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Prawn Kataifi

Prawn Kataifi

I used to work with a guy whose name I couldn’t pronounce. For months, I managed to avoid calling him by his first name until one day I was in a teleconference call and someone suggested that I introduce everyone. So around I went, introducing each one of them until I reached “Paraic” and I was like “uhm, how do you pronounce your name again?” Turns out it was an Irish name and pronounced something like “Pho-rac” (to date, I’m still not 100% sure).

I told my other officemate about it and he said he also didn’t know how to pronounce his name. In fact, for months he used to refer to Paraic as “the finance guy”.

The other name I can never get my head around is the guy from River Cottage. As much as I love that show, I always call him “Hugh something-something”. This evening I tested my husband (who claims he is also a massive fan of the show).

“What’s the name of the guy from River Cottage?” I asked him.

“Google it.” He said.

“No, just tell me!” I said.

“Hugh Whitley?… or Whitely? … or Fernley?” He guessed.

I burst out laughing. Turns out he was just as bad as I was.

This is one of those recipes where I am totally unsure of how to pronounce the ingredients. Kataifi? Ajvar? Don’t even ask me to try. All I know is that the combination is delicious! The inspiration was from a dinner I had a few weeks ago at Efendy in Balmain. The Ajvar is a Serbian relish made with roasted capsicums, roasted eggplants and some chili. It’s a delicious accompaniment to the prawns and it’s also amazing with fresh sourdough bread topped with goat’s cheese.

The herbs come from my newly planted edible balcony, but more on that another time.

Oh, and for the record – the River Cottage guy? His name is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Prawn Kataifi

Prawn Kataifi

Prawn Kataifi with Ajvar Sauce

Serves 6

  • 12 large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 100 grams kataifi pastry, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
  • 50 grams butter, melted
  • zest of one orange or mandarin and 1 tablespoon of it’s juice
  • Ajvar sauce (I used Mama’s Brand) to serve
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 210c. Mix the orange/mandarin zest and juice with the melted butter and pour over the kataifi pastry.
  2. Line a tray with foil and spray with some olive oil.
  3. Carefully spread around 2 tablespoons of the pastry on a wooden board and place a prawn on one side of the pastry and roll the pastry over the prawn to cover.
  4. Lay the prawn carefully on the lined tray and repeat with the remaining prawns.
  5. Place the prawns in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes, turning halfway until the prawns are golden.
  6. Serve with ajvar sauce.

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Mussel Kinilaw

Mussel Kinilaw

A few years ago I planted a little calamansi fruit tree in our balcony… and then I waited… and waited… and waited some more. My tree never seemed to bear much fruit. If I was lucky, I would get three or four calamansi and I was ready to give up – the tree was taking up space but not giving me much to work with. I was ready to uproot the tree and plant something else.

A few months ago I noticed a few calamansi budding from the branches and so I waited a little bit more (after all, what was another month after waiting all those years) and suddenly the fruit just kept coming and wouldn’t stop! I managed to collect over 3 large bowls of the fruit, much more than I would immediately need so I juiced them and froze them in little ice cubes to be used in the future.

For those who are unfamiliar with calamansi, they are a native citrus very common in the Philippines. When I lived in the PHilippines I used to enjoy an ice cold glass of calamansi juice (sweetened with a little sugar or honey). I’ve also seen some people use it in desserts like a calamansi curd for macarons. Me? I prefer to use it as part of a “sawsawan” or dipping sauce. Usually the “sawsawan” will be some sort of combination of fish sauce, soy or vinegar which we then use to flavour our dishes. Think deep fried crispy piece of fish served with a dipping sauce of calamansi and fish sauce… or pork belly grilled over charcoal and served with soy, vinegar and garlic. Now you get the idea!

The recipe below is as simple as it gets. I’ve used the juice of the calamansi in a “Kinilaw” which the Philippine’s version of a ceviche. The dish is served a “pulutan” (which means to “pick up”) or appetizer and is usually made with fresh fish (I like to use snapper). For this recipe I’ve made it with some mussels which I’ve cooked first and then doused in the kinilaw marinade right before serving.

Calamansi

Calamansi

Mussel Kinilaw

  • 1 kilo mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 long red pepper
  • 1 long green pepper
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic gloved, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons coconut vinegar or cane vinegar (any Filipino brand will do)
  • 2 tablespoons calamansi juice
  • salt to taste
  1. Place the mussels in a pan and a splash of water. Gently heat until the mussels are cooked (careful not to overcook them)
  2. Once the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and place in the refrigerator until they are cold.
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over the mussels right before serving.

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Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke

Every few months or so, I’ll discover a restaurant that quickly becomes my new favourite. It always plays out the same way, I’ll go back several times in a month and think how handy it would be to have a “standing reservation” every week. My husband prefers to try different restaurants so by the third or fourth time, he is pleading we try something new. A restaurant that made it to the favourite list and one we visited more than the usual was a restaurant serving Japanese pub food in Surry Hills called Izakaya Fujiyama.

They are famous for their charcoal grilled fish head which is limited in availability. They manager mentioned that it’s only available usually once a week. Naturally, when we found out that there was a tuna head was available, we had to order it. We asked the waitress for it and she put in our order. A few minutes later she came back with bad news. “Chef says that you cannot order it. It’s too big.” She told us. Given that we had already ordered four other dishes, she tried to persuade us that there would be too much food. We said we didn’t mind and we really wanted to order it so she went back to the chef to place our order. Forty minutes later this monster of a fish head arrived in our table. The head was so large that all our other dishes had to be cleared because the wooden serving plate covered the whole of the table. Of course there was no way we could finish the dish. In fact, we shared it with the table beside us and still had half to take home!

We rolled out of the restaurant thinking we would need to take at least four or five people to join us next time. Later on my husband told me that when the waitress went back to tell the chef we were insisting on ordering the dish, he saw the chef laugh and shake his head.

Equally as impressive, this tuna dish is definitely more manageable. Tuna Poke made with sashimi grade tuna marinated in soy, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, over a bed of seaweed and topped with crispy wonton strips.

Tuna Poke

serves 2 as a started

  • 250 grams sashimi quality tuna
  • 100 grams seaweed
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Dash of shichimi togarashi
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame
  • strips of fried wonton wrappers
  1. Diced the tuna into 1 cm pieces. Set aside.
  2. Mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, shichimi and toasted sesame in a bowl and spoon over the tuna.
  3. Lay the seaweed salad on a serving plate, top with the marinated tuna and finally the wonton wrappers.

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Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

This is one of those recipes that wasn’t meant to make it to the blog. On my way home from work tonight I thought that, since my husband was working late, I might kill time by making some fresh pasta. I stopped by the fish monger and found some fresh prawns and thought that a nice creamy bisque sauce would work well with it. I was wrong. It didn’t work well with it… it worked SUPER DUPER WELL with it!

It was so good, I knew I would do you a disservice if I didn’t share it. So – here it is – prawn pasta with a bisque sauce. Have you got a favourite seafood pasta recipe? Well, now you do!

Recipe for fresh pasta can be found here.

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

Prawn Pasta with Bisque Sauce

serves 2

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
  • 45 ml olive oil plus another 30 ml to fry the prawns.
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 12 large prawns
  • 100 ml cream
  • salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • 100 to 150 grams fresh pasta per person
  1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent, around 5 minutes, then add the garlic cloves. Season with salt.
  2. Peel and devein the prawns. Chop the meat into large pieces and set aside for use later. Place the prawn heads and peel with the vegetables and saute for around 5 more minutes. Add 750 ml of water and allow to simmer until the liquid havles, around 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. When the sauce has reduced, strain the sauce and add the cream, continue to simmer until the sauce thickens. Taste and season as required.
  4. Heat the 30 ml of oil in another pan and fry the prawns until cooked, around 3 minutes. Add this to the bisque/cream sauce.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water until boiling. Salt the water once it reaches a boil and add the fresh pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the bisque sauce.
  6. Place in serving bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

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Dinner by Heston

Dinner by Heston

One of the downsides of being in a relationship with someone as competitive as yourself, is that this normally extends to even food choices.  On our recent London trip, we had lunch at Heston Blumethal’s restaurant, Dinner.  The menu was developed by Heston and Ashley Palmer-Watts who heads the Dinner  ktichen, and focuses on historically inspired British dishes.  According to their website, the name “Dinner” refers to the “main meal” of the day – whether that be lunch, mid day or actually dinner time.  According to San Pellegrino, this restaurant is the ninth best in the world, topping Heston’s other restaurant, The Fat Duck (which ranks 13th).

So what happens when you try to compete for the best order?  Four starters, two mains and two desserts happens.  I highly doubt this but the waiter said that no couple had ever ordered that much before.

Entrees

My Order: Meat Fruit (mandarin, chicken liver parfait with grilled bread)

His Order - Roast Marrowbone

His Order – Roast Marrowbone (marrow, snails, parsley, anchovy and pickled vegetables)

Verdict: I win.

My Order - Buttered Crab Loaf

My Order – Buttered Crab Loaf (Crab, cucumber, pickled lemon, herring roe and stone crop)

His Order - Salamugundy

His Order – Salamugundy (Chicken oysters, salsify, marrow bone and horseradish cream)

Verdict: He wins.

Mains

My Order - Cod in Cider

My Order – Cod in Cider (with chard and fired mussels)

His Order - Fillet of Aberdeen Angus with triple cooked chips

His Order – Fillet of Aberdeen Angus (with mushroon ketchup & triple cooked chips)

Verdict: I win.

Dessert – 

His Order – Tipsy Cake (Roast Pineapple) – sorry forgot to take a picture of that one!

My Order – Ice Cream Trolley – now this isn’t on the regular menu – but the waiter insisted we order it.  By mixing liquid nitrogen and vanilla custard, we were treated to instant ice cream! How could I NOT order this?

My Order - Ice Cream Trolley using Liquid Nitrogen

My Order – Ice Cream Trolley using Liquid Nitrogen

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order - Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

My Order – Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

The Verdict:  Do you really have to ask?

But then again… I always win.

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Paris Jardin des Tuileries

Paris Jardin des Tuileries

It could have been the overcast sky that greeted me. Or, maybe the fact that after more than 24 hours on a plane with three different stopovers, I was told that the airline had lost my luggage… or having to spend my first two days on my own… Something, in Paris, was off.

I had my first meal at Aux Lyonnais which has become somewhat of a tradition to begin any trip to Paris at this Alain Docasse run Bistro. The lady who had been greeting me for the last four years, I found out, had left and new staff had taken over the floor. While the new waitstaff were knowledgeable and efficient, there was no “Hello! How are you? So good to see you back” to greet me. To start I had an egg cocotte with black truffles and morrels and for main I had the pollack (which I was told was only in season every April) a la meuniere. Again, while the food was cooked well, I left the restaurant thinking that I might have to change traditions next year.

Aux Lyonnais

Aux Lyonnais

Day two was dinner at Le Chateaubriand which has been named the 9th best restaurant in the world. Two years earlier we had eaten in this restaurant and was blown away with the food (and, okay, maybe the chefs and waiters too), so I was excited to come back. I guess I was expecting too much but the food didn’t seem as inventive or exciting as before (okay, the waiters and chefs were still as good looking).

Chateaubriand Paris

Chateaubriand Paris

Things weren’t looking too good.

And then my husband came and things started to pick up.

“I’m bored.” I told him. “Paris doesn’t seem the same to me.” So that night we went to Hotel Costes, a boutique hotel located on the First Arrondisement. By day you can sit by the open courtyard and people watch. At night the whole place transforms into a trendy restaurant/bar. This is where we met Ali – mixologist extraordinaire. I explained to him that I didn’t normally drink but my fate that night was in his hands. To please make me a cocktail that was fruity but where I couldn’t taste the alcohol.

“Leave it to me, I am an expert” Ali said.

Two drinks later, my head was spinning and anything anyone said seemed very funny to me. My husband was holding me back from ordering a third drink. “I think that’s enough. Let’s close the tab.” he said. “Wait a minute! I said to Ali, “I need to know the name of this so I can make sure to order it next time.”

“It has no name, this one I just invented.” said Ali.

“We can’t not have a name for this drink!” I replied.

“Okay, let’s name it after you, Teresa” Ali said.

“Okay, tomorrow, you and me, we’ll have a showdown!” I shouted back at Ali, giggling uncontrollably.

“Yes, of course!” He smiled.

You have to realize, I never drink. Ever. So as embarrassing as it sounds, I got wasted after two drinks.  A few hours later things got messy, my head pounding, I was crying and cursing Ali like there was no tomorrow.

The day after was no different. Every time I stood up I felt like my world would turn upside down. When my husband joked about the proposed showdown with Ali I gave him dagger looks. The thought of going back to Hotel Costes made me woozy.

Hotel Costes, Paris

Hotel Costes, Paris

Easter Sunday was different. I could finally laugh about the “Ali” incident! The sun was shining and after a whole day wasted, I was hoping for a little back of the Paris that I loved. So of course I headed to the 7th Arrondisement which is my favourite. The markets were opened and we were welcomed by a Frenchman playing music on an old punch tape winding music box!

One thing I’ve found, is that my tried and tested bistro in Paris is still 100% reliable. Lunch at Cafe Constant was just as I remembered it. Homey, well executed and affordable cooking.

Sea Bass with Sweet Potato Mash

Sea Bass with Sweet Potato Mash

Roasted Langoustines Cafe Constant, Paris

Roasted Langoustines Cafe Constant, Paris

Then to top it all of, was the most delicious apple tart. Layers of caramelized apples over the flakiest puff pastry, served with a side of vanilla ice cream. It’s times like these that you realize, you don’t need to be in the fanciest, trendiest or most expensive restaurant, you could be in a cramped corner of a Paris cafe enjoying a simple meal, or even laying flat on the bathroom floor cursing the bartender that gave you one cocktail too many, it’s who you’re with that makes the story worthwhile telling.

I was with my husband and I finally had my Paris back.

Apple Tart at Cafe Constant, Paris

Apple Tart at Cafe Constant, Paris

Cafe Constant Apple Tart

The day after my planned “showdown” with Ali, I went back to Hotel Costes to try and get the recipe for the cocktail he had invented for me. Unfortunately, Ali was not around that night… and the waitress told me that he would not be around the night after as well, which meant that I wouldn’t get the chance to ask him for the recipe before I left. So instead, let me share with you Christian Constant’s simple Apple Tart recipe… however, if you do find yourself on Rue St Honore one day, make sure to pass by the Bar at Hotel Costes and ask for Ali. Tell him you want to order the “Teresa”.

  • 7 “pink” golden apples
  • 45 grams butter
  • 1 roll best quality puff pastry (i.e. I would use Careme brand)
  • 35 grams caster sugar
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180c. Roll out the puff pastry and place it in a round or oblong tart. Using a fork, prink the bottom and sides of the pastry to prevent it from puffing up during cooking. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the apples, cut in half, remove the cores and sees and slice very thinly.
  3. Arrange the apple slices on the pre-cooked pastry shell, overlapping and fanning them out evenly. Sprinkle with half of the sugar and add a knob of butter.
  4. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Midway through the cooking time, sprinkle with the remaining sugar, and turn the tart from time to time so that it browns evenly. Cool before serving.

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Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

I admit that I have an unhealthy obsession with cookbooks and food magazines.  One of my favourite magazines is one published in the Philippines called Yummy.  I’ve been a long time reader and used to always ask my Mom to buy them and bring me copies when she would visit.  I was thrilled when last year I found out they were also on Zinio which meant I could read them as soon as they were published online.

Imagine my excitement when Liz, one of their assistant editors, asked if I would be interested to be featured as a guest chef – uhm… hello?!?  Of course I would be honoured!

So here it is – MY very own feature on Yummy Magazine.   If you are lucky, you may still be able to buy the March 2012 issue where this is published, but better be quick because the Blog Monster seems to be hunting down every copy she can get her hands on!  (It’s nice to have a Mom who is so proud of you isn’t it?)

Trissalicious on Yummy Magazine
Yummy Magazine Page 2
So here’s a sweet way to begin the week – below is a recipe for Rockpool’s Salted Caramels.  The restaurant is famous for them and the recipe is taken from Neil Perry’s latest Cookbook, Rockpool Bar & Grill and is from pastry chef Catherine Adams.  Make sure to use a digital thermometer when making these sweets, the recipe is not hard to make at all, but it’s important to be exact with the temperatures, otherwise, you could end up with caramels that don’t set, or those that are too hard.

Have a great week ahead!

Rockpool’s Salted Caramels

  • 500 grams caster sugar
  • 250 grams liquid glucose
  • 435 grams pouring cream (35% fat)
  • 125 grams butter (I used Lurpak), cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes, such as Murray River Pink sea salt
  1. Grease a 22cm square cake tin with cooking spray and line with aluminium foil. Spray again.
  2. In a large pot, combine the sugar, glucose and cream. Stir gently and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook gently until the mixture reaches a temperature of 113c. (It took me approximately 15 minutes to reach that heat).
  3. Using a whisk, add the butter and continue to mix until the butter has dissolved into the mixture. From here on, do not stir. Let the temperature reach 119c and remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in the vanilla paste. Pour the mixture on to the greased pan. Quickly scatter the sea salt on top of the caramel.
  4. Allow the caramel to rest and cool. This should take around 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Once the caramel has cooled, remove it from the tin, remove the foil and cut into 1.5 cm strips. Then cut each strip into 2 cm pieces. Wrap in cellophane (or baking paper) and store in an air tight container in a cool dry place for up to 5 days.
Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

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