Pasta Alla Puttanesca

Pasta Alla Puttanesca, wow, sounds like out of this world isn’t it? But don’t be fooled. It is nothing but a sumptuous pasta dish made with a mixture of olive oil, anchovies, tomatoes, garlic, capers and olives.  And my version is really simple. And if you are looking for a potluck dish, this would be perfect. 

The origin of this recipe is quite interesting. But no, I am not going to tell you. Let’s just say,when I  researched about this dish I learned that its history is as rich as this dish…you’re probably already checking on the dish’s history on your handy dandy smartphone or PC but please hold it until you see my version of this pasta dish first.

In some puttanesca recipes, the tomatoes are cooked for a long time thereby yielding a thick sauce. Some recipes call for canned tomato sauce, some call for pureed tomatoes. I prefer to  be able to taste the tomato bits so I just chopped  them and cook them for just a few minutes.

First, I mix the olive oil, anchovy paste and garlic in a bowl.

In a deep pan, cook the anchovy mixture on medium heat about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Keep stirring.

Add the olives, capers, oregano, & ground pepper and cook for another minute. You may add pasta water if it is a little dry. 

Turn the heat off. Add the cooked pasta and the chopped parsley. Mix well.

Serve and enjoy!!!

Pasta Alla Puttanesca

Serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb campanelle pasta (or any pasta kind), cooked according to package instructions
  2. 3 oz sliced black olives
  3. 2 tbsps capers, chopped
  4. 5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  5. 3 tbsps anchovy paste
  6. 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  7. 3 tbsps chopped fresh parsley
  8. 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  9. a pinch of ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix the olive oil, anchovy paste and garlic in a bowl.
  2. In a deep pan, cook anchovy mixture on medium heat about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir.
  4. Add the olives, capers, oregano, & ground pepper and cook for another minute or two You may add pasta water if it is a little dry, about 1/4 cup at a time.
  5. Turn the heat off. Add the cooked pasta and the chopped parsley. Mix well.
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To chop, to dice, to mince-prepping your ingredients

It dawned on me that it is very important to teach my readers a few basic ways to prepare ingredients for cooking. Most importantly, how to cut or slice them. I realized that if I want  to help someone who never cooked before, that someone should start with some basic know-hows.

chopped vs diced, sliced
chopped vs diced

In this article, here are a few pointers on how to prepare your vegetables.

But before you do any cutting and slicing, may I remind you, safety is my middle name and so should you. I learned the hard way how to befriend a knife. We were not always good pals, someone at times ended up with some band-aids,yeah that would be me.

Start with a good chef’s knife. If you can invest on one, I believe that it will make a lot of difference in prepping ingredients. Don’t try to move your hands too fast. Start slowly when cutting until you get the hang of it. Later on, you will be like the pros.  Now, whatever knife you choose to use, the bottom line is make sure it is something you are comfortable with.

Let’s start with mincing. This would be the smallest cut. My example here is a minced garlic. My trick on mincing garlic is by pressing or smashing the garlic with a knife just like so. Press the knife with the ball of your palm. However, if you don’t like this idea, you can always just peel off the skin first, then just keep chopping until it is finely chopped.

After pressing or smashing it will look like this.

You can then peel the skin off and just chop very small.

Slicing. I think for this article, I chose the wrong ingredient to show you examples. I chose an onion and to be honest, I still don’t have a trick up my sleeves on how to not cry while chopping onions. Anyway, I always cut the onion in half, then peel the outer dry skin off.Then cut the ends off as well.

Always hold the onion with bent fingers, always with the cut side down on the chopping board and slice slowly.

Dicing. Going back to our onion. Dicing could also be small or big. It basically is square-y in shape. Of course my picture has a triangular shape but you get the point. Vegetables like bell peppers or tomatoes can be cut like this. With a whole onion, you just cut in half, cut each half lengthwise with the cut side down,then cut crosswise with the desired thickness or size.

When you have a recipe on hand and you are confused as to how small is small or how big is big, what I always say is just chop away whatever your gut feeling says. If the writer of that recipe is very particular about the size, normally, the writer will add a measurement, like “half of an inch” or “1/4 of an inch”. But if it will help you, look at the picture below to give you an idea:

Left to right: minced; chopped small (sometimes called chopped finely); chopped medium (sometimes called rough-chopped); diced (here it is large dice); and sliced (thinly).

It always comes down to personal preference on how you want to cut your ingredients. If you feel that you want bigger cuts as opposed to smaller cuts as what the recipe calls, I say go for it! Now, that being said, if you are new to cooking and just started learning, I recommend following the directions. That way, there is room for lesser mistakes!

So, good luck and happy cooking!

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Pork Chop & Wild Rice Casserole

A one-dish meal that is perfect for supper.

Very easy to make.
Here you go:
Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of pork chops.
Brown both sides of pork chops in oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix Uncle Ben’s rice plus the seasonings that came with it, cream of mushroom soup,chopped mushrooms and water.

Pour mixture into a baking dish.

Arrange the pork chops on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.Make sure it doesn’t dry up to much.
Serve hot and enjoy!

Definitely yummy!

Pork Chop & Wild Rice Casserole

Pork Chop & Wild Rice Casserole Recipe

Serves 4

IngredientsPrintIngredients

  1. 4 pork chops, bone-in
  2. 1 box Uncle Ben’s Wild rice & long grain (or 1 cup of regular rice)
  3. 1 4-oz can mushrooms, chopped or (1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms)
  4. 1 can 10-oz can cream of mushroom soup
  5. 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle salt and pepper both sides of pork chops.
  2. Brown both sides of pork chops in oil. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix Uncle Ben’s rice plus the seasonings that came with it, cream of mushroom soup, chopped mushrooms and water.
  4. Pour mixture into a baking dish.
  5. Arrange the pork chops on top.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes making sure the casserole is not too dried up.

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Pork Belly Sisig (Sizzling Pork Belly)

Pork Belly Sisig

This dish is far from ordinary. It is because it is made with a pork cut that is not necessarily used often – pork belly. Rightfully so, because this part of pork is fatty and a lot of people shy away from using this or probably don’t even know this pork cut even exist 🙂 . Not so health friendly as some may concur. However, cooking pork belly should be a once-in-blue-moon treat especially to a foodie. And if you want to try dish, as I always say,eating in moderation is the key.

In the Philippines (where this dish originated from), Sisig is typically cooked with pig ears & pig cheeks then served on a sizzling plate. Sounds interesting right? Well it is. But let me tell you, it is delicious!!! I don’t have access to pig ears or pig cheeks at this time, so here is an alternative – pork belly and chicken liver sisig. I am delighted to share with you this sumptuous dish, so enjoy!

First, prep the pork. Rinse well then cut into chunks.

In a deep pot, add water and boil for at least 40 minutes. Watch that the water do not overflow. If it does, just turn the heat to a lower level (I warned you).

Boil chicken liver for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Roughly chop the chicken liver then set aside.

Chop some red onions, fresh ginger, jalapeno pepper, & scallions.

On high heat, fry the pork until brown and crispy.It is best to use a cast iron skillet.

Remove the pork with a slotted spoon or a wire spatula and transfer to a plate.

Remove the rendered fat on the skillet. Leave about 3 tablespoons. Saute onions and ginger for a minute in the same pan.

Turn heat to high. Add the pork back in. Add the chicken liver, scallions, jalapeno pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons of mayo and 1 egg.Cook for 1 minute. Stir well. Turn the heat off. Stir in the reserved onions and scallions. Serve with some lemon or lime slices. If you can find the Filipino lime called calamansi, the better.

Serve hot and enjoy!!!

Pork Belly Sisig (Sizzling Pork Belly) Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 2 lbs pork belly with skin (boiled and chopped into small pieces)
  2. 3/4 cup chopped boiled chicken liver
  3. 2 medium size red onions, chopped small (reserve 1/4 cup)
  4. 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  5. 2 tbsp mayo (optional)
  6. 1 fresh egg, lightly beaten
  7. 4 sprigs of scallion, chopped (reserve 1 tbsp)
  8. 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds included, chopped finely
  9. Salt & pepper to taste
  10. Calamansi slices

Instructions

  1. Prep the pork. Rinse well then cut into chunks.
  2. In a deep pot, add water and boil for at least 40 minutes. Watch that the water do not overflow. If it does, just turn the heat to a lower level (I warned you).
  3. Remove pork and set to cool. Cut into small pieces. Then set aside.This can be made ahead too and just put in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Boil chicken liver for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Roughly chop the chicken liver then set aside.
  5. Chop some red onions, fresh ginger, jalapeno pepper, & scallions.Reserve some onions and scallions to add before serving.
  6. On high heat, fry the pork until brown and crispy.It is best to use a cast iron skillet.
  7. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon or a wire spatula and transfer to a plate.
  8. Remove the rendered fat on the skillet. Leave about 3 tablespoons. Saute onions and ginger for a minute in the same pan.
  9. Turn heat to high. Add the pork back in. Add the chicken liver, scallions, jalapeno pepper, salt and pepper.Keep stirring. Cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  10. Add 2 tablespoons of mayo and 1 egg.Cook for 1 minute. Stir well. Turn the heat off. Stir in the reserved onions and scallions. Serve with some lemon or lime slices. If you can find the Filipino lime called calamansi, the better.
  11. Serve hot and enjoy!!!

NOTES:
Boiled pork can also be grilled before slicing into small pieces to get that smokey taste.
No sizzling plate, no problem, just serve hot on a regular plate or serve on cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillet retains heat longer.

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