Tag Archives: Tricks

Sausages.

I don’t know how people feel about sausages in particular but I do know having a piece done well is never a bad thing. Sausages should be browned with a nice tan, but not burned; when you sink your teeth into a one, it should be toasty but not shrivelled, succulent and not dry. This morning, I’ve just discovered the best way to cook sausages, so that you get that crispy exterior enveloping juicy mince. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Place your sausages into a pot with a small drizzle of oil.
  2. Turn up the heat to medium and put the lid on, keeping any steam released within the pot.
  3. Let the sausages fry about by rolling them about in the pot with the lid still on. Check occasionally.
  4. Once the sausages are nicely browned, turn down the heat to the lowest setting and let them steam slowly for a couple of brief minutes before serving.

Remember, crispy yet juicy.


Breakfast Tomatoes

There’s word of this fifth basic taste going round, a taste alongside salty, sweet, sour or bitter; it’s called umami. According to Wikipedia, it means ‘pleasant savoury taste’ in Japanese. It’s the taste most common in Japanese food, which makes it so well-loved. ‘The human tongue has receptors for L-glutamate, which is the source of umami flavour. As such, scientists consider umami to be distinct from saltiness.’ So you ask? How and where do you get umami from? Tomatoes.

I believe having tomatoes at breakfast is a great way to start your day, awakening your belly with wholesome savoury goodness, not just salty ham or bacon.

Have them with your sausages today.


Fluting Mushrooms

A couple of days ago, I came across this like fancy trick to make mushrooms look pretty, and so I learnt that it’s called fluting. I think brown cap mushrooms are best for this so you see the design better with the difference in colours.

With a small sharp knife in hand, press the cap of the mushroom gently but surely against the knife. Note that the mushroom is cut by being pressed towards the knife; while the knife stays rather still throughout. Of course, this is done before the mushroom is cooked.

I think before this, mushrooms never looked more presentable.

Try it today!


Couscous, Cheat

This is a great lazy cheat for awesome slurpy food when you’ve got some soup leftovers. (Note: This only works for clear soups, mostly the Asian sort. And of course, minestrone soup.)

I know I’ve sorta made a post about this before but hey, this is specifically for Coucous in Chinese Chicken Soup. You might say it’s a level up from Couscous, Stocked.

  1. Get your chicken soup leftover into a bowl and chuck it into the microwave for 2 minutes.
  2. Yes, that’s TWO minutes on high heat; you want it piping hot.
  3. And then in goes the couscous, right into the blistering hot bowl of soup. TIP! The ratio for this a little tricky. But basically, you need enough liquid to cover the coucous. Since you’re doing the reverse i.e. adding couscous to liquid, add the grains just so that there’s still enough water to cover the coucous. In this case, it’s okay to put less than more. (When the couscous is done, the grains would have been completely swollen with tasty goodness.)
  4. Cover with a plate or lid for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Have it hot, like you would with chunky soup.

Lush.

Photography: Sarah Lee


Yorkshire Paradise

It’s tragic how I had my first Yorkshire Pudding only when I came to London some months back. It was about the size of my palm, and carried a scoopful of lovely roast beef, white onions and gravy. Definitely love at first bite. I always thought they were difficult to make until I came across Jamie’s Oliver’s Mini Yorkies recipe. Literally, a piece of cake.

Long story short, the versatile Yorkshire Puddings or Mini Yorkies: with a couple of tweaks, and some true advice from Yorkshireman Niall, here’s how I like mine done:

  • 1 large egg
  • half a mug of plain flour
  • half a mug of fresh milk
  1. Into a shallow 12-hole muffin tray, liberally drizzle olive oil in one swift motion, from hole to hole without stopping. Stick into the oven and preheat to 180°C on the top rack. While that’s in there, prepare your pudding mix. It’s real similar to pancakes, so pay attention.
  2. Get the ingredients in a big bowl and mix away, till smooth.
  3. When the oil’s all hot (and maybe bubbly), get the tray out. Then, with the pudding mix, fill each hole to about half, give or take. At this stage, you’d be horrified to see the rings of oil surrounding the pudding mixture. Don’t worry, it beats using butter, hands down. (The amount should be just about right for 12 holes. Work out everything else in between.) Don’t take too long or the tray will cool down. Chuck it back into the oven for about 15 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, you can prepare a beef gravy or whatever you fancy in a yorkshire pudding. Personally, I think yorkies were created to caress beef.
  5. Keep an eye on them yorkies and you’ll see that they rise beautifully at the sides first, forming a little well of goodness. Done till golden. Brilliant. It’s plain physics, or so Sarah explains. If you forget to preheat the tray and oil till hot, the sides won’t rise.

This is what you’ll get:

I had this with a pork belly stew. More on that here.

******

A coupla months back, here’s how I had them:

After I’d gotten them out of the oven and out of the tray, this is what I stuck into each hole, and back into the heat:

  • a slice of tomato, as the base.
  • beef mince, marinated the way I like, with thyme and sage.
  • half rings of white onion.
  • cheddar, as the ‘glue’.

When the toppings were ready, on a chopping board, I plopped them onto the individual yorkies. Then, top off finally with a couple of leaves of arugula and a sprinkle of paprika.

With a snack looking this delish, you’d be a fool not to smile. (:


Beer-less Friday Fish Batter

If you’re lazy and want some batter for deep-frying fish fillets, check this recipe out.

But if you feel a little more hardworking and wish to have that fish-&-chips style of batter, then this is for you. Alas, in certain places of the world, beer isn’t exactly cheap. If you’re from those places, like me, here’s an awesome Beer-less Batter for your fish fillets.

What you’ll need:

  • 12 finger-length cod fillets
  • 2/3 mug of plain flour
  • 1/2 mug of corn flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • 1 hearty dash of black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 1 bag of courage
How to do it:
  1. Get everything, except the fish and oil, into a mixing bowl. Mix till smooth. TIP! What you’re going for is a semi-solid-thick-gravy kind of consistency, so add the water in small quantities while mixing your way through. If the water’s not adequate, use more. Just make sure it doesn’t get to diluted.
  2. Let it rest about for a bit. While you get you deep-frying oil into your wok, and up to the right temperature. TIP! Plonk a small potato into the oil too, and when that turns golden brown, your oil is ready.
  3. Dunk the fish fillets into the batter, coating each piece in gooey goodness.
  4. Deep-fry away! (Till golden brown only.)
  5. Drain on a cake grill with paper towels underneath.
  6. Serve with a slice of lemon and mayonnaise.

Express Chicken Dippers

I’ve been crazy busy with packing these past few days. It’s the summer and I’m moving, that’s why. So here’s how I’ve been satisfying my fried chicken cravings.

With a pack of battered chicken dippers that I got from Iceland, your friendly neighbourhood frozen food store, I managed to get these babies crispy without having to heat up an entire oven. I don’t even know why I didn’t wanna use the oven but here’s an alternative to the traditional stick-it-in-the-oven trick.

Express Chicken Dippers

  1. Straight from the freezer and into a wok on the hob, toss the dippers in frozen.
  2. Turn up the heat to full whack. Put a lid on. TIP! Doing this keeps the moisture in, steaming the dippers.
  3. After a couple of minutes, get them out and chop them into bite-size pieces. (There is no need to perform this step; I have an obsession with cutting my food into bite-size pieces.)
  4. Flip them about every couple of minutes.
  5. Get them out once they start to brown.
  6. Let them cool a little before chowing down, you don’t wanna burn your tongue, like me.
Or, you can always just use the oven.

Grilled Peppers & Sage Chicken Pasta

I wouldn’t call this a Mediterranean dish ‘cos it isn’t exactly one. But the combination of peppers and sage remind me of Greece. Anyway, here’s a simple recipe for a slight taste of the Great Middlelands.

Grilled Peppers & Sage Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of long pasta
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • half a small white onion, minced
  • 1 handful of sliced red peppers, inch-long
  • 1 handful of sliced yellow peppers, inch-long
  • 1 handful of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 handful of chicken fillet, breast or drumstick meat, cubed bite-size
  • half tsp of dried sage
  • salt and pepper, for seasoning, to taste
  • handful of spinach leaves, for colour
Cooking:
  1. Get your pasta cooking on the hob. (Remember: The Italians say the water used to cook pasta should be as salty as the Mediterranean
  2. Put a wok on the hob too. Turn the switch up to full whack and get the wok screaming hot. Add the oil in.
  3. Toss the minced white onion into the wok to flavour the oil.
  4. Before the onion turns brown, get the peppers to join the party. This time, let them sit still up to 2 minutes each time before tossing, until they show signs of slight charring. TIP! The trick here is that you don’t have the time to heat up an oven to specially grill your peppers. Pan-searing does the trick.
  5. Add mushrooms and toss.
  6. When the mushrooms are just about done, get everything out and put your chicken cubes in. You want to dry stir-fry them. This means you use the starchy water from the pasta, to stir-fry the meat. By adding the water in small quantities, stirring as you go along, you allow the meat to absorb all the liquid. Result: the chicken cubes are ‘dry’ yet juicy.
  7. Once the chicken is just done, add all the ingredients back in. And add salt, pepper and sage. Stir.
  8. The pasta should be just about done. Drain and add to the wok.
  9. Turn the heat off and add the lush green spinach leaves.
  10. Mix and serve.

Simplest Salad Dressing

It was not till I got to London last year that I started appreciating salad, especially when it’s been tossed pretty in glistening dressing. Here are the guidelines to making the Simplest Salad Dressing.

You’ll need a clear jar; something like this:

With this, you can see how much liquid you’re pouring in. Also, you’ll be able to tell what it is without having to open the jar.

Next, componentsOlive oil, sour acid, salt and pepper.

The key is noting the ratio of olive oil to sour acid = 3 : 1.  That is, 3 parts oil to 1 part sour acid, which can take any form, from balsamic vinegar to lemon or lime juice. Experiment with different kinds to discover which goes best with your salad. Don’t forget that pinch of salt and pepper for added flavour.

And remember, salads don’t have to be boring.


Honey Baked Chicken Thighs

I am a complete sucker for chicken. Using hands and getting dirty somehow adds to the flavour of the food. Fried chicken is what usually gets me going, but oven baked ones are awesome too. For this, it’s best you marinade it overnight, in a bag, in the fridge.

This is for 6 pieces of Honey Baked Chicken Thigh.

Marinade:

  • 1 generous lug of white wine
  • 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp of honey, or 2 if you want
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp of dark soy sauce, for colour
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
Preparation:
  1. Get your chicken into a ziplock bag.
  2. It doesn’t matter if the chicken portions are frozen or not, just make sure they’re not stuck to each other.
  3. Get all that stuff of marinade into the bag with the chicken.
  4. Take care to get every bit of meat covered in the marinade.
  5. Stick it in the fridge overnight.
Cooking:
  1. The chicken should have thawed through beautifully and at the same time, have absorbed all that sweet goodness of your marinade. Get your chicken on a tray, skin side up and cover with foil.
  2. In a pre-heated oven of 220°C, stick the tray in for 45 minutes.
  3. After the buzzer goes, remove the foil and turn the temperature down to 180°C. Leave the tray in there for another 15 minutes or so, or until the skin turns golden.
  4. TIP! Not sure if it’s cooked through? Poke in with a fork. If it’s cooked, the juices will run clear, not red.
  5. Let it rest for a couple of minutes.
  6. Serve, without cutlery.