Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Hello Everyone! It’s week 2 of Pasta Month and let me tell you a little story (don’t I always? *cheeky grin*) before I move on to the recipe. The first time I had squid ink pasta was in an Italian Restaurant when I was studying in Sydney. If I’m not mistaken, the restaurant is called Pizza e Birra on Crown Street in the suburb of Surry Hills. I was having a fancy dinner night out with my flatmate at that time and squid ink pasta was on their specials menu. I was a bit hesitant at first because I obviously hadn’t tried it before and to be honest, I was a bit put off knowing that the colour of the pasta would be black (yes, at that time my palette wasn’t quite as sophisticated as it is right now). To my surprise, the squid ink pasta tasted like any normal pasta – it was just that the colour that was different to me. I’ve had my fair share of squid ink pastas, both in Australia, and here in Brunei. I decided to combine my favourite flavours from both experiences to put up this dish to share with you guys.

I’ve never made fresh squid ink pasta at home, and only because I have no idea where to source squid ink from besides from the ink sacs of fresh squids/cuttle fish. I did some reading online and found that you can actually buy bottled squid ink, but you definitely won’t find them in stores here in Brunei. Heck they don’t even have store bought squid ink pasta here! So how did I manage to source mine? Well, if you’re a regular follower/reader of my blog, you’ll know that I was in Singapore a couple of months back. I was shopping for groceries with my friends for a dinner party that night and I was flabbergasted by all the produce and products found in that grocery store. I was supposed to be focused on grabbing the ingredients I needed to cook my dish for that night, but instead I wandered off, going from aisle to aisle, looking at anything and everything. I found myself in the pasta aisle and that where I came across store bought squid ink pasta. You had no idea how excited and in shock I was when I saw it – because I had no idea that you could buy it on the shelves; and without any hesitation at all, I bought myself a pack to bring back here to Brunei. I know, I know – I’m crazy right? Haha. My next mission will be tomato squid ink pasta from scratch, and I’ll definitely share it on my blog whenever I get around to trying it out! For now, here’s one recipe you can do for your squid ink pasta:

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS | SERVES 5

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack (500g) squid ink pasta*
  • 1 pack (250g) cherry tomato medley, halved
  • 1 fish bouillon cube, dissolved in 2/3 cup of boiling water
  • 250g baby clam meat
  • 4 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 2 large squids, cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 1 lemon, wedged
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Parsley, roughly chopped

*Fresh homemade squid ink pasta or store bought is fine for this recipe

METHOD

  1. Lightly score the inner surface of the squid, or alternatively, cut into rings. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the squid ink spaghetti according to packet instructions or until al dente.
  3. While the pasta is cooking away, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high. Sauté the minced garlic and chillies together until golden brown and fragrant.
  4. Add the clam meat, juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Give it a good mix before adding the fish bouillon stock. Turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the calamari when the pasta is almost done.
  5. Once the pasta is done, drain and then transfer to the calamari and clam mixture. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and then give it a good mix. Top with the chopped parsley and then turn the heat off.
  6. Serve immediately with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - DESSERTS: RED VELVET

Arabela, Camello’s Bakehaus & Coffee Shop

Hello Everyone! Finally we are back on track with Review Sundays! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Anyway today’s review will be on a popular Italian Restaurant on the little streets of Liliw, well known as the shoe and flipflop capital of the province and the Southern Luzon area. The first time I visited Liliw was back in 2010 if I am not mistaken. My cousin introduced this place to me while my family and I were visiting his place in Lucena. I don’t remember how many pairs of shoes I bought for myself, but I’m guessing that we had at least 3 or 4 pairs of shoes/flipflops each between the 4 of us for under ₱1,500 (approx. AUD$44)! After shoe shopping, we’d head on over to Arabela for lunch. This has since become a must do every time we come down to Lucena to visit my cousin and my family; in 2010, 2012, and our recent March 2015 trip. Since our last visit in 2012, Arabela changed the look and colours of their interior from, if I’m not mistaken, pastel green to orange. They still kept their low ceiling which is what I love about this place – it makes me feel tall! People who are just a tad bit taller than me would have to bend over while walking around the restaurant, and be cautious when standing up from their table if they have forgotten how low the ceiling is.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop
Just for a reference, my sister who is standing up straight is about 5’2″

But before I begin, here’s a little history on Arabela:

Bobby and Antonette Camello, husband and wife, owners of Arabela, named after their two daughters: Ara & Bela, started in 2002 with literally two tables. Back then, the two tables were not intended to be used by customers, but instead used for selling pasta dishes & pastries to buyers within the neighbourhood. The couple were then inspired to set up a formal food business as they gained an increasing number of customers that keep on coming back. The business, transformed into a coffee shop/restaurant, opened in October 23, 2003 with 5 tables, a seating capacity of 15 persons, and a capital of ₱100,000. From there it grew beyond the owner’s expectations, and today Arabella can accommodate up to 40 persons with an array of dishes to choose from – steaks, pizza, pasta, pastries, coffee, blended drinks, and more. Arabela has earned its publicity through word of mouth and personal blogs on the internet which were all unsolicited. To date, they have been able to maintain their character and uniqueness – the ambience and of course the good food.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - SPECIALTY DRINKS: STRAWBERRY FRAPPÉ, RIPE MANGO & STRAWBERRY SHAKE
SPECIALTY DRINKS: STRAWBERRY FRAPPÉ (₱120.00), RIPE MANGO (₱100.00), & STRAWBERRY SHAKE (₱100.00)

An array of fresh fruit shakes, smoothies, and drinks to choose from on their menu; I went for the ripe mango fresh fruit shake and it was very refreshing even though it was a rainy day.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - FRESH SALAD: CEASAR SALAD
FRESH SALAD: CEASAR SALAD
Romaine leaves with bacon (₱200.00)

This was also a starter dish that we shared amongst ourselves alongside the four cheese pizza. A good dish, but again nothing too special – nothing quite stood out to me to really praise the dish for it great flavour.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - PIZZA: FOUR CHEESE XL
PIZZA: FOUR CHEESE XL
Mozarella, red cheddar, romano & parmesan (₱325.00)

A great dish to kick off our feast at Arabela, but in my opinion there wasn’t anything special about the taste, I mean it’s just a four-cheese pizza.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - PASTA (PASTA IN WHITE SAUCE): FETTUCCINE WITH HAM & MUSHROOM
PASTA (PASTA IN WHITE SAUCE): FETTUCCINE WITH HAM & MUSHROOM (₱100.00)

This was a dish that my cousin ordered, and when it came to her, she showed the plate to me and gave me a sad look – I understood her pain. It was a massive deep dish, that made the pasta look tiny and underwhelming. I’m not sure if it filled her up, but it certainly wouldn’t have filled me up! Even though I didn’t taste this dish, it looked quite plain.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): FISH IN WHITE WINE
HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): FISH IN WHITE WINE
Dory fish fillet cooked in white wine sauce serve with pasta (₱220.00)

From the menu, my mom wanted a pasta dish, and knowing her preferences, I ordered this for her. She prefers olive oil-based dishes as well as fish – so this was the perfect pick for her. At first glance, it almost looks like they overdid the garlic just a bit too much; garlic slices tossed through the pasta and minced garlic on top of the fish? Yeap, that’s quite a bit! Other than that, the fish was cooked well, still moist on the inside, but again nothing quite special.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): VONGOLE
HOUSE SPECIALS (OLIVE OIL): VONGOLE
Clam in olive oil with garlic (₱230.00)

This was the dish thAT I had, and at first I didn’t want to order this dish because I can make a good vongole myself; but nothing else in the menu stood out to me. Vongole for roughly AUS$6.00? That’s value for money there as the dish had a generous amount of baby clams! Taste was good, but again nothing too special for me.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (TOMATO BASED): SHRIMP POMODORO
HOUSE SPECIALS (TOMATO BASED): SHRIMP POMODORO
Pieces of shrimp with pomodoro sauce (₱230.00)

This dish I only got to taste a bit of, and I can’t remember what it tasted like so I asked my sister. She said that it was a bit salty for her liking (she finds everything she eats salty anyway so it’s hard to trust what she says), and that she didn’t like the biscotti because it was too thick for her liking (I liked it).

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (CREAM BASED): SIRLOIN FETTUCCINE
HOUSE SPECIALS (CREAM BASED): SIRLOIN FETTUCCINE
Strips of sirloin in fettuccine sauce (₱210.00)

I ordered this dish for my other sister because I’ve never heard of sirloin fettuccine before. I imagined a nice char-grilled sirloin steak, striped and tossed through a classic fettuccine in creamy white sauce – but no, it looked like boiled(?) strips of sirloin garnished on top of an ordinary plate of fettuccine.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK PORK 2PCS
HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK PORK 2PCS
Served with mixed vegetables and mashed potato or rice (₱200.00)

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK BEEF 2PCS
HOUSE SPECIALS (BABY BACK RIBS): BABY BACK BEEF 2PCS
Served with mixed vegetables and mashed potato or rice (₱230.00)

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - HOUSE SPECIALS (ANGUS BEEF): MESS OF SIRLOIN
HOUSE SPECIALS (ANGUS BEEF): MESS OF SIRLOIN
Served with rice and mixed vegetables (₱200.00)

The three dishes that you just saw above I cannot comment on the taste just because my uncle and my cousins had these dishes. I saw the disappointment in my cousin’s face when his food arrived to the table – two tiny pieces of ribs for a person who could probably eat a whole rack of ribs for a meal. He had to order another rib dish to feel satisfied enough. But just by looking at the three dishes above, they don’t really look that appetising to me.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - DESSERTS: CHOCO LAVA
DESSERTS: CHOCO LAVA (₱110.00)

Probably my favourite out of the two desserts we shared – the cake was definitely molten and very rich in chocolate goodness.

Arabela, Camello's Bakehaus & Coffee Shop - DESSERTS: RED VELVET
DESSERTS: RED VELVET (₱135.00)

I am a huge fan of red velvet; I even made this cake for my birthday last year and it’s not that I’m being cocky or anything, but mine was definitely better. This cake was a bit dry and crumbly for my liking and the taste was average. The thing that was appealing about this was the design on the plate that surrounded the cake, or as my mom referred to it “the placemat.”

Most of the pasta (and even meat dishes) portion sizes were really small; maybe I’m just used to seeing bigger portions of food having lived and dined in and about Sydney for the past 4 years. Then I look at the price and I thought, yes, it makes sense now why the portions are relatively small – think approximately $3.00-$6.00 Australian dollars on average per meal from this restaurant.

You may have also realised that I’ve said for many of the dishes above that they weren’t anything special in terms of overall flavour; I don’t want this post to appear biased and end up being a comparison between Arabela’s menu to others that I’ve had in Sydney because in my eyes, Arabela cannot compare. So I’ve asked my sisters and my mom to give a fair and honest rating for the food, and they gave an average score of 4.6 out of 10. My mom said: “[the food is] very simple, nothing special, but for local Filipino’s, it’s probably something special for them because Arabela is the only of its kind within the area.” Which is very true because from what my cousin has said, a lot of the foreigners come to dine at Arabela, and every time we’ve been, we’ve had to queue up for a table. Ambience though is a sure 8/9 out of 10; like I mentioned above I find the low-ceiling concept quite a unique dining experience. Service: 8/9 out of 10 as well. Value for money is arguable in terms that for us it is affordable, but for an average Filipino on an average/below average income, this place is probably too fancy for them.

Arabela, Camello’s Bakehaus & Coffee Shop
503 Rizal Street
Liliw, Laguna
Philippines, 4004

– Ally xx

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce

I remember the first time having this, not too long ago actually, about 1 and a half weeks ago, instant love. I was having dinner with Pam (ex-housemate, fellow foodie, and now long-distance twinnie) and her family who had just arrived that morning from Singapore. We were meant to have a homemade pizza night but we were all feeling a bit tired to cook. Still happy anyway because I got to meet Pam after 4 months since we last saw each other, and I got to meet her family. We had dinner in Chinatown (forgive me, I don’t actually remember the name of the restaurant), and amongst the many dishes we ordered, the stir-fried pipis in XO sauce caught my attention.

It was so yummy, well cooked, and had a good amount of spice to it. It was that good that I had to recreate it for myself, and I did – with larger pipis as well (the ones at the restaurant were baby-sized)! They were only $16.00/kg at the seafood market in Market City. The pipis were already cleaned and had no sand and grit in them. They were also alive which amused me quite a bit to be honest. I stood there over the bucket and started playing with them – tapping their shells, and picking them up and squeezing their shells shut, until the lady approached me and asked me if I wanted to buy them. I bought roughly about 800g for about $13.00 and I was able to get two meals out of it – with steamed jasmine rice and pan-fried eggplant. So delish!

XO sauce is a spicy seafood sauce commonly used in southern Chinese cooking. It’s made of roughly chopped dried seafoods, including scallops, dried fish and shrimp, and subsequently cooked with chilli peppers, onions, and garlic. XO sauce can be used as a condiment on the side of main dishes or used in cooking to enhance the flavour of fish, meats, vegetables, and otherwise bland foods such as tofu or noodles. The named is derived from fine XO (extra-old) cognac, which is a popular Western liquor in Hong Kong which denotes high quality, prestige, and luxury.

Check out the original recipe from Yahoo!7 Lifestyle.

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 800g live pipis
  • 1/2 cup fish stock (or clam juice)
  • 1/4 cup XO sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 red birds-eye chillies, sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime

METHOD

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan (or preferably a wok if you have one) over high heat. Sauté the green onions and red chillies (reserve a few for garnishing later) for 2 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add the pipis and cook for a further 3 minutes or until most of the shells have opened.
  3. Add in the XO sauce, fish stock, Shaoxing wine, and oyster sauce. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until all shells have opened (cook for no more than 5-6 minutes, discard any unopened shells). Transfer to a serving plate.
  4. Top with reserved green onions and red chillies. Drizzle with lime juice and serve with steamed rice.

Stir-fried Pipis in XO Sauce

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Clam Corn Chowder

Clam Corn Chowder

Happy Hump Day Everyone! The weather has been nice and warm all week, which is a bit unusual since it’s nearing the end of fall and entering winter next month – I’m not complaining though! And yes, I know that Australian winters aren’t as cold as Northern American and European countries, it’s cold for me because coming from the tropics, it doesn’t get as cold as 24C. I love the heat! I’ve been planning on making this dish for a while now, as in a few weeks ago when the weather dropped to about 10-15C, but I never got around to. I had half a pack of vongole left from my spaghetti alle vongole in the freezer and I wanted to cook it. So yesterday for dinner I decided to make Clam Corn Chowder.

I made this dish once before last year when I went on holiday with my flatmate and two other friends. It was a great winter weekend away at Port Stephens – though it was in the middle of winter, we did very non-wintry activities: parasailing, camel riding and sand boarding. The evenings were a little chillier, and we also had a ‘Christmas in July’ dinner night, where I whipped up a nice pot of Clam Corn Chowder; full of sweet corn, smoky bacon, and delightfully briny clams.

Also, please check out the original recipe that I followed here: Epicurious.

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg NZ Westhaven Vongole
  • 3 hickory smoked bacon slices, diced
  • 1 can (400g) super sweet corn kernels, drained
  • 500g potatoes, wash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups fish stock (clam juice preferable if available)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 stalks scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. In a large pot, melt 1 tbsp of the butter and sauté bacon until lightly browned, but not crisp, over medium heat. Add in the scallions (pale white parts) and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add in the corn and potatoes, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then add in the fish stock, water, and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, uncovered.
  2. Add the clams in and bring to a boil again, uncovered. Stir occasionally until the clams open (about 5-8 minutes). Discard any clams that remain unopened after 8 minutes.
  3. Add the milk and cream to the chowder, remaining butter, and season with salt. Cook until heated through but do not let it boil. Garnish with green scallions and serve with buttered bread roll.

Clam Corn Chowder

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti alle Vongole (basically ‘spaghetti with clams’ in Italian) is one of my all time favourite seafood pasta, alongside with probably almost ALL seafood pastas out there to be honest. I cooked this up over the weekend but hadn’t found the time to upload it then, so here it is now. It is a dish that is highly popular throughout the central regions of Italy, including Rome, as well as further south in Campania. Italians prepare the dish in two ways:

  • in bianco: with oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes a splash of white wine; or
  • in rosso: like the former but with tomatoes and fresh basil, the addition of tomatoes being more frequent in the south.

Cheese and cream are sometimes added to the dish in most Italian-American recipes. However, these ingredients are quite alien to the spirit of Italian cooking. In the true spirit of Italian cooking, cheese is never added to this dish, accentuating the simple flavours of the clams and of good quality olive oil.

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg NZ Westhaven Vongole
  • 300g angel hair pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 red bird’s eye chill, sliced
  • 1 punnet (250g) cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup fish stock*
  • 3/4 cup Chardonnay
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Ground salt

*I would usually go for clam juice, but I couldn’t find any at the supermarkets.

METHOD

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and chillies in the olive oil until fragrant and the garlic is golden brown, about a minute. Then add the clams, fish stock, and wine. Cover and simmer over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally until all the clams open. Add in the cherry tomatoes and remove from the heat.
  2. While the clams are simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente (read packet instructions, 4-5minutes for angel hair pasta). Drain the pasta and transfer to the saucepan and toss well with the clam sauce and parsley. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti alle Vongole

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx
myTaste.com