MOTHER AND DAUGHTER FOODIE. Rachel and mom Myrna. Photo by Dave Fabros
MANILA, Philippines - We’ve all heard the saying, "The fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach."
Despite the fact that I grew up in a family of fabulous cooks and accomplished chefs, until recently I had never made anything beyond omelettes for breakfast. I would always be with the men sitting at the dining table while the women — my Lola, my sister Barni, or mom Myrna — prepared the food.
Living without regular income in an expensive city like New York in 2012 made me think twice about our expenses. To cut back on restaurant bills, sometimes my husband Carlos made dinner while I experimented or “played around in the kitchen,” as he liked to call it.
Today, what was just a necessary chore to save some money has become an exciting activity for me. Food has always been a passion, even an obsession of mine, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I can cook and come up with tasty dishes if I want to. It thrills me to pieces every time I see Carlos’s face light up as he tries a bite of my cooking and says that it’s masarap.
For me, just the simple act of being in the kitchen, making a meal together with a loved one is sexy. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day or any day during this Love Month of February than to take the time to prepare a special dinner for two while sharing a nice bottle of wine?
ROMANTIC DINNER. Chef Barni associates spaghetti with meatballs with romance because of 'Lady and the Tramp.' Screenshot from Disney's official YouTube channel
My sister Chef Barni once wrote in her food column that when she thinks of a romantic dinner, for some reason, she’s reminded of a scene from the classic Disney animated film "Lady And The Tramp," where the two dogs share a bowl of pasta and meatballs. They chew on the same piece of noodle and end up accidentally kissing.
I guess that’s how we both started associating spaghetti with romance, aside from the fact that we’ve been so in love with it since we were little girls.
And so for my blog this month, I asked my mom, Chef Myrna Demauro, to share her time-tested, heart-winning recipes: Bruschetta, Sans Rival and, of course, her famous Spaghetti with Meatballs. It is based on a secret handed down to her from my Italian stepfather’s family. If you take one bite and close your eyes, you could swear you’ve been teleported to a trattoria in Italy. By adding her own personal flair, my mom has made this dish even yummier.
For years, my sisters and I would always say, “Mom, this is so good! You should have your own restaurant or catering business!” Now she does.
Last year, OBC 5 Star, Inc., our family-owned corporation, launched a party catering business (sister outfit of The Sexy Chef) called Chef Mom’s D Lite. The dishes featured here and her other creations are now available to the public as part of our catering menu.
1. Spaghetti With Meatballs
ITALIAN, ROMANTIC. Spaghetti and meatballs that tastes like it is from an authentic Italian trattoria. Photo by Rachel Alejandro
Meatballs (makes 26 tbsp):
- 352 g ground beef
- 88 g ground pork
- 1 pc egg
- 1/8 cup onion, for the beef and pork
- 2 1/2 tbsp celery
- 2 1/2 tbsp parsley
- 2 1/2 tbsp carrot
- 1/8 cup onion
- 1 tbsp garlic
- 500 g tomato sauce
- 3/4 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 300 g cooked spaghetti noodles
- Mix the ground meat with onion, garlic, celery, carrots, parsley, salt, pepper, and beaten egg.
- Form into 1 tbsp meatballs.
- Coat a baking pan with little oil and arrange meatballs on top. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Set aside.
- For the sauce, heat 2 tsp of oil. Saute the onion and garlic until soft.
- Add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Simmer for about one hour over a low flame setting.
- Put the baked meatballs into the sauce and simmer for another 20 minutes.
2. Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
YUMMY ANTIPASTO. Start off your romantic dinner with this tasty appetizer. Photo by Rachel Alejandro
- 6 whole vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh Basil leaves, chopped (approximately about 6-7 basil leaves)
- 2 1/2 tbsp of sliced black olives
- 1 tbsp of finely chopped red onion or shallots
- 3 1/2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
- 8 slices, 1 inch cut of Italian bread or French Baguette
- Combine the finely-chopped garlic, chopped basil, and diced tomatoes in a bowl
- Slowly add the olive oil together with the sea salt, black pepper, and the balsamic vinegar
- Set the tomato mixture aside for at least half an hour to blend all the flavors together at room temperature.
- Arrange the 8 slices of bread in a baking sheet
- Place the baking sheet in the broiler or oven toaster for a quick toast
- Add the parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese in the tomato mixture
- Top each slice of bread
- Bring back into the broiler for the cheese to melt
3. Sans Rival
SWEET INDULGENCE. Treat your taste buds to this French-Filipino fusion dessert after your main course. Photo by Rachel Alejandro
- 12 egg whites
- 2 cups fine granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups chopped cashews, toasted
- 450 g (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 12 egg yolks
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups chopped cashews, toasted
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F). Prepare 4 baking trays (8x12 inch) by lining it with parchment paper.
- To create a meringue mixture, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Slowly add 2 cups of sugar, beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in 2 cups chopped nuts. Pour the mixture evenly between the 4 trays.
- Bake for 30 minutes until light golden brown. Remove the meringue from the trays while still hot; let it cool. Make sure all the edges of are trimmed evenly. Set aside.
- To make the buttercream filling: Beat butter in a bowl until fluffy. In another bowl, whip egg yolks until thick.
- In a sauce pan, bring 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup water to a boil until it becomes a thick syrup. Combine the syrup to the egg yolks, beating them at a high speed. Add in the whipped butter until smooth.
- Spread the buttercream mixture onto the 4 layers of meringue, one layer at a time, being careful to spread evenly to the edges. Use a spatula to smoothen the sides. Top with 2 cups chopped cashews. Freeze for 4 hours.
Enjoy your Valentine feast! - Rappler.com
Rachel and Chef BarniRachel Alejandro is a singer-actress-entrepreneur. Her mother, Myrna Demauro, is the president and managing director of Chef Mom’s D Lite, an OBC 5 Star, Inc. company that she co-owns with her daughters. It provides food catering for special occasions, corporate events, and office cafeterias. Follow Rachel on Twitter as @SexyChefRachelA.