Friday, January 24, 2014

Pan Seared Salmon with Basil Pesto Sauce

I’ve been out of sorts lately, too busy to even comb my hair much less blog. Hence, none of the personal cook’s delectable dishes have found their way here. There were quite many in the past two months.

I can’t just let this blog die though. After all, the objective has always been to maintain a place to document all of his culinary experiments --- online memories we can someday happily revisit. So here’s one of them. He whipped this up to make me feel better while the responsibilities of life harassed me.


2 slices salmon steak
2 tbsps. sliced button mushrooms
4 tbsps. olive oil
1 tbsp. pesto
2 pcs. basil leaves, shredded
¼ cup cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper


1. Pat salmon steak dry and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil in a non stick pan and fry salmon for approximately one minute on each side or until a light brown crust has formed. Remove from heat.

3. Heat the remaining olive oil and sauté the garlic and mushrooms.

4. Add the cream, mixing occasionally for one minute.

5. Mix in the pesto and basil leaves.

6. Remove from heat and pour over salmon.

Wife’s Verdict: My mother-in-law would only eat fish if it was fried stiff, so when we were living under her roof, fish always had to be cooked that way. Although I’d eat fish regardless of how it’s prepared (as long as it’s not cooked black as charcoal), I do prefer fish with a little juice in it. This one was just what I needed. Soft, juicy, creamy… yum.

Jan’s Implied Quip: “When life gets you down, have some salmon.”

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tomato Pesto Pasta

Rustans Fresh opened in our city a couple of months ago and we are eternally grateful that it did. For the first time, we found new ingredients not readily available in regular grocery stores. It was in Rustans that Jan discovered an amazingly wonderful thing, tomato pesto!

Sometimes I find plain pesto a little strong, but the one mixed with tomato is milder and a lot tastier. The bottled paste that we bought is light orange in color and can be found in the imported section.

Here's Jan's perfect pasta dish with tomato pesto.

250 grms. pasta
2 packs all purpose cream
1 medium sized onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can button mushroom, sliced
3 tbsp tomato-pesto
1 tbsp olive oil
Parsley to garnish
1 tbsp dried basil leaves


1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

2. Heat oil in a pan and sauté garlic until slightly brown.

3. Add onions until transparent.

4. Add mushrooms. Cook for 1 min.

5. Pour cream and let it cook for 4 mins.  Mix thoroughly.

6. Add tomato-pesto and mix. Cook for another 4 mins.

7. Add basil leaves.

8. Remove from heat and pour over pasta.

9. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Wife's Verdict: Surprisingly tasty! I did not expect this because I always found green pesto strong and veering towards "herbal" in taste. I suppose the addition of tomato into the pesto paste changes everything. This is by far my favorite of Jan's pasta dishes.

Jan's Quip: "My best pasta recipe. At least until the next one comes along."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tuna with Salted Japanese Seaweed

Maybe we should learn to read and write Japanese. We like Japanese food a great deal but unfortunately, many imported ingredients available at the grocery store carry only Japanese labels and instructions.

Just recently, a Japanese consultant at Jan’s office left for Japan and very generously bequeathed the contents of his pantry to us. Unfortunately, we absolutely have no idea what most of the food and ingredients we have are. Jan has had to make guesses based on pictures on the packaging.

This dish is probably more properly categorized as a “guess” recipe.


1 can tuna in brine, drained
2 tbsp. Japanese salted seaweed strips
2 leaves lettuce
1 tbsp mirin
½ bell pepper, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper


1. Heat pan and saute garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add bell pepper.

2. Mix in the tuna.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add mirin.

5. Remove from heat and arrange on top of the lettuce leaves. Top with salted Japanese seaweed.

Wife’s Verdict: Simple and tasty. I must say though that those salted seaweed strips were an absolute marvel. I couldn’t get enough of them. I just hope we used them correctly. Hahaha.

Jan’s Quip: “Of course I understand Japanese. What are pictures for?”

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spanish Mackerel - Tangigue Steak with Vegetables and White Wine

Jan and I love Jamie Oliver. He’s inventive, a bit of a maverick and wears cooking like a second skin. Also, he makes British cooking look extremely tasty.

As expected though, replicating his dishes isn’t easy for Jan. There are too many ingredients that aren’t found in our city. This wonderfully perplexing mish mash fish recipe however is largely inspired by Oliver’s daring style of just putting things together.


½ kilo     Spanich mackerel (tangigue) steak (about 3 slices)
1pc    lemon
1 ½  cups white wine
1 cup    milk
5 tsp    olive oil
1 pc    onion, chopped
5 pcs    cherry tomatoes, halved
15 pcs    water spinach (kangkong) leaves
2 tbsp    dill, chopped
2 tbsp    parsley, chopped
1 tbsp    salt
1 tbsp    pepper


1.    Shape aluminum foil into a rectangular dish, about  1 ½ inch deep.

2.    Season tangigue with salt and pepper on each side and arrange in aluminum foil.

3.    Arrange along the sides the cherry tomatoes and onions.

4.    Cover steaks with mixed parsley and dill.

5.    Drizzle lemon zest all over the dish. Slice the lemon thinly and put on top of dill/parsley mix.

6.    Put the dish on top of grill and pour white wine and olive oil.

7.    Cover the dish with aluminum foil and let it boil (around 5-10 mins).

8.    Add the milk and arrange on the sides the kangkong leaves and cook for another  5 mins.

9.    Gently remove the fish and arrange on a plate with the kangkong, onions and tomatoes on the sides. You can add grilled asparagus to serve.

Wife’s Verdict: Sweet. Zesty. Heavy. Light. Sharp. Dull. Never has there been such a joyful, agreeable contrast in flavor and texture.

Jan’s Conflict Resolution Strategy: Keep me well-fed.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Simple Pesto Vegetable Salad

simple pesto vegetable salad

Jan has been experimenting a lot with salads lately. Perhaps he has observed my alarming horizontal growth and has seen the error of his ways. So now I sometimes get salad for breakfast. Haha!

I don't mind though. To Jan, making a salad is just like writing poetry. The work should be inspired and the resulting masterpiece should have elements that are unique but are in perfect agreement with each other.


4 leaves Romain lettuce
6 pcs. cherry tomatoes, halved
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
4 tsp. pesto
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 tsp. olive oil
cheese, thinly sliced
salt and pepper


1. Arrange the lettuce on a plate. Drizzle with half of the olive oil.

2. Arrange the eggs and cherry tomatoes on top of the lettuce. Top each slice of egg with pesto.

3. Add salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining oil. 

4. Top with thin slices of cheese.

Wife's Verdict: Surprisingly eye popping but light at the same time. To me that's a little bit of a contradiction that just happened to make sense. The egg made it quite filling despite the absence of meat and was evened out by the zesty and mildly sour mix of flavors.

Jan's Quip: "Cooking is all about imagination and feelings."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tuna Pesto Sandwich

Tuna Pesto Sandwich

Jan discovered pesto for sale for the first time in the grocery store a few weeks ago. He has since been eagerly using the ingredient here, there and everywhere.

His salads with pesto have been pretty good, but I never imagined that the ingredient can be added in tuna spread too.


1 can tuna flakes in vegetable oil
4 tbsps. mayonnaise
1 white onion, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp pesto
1 tsp pepper
Sliced loaf bread


1. Lightly toast bread and set aside.

2. Drain tuna and mix with mayonnaise, onions, basil, pesto and pepper. Chill.

3.  Put lettuce over a piece of bread and top with the tuna pesto spread. Cover with another slice of bread. Enjoy.

Wife’s Verdict: Another strangely comforting creation.

Jan’s Quip: “I’m good.”

Yes, we’ve established that Jan.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Beef Bacon Burger and Shoestring Fries with Cuban Seasoning

Beef Bacon Burger

Again we have Bobby Flay’s genius and the PSC girls who bought his book for us to thank for a deliciously fattening Sunday meal. This time Jan, used Flay’s Miami Burger and Cuban Seasoning recipes as cheat sheets.

The original recipe called for ground turkey, smoked ham and Swiss cheese. Due to the limitations of our local grocery store, these had to be promptly substituted with ground beef, bacon strips and cheese squares. The rest of the ingredients were easy enough to obtain --- regular burger buns, mustard, mayonnaise and cucumber.

This treat was extra special because instead of cooking on a skillet, Jan grilled the patties over hot coals. I have a bias for grilled patties. I think they’re a lot tastier than fried ones. There’s just so much more juice and the smoked flavor is a welcome bonus.

The shoestring potatoes Jan seasoned with Flay’s Cuban seasoning, a mixture of ground bay leaves, cumin, garlic, onion, oregano and turmeric. Yum. So this is how Cuba "tastes" like.

It’ll probably take another month for my weight to normalize after this feast, but the weight gain was worth it. I hope we do this again on another Sunday.

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