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Brunch, ECQ-style

By SHARWIN TEE, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 12, 2021 6:00 am

A lot of people met the announcement of another round of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) with groans, and that is perfectly understandable.  This pandemic nightmare has raged on for quite some time now, with the end barely in sight.

We are Filipinos though, and that means we always try to find ways to make the best out of any situation. For me, more time at home suggests more time to cook, and whenever there's time, brunch is always what comes to mind first.

Chill cooking

One of my go-to brunch recipes would be egg frittata. I like it because you can be creative and use whatever pantry ingredients you can find. Moreover, it can easily be made meatless when the need arises. The most important reason, however, is that it is tremendously easy to make.

Kang Kong Frittata is one recipe that’s both meatless and delicious. All you’ll need are 8 large eggs, 1/2 cup cream cheese (I get the truffle cream cheese from La Petit Fromagerie), 2 cloves of minced garlic, 4 cups kangkong leaves or other leafy greens, 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

 Kang Kong Frittata is a great meatless brunch that’s packed with flavor.

Start by preheating your oven to 150 degrees C. Then, whisk together the eggs and cream cheese in a bowl, making sure to season with salt and cayenne pepper. In a cast-iron or ovenproof pan, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant before adding in the kangkong leaves.

You just want to cook the leaves until they slightly wilt, about two minutes, before pouring in the egg mixture. Mix everything together and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the eggs are set.

This recipe can easily feed six people and you barely have to break a sweat. You can serve it with toasted garlic bread or even rice to make it even more substantial. In case you don’t have an oven, you can cook the eggs over very low heat while covered, and the frittata should still turn out well.

Shake things up

I’m pretty sure pasta is not the first thing you think of when you think about having brunch, but let me just say that every dish becomes instantly better when you add an egg to it. Yes, I am saying you can make a pasta dish with egg for brunch! 

Here’s what you need for 4 people: 200 g smoked bacon, 1 clove of minced garlic, 200 grams of dry pasta like spaghetti or linguine, 120 ml milk, 250 ml cream, 50 g parmesan cheese, 4 large eggs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

First, chop up the smoked bacon. You can choose to slice the bacon into larger cubes or thin strips and they will work either way, because frankly, bacon is bacon.

Pasta dish with bacon

You want to drop your noodles into boiling water first since most dry noodles take about eight to-10 minutes to cook. Once the noodles have been cooking for 4-5 minutes, you can start cooking the bacon and garlic in the olive oil until fragrant. This will take about 2-3 minutes, depending on the size of your bacon pieces. After that, pour in milk and cream. Season the sauce with salt, cayenne and black pepper.

After a minute, you can add in the cooked pasta and toss with the Parmesan cheese. If you find the sauce is too thick at this point, you can add a little bit of the pasta water to thin out the sauce. Fry up the eggs sunny side up and place one on each serving of the pasta.

In such a simple recipe such as this, the kind of bacon really makes a difference. I like the smoked bacon from Tyler’s Cafe, which they can deliver frozen to your house. They also deliver smoked brisket and burnt ends, both of which go great with this pasta recipe as well. Since it’s smoked in-house in small batches, it’s got great flavor without becoming too salty.

No shame in ordering

 Pares is welcome on my table any time of day.

Let’s face it. It is difficult to cook for people every day, especially when you are quarantining at home. Fortunately, some places are still able to deliver food, even brunch.

It’s another tough couple of weeks for us with the ECQ, but apart from staying safe and getting vaccinated, the only thing we can do is sacrifice by staying home to help give relief for our healthcare workers.

Around my neighborhood, Cafe Mabini will deliver their brunch fare through ECQ, which ranges from Filipino silog breakfasts, Tsinoy fare, and hearty sandwiches to healthful fruit and oat bowls as well — definitely something for every family member.

For me, I will never say no to a good beef tapa breakfast and Cafe Mabini’s Crispy Tapa is more than just good. The crisp strands of salty sweet beef are pretty awesome.

 Cafe Mabini's Ube Pancakes are fluffy and rich in ube flavor.

Another knockout are the photogenic Ube Pancakes. Beautifully purple, the pancakes are fluffy and delicious with a wonderful ube flavor.

In case you’re looking for something more substantial, the Tsinoy in me could not love the pares more. Whether it’s for brunch or late night when I’ve had a few drinks, the tender beef and tendon chunks stewed in a star anise-laced broth goes perfect with some garlic rice. Cafe Mabini also adds in some adobo eggs just in case you come in extra-hungry.

Sacrifice and stay home

Indeed, it’s another tough couple of weeks for us with the ECQ, but apart from staying safe and getting vaccinated, the only thing we can do is sacrifice by staying home to help give relief for our healthcare workers.

In the meantime, why not pick up your smartphone and order up some brunch or order up some ingredients? Also, why not take a look at your pantries and fridges, and make yourselves some brunch?