Osso buco and roast lamb

We are going through the last weeks of Winter, so I decided to take the opportunity to make some comfort food before it gets too warm. Osso buco is such an easy cut of veal to prepare as it involves searing off the meat before letting it simmer in a tomato based stew until the meat falls off the bone. Delicious!

I also rolled out some homemade pappardelle as the perfect accompaniment. I was apprehensive as many people suggest using Tipo 00, but plain flour works just as well. . A classic gremolata of parsley, garlic and lemon was a nice touch to offset the richness of the dish.

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Lamb roast was something I haven’t made in a while. Sometimes the meat can be too gamey and dry, but this time it tasted alright. The addition of anchovies to the usual rosemary and garlic really does make a difference. I also tried making hasselback potatoes which crisped up nicely.

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Italian cook up!

Recently I have been doing some creative cooking on Friday nights as a way to wind down and relax with friends. Which is weird, because most people would eat out with friends or avoid creating more work for themselves at the end of the week.

Having said that, it is much cheaper and probably healthier eating in with friends than out. It also helps having an extra pair of hands to do some chopping/washing task. The down side of cooking creatively at home is that you have to wash up afterwards, and you end up with a mish mash of random ingredients you don’t know how to use up.

Cooking with people also reveals certain aspects of your personality. I realise that I’m actually quite controlling in the kitchen. Throughout the night, I heard my self saying “Just let me do it” several times. I would say I’m usually quite accommodating of people in other areas but somehow I end up being surprisingly intolerant in the kitchen. I guess there goes my chance of appearing on My Kitchen Rules haha.

So the last couple of Fridays I ended up making some gnocchi and risotto; both I found therapeutic in cooking. With the gnocchi dish, I served it with pumpkin, ricotta and some fried sage in burnt butter. Sorry for the half eaten photo. I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture…I know, such a blogging novice.

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Recipe 

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200 gm pumpkin cut into 1-2cm cubes
  • Oil
  • Mixed dried herbs
  • 1 floury potato
  • 00 plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Butter
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Knobs of ricotta
  1. Place pumpkin with a bit of oil in a pot over low to medium heat. Sprinkle in some herbs, salt and pepper and cover. Let saute until the pumpkin is just soft.
  2. In the mean time, steam potato or if you want bake it until soft.
  3. Pass through a potato ricer into bowl. Let cool a bit.
  4. Mix through an egg yolk gently and season with salt, pepper and a bit of parmesan.
  5. Add in a scant handful of flour and gently fold together.
  6. Flour your bench top and tip the mixture out. Keep adding handfuls of flour and kneading gently until the dough is just dry to touch.
  7. Roll out into sausage shape and cut into little pillows of gnocchi. Keep flouring as you go along. Place gnocchi pieces on a tray and try not to have them touching each other. Keep going until you’ve used up the dough.
  8. Boil up a big pot of water. Add in a tablespoon of salt.
  9. When the water starts to boil, start heating up some butter in the pan until brown. Turn off the heat.
  10. Place gnocchi into boiling water and boil until they start floating to the top. Let it boil at the top for another 10 seconds and then scoop out and into your browned/burnt butter. At this stage you might want to turn on the heat to your pan again.
  11. Add in the pumpkin pieces and season with salt and pepper to your tasting. I also melted in a bit of ricotta at this stage.
  12. When all the gnocchi pieces are in the pan together with the pumpkin, scoop out onto your serving plates.
  13. Add some more butter in the pan until it is just about to brown. Add in your fresh sage leaves and fry until crispy. Pour over your gnocchi.
  14. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and knobs of ricotta.

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The other dish I made was a porcini risotto.

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Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200 gm arborio rice
  • 100 gm dried porcini mushrooms
  • Around 5 button mushrooms sliced thinly
  • 1 brown onion diced finely
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced finely
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • Oil
  • Half a cup of red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half litre of vegetable stock
  • 3 or 4 little knobs of butter
  • 2 heaped tbsp of grated Parmesan
  • Around 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Finely chopped parsley
  1. Soak porcini mushrooms in cold water until soft. Wash them thoroughly and place in another half litre of water and bring to boil. Then turn heat off and let soak for half an hour. Strain the mushrooms reserving the liquid in a bowl.
  2. Heat oil in pan on medium heat, saute onion, garlic and mushroom with thyme until the onion are slightly translucent.
  3. Turn heat to high. Add in rice and stir around until mixed through with onion and garlic.
  4. Add in wine to rice and let it evaporate into the rice. Keep stirring.
  5. Turn heat down to medium.
  6. Add in the porcini mushrooms.
  7. Add in a ladle of the mushroom soaking liquid. Be careful not to agitate the bottom of the bowl and stir up any unwanted grit.
  8. Keep stirring as you put in the liquid. Do it gently but make sure all the rice get to soak in the liquid.
  9. Keep ladling in the mushroom soaking liquid.
  10. When all the soaking liquid is used up, start using the vegetable stock.
  11. Keep ladling, stirring as you go along.
  12. When the rice is nearly up to your preferred consistency, add in parmesan cheese.
  13. When it the texture of the rice is right, turn off heat and season with salt and pepper to your tasting.
  14. Scatter around the knobs of butter and cover the pan. Let sit for 5 minutes to let the flavours settle and soak up that butter.
  15. Take off lid and add in the lemon juice. Stir around gently to make sure everything is mixed together.
  16. Dish up and garnish with parsley.

I still kind of exist

It has been a while since my last post and if this blog was a child, I would be an abusive and neglectful parent. But much has changed in my life since the new year and cooking has not been a priority at the moment. Some of these changes include: quitting my job, starting uni again and buying my first car. You might not think these changes are that monumental, but I have never dealt well with change…especially when it involves leaving behind familiar people and plunging into a new social environment. So as an excuse to write a post about my insecurities, here’s some things I’ve made recently.

A potato rosti

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I was inspired after watching some people make it on My Kitchen Rules. Yes, I am time poor but still find time to indulge in reality tv…

I’ve tried making rosti before and it really is quite simple. After grating one raw floury potato, I added half a whisked egg and 2 tbsp of flour until sticky and not soggy. I then heated up some oil until hot and made four deliciously crispy servings. I can only imagine it going well with some smoked salmon which I unfortunately did not have at the time.

Another thing I had recently was some kaya toast! I have heard a lot about this phenomenal brownish spread and have always wanted to try some. My cousin bought some when he stopped over in Singapore and wow is it good! I can’t really describe how it tastes like but its got a similar addictive quality like sweetened condensed milk. It goes well with a bit of butter on toast.

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As you can see, I didn’t really use much Kaya… I need to make it last as long as possible haha

It’s a new year!

What’s the best  way to usher in the new year??

With food of course!! (Besides copious amounts of fireworks).

So on the last day of 2014, I decided to end the year with happiness 🙂 … and roast pork with crackling, which is basically edible happiness. And since slaving away on a hot day is not associated with happiness,  I tried to keep it simple and stuffed it with an easy mixture of rosemary, thyme, onion, garlic and fresh bread crumbs. I also added a couple sploshes of marsala before rolling the stuffing up with the pork. After wrestling the hunk of meat into a bind-able form, I massaged some olive oil and salt into the skin and whacked it into the oven to roast.

And in order to clear out some left over veges in the fridge, I served it with some roasted cauliflower and red cabbage. My attempt to be a little bit healthy 😛

But ooo look at that juicy fatty pork..mmmm

By the way, I’m not sure how people cut out perfect rounds of roast pork, because my knife has trouble cutting through crackling and the whole thing kind of fell apart the harder I tried.

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And so 2014 has passed and slipped into history, hopefully 2015 will be one that is meaningful and joyful for you all!

And yay I get to start the year with roast pork sandwiches

‘Tis the season to be blogging…

It’s nearly Christmas and soon we will stuff our faces with more food than usual 🙂 Recently I went to one of these face stuffing events… the Sydney food bloggers Christmas picnic! Having only started this blog a year ago, it was my first time there and I have to say I was pretty nervous at first. I didn’t know anyone and I was going to finally see the faces behind some of the blogs I’ve been reading for years. To be honest, if it weren’t for the food theme it would be pretty creepy…meeting a bunch of strangers from the internet at a park. 

We were all told to bring some food and my mind went blank. I’m always short on ideas on what to make; especially if it’s to cater for a group. But then I remembered a failed attempt at making curry puffs a couple years ago where the filling burst out of all the pastries like dozens of little volcanoes. This time I decided to roll my own pastry and also added a twist by filling it with massaman curry. Originally I was hoping the pastries would have the beautiful swirls like that found on Malaysian curry puffs,  but then I must have stuffed up rolling out the water and oil based doughs. So in the end I just pretended I was trying to make empanadas…

For the pastry I followed a recipe from here and just used a store bought massaman paste and coconut milk to start the beef curry. After simmering for 1.5hrs I added the potatoes and left it for another 0.5hrs. I had to make sure I didn’t season too heavily as I reduced the liquid for a while until the curry was slightly thick (that’s to make sure it doesn’t leak and erupt from your pastry). I then shredded the beef and wrapped it in the pastry and fried it.

Ironically, even though I made it for a group of people known for photographing food, I myself forgot to take any proper pictures of the empanadas… but I did take some pictures of the whole spread of food. You can kind of see the empanadas in the middle

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pictures of food and people.

The picnic overall was awesome and a big thank you to Chocolatesuze and Grabyourfork for organising!

Attempt at garlic sauce aka toum

Hellooooo! So it’s been a while since I posted… not because I’ve been busy with other things, but because nothing exciting has really happened, food wise and life wise. I will share with you though my attempt at making lebanese garlic sauce. It was inspired after finally making a trip to El Jannah in Granville. I’ve heard people rave on and on for years about their chicken and garlic sauce. And I now understand why. The sauce is definitely an ingenious creation and I was soon having sauce with a side of chicken.

So since I have no understanding of how it is made, I had a look around online and tried a recipe from here. It was definitely quick and easy to do.  I think next time though, I will soak the garlic in water or leave it to air out a bit as the garlic I used was a little astringent. But here’s how it turned out. I loved the light airy texture and went well with some roast chicken/potatoes.

IMG-20141020-WA0002Lol looks like plaster.. but much better when paired with..

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Cheat’s duck and spring onion pancake

By now, I think most people would have eaten or heard of Peking duck. And most should also be accustomed to having it wrapped with shallots in a thin pancake. It’s so popular nowadays that even movie theatres lists Peking duck pancakes on their menus.

However, I think it is near to impossible to make the authentic version at home. I’ve heard of blow dryers and pumping air between skin etc… so no, I would not attempt such a thing. There is a cheat’s version though which isn’t really Peking duck, but if you’re having cravings it will satisfy to some extent. All you need is a roast duck from a Chinese bbq vendor and a packet of Peking duck pancakes from an Asian grocer and you’re almost set. Just remember when you’re buying the duck, buy it whole and ask them whether they have any Peking duck sauce. They might give you some for free. Next, julienne some spring onions and cut some cucumber batons (watery seeds removed) as part of the filling. Finally, carve away pieces of duck skin starting from the breast and working around to the back. A bit of meat attached to the pieces is fine too and you may also find yourself ripping away pieces with your hands…

And that’s it! All you do now is wrap it all up in a lovely steamed pancake and onomom away

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Pulled pork

I can’t believe it’s nearly a month since my last post!……actually it is quite believable considering my blogging track record. But I have bountiful excuses. I had so much going on. I was sick, went to the snow, got sick again and then decided to move onto my other hobby of painting. Of course there was work and being lazy as well…

I’m still recovering from my second cold and I blame the lethargic symptoms for influencing my decision making. This was evidenced over the weekend when I agreed to help do some cooking for around 60 people. To make matters more complicated, I suggested we could go with something simple like pulled pork. Whilst making pulled pork for one or two people might be easy, I was quick to learn that it’s not fun pulling apart 10 to 11 kilos of pork.

Despite my sore hands I can see why it’s so popular. The tender, smoky and saucy strips go so well with a bit of salsa or crunchy slaw.

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Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of pork neck or pork shoulder
  • 2 heaped tbsp of sweet or smoked paprika
  • 2 heaped tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • Almost 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup oil.
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Good quality bbq sauce
  1. Mix together all the ingredients except pork, onion and chicken stock. It should look like a slurry. If it is too gritty, add in a bit more oil to loosen up the mixture.
  2. Massage the mixture into the pork making sure you get into all the crevices. Marinate at least overnight. If the pork is too big, cut it into smaller chunks. A chunk slightly bigger than your fist should be fine. This would help lessen the cooking time.
  3. Preheat oven to 130 degrees celcius for fan forced. Layer onions on bottom of baking tray. Place pork on top. This will prevent the bottom of the pork from burning
  4. Pour in chicken stock around pork and cover with aluminium foil. Place into oven.
  5. Bake for 2hrs. Flip the pork and bake for another hour uncovered.
  6. The meat should be soft to poke through and should yield if you try to tear with a fork. If it isn’t soft enough cover and bake for longer.
  7. Take out and rest the meat covered for half an hour.
  8. After resting, start shredding or pulling the pork apart. You can use two forks to do this or go with your hands.
  9. If you are serving the pork that day, mix through some bbq sauce until the pulled pork is moist but not overly wet.
  10. Place into oven for 5 min to warm through and serve in whatever way you want.

Optional steps

  1. If you are serving the pork the next day, you can place the remaining cooking liquid into the fridge for the fat to set.
  2. Scoop off the top layer of fat and heat up the liquid on the stove on medium heat
  3. Add in cider vinegar if you have it and some more sugar/salt to taste. You can add the vinegar a little at a time to adjust to your tasting.
  4. Let the liquid reduce until it thickens slightly.
  5. Add the liquid to the pulled pork until it is moist and not overly wet. Serve and enjoy!

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A southern meal

Recently I’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier and exercise more after realising the flab around my waist was getting flabbier. Unfortunately, I have never been one to watch what I eat or go to the gym. In fact, a long time ago I had a cramp whilst sitting watching TV… and since I didn’t exercise and didn’t really know what a cramp was, I thought some artery had burst in my leg….lol

However, I think what’s even harder than trying to exercise regularly is having to eat healthy. That is a real challenge and one which I have already given up. Seriously, who can resist all the deliciousness out there. Just recently I’ve seen a couple of posts from some of my favourite food bloggers on fried chicken and all sorts of yummy southern style dishes. I couldn’t resist but try making some at home.

Since I have never really attempted southern style cuisine before I stuck to some of the basics. Fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits mmmm.

Fried chicken

I don’t really have a recipe or know any secrets to making crunchy shattering batter so for my chicken I just marinated it in buttermilk, dipped it in an egg wash and coated it with seasoned flour. With around 500 grams of chicken I used around 1 cup of plain flour, 0.5 tbsp paprika, 0.5 tbsp garlic powder, dried oregano, ground pepper, salt and a dash of chilli powder. Next time I think I’ll get chicken pieces with the skin on  and might use a wet batter as I found mine lacked crunchiness.

Buttermilk biscuits

Whilst I at least know what fried chicken should taste like, I’ve never even tried buttermilk biscuits before. Recipes online called for plain flour but since I ran out.. self raising had to do. With a food processor it was a cinch to make. I just pulsed 1 cup of flour with 3 tbsp of butter than pulsed through half a cup of buttermilk. The batter is supposed to be extremely wet which makes handling a bit annoying but after folding it a couple of times on a well floured bench I was able to cut out around 6 biscuits. The good thing about these biscuits are they cook quick so after 12 min in 200 degrees oven they were ready. Tasting it, I think they most resemble a scone but also have a texture like shortbread. Together with some milk gravy and coleslaw this made for an unhealthily awesome meal. Just look at all that brown..you know it’s good

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Shallot pancake

I haven’t really been home for dinner recently, let alone cook it, so this post is a quickie. Its a great afternoon snack to make on the weekend and only consists of flour, water, shallots (or spring onions), oil and salt. Literally.

Usually you can get these frozen at most Asian grocers but as usual they are a bit stingy on shallots and only offer incy wincy slivers of it. I remember making this a couple of years back but forgot how. After doing some google searches, I found two variations. One with more water and another with less.

Unfortunately, going with the one with more water was a mistake as it ended up being quite difficult to roll without getting very very frustrated with its general stickiness to anything. So for the recipe use only 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water instead of 1 like me.

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Recipe

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of warm water
  • Half a cup of shallots chopped somewhat finely but not overly so
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying pancake
  1. Mix flour with warm water and slowly bring together in bowl before kneading into uniform ball on bench top. Rest for at least 30 min in fridge
  2. Dividing the dough into around 4 chunks, take the first one and roll out thinly on floured bench top, around 2 mm in thickness. It should be roughly circle shaped.
  3. Rub sesame oil all over the flattened surface and scatter on the shallots evenly but sparsely. Season with a bit of salt. The key is not to over do the shallots. Only scatter just enough or else they’ll burst out when you roll out the pancake.
  4. Start rolling up the dough like a swiss roll, rolling up the shallots as you go along. You should be left with a long 4-5cm wide sausage. The tighter you roll up, the more layers you are going to get when you fry it.
  5. Twist up the sausage into a spiral so it looks like a snails shell.
  6. Flatten the spiral with a rolling pin until around 0.5-1cm thick. That’s one pancake done, now repeat for the other pieces of dough.
  7. Heat generous oil in pan on medium heat and place in pancake when pan is hot.
  8. Brown one side and then flip and brown the other side.
  9. Drain on some paper towel and serve with your own choice of dipping sauce. I went with a concoction of black vinegar with water, sugar and soy.