I have always wondered what that weird looking vegetable was and how it tasted. Today I decided that I would buy it first and ask around my circle of friends for the name of the vegetable and also how to cook it.
Fortunately for me someone told me, and more interestingly I have always eaten it as a child. The luffa as it is strangely named, is a sort of melon or gourd. The soft interiors of the vegetable makes it ideal for soups or just simple stir fry.
My friend gave me a recipe reference to follow but I decided to give it a spin of my own plus a few influences from Gordon Ramsay and some other recipes. Why Gordon Ramsay you may ask. Well the recipe calls for scrambled eggs but I decided to make it Gordon Ramsay style.
So the final taste is likely to be a mixture of east meets west and I am sure it will be nothing short of fantastic.
1 piece Luffa
Handful of Dried Shrimps
3 Flower Crabs
1 packet of Chicken Bones (the chicken bones is for stock to be added into the luffa when you cook)
1 small dollop of Butter
1. Wash and clean the flower crabs. Then place them in a wok. Add half a bowl of water and then steam the crabs whole for about 15 minutes. Once the crabs are done, collect the meat and put one side.
2. Peel off the skin of the luffa and chop into pieces. Then reserve one side. Fire up the stove and add some olive oil in the pan. Once oil is heated, add some minced garlic and stir fry a little. Then add the dried shrimp and continue frying. Add the luffa pieces and if need be, add more oil and fry up all the luffa until soften.
3. In another pot, cook the scrambled eggs like how Gordon does it. He cracks it into a pot and then adds in a dollop of butter and keeps stirring it to prevent the eggs from over-cooking. Keep the fire on the stove small and keep stirring until the eggs are nicely scrambled.
4. When all is done and ready. Assemble everything and you will have a nice fried luffa, topped with crab meat and scrambled eggs.
So it’s Father’s day today and my wifey planned a secret lunch for me – how sweet. I can only say I was happily and pleasantly surprised when she brought me to the Dancing Crab for Father’s day lunch.
At the door I already had visual hallucinations of how it would be like, like the colourful pages of a Singapore Cookbook that I saw at the book store. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the crabs and be so totally satisfied. This is the second outlet as compared to the first one which is located at some inaccessible location. So this outlet at Orchard Central makes sense for a lot of customers.
The friendly staff made the lunch experience special. Although the pseudo American accent was a tad too much for me. I guess it is after-all an American styled diner with country music and whiny guitar solos.
We ordered the Combo #1 and that came with the Sri Lankan crab, prawns, clams and some vegetables all mixed in a mild spicy ang mo styled tomato sauce. It tasted mildly fusion as I was half expecting to eat boiled crabs and shrimp and had hope to savor in all that fresh juiciness. Maybe we should have chosen a different sauce? Was there a different sauce? I didn’t really check and just said “mild” when prompted for the level of spiciness.
It’s always a good practice to take the least spicy level when you are not familiar with the place. Make sure you start at the bottom and work your way upwards. But the sauce made the crab taste like a chilli crab recipe that kind of “lost its way” while trying to cater to the Boston palate.
Also, I thought our Sri Lankan crab looked a wee bit tiny as compared to the guys they displayed in the fish tank. So we checked with the waitress and she confirmed that it was Sri Lankan.
So our crab and shrimp combo came in a pot and we were supposed to eat it with our fingers and get our hands dirty. The tables were all covered with plastic sheets so that we can pour (literally) our meal all over the table. Interesting idea, just that the tables were a tad too small for us to do that without having our food falling off the table.
The mild spicy tomato based sauce kind of masked the taste of the seafood for me and for some reason, I couldn’t enjoy my seafood like I usually do. But you might like it, who knows, different tastebuds and preferences. But it didn’t work the magic for me this time.
The truffle fries were very nicely done. We loved it – including our toddler. He munched and munched and totally loved it. The truffle flavour in the fries made us want to munch continuously and that is a sign that they got it right.
The refreshing spin on the lemonades are good. I ordered two flavours, the pink thyme lemonade and the lavender lemonade. And as much as I hate lavender flavour in my foods (because lavender reminds me of the toilet because my office loves using lavender flavoured toilet freshener) the lavender lemonade tasted much nicer than the pink thyme which was strange, but good.
Would I go back there again? Maybe not, but I am sure it appeals to many many people.
I love pizzas, but for most restaurants that make this lovely piece of slightly leavened bread, do it for much profit. Expensive for run of the mill pizzas and anything premium can really break your budget.
And if you decide to make it yourself, then it suddenly becomes very affordable. The ingredients are so much cheaper and the best part about making the pizza yourself is you can make as many pizzas as you like. There is no additional cost.
I bought bread flour, instant yeast, tomato puree and some other ingredients and I was on my way to making my own pizza.
3 cups of Bread Flour
7 grams of Instant Yeast
A cup of lukewarm water
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon of Castor Sugar
3 tbsp of Olive Oil Tomato Sauce (pasta sauce)
A punnet of Cherry Tomatoes
A punnet of White Button Mushrooms
1 packet of Wild Rockets Mixed Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese
1. Using a kitchen aid machine (if you don’t have one, get it!) and a hook fixture attached, mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt together. Turn on low speed. Combine the ingredients well. Add the water and continue to mix well until it is well mixed.
2. Remove the dough from the machine and knead it a little. Then place the dough into a bowl and add the oil. Cling wrap and allow the dough to rise a little. While it is being left to rise and allowing the yeast to work its magic.
3. While that is working, and rising, you can prepare the other ingredients. Slice the mushrooms, cut up the cherry tomatoes and wash the rocket leaves.
4. After you have prepared the ingredients, you can knead the dough and cut it into smaller dollups. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into whatever shape you like. (your pizza mah)
5. Spoon the tomato sauce (pasta sauce) onto the rolled out dough. Decorate it with sliced mushrooms, cherry tomato halves. Top the pizza with mix mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
6. Pre-heat the oven to a hot 230 degrees. Then bake the pizza for 10 minutes. After baking, the pizza bread should be slightly burnt and nicely roasted. Top the pizza with wild rockets and serve immediately.
Dinner time has been mostly steam fish this boiled vegetable that. So for tonight’s dinner, I am making a very simple wagyu steak in my favourite anchovy butter sauce.
I came across a rather large wagyu steak on offer at Cold Storage and knew at once that this was going to be a very nice dinner. It was on specials and honestly I couldn’t tell if it was any different from the normal priced wagyu steaks. So I got myself a whole slab. Yum.
The problem with steaks of any kind is usually the preparation of the meat. Cooking time is essential if not critical to the success of the dinner. You can fry up all the premium ingredients to complement the main, but if the doneness of the steak fails, you would have also failed miserably.
For the vegetables that accompanied the steak, I had stir fry Japanese button mushrooms, whole garlic cloves and white button mushrooms with boiled cherry tomatoes and baby potatoes. But what makes this steak really special is the anchovy butter sauce. So simple, just mix the anchovy with the butter in the pan with rosemary herbs and you have a very light butter sauce that works very well with the meat.
700-800 grams WagyuSteak (if you’re not living near a specialty butcher, you could opt to order online Wagyu Kobe Steaks) Sea Salt Black Pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Anchovy butter sauce
A small can of Anchovy in Olive Oil
20 grams of Unsalted Butter
A sprig of Rosemary (herb)
Assortment of Vegetables
A pack of Japanese Button Mushrooms
A punnet of White Button Mushrooms
A punnet of Red Cherry Tomatoes
6-7 cloves of Garlic
6 pieces Baby Potatoes Olive Oil Black Pepper
1. Boil the baby potatoes in a small pot for about 10 minutes or until a skewer can pierce through. Once done, remove the potatoes and blanch the tomatoes for about 30 seconds. Then remove and arrange vegetabkes on serving plate.
2. In a wok, stir fry the Japanese mushrooms and mildly crushed garlic cloves in 2 tbsp Olive oil for about 2-3 minutes. Quart the white button mushrooms and add the whole lot into the same wok. Continue stir fry. Do this for another 5 minutes. Mushrooms shoukd either sear or shrink down in size. This is common as it loses water content. Once done, dish onto serving plates.
3. Sprinkle the steaks with sea salt and black pepper. In another pan, heat olive oil until smoking, then reduce heat to low. Place the steak into the pan and start pan-searing. 3 minutes on the first side and then another 2 minutes on the other side. Check doneness for medium rare. The meat centre should be a rose pink. If it is a dark red, then maybe you have to cook it a little longer.
The reason why I chose low heat as opposed to high heat is because I don’t want to over-cook the steak. So you have to time the steak strictly. Cut the middle to check for desired doneness. As the wagyu steak is very fatty, it is better to cook over low heat so that the fats will be tender. Once cooked to desired doneness, place it on serving plate.
4. In the same frying pan with the steak infused oil, add the butter and two fillets of anchovies. Break the anchovies and mash it into the butter. Throw in a sprig of Rosemary leaves. Cook until the sauce bubbles and spoon it into the steak. That’s it!
Pair it with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a spicy Shiraz.
It was my birthday the other day. Yup! Your uncle is one year older. But my name’s not bob. Anyway, as per our family custom if you could call it that, my wife brought me out for a date. It’s been a white since our last date, so I am pretty stoked.
We went for a really nice breakfast at my favourite breakfast place. And then we caught a movie, “The Avengers – Age of Ultron“. Verdict? Three letters. CMI. It was kind of disappointing for me.
The interesting thing was while we were on our way there, someone tapped me on the shoulders and said “Happy Birthday!“. It was a nice surprise and gesture. I asked my friend where he was off to and he hurriedly said “Luke’s Oyster blah and Chop House” and that he was working there. In my heart I was like “Wow“. And before we knew it, he disappeared into the shopping mall.
So I turned to my wife and suggested that we went to that place for lunch and guess what?! She had already pre-booked Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chop House for my surprise birthday lunch. You can imagine the grin on my face and I almost did a dance where I was standing.
Interestingly the entrance to the restaurant was hidden and had looked like the wall of the ladies department store at Robinsons, Hereen. It was nondescript to say the least and nobody would have guessed that there was a restaurant tucked away.
We ordered a whole bunch of stuff which I don’t care to mention, but my birthday main course worked the magic for me. It was nicely cooked to a medium rare. The meat was a bright pink throughout, the fat attached at the end was delicious and complemented the chop. Tender, succulent, delicious. I literally ran out of words in my mind as I chow down the chop, slice by slice.
The anchovy marmite butter was simply genius. There was no trace of it, but it smothered the entire veal chop and basically saturated and set the tone from the first cut. Even the Merlot that I had paled in comparison and in my opinion didn’t match up to the meat. A Shiraz would have been nice, but with another movie to attend to, I wasn’t about to down an entire bottle over lunch.
Simple, yet perfectly done. I would come again, just for the veal chop. I would bear with everything else just to chow down that chop. Of course we waved to my friend, but we didn’t want to disturb him. And I guess he didn’t want to disturb us. A waitress stood nearby and attended to our meals. Yes it was that kind of a place.
Yesterday my wife and me took leave to go shopping and also have a little couple time together. We decided to have breakfast at our favourite sandwich shop called the sandwich shop and I pondered over the nondescript naming of the cafe. I guess there is no harm in calling a spade a spade.
But we were greeted with a smorgasbord of sandwiches and every permutation that we could imagine that could be placed on tiny shelves. There was roast beef, cold cuts and brie, egg mayo, wild rockets and crayfish.
Wifey wanted pasta and somehow the spirals with sundried tomatoes looked appealing as well. And so we decided on that and ate our breakfast. The pasta was cold and probably sat in the fridge chiller for a tad too long.
It was then that I vowed to myself that I would cooked a better pasta breakfast then that which we purhased at the shop. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy.
1. 150 grams of Barilla Penne
2. 4-5 White Button Mushrooms
3. 2 slices of Breakfast Ham
4. 20 grams of Salted Butter
5. Pinch of Sea Salt
6. Sprinkle of Mixed Italian Herbs
1. Cook the Penne in a small pot of boiling water for about 11 minutes to al dente. If you wanna make it softer, continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Don’t forget to add some sea salt.
2. In another pot, melt the butter over low heat, be careful not to burn it, and then add the sliced mushrooms to cook. Turn up the heat to medium. Flambé the mushrooms if you can. If you can’t, don’t worry, I understand.
3. Remove and reserve the mushrooms and add the shredded ham to cook in the juice of the mushrooms. Add a sprinkle of mixed Italian herbs. Cook till you can smell ham.
4. After that’s done, pour the ham and mushrooms into the penne pasta in the other pot and give it a good mix. It should look like the photo above.
One of my all time favourite pasta to eat as well as to prepare, the spaghetti cabonara, a cream based pasta that will tantalise your tastebuds and bring you all the way to Italy. Truly, there is no pasta that is so distinctively yummy as this one.
I made my pasta a little more creamy just so you guys can see the texture of the pasta. I am using spaghetti here instead of linguine because I still have spaghetti at home. But that said, linguine makes a better pasta as it can soak up the cream based sauce really well.
I know some recipes call for eggs and parmesan cheese, but my version doesn’t require all these, it is simple, and easy to do. Anyone can do it. So are you ready?
Recipe for 1
125 grams of Barilla Spaghetti
50 grams of Streaky Bacon
4-5 pcs of White Button Mushrooms
4 cloves of Garlic
100 ml of Cooking Cream
15 grams of Salted Butter
100 ml of full cream Milk
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Mixed Italian Herbs
Pinch of Sea Salt
1. Firstly we cook the pasta in the pot. I use Barilla Spaghetti which cooks in 5 minutes to an al dente. Remember to add a little sea salt and olive oil. If you prefer it a little softer, add a 1 or 2 to the cooking time.
2. In another pot, stir fry the quartered button mushrooms in salted butter. I find salted butter much better to work with as opposed to unsalted butter when it comes to cooking, but if you’re baking, then perhaps unsalted butter might work better for you. Once the fragrance of the mushrooms can be inhaled (lack of a better word!) you should remove the mushrooms and set them aside. Then in the juice of the mushrooms, cook the minced garlic, cooked until fragrant. Then add the chopped streaky bacon. Fry this until the fragrance of the bacon can be breathed (still trying to find a better word!). I am not using olive oil in this recipe because butter goes better with cream in this carbonara recipe. Furthermore the oil in the streaky bacon is more delicious.
3. The pasta should be about al dente by now. You can remove the pasta or continue to cook it longer until it is softer. In the meantime, you add the cooking cream into the ingredients and cook, add the milk to dilute the carbonara sauce a little. If you like the sauce to be a little thicker, you can just use the cooking cream and leave out the milk altogether. Add herbs flakes and black pepper. A little salt to taste. Cook till the sauce is hot. After that drizzle it over the pasta and give it a good mix. Serve with grated parmesan cheese if you like, but it is already quite rich if you ask me.
I learnt how to make Pasta when I went overseas to study in Australia. And one of the few things that I learnt as a student was learning how to cook Pasta. I used to live in student housing just off campus in a very small property. There were quite a few Singaporeans residing there as well, so it wasn’t so tough for me especially dealing with homesickness and loneliness. Ah, those bittersweet days.
One of the first few foreign friends that I made in the first couple of months was this Tongan bloke by the name of Ma’afu. He was studying to become Pastor and was attending seminary school elsewhere. He was part-timing as a tutor for the students that lived in that property, kind of like a property manager. We became friends, and on one occasion, he taught me how to make Pasta.
For him, pasta was actually Spaghetti Bolognese. Of course I didn’t know any better, so I just follow lor (Singaporeans were very good at doing that.) So as soon as I learnt how to actually do it, I never forgot it. That’s the one thing that I never really understood about myself. I just needed to see a recipe once and it would retain in my memory. It’s been more than 20 years, but I can still remember how it was supposed to be done.
From that time until now, I have also learnt a whole lot more about food handling and how to extenuate the natural flavours of the ingredients that I was using, and that helped too. The key I believe is to use fresh minced beef, and nothing comes as fresh as the minced beef from Cold Storage. I like shopping at Cold Storage, the ingredients there are somehow fresher. The only bad thing about them is that they are a lot more expensive.
So wifey said that she would like to eat Pasta, and for me the decision to make it is a no-brainer – it has to be Spaghetti Bolognese.
Here’s how it is done.
Half a box of Barilla Spaghetti – cooks in 5 minutes
150 grams Minced Beef
A punnet of White Button Mushrooms
4 pieces of Garlic
A bottle of Prego Pasta Sauce (Traditional)
bunch of Basil Leaves
Sharp Cheddar & Mozzarella Cheese mix
1. Boil a pot of water for the cooking of the spaghetti sticks. They should be done in 5 minutes if you want them to be Al Dente. Remember to add some oil and sea salt into the pot. This helps the pasta to not stick together and it also flavours the pasta. If you don’t really like it Al Dente, you can opt to cook it a minute or two longer. Quart the mushrooms, and then fry them in about 30 grams of butter in a small pot. Fry until you can smell the mushrooms. Then off the fire and reserve the mushrooms one side.
2. Place the minced beef in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and white pepper. Mix the salt and the pepper into the minced beef and let it marinate the meat for about 5-10 minutes. Mince the garlic and then fry them in a wok with about 2-3 tbsp of oil. Fry until the fragrance of the garlic comes out. Then add the marinated minced beef in the wok to fry. Don’t fry too long. Just until it turns from reddish to light brown. Then add the buttered mushrooms into the wok and continue to fry under medium heat.
3. Then add the pasta sauce into the wok and cook until the sauce starts to bubble slightly. Then add the basil leaves and continue to cook over low heat. The pasta should be either Al Dente or softened by this time (it’s all about timing it properly). With a food tong, serve the pasta onto the plate, there should be about enough for two servings and a little more. Measure them out if you like, about 170 grams (ideal) or equally. Then ladle the sauce over the pasta and top it with sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese mix. Easy.
A friend of mine posed me the challenge of trying out something new; a new recipe. Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington. As if it isn’t difficult enough already to prepare for Christmas dinner, but to re-create a classic like the Beef Wellington in my home kitchen is going to be a challenge, and in a sense, I like the challenge. But preparing it would mean inviting an army to help me finish it.
Gordon does it in classic style and there is always that intensity in the way he does his cooking, hoping around like a monkey. As for me, I like to take my time and make my cooking easy and on my own terms. I think cooking shouldn’t be so intense. But I guess it depends on who is running the kitchen and who’s the slave driver.
I am following Gordon’s fantastic and easy to follow YouTube video on making this classic Christmas Roast – Beef Wellington. You can also do likewise. A caveat though, I have a feeling there could be some “special steps” that were snipped off the video so that he could squeeze it into a short 8 minute video. And we all know that nobody cooks in double that time either.
I always start with a mandatory stock check of inventory when it comes to equipment needed to make something that requires more than a pot and a wooden spoon. Of course, I always try to reduce my equipment list to a pot and a wooden spoon, but I have a feeling that this recipe is going to require a lot more than just that.
Food processor – to mince the brown mushrooms.
Clingwrap – this one can easily get it at NTUC.
Brush – Phoon Huat sells a nice brush.
Oven – if you don’t already have one, don’t bother trying to cook this dish, and don’t bother buying one of those cheap ovens at some hypermart because I assure you the experience and the technical compliance of the equipment is equivalent to the price you pay for the item.
Recipe – I gleaned this off Gordon’s recipe. I think the best form of flattery is imitation. That said, if not nice, don’t blame me, I only follow.
For the Beef Wellington:
900 grams piece of Beef Fillet of even thickness (from the centre cut) – the problem I have with that is that I usually shop at the wet market, and the butcher only sells one variety of meat – beef. The specialty stores are usually far away from where I live, so I guess I will have to buy this off at Cold Storage.
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tbsp Olive Oil
English Mustard, to brush meat
For the Mushroom Duxelles: don’t worry about the name, it just means mushrooms paste.
700g Chestnut Mushrooms, cleaned and stalks removed – I can only find and use Brown Mushrooms or White Mushrooms, essentially they are all the same.
handful of cooked Chestnuts – this is the gao-lat that we usually buy by the roadside where the uncle usually shouts “gao-lat!” at the top of his voice.
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and chopped
2 Thyme sprigs, leaves only
For the assembly:
8 slices of Parma Ham
500 grams ready-made all-butter Puff Pastry
plain Flour, to dust
2 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water (eggwash)
1. To make this Gordon Ramsay Beef Wellington recipe, trim the beef of any sinew and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the fillet and quickly sear the outside all over for about 5 minutes until evenly browned, turning as necessary. Transfer to a plate and while still hot, brush all over with mustard. Set aside to rest.
2. For the duxelles, put the mushrooms, chestnuts and garlic in a food processor with a little salt and pepper and blend to a fine paste, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Heat a dry large frying pan. Scrape the mushroom paste into the pan and add the thyme leaves. Cook over a high heat, stirring occasionally, to drive off the moisture and intensify the flavour. The duxelles must be sufficiently dry otherwise it will make the pastry soggy; the mixture should adhere easily. Spread out on a tray to cool.
3. Place a large piece of cling film on a clean surface. Lay the Parma ham slices on top, overlapping them slightly, to form a rough rectangle large enough to envelop the beef fillet, making sure there are no gaps. Season the ham with a few twists of pepper then, with a palette knife, spread the duxelles on top, leaving a 2.5cm margin along the edges.
4. Lay the beef fillet along the middle of the mushroom layer. Keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edges, neatly roll the Parma ham and duxelles over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends of the cling film to secure. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up.
5. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, the thickness of a £1 coin and brush with some of the eggwash. Unwrap the beef from the cling film and place it in the middle. Leaving a large enough rectangle to wrap around the beef, trim off the excess pastry. Roll the pastry around the beef to envelop it and then press the edges to seal. Pinch the pastry at the ends to seal and trim off the excess. Wrap the log tightly in cling film and chill for 10 minutes, or overnight if you are preparing ahead.
6. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Remove the cling film and brush the parcel all over with egg wash. Lightly score the pastry at 1cm intervals with the back of a small knife for a decorative effect, if you wish. Place on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 35 minutes; if the pastry appears to be browning too quickly, lower the setting slightly. Leave to rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes before cutting into thick slices to serve, with the accompaniments.
The ubiquitous french toast, now existing everywhere across the island. It is an almost existential experience as we eat, we are also one in our experience.
Here’s my quick and dirty rendition of the classic french toast. Simple, and easy to make. No great mysterious ingredient, just everyday items you would find in your well-stocked kitchen.
The recipe makes for two slices of french toast, and if you wanna save money and make another two, you might as well be pushing it. Best recommendation is to double the portion of ingredients.
Nevertheless, I tried to push it. Double the output with the same input of ingredients. Kind of sound like any government’s push for productivity. Or management’s desire to derive more from using the same factors of production.
That said, there was no evil intention here I assure you. The recipe makes two slices of french toast for one person, and there was just enough mixture leftover. Not wanting to waste it, I decided to make two additional toasts. But the after effects is just terrible. The two best toasts were the first two.
Case in point. Don’t be stingy.
For those of you that need to have visuals, here’s a pretty good YouTube video to glean off.
How to Make Quick French Toast:
Ignore her and follow my recipe.
1/4 cup of milk
2 slices of any kind of bread
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl and whisk slightly with a fork. Add a quarter cup of milk and continue whisking.
2. Once the mixture is ready, dip the bread slices into the mixture, and soak it for a few seconds.
3. The butter in the pan must be on low fire, make sure it doesn’t burn. Place the slices in the pan and let it cook. It should brown like the picture above and you can eat.
4. With the dark brown sugar, mix with some hot water until it becomes a thick sugar syrup. Drizzle over the toast and it is fantastic.
I have always thought that there are only three types of sauces for pastas and never really bothered to explore beyond these three types. To me, that’s it, there is no need for another type, or possibly could be another type, everything is sort of encapsulated in these three sauce base types.
First up, Olive Oil based sauces. These are really simple, healthy (debatable, it’s oil after all) and easy to prepare. Except that you can’t really drizzle knife brand cooking oil (you could actually) all over your pasta, I can guarantee you that it doesn’t and shouldn’t taste all that great. But if you’re sort of choices and you only have knife brand cooking oil to drizzle over your pasta, well then I would strongly encourage you to skip the meal for the day. Nothing is more sacrilegious than to drizzle cooking oil over pasta. I can’t bring myself to do that.
With Olive Oil based sauces, you can literally allow your mind to run freely as far as the rings of Saturn or the diminutive Pluto. You can whip up a mean and green pesto herb sauce, or you could infuse your olive oil (extra virgin is best!) with items like chilli, garlic or fresh garden herbs. These will definitely create a wicked flavour for your pasta. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best drizzled and not cooked. So please don’t cook your olive oil and then wonder why the oil doesn’t taste as nice as when you had it at some respectable Italian Pasta place.
Next we have Tomato based sauces. So these are your Marinara sauces, your tomato based sauce in a convenient glass bottle that you can easily find in the supermarket. It doesn’t matter if they call it some fanciful name, if it is tomato based, then it is a bona-fide tomato based sauce. All the Italian names are saying the same things as you are, which basically means, tomato based sauce (Ok, I am generalising. But you get my point right?).
Again, with tomato based sauces, you can literally examine and study the varied concoctions that have been developed in the R&D labs of the food laboratory to capture your discerning palate. You can add garlic, chilli, mushrooms, whatever it is that you so desire. The best thing is, it just might work. I like my tomato based sauces in a particular way, so I usually don’t do the take out from the supermarket shelf and strongly discourage anyone that is intending to cook their own pasta to do that. It’s a total cop out to just buy the sauce off the shelf. You have to make it like the guys in Italy do, from scratch, if not, then semi-scratch.
Thirdly, the cream based sauce. This is such a lovely and easy sauce to prepare. Double or heavy cream, intermixed with full cream milk, and you have a very nice creamy liquid texture for the sauce. You can then go on to make the best and more delicious carbonara sauce in the whole world. That’s it. There is no mystery to it. And of course if you like your sauce with all those varied condiments added, infused or mixed into it. There is sure to be a flavour that you would love to pick off the shelves.
However, as an avid cooker of foods. I would strongly discourage you from the supermarket cop out. Try to make the sauce yourself, it would be trial and error but for the most part of it and especially when you have developed your own special blend of cream based sauce, you can literally create magic in the kitchen just like the professionals at the three michelin star restaurant.
Last but not least, and this is a sauce that I recently found out that could be used as a sauce. I basically use the sauce in my chicken stew (Coq Au Vin) to be my sauce for my pasta. I found that Penne works really well with the chicken stew. It’s odd really, but it worked and everyone I know loved it. It is a little unorthodox but heck it, if my son loves it, then I guess it can be done. If you want to try this, you can check out my Coq Au Vin recipe and basically throw pasta into the sauce and you have a very lovely sauce.
It was what someone said was a very third world spring chicken. To be exact, there was very little spring left in the chicken and most of it was sinewy muscle and crispy skin.
I wasn’t sure if I was eating chicken or some oily puff with chicken flavour. By the time I was done with the meal, I had felt inundated with recycled oil. I have tasted better western foods but this was presented in a manner that left me desiring for something else.
Ok, perhaps you might think I am being picky but to put things into context, I did pay for the meal. And for good money too. The coleslaw was unremarkable and the fries were just a small helping as if it they were rationing their condiments.
It looked ok in the photo but it tasted just plain in reality. Well that was one meal that I didn’t really enjoy. It was just food as they say.
This is how I like my potatoes. Boiled, then pan fried without oil so that the skins will brown. I usually dry-fry with fresh rosemary leaves and a sprinkle of sea salt.
When the pan is reasonably hot and slightly smokey, I will drizzle extra virgin olive oil and allow the oil to coat the potatoes and adhere the salt to the potatoes. I like new potatoes because they are easy to cook and are great for accompaniment with mains or stews.
Recipe – serving for four
Fresh rosemary leaves (two sprigs)
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Boil the new potatoes in a pot of boiling water till they are cooked. Then douse the potatoes into cool running water to stop the cooking.
2. In a heated pan, fry the new potatoes with rosemary leaves and sea salt until smoking. Then drizzle the potatoes with extra virgin olive oil.
I have always secretly wanted to be a Neurosurgeon.
Thanks to my wife’s love for beef steaks, now my dream will finally come through – that is to be a 牛肉 (Niu Rou) Surgeon.
This has got to be an all time favorite of ours. Beef steaks. We love it. No doubt about it. My wife loves it medium rare whereas I can only stomach a medium.
On this day I thought I would try cooking this simple yet impactful dish. It’s like a rite of passage for me before I can well and truly say that I have tried my best before giving up.
You see, this is not my first attempt. I have failed many times trying to time the doneness of the steaks and frankly steaks are expensive mistakes if not done properly.
The problem I believe is because firstly the steaks from Cold Storage are not as chunky as we think. Secondly our cooking utensils or at least mine are not cast iron where cooking temperatures are moderated and more even.
So taking those factors into consideration, my cooking temperatures are different. I think if you are doing your own steaks, just bear in mind the cooking temperatures and cooking equipment and you should be fine.
All the best folks.
Recipe – Serving for Two
Ribeye steaks from Cold Storage
Fresh rosemary (2 sprigs)
1. Boil the new potatoes in a pot, water must cover the potatoes. Do this until they are all cooked.
2. Salt the steaks on one side lightly, sprinkle coarse black pepper as well. Leave it for 5 minutes.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide frying pan until smoking. You want the pan to be really hot. Once the pan is sufficiently heated up, place seasoned side down for searing. This is steak, so there is no need to spin it in the pan. 4 minutes on one side and then with tongs flip the steak on the other side for another 3 minutes. Make sure the fat is cooked (if any).
4. Remove the steaks and plate it. It is important to allow the steak to rest at least 10 minutes.
5. Pour half a cup of red wine (can be remainder of a bottle) and deglaze the pan. Add a little salt for taste. Allow the alcohol to reduce and this will form a light red wine sauce for the steak.
6. Roast potatoes with rosemary and salt until slightly smoking then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil for shine and flavor.
7. Plate the potatoes, arrange the baby spinach and cherry tomatoes (halved) around the steaks before drizzle of the red wine sauce. You may pair it with a Cabernet Sauvignon (Chilean) if you like.