Penne with Portobello Mushrooms

Inspired by the pasta with white sauce that accompanied my chicken lunch at La Maison, the discovery that La Maison’s pasta was made with portobello mushrooms came as a coincidence. I had never eaten portobello mushrooms before (it used to be hard to find them in local supermarkets) so when I saw trays and trays of the stuff at Shopwise, I bought a 220-gram pack. Six pieces in all. I minced three and mixed them with ground chicken to make burgers for last night’s dinner and, as I was eating my burger, the distinct flavor of the portobellos suddenly reminded me of the pasta at La Maison. Ergo, for lunch today, I boiled some penne and went about my attempt to recreate that wonderful creamy sauce that I enjoyed so much.

Make the sauce as soon as you start cooking the pasta. You want the sauce to sit for a while to allow the flavors to blend. Wipe the mushrooms with paper towels, cut each in half then slice about 1/4-inch thick slices is good. Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan. Add the basil and garlic and cook gently for about 30 seconds. Add the portobello mushrooms and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Pour in the cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper. As soon as the mixture bubbles, turn off the heat. Stir in the cheese until it melts. Cover the pan and let the sauce sit there until the pasta is ready. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce. Toss to coat each noodle well. Ladle into bowls or plates, top with more grated cheese, and enjoy!

Pasta with Bacon and Pesto

Pasta with pesto is a dish I enjoy plain, with turkey meat, chicken, mussels, scallops, and, yes, bacon. Nothing you can add to pasta and pesto seems to be wrong. We had spaghetti with pesto and bacon for lunch today. The girls are having their mid-term exams and are on a half-day schedule. I prepared so much food thinking they could use a good lunch after the often mind-wrenching exams at their school.

We had pasta, there was shrimp, egg-drop soup (for them only because I am allergic to shrimp), and, for dessert, buko pandan. I wasn’t quite done with the preparations when the school bus arrived and they helped me with the final touches. Alex shredded the cheese and it was Sam who did the presentation for the pasta — spaghetti with pesto at the bottom, bacon bits sprinkled on top, and garnished with shredded medium cheddar. Great lunch. We were eating and chatted for over an hour.