Category Archives: Vegetarian

Gratin Dauphinois

Apart from its fancy French name, Potato Gratin, or baked potatoes, is real smart dish to make if you’ve got guests coming round to dine on short notice. While the dish is cooking by itself in the oven, you’re free to make other kinds of food.

  1. Using medium-sized potatoes, place them all in the baking dish of choice. TIP! This gives you a rough estimate of how many potatoes you need to fill the entire dish.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 5mm thick disks. Place the potato disks into a mixing bowl as you go along. TIP! If you’re using sweet potatoes, you can choose to leave the skin on, just make sure you scrub them well clean.
  3. Season with minced garlic, thyme, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a good lug of olive oil. If you’re extravagant, use melted butter in place of olive oil.
  4. After ensuring that all disks are coated with the seasoning well, arrange the pieces nicely in the (buttered) baking dish, either in rows or in a round (as in picture above).
  5. Drizzle a round of cream (double cream, if you want), making sure every disk has a little lick of cream.
  6. Cover with foil and chuck it in the oven for 20 minutes at 180ªC.
  7. While that’s happening, you can prepare a lovely gravy and/or glazed vegetables.
  8. After 20 minutes, the potatoes should be almost done, if not already soft. Remove the foil and taste a piece, adjust seasoning accordingly, bearing in mind that the cheese you are about to add can be salty.
  9. Drizzle another round of cream.
  10. Grate Parmesan over the top. Cheddar or any other hard cheese works as well.
  11. Finally, put it back in the oven uncovered, for another 10 minutes, or until the top is gently browned.
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Fried Rice Noodles

Back home, I remember having this on only two different kinds of occasions. One, during morning breakfasts at the local hawker centre before heading to the grocers’ market, and two, while having a BBQ, as a carbohydrate accompaniment for the lead-acting chicken wings.

In any case, last week, I managed to get hold of some dried rice noodles (affectionately known as bee hoon back home), courtesy of my friend and neighbour Joanna. In attempt to recreate the subliminal dining experience of Fried Bee Hoon, I’m clueless about the proportionate and quantities of the ingredients. But I’d like to highlight the important processes around getting the right noodle-texture – not too soft and not too stringy.

 

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  1. Before getting down to doing anything, put the kettle on. Then, submerge the desired quantity of dried rice noodles with hot hot water, letting them soften until they are soft but still firm. If unsure, make a guess, what you’re aiming for is that the noodles feel about 5-10 minutes away from being cooked (in a pot). This is absolutely crucial.
  2. While that’s going on, prepare all your ingredients e.g. carrots sticks, sliced onions, minced garlic, slices of ginger, beansprouts, etc.
  3. Next, stir-fry all the ingredients in a large wok with an appropriate amount of vegetable oil. Garlic, onions and ginger going in first, frying till fragrant, then the rest of the veggies. Once they’re done, turn the heat down low.
  4. In a small bowl, make a mixture of fish sauce, light soy sauce, white pepper, dark soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. (TIP! I’m not certain of the quantities at all, but as a guideline, fish sauce is VERY salty, and sesame oil can be overpowering in flavour so don’t use too much. Also, dark soy sauce is to give the lovely deep brown colour to the noodles but using too much can be overwhelming as well. A peppery kick is essential so don’t skimp on the white pepper.)
  5. Dump the drained rice noodles into the wok together with the cooked veggies, and then pour in the sauce mixture.
  6. With CHOPSTICKS or tongs, toss continuously till the end of the cooking time, gently but surely, from the bottom up.
  7. For the texture of the noodles, add water in small quantities, bringing to the boil first with a higher heat before steaming the noodles with a low heat. Do this continuously until you get the perfect texture – not too soft and clumpy yet not stringy and wire-like at all.
  8. For the flavour, taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly until you’ve got what you think is right for you.
  9. Serve it up with a fried egg sunny side-up, and with sliced red chilli. Or if you’ve thought ahead, pickled green chilli.

Don’t be afraid that of cooking too much at a go, saving it in the fridge overnight and having it the next day makes it more moist, and some say taste better.


Avocado, Feta & Walnut Dip

This is so incredibly easy to do, it will knock your socks off.

All you got to do is blitz a small handful of walnut in a food processor, then dump in an avocado, followed by a small chunk feta cheese, tasting as you go along, and adding more accordingly. Finally, don’t forget that lug of good quality extra virgin olive oil to hold everything together. What you’re aiming for is a lovely creamy dip.

For those who prefer the old school method, or don’t own a food processor – like me – a pestle and mortar does it easy. Less hassle washing up as well.

Great with carrot sticks.

Out of this world with sausages and toast.


Pizza: Olives, Capers, Tomatoes & Feta

I’ve stopped using recipes for pizza doughs because I enjoy the thrill of having a different bread dough each time round. But of course, if you’re looking for a splendid thin crust pizza dough, use this recipe.

So after tossing flour, yeast, salt, oil and water into a bowl, and kneading away for at least 5 minutes, I had a dough ready for pizza. The routine here is to let the dough sit and rise in a bowl under a damp towel or cling film for at least 40 minutes, before rolling it out and laying your toppings on.

In this case, I made a quick tomatoey sauce base, and put on green olives, capers, and chopped cherry tomatoes, sent it into the oven till it was done and crumbled chunks of Greek Feta on. Then, serve with a variety of fresh salad leaves e.g. arugula, spinach, mixed lettuce and frills, etc.

Go crazy with the greens, if you wish.


Mushroom & Tomato Bruschetta

Remember this?

Mushrooms, tomatoes and basil are a winning combination.

  1. In a hot skillet, melt a knob of butter till it foams. When the foaming subsides, it means the pan is hot enough and ready.
  2. Toss in the chopped brown chestnut mushrooms and sautéed them till almost brown.
  3. Then add the chopped cherry tomatoes.
  4. Crack in a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Add a small pinch of basil.
  6. Also, add in a small clove of garlic, finely minced.
  7. Mix it all up, and remove from the pan once the tomatoes have shrivel slightly.
  8. To deglaze the skillet and toast up some bread, toss in a small knob of butter and swirl it round.
  9. Likewise, once the foaming subsides, place the pieces of bread on. Flip as soon as they’re golden.
  10. In the meantime, roughly chop up some mixed salad leafs.
  11. Serve the bruschetta (pronounced as [brusˈketːa]) with a small drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

This was just an excuse to use the new plate, really.


Mushroom & Cheddar Quiche

This only requires one step.

One compound step:

  1. Using this recipe for the pastry, make a thick concoction of finely sliced mushrooms, a beaten egg, grated cheddar and some milk.

Easy as pie.


Mushroom & Brie Bruschetta

As I’ve said many times before, Sunday mornings are times when you truly have the opportunity to make a good breakfast for yourself. Here’s what I had this morning – Mushroom and Brie Bruschetta (pronounced as [brusˈketːa]).

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  1. In a hot skillet, toss in sliced mushrooms with a small knob of butter.
  2. Add a small pinch of basil and season accordingly with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
  3. While that’s happening, toast your bread (preferably slices of a crusty loaf, but square slices work fine as well.)
  4. Once the mushrooms are just about browned nicely, add in a tiny bit of cream just to hold everything together, then turn the heat down low.
  5. The bread should be done, get it out. Half a clove of garlic and rub it on the toast.
  6. Spoon some mushrooms onto each slice and accompany with a small handful of fresh greens, holding them down with a small wedge of Brie.
  7. Serve with fresh cherry tomatoes, and without cutlery. All hands, all goodness.