Pasta Alla Carbonara

07 October 2010 16 comments

There are many versions of Carbonara. Even in Italy, restaurants make this dish different ways. While in Rome, we tasted three different takes on this dish. Italian food purists will tell you that a 'real' Carbonara does not have cream while others prefer to use cream to get the texture they prefer. We ate at a restaurant in Borgo Pio near the Vatican and they served their Carbonara using spaghetti and without the cream plus it was loaded with freshly ground black pepper. The restaurant we went to near Piazza Navona meanwhile used ziti and cream in their Carbonara which my family and I prefer. The traditional style is just too dry and we prefer our Carbonara to be a little creamy. Whatever style you prefer, Carbonara is an easy recipe to follow and prepare. These recipes are from Emeril Lagasse and Gourmet magazine and I tweaked it to suit my family's taste (I omitted the butter, used less oil, doubled the liquid, etc.) If you don't have Pancetta, use bacon; if you like garlic, add it with the onions. As with any recipe, you can tweak it to suit your personal taste.


1 tsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
3 pcs pancetta or bacon diced
1 pound pasta
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper

All ingredients should be at room temperature for even and fast cooking (eggs, heavy cream, milk and cheese).

Heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and cook until the onions are wilted and the pancetta is brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the egg yolks and heavy cream in a bowl and set aside.

Drain the pasta and reserve a cup of the water. Return pasta to the pot and over high heat, add the pancetta and onion mixture. Stir until the pasta is coated with the pancetta mixture.

Add to the egg yolk/heavy cream mixture to the pasta, along with the Parmesan. Remove the pot from the heat and toss the pasta until it is well-coated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. If needed, add a bit of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to help toss the pasta if it is dry. If it's too watery, add more parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

5 pcs pancetta or bacon
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound pasta
3 large eggs*
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Slice pancetta into cubes and brown in a pan. Add onions and cook until wilted. Add wine and boil until it's reduced by half. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, mix the eggs, the two cheeses, black pepper, salt in a bowl.
Drain the pasta and add to the onion and wine mixture. Under lowe heat, mix well until all the pasta is coated. Remove the pan from the stove and add the egg mixture. Serve while warm.


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17 September 2010 6 comments


What do you get when you mix meringue, buttercream and almonds? Sans Rival, what else? The photo and title says it all, what more can I add to it? Delicious, rich, mouth-watering, diet buster, calorie laden dessert. Ah, one shouldn't think of diets when enjoying this dessert. This is one of those rare times that eating it is worth sacrificing 1 day off your healthy lifestyle. That's why you don't eat Sans Rival every week, you're only allowed to have this dessert uhm once every year? Ok, maybe once every six months.

The name Sans Rival is French, meaning 'without rival'. Nobody knows where this dessert originated but it sure has some European characteristics. It's like Napoleons. It's an Almond torte and consists of layered crispy meringue with almonds and buttercream. There is also another dessert that is similar to this called Sylvannas, the only difference being the Sylvannas is shaped like a huge egg but it tastes the same.

I grew up eating Sans Rival from Goldilocks. This is one of my favorite desserts from that popular Filipino bakery along with Mocha and Ube rolls. When I moved to Northern California 20 years ago, I was ecstatic when I learned that Goldilocks is just a drive away. I got a sticker shock though, a small square of Sansrival costs $25 (back then). No wonder it's expensive, it's a little complicated to make this. There aren't a lot of ingredients but it takes a lot of work to assemble the whole thing. After many years of wanting to try to make this dessert, I finally did it two weeks ago. I was thinking of what dish to bring to a party when I decided to make dessert. It turned out quite good, very good, in fact. Would I make it again? Hmm, yes I will (if somebody pays me to do it LOL). I used almonds instead of cashew nuts just because. If you are a novice baker, then I would suggest you buy it instead of trying to make it. :o) For an expert baker, this is quite easy to make. All you need is a lot of patience and Reynolds Release non-stick aluminum foil. If you don't have this special aluminum foil, use baking paper or parchment paper.

for the wafers:
10 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
2 cups finely chopped almonds
for the filling and frosting:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter at room temperature (1/2 lb)
for the topping:
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
- Beat egg yolks until it turns light yellow.
- Heat corn syrup, sugar and water over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes after it boils.
- Pour the syrup into the egg yolk slowly while beating on medium speed. Set aside to cool down.Cream softened butter and gradually beat in cooled yolk mixture.Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line three cookie sheets or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Generously grease and flour the parchment paper (very important so the meringue will not stick; if you use the Reynolds Release foil, then you don't have to grease and flour)
- Beat egg whites and of tartar until soft peaks form. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until stiff.
- Fold in ground almonds.
- Spread evenly on the cookie sheets about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cut the wafer into desired size while still warm. Peel off the paper or foil. If the parchment paper is sticking, cover with damp towel for a minute or so.
- Spread the frosting thinly on top of each meringue and stack another meringue, repeat with the layering . Don't put too much frosting in each layer or you wouldn't have enough to frost the outside of the Sans Rival.
- Sprinkle chopped almonds on the top and sides. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.


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Chocolate Cake with Cheesecake

06 September 2010 18 comments

Chocolate Cake with CheesecakeCHOCOLATE CAKE AND CHEESECAKE

What could be better than combining chocolate cake with cheesecake? It's getting two desserts in one. It is very easy to make for the novice baker, well, except for someone I know who couldn't get it right even after trying it over and over again. She maybe an exception so you should try it if you or your family is a cheesecake and chocolate cake lover. This recipe is from the Cheesecake Factory's German chocolate cheesecake. It's obvious from the photo that I didn't make the traditional topping. We're not fans of that kind of topping so I use chocolate ganache for this cake. The ganache was still warm when I sliced the cake so it dripped but I think it makes for a good photo. What do you think?

Chocolate Cake with Cheesecake
For the Cheesecake:
3 8 oz cream cheese package, room temperature and cut into squares
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 425degrees.

Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla until well-blended and smooth. Do not over beat. Set aside.

For the Chocolate Cake:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour

Microwave chocolate and butter 2 to 3 minutes, or until melted. Cool slightly. Using a fork, mix in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until everything is incorporated.

Grease a 9 1/2-inch springform pan. Pour the chocolate cake batter and spread evenly. Using a spoon, put dollops of the cheesecake batter on top of the chocolate batter. Carefully spread it over.

Bake in the oven 15 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking 55 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven. Keep the oven door slighly ajar and let the cake cool to room temperature inside the oven. I use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door from closing. Refrigerate until chilled.

3/4 cup heavy cream
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 bag)
1 tbsp salted butter

Heat the heavy cream to a simmer. Take off from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Do not stir and let stand for 5 min. Mix in the butter and stir until blended. Let it cool until thick but can still be spread easily. If it gets too sticky, heat in the microwave for 10 seconds and mix. Repeat until the desired consistency.

Remove the cake from the pan and invert onto a cake plate. Spread the chocolate ganache on the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until chocolate ganache is set. Bon Apetit!


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Mango Custard Tart

24 August 2010 10 comments

Mango Custard Tart


Mangoes are my favorite fruit. If you have never tasted Philippine mangoes then you have not tasted the BEST mangoes in the world. There is something special with mangoes grown in the Philippines. It is very sweet, has perfect yellow flesh with no strings whatsoever. I remember when we went to the Philippines in 2003, dh tasted Philippine mangoes for the first time and he was hooked. The mangoes we have here in the US are all grown in Mexico. They have this variety called Champagne which looks similar to the Philippine mango but the similarity ends there. The taste does not even come close to the original.

I made this mango custard from Champagne mangoes. The batch that I got was bad and I was very disappointed. Since I already tried making mango ice cream, I decided to try this mango custard recipe from the cruise ship recipe book I purchased when we went on a Mexican Riviera cruise. So what's the verdict? It is very good. If you are into custards and mangoes, then you will like this dessert. I didn't have a tart pan so I used a regular pie plate. I omitted the brandy since I want this to be kid-friendly.
Mango Custart Tart

1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsp milk
6 tbsp whipping cream
3/4 cup mango puree
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tbsp Napoleon brandy
1 (9-inch) frozen pie shell

1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, milk and whipping cream to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, cool slightly.
Add mango puree, eggs, egg yolks and brandy. Whisk until well mixed and eggs are completely mixed in. Strain mixture into pie shell. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until custard is set. Cool completely. Refrigerate until serving.

In a small bowl, beat whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff. Cut pie into slices. Pipe whipped cream rosette on each slice.

*Note: One ripe medium mango should yield about 3/4 cup puree.


Mango on Foodista

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