Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Made to Order" Dinner by The Rubino Brothers


THE WORLD GOURMET SUMMIT SINGAPORE 2006
I had the golden opportunity to attend a very special "one-night only" dinner hosted by The Rubino Brothers in Singapore recently. Despite some mixed reviews about the dinner, I had a fabulous time and enjoyed the dishes for its creativity in plating and marriage of taste. I look forward to the opportunity to travel to Toronto and dine at Rain Restaurant myself!!


Malaysian-Style Black Cod with Sake Galangal Foam


Pickled Ginger Melon Puree with Basil Seedling and Crab Dumpling


Fragrant Oil Poached Hamachi, Lobster and Foie Gras Terrine, Kaffir Lime and Coconut Froth


Veal Three Ways:
Almond Garam Masala Tenderloin
Fermented Tofu and Veal Cheek Hot Pot
Short Rib Rendang, Black Cardamon and Pineapple Relish


Indian Flavours in Variations of Chocolate (Saffron, Cilantro, Curry and Lime)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Labour of Love

There are a few things in life i am addicted to from being on vacation.
1. Bring able to escape briefly from my hectic lifestyle here just to recharge and revitalise
2. Catching up with friends i love so dearly but see so little of
3. Being inspired and learning new things on every single vacation
4. Dining out in a totally different country and pampering my palate and eating with zero guilt

However, my latest trip away was outstandingly divine! It not only involved fabulous time away on the mountains where the silence was deafening but sublime; where sitting out on the veranda in the freezing cold made star-gazing all the more romantic. It was time dedicated to each other , tucked away from civilisation with a beautiful room complete with a spa, fireplace and a kitchen. I was estatic when we checked in!!

As usual, i was "Ms Dorky Food Geek" according to B and the day before, i carefully planned out our daily menu during our stay and both B and i had gone shopping for groceries. Only problem is, there was no oven in the kitchen (something i love using esp for my meats) but i have had to improvise which added to the fun!

Day 1

Dinner: Spinach and Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Garlic tomato sauce with egg plant and olives

Day 2

Brunch: Banana Pancakes with Maple syrup

Dinner: Pan-fried Lamb Cutlets marinated in thyme and garlic served on a bed of creamy mash and asparagus

Day 3:

Brunch: Spinach, Mushroom and Roman tomatoes omelette with Mozzarella Cheese

Dinner: Pan-Seared Salmon Fillet served on a bed of stir-fried spinach in garlic and sauteed mushrooms in white wine

B, these are for you!

Recipes:

Spinach and Cheese Ravioli in Roasted Garlic tomato sauce with chicken, egg plant and olives

Ingredients:

1 pack fresh spinach & cheese ravioli
2 small pieces chicken breast; thinly sliced against the grain
1 medium sized egg plant; sliced into quarters
about 15 pitted black olives; halfed
1 bottle Roasted Garlic tomato-based pasta sauce
2 cloves garlic; finely chopped
1/4 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 red onions; finely chopped
3/4 cup good red wine (dont stinge, it makes a difference to the quality of the sauce if you use a good red for the sauce)
olive oil
1 tbsp butter
sea salt
black pepper
2-4 tbsp sugar

Method:
Marinate sliced chicken in chinese soy and pepper for about 3 hours.
In a hot pan, add some olive oil and lightly stir-fry egg plant for about 2 min. I love pre-frying egg plant as i want the flavours of the olive oil to soak into the egg plant before adding into the sauce. Dish out and set aside.
In the same pan; on high heat, add 2 tbsp oil then 1 tbsp butter in. Do take it off the heat for 2 sec when melting the butter as it burns easily.
Add chopped onions and stir-fry for about 3min then add garlic and fry till fragrant.
Whilst onions are cooking, boil a saucepan of water to cook the ravioli. When water has boiled, add in salt and cook till al dente according to packet instructions. Drain and toss in some olive oil and keep warm.

To the onions, add chicken and fry for about 4min, then add egg plant, olives and stir-fry for another minute before adding the pasta sauce.
Depending on your preference, i love my pasta to be more saucy hence, i added the entire bottle of sauce plus the red wine, on low heat, simmer for about 6-8min.
Do not rush through a pasta sauce, the love and patience in the sauce is crucial to its success as it allows the ingredients to soak in the flavours from the sauce.
Taste to determine how sour the sauce is; i usually add about 2-3 tsp of sugar to take away some of the sourness. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately with shaved parmesan cheese. YUM!



Pan-fried Lamb Cutlets marinated in rosemary, thyme & garlic served on a bed of creamy mash and asparagus drizzled with Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients:

6 pieces lamb cutlets
handful of rosemary & thyme; chopped
4 cloves garlic; chopped
6-8 small potatoes
8 sprigs baby asparagus
full cream milk
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
olive oil
sea salt & pepper

Method:

To make marinade, mix chopped chopped thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper and spread it over lamb cutlets. Wrap in cling wrap and marinate overnight in a fridge to allow flavour to soak right into meat.

To make Balsamic reduction (first thing to start on cos it takes a while to reduce; should not rush a reduction); in a small saucepan, bring to boil 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. Once it starts to boil, lower heat and allow it to reduce to about 1/4 cup. Be careful not to over boil as it will become a paste too quickly and burn. Once you notice that the balsamic is starting to thicken, remove from heat and allow to cool for 2min. Whisk in 1 tbsp of butter and set aside.

To prepare asparagus; i always like to shave the outer skin of the asparagus to ensure that they are not chewy due to the skin.

Peel potatoes, cut into quarters and add in boiling water till just soft enough to mash. Remove from water and start mashing in a big bowl. Add about 2 tbsp of butter, 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

Using the water from cooking the potatoes, steam the asparagus for about 2min, grind some sea salt over for taste . In a small frying pan, stir in some olive oil and chopped garlic. When garlic is almost golden, toss in the asparagus to infuse the garlic oil. Keep warm.

To cook lamb cutlets, on medium high heat, add oil to hot pan and pan-fry lamb cutlets for 2 min each side for a medium rare doners.

To serve:

Place mash in the center of the plate.
Arrange 3 cutlets per person onto mash accompanied with garlic infused asparagus.
Drizzle some balsamic reduction over and serve.


Pan-Seared Salmon Fillet served on a bed of stir-fried spinach in garlic and sauteed mushrooms in white wine

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized salmon fillet (remove bones if you chose the stomach portion which is the best cut)
handful of gourmet spinach
3 cloves garlic; chopped
2 portabello mushrooms, quartered
6 white button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup good quality white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or unwooded chardonnay would be my preference)
Chinese light soy sauce
salt & pepper
olive oil
1/2 tbsp butter

Method:

To marinate salmon, drizzle some soy over evenly and allow to marinate for minimum 2 hours in a fridge. Allow salmon to stand in room temperature for 10-15 min before cooking.

To prepare mushrooms: in a pan; heat some olive oil over medium high heat then add the butter. Stir fry 1 tsp garlic till fragrant. Add quartered mushrooms and stir fry for about 1-2min. Add wine and lower heat to allow wine to slowly reduce and the mushrooms to soak in the flavours from the garlic and wine. Musrooms are ready when the sauce is reduced by half.

To prepare the spinach; over medium high heat in a deeper pan, add olive oil and stir fry the remaining garlic till fragrant. Add in the spinach and stir fry till soft. Set aside and keep warm.

To cook salmon; in a pan on medium high heat, add olive oil. When pan and oil is hot, sear the salmon for 2 min each side.

To serve:

Pile the spinach in the middle of the plate. Rest salmon on spinach and add mushrooms on the side. Serve immediately as salmon is best eaten hot!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Salmon!!

Two weeks ago, A and myself decided over drinks on a saturday night that we should do a cook up, to at least get me started again in the kitchen! We decided on a theme and it was to be seafood. Since the both of us love Salmon, it was a Salmon luncheon!

My choice of recipe was one that was cooked for me by a charming aussie bloke years ago and i have kept the recipe since!


Baked Salmon in mapel syrup

Ingredients:

3 pieces Salmon Fillets
150ml Mapel Syrup
2 garlic cloves; slightly crushed
1 tbsp Djon mustard
salt & pepper

Method:

Mix all ingredients in a baking dish and marinate salmon fillets overnight.
Remove salmon from fridge and baking dish and allow it to sit out in room temperature for about 20min.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.
Over high heat, pan-sear salmon fillets 10sec each side.
Place fillets back into baking dish and bake for 5min for a medium rare doners.
Serve either with salad or mash potatoes and asparagus.



The wonderful A made this lovely Valentine's day "food for love" Smoked Salmon recipe which not only impressed me but her food-nerd other half DS. ;)

Forgive me guys, couldn't help myself!

Confessions of a serial diner!

Looking at the last post i made (dated 27 February 2006), I realised how unbelievably fast time has somehow past and it sent an instant shiver down my spine!

It has been such a spectacular year so far! Met an amazing new group of foodies (better known as Food Nerds by the lovely A; trained chef and gourmand i truly respect & adore!) that has not only allowed me to interact with like-minded nerds but kept my schedules pretty packed up with social get togethers! In addition, having started work with a brand new gourmet magazine late last year; a bulk of my time is now dedicated to attending gourmet events and tastings. At the envy of many, it is great to be able to enjoy food & wines as often as me and the team at work; but like all things, it comes with a price. The shortfalls; well, i have less time at home (to blog) and i definitely have less of an urge to potter around in the kitchen cooking up a storm as all i feel like lately is just a salad. Nothing fancy.

BUT the best part about dining out is to be able to savour the beautiful creations of several talented local or visiting chefs and be inspired and pick up some tricks in terms of taste, menu planning and creativity in plating.

I am feeling terribly guilty for neglecting my blog for almost 2 months now......i used to blog recipes every week!! Guess perhaps from now on, i should start documenting my dining adventures more regularly and document recipes at least once or twice a month instead....my desperate attempt to redeem myself right now!

Lots of exciting gourmet events happening in the next week......more updates to come for sure!

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Best Sunday Breakfast Treat!

I must have dreamt of pancakes on Saturday night while in la-la land and woke up Sunday morning craving it!!

Still in my Pjs, i stumbled into my kitchen, stuck my head into the fridge and pulled out the ingredients. What can i say, when a girl's got an inch, she has to scratch it! I was further inspired when i was online again with E's great idea for a banana and vanilla pancake. Strangely enough, i have 2 vanilla pods left and 1 last banana from the bunch!

In less than 5 minutes, i put together my batter and started heating up my pan! All it needed was 1 cup flour, 1 1/4 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 vanilla pad seeds and 1 banana diced. That made 5 scrumptious pancakes which i soaked in loads of honey!!!

That made my Sunday........sitting in front of the TV and chowing them down piece by piece and watching Dodgeball on HBO! (while trying not to choke on my pancake) Absolutely fabulous!

Raffles Wine, Food & Arts 2006

I have had an awesome opportunity this month to be one of the guests attending the annual Raffles Hotel Food, Wine & Arts event held yearly at the most distinguished hotel in Singapore.

Its an event where the hotel invited michelin star chefs to display their superb culinary skills to fellow foodies in Singapore and embark on a week long of feasting!

On the very last day, they hosted "Brunch with the Stars" that started from 11am and didnt end till about 3.30pm! I must say there was so much food that Sunday that i well & truly over-ate and hit the couch soon after at a friend's place and took a cat-nap straight after!

Decadent delights at the Brunch:


Scrambled Egg with Smoked Salmon & Caviar


Quail Egg with Broccoli Sauce & Black Truffle

Scrambled Egg in a shell, Duck and Hazelnut Marmalade, Black Winter Truffle and French Potato Cloud

Confit of Egg with Root Vegetable Puree, Truffle Sauce & Bread Crumbs

Egg Truffle Sabayon with Truffle Emulsion & Brioche


Pan-Fried Wagyu Beef Tenderloin, Crispy Creamy Cepes Mushroom, Zucchini Mousse, Truffle Jus

DESSERTS GALORE!!!




Duck Duck!

The start of this year has been a very busy but productive one for me.....work wise! My time in the kitchen is getting so rare that i jump at the first opportunity and reason for me to get busy in the kitchen!

A group of us decided that since we are not doing anything special with a signinifcant other on Valentine's Day that we should all get together and cook up a storm! I decided on trying out a recipe kindly contributed by E who created his own version of a Duck A L'Orange, he loved it and needed some supporters for his recipe and he picked me.

Valentine's day happened to be a work-day for all of us and as usual, i rushed out of work like a headless chicken, calling up the supermarket to check if they have a 2kg duck for me to pick up. After a couple of tries, finally the Cold Storage at Jalan Jelita had one.....the last one for me! Since beggars cant be choosers, i sped down as fast as i can, went to the counter only to realise that its a 1.8kg duck which has to be good enough for 7 guests at D's.

I was worried but we had another major concern that evening, we were running late to preparing dinner. It was 7.30pm and we were still in the supermarket picking up ingredients!!! My duck was to take about 2 hours to cook so i was seriously under pressure! By the time D & I finished cooking, dinner started at 10.30pm!! Shocking timing to eat but we had so much fun preparing at the sametime, sipping wine and getting tipsy before dinner even started!

(pic to follow.....)
Orange Stuffed Roasted Duckling with Poached Stonefruit

Prep time: 20-25 mins Cooking time: Approx. 2 hours

Ingredients
1 duckling, approx 2 kg, cleaned, excess fat and giblets discarded
2 whole oranges, peeled
6-8 assorted stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, etc) quartered and stones removed
120-150g butter, cut into slivers
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp honey
4 tbsp five spice salt and pepper mix
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 shot of cointreau, orange liquer or cherry liquer

Garnish (optional):
Toasted almond flakes
Sultanas

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 200ºc
Toss stone fruit with shot of liqueur
Bring water to boil and add cup of white sugar, bring down to simmer
(You may add some of the orange peel for flavour, but be sure to remove it before adding the fruit)
Dust stone fruit with 1 tbsp of cinnamon and poach in syrup. Pour poached fruit and syrup in a non stick baking tray, place roasting rack on top of fruit
Rub 5 spice, salt and pepper mix onto duckling, including cavity area
Stuff Oranges, dusted with remaining cinnamon powder into cavity (for extra luxury, you might think of soaking those oranges in brandy or cointreau before doing so)
Separate skin and distribute butter slivers evenly across the bird
Baste honey and brown sugar mixture on heat-exposed side of duck
Place on roasting rack and put into oven
(note: rule of thumb is 1hr/kilo of duck)
Halfway through roasting time, turn over duck and baste with honey and sugar mixture
At the end of roasting, remove duck and roasting rack, cover with foil to rest (note: while resting, the duck may leak juices, if the juices aren’t bloody, it’s cooked.
Skim excess oil from stewed stone fruit (note: this can be conserved to make duck confi later! but please note that it'll probably be 70% butter)
Stir in any excess basting mix into poached stone fruit
Carve duck to portions and serve with poached fruit, add sultanas and toasted almonds as garnish.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Very Chocolatey Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The start of this new year proved to be rather intense and i realised that i found myself lacking time to chill out at home and flip through my recipe books to get on with my usual baking or cooking! There's always something on, weddings, birthdays, weekend work commitments etc.....My baking itch kicked in on Friday and i was determined to get working in the kitchen and ignore (or at least try to.....still had a wedding to attend yesterday!) my mobile phone for the weekend and concentrate on what skrat wants. :)

As usual, a girl can never get enough of chocolates. Going through Fran's Pure Chocolate book again, I had the biggest craving for cookies. Having not made cookies for several years (im sure the last time i baked cookies was in my old school kitchen!) i decided to take the challenge. In addition, with Chinese New Year round the corner, i thought i could effectively contribute to the array of new year goodies.



Pure Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Ingredients:

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
150g unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp fine brown sugar
2/3 cup fine sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essense
3 large eggs
1 2/4 cup cake flour
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
* 1 oz = 25g

Method:

Position a rack in the middle of a medium sized oven and pre-heat at 170 degrees C (325 degrees F). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats
In a double boiler melt the semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate over low heat. Remove from boiler when the chocolate is nearly melted and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter, 2 sugars and vanilla essense until light and very fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, stopping several times to scrape the bowl.
Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and mix to combine.
Fold in the sifted flour by hand until no traces of white remains. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate chunks. The batter will be quite thick. Chill for 1 hour.
Using a teaspoon, scoop 2 tsp of dough for each cookie and drop onto the lined cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie. (They spread to about 3 inches in diameter)
Slightly flatten with fingers and immediately place in the oven. The cookie dough should still be cold when baked.
Bake for 8-10 min or until cracked and puffed on top. The insides should remain moist and soft. Let cool on sheets about 10min. Transfer to cooling racks to completely cool. Store in airtight containers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tis the Season to be sharing!

Geezz, this is indeed the busiest time of the year for me! Apart from getting myself back into my ever over-flowing work load, it is also the festive season where friends are throwing parties and im running around trying to make sure that i dont forget anyone's presents!

I decided that this year is going to be different......i wanted to make my presents and found a recipe that would be just perfect. Pine nut and Sesame cake with Strawberry sauce. I decided to make them in small cup cake sizes so that its easier to wrap them up as well! What i love about this recipe is the pine nuts and the strawberry sauce, i thought that combination would be beautiful with a cup of Earl Grey Tea as well! As expected, the cakes i made for my family as well didnt last for more than 2 days!!!! The recipe as follows:


Pinenuts and Sesame Cakes with Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

3 tbsps white sesame seeds
1/2 cup pinenuts
125g butter
125g castor sugar
2 eggs
zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder

Method:

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Reserve 1 tbsp each of the sesame seeds and pine nuts.
Heat a dry fry pan over a moderate heat and spread the remaining sesame seeds in an even layer in the pan. Cook, keeping a close eye on them and stirring or shaking the pan regularly untill the seeds are browned. Place in a bowl and toast the remaining pine nuts as well.
Place the toasted sesame seeds and pine nuts in a small food processor and grind until just starting to form a paste. Repeat with the toasted pine nuts and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour slowly with a wooden spoon, followed by the ground seeds and nuts, lemon zest and baking powder.
Divide the mixture among 4-5 mini loaf cups and bake for 20min then cool. Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days. Serve with the red silk sauce.

Red Silk Sauce

Ingredients:
3 cups strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp strawberry jam
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup limoncello or Absolut Citreon

Method:
Finely chop or process strawberries and set aside.
Gently heat the sugar, water, jam in a suacepan until sugar has dissolved. In a small bowl combine the cornflour and lemon juice then stir into the sugar mixture. Bring to the boil, stirring until thickened and smooth then stir in the vodka or limoncello or water and strawberries.
Stir until heated. Store in sterilised jars for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Back to Work!!

After a good break in Sydney and having just started a new job, i have finally found sometime to blog!

The Sydney trip was awesome! Despite my phobia of swimming in water with strong current due to an almost drowning incident as a child, I decided to take up surfing lessons at Manly Beach. The first lesson was traumatic for me, i could hardly swim or paddle on the board and after several tries and falling off and getting sucked under, I was not only exhausted but became paranoid that i will drown again. Disappointed and desperately determined to go home with at least the sheer satisfaction of standing on the board for a few seconds, I went back for a second lesson and it was a beautiful day to surf. The current was rather mild and great for beginners. And i did it.....just managed to half-stand on the board for 2 seconds before falling off again. I was overjoyed!! To me, that was enough.

Well, i didnt get a chance to really go around Sydney dining and wining but spent most of my time catching up with my friends there. But one thing i must share was my trip to Max Brenner chocolate in Chatswood Sydney. The warm chocolate dip with strawberries i tried was simply to die for! It was so good that i had TWO servings of the same thing. I think at one point in time, i actually told my friends that the chocolate was "better than sex"!! That was how awesome they were! The one they serve in Singapore's Max Brenner at The Esplanade is a far, far cry from what I have tried in Sydney. I thought that was rather disappointing as we dont have the same quality chocolate here in Singapore as served in Sydney. Some pictures to tempt you further.



I have not got my act together to start cooking or baking again. My weekends are dedicated to work and embarking on a strict exercise regime now that i am back into the Food & Beverage industry. My weight is strongly compromised! I am hoping to start entertaining at home again soon. Updates to come.