Labour of Love
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!
Dinner: Spinach and Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Garlic tomato sauce with egg plant and olives
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
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!
Spinach and Cheese Ravioli in Roasted Garlic tomato sauce with chicken, egg plant and olives
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)
1 tbsp butter
2-4 tbsp sugar
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
6 pieces lamb cutlets
handful of rosemary &amp;amp; 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
sea salt & pepper
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.
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
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
1/2 tbsp butter
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.
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!