Saturday, October 2, 2010

Layered Love

Even with clothes, I love layers. If not for this Philippine weather, I'd have owned an extensive collection of  overcoats and plaid flannel and tapestry jackets and corsets and lace-y camisoles to be worn on top of the other. But no, we are born naked and are set to strip down for life. (Haha. Rant!) Sorry, it's just that I'm kind of frustrated with the fact that it's already October and I still feel as sticky as March.

As for food, layers are great. The textures aligned, the flavors of each ingredient perfectly recognizable. For example, the taste of a burger depends on how it was prepared and put together. Some burger chains in the U.S. are known for this creative layering of condiments and patties and cheese and junk. I don't know why, I'm no burger connoisseur (even if it is my favorite food) but I can sometimes sense a difference when I eat in different branches of the same fast food chain. I got the burger sense. Haha.

Aside from burgers, pasta is my other love. And because my range oven is busted, I have no choice but to stick to the simple sautéed ways of cooking pasta dishes. But this time, I got all resourceful. Plus, my mama bought me a new teflon-laced pan so I was excited to devirginize it with a yummy dish!  I have this small oven toaster and I guess it will do. I found this cheap multi-colored vegetable Farfalle (bow tie pasta) in the grocers and wanted to integrate two sauces with it, red and white. Here's what I came up with.

Baked Bow Ties 


300 grams Farfalle (bow tie pasta), cooked al dente
250 grams Ground pork or beef
3 cups Tomato or Spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Tomato paste
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 medium Onion, chopped finely
1 medium Red bell pepper, chopped finely
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or dried Rosemary (optional)
1 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Cooking oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cheese for topping

Ingredients for Bechamel Sauce:

5 tbsp Butter
3 tbsp All-purpose flour
1 Egg, beaten
3 cups fresh or evaporated Milk
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)


1. This is for the meat sauce. Sauté garlic, onions and red bell pepper. Sprinkle a pinch of salt for it to bleed and bring out its aroma. Add the ground meat and season a bit with salt and pepper.

2. After 4-5 minutes, add in the tomato paste and mix well with the ground meat. Do this for 2-3 minutes. Then add the rest of the tomato or spaghetti sauce. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and Italian seasoning or dried Rosemary. Don't forget: always taste what you're cooking. Let simmer for a few more minutes and set aside.

3. Now, for the Bechamel sauce. Melting butter is quite tricky, you have to make sure your pan is heated in very low fire so your butter won't burn. Slowly melt the butter and gradually add the flour constantly mixing both. Do this for about 5-6 minutes or until the mixture turns into a sandy brown color.

4. Pour in the milk gradually while mixing. Temper the beaten egg by adding a couple tablespoons of the hot sauce into the egg and whisking it before pouring into the entire mixture. This way, you won't have little clumpy omelets in your sauce. Mix well until  you have reached your desired consistency (I like it thick). Season with salt and ground nutmeg (if you have nutmeg). Taste and set aside.

5. Time to layer! It doesn't have to be perfect since this ain't Lasagna. First, brush the pan with butter then place a layer of pasta. Spread out a layer of red sauce enough to cover then add another layer of  pasta over it.

6. The top layer is the Bechamel sauce. Spread enough of it to cover the top pasta layer. Then top it with cheese, either grated Parmesan, Mozzarella or just plain Cheddar. Whatever. It will still taste great.

7. For the final part, baking. Pre-heat your oven toaster for 2 minutes then pop in your filled out tin pan. Bake for about 3-5 minutes or until the top cheese and Bechamel turns golden brown.

For this recipe, I have filled out a 10-inch tin pan and a regular sized leche flan pan. It yields 6-8 servings.

TADAAAH! Cheap pasta goodness right in your home. :)

So my ma and baby sis were both waiting around for this dish to be served. They prepared some wine for me too. It was good. Life's good. :)

Hope you try this and share it with your loved ones.
♥ Chef Shak

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