Recipes for the intrepid,
penniless junior professor.
Few gastronomic aromas rival the smell of oven-roasted garlic. It reminds me of lazy summer Sunday brunches with my family, and of waking up to the smell of breakfast, cooked amid the white sand beaches of Subic, Matnog.
I love garlic. It has this spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens with cooking. When roasted, it develops a delicate, nutty flavor. I use it for pretty much everything -- pasta, fish, toast, grilled cheese, steak, mashed potatoes - you name it!
Here's how I make it:
3 heads of garlic
1 cup of olive oil (1/4 cup usually does the job, but I like to use olive oil infused with roasted garlic for making
everyday pasta dishes, so I use more)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut top 1/4 inch off heads of garlic to expose cloves. (Don't throw the top away! Throw it into the olive oil.) Place garlic in a baking dish or a makeshift bowl made of two layers of aluminum foil. Add oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use hands to toss and coat the garlic. Don't be shy! Turn garlic cut side up. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for an hour or until the garlic turns golden brown. Let cool. Squeeze garlic cloves from skin, and store in a container with the olive oil infusion.
Pan grilled ratatouille.
Here's one of my go-to vegetarian dishes. Serves 1-3 persons.
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch round slices
1 Zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch round slices
1 Red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch round slices
1 Yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch round slices
1 Orange bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch round slices
1 Small-sized red onion, cut into 1/4-inch round slices
1 Half-pint cherry tomatoes (grape tomatoes okay if you like 'em sweeter)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place pan over high heat. Drizzle pan with olive oil. Heat oil until pan begins to smoke. (About 400 degrees F with electric pan grill.) Grill those veggies including the tomatoes until they burn just a little bit and dark brown spots appear on both sides. Drizzle with red wine vinegar. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Be generous with the seasoning; most of the salt and pepper will not stick to the veggies anyway so err on the side of flavor. Arrange grilled veggies in overlapping circles on a plate. Drizzle with more olive oil and red wine vinegar if desired. Top with chopped fresh basil. Serve as a starter salad or as part of the main course. Serve immediately.
N.b.: If you're feeling bold, cook a couple servings of al dente thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta. Toss with the ratatouille dish and voila--a delicious and healthy pasta salad dish. Lovely with a glass of red wine.
Eggplant parmigiana can be too rich and heavy. So, too, can beef lasagna. Paradoxically, eggplant lasagna, a combo of these two classic dishes, has none of their overpowering richness and heaviness. Here's how I do it.
Arroz a la Cubana with poached eggs and fried saging na saba.
Deep fried tofu in soy sauce.
Garlic fried rice.
Chicken sotanghon (vermicelli).
Breaded tilapia fillet.
Squash and green beans in coconut milk.
Stir fried veggies and pasta in sesame oil.