautiful jade green. I do not know if the water got any rougher down the line but at least that stretch that we cruised on did not have any rapids. It was so much than just having lunch, that river cruise.

On the banks of the river are some local kids who somersaulted into the water from the trees along the river. Some of the local folk performed for the tourists on the river cruise on one side of the river where a dedicated stage was built. I even saw a pack of all-white dogs farther along the river, some simply getting their paws wet in the shallow water and some actually swimming around expertly.

Another lunch worth remembering was the one we had at Miravilla Resort. On one side of the dining hall of the resort, near the entrance, was a line of chest freezers packed with beautiful shellfish and other kinds seafood, some of which I have never seen or which names I have never even heard of before.

Miravilla Resort

On another side of Miravilla Resort is a spectacular view of the sea.

In terms of pasalubong, all I was able to get from Bohol was Loboc Salabat for my father, which is an instant ginger powder beverage; a box of chocolate-covered banana chips called Banchos; a chocolate in the shape of Bohol's Chocolate Hill (of course); and a small tub of peanut candy called Star Peanuts, which never reached the house alive because I snacked on it and shared it with everybody on the long bus ride home.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pasalubong Shopping in Tabo-an Market, Cebu

Lapu-Lapu Shrine
My friends know that I am deathly afraid of flying. I have a TV show on air crash investigations to blame for that, really. Because it is not like I have never traveled by plane before. For some reason, after watching that show, it dawned on me that a lot of airplane crashes are brought about by the littlest things-- a loose screw, a sleep-deprived air traffic controller, the plane maintenance crew mixing up metric and English measurements, and the list of seemingly negligible factors goes on.

Magellan's Cross
Unfortunately, I got sent packing to fly to Bohol and Cebu the last week of August for work and for some reason, I was not able to say no. As soon as my jet-setting friends caught wind of the fact that I actually boarded a plane, I got phone calls. Now, they tell me, I no longer have any reason to not join them in trips that entail plane rides.

I am not so sure about that...

Anywho. I cannot say that I did not enjoy the trip to Bohol and Cebu. I enjoyed the company, the sightseeing, and pasalubong shopping. I bought most of my pasalubong from the Tabo-an Market, that repository of all fish dried, which sweet stench imprinted itself rather rudely in the recesses of my mind.

I did not get danggit or any dried fish for that matter from Tabo-an. There are other food stuff that can be gotten there after all. I did not get too many though, as I have resolved that I will not get shop-crazy on that trip and go home with stuff that I regret getting at all and on top of it would force me to handle extra baggage. I am a notoriously light traveler. All I had on my person for that 4 day trip was a backpack, probably weighing half my weight, sure, but just one backpack all the same.

Shamrock Otap
BongBong's Ube Piaya

I got my father his favorite Shamrock otap. No other brand would do for him, as the others would leave him with a raw hard palate. I also got a pack of BongBong's ube piaya, which my mother liked a lot. She said that unlike most other piaya which tend to be hard and dry, this one is nice and soft.

Argao's Guilang Tableya

There was a pack of 100% pure chocolate, Argao's Guilang Tableya, which I got convinced into buying because 1) it looked finer than other native tableya that are characteristically grainy and 2) our tour guide says that they were made right in her own barangay and she personally vouched for its quality. It took all my willpower not to snack on it on the ride home.

7D Dried Mangorind
The 7D Mangorind, a wonderfully exotic concoction of mango and tamarind in sugar-laced candy form, was quite addictive. So much so that I kind of regretted buying just one pack. They were being offered for 3 packs for Php100.

Triple E Squid Flakes

Oh, but I did buy a dried seafood. When I asked the storekeeper what she thinks is the best brand of dried squid flakes, she handed over the Triple E brand squid flakes. I do not recall the price anymore, but I remember how it was the most expensive among the other brands available in the shop and I felt like I was taken in for a ride when I paid for it. Fortunately, Triple E was indeed better than any other squid flakes I have had. And the packaging deserves special mention. Instead of the squid flakes tossed in haphazardly inside the sealed foil, each piece is individually wrapped in plastic for better handling.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bringing Home the Zubuchon

frozen, Php490 per kilo

There was a time, when I was a little girl when Sunday meant lechon day. Back then, every Sunday, when my mom comes home from work for lunch, she would bring home a kilo of fresh lechon. Her suki would bring the choice cuts of lechon, still hot and piled high with unfairly generous amounts of red-golden crispy crackly pork skin and lots of liver sauce, to the clinic. That was one of my memories about food and family that I will cherish forever.

We still do have lechon in the house, once in a while. I, no longer, but the rest of the family still enjoys the occasional lechon treat. That was why when I came from Cebu, a couple of months ago, my pasalubong for them was a kilo of Zubuchon.

I bought the Zubuchon from the Mactan Airport departure area. I meant to buy the fresh version but I was 5 minutes late from the time the last delivery got sold out, so I bought the frozen Zubuchon instead. Not getting the fresh lechon was a little disheartening, actually, but I convinced myself that it was better that way because my family most likely would not be eating the lechon until the next day.

When I reheated it come eating time, the frozen Zubuchon, then thawed, immediately redeemed itself. First of all, it did not look to pretty frozen, I thought I was getting scrap portions of the lechon. But when I peeled off the cling-film and laid it on the baking dish, I realized that it was a beautiful beautiful cut of pork.

I followed the reheating instructions enclosed in the Zubuchon box, placing the defrosted lechon in a 375F oven. It took at least half an hour until the skin crisped up. I did not even have to fry it. What I also liked about this method is that after reheating, excess oil came out from the lechon resulting in a lechon a little less greasy than it would have been had it been eaten fresh.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Great Bowls of Hot Ramen at Shinjuku


One rainy Thursday, we went to Makati for a good hot bowl of Japanese ramen. I have been waxing poetic about Raku Hokkaido Ramen House for a long time, and I promised my brother, the ramen junkie, that we will have dinner there one day so he can tell me how it stacks up with all the good ramen he has tasted.

Since Makati is a long drive from where we live, it often deterred us from going, and the traffic situation in the area did not help either. So it was a sad, sad night when we finally got to go and I learned that the good folks behind Raku have consolidated the Makati branch with their NAIA Terminal 3 operations. Stuck with a craving for authentic Japanese Ramen and the fact that we have not had any dinner yet, we drove down the innards of Makati using the Places app in my Android phone, to find ourselves a good alternative. (Incidentally, the phone that mapped out our destination to Shinjuku is the exact same phone that took I used to take the pictures in this post. Thank heavens for technology!)

 Beef Ramen

It took a while, but after a few wrong turns, we found Shinjuku on Makati Avenue, near Berjaya Hotel. The establishment has good parking and simple, almost spartan, yet spacious interiors. Truth be told, it was a glowing review about how Shinjuku serves the best ramen in town, that practically sold us to the place.


It was quite an adventure, a comedy of errors somewhat, but one well worth it. My brother approved of Shinjuku's Butakakuni Ramen, which is composed of "shoyu based soup, vegetables, and tasty tender pork in special thick sauce." I on the other hand liked Shinjuku's Gyudon, which version is quite unlike any other Gyudon I have ever had, owing mostly to its uniquely thick, flavorful sauce.

 Mixed Sushi

Shinjuku is located at 7853 Hercules Street corner Makati Avenue, Bel-Air, Makati.

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