benedict for one, please!

I love Sundays.

AO + I can typically be found wandering the Hollywood Farmers’ Market with a tradition of stopping over at the Farm Fresh Shellfish stall for freshly shucked oysters.

Today, however, he’s stuck at some training facility with a bunch of other camera nerds [and by stuck I mean happily filling his brain with knowledge]. So no Farmers’ Market tradition today but that’s ok with me because my other favorite thing about Sunday is brunch food, specifically THE BENEDICT. How can you resist something with meat + bread + egg all covered in a buttery sauce that oozes goodness? You might be able to but I DEFINITELY can’t.

One of my many faults is not being motivated enough to go outside the confines of home unless I have a very specific plan and today is no exception. So instead of popping over to one of the many wonderful restaurants in my area [try Blu Jam Café for a classic eggs benedict or get the Poached y Papas Benedict at The Griddle for the much more over-the-top approach], I decided to make eggs benedict for one instead.

I won’t lie to you: the one thing I hate about making this dish at home is the dishes. Typically piles of them. I somehow cut it down to half, mostly because I don’t like washing dishes.

Ena’s Eggs Benedict for One [or what I call a Sunday in Heaven]
what you’ll need / things you’ll eventually need to wash:
(1) baking sheet
(1) 3qt sauce pan
(1) stainless steel bowl
(1) microwave safe bowl
(1) whisk
(1) slotted spoon

for the base
2 slices of bread [I used an Italian loaf]
2-4 slices of ham [I like honey baked]
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400ºF. Place the bread on the baking sheet, followed by a layer of ham which is then covered with a layer of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Once your oven is heated (it takes about 10 minutes), pop it in the oven until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown (approx. 7-9 minutes).

for the hollandaise sauce [adapted from Tyler Florence found here]
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tspn lemon
cayenne pepper to taste

Put 2 tbpn of butter into a microwave safe bowl and zap it in 20 second intervals until melted. Set aside.

Fill the 3qt sauce pan with enough water to reach the middle of the pot and bring to a simmer [it’s that point just before it boils when you see little bubbles in the water but it doesn’t look like a storm is raging quite yet]. In the steel bowl, combine the egg yolk + lemon and whisk until it doubles in thickness.

Slowly add the melted butter while whisking continuously. Place the steel bowl over the simmering water and continue to whisk until the sauce once again doubles in thickness. You’ll know it’s coming together when the sauce begins to form peaks / sticks to the sides of the bowls. Remove the bowl from heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste and keep in a warm place until ready to serve. If your sauce becomes too thick add a bit of water to thin out. **Note: don’t throw out the simmering water! You’ll use it in the next step.

[Disaster Strikes! If your sauce begins to separate — which means the egg yolks have cooked too much — don’t fret because all is not lost. Immediately remove from heat, crack open another egg and add that yolk to the mix and whisk, whisk, whisk. Bring it back to the heat for only a few minutes and hopefully your sauce from the gods will have been saved. Your hollandaise sauce will be a bit eggy-er, which you can temper by adding a little more lemon. If you can’t salvage it, toss the mixture into a skillet with a whole egg for super decadent scrambled eggs.]

for the poached eggs
2 eggs
2 tbsp vinegar
salt

There are many, many ways to poach an egg from using the microwave, to “egg” cups, to simply dumping the egg into simmering water. This, however, is the version that works best for me.

Rinse out the butter bowl from the last section, and fill with cold water then set aside.

Using the same simmering water, add 2 tbsp of vinegar and a good helping of salt. The vinegar helps tighten up the egg + salt helps water keep a simmer [or when making pasta, a boil]. Using the slotted spoon, stir the water to create a whirlpool then crack a whole egg into the middle of the mini-water-tornado. It’s gonna look a little crazy and a whole lot messy for a second, but the swirling action of the water will help bring your egg together and after about 3-5 minutes you’ll have a poached egg! Take the egg out of the pot using the slotted spoon and place in the water bath you set aside earlier. This will stop the cooking process and also get that yucky vinegar taste off the egg. Repeat steps for your second egg!

put it all together
grab a plate: bread + ham + cheese + eggs + hollandaise sauce = heaven!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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Filipino Spaghetti

People make fun of my almost reverent attitude toward this dish, but there’s something extremely comforting in slurping up a heaping plate of old school Filipino spaghetti. Growing up, my parents were always working, so often times I’d come home from school and run to the fridge to find my mom’s spaghetti sauce in one tupperware and pre-cooked spaghetti in another. Put one on top of the other, pop it into the microwave… and bam, home cooked meal in 5 minutes or less. It didn’t occur to me until I was well into my teenage years that this is not your typical spaghetti. A guy friend of mine had come over and bee-lined it to the fridge [why are teenage boys always hungry?] and immediately spotted pasta and had me make him some. Like a good little host, I plated some for the both of us and we immediately plopped onto the couch while I happily gobbled mine away. It took me a second to realize he was sitting there with a quizzical look on his face and *gasp* not eating. The conversation went something like this:

me: Umm… you ok? You don’t like it?
boy: It’s not that… but… why does it have hot dogs in it? And you put cheddar on it? And… is it supposed to be sweet?
me: Uhh… yeah. Isn’t it?

Filipino spaghetti isn’t what you’d call typical. It is sweet with a little kick of spice, cheddar cheese (instead of dry + sharp parmesan) and yes: hot dogs. Ask me which I’d prefer and 9 times out of 10, I’ll take the less-refined, sweet yet savory, hot dog packed pasta over perfectly balanced [and almost as tasty] Italian spaghetti.

First step is to make the base sauce which is actually an Italian recipe. This is one of my favorite sauces because it’s perfect alone but it’s also a great sauce to build from.

alt: This step takes approx. 45-minutes. You can cut this out completely and use a ready-made sauce like Prego. BUT… if you do have the time, I highly recommend making the base sauce. Since you’d be using a ready-made sauce you’ll be working with something with it’s own flavor profile when making the Filipino version. Basically it takes a lot longer [and a lot more sugars] to get that sweet but slightly spicy taste.

basic tomato sauce [adapted from marcela hazan’s essentials of classic italian cooking]
1 can of san marzano tomatoes [or 28 ounces of peeled roma tomatoes in a can]
1 medium sized yellow onion – peeled + cut in half
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter [about 3/4 of a stick]
salt + pepper to taste

Pour the entire can of tomatoes (including sauce / juices) + onion + butter into a sauce pan over medium heat. I used a 3-quart pan my first time making this sauce and it worked perfectly. Bring the sauce to a simmer and lower the heat to continue that soft simmer for about 45-minutes.

Stir occasionally and using a wooden spoon, crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot. You can also add salt + pepper to taste. You’ll know the sauce is ready when the tomatoes have fully broken down… this sauce is simple, velvety and delicious (and goes great on it’s own on top of spaghetti]. Discard the onions [or do what I do and stick it in a tupperware for later use. For example: I made a chicken parmesan sandwich with this sauce + the onions].

filipino spaghetti [makes 2 trays of spaghetti… or a whole lotta leftovers]
garlic – 2 or 3 large cloves, peeled + minced
1 tbspn butter / margarine
1lb lean-ground beef
tomato sauce (a 24oz jar makes for a meaty sauce)
1 cup brown sugar
granulated sugar to taste
2 cups grated mild cheddar
3-4 hotdogs – cut diagonally into bite sized pieces
spicy banana ketchup “tamis anghang” / hot sauce to taste
(2) 16 oz boxes of spaghetti

Melt about a tablespoon of butter (or margarine) in a large pot over medium heat [I use my 6qt dutch oven because it cooks slowly and evenly]. Once the butter has fully melted, add in the garlic and sauté then add the meat making sure stir with a wooden spoon so the meat separates + cooks evenly.

Once the meat has browned add your sauce and bring to a boil then add about a cup of brown sugar. Stir in the sugar + add hotdogs + half of your grated cheese + ketchup / hot sauce and let sit for at least 10 minutes before tasting [this is to make sure the sugar deconstructs, and the flavors combine together]. At this point it really depends on how sweet you want to go. Once the brown sugar has been added I tend to use granulated sugar a little bit at a time, because the sweetness is much more obvious so I don’t have to use as much. I add about a 1/4 cup at a time and always wait 5-10 minutes before tasting and adding more. Realize at this point the sauce shouldn’t taste at it’s “full” sweetness. This is because you’re going to turn the heat all the way down to low and let it sit on this low heat for at least an hour (or 3 if you have the time). Something magical happens during this “rest” period in which the sugars fully deconstruct and the sauce becomes a heavenly blend of sweet + spicy.

About 30 minutes before you think you’ll die if you don’t have some spaghetti, pull out another large pot, fill with water, add a generous helping of salt + bring to a boil [that whole add olive oil to keep noodles from sticking together is a myth but salt does help it come to temperature faster]. Toss in the spaghetti, cook for about 8-10 minutes until al dente then pour into a colander under cold water to stop the cooking process [and *gasp* to keep the noodles from sticking]. Once you’ve drained all the water simply combine everything into the trays. I usually do a little spaghetti + sauce at a time to make sure the sauce gets to the very bottom. Once you’ve filled the trays, add a bit more sauce on top, sprinkle with your last cup of grated cheddar and enjoy!

alt. When I’m not making this dish for a party — or a regular dinner at home with my large Filipino family — I still make the same amount of sauce but just enough pasta for me. The rest of the sauce I stick in a tupperware and pull out whenever I’m hankering for good ol’ Filipino spaghetti (which is every subsequent night until the sauce is gone).

* * *

Reading this all back to myself, it sounds complicated and a lot of work, but I promise you it’s not. If you don’t make the basic tomato sauce it’s about 10-15 minutes of prep time, 3 hours of reading a book / watching tv / going to the gym so you don’t feel bad about the massive amounts of pasta you’re about to eat… while waiting for your sauce to be ready. AND, it’s only about 10 minutes of clean-up (you’ll have to wash one knife, one cutting board, 2 large pots [one for the sauce + one for the pasta], + one colander. Easy Peezy.]

strawberry margarita love pie!

A month or so ago I bought an electric mini-pie maker but got so busy with work that I never had a chance to really try it out.

But TODAY… I’m gonna be a pie making fool.

First pie of the day was aptly named by the singer because it tastes like love… dipped into strawberry margaritas (lol).

What you’ll need:

for the dough
1 1/4 cup – All Purpose Flour
1 tbsp – Sugar
1/4 cup – Unsalted Butter (cut into cubes)
3 tsp – Margarine (or Vegetable Shortening)
3-5 tbsp – (very cold) Water

filling
(1) Lemon
(12) Strawberries
3 tbsp – Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 tbsp – flour

+ Frozen puff pastry (should defrost approx. 40 min before use)
+ Nutella (optional)
+ Electric Mini-pie Maker (I’m sure this recipe will work fine as a regular sized pie… but not sure what the conversions would be. The dough recipe makes (1) 9-9 1/2 in round… so if you wanted to cover the pie you’d have to make two batches.)

Start by making your dough. Combine the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and mix together. Then using two knives, a standing mixer or hand mixer add in the margarine and butter. Once it’s properly mixed in, it’ll look a bit like cornmeal. Slowly add in the water until the dough roughly comes together (I’ve found that I need 3-5 tbsp’s of water… sometimes 7). Turn the dough onto a floured surface and work it into a 5″ disc. Plastic wrap the yumminess and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Side Note: Yes, the 2 hours are necessary. I’ve been impatient and just rolled out the dough right away and after it crumbles and breaks as you’re trying to roll it out or place it in the pan… you’ll cry and wish you just waited those two hours. I made my dough the night before so I wouldn’t have a chance of getting impatient.

For the filling, begin washing and patting dry your strawberries then cutting and removing the stem. If you’re making the mini-pies I’d suggest cutting the larger strawberries into 6 parts.

Put the cut strawberries into a bowl and add about a tsp of lemon zest, and using the same lemon squeeze the juice—about 2 tbsp—into the bowl (make sure you don’t get any seeds).

Add your sugar and toss all together.

Turn on your pie-maker or over to preheat then roll out your pastry dough. Cut out 4 small rounds for the tops of your pies, flour and set a side. Pull your pie dough out of the fridge and start to roll it out on a floured surface. You’ll want it at a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch. Cut out large rounds for the bottom of your pie.

Immediately begin placing them into your pie maker (if your dough begins getting too soft, it will crumble while cooking… put it back in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before rolling it again on a floured surface) and put a bit of filling into each pie. Don’t worry about putting too much… trust me.

Cover with the puff pastry, close your pie maker and let “bake” for about 9 minutes.

Once fully cooked, remove from the pie maker, plate and serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with nutella for that extra bit of sweet.

Happy pie eating!

recipe adapted from: mini pies by abigail johnson dodge

life, love, a recipe & the rest.

Wowzers… been a while right?

What can I say? Just around the time of my last post, I booked a project which rolled into another project… and then another and another and before I knew it I was 5 months in & 13 jobs deep. It was a roller-coaster of a summer to say the least. After months of work, sleepless nights and a few tears I came away with new friends, a great sense of accomplishment and a store of new experience. I actually feel a tinge of confidence in my work now. I don’t come in to a new office with an unsettling fear that I will fail and disappoint the people who hired me (along with those who recommended me). It’s kind of great.

So now where am I?

Professionally, I’m working on a new project with a new PM and new Producer and entirely new crew. It’s a bit strange to come on to a set and not immediately recognize 50+ faces but… that’s the name of the game in commercial production (I was just spoiled by my golden summer).

Personally, I’m spending most of my free time playing video games on a couch I’ve grown extremely comfortable laying on, reading cooking blogs (smittenkitchen.com, amateurgourmet.com & thekitchn.com are my current favorites), and missing my family. All of the siblings are now spread out across the country with the singer and I still in LA, the actor in Davis, the photographer in Chicago and the baller (and littlest of all of us) studying her brain out in Tennessee. What’s worse than us all being spread out? It will be the first Christmas that we can’t all be together. In the past, there were times when some of us were in the Philippines for the holidays but this is truly the first time we don’t really have a choice in the matter. I love this time of year but this really will be a bittersweet Christmas.

“]

my amazing family (mia: photographer, baller & gopher)

Ok, enough sap for one evening.

The real reason I thought about posting is because of a picture of huevos rancheros I posted on facebook this past weekend. Backstory: On Sunday, I was whipping up the boyfriend’s favorites for breakfast (french toast, corned beef & hash + fried eggs) when I was at a loss as to what to make for myself. We’ve really been into Chopped lately so he decided to throw a “secret ingredient” at me which I had to use in my meal (though I really think he was just trying to get rid of something he bought by mistake). It was a can of El Pato’s salsa de chile fresco which translates to “roasted fresh chile salsa”.

After I popped open the can & tasted its contents [pretty much tastes like tomato sauce with a very large kick], all I wanted was to bring back memories of my mini-trip to Mexico and have huevos rancheros for breakfast. Not to toot my own horn, but they turned out pretty good. And apparently other people thought so too! Ever since I posted this picture, I keep getting messages about the recipe. So here goes…

Typically huevos rancheros is made with fried corn tortillas, fried eggs & tomato-chili sauce. Mine? I made it with whatever I currently had in the kitchen. This is a super simple recipe that involves cooking 4-separate parts which is then combined together on a plate.

Ingredients:
1 can of salsa de chile fresco
2 eggs
1 large flour tortilla
1 can of refried black beans
shredded monterey jack & cheddar cheeses
1/2 medium yellow onion (chopped)
butter
vegetable oil

Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF. Or if you’re not fussy like me, just set it to a high-broil. You’re just toasting tortilla’s after all.

Sauce:
I started by melting about a teaspoon of butter in a 3qt sauce pan. Once the butter had fully coated the bottom, I added the chopped onions and sautéed until tender then added the can of salsa de chile fresco. Bring sauce to a simmer and leave uncovered to reduce the sauce and thicken it. Alt: If you don’t care for onions, pour that bad boy into a microwave safe bowl and heat till warm.

Tortillas:
Cut up the tortilla into triangular bite-sized pieces. Toss them on to a baking sheet and pop ’em in your pre-heated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until they crisp and brown. Alt: For extra crispy tortillas, sprinkle them with a bit of olive oil & salt to taste then mix with hands before toasting in oven.

Beans:
In a small skillet, coat the bottom with a bit of vegetable oil (I use stainless steel this is necessary but for you teflon folks, a teeny bit of PAM spray should do it) then add your can of refried beans (I prefer the black variety). Once it begins to soften, add a small handful of the shredded cheese. Continue heating until cheese melts, stir in & set aside.

Eggs:
This already a super heavy meal… so I used a non-stick pan with the teeniest bit of oil (I poured some on a paper towel and spread it on the fry pan), cracked two eggs in, added some salt & covered on medium-low heat until the whites were fully set. Alt: Poach em’, fry em’, boil em’—do it your favorite way… whatever’s clever loveys!

Plate:
Start with the tortillas — put them on the plate so that they sort of cover the bottom. Cover with the heated refried beans and then lay on those eggs. Pour the sauce over everything then sprinkle on a handful of shredded cheese.

ena's not-so-typical huevos rancheros

¡Provecho!

hungry? make some pasta.

It’s almost time for lunch, so why not a post about food.

I tried this dish a few weeks ago based solely on the fact that I happened to have zucchini, mushrooms and basil on hand. It was simple, light and most of all delicious.

Zucchini & mushroom pasta with white wine, lemon and basil sauce

I’ve never been very good at exact measurements when it comes to cooking but here’s a list of the ingredients I used. If you want to recreate this dish, you’ll have to try and do it from your own tastes. I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to go to the market so I used whatever I had in my kitchen (save the white wine which I bought from a store a block from my apartment).

Ingredients:
Olive oil (I use extra virgin)
Yellow onion (if I had shallots that night, I would have used them instead)
Garlic
Portobello mushrooms
Zucchini
Basil
Lemon juice
White wine (dry: I ended up using one that had a nuttier flavoring which I think paired well with the zucchini & mushrooms)
Parmesean
Pasta (your choice)

I started by cooking the pasta separately and removing it as soon as it was al dente. Once the pasta was cooked I drained it and ran cold water over it to keep it from sticking.

To prep for the sauce, I sliced the zucchini into thin rounds (you can do it julienned if you prefer), sliced the onion into thin rings, thinly sliced the mushrooms, and minced the garlic (thin is obviously the trend here). I then heated some olive oil in a wok (mainly because I like cooking in a wok, but a large skillet is probably the most conventional) over medium heat and added the onion and garlic until the garlic was slightly browned and the onion was limp.

Once the garlic and onion were cooked to my liking, I added the mushrooms and sautéed (maybe about 2-3 minutes), then added the zucchini until it was softened (about 5 minutes). While the zucchini was cooking I cut the basil (about 2 or so handfuls) into chiffonade (you can also do this during prep work… I just forgot). After the zucchini had softened enough, I added the white wine (about 1 cup), basil, and lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons) to the pan and let the wine reduce until the sauce had thickened a bit. Once the sauce was at a good consistency (again, this is going to depend on a person’s preference), I added about 1/4 cup of parmesan and let cook for about 2 minutes (you know it’s ready when the cheese has melted and the sauce is a bit thicker).

I then added the pasta, tossed, plated and garnished with some basil. ♥

I’m also always a fan of having a glass of the wine you used in your sauce (which is why I never buy “cooking” wines) hence the wine glass in the picture.

Sorry that I suck at giving measurements but if you guys try it, let me know how it turns out!

And now that I’m thoroughly hungry… off to grub!