MANILA, APRIL 11, 2006 (STAR) IN MY BASKET By Lydia D.Castillo - As always, prices of seafood are expected to escalate this week. It would have been better if all of us managed to buy the stuff much earlier. However, here are some tips for planning your Holy Week food, particularly during the fasting and abstinence days.

The so-called lowly galunggong, which our suki sophisticatedly calls "GG", can be done in a more innovative way. Make them into daing, lace it with calamansi juice, marinate in lots of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. Grill and serve with steamed vegetables, like okra and carrots.

Holy Week meals when we were young always included Tortang Patatas (potato omelet). This is very easy to make. Cut potatoes into thin strips; be sure they are all of the same size, so they cook at the same time. Slice an onion. Heat oil, sauté onions and potatoes. Drain off all oil and cool for a while. When ready to serve, beat eggs and add the potato mix. Fry into medium size omelets. We loved (and still do) taking this with catsup. Even children would like this, considering it is almost like French fries.

You might want to look at the line of seasoning that Unimart in Greenhills carries. They are very practical, specially when you are pressed for time and they keep much longer than the fresh ones. Here’s another no-meat recipe you might want to follow, if you manage to get prawns at a reasonable price, or you can use the smaller suahe. Peel the shrimps. Again lace them with calamansi juice (this takes away the lansa) and sprinkle with the Seafood Seasoning. Let stand for a while. When ready to eat, heat oil (olive, if you have this in stock), slightly brown crushed garlic. Add the shrimps and cook for a while. When nearly done, add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and catsup. Let simmer for a while and voila! You have a super dish. If you fancy it, add a teaspoon of whatever left-over wine you have.

It is usually at Unimart in Greenhills that we find most of these seasonings. We searched for Celery Salt Powder which we use often; it is specially great for frying fish. It comes under the label Spice Time of New Jersey, USA. No need to add anything. We also found the seafood seasoning and dried parsley. Another brand is Spice Box from Canada. We got Lemon Pepper, also good for seafood, but be careful not to use too much; the dish might end up more salty than you want it to be. Cost of each bottle is from P76.50 and they go a long way. From McCormick we found pizza seasoning, also one for broiling steaks. If you must have pizza during Holy Week, use your left-over sardines as topping. You can buy Del Monte pizza sauces or make your own.

Recently we had some two hours to kill while waiting for a late afternoon appointment. As we were in Makati, we decided to once again have a look at the Foreign Section of Rustans. We were going to buy sun-dried tomatoes for the queso de bola dip which we were going to make. There are three brands, but we settled for the one that was priced lower than the rest. This is the Italian Pomodori Secchi, 270 gms. They are soft enough to chop and one bottle is good for two preparations. We also found the La Norenense Chorizo in 750 gm-cans, a more practical size than the giant tin of El Rey we used to buy. We will make Cocido soon and will let you know how this compares. But if we would take the word of some friends who are connoisseurs of Spanish cooking, we don’t expect to be disappointed.

The latest cookbook we acquired is Wolfgang Puck’s "Adventures in the Kitchen". At National Bookstore this hard-cover edition costs P719, a price we could afford. His other books are very high-end. Puck is a legendary chef whose restaurants are THE dining places–Spago, Chinois on Main, Postrio and Eureka. As an aspiring cook, we could learn a lot from him. He has the great ability to combine exotic Asian flavors and Western techniques, coming out with recipes such as Italian-Asian Sizzling Calamari (squid) Salad with String Potatoes, Chinese-inspired Minced Garlic Chicken in Radicchio Cups and the Mediterrenean Olive French Bread. A well-formatted book, Puck also specifies what kitchen equipment to use for each of the 175 recipe. Save up for the cookbook; you’ won’t regret it.

After the Holy Week, Easter comes. Instead of turkey, do a roast chicken with herbs like rosemary, for a new taste.

Reflect and then rejoice!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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