Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mussels Provençal

Stepping away from the usual white wine with mussels, here’s a recipe for mussels in a red wine tomato sauce: Mussels Provençal with Mushrooms and Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes

  1. Skin the Jerusalem artichokes and set them away to boil till soft.
  2. Mash or puree with some single cream and a small bit of butter.

 Mussels Provençal with Mushrooms

  1. After all the routine jazz of discarding lousy mussels, steam the mussels in a generous splash of red wine, with minced red onions, on an open skillet. Let the overpowering flavour of the alcohol evaporate before adding the rest of the ingredients, and putting the lid on.
  2. When the alcohol has more or less evaporated, toss in chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, quartered mushrooms. Also, add in some tomato juice or diluted tomato puree mixture, then turn down the heat and put the lid on.
  3. Once the mixture has reduced, add in a knob of butter to finish the sauce.

Garnish with a pinch of fennel leaves.


Butter Salmon, Fondant Potato, Fennel Salsa

Butter-roasted fillet of crisp-skin salmon, a fondant potato, on a bed of fennel and carrot salsa, with fresh arugula, seared cherry tomatoes and a slice of lemon.

Salmon

  1. In a skillet, continuously baste the fillet of fish with foaming butter.
  2. When done, rest on kitchen towel.
  3. Peel off the skin of the salmon and dry-fry it.

Fondant Potato

  1. Sear the potato in a small pot of butter, till brown. Repeat on the other side.
  2. Add a bit of stock to boil it once the potato has been browned on both sides. Potato is done once it can be easily pierced through its side.

Fennel and Carrot Salsa

  1. With a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a skillet, fry minced shallots till transparent.
  2. Toss in chopped carrots and fennel.
  3. Add in a small bowl of tomato juice and reduce.
  4. Season accordingly.

Serve with fresh arugula, seared cherry tomatoes and a slice of lemon.


Poached Chicken with Steamed Spinach Omelette

No space for full description above.

Poached and pan-roasted leg of chicken, with a steamed spinach omelette, served with a red onion balsamic & honey jus, raw carrot and Jerusalem artichoke crisps.

Chicken

  1. Poach for approximated eight minutes. TIP! Poke deep with a skewer of small knife, if juice runs clear and is not bloody, chicken is cooked.
  2. Drain well and pan-roast with a little knob of butter till golden.
  3. Remove and let the leg of chicken rest.

Red Onion Balsamic & Honey Jus

  1. In the skillet of remaining chicken juices and butter, toss in minced red onion and sweat it till almost transparent.
  2. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and reduce it by half.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in a tablespoon of honey.

Steamed Spinach Omelette

  1. Fill a ramekin with finely chopped spinach leaves.
  2. Crack in an egg and using a fork, carefully move the spinach bits about to let the egg white flow in and around the greens. Do not break the yolk.
  3. Steam the egg in a steamer. Remove once egg is cooked, and yolk still runny. Timing is of the essence.

 Serve with raw carrot cubes and a garnish of Jerusalem artichoke crisps.


Simple Butter Mussels

Mussels are apparently the poor man’s food of shellfish, cheap and easily available. I haven’t had them in awhile and tonight, I made a little bit of it with some pasta.

So far, the best way I know to do mussels is to steam them. And contrary to popular belief, Sarah read somewhere that all properly-cooked mussels can be eaten, whether or not they open during the cooking process. No clue how true that is though.

Disclaimer: Consume unopened cooked mussels AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Simple Butter Mussels

  1. Bring a pot with water about half a centimetre deep to the boil.
  2. Toss the clean scrubbed mussels in and add a splash of dry white wine. Then, put the lid on. Mussels cook really quickly so keep them in check.
  3. Remove cooked-open mussels to a bowl at once. After about a maximum of 8 minutes, remove all.
  4. DO NOT throw the remaining mussel liquor away! Melt in a small knob of salted butter and drizzle over the bowl of cooked shellfish.
  5. Sneak a happy smile, or shed happy tears.

Mussels are lovely with garlic and a little bit of chilli. So I think Aglio Olio is the perfect carbohydrate match.

Simple cooking, at it’s best.


Butter Salmon on Fennel Couscous

A couple of days ago, I managed to pull myself out of bed at 430am to make a trip down to Billingsgate Market, at Canary Wharf. It’s a wholesale wet market holding the likes of fresh fish, mussels, scallops, crabs, lobsters, and frozen seafood, all for really good prices. I’d think the produce available there is anytime fresher than the stuff back home and in the supermarkets here.

Well, so I got myself a whole salmon, a couple of sea-basses and a bag of live mussels. No chance to cook any of that for lunch; I hit the sack after an incredibly early morning out of bed.

Dinner, however, was salmon with couscous.

Butter-basted fillet of salmon, served on fennel, carrot and oregano couscous, garnished with arugula, chilli and a mini-slice of lemon.

 

Salmon

  1. Melt a hunk of butter in a skillet and let it foam up a little. Crack a bit of black pepper in and squeeze in some lemon juice.
  2. Lay in the salmon fillet skin side down, and with a spoon, baste the fish continuously till it’s just right. Take care not to overcook it, else it’d get really dry.
  3. Be sure to let the fillet rest for a but after removing it from the pan.
  4. (At this stage, the skin of the salmon should peel off easily in a single piece. If you want, deep-fry it till crispy and then put it back on the fish.)

Couscous

  1. Prepare a portion as you would as stated on the packaging instructions.
  2. While that’s happening, saute the minced fennel, carrot and shallots with some butter and a squeeze of lemon.
  3. When the carrot bits are tender, toss in the couscous and stir.
  4. Season accordingly with salt, pepper, oregano and a dash of chilli powder.

 

Damn, I should’ve deep-fried that skin.


Tom Yum Fish Spaghetti

Frozen fish is an sufficient alternative if you haven’t got fresh fish. However, cooking frozen fish can be a tricky task; when done wrongly, the fish can be real dry, and gross. A good way to do it I’d say, is to baste it continuously in the accompanying sauce.

In this case, I’ve done a mild tom yum sauce, with carrots, shallots, garlic, a slice of ginger and a squeeze of lemon. If you’re wondering, the tom yum base was from an instant paste in a bottle just like this one:

  1. Set the pasta away in a pot to boil together with a handful of frozen peas. Boiling the peas instead of sauteing them allows them a fresher flavour and sweeter crunch.
  2. I made the sauce by tossing the chopped condiments (mentioned above) together into a skillet, and adding a teaspoon of tom yum paste and an adequate amount of pasta-cooking water.
  3. Then, I cooked the fish, drenching it repeatedly in the sweet yet just sourish gravy. Nonstop, till the fish was just right.
  4. Drained the pasta and peas and served with a chilli garnish, for colour and added heat.

Kinda like an Asian bolognese, slightly spicy, and with fish. Lush.

Click here for the original Tom Yum Spaghetti recipe.


World’s Richest Seafood Cream Sauce

It’s a bold claim there but check this out:

    1. Render bacon fat out with butter. Fry bacon.
    2. Welcome the Aroma Fairies.
    3. Add seafood and let it fry about in the bacon fat for a bit.
    4. Poach seafood by adding white wine.
    5. Boil away till alcohol has burned off.
    6. (If you want heart-palpitations) Add full fat milk and bring to a boil.
    7. (If you want a cardia arrest) Crack in a beaten egg.
    8. Then add cream, and reduce the sauce.
    9. Season accordingly, with salt and pepper.
    10. Have it with angel-shaped pasta, because it’s the world’s tastiest.

It’s so rich I nearly lost my voice after dinner.

Okay, I exaggerate.

But only slightly.

Anyway, try it today.

I dare you.


A Piece of Pancake

Most people probably already know how to make pancakes. So I’m posting this for people who don’t and are afraid of trying for the fear of getting it all wrong. This pancake batter recipe is real simple and the margin for error is minuscule.

Ideally, you’d wanna be making the batter in a jug of some sort. It really helps when you’ve to fry the pancakes. Here’s what you mix in the jug:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 mug plain flour
  • 1 mug milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
~~~
  1. Preferably, use a whisk to whip everything together because you don’t want any lumps in the pancakes.
  2. Next, fry them singularly or in twos on a good non-stick frying pan. It’s good to oil the pan slightly after each one. Also, try to get them all the same size; nothing like eating a tall and pretty stack of identical pancakes, with butter and syrup.
  3. Cool the pancakes on a cooling rack before stacking ’em up on a plate.
  4. Top with a knob of soft butter and maple syrup. Use honey as the alternative but do it discreetly without letting the Canadians know.
  5. Devour your breakfast layer by layer, or slice right through it like a cake – not forgetting the keyword here is ‘DEVOUR’.


New Year’s Dinner 2012

You’d know by now that we’re in 2012, unless you live under a rock. In which case, I think it’s awesome how you have internet access under there.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to spend the new year with my best mate Sam and his lovely family. We’ve known each other since we were ten, and this new year’s day, I had the privilege of making dinner for his family, who are my family’s friends as well.

Planned out a three-course meal, which I wouldn’t say went perfect in terms of timing. After a coupla not-so-smooth processes and hair-pulling moments in the kitchen, here’s what was served:

Starter

Poached and butter-roasted leg of chicken on carrot smash. Served with a deviled egg of spinach and cheddar, and a white-wine lemon jus.

Main

Roasted beef and peppers, dwarf beans and sweet potato gratin. Garnished with a seared mushroom of fresh lemon juice.

Dessert

Bittersweet chocolate raspberry tart

Photography: Gerard Bong

•••

After this episode, I know how much more I should be doing in the kitchen, there is indeed a lack of finesse, dynamism and flare. 2012, here I come!

In any case, everyone here at Cook For Myself wishes you a splendid year ahead, may you be blessed with a great abundance of superb food, preferably of those made in your kitchen. Merry New Year to all!

***

And what do you know, during this time of festivity, I’ve been given the chance to direct and produce the music video of Binary Concept’s English acoustic cover of Let It Snow. Check it out!


Roast Beef with Fondant Potato

Yes, even though it doesn’t seem so, the fondant potato is the star of the show. I tried my hand at this new way of doing potatoes: letting it bubble and boil away in a truck-load of butter till brown and done, and then repeating on the other side. Also, this involves adding a bit of stock towards the end just so the butter doesn’t go burning till black. Each side takes approximately 10-15 minutes; you’d know it’s done with you can stick a fork or knife right through the side easily. You might say it’s just about deep-frying a potato, I think.

Roast beef with a red wine jus. Served with fondant potato, carrot julienne, wilted spinach and buttered mushrooms.

Being the carnivore that I am, I cannot deny that the chunks of juicy red wine flavoured medium-rare beef stole the show. Nevertheless, I’m not limited to simply mashing, boiling and roasting potatoes.