Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Loot from Venice

Frutti di Mare

*Updated with recipe

Frutti di Mare, white wine, baguette and fantastic foie gras

I have not cooked good food in a real long time...
Back in 2006 I attended a whole week of cooking class under an Italian chef at Amici di Don Bosco.  My favorite then was Frutti di Mare (Fruits of the sea) with black pasta.  After getting fresh pasta and great olive oil in Venice I decided to cook for my sister today as i'm leaving Paris tomorrow to go adventuring elsewhere this week.
I used to make the actual pasta itself (yup, starts with getting ink sacs from squids), rolling the pasta out with my good old rolling pin then cutting it thinly.  This fresh pasta is WAY better, I need to practice again.
400 g blank ink pasta (good for 4 people). If you can't find this, any ole spaghetti will do
1 lb scallops
1 lb small squid
1 lb shrimp
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup tomatoes (I like canned stewed tomatoes only because they are sweeter than fresh)
1 head of garlic, minced fine
1 cup white wine
3 Tbsp parsley chopped

The original recipe calls for mussels, clams and fish.  You can add whatever seafood you like, just be aware that each has it's own cooking time, and halve the amount of the other ingredients (you'll find the amount I have here is already too much, I love seafood, what can I say?)

Fresh (extremely fresh) scallops
Prep work:
1. Depending on the size of you scallops, halve them into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces and separate the orange part (good eats, don't throw this away like I used to).  If you have small ones, leave as is.
2. Peel the skin of the squid, take the spine out and remove the incisors from the head.  Slice rings from the body, and quarter the head.
3. Remove the head and shell of the squid, put this into a pan with a little salt and 1/2 cup water.  Let it boil and mash the heads with a slotted spoon to get all the shrimp juice out.

4. Remove the vein at the back of the squid by running your knife along the back and fishing out the vein. 

Perfectly cooked shrimp
Start boiling water for the pasta.  Once it comes to a boil, add 3 Tbsp of salt.
Heat the oil in the pan.  The reason there is so much oil is because this dish is an oil based pasta. Add the garlic and cook it for about a minute.  Add the tomatoes and let it color the oil and fry a little (takes 2 minutes for canned tomatoes, 4 minutes for fresh).  Add the scallops and fry, season with salt and pepper.  Watch it so that as soon as it firms up a little, remove the scallops from the heat to avoid over cooking.  Don't worry about it being undercooked, you'll cook it again later.  Next, do the same thing with the shrimp and squid separately. Sauté and season, then remove from the heat. 

 Once your seafood is cooked, add the white wine to the oil and let the alcohol burn away (give it around 6 minutes).  When you can't smell the alcohol anymore, add the shrimp broth you just made (make sure you just add the water and none of the shrimp head).  Let this boil down for about 10 minutes.   What we are doing is basically intensifying the shrimp taste.  Salt and Pepper to taste.   While waiting for the pasta sauce to boil, add your pasta to the salted and boiling pasta water.  You'll have to time this so that as soon as the pasta is cooked, you can add it to the pasta sauce.
As soon as the pasta sauce boils down, scrape the bottom to make sure nothing is burning and gauge if the oil/sauce is enough for your pasta.   Get the cooked pasta and dump it in the same pan, let it absorb the oil and sauce (let go for about a minute so that you don't overcook it).   Add back the seafood you precooked and let them simmer happily for about a minute more, at the same time taste to adjust the seasoning.

Tossing the fresh pasta after cooking for 3 minutes into the simmering pot of sea-liciousness
 Take off the heat and drizzle more olive oil on top then add chopped parsley for garnish.
*If the oil is not enough, just add more olive oil to the sauce and season appropriately.

Et Voila! Frutti di Mare

Europe 2008 - Paris Day 5

Lazy day, just ate at Dessirier by Michel Rostang (Michelin 2 star restaurant)
and cooked Frutti di Mare for my sister :-)



Master glass glass maker at Murano, Italy demonstrating how to make a glass horse

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Europe 2008 - Venice Day 3

Last day in Venice, back to Paris and met with Faye

Europe 2008 - Venice Day 2

Visited the islands Murano, Burano and Torcello
Purposely got lost on the way to Rialto to find food (and we did!!)

Europe 2008 - Venice Day 1

Europe 2008 - Paris Day 4

Marche' closing (missed it!) and Paris Catacombs (yes the walls are made of human femur and skulls)

What's in a name?

Tagged by Freshness

Rule: List all the names you were called by and the people who call you that. Tag at least 10 members of your contacts and give a comment on their site for them to know they've been tagged.

Full Name:  Renee Ross Barrientos Santos

Renee Ross

My dad's name is Renato, so they called me Renee. Ross is from Katharine Ross, an actress in the 60's I think.  I only found out about the Ross part when I was in high school.  We had a project for it in our Religion class where we had to search for the meaning of our names, and my mom told me my name isn't Renee Rose, it's actually Ross.  And that my name is pronounced "Re-ney" not "Reni" because of the song "Don't walk away Renee".  True enough when I was looking at my personal file at home where our old grade cards were (my parents are both Accountants, go figure), I saw my kindergarten grade card and there was a big "e" on top of the last "s" in the name Ross.  I thought it was a typo, but the "e" was written by a kid who wanted to be rose, but really was an artichoke.  I only started using Ross in college (legal requirement)

they call me..

RR - obviously is for Renee Ross, my family and close friends call me this since birth.  Nauna ako kay RR Hererra, and i'm a real girl.

Mama R - by my friends from UE (we all call each other Mama)... *Update there is the variation Mama Renee from my Atlanta friends. Thanks RC! I sound like a beautician :-D

Renata - an old friend of my dad saw me, and immediately the word Renata came to mind.  She just assumed that's my name.

Hardy har har - this is what my high school and college friends in UPLB call me, a variation on RR

Tabatchoy - this is what my dad calls me.  I only found out when his secretary told me how concerned he was about me, and that during lunch time he kept saying "musta na kaya si tabatchoy" (kaw talaga papa!)

Taba - short version nang tabatchoy - i'll kill you if you comment.  Si Ronald lang tumatawag sakin nito (patay sha pag nag kita kami)

Tabachi - same thing.

Pretty kitty - shared name amongst my siblings

Unggoy - old name from our dad, shared name amongst my siblings

ACSANTOSR - a big shout out to ACDJ and ACSUNICOJ

Tita - by Diane (I also call her Tita Diane aka ACDJ)

Chickee - this is what Susan calls me (she's the mother hen) - my friend in Atlanta

Ganda - this is what Sarah calls me, friend in Atlanta.  I brainwashed her.

Sick little girl - don't ask (but it comes with a dance).  Nemesis of Influenczar (don't ask)

Cow (from Cow and Chicken) - one of my sisters is the chicken.  The boneful one.

Little tea pot - also comes with a dance (Tin tin, one of my sisters best friends call me this)


Gadmader - I am the Gadmader Packer of The Mob.

.....and my favorite of all names....

Goddess - this is what my boss calls me.

** I'm tagging - Tita Diane, Anne Murray, Linelle, Nanette, Izza pots, RC, Marielle, Ronie, Weny, Marine

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Europe 2008 - Paris Day 3

The Louvre and Sacre Cour

Eiffel Tower - Top floor

Going up the top floor of the Eiffel Tower

Busy Bee


I spied upon this bizarre looking flower in the garden beside Nanet's Paris apartment.  I stuck my camera 2 inches away from the flower and as I clicked it, this bee zoomed by.  I always thought that getting a bee on camera or any insect for that matter, requires patience, a still camera and a tripod. 

But a bee's got to do, what a bee's got to do - humans be damned!

Eiffel - 2nd Floor ride

The ride up to the 2nd floor

Eiffel Tower - First floor

The ride to the first viewing deck of the Eiffel tower

Sushi in Paris?

I know, I know, I know...don't even start... BUT seriously this place is insanely good.  It's a hole in the wall Japanese restaurant somewhere at the sides of Champs-Elysees and if my sister tells me I have to eat there ... well... you know me...

The premise of the story is, I was walking the entire day looking for a restaurant (another story) and then went looking for another patisserie (which I didn't find) and then I went up the Eiffel tower, then I got lost (another story)

So, my feet were slightly sore (thanks to my awesome shoes), but my knees were stiff and I was walking like a grandma.

Then I went back to the 6th floor apartment to meet my sister for dinner.   The 6th floor apartment in an old French building.  NO elevators.  Did I mention it was a spiral staircase? The things I learned in Atlanta (the cursing like a man part) was really handy during this time.

So anyway, after resting for about 10 or 15 minutes, we went back down (me of course, cursing the entire way down) and rode bus 92 to Charles de Gaulle Etoile where we went down near Arc de Triomphe and walked along Champs-Elysees... (me of course, cursing the entire way down)

When we got to Champs-Elysees, my sister said: “Sorry! medyo malayo pa”.  (She did warn me before hand it was a bit of a walk - I just didn't realize it was that much!)

We were walking at snails pace and I was being all touristy and was exclaiming how the buildings were gorgeous so naturally I didn’t notice we’ve walked halfway down Champs-Elysees already.  After turning left, we walked down some more, and then some more before she told me to turn right and said the restaurant will be right there.  Well, it turns out it’s at the end of a long street, but as any good foodie will do, I silenced the complaints of my unbending stiff knee and waddled along.

The restaurant we were looking for, had no big sign in French or English outside.  It will never catch your eye as you’re walking down the street because it simply had this as a sign:

(my sister, giddy that we found it)

We started off with clams in sake which were very good, that I almost forgot to take a picture

Grilled beef which was also good, very tender but needed a little more salt for my taste (but still very good i'll eat it again!)

Our first selection was eel, squid, really good tuna part (the one with white) and really really really good tuna part (in marbled red)

I've heard before that real sushi in Japan has the wasabi squeezed between the fish and rice.  This sushi was like that (see the top right with squid sushi - you'll see the wasabi) and the amount of heat when you bite into it is perrrfect.

The marbling of the four tuna sushi at the lower right will tell you that this is Otoro - the fattest part of the tuna.  Not in the menu, so you have to tell the Sushi master to go make you one.

Notice how looonngg the fish is, in relation to the rice? you can almost wrap it around the rice.

Our next course is tuna again, salmon roe, mackarel (one with green on top)

Scallops and egg (each one is awesome and makes you go mmmm.... mmmmm....)

The next one we had Otoro again, Sweet prawn sushi, and more squid!

Notice how each sweet prawn sushi really has 3 baby prawn on top? It really lives up to the sweet prawn name!

Ika Sushi - I never really liked squid sushi, but this made me a believer.... Because it was our second round of ordering squid sushi, the Sushi master added a leaf of some sort.  I can't really place it!  It tasted like a cross between basil and mint, I was seriously stumped, but it was really really really good.

I heart the sushi master

I am totally ruined.  I will never like any sushi again, unless I go to Japan (or back to Paris!)




Oh right, the story started with my feet and should end with that.  Well, It was still numb but I totally forgot about it and happily started skipping back to Champs-Elysees (for about 5 minutes then the pain set back in)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Europe 2008 - Paris Day 2

Kindred spirits

Whenever i'm stressed, I read my favorite blog:

I'm stressing out because I can't decide what to eat next


Having had to wait 30 - 45 minutes for my luggage at the Philadelphia airport more than once due to luggage being stuck at the baggage claim belt, seeing this flat, no fuss belt made me smack my head and say - good grief!! Why didn't they think of that?!?!?

My Precious

I have been wanting to taste this since last year :-D

Pistachio, coffee and chocolate Macarons

My pretty kitty Nanet and her gorgeous red wall.  This was our last meal of the day after eating eggs benedict, mussels, moroccan pancakes, baguette, cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese! Of course all came with their respective beverage (mostly alcohol: beer, kir, red wine oh and the coat-your-tongue-hot-chocolate at Angelina's)

Don't look at me like that!!!!!!!!

(In the background: strawberry preserve, hazelnut spread, left over baguette and .... patis!)

Lovely ooeey gooey dark chocolate middle.  Had some nuts in them I think (the more the merrier!)

My other favorite: Pistachio

I'm going out to try the others, but i've been told Laduree is still the best!