A ballotine, which means ‘bundle’, is a French dish made of deboned meat fish or poultry (sometimes the whole animal) filled with stuffing and then rolled and tied into a bundle. It is roasted, poached or braised, and can be served hot or cold.
In this case, I made a couple of ballotines of pork shoulder and turkey breast, served on a bed of crushed peas and lemon-seasoned chopped peppers.
It’s a great thing that there’s still Christmas turkey left in the fridge, having it with a small bit of cranberry sauce is exquisite. The flavour of the bird having a friendly tug-o-war with the earthy aroma of pork is simply lovely. Not forgetting the fresh crunch of carrot ribbon rolls and subtle sweetness of the vegetables.
It’s amusing, I made a serving of couscous to go along with this; I need my carbs.
It’s evident that I’ve been watching way too many cooking shows: I’m addicted to the playing with my food now. All the minimalistic presentations, calling for finesse and vibrance, beckoning the appetite of the impatient diner. I just wanna eat good food without paying exorbitant prices.
Pan-seared chicken thigh on a bed of carrot mash, with peas, parsley and a white wine jus.
A beautiful celebration of crispy chicken skin and velvety sweet carrot, mingling with the succulent texture of the poultry, the playful burst of peas and the rowdiness of parsley. Then everything comes to a halt to welcome the zesty twang of lemon in the delightful reduction of white wine and chicken oil. In dishes like these, a delicious tune is heard with every bite.
I hope everyone’s had a fantastic Christmas meal yesterday, with family and friends. Food, family and friends are three vital ingredients for a happy life; of course, the three are not in any particular order of importance.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve officially taken ill after the very busy week leading up for Christmas Day, flustered with Christmas shopping, Christmas dinner grocery shopping, house decoration, house cleaning, etc. Yep, you know the drill.
So this Boxing Day, while Sarah and Stephenie head out to battle the crowds in the (in)famous Boxing Day Shopping Sale, I get out of bed late and make myself a lovely little brunch.
Roast beef, with a lemon butter salsa of peppers, peas, onion, chilli and parsley, served with a cranberry sauce.
A delicious medley of tender meatiness from the blushing pieces of steak and the sourish yet sweet tones of cranberry sauce, combined with the zingy buttery dance of spicy chilli bits, fresh parsley and juicy vegetables. What a treat!
- 80g beef frying steak
- 1 generous knob salted butter
- 1 small handful peas
- 1 small handful chopped yellow pepper
- 1 small handful chopped orange pepper
- 1 small handful chopped white onion
- 1 pinch minced chilli
- 1 pinch finely chopped parsley
- 1 tiny squeeze of lemon
- leftover Christmas turkey cranberry sauce, or cranberry jam
- Season the beef with freshly ground black pepper and pan-sear it to its desired doneness. Then season with salt and let it rest.
- In a skillet on medium heat, melt the butter.
- Once the butter begins foaming, toss in the onion, frying till translucent.
- Add the yellow and orange peppers, and peas as well. Saute everything well.
- When done, squeeze of few drops of lemon and mix in the chilli bits.
- Slice the rested beef diagonally to expose its lovely red blush.
- Plate up and serve.
Remember Pasta Evolution?
Well, this not for the faint-hearted; it’s incredibly extravagant and unforgivably heart-stopping. Out from the fat rendered from bacon, an Aglio Olio dish is born.
- Same old drill: Set your pasta boiling away in a pot.
- Using a small knob of butter, get the bacon into a skillet.
- Render the fat out before tossing in a generous amount of minced garlic, chilli, dried basil and oregano.
- Toss in sliced pork, which has been marinated with salt and pepper.
- When the pasta is done, drain and add to the skillet. Toss about, coating every strand of spaghetti well.
- Grate Parmesan or Cheddar directly on and mix throughly.
- Serve with fresh basil.
Recently, I’ve been having this urge to learn to make pastry, so what better kind to start with than shortcrust pastry. Being a huge fan of the savoury, making a quiche therefore, was the desired result. The learning adventure called for a small bunch of research before embarking onward the unknown trail of crumbly crispy wonderment.
These were the proportions I used:
- 125g sifted plain flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 55g salted butter, cubed
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
- In a mixing bowl, put in the flour and salt, then add the cubes of butter.
- With your fingertips, integrate the butter into the flour-salt mixture by gently pressing the lumps in, pinching and lifting as you go along. Do this until you have a coarse sand-like mixture. Don’t take too long or everything’ll get greasy.
- Add 2 tbsp of the cold water first and combine the flour by pressing the mixture together. Note: You want to be pressing and not kneading. If necessary, add the third tbsp of water in small amount until the dough has combined nicely. (It should not be a sticky lump.)
- Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before using.
- TIP! When ready to use, roll the dough out between two sheets of clingfilm. This makes the job easier and less messy.
- Line the oiled pie dish and blind-bake it till almost done before putting in the filling for more baking.
This time, I made a spinach and feta quiche. It tasted much better after it had time to set, but I was too greedy to wait.
Christmas came early! My sister sent a package in the mail for me and I got it three days ago. One of the things in there was a star-shaped egg ring. I had to try it out right away.
Pretty neat huh?
Remember Sunny Sandwich.
Alright, so maybe it’s not really cream. But it’s pretty close I reckon, and less heartstopping, I think.
- Get your quick-cook spaghetti boiling together with the chopped carrots in a pot on the hob.
- In a skillet on medium low heat, melt a hunk of butter, then add in a splash of wine, a squeeze of lemon, a small amount of garlic puree and a thin slice of ginger. Crack in some salt and pepper too. Make sure you’ve got enough liquid to baste the fish.
- Once everything has combined, remove the slice of ginger, it has done its job.
- Make sure the fillet of fish has been pat dry, gently place it in the pan and baste it away on medium heat.
- Remove as soon as the fish is cooked. Take care not overdo it.
- Drain your spaghetti if it’s done.
- With the remaining butter and fish liquid rendered, add equal volumes of milk and flour. TIP! Usually, I add the milk to determine the amount of sauce I want, then add a little more milk, before adding flour in small quantities till the desired consistency.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Squeeze more lemon juice if necessary.
- Serve the sauce drizzled over the fish and spaghetti.
Using this Fresh Bread recipe, I made a bunch of wannabe ciabattas by adding bits of minced chilli and pulverised arugula. Then of course, I proceeded to overbake it.
Nope, we don’t have a panini press at home, so I sliced it in half and toasted it. Then filled it with butter, pan-seared pork shoulder, arugula, cheddar and pepper, and smashed it flat with the palm of my hand.
There it is, a ciabatta wannabe, nothing more.
I confess, I am currently obsessed with the ballotine. Rolling meat into a tight bundle and then cooking it makes me happy. It doesn’t help that there is such a sense of excitement when the time is nigh to slice it.
Alright, so maybe pork isn’t so appetising in a ballotine. In any case, a drizzle of sesame oil elevates its flavour immensely. Served with ultra-thin rice noodles, carrot mash and seared lettuce, I am definitely playing with my food.
French-style cooking and Asian flavours, at its best.
Alright, so it seems I’ve been having lotsa time to have breakfast in the mornings these days. Well, truth is, I’ve been waking late so brunch has become somewhat routine now. In any case, what I’d like to share here is a savoury tomato and mushroom compote. So easy to do, and so good with toast.
Toss everything into a skillet and mix till ready.
- 1 plum tomato, diced into 1cm cubes
- 1 large brown mushroom, diced into 1cm cubes
- 1 small knob of butter
- 1 pinch of dried basil
- 1 small bunch of arugula, finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
Have it with egg, ham, and toast. Lush.