The Newbie Cook
- 18,026 forkfuls since 16.Oct.10
Making everything for the first time
When I was a kid, I thought that “adding more color to your diet” meant buying a bag of skittles or m&m’s. Now I know that this is what it really means:
Ginataang kalabasa is a Filipino dish that has always been a favorite since childhood. There are different variations — my mom made it with yardlong beans and shrimp. For this recipe, I’m using 96% extra lean ground beef. Hubby is not a fan of lean ground beef because he said it lacked flavor. He likes the regular everyday 80% lean. Personally, the fat content scares me and I’m tired of draining the beef while cooking. With extra lean, I don’t have to drain it.
Since this dish is very flavorful, I don’t think my husband would be complaining about blandness.
There is one must-have ingredient in this dish: the glorious bagoong alamang. My mom’s province, Pangasinan, is famous for having some of the best tasting alamang on earth. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to that goodness so I resorted to second best: jarred bagoong. There are no close Asian stores with this so I bought it online from Amazon. The jarred version isn’t as pungent either, which is a good thing since I live with an American husband who was completely traumatized with the smell of danggit.
(Ugh, super dry skin. That’s what happens when I wash my hands every single step while cooking.)
Filipinos also love coconut milk aka gata in Tagalog. We have tons of food that start with “ginataang,” which means that whatever it is has been stewed in coconut milk. Like our lovely Jersey butternut squash.
Luckily for me, my husband likes Filipino food so I don’t have to argue about having variety in our daily menu.
I served this with white rice and sautéed spinach and garlic. See recipe after the jump.
We held a (belated) bridal shower for my friend, Janis, in Apartment #2. I love our reunions! We always talk too fast because we try to cram months of news within a few hours. 🙂
We had a MAJOR food fest. Ina and Chie brought steamed crabs, hot wings and yummy pork. Jovett brought the drinks. And I made heart-shaped strawberry milk cakes and a generous amount of the squash pasta pictured here.
We had a blast!
One of the many things I love about my friends is that we love eating. We set aside our diets during our get-togethers and just enjoy the company and the food. We never have “diet Cokes only” occasions!
The pasta also served as a pretty good brunch the next day. *licks lips* It can be a good side dish, part of a multi-course meal or can be eaten alone as a light lunch or dinner.
This dish is another one I cooked for the girls yesterday. I made this with Chris in mind because he’s half Italian. And it turns out that he has never even had risotto because his grandparents are from Sicily. He had to explain the differences of food from Northern, Central and Southern Italy and risotto is a northern Italy thing.
Hmph. At least the rice was good.
I wanted to add a lot of vegetables and chose butternut squash and spinach. Because squash goes well with rice and it was spinach that I happened to pick up in the grocery store yesterday. This way, everyone will get their daily veggie serving whether they want to or not, mwahahaha.
Risotto should be a tasty stand-alone dish but since Filipinos eat their rice along with another dish, usually meat, I intentionally made it more bland and slightly less creamy to complement the taste of the honey glazed chicken (which is another story).
I love the resulting texture and colors of the veggies in the rice. But I would puree the squash if I would serve this to children or adults like my brother (who will skip veggies if he could).