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Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare Cornets


This weekend we invited a few good friends for a last hurrah barbecue before it good to cold to cook outdoors. We decided on a surf and turf theme of steak and prawns, along with a salad of smoked duck breast (the recipe for another time), and mushroom soup. These little cornets were a last minute addition, inspired by the book I am reading now called Life, on the Line, by Grant Achatz of Alinea. While the story is an autobiography, the most interesting part of the book, at least for me, was reading about Thomas Keller. Achatz for a time worked at The French Laundry and he tells of his time in Keller’s kitchen and how Keller became his mentor. I have never (yet) been fortunate enough to eat at any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, but I am told that every meal at The French Laundry begins with a “cornet”. The story goes that Keller was about to leave New York and move to LA and he was unhappy about the move. One night, his friends took him to a Chinese restaurant and then to Baskin-Robbins after. The man at the counter gave him his order in a cone and that was his “a-ha!” moment. This is where he came up with the idea. These cornets are filled with a red onion cream and topped with a salmon tartare. For a vegetarian option, he suggests eggplant caviar and roasted red peppers. In his cookbook, Keller says that people always smile when they are served these.

These cornets are by no means the easiest things to make. First it took a while for me to decide on how to make the stencil, then, I had to buy the cornet molds. Finally, when I started baking the batter, I didn’t realize that we had to pick up the tuilles straight from the oven, still seeping in HOT butter, so that I could mold them to the cornets. On the first night I made it, I ended well past midnight just trying to get it right. It took two batches to make just barely enough for our guests this weekend.

But the smile on their faces when they ate the cornets, was of course, all worth it.

Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare with Sweet Onion Creme Fraiche

From Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook” Where possible, I have converted the measurements into weights, which is how I made the recipe.
For the Cornets

  • 115 grams softened butter
  • 20 grams sugar
  • 65 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites, cold
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  1. First make the stencil which should be around 10 cm in diameter. A good guide to this can be found here
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 205c (fan forced)
  3. In a food processor, place the softened butter (make sure it is still cool to the touch) and sugar and mix on high until the sugar is fully incorporated and the butter has lightened in colour, a few seconds. Add the flour and salt and continue to mix again until fully incorporated, again, this should take no more than 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Add the egg whites, one at a time, after each time, mix the batter on high until the whites are fully incorporated. The batter should now be light and fluffy.
  5. Place the stencil on top of a silpat or baking baking paper and sprinkle some sesame seeds inside the diameter of the stencil. Using an offset spatula, spread around 1.5 teaspoons of the batter on to stencil (make sure there are no holes), removing any excess batter.
  6. Leave about 3 cm between each round. Place the silpat or baking paper on a baking tray.
  7. Place the baking tray in the oven for around 5 to 6 minutes, until the batter is set, the edges may start to crinkle slightly. At this time, open the oven door and take the tray out and place it on the counter. Working quickly and carefully (there is hot melted butter that you will notice seeping from the cookies, use gloves if you need to), place a cornet mold on one of the batters and fold the bottom of the cornet batter on to the cornet to form a cone shape. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue with the rest of the cornets around the mold. Arrange the cornet molds, seam side down and lean them against each other to prevent them from rolling.
  8. When all the cornets are rolled, return the tray to the oven and bake for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, until the cornets are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them rest for a minute or so and place the cornets on some paper towels and allow to cool.
  9. Wipe the excess butter from the silpats and allow to cool down before moving on to the next batch. The cornets will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container.

For the Salmon Tartare

  • 115 grams sashimi grade salmon
  • 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon zest from 1/4 a lemon
  • 1.5 teaspoons finely minced chives
  • 1.5 teaspoons finely minced shallots, or red onions
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste

for the Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced red onions
  • 125 grams creme fraiche
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh chives for garnish
  1. To make the salmon tartare, finely diced the salmon using a very sharp knife. Place in a bowl with all the ingredients for the tartare. Set aside until ready to use, but for a minimum of 30 minutes and maximum of 12 hours.
  2. To make the Sweet red onion creme fraiche, place the red onions in a strainer and place under running cold water for a few seconds. Dry them on paper towels. Set aside. Whisk the creme fraiche until soft peaks, around 1 minute. Fold in the red onions and seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, for up to 6 hours.
  3. To serve, pipe some of the red onion creme fraiche (you can use a piping bag to make it easier), next, spoon around 1.5 teaspoons of the tartare over the onion cream and mold it into a dome resembling a scoop of ice cream. Lay a chive tip agains one side of the tartare to garnish.
Salmon Tartare Cornets

Salmon Tartare Cornets

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72 Hour Sous Vide Beef Ribs

72 Hour Sous Vide Beef Ribs

I must have mentioned this several times, that I am normally not a very patient person.  I think however, over time I have managed to hide this pretty well from most people.  Years ago though, concealing my temper wasn’t something I did very well.  On my recent holiday, we passed by California for the weekend to see my cousins and friends whom I hadn’t seen in over 10 years.  As long lost friends always do, we spent a good chunk of time reminiscing over “the good old days”.

One of the stories I couldn’t live down was the time my ex-boyfriend had broken up with me.  I spent months (okay, maybe it was more like a year… and a bit…) agonizing and crying over one of my best friend’s shoulders.  We would always chat long into the night and the funny thing is, I don’t think the essence of our conversations ever changed – it was either me asking him what had I done wrong, what I could have done different and him constantly reassuring me that “it was his loss”.  Other times, I asked him to “analyze” for me  the latest “ex-encounter” and whether his actions “meant anything”… reincarnations of these two topics came up over and over again… for a year… and a bit.

During the trip, as we looked back on our University years, we laughed at how trivial everything seemed to us now, but at that time, I don’t know how I would have survived without his support.  He always knew what to say when things were bleak, how to make me feel better, and how to make me laugh despite everything.

So when a year or so after he and his own girlfriend broke up, of course I was there for him.  I knew it was my turn to console him and do all the nice and altruistic things he had done for me.  I lavished him with praises and told him that he was a sure ten and she was most likely a four (at best), I told him that for sure “he could do better”.  The consoling continued well into the nights, just as he had done for me.

That is, until one day, I had enough.  I was frankly tired of iterations of similar conversations and so when he called me one night to tell me about her (again), I cracked it.  I told him that I was tired of hearing about their break-up and “NO!” they were probably not going to get back together and “NO!” just because she said “Hi!” it didn’t mean that she liked him all over again.  I said that he should forget about her and move on.  I mean, seriously, enough was enough!

My outburst was met with silence.

“Hello?”  I asked.  “Are you still on the phone?”

“Trissa,” he said.  “For ONE YEAR, I was there for you when your relationship ended.  I listened to you talk about your ex, I was there to give you advice, be there for you, keep you company and just be a really good friend!”  he declared.

“And you can’t even give me two weeks?!?” he asked.

I must have also mentioned many times that my impatience does NOT extend to food.  With food I am willing to wait.  Take these beef ribs I cooked using the latest addition to my kitchen gadgets, a sous vide machine.  I cooked them for three straight days.  I would come home after each day and take a sneak peak at the ribs bathing in the machine, smiling at myself knowing that there was something amazing waiting for me at the end.  Sous vide is a technique wherein food is first vacuum sealed and then submerged into a water bath and cooked over a low, precise temperature.  The machine, made popular by the likes of Heston Blumenthal,  is hands down one of the best kitchen investments I have made.  I have tried cooking rack of lamb, chicken, slow poached eggs and most recently, these 72 hour beef ribs which was inspired by a meal I had at Izakaya Fujiyama.  I tried asking Chef Kenji for the beef ribs recipe but he said it was a secret but I think my recipe comes dangerously close to it.   The beef is so tender but still beautifully pink in the middle.  It is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.  Restaurant quality food at home, and anyone can make it.  Unbelievable!

And whatever happened to my confidant, I am truly lucky that despite my being so horribly impatient and a lousy friend, he still remains one of my best friends today.  He will, however, never, even up to this day, let me forget the time I told him “to get over it!”

Teriyaki Glazed 72 Hour Sous Vide Beef Ribs

  • 1.5 kilos of beef ribs, portioned into 500 grams each
  • half a cup of salt
  • half a cup of sugar
  1. Prepare the brine by dissolving the salt and sugar in 3 liters of water. Add the beef ribs and leave for one to two hours. Remove and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Prepare the water bath, fill it with water and bring the temperature to 56c.
  3. Place each portion into the sous vide bag and vacuum seal.
  4. Place the beef ribs in the water bath and cook for 72 hours.
  5. When done, remove the beef ribs. If not using immediately, place the beef ribs in a container filled with 50% ice and 50% water. Cool the ribs then store in the refrigerator until required (if using from the refrigerator, heat at 56c for 15 minutes before using.
  6. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan until almost smoking (the pan should be very hot), quickly sear the beef on all sides, around 30 seconds to 1 minute each side until golden brown.
  7. Coat the beef in the teriyaki glaze (recipe follows). Slice and serve with green onions (optional).
72 Hour Sous Vide Beef Ribs

72 Hour Sous Vide Beef Ribs

Teriyaki Glaze

adapted from Practical Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji and Koichiro Hata

  • 240 ml (1 cup) mirin
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) sake
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) dark soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp grated ginger
  • 4 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 green chili, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Mix the mirin, sake and dark soy sauce in a sauce pan. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then turn down to a simmer until the sauce thickens, around 10 minutes.
  2. In another sauce pan, combine the ginger, garlic, and chili and oil and cook over a low heat until fragrant.
  3. Use the glaze over the beef ribs and spoon over the ginger garlic oil before serving (optional)

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Momofuku Crispy Pork Buns

Momofuku Crispy Pork Buns

Picasso once said:

“I paint the way some people write their autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages from my diary…”

Now, replace paint with “cook” in the first sentence and replace paintings with “dishes” in the second and you’ll understand why.   My blog is pretty much a chronicle of my life.  Many posts are prompted by an event, memory or story that’s happened to me.  To many people, reading these stories would be similar to what I heard a little boy saying over and over again at the Picasso exhibit I went to today…. “boring, boring, boring…”, but to me, these are the moments worth savouring.

Take, for example, these Momofuku style pork buns.  When I think Momofuku Pork Buns, I remember my last trip to New York where my husband and I had a Momofuku Day and hit all four of his restaurants in one day.  I remember the time I took my Mom to the new Momofuku Seibo in Sydney and the expression on her face when they brought over the slow-cooked pork shoulder for “dessert” (priceless comes to mind!).  Then there was New Year’s dinner with my husband, where, the Seibo chefs, when they found out that I did not drink, decided to create a “juice menu” for me (why didn’t anyone else think of that before? From now on juice menus should be mandatory at all restaurants!).

In this version, I thought I’d try something a little bit different and deep fry the pork belly upon the counsel of a few foodie friends.  The pork belly is prepared Filipino Style.  First, simmered with salt, bay leaves, garlic and onion, then deep fried over a low heat.  Right before serving, the pork belly is fried again at a higher heat – there is something truly magical when you’re left with the most tender pork belly and super crispy skin.

So anyway, here it is – Momofuku Pork Buns with twice fried crispy pork belly.  Seriously good stuff.

Momofuku Crispy Pork Buns

Momofuku Crispy Pork Buns

Momofuku Crispy Pork Buns

From David Chang
Steamed Buns

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water at room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon rounded baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup rendered pork fat or vegetable shortening at room temperature plus more for shaping the buns as needed
  1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Mix at the lowest possible speed for 10 minutes. The dough should gather together into a neat, not too tacky ball on the hook. When it does, lightly oil a medium mixing bowl and put the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel. Place in a warmish place. Allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk, around 1 hour, 15 minutes.
  2. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a bench scraper or a knife, divide the dough in half, then divide the half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 equal pieces, making 5o pieces total. They should weigh about 25 grams each (or the size of a ping pong ball). Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a draping of plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut our fifty 8 cm squares of parchment paper. Coat a chopstick with the fat you are working with.
  4. Flatten out one ball with the palm of your hand, then using a rolling pin to roll it out into a 8 cm long oval. Lay the greased chopstick across the middle of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun shape. Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun on a square of parchment paper. Stick it back under the plastic wrap (or dry kitchen towel) and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30 to 45 minutes; they will rise a little.
  5. Set up a steamer on the stove. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment paper. You can use the buns immediately (reheat them in the steamer for a minute or so if necessary) or allow to cool completely, then seal in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat the frozen buns in a stovetop steamer for 3 minutes, until puffy, soft and warmed all the way through.

Crispy Pork Belly

  • 1 kilo pork belly
  • 50 grams salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Place the pork belly, salt, garlic and onion in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours until the pork is tender. Remove from the pot and allow the pork to cool. Once cool, place the pork on a plate and keep uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  2. Heat a deep fat fryer to the lowest setting (mine was 150c) and fry the pork for 20 minutes. Remove, cool and again place in the refrigerator, at least 3 hours.
  3. For the final cooking, heat the deep fat fryer to it’s highest setting (mine was 190 c), fry the pork again for 10 minutes until the skin crisps up. Remove, drain and slice for the pork buns.

For the pickled cucumbers
slice 2 cucumbers thinly, add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
To Assemble

  • 1 steamed bun
  • 2 slices of the crispy pork belly
  • hoisin sauce
  • pickled cucumbers
  • spring onions, thinly sliced
  • sriracha sauce for serving
  1. Open the bun and spread some hoisin sauce. Add the cucumbers, then layer with the crispy pork belly, and finally top with the spring onions.
  2. Serve with sriracha sauce on the side.

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Seafood "Risotto" - without rice!

Seafood "Risotto" - without rice!

The truth is, haven’t we all done something crazy just for a good meal?

Sometimes, I have these ideas about food go beyond that, so much so that they are admittedly pushing the verge of deranged and demented.

Lately, I’ve been obsessing about soil.

I seriously need to get four potatoes and two kilos of soil… and some hessian sacks… All because I’ve been dreaming about making Ben Shewry’s Potato Dish which is cooked for 8 hours in a Maori hangi.  To prevent receiving that “Are you out of your mind?!”  look from my husband, I’ve been debating how to get his buy in.

Should I go with the “bad news/good news”  tactic.  “I need to buy two kilos of soil to cook four potatoes…. but not to worry, I don’t need a hangi like the original recipe… I can just cook it in our oven.”

Or maybe the multipurpose excuse.  “If we get the two kilos of soil, then once I’m done using it for the cooking, we can use it to bury the holes the dogs have dug in the garden!”

Once in a while, I get away with the “Just trust me…. it’ll be worth it.” argument.

Take this weekend for instance.  I had been wanting to make Marque Restaurants’s Risotto of Local Calamari, Prawns & Broth for quite some time but was too lazy to drive.  When I tried to get my husband to take me,  he questioned why we had travel to another suburb when I could have as easily picked up the seafood at the local fish monger.

“Not the same!” I told him.  The quality and variety of seafood was incomparable.  “Seafood is seafood.” he said.

“Trust me. ” I told him.

The result of that unwavering trust is this Seafood Risotto which has been adapted from one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney, Marque.  The recipe is a truly a wonderful surprise.  You think you are having a bowl of creamy rice but it is finely cut squid and a creamy cauliflower puree that gives the dish that risotto like texture.  We had recently gone there for dinner and I was sad to find out that the dish wasn’t offered on the menu anymore.  Which of course, led to the weekend quest to find the best possible seafood in Sydney and come up with my own version.

And so what to do about the two kilos of soil for the potatoes?

I guess the other option is to just write about it in this blog and let him find out the same time as everybody else.

Seafood "Risotto" with scampi, pippies and squid (but no rice!)

Seafood "Risotto" with scampi, pippies and squid (but no rice!)

 

Seafood “Risotto”

Serves 4
This recipe was adapted from Marque Restaurant

For the “Risotto”

  • 400 grams squid, cleaned and skinned
  • 4 scampi plus 4 large prawns (or 8 large prawns), peeled, deveined and head and shells reserved
  • handful of pippies
  • 1/4 cauliflower
  • 270 ml milk
  • 1 medium leek, diced
  • 100 grams butter
  • Prawn Broth (recipe follows)
  • Basil leaves
  1. Place the squid in the freezer for an hour to make it easier to cut. When ready, finely dice the body until they are almost the size of grains of rice. Reserve the tentacles for plating. Set the diced squid aside until ready to use.
  2. Break the cauliflower up into florets, place in a sauce pan with the milk and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Allow the cauliflower to simmer until soft, around 40 minutes, making sure that the milk does not spill over.
  4. Strain half the milk from the cauliflower and using a hand blender, puree the cauliflower until smooth. You may need to add some of the reserved milk to make the puree smoother.
  5. Heat half the butter in a large pan. Add the prawns/scampi and cook until golden, remove and keep in a warm place. Add the squid tentacles and pippies cook until the shells open and the squid is cooked through. Again, keep in a warm place until ready to serve.
  6. Add the remaining butter and the leeks and saute until soft, around 5 minutes over a low/medium heat.
  7. Add the cut up squid and around 6 to 8 heaping tablespoons of the cauliflower puree. The idea is to achieve that creamy look of a risotto.
  8. To plate, put the squid risotto on a plate, top with the seafood, basil leaves and some of the prawn broth.

For the prawn broth

  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • reserved head and shells of the scampi/prawns
  1. Saute the carrot, onion and garlic around 5 minutes. Add the reserved heads and shells and saute another three minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush the head and shells to extract as much flavour as possible.
  2. Add the chicken stock and allow to simmer around 30 minutes. Strain and the stock and place back in a sauce pan and allow to reduce until half the quantity is left (you will only need about 2 to 3 tablespoons each serve).
  3. Before serving, froth the prawn broth with a hand blender.

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Seafood Kare Kare

Seafood Kare Kare

It’s embarrassing how, being a founding member of Kulinarya Cooking Club, I’ve neglected our monthly challenges. The one thing about taking an extended leave from blogging is losing the discipline to do every other thing that comes with blogging. Testing recipes, trying to make a dish you KNOW that tastes delicious, actually LOOK delicious, taking pictures, and then there’s the writing! It can be very intimidating.

Let me tell you what else seemed very intimidating. Making kare kare. This is a traditional Filipino dish made with a peanut gravy, thickened with rice. It is usually made with oxtail, tripe, and vegetables. To me, this dish was the ultimate in cold weather comfort food. When we moved to Australia I thought the recipe for this dish was to open a pack of Mamasita Kare Kare Mix. This dish was my achilles heel. Surely, there was no way I could make this from scratch.  Was there?

Which brings me back to Kulinarya Cooking Club. The goal of KCC was not only to promote Filipino food, but also challenge ourselves to learn new dishes with the support of our group. This month’s challenge was to make a Filipino dish but put with a healthy twist.

This month I decided to make kare kare from scratch. From the number of Filipino cookbooks I had, I noticed the common theme was the use of rice and peanuts to flavour the stew. As mentioned earlier, this dish is commonly made with oxtail, so my healthy twist was to use seafood instead. Oxtail, when simmered for a number of hours, provides the richness to the stew, something not available when using seafood, so instead, I’ve added some coconut milk for that added richness.

This dish was inspired by a meal I had during my last trip to the Philippines. We ate in a home called Bale Dutung, owned by Claude Tayag and his wife Mary Anne.  I also later found out that Anthony Bourdain had eaten at Claude’s place when he did a feature on Filipino food.  We had ten (at least that’s when I gave up from delicious food overload!) dishes that day and this was one of my favourites.  Claude had let it slip during out conversation that the kare kare was made with coconut milk and it does add that extra lucious dimension to the dish.

Ice Cream Cart from Bale Dutung

Ice Cream Cart from Bale Dutung

So here is my (late) contribution to Kulinarya Cooking Club.  Seafood Kare Kare, served with a steamed bowl of rice and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).  I realized that it wasn’t that difficult to make kare kare from scratch, and, I was really really pleased with how well it came out.  Plus, it definitely taste mush better than any Mamasita mix.

After I proudly told my sister I had made the kare kare without a mix, she asked me whether I had also made the bagoong from scratch.

Ha!… Let’s start with baby steps…

Kare Kare from Bale Dutung

Kare Kare from Bale Dutung

Seafood Kare Kare (Philippine Seafood, Peanut and Coconut Stew)

serves 8

  • 100 grams uncooked rice
  • 200 grams raw peanuts
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)
  • 500 ml good quality coconut milk
  • 2 onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch snake beans
  • 8 pieces lebanese eggplants
  • 2 bunches bok choy
  • 1 kilo prawns
  • 500 grams squid, cleaned
  • 1 kilo large mussels
  • salt and fish sauce to taste
  1. Make the stock, peel the prawns (reserve a few whole ones for presentation) and place the heads in a pot with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the stock and place in another container. Set aside.
  2. While the stock is simmering, place the rice in a pan and heat until the grains turn a golden brown, around 10 minutes. Place the rice in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 160c and place the peanuts in the oven and roast until golden, around 30 minutes. Place the peanuts in a food processor and process until it comes together in a paste. Set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a small pot and add the annatto seeds. After around 2 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the seeds to steep in the oil for around 10 minutes.
  5. Strain the seeds and heat 4 tablespoons of the oil again in the pot used to make the stock. Add the chopped onions and the garlic. Season with salt and saute until the onions are soft and translucent, around 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Add the ground peanuts and ground rice. Cook for around 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the prawn stock, a little at a time. If the sauce is too thick, thin out with some water. Taste and adjust the seasoning with some fish sauce and the peanut butter if necessary.
  8. Place the sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Remove from blender and place back into the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning again if necessary.
  9. At this point, add the coconut milk, depending on how thick you want the stew to be.
  10. To make the vegetables, Heat the remaining oil and fry off the eggplants until nicely browned. For the rest of the vegetables, you can either place the vegetables in another pot of boiling water and serve on the side of the stew, alternatively, you can add the vegetables to the peanut stew.
  11. For the seafood, lightly score the squid and pan fry. Boil the mussels until they just open. Add the prawns, squid and mussels right before serving.
  12. Serve with bagoong (fermented shrimp paste), calamansi and steaming rice.
Seafood Kare Kare

Seafood Kare Kare

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Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

Where do I even begin?  We last left of when Bizou died. I never told what exactly happened.  I guess five months ago it was difficult for me to put in in writing.  Even today, I get teary just thinking about it, but hopefully this will explain my absence for so long.

The morning that Bizou died, my friend Calley and I were meant to have a Doggie Donation Day for Monika’s Doggie Rescue.  We were going to have a stand infront of the supermarket to collect old dog toys, beds and other accessories for the event.  We had spent the whole night putting up posters for the event and when I got home, I decided that I was going to make sunflower cupcakes for a gold coin donation.  That morning, as we set up our stand, I had only brought half the cupcakes so I told my husband that we had to go back home to get the rest.  He said that I should just stay and finish setting up while he went back home to pick up the rest.

That’s when it all happened.  As he carried the cupcakes to the car, she slipped out of the gate and was hit by a car.  The rest, you already know.

Not meaning to sound too dramatic, but I truly felt that life was so cruel.  It was ironic that  Calley and I had gone out of our way to do something to help rescue dogs and in the process had lost my own.  When you have something special taken away from you so soon, you want to find ways to explain why it happened.

I blamed it on the cupcakes. If I hadn’t baked them, they my husband wouldn’t have needed to go home and get them and Bizou would have not ran out of the gate.  I couldn’t step into the kitchen without being reminded of Bizou.  And so, as much as I could, I stayed out of the kitchen.

So many things have happened since then that I don’t really know where to start.  I guess it will take a few posts to get you up to speed.

But let me begin by telling you about this little bundle lying at my feet as I write this story.  For the first few months of her life she scared me.  So much so that not a day would pass where I wouldn’t ask myself “what have I done?”  A number of times I thought about giving her back.  I thought that getting a new puppy would make it easier to move on.  Little did I realize that instead, this would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

Meet Pash.

Pash

Pash

I ate out a lot over the last few months.  There is a little cafe near where I lived that served this dish regularly and it was one of our favorites. I remember the first night we ordered it, we were going to share a plate, we ended up ordering three plates. It was that good. The original recipe is from Neil Perry – he serves this at his Rockpool restaurant. Making the pasta is not for the faint hearted. It’s not easy making pasta using only potatoes and flour (no eggs to help bind the mixture) but the results are well worth the effort. If you can’t be bothered, feel free to use regular pasta, or otherwise, I suspect wonton wrappers would work as well.

Goat's Cheese Tortellini

Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Potato Gnocchi Dough

King Prawn and Goat’s Cheese Tortellini

From Neil Perry’s Rockpool Cookbook, Serves 6

  • 12 large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup raisins soaked in hot English Breakfast Tea
  • 1/4 cup roasted pinenuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

For the Tortellini

  • 200 grams butter
  • 350 grams floury potatoes (I used Desiree)
  • 150 grams baker’s flour
  • 150 grams fresh goat’s cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the tortellini, boil the potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes until you are able to pierce the flesh all the way through with a knife.
  2. Place the goat’s cheese, lemon zest, and some lemon juice to taste in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and peel the potatoes and push them through a potato ricer. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the flour. Mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass. Place half the dough in a bowl covered with a tea towel to keep warm. Take the other half and dust with a little flour as you put it through the pasta machine to ensure it doesn’t stick. Run it through the largest setting a few times until the dough comes together. The dough will not look as smooth as pasta made with flour and eggs.
  4. Continue to lower the setting of the pasta, ensuring that you use just enough flour to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick to the machine. Stop when you reach the third to the last setting (it won’t be as thin as regular pasta). Lay the pasta sheet on the bench and trim the edges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Cut the pasta into four inch squares as you will be folding the dough over to make triangles for the tortellini.
  5. Pipe a bit of the goat’s cheese mixture toward the top left hand corner of each square. Fold the bottom right hand corner to the top to form a triangle enveloping the goat’s cheese. You should have the triangles on the bias with the point facing away from you to the top left. Fold the base of the triangle lengthwise so it is level with, and covers, the top point. You will have a long skinny piece of pasta with a bump in the middle.
  6. Pick up the pasta and wrap it around your index finger with the top point of the triangle facing away from you. Squeeze the two ends together where they overlap and remove your finger. Place on a floured tray and continue with the rest.
  7. To finish the dish, place some olive oil in a pan and heat. Add the prawns and cook for around one minute on each side, until cooked through but make sure not to overcook the prawns.
  8. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon once they float to the top. Set aside and keep in a warm place.
  9. To serve, place around 4 to 5 pieces of the tortellini around the outside of a plate and the prawns in the middle. Sprinkle with the raisins and pinenuts. In the same pan used to cook the prawns, heat the butter until it starts to foam and smells nutty. Spoon the butter over the prawns and tortellini. Finish with grater parmesan cheese.
Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

Goat's Cheese Tortellini with Prawns, Pinenuts and Raisins

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Chicken and Egg

Chicken and Egg

I’ll be the first to admit, I am a gadget junkie.  This weekend I stepped inside the mall and stepped out with an electric groom tool and a soft serve ice cream maker.  It really didn’t matter that even the salesman tried to dissuade me to get the groom tool or that I had previously bought two ice cream makers (which I had each used once).  My desire to have a soft serve ice cream party during the summer (only six months away) was enough to cloud my normally better judgement.  The truth is, most of the gadgets would be lucky to be used twice… Like my coconut grater, express pizza oven, and smoker (oh actually, that was only used once!).

(more…)

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White Chicken Adobo

White Chicken Adobo

I remember the exchange of emails just like it was yesterday.  A couple of Filipina friends exploring the possibility of starting a cooking club that would promote Filipino food.  We talked about designing a banner and spent a few days coming up with an “introduction” to our club.  We talked about having monthly themes which we would then post our own version of on our blogs.  So in November 2009 a group of three friends decided to officially kick off the the Kulinarya Cooking Club.  I’m proud to say that twenty dishes later, the group still continues to celebrate the wonderful flavours of the Philippines. In fact, the group today numbers over 50 members!

This month, Kulinarya does “White Food”, chosen by Adora from Adora’s Box and Diona from Tita Flips.

I’ve chosen to share my version of one of the Philippine’s well known and most loved dishes…adobo.   Now,  you must realize that Filipinos take their adobo very seriously.  Almost everyone seems to think that their version is the best.  Well,  this version is sure to rival the best of the best.  Seriously.

A more common version of adobo is cooked with vinegar and soy, this recipe eliminates the soy sauce, which makes it the “white” version of adobo.  Adobo is essentially a stew, usually made with chicken and pork, where the meat is simmered over and the dish is finished by pan frying the meat before serving.  Quite different from  most stews where the meat is seared and then simmered over a long time.  As for me, I’ve pan fried the meat before and after simmering – a little extra step but I do love the resulting crispiness of the chicken skin in this recipe.

Adobong Puti (White Chicken Adobo)

Serves 4

  • 8 chicken thighs, de-boned (with skin on)
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 125 ml white vinegar
  • 6 pieces black pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt  to taste
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan. When hot, add the chicken in batches to brown the skin, around 3 minutes. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  2. Remove the chicken pieces and take out some of the oil in the pan and put the pan back on the heat.
  3. Add the garlic and saute, then add the white vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves and chicken. Allow the vinegar to come to a boil then add enough water to cover the chicken, around 500 to 750 ml.
  4. Allow the chicken to simmer, around 30 minutes until cooked. When done, remove the chicken from the pan and allow the sauce to simmer further until the sauce thickens to almost a syrup, around 20 minutes. When ready to serve the chicken, heat the rest of the oil in a separate pan and crisp the skin once more. Serve the sauce on the side and some white rice.

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Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

I had a friend who was visiting for a few days and I found out that she had stopped eating meat since the last time I saw her.  On a whim, I told her that I too would give up meat.   If you read my blog, you’ll notice that I’ve always loved cooking/eating meat and there are a considerable number of recipes penned here.  So while the decision to do this was initially born out of curiosity to see if I could last a few days, I knew lasting more than a week wasn’t going to be easy.  I don’t know how long this will last – a few more weeks?  Months perhaps?  Forever?  I’m not really sure but for the meantime, I’m starting to enjoy the challenge of making tasty and meatless dinners.

This is one of those meatless dishes that I could happily eat everyday.  Think layers of creamy pumpkin puree and ricotta in between sheets of homemade pasta – believe me – it’s enough to convert any carnivore.

A little note about the recipe – it’s very simple to put together – unless you’re like me where you want to complicate things and make your own pasta (it’s worth it though) – but if you’re pressed for time, use store bought lasagna sheets.  Also, the pumpkin puree is delicious as a side dish too.

“I’m vegetarian!” I told proudly told a  work colleague during drinks one day.

“Since when?”  he asked.

“Wait a second,” another friend interrupted.  “Didn’t you just put that pate in your mouth?”  She asked.

“Ahh… actually I still eat chicken… and sesafood.” I clarified.

Vegetarian… almost.

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna with Sage, Hazelnuts and Burnt Butter Sauce

Serves 4

  • 1 kilo Pumpkin
  • 150 grams unsalted butter plus 50 grams butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 400 grams ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe pasta (see here)
  • 100 grams parmesan cheese
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 20 grams toasted hazelnuts
  1. To make the pumpkin puree, peel the pumpkin and diced into 2 inch cubes. Heat the 150 grams of butter in a pan and add the pumpkin once the butter is melted. Add the vanilla bean and scraped seeds and cook the pumpkin until soft enough that you can cut it with a spoon, around 20 minutes. Stir the pumpkin once in a while to make sure that the pumpkin doesn’t catch to the bottom of the pan. Once the pumpkin is soft enough, blend or process the pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Mix the ricotta, egg and nutmeg together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
  3. Grease a baking pan with some olive oil and lay sheets of cooked pasta to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer a third of the pumpkin puree and top with more of the lasagna sheets.
  4. Top with a third of the ricotta mixture and the cover again with more lasagna sheets.
  5. Now add half of the remaining pumpkin puree and cover with the lasagna sheets. Add half of the remaining ricotta and again, more lasagna sheets. Finally, spread the remaining pumpkin puree and on top of this add the rest of the ricotta. Top with parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake the lasagna in a pre-heated oven at 180c (fan forced) for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.
  7. Heat the remaining butter along in a small sauce pan until it goes nutty brown. Add the sage leaves and to crisp them up. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

On another note, the Council of Italian Restaurants Association (CIRA) has just posted their latest class schedule for June/July/August.  If you are interested in attending any of their classes, email cira@cira.com.au or follow @italcira on twitter for more details.

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Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Many many years ago a large Philippine newspaper asked my Mom if she wanted to be featured in their food column.  Despite my lack of food knowledge I volunteered to take her place and be interviewed.

So I made my signature dish of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

The lady who interviewed me must have thought it strange that not once during the interview did I enter the kitchen.  After we chatted for twenty minutes or so, my Mom brought out a large platter of a juicy roast chicken adorned with a generous amount of garlic which I claimed I had made earlier.  The interviewer raved about how delicious the chicken was, how the garlic was not too strong and how the chicken was simply cooked to perfection… the best she ever tasted.

I think it’s only right to once and for all set the story straight.

The truth is, all credit for that dish should have gone to my Mom who spent the better part of the morning marinating, stuffing and roasting the chicken, plus making a strawberry cake for dessert.  I, on the other hand,  sat back, basked in the limelight and answered the interviewer’s questions.

So I’m coming clean with my version of a roast chicken in garlic sauce.   This chicken is first pan fried and then finished off in the oven with slow roasted garlic and chicken stock which is then reduced into a sticky, garlicky sauce.  Finally, a sprinkle of parsley to finish.

And, if you’ll take my word for it, this recipe is just as good as the one I didn’t make many years ago.

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Serves 2

  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 chicken quarters (your choice of supreme or marylands)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  1. Place the garlic on a piece of foil and season with salt and pepper and drizzle a tablespoon of oil over it. Wrap the garlic cloves with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 c for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and unwrap the foil
  2. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and heat a pan with oil until very hot. Place the chicken pieces (skin side down) on the skillet and fry the skin until nicely browned, around 5 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and place the garlic cloves in the pan.
  3. With the back of a fork, press the cloves of garlic to remove the flesh of the garlic from the skin and add the 200 ml of stock.
  4. Place the skillet in the oven (which is still at 180 c) for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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