A couple of weeks ago, I was taught how to make gnocchi by an Italian lady called Cinzia, at the little cafe I work in part-time. So last week on my own, without her supervision, I gave it a shot at home.
The way she did it was with potato puree, egg, and flour. After combining the three components, and rolling everything into a long roll, the gnocchi is cut into bite-size pieces. I did it with too little potato and the gnocchi came out a wee bit starchy. Nonetheless, the sage butter accompaniment was fantastic.
Sage butter gnocchi, with sautéed mushrooms, yellow peppers and fresh red chilli.
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.
- In a skillet, continuously baste the fillet of fish with foaming butter.
- When done, rest on kitchen towel.
- Peel off the skin of the salmon and dry-fry it.
- Sear the potato in a small pot of butter, till brown. Repeat on the other side.
- 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
- With a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a skillet, fry minced shallots till transparent.
- Toss in chopped carrots and fennel.
- Add in a small bowl of tomato juice and reduce.
- Season accordingly.
Serve with fresh arugula, seared cherry tomatoes and a slice of lemon.
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
- Bring a pot with water about half a centimetre deep to the boil.
- 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.
- Remove cooked-open mussels to a bowl at once. After about a maximum of 8 minutes, remove all.
- DO NOT throw the remaining mussel liquor away! Melt in a small knob of salted butter and drizzle over the bowl of cooked shellfish.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be sure to let the fillet rest for a but after removing it from the pan.
- (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.)
- Prepare a portion as you would as stated on the packaging instructions.
- While that’s happening, saute the minced fennel, carrot and shallots with some butter and a squeeze of lemon.
- When the carrot bits are tender, toss in the couscous and stir.
- Season accordingly with salt, pepper, oregano and a dash of chilli powder.
Damn, I should’ve deep-fried that skin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overwhelmed by curiosity, I tried my hand at it. After removing the bone from a chicken thigh, I packed some wine-soaked dried fruits in it, and proceeded to roll it into tight bundle. I poached it for eight minutes before pan-roasting it in a mixture of foaming butter and dry white wine. Once done, cutting it into thick slices to expose its beauty became much of a moment of truth.
The fruits in the center were a little too sweet for the bird but nonetheless, was well-balanced with arugula and chilli. I should make a sauce next time. Preferably something slightly spicy and definitely something rich.
Endless possibility beckons.
You probably won’t have enough time in the mornings, but when you do, you’d be pleasantly rewarded if you try this – almost as good as a panini.
- Toast a couple of slices of bread, wholemeal or white, up to you.
- While that’s in there, fry up some onions and white mushrooms. Don’t forget to add a sprinkle of dried thyme or basil, salt and pepper.
- Your bread should be all crisp and toasted before you’re done with the onions and mushrooms. Slap on a small hunk of butter on both slices.
- On goes the mushrooms and onions on one slice, and fresh rocket leaves on the other.
- Peel out some mature cheddar with a speed peeler, and lay them on the sizzling mushrooms and onions.
- Then, here’s the grand finale – a fried egg, sunny side up, done with an egg ring.
This is an egg ring (with an egg in it):
- Once that’s done, lay it gently on the cheese. Be careful not to burst that lovely yolk of golden goodness.
- Sandwich everything together and cut up into pretty triangles, if you must.
Gloomy autumn mornings are a thing of the past.
Back when Mummy made breakfast for me to bring to school, I’d always be pleasantly surprised whenever it was toasted fishcake sandwiches. Even though she made it every Friday.
This concept of ‘fishcakes’ is really quite unique to Singapore. For some reason, it’s extremely difficult to find it even in other parts of Asia, not to mention Europe. Back in London, I’d only find it in Chinatown; what a tragedy.
In any case, if and when you get your hands on some ‘fishcake’, please treat yourself to a morning toasted fishcake sandwich. It will complete your day (and your life).
- 1 piece of fishcake, halved and toasted
- 2 slices of bread, white or wholemeal
- 1 thumbsized knob of butter, halved
With a knob of butter and a hot toasty piece of fishcake wedged in each slice of bread, you’ve got one more thing to make your Friday brighter.