Monthly Archives: April 2011

Royal Spaghetti

Today being the big day for Prince William and Kate Middleton, I thought I’d have a little commemorative celebratory lunch.

 

I’m crazy, I know.

Go here to see why the dish looks like that.

And why spaghetti? Go here.


Rosemary’s Chicken

I was at the market a couple of days back and came home with a pot of my favourite herb – rosemary.

Isn’t she lovely? (:

I had to test her powers quick. So, wielding a tiny pair of scissors, I snipped off two sprigs. Immediately, there was a whiff of a beautiful virgin blue fragrance. I smiled, before hurrying to the kitchen to whip up some good old roast.

Tray-Roasted Chicken

Chop up some potatoes, and boil them for a while, with a slice of lemon.

Stick a tray into the oven and preheat it to 180°C. While that’s in there, slice a tomato (or use a stalk of cherry tomatoes), and smash a couple of cloves of garlic, leaving the skin on. Then, run the sprigs of rosemary under hot water for a few seconds. Apparently, doing this helps herbs work their magic better.

Prepare your chicken portions and take a deep breath. By now, the aroma of sweet citric goodness should have filled your kitchen.

Smile.

Once the oven’s almost ready, drain your potatoes and let them steam dry. This way, you’ll have crispier roasted potatoes.

Get the tray out of the oven. Stick the chicken parts in, together with the garlic, tomatoes and rosemary. Toss the potatoes in, and squeeze whatever juice is left of that lemon into the tray as well. Then, the lemon goes into the tray too, not the bin.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle olive oil and give it all a splash of white wine. Chuck it back in to the oven; the middle tray for about an hour or so. At the halfway mark, take the dish out and splash in a little more wine. Then, using a spoon or ladle, douse everything in the tray with its own juices, before sending it back into the heat.

When the timer goes off, your dish should look something like this.

It was so good, I wound up finishing everything myself. :D


Springy Bolognese

Spring is here and the sun’s out (almost) everyday. You’d love to get out there in the beautiful sunshine, with friends, and with some food. Chuck the sandwiches you can get from the nearby cafe or sandwich bar. If you’re meeting your mates later and are home now, why not whip up a little something that will put a bigger smile on everyone’s already cheerful faces?

Here’s an idea for a no-frills, quick-and-easy munch: Spaghetti Bolognese

  1. Since we’re going for speed, quick-cook pasta is the key choice here. Get that in a pot of boiling water and let it work its magic.
  2. While that’s happening, get everything you want in your bolognese e.g. onions, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, etc. Chop everything up nice and pretty. You don’t even have to go near pulverising the ingredients, especially if you’d like juicy chunks of mushrooms in each bite. Beef mince for non-vegetarians is an option. Or try this: pork belly.
  3. With a small wad of butter, some chopped garlic, get everything in. Mix mix mix. Check on your pasta, which should be done. Drain and toss in quick. Tomato puree, basil, salt and pepper. Mix some more.
  4. Grab some plastic plates and cutlery. Pack ’em all and you’re ready for an awesome munch in the sun.

•••

OR, if it’s too cold out for a picnic, just have it on your desk.


Brownie Upsized

Okay, so I’m not a sucker for dessert like most people are. But I do appreciate the occasional sweet treat to end a hearty meal. Besides, dessert always scores the points for a multi-course meal; always the crowd-pleaser. I’m not really a baker but just recently, I learnt how to make some pretty damn good brownies (courtesy of Sarah).

Now with brownies in my hat of tricks, check this out:

When the brownies are nice and warm, top with a scoop of ice cream – vanilla works best, in my opinion. Drizzle honey and a bunch of oats or crushed nuts. Serve.

It’s that simple. You can even plop a small glob of blackcurrant jam instead of honey and oats, whatever makes you happy.

This works even when you have an batch of brownies, which you baked the day before, in the fridge.

Photo Courtesy of Jiahui Chong

Simply pop a couple into the microwave, land a scoop of ice cream on them and enjoy your happy treat over your kitchen counter. Alone. At midnight. If done quietly, nobody’s gonna know.

It’ll be our sweet little secret.


Easter Bruschetta

It was Easter Sunday two days ago and back home, the family always gathers for a meal. It may not be a feast of food but the cheerful banter and warm company is enjoyed by all.

This year, unfortunately, I’m away from home. However, that didn’t stop me from having a small dinner affair with a bunch of friends. While they were knocking hard at their books, churning out essays, I took to their kitchen and prepared a little somethings.

Easter Dinner Prix Fixe

Starter

Tomato Bruschetta

*

Main

Roasted Chicken Thighs

Shepherd’s Pie

Veggie Pie

Green Salad

*

Dessert

Caramel Ice Cream on Warm Brownies

*

I won’t feature all the items here, but what I’d like to share is how to go about making the starter – Tomato Bruschetta (pronounced as [brusˈketːa]). There are a few ways of doing it and here’s mine:

Place tomatoes into a deep bowl or pot and douse with boiling hot water. Ensure they are completely submerged for a couple of minutes.

Drain and remove the skin of the tomatoes. This should be pretty easy to do since they’ve been boiled through. Begin by using a knife to make a slit on the skin of the tomato.

Once that’s done, chop them all up and toss into a bowl, with a splash of olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Stick them into the fridge for a bit.

Toast slices of baguette in the oven or on a hot griddle pan, to your liking and sprinkle bits of chopped garlic on top. (I do this instead of adding the garlic to the tomato mixture so that the flavour of the garlic comes out stronger.)

Lay a spoonful of tomatoes on each of the baguette slices now. Top off finally with chopped arugula, for that nutty aftertaste. Done!

“Slimy, yet satisfying.”


Bak Chor Mee

I was blog surfing just yesterday and I came across gninethree‘s entry, when all of a sudden, my Singaporean taste buds started making a ruckus in my mouth. They demanded some Bak Chor Mee. To translate, it’s Minced Pork Noodles, a true blue Singaporean pasttime.

With whatever I had in the kitchen, this is the best I could come up with:

Mee kia (Skinny Egg Noodles) from Chinatown, jia la jia cu (extra chilli extra vinegar). Remember to add a dab of sesame oil and soy sauce too!

Slice some pork and mince the pork yourself; pork shoulder’s the ideal choice. If you have a couple of slices of pork liver, that’s awesome. As for the mushrooms, (obviously) black oyster mushrooms are best. But what’s crucial is slow cooking them in garlic, dark soy sauce and a little oyster sauce. LUSH. Along with fresh lettuce, beansprouts are a huge plus, which I didn’t have. :/ Finally, the all-important Chilli Padi.

P.S. Fried lard is a bonus.

With all this, the taste of Singapore’s not that far away. (:


Shepherd’s Pie

What better day to share about Shepherd’s Pie than on Easter Sunday, the day our shepherd, Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.

It’s really simple to make one and the best part about it, you can go crazy with whatever goes inside. It’s basically a potato mash and a minced meat filling. Here’s the rough structure to how you can make one:

The Potato Mash

Slice the potatoes and toss it into a pot of boiling water. I like using small potatoes because they cook faster, but whichever you use doesn’t really matter. Sometimes, I toss in some carrots as well. This gives the mash a little mix of orange with yellow. You can even try it with sweet potatoes, or purple ones. Try it out and let me know!

Once the root veggies are translucent, drain and mash with a small hunk of butter, a splash of milk, some grated cheese of your choice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Oh, if you’re wondering, I actually do leave the skin of the potatoes on for two reasons – one: it adds variety to the bite texture, and two: I’m lazy to skin them.

The Minced Meat Filling

While the potatoes are soaking in the very hot boiling water, prepare your kickass filling. The traditional meat used should be lamb, hence the name. But people I’ve made it for like it better when it’s a ‘cowherd’ pie. Yes, beef is my meat of choice. You can use peas, mushrooms, carrots, onions, green beans, and whatever tickles your fancy in a meat pie. Just make sure everything is chopped up nice and pretty before you dump them together.

When it comes to herbs, basil, oregano, sage, thyme or rosemary will add a lovely aroma. Again, whichever you prefer. Cook everything with a splash of red wine, salt and pepper. Ah yes, and if it’s beef, be sure to include a bit of vinegar in the mix. Finally, this is extremely unconventional but I don’t like it when my beef isn’t a rich dark brown, so to solve this, I turn to a few drops of my trusty blackening agent i.e. Dark Soy Sauce.

The Shepherd’s Pie

Once both components are ready, grab a roasting dish and fill the base with a thin layer of potato mash. Next, enters the filling and finally, the mash again to cover everything up lovely. Sometimes, (when you have not enough mash) you can leave out the base layer.

See, it’s not difficult. Try it, and remember, it’s all up to you! (:

Last but not least, everyone here at Cook for Myself would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy and Holy Easter!


Black Saturday Tea

It being Black Saturday, I wanted to make a black meal. But I didn’t plan ahead. Also, because of all days, I ran out of dark soy sauce today, this is all I could come up with:

Fusilli is easy to cook to I’m not gonna go into the details of how to cook it – set pot on hob with a little water inside. Turn switch to full whack. Boil water in electric kettle, just enough to cook pasta. Once water boils, pour it into the hot hob and then dump in the fusilli to be cooked.

Personally, I prefer getting the quick-cook type of pasta. Not only does it cook faster, it also has a bouncier bite.

So, with the lack of my blackening agent i.e. dark soy sauce, I attempted to blacken the green beans and mushrooms ‘naturally’. When setting the fusilli boiling pot on the hob, I also set a non-stick pot on the next hob and turned the switch to the max as well. While I was preparing the ingredients, that pot had all the time to get really hot. Finally, when the time was right, in went the beans, mushrooms, a small hunk of butter and patience.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. Sit and wait for the lovelies to get blackish, whilst tossing them about every now and then.

I did the same with the beef mince (which cannot be seen in the photograph) – marinating it first with basil, cornflour, salt and pepper. Then, dumping everything in, after I got the blackened beans and mushrooms out.

Most importantly, not forgetting the last step of getting everything into the pot for a final toss about. If I had my blackening agent, it would’ve been the perfect black saturday tea-time snack. :/

If only.


Good Friday Roux

It’s Good Friday today and I’m taking the day off from the kitchen. But that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be posting anything here. :P

Lesson for the Day: Making A Roux (pronounced as \ˈrü\).

My method is unorthodox, so follow at your own risk:

  • Medium-low heat.
  • Three ingredients: Fat, Flour, Milk.
  • Fat can be any kind from butter, oil, fat rendered from bacon or fatty juices from a roast.
  • Flour is added in an equal part to the fat, in terms of weight, not volume. (Cornflour can be used but much less is needed since its thickening properties are stronger than that of plain flour.)
  • Using a whisk or whatever, combine the two briefly.
  • While doing so, add milk in small quantities.
  • Do this until you get a single glob or a sauce-like texture, whichever you need.

With this trick up your sleeve, creamed vegetables and alfredos aren’t an obstacle anymore. (:


Express Beef Noodles

Had a late night on Skype yesterday and hence, a Good Morning-turned-Afternoon today. :/ I woke up feeling terribly hungry. I needed food, and I needed it FAST.

Then, I remembered having a new bag of Taiwanese Yellow Noodle Sticks, which I got from Chinatown last month. :D

The 7-Minute Beef Noodles Trick:

  1. Set two pots on the hob (each with a little bit of  water so they don’t burn) and turn the switches to full whack.
  2. Boil water in an electric kettle, just enough to cook your noodles and a little more for soup.
  3. Grab beef from freezer, defrost it in the microwave.
  4. Chop carrots and onions and toss into one of the pots.
  5. Water should have boiled by now. Fill one enough to cook noodles and the other (with the carrots and onions) for soup.
  6. Crush a garlic clove, powder-chop a single clove and toss into the soup pot, together with an inch of a cinnamon stick. Don’t forget pepper, salt, and dark soy sauce for colour. You would also want to add a small splash of vinegar, which will help make the beef more tender.
  7. Toss the noodles sticks into boiling pot of water.
  8. Get the beef out of the microwave and cut to bite size pieces. Toss into soup pot.
  9. Stand and look pretty for 3 minutes.
  10. No, I’m kidding. Prepare spring onions, coriander and serving bowl.
  11. Wash everything you don’t need to help you dig into your Express Beef Noodles.
  12. Turn off both hobs.
  13. Drain noodles with a colander and sit it in the serving bowl. Rinse-wash colander and pot.
  14. Pour beef and soup over the noodles. Top off with spring onions and coriander. Wash soup pot.
  15. Salivate.
  16. Dig in.
I can’t guarantee it will taste very good the first few times.
But with practice and sheer hunger for good savoury asian-tasting food, you’ll get it soon enough. (: