Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Domaine Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer 2004





Vintage:  2004
Producer:  Domaine Paul Blanck & Fils 
Varietal: Gewurztraminer
Country: France
Region: Alsace
Type: White Wine

Monday, July 30, 2012

Little Chef in the Making



Ashley mixing the pancake batter

It was an exciting Sunday for Ashley.  She woke up very anxious and excited, as it was her first time cooking breakfast for the family.  In fact, Ashley was surprised and happy by Wife's suggestion when it was brought up to her on Saturday evening.  Ashley likes to cook all along, and she took up the challenge immediately when it was offered to her.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sous Vide Pork Belly Bun (Kong Bah Bao)




I made up my mind to make this traditional Chinese dish after my successful attempt at cooking Beef Masala using the Sous Vide method. The traditional way of cooking this dish is not really that difficult but I would like to experiment with the water bath method to see the difference in the texture and taste compared to the traditional method.

Friday, July 27, 2012

72-hours Sous Vide Beef Short Ribs





Compared with pork ribs or beef back ribs, beef short ribs have much more flavor, meat, fat, connective tissue, and they can be much tougher. They are best cooked at low temps so the connective tissue and fat can melt, and the protein doesn't knot up and get even tougher. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thomson Estate Andrea Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2007





Vintage:  2007
Producer: Thompson Estate
Varietal: Cabernet-Merlot
Designation: Andrea Reserve
Country: Australia
Region: Western Australia
Sub-Region: South West Australia
Appellation: Margaret River
Type: Red Wine

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beef Masala - The Sous Vide Version





Masala means spice. It can either be a combination of dried spices, or a paste made from a mixture of spices and other ingredients—often garlic, ginger, onions and chilli paste. It is the heart and soul of any Indian dish.

Very satisfied with the result of the beef cheek using the sous vide method, I decided to slow cook the meat for this Indian dish in my Sous Vide Supreme Machine for last Sunday's Indian-themed dinner.

The experiment was a huge success. I am no expert in Indian cuisine but I definitely can tell which food in my mouth can excite my palate. The beef was so fork tender after 10 hours in the SVS and because the other ingredients used for this Masala dish are very strong in flavour, the meat need not be cooked in the spice mixture for long to be infused with the masala flavour.

I hereby declare that Sous Vide method is not limited to French or Western cooking only. With some creativity, you can recreate any traditional dishes using the Sous Vide technique. Excited now... I am so going to experiment more with my SVS.

Ingredients

800g Beef
3 tsp Garlic Ginger Paste
20g Almond (Boiled and skinned)
2 tbsp thick coconut milk
100g Onion (Chopped)
20g Meat Curry Masala
100g Plain Yogurt
60g Tomato Puree
Salt
Oil



Direction

Preheat the water bath to 82°C.

Cut the beef into cubes (1-2 inches)

Pat the meat dry with kitchen paper and rub the beef and some masala mix and salt. Place them in Sous Vide bags and seal with hard vacuum.

Place the sealed bags in the preheated water bath and cook the beef for 10 hours.


Combine the garlic ginger paste with the almond and coconut milk and blend in food processor to form paste.

In a pan, heat oil and fry the chopped onion until light golden.

Add the paste and fry for 5 minutes.

Add the Masala powder and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the yogurt, pouring little quantity at a time followed by the tomato puree. Stir for few more minutes.

Add the sous vide beef together with the beef juice.  Bring to boil and lower the flame and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with Naan bread or basmati rice.




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tandoori Chicken





Tandoori comes from the word "Tandoor" which is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. The roasted chicken, typically marinated using yogurt and spices, is a very popular dish in India.

You can learn more about the traditional way of cooking this dish in this post by Extra Virgin Chef.

Mine is a simplified version of the recipe.

Ingredients

4 Chicken Legs (Deboned)

Marinade
2 tsp Garlic Ginger Paste
2 tsp Lime/Lemon juice
100g Plain Yogurt
6 tsp Tandoori Chicken Masala Mix (Get this from any Indian Store)
Salt


Directions

Mix the marinade ingredient in a mixing bowl.

Pour the mixture over the chicken leg and run it into the flesh. Marinate for at least 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and brush with butter. Roast, turning once, for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve with onion rings and green salad leaves.



Garlic Ginger Paste



Garlic and ginger are two common ingredients used in Asian cooking. Garlic ginger paste was  needed for both the Tandoori Chicken and Beef Masala dishes that I prepared for last Sunday's Indian Dinner. I decided to prepare in greater quantity, packed the remainder in tupperware container, and store them in refrigerator for future use.

You will need equal portion of garlic and ginger.

Peel them and cut the ginger into smaller pieces. Grind them in a food processor with little cooking oil  to form a paste. That's it.




Monday, July 16, 2012

Spicy Sunday - My attempt at Indian Cooking






Wife and I love Indian food. The Nasi Briyani shop at Dunlop street, Tandoor North Indian Restaurant at Holiday Inn Orchard, Rang Mahal group of Indian restaurants and Tiffin Room of Raffles Hotel are some of the places that we visit when we are in need of a spicy fix.

Last Sunday, to fix my craving for spicy food and also part of our plan to expose the children to the varied cuisines of the world, I decided to prepare an Indian meal for the family dinner.

The Tandoori chicken and the Beef Masala turned out great on this humble attempt of mine. I especially like the Beef Masala as I experimented the Sous Vide method to cook the beef. I will post my recipes for both the dishes in my next posts. Stay tuned.

The complexity of flavours (spicy, sweet, salty) and layering of flavours in an Indian dish makes food and wine pairing challenging.

We picked the 95-points (James Halliday) 2008 Ashbrook Semillon from Magaret River for our dinner.  The entirely unwooded Semillon, which encompasses a range of flavours and aromas, made a good duet with the strong-flavoured Beef Masala and Tandoori Chicken.

Āp kā khānā svādiṣṭa ho! (Bon Appetite in Hindi)


Oven baked Tandoori Chicken with green spinach

Sous Vide Beef Masala

"Light straw-green; a wine full of flavour, a fleeting glimpse of fresh-cut grass before ripe citrus and some tropical fruit takes over, with an almost succulent mouthfeel; simply can't be compared to Hunter Valley semillon, and delicious now."  James Halliday

Spizzico Ristorante Italiano - Quality Italian Fare



We have been regulars at Spizzico for couple of years now since we moved nearer to town. It is not a big establishment - maximum 20 indoor seats and an alfresco area that can accomodate another 20. The food quality has always been consistently good and the owner, Steven, and crew are a warm and friendly bunch. The plus plus plus point for us is that they allow BYO wine with no corkage charge everyday, 7 days a week. 


Last Saturday, we made a reservation with them again to celebrate our helper's birthday. 

For cold appetizer, we had Insalata Caprese - Sliced tomato with buffalo mozzarella cheese, basil, oregano and olive oil. Fresh!

They serve very good calamari fritti which we usually order for the kids but for this visit we opted for the soft shell crab for a change. The crispy and delicious fried seafood was served with a spicy tomato sauce.

All our three kids love the sautéed clam here so much that this is one dish we have never missed to order whenever we visit Spizzico. This is a simple dish but the combination of good quality olive oil, garlic, dried white wine and broth elevate the inexpensive seafood to a new level. I like it too.

We ordered different pasta dishes, which are generally good, for our mains. Wife had ravioli stuffed with fresh spinach and Ricotta cheese in pink sauce. The kids had their usual creamy Fettuccine alla Carbonara - fettuccine with bacon, parmesan cheese, light fresh cream and egg yolk. Our helper ordered their oven baked traditional Lasagna, I did not taste it but she told me it was good. And I tried their new dish recommended by Steven, Crab meat Spaghetti Aglio Olio.

The kids had Creme Brulee for dessert and Steven specially prepared a Tiramisu for my helper's birthday. That was very thoughtful of him.

We had a good time here at Spizzico.



Spizzico Ristorante Italiano
81A Clemenceau Avenue #01-13,
UE Square,
Singapore 239918

Tel: +65 6333 6174 / +65 6333 6833

Operating Hours:
11:30am - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 10:30pm


Insalata Caprese - Sliced tomato with buffalo mozzarella cheese, basil, oregano and olive oil

Deep Granchio Fritto Soft Shell - Golden fried crispy soft shell crab,served with spicy tomato sauce

Il Souté di Vongole alla Moda di Spizzico - Sautéed clam in Spizzico style

Gli Agnolotti Farciti di Spinaci - Homemade ravioli stuffed with fresh spinach and Ricotta cheese in pink sauce

Fettuccine alla Carbonara - Pasta fettuccine with bacon, parmesan cheese, light fresh cream and egg yolk 

Their new dish on the menu - Crab Meat Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Lasagna Tradizionale - Oven baked pasta layered with beef ragout, bechamelle sauce and parmesan cheese 

Creme Brulee

Tiramisu for helper's birthday

BYO - Howard Park Mad Bay Unoaked Chardonnay -
Fresh peach and tropical fruit flavours, a real zip on the palate and an intensely refreshing, grapefruit finish.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spaghetti Aglio Olio with Roast Chicken



It was one of those lazy Sundays when I did not feel like spending long hours in the kitchen. But it is always important to me that the whole family gather around the table for dinner. 

Thinking of cooking something fast and easy, I peeked into the fridge and decided to roast some boneless chicken legs and serve with spaghetti Aglio Olio.

This is so easy that you do not need to follow any recipe religiously. The preparation and cooking took me only 30 minutes although I would suggest that you marinate the chicken earlier to give the meat more flavor.

Simply marinate the chicken legs with whatever herbs and seasoning that you like or can find in the kitchen and grill them in pre-heated oven at 190C for 30 minutes (longer if legs are with bone).

Meanwhile, boil pasta with salt and olive oil to al dante, drained (reserve some of the pasta water) and put aside. Saute lots of garlic and red pepper flakes (you can skip the chilli and add dried mixed herbs for the kids; or use chilli padi if you like spice like me) in extra virgin olive oil for few minutes until just before the garlic start to brown (You do not want to burn the garlic). Then add the cooked pasta, salt and pepper and little portion of the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine. Serve immediately with the chicken.

We had the Aglio Olio pasta served with the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Honig, Napa Valley.

The pasta dish was deceptively simple as the pasta was infused with the flavor of garlic and olive oil and the baked chicken flavourful and juicy.  But what really heightened the flavour for me was the Sauvignon Blanc. Blended with Semillon and Muscat, this refreshing and medium bodied wine abounded with aromas of honeysuckle, grapefruit, and lemongrass mingled with mango, kiwi, peach, and grapefruit rind. The finish was long and crisp.

Chilled at the right temperature, it was a perfect wine to cap off the meal.

A simple but very satisfying meal.








Friday, July 6, 2012

Herb Crusted Fillets with Tomato Salsa





To be honest, I would rather cook meat than fish if given a choice. In fish, muscle fibers are much shorter than they are in beef, and collagen dissolves easily during cooking. So fish cooks quickly and there's no tenderizing to do. In fact, the biggest challenge in preparing fish fillets is to keep them from falling apart after cooking.

Last weekend, I decided to try out a fish recipe by Gordon Ramsay with slight variation (Depending on what I could find in my kitchen). It was slightly dry but overall a satisfying attempt. Definitely worth trying again using another fish type, perhaps cod fillet.


Ingredients

2 large fish fillets (Cod will be good)

For the salsa:
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
4 shallots
1 bunch of fresh basil (Or dill)

For the herb crust:
1 slice of thick stale bread (made into crumbs)
100g Parmesan
1 bunch fresh coriander

For the sides:
1 handful French Beans
1 Sweet Potato

Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
mixed dried herbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180 °C.

Season both side of the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a hot pan and saute the fish for 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown. Remove to rest on a baking tray.

Skin and slice the sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, mixed herbs and olive oil. Bake in oven until soft (10 - 20 min, depending on the thickness). Place the sweet potato slices in the center of the serving plates.

Chop the tomatoes in half and finely slice the shallots. Add a little more olive oil into the now empty fish pan, heat and add the tomatoes and shallots. Sweat them off together and season.

Chop the basil/dill and add to the tomatoes and shallots. Cook for further 2-3 minutes until tomatoes are just beginning to break down. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the bread, grate the Parmesan and place them in a food processor with the coriander. Thoroughly,mix together, season and set aside.

Spoon the tomato salsa lightly over the fish, spreading it out evenly over the fillets. Next take your breadcrumbs and spoon them over the tomato.

Bake in oven for 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fish is cooked.

Blanch the french beans in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain. Saute shallots in hot olive oil until soft. Drain the beans thoroughly and add to the shallots, saute for 2-3 minutes.

To plate, spread the french beans neatly on the sweet potato slices. Place the fillets on top of the vegetable. Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar (concentrate) around.

Bon Appetite.











Central Vietnam Trip Part IX - Roundup




From the ancient port town of Hoi An to the former Royal Capital of Hue and the Cham ruins of My Son, exploring central Vietnam with the kids in this trip was a truly contrasting experience as compared to most of our previous trips.

Although the weather could be kinder (Man, the temperature was as high at 39-40 degree celsius), I thought we learnt quite a fair bit of the rich culture and history of Vietnam.  These destinations boasting UNESCO World Heritage status are worth a visit if you have not done so.

I  like Hoi An. It is a destination with two faces - the charming, old-world trading port of narrow streets and traditional houses, and the beach with its new resorts and long stretch of clean white sand. In keeping with Hoi An's heritage as a trading port, the town's tiny shophouses host a range of craft shops and artisans, including some of Asia's best bespoke tailors.

In Hue, the mesmerizing tombs and mausoleums of the last emperors of Vietnam reveal fascinating insights into the lives of the imperial families and their subjects. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern (the Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war). Yet, it still retains a sense of grace and majesty even today.

I leave you with pictures of some other places that we had visited but not covered in previous posts. These include the Goddess of Mercy statue at the Son Tra Peninsula and the Marble Mountain, both in Da Nang, Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue and some close up flower shots.








Sculptors at work - Marble factory near Marble Mountain






View from the Marble Mountain









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