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.
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.
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
pictures of food and people.
The picnic overall was awesome and a big thank you to Chocolatesuze and Grabyourfork for organising!
Over the long weekend, with the luxury of waking up a bit later than usual, I reverted back to a really bad habit of watching youtube videos in bed. Specifically cooking videos… While tapping away on my phone’s screen, I stumbled onto a very charismatic and vibrant Italian cook called Gennaro Contaldo. I didn’t realise how famous he was, but then I found out he was a part of the show Two Greedy Italians. And he mentored Jamie Oliver….He was so entertaining and passionate that I had soon watched nearly every single one of his recipe videos. His family ragu in particular aroused the greatest craving which was quite inconvenient considering that it was 12:30 in the morning.
Coincidentally, it was also my cousin’s birthday which provided a perfect outlet to bring that ragu from youtube to life. Here’s the video which started it all, and the recipe. The video is a bit different from the recipe but they are both fine. To match the ragu, I also took the risk to make my own pasta. I tried making pasta before and ended up with thick pieces of rubber. After chatting to a former chef at work I found out that I should have used 00 flour instead of plain flour as it has a mid-protein level and is ground finer. I followed a guideline by Jamie oliver which is pretty simple: 100gm flour to 1 egg. I mixed up the egg with the flour until it was roughly combined then tipped it out on the bench and kneaded away. After some strenuous kneading (~5 min) the dough was done. I wasn’t sure whether I should knead longer but then the dough felt smooth and came together like playdoh. I let my dough rest for 3 hours and hoped for the best.
And wow it turned out so well this time. Finally, something that looks like the images in the recipe. After flattening it out as much as possible with my rolling pin (I don’t have a pasta machine) I folded it up and cut it into ~0.5-1 cm widths. I purposely cut it up roughly so it looked handmade haha. After the ragu had finished cooking I boiled some water, slipped the pasta in and let boil for around 2 minutes. Then I dunked it into the ragu and let it soak in all that meaty simmering flavours.
O my gosh it was so delicious. Too bad it took such a long time to make or else I would have this more often. The pasta was silky soft with a bit of bite and the ragu was just delicious. I broke up the meat after cooking so each mouthful had ribbons of beef intertwined with the pasta. Yum.
I must have shaken my hand while taking this photo out of hunger. I started cooking at 4 and started eating three and a half hours later.
I would highly recommend trying Gennaro’s recipe and tasting it for yourself.
I don’t remember when Chinese new year became such a mainstream event in Australia but this year feels extra noticeable. I’m sure it’s been celebrated every year but I see that even the banks have decided to decorate their offices with copious amounts of Chinese advertising. I guess with every other festival, holiday etc., Chinese new year is another great commercial opportunity…however, it is also a good reason to catch up with friends and family around food.
For our Chinese new year dinner this year, we aimed to make dishes that were simple and quick to prepare. Having started full time work this year, I have come to realise the true meaning of tiredness* and the value of weekends after emerging from a 2 day uni schedule. Thus, I did not want to spend a precious week night slaving away in the kitchen.
Two dishes that I turned to on the night were wasabi beef and drunken chicken. Both take minimal time to prepare and taste delicious. With the wasabi beef, I resorted to velveting the meat with baking soda to eliminate any sinewy chewy bits. I’m still unsure whether this is a good idea as it feels like I’m altering the texture of the meat. However, it tasted alright in the end and went well with some wasabi mayo.
Here’s the recipe
- 700-800 grams scotch fillet or other similar cut
- 2 tsp baking soda
- Just under 1 tbsp wasabi paste
- 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
- 0.5 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chicken stock powder
- Ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 tbsp oil
- 2-3 leaves iceberg lettuce sliced thinly
- 0.5 tbsp wasabi paste
- 2.5 tbsp mayonnaise (i used whole egg im sure most are fine)
- Slice beef into 0.5-1 cm thick bite size pieces. Cut across the grain.
- Mix in the baking soda making sure it touches all the meat. Rest for 15-20 minutes
- After resting wash thoroughly. Very thoroughly… you don’t want an aftertaste of baking soda with your wasabi
- After drying and removing as much water as possible from the beef, mix in all the other ingredients with the beef except for oil and lettuce leaves. Let marinate for at least half an hour
- Heat oil in pan/wok on high heat. Scatter beef around the pan/wok and don’t touch. You don’t want to release the juices and end up stewing the beef.
- Fry for around 1 minute then mix around letting the other sides of the beef get some charring.
- Keep frying for around 4-5 minutes then taste one piece to see whether it needs any salt/sugar/pepper
- In the mean time of cooking, you could quickly lay some of the sliced lettuce nicely around your dish. It’s a bit kitschy but a bit of green looks better imo.
- After your beef is done dish out and place on top of lettuce.
- Mix the mayonnaise and wasabi paste together and serve. Enjoy!
The other dish, drunken chicken, can be prepared the night before and is served chilled so no reheating required. I know that most recipes usually recommend shao xing wine, but recently I tried one prepared using a pickling wine concoction and it was really delicious and aromatic. Here’s a pic of the wine.. it may be found at your local asian grocer
Here’s the recipe
- 1 kg chicken wings cleaned
- 1 tsp salt
- A tray of ice cubes
- 500ml bottle of pickling wine
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 5-6 goji berries (optional)
- A bit of spring onion jullienned lengthwise to garnish
- Sprinkle chicken with salt and steam for around 15-20 minutes until cooked. Turn halfway. You may want to check at 15 minutes to see whether they are just cooked. They taste a bit dry if overdone
- When your chicken is about done mix the ice with a bowl of water (enough to submerge the chicken in). When chicken is done take out and plunge into icy water. This will keep the chicken skin taught.
- Mix pickling wine and stock in bowl/pot (one with higher sides).
- Place chicken into liquid making sure they are all submerged in the wine mixture.
- Chuck in the goji berries
- Cover and place in the fridge overnight
- When ready to serve take out and arrange on plate and garnish with spring onion. Enjoy!
This dish is commonly featured on the menu of your average Cantonese diner and is delicious yet simple. Although the type of meat and veges used varies, a good version of this dish should (imo) have semi-crunchy noodles and an umami packed sauce.
Whilst you can order this at a restaurant, it is often drenched in oil and seasoned quite heavily. At home, you can control how much oil you use as well as what goes into the sauce.
Here’s the recipe. Serves 3-4
- 3 tbsp of oil
- 3 bundles of Chinese egg noodles (get the thin ones. Not flat or hokkein like. Often they come in little dried bundles like this)
- 150-200 grams beef skirt or other similar cut sliced thinly ~0.5-1cm (semi freeze the beef to allow easier slicing)
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 0.5 tbsp ginger finely chopped
- A bundle of pak choi
- 1.5 tsp corn flour and 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 3/4 cup of chicken stock or water (if you use water add half a tsp of chicken powder)
- 0.5 tbsp of soy
- 0.5 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- Dash of sesame oil
- Pinch of white pepper
- Pinch of five spice powder
- Mix the baking soda with the beef making sure that all the pieces are coated and let rest for 30 minutes. This is similar to what they do in the restaurants to soften the meat.
- As the beef is resting, boil some water in a pot and dump in your egg noodles. Turn the heat down a bit after the noodles are in. Let simmer for around 5-7 minutes. Check to make sure its not too soft.
- Drain noodles and wash under cold water. After the noodles have cooled make sure you drain as much water out of them as possible. This is crucial as you do not want hot oil exploding everywhere when you fry them.
- After resting the beef, wash it in water to get rid of the baking soda. Wash thoroughly.
- Heat the oil in a wok/pan on high heat until just about smoking.
- Grab your noodles and disperse evenly into the wok. Don’t just drop them in, you want to maximise the crispying surface area.
- Fry until you can see the underlying noodles turn brown and hard. Flip and repeat
- Turn off the heat when there are a mix of crunchy and slightly soft noodles remaining.Use a pair of forks or chopsticks to slightly loosen up the noodles. Sometimes frying them can cause them to stick together in one large bunch.
- Mix the sauce ingredients
- Put the wok back on high heat. If there’s not enough oil left in the wok, add a tbsp more.
- Add the beef and ginger/garlic. Stir fry until the beef has just a slight tinge of pink.
- Add in Pak choi and stir fry until the leaves are just about wilted
- Add in mixed sauce ingredients and let the liquid come to a boil. Let it boil for around 1 minute to let the pak choi cook through. Taste and add more salt/sugar if needed.
- Mix the cornflour and 1tbsp of water before stirring it through the sauce/meat mixture.
- Turn off the heat and dish out the mixture onto the crispy noodles. Enjoy!