Saturday, 15 December 2012

Attempt #31: Baked Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Marjoram

The amazing thing with this cooking adventure of trying out 100 of Jamie Oliver’s recipe is that I am beginning to learn and recognize the different herbs and short cuts to prepare certain ingredients.

With this attempt, I learnt that to help you peel that skin off that tomatoes, you can simply boil them first for a quick 30-60 seconds. And “wala”, the skins can be pinched off easily.

The result:

This dish…just so pretty. And healthy, healthy, healthy! If you love bell peppers (or also known as capsicums) and tomatoes, you will love this one.

The recipe:

·         2 peppers, red or yellow

·         Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

·         20 chery tomatoes

·         1 handful of fresh marjoram and basil

·         2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

·         Extra virgin olive oil

·         Optional: Anchovies, herb vinegar

 The method:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds.

Place in an oiled baking dish and lightly season with salt and pepper. Price the cherry tomatoes with a knife and place in bloing water for around 30-60 seconds until the skins can be easily and quickly pinched off. Feel free to run cold water over them before peeling.

Once peeled, place the tomatoes in the peppers. Stuff your herbs and sliced garlic and season. You could drape over some anchovies insteadof using seasonging at this point. Drizzle with oilive oil.
Cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes lightly covered with aluminium foil, then around 30 minutes without. The smallest little splash of herb veniger on each pepper can be a real joy.

Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers or capsicum, come is variety of colors. They are the member of the nightshade family- the same plant family of potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Bell peppers are very nutritious and excellent food for health.


Curious Corner:

Bell peppers are very rich in antioxidants and also excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They are high in fibre, folate and manganese as well. Overall, bell peppers are extremely healthy and great in taste too.

 
 
What are the differences between Red, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers?

Red, green and yellow- these bright colored bell peppers are extremely nutritious and they contain some of the best nutrients available.

Green bell peppers are harvested before they are fully ripe; they are very crispy in taste. Green bell peppers are less expensive than red and yellow bell peppers. Green bell peppers are very good source of fiber, folate, and vitamin K. They also contain significant amount of beta-carotene.

Yellow bell peppers are more mature than green bell peppers and have a fruity taste. They contain more amount of beta-carotene than green bell peppers. They also contain more amount of Vitamin C than the green bell peppers. They are harvested before they fully mature and turn red.

Red bell peppers are mature than green and yellow bell peppers. They also contain eleven times more beta-carotene than green bell peppers. Not only that they contain more Vitamin C than both green and yellow bell peppers. Red bell peppers are excellent food to prevent prostate and breast cancer.

Bell peppers are excellent for health regardless their color. But among them red bell peppers contain more nutrition than the other two.

Attempt #30: Pineapple with Bashed-up Mint Sugar

A simple fruit made sexy! I wouldn’t have thought some sugar and mint would be so exciting and double the yumminess of a simple fruit option.

The Result:

Amazing combination that I will never forget. The first bite gives you a good burst of sweet, tangy juiciness of the pineapple further sweeten by the sugar. Then, once you finish the piece of fruit, the mint leaves a fresh after taste that lingers. Love it!

 The recipe:
1 ripe pineapple
4 heaping tablespoons of sugar
1 handful of fresh mint

Method:
A ripe pineapple should smell slightly sweet and you should be able to remove the leaves quite easily. Cut both ends off and peel the skin with a knife, removing any little black bits.

Then cut the pineapple into quarters and remove the slightly less tasty core. Finely slice your quarters, lengthways, as thin as you can. Lay out flat in one or two layers on a large plate. Don’t refrigerate this – just leave it to one side.
Then use a mortar and pestle and add you sugar and mint leaves in it. Bash the hell out of it in the mortar and pestle at the table for about a minute or two depending on your wrist action. You will see the sugar change color and smell lovely. Sprinkle the mint sugar over the plat of pineapples.  Or I simply use a blender but don’t blend too long as the texture should be close to if you were to bash the sugar and mint with the mortar and pestle.

Attempt #29: Baked Fish with Crème Fraîche and horseradish sauce

The original recipe from Jamie Oliver was for baked trout but trout is not so readily available in KL, I decided to replace it with Garoupa fish.

As the recipe involves only marinating and seasoning of the fish with salt, black pepper and optional of thyme & lemon, it is utmost important that the fish must be fresh. What you will get from this recipe is an easy, healthy and you get to appreciate the fish authentic flavour.

The result:

The horseradish and Crème Fraîche sauce compliments the fish really well as it will provide that strong salty, spicy and sour-ish flavour to the fish.

The recipe (serves 4):
Ingredients:

·         Olive oil

·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper

·         4 whole trout, approximately 14oz-1lb each, gutted and scaled

For the Crème Fraîche & Horseradish cream

·         I heaped tablespoon grated fresh horseradish

·         9oz Crème Fraîche (about 1 generoud cup)

·         Juice of 1lemon

Optional

·         A little fresh thyme, leaves picked from stems

·         1 lemon, sliced


 The Method:
Preheat the oven to 475F. 
Pat the fish dry, then with a sharp knife slash each fish at an angle on both sides – this will allow the heat and seasoning to penetrate. Rub with Olive Oil and seasoning.  For extra flavour, you can stuff the fish with fragrant herbs such as thyme and the lemon slices. Cook for around 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

While the fish is being cooked in the oven, make your sauce. Fresh horseradish, which you should peel and grate, is nicer, but you can also use the creamed horseradish bought in jars. Mix the horseradish in a bowl with the Crème Fraîche and season well. Squeeze over some lemon juice to taste.
Serve the fish with a good lob of the Crème Fraîche sauce. Goes nice with beer.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Attempt #28: Baked Mushrooms stuffed with Ricotta

Mushroom & Cheese combination is like Banana and Ice Cream. They taste great on their own but together, they add a level of sophistication to the recipe.


The result:

I used Brown field mushrooms instead of Portobello mushrooms as the Portobello ones in the grocer here were the size of an orange!
The challenge was getting good quality and fresh Portobello or Field mushrooms and cheese in KL (as they are imported items). Although the dish turn out pretty decent which means that overall, very good recipe…I find that it would have been better if the quality of the mushrooms and cheese were fresher.

ingredients:
• 100g good crumbly ricotta cheese
• zest of 1 lemon
• 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (to taste)
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
• a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
• 4 handfuls of mushrooms, brushed clean
• extra virgin olive oil
• a handful of rocket or soft leafy herbs


method:
Preheat your oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. Put your ricotta into a bowl with the lemon zest, chilli and a little salt and pepper. Beat together with a wooden spoon, then fold in your chopped oregano and the Parmesan.

Carefully remove the stalks from your mushrooms and discard them (or keep them for making a pasta sauce), then toss the mushroom caps in a little oil, salt and pepper. Lay them upside down on a baking tray so that they can be filled with small amounts of your fantastic ricotta mixture. Carefully spoon in the filling, sprinkle a little Parmesan over the top and bake in the preheated oven till golden –about 15 minutes. Great served on a big plate, sprinkled with some dressed rocket leaves or soft leafy herbs.
Jamie's rendition:



 

Attempt #27: Chicken, Sausage & Prawn Jambalaya

My first time trying and attempting a Jambalaya.

This dish requires more work unlike most of Jamie’s recipes. Which tends to be quite simple. However, good experience! Good exercise to try paella next perhaps! J

What I have learnt from this attempt:
1.       Jambalaya is a French word that means ‘jumbled’ or ‘mixed up’
2.       Jambalaya is supposed to be kind of ‘porridge-gy’consistency and come come from a similar place to paella, kedgeree and risotto.
3.       Jambalaya is fun to make as all ingredients goes into 1 pot!

 
The result:

 
Not too bad. But I realized that the quality of the chicken stock is important. I used the pre-packed Organic Low Sodium Chicken Stock. It may have been yummier if I were to cook the stock fresh on my own.


Jamie's Rendition:

 ingredients
• 4 chicken thighs, skin on, preferably free-range or organic
• 4 chicken drumsticks, skin on, preferably free-range or organic
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• cayenne pepper
• olive oil
• 300g smoked sausage, such as andouille or fresh chorizo, skin removed, cut into 1cm thick slices
• 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 4 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
• 4 fresh bay leaves
• 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
• 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
• 1–2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
• 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
• 1.5 litres chicken stock, preferably organic
• 700g long-grain rice
• 16–20 raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
• a handful of fresh curly parsley

Method:
Season the chicken with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Pour a couple of lugs of oil into a large casserole type pan and brown the chicken pieces and sliced sausage over a medium heat. After 5 minutes, once nicely browned on all sides, add your onion, peppers and celery as well as your bay, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir, then fry on a medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes stirring every now and again. It’s important to control the heat of the pan: you don’t want it to be so slow nothing’s happening, or so fast that things are catching and burning. You want a steady, solid heat.

Once the veg have softened, add your garlic and chillies, stir around for a minute, then stir in the tinned tomatoes and chicken stock.

Bring everything to the boil, then turn the heat down, pop the lid on the pan and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. When you can pull the meat off the bone and shred it easily the chicken’s ready. Feel free to remove the chicken bones at this point if you like, then add your rice. Give it all a good stir, then put the lid on. Give it a stir every few minutes, scraping the goodness off the bottom of the pan as you go. Let it cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the rice is perfectly cooked. Stir in the prawns and if it needs it, add enough water to make it a kind of porridgey consistency (look at the pictures). Pop the lid back on and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes while you chop your parsley. Stir the parsley through and serve on a lovely big platter. I absolutely love this with a lemony green salad.

Attempt #26: Roast potatoes with sage and orange

Decided to make this dish to compliment the salmon in Attempt #25 for my dinner guests.

Somehow, I thought the sage and orange would add some level of ‘sexiness’ to simple roast potatoes. Plus, the photo of the dish on Jamie’s website looks mouth watering.

However, my attempt…the potatoes turned out quite dry and the tanginess of the orange didn’t seemed to come through much. Perhaps I should just leave the entire peeled fruit into the baking tray and into the oven together.

Jamie’s rendition:
 
My rendition:

 Ingredients
• 2kg King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut to the size of golf balls
• 8–9 garlic cloves, skins left on and squashed
• peel of 2 oranges, cut into long thin strips
• a large bunch of fresh sage, leaves picked
• 6 tablespoons goose fat or olive oil


method
Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. In a large pan, parboil the potatoes in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, then drain in a colander, shaking it to chuff up the edges of the spuds.

Heat a large roasting tray on the hob over a low heat. (You may need 2 trays.) Add the goose fat or oil and the garlic, orange peel and sage, then fry for 30 seconds. Add the spuds and toss them until well coated.

Place the tray in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or until golden and crisp.


 

Attempt #25: Salmon Baked in Foil Parcel with Green Beans and Pesto

A portion of salmon, a handful of green beans, a dollop of good-quality pesto and a little squeeze of lemon juice are all you need for this dish. And all of these gets wrapped in a foil!

I must admit that I was more excited with the process of wrapping the foil up instead of the other process of making this dish. The wrapping and un-wrapping just makes you feel like an actual Professional Chef in action! J


The Result:


It was fun making this dish as I had friends over for dinner and I had help making this.
As long as the salmon is fresh and of good quality, you can’t go wrong with this dish. The pesto and lemon gives it a good seasoning base. I find that the advantage of pesto and lemon is that these are ingredients that do not replace the original taste of the main ingredient, in this case the salmon.  You are still able to taste the original sweetness of the fish. Should you use tomatoes or stronger herbs such as rosemary, they tend to replace the original taste of the main ingredients.

The method:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Trim your beans by cutting off the stalk ends but leave the wispy tips on. Half one of the lemons. Get yourself about a yard of aluminium foil and fold it in half to give you 2 layers. Put a handful of green beans in the middle of the aluminium foil. Lay a salmon fillet, skin side down, across the beans and spoon over a good tablespoon of green pesto. Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze over the juice from one of the lemon halves, and season with salt and pepper. Pull the aluminium foil edges together and scrunch them up to seal the parcel. Repeat these steps to make your second salmon fillet parcel and place both foil parcels on a sheet pan. Put the sheet pan into your hot oven and cook for 15 min. Remove the pan from the oven and let it stand for a minute before carefully unwrapping and checking if the salmon is cooked through. Nicely served with lemon wedges and baby potatoes.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Attempt #24: Prawn Stuffed Flatfish

If you are trying to decide on what to cook for your upcoming Christmas and Year End dinners with family and friends, why not try this recipe for one of those dinners! J

Oh, if you are trying to slice  and stuff the flatfish for the very first time (like me!, easier to get the fishmonger to do it for you. I had to YouTubed this (I have attached the video below for your convenience). Nonetheless, it wasn’t that difficult and as Jamie explained in his recipe, you don’t need to do it perfectly. As long as the prawns gets stuffed in J

 
The result:
 
Pretty creative and simple way to cook seafood. However, the quality of the dish is only as good as the quality of the fish and prawns. As long as the prawns and fish are fresh and of good quality, it will be yummy. And you can’t go wrong with lemon based recipe J
I may try with tomatoes or crab meat the next round.
Ingredients
• either 1 x 1.2–1.5kg or 4 x 200g flatfish, such as flounder, lemon or Dover sole, plaice, turbot or brill
• 2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 75g butter
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely grated
• cayenne pepper
• 1 lemon
• 250g raw prawns, peeled
• olive oil
• a splash of white wine
• a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
Method
Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. If you look at the head and the tail of your fish, more often than not there’s a secret line between them that the Big Man upstairs has drawn. Using this as your guide, carefully cut into one side of the line near the head, push down gently, angle the tip-end of your knife towards the bone and score between the flesh and the bone to peel away that beautiful fish fillet. Run the knife down to just above the tail and part the fillet from the bone – about 4 to 5cm deep on both sides. Even if you don’t get it perfect, you’ll be stuffing this pocket with prawns so no one will know if your knife work was a bit shabby.

Get a roasting tray that snugly fits your
fish and sprinkle your finely sliced onions around the base of the tray. Season both sides of your fish with salt and pepper and lay it on top of the onions. Try to sweep most of the onions under the fish so they sweeten as they cook. Put the butter into a small pan on a low heat, and once it’s melted pour it into a bowl and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper, the grated garlic and a pinch of cayenne to the butter, then grate over the zest of half your lemon. Toss the peeled prawns through this mixture until nicely coated, then stuff them loosely inside the
fish, pouring over any flavoured butter left behind in the bowl. Before putting it into the oven drizzle over some olive oil and a splash of white wine, then halve your lemon and add both halves to the tray. Adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your fish: a large fish will want 25 minutes, 2 small fish about 12 minutes. You’ll know it’s beautifully cooked when the flesh flakes away from the bone.

Finely chop your parsley leaves and sprinkle them over the
fish once it’s out of the oven. Squeeze over the juices from your roasted lemon halves, and serve. I like to put this in the middle of the table with something propping up one end of the tray so that the delicious milky juices run out of the fish and mingle with the butter, olive oil and lemon juices at one end of the tray. Spoon this over clumps of your fish and prawns, and anything else you’re serving it with, like new potatoes, mash or simple steamed greens – it will taste wonderful.
Jamie's rendition of the Prawn Stuffed Flatfish
 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Attempt #23: Quick sausage meatballs with a tomato and basil sauce, spaghetti and sweet raw peas

Ok, this is indeed as quick as the recipe described. It is pretty much a very straight forward pasta – simple and quick to make. One of the key items that is good to have to make this pasta is that it helps if you have 3 stoves, 2 pans and 1 pot. If you are working with less than 2 pans and a pot, omit the meatballs. J

The result:

I bought Oxford Pork Sausages for this pasta. From the various types of sausages that I have tried for my Jamie Oliver’s cooking till now, this is the least of my favourite. Unlike Italian sausages, the Oxford Pork Sausages doesn’t seemed to have sufficient herbs mixture to make it as fragrant or tasty. Unlike the recipe, I omitted green peas as I am not a fan of them.
ingredients
• olive oil
• 8 good-quality pork sausages
• 500g spaghetti
sea salt
• 300g fresh peas, in their pods
• a block of Parmesan cheese, to serve
• a few sprigs of fresh marjoram, thyme or rosemary, leave picked

for the tomato sauce
olive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
• 2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• good-quality balsamic vinegar
Method:
Heat a large saucepan and add a few glugs of olive oil. Snip the sausages apart, then squeeze and pinch the meat out of the skins so that you get little meatball shapes – don’t make them too big or they will take too long to cook. Try to get at least three balls out of each sausage. Don’t worry about rolling them into perfect balls and making them look all fancy – rough and rustic is good! Put them into your pan. Keep frying and turning the meatballs until they’re golden brown and cooked through.

Meanwhile, put the spaghetti into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions until al dente.

To make your tomato sauce, heat a separate pan and pour in some olive oil. Add the garlic and the chopped basil stalks and move them around the pan for a couple of minutes. Put some small basil leaves to one side for later, and sprinkle the rest into the pan. Add the tomatoes and season carefully to taste. Bring to a simmer, break up your tomatoes a bit more with a spoon and add a swig of balsamic vinegar – it’s lovely for adding sweetness to the sauce.

Add the herbs to the pan of sausage meatballs, tossing everything in all the lovely flavours. Cook for around 30 seconds. When your spaghetti is cooked, drain it and divide the pasta and meatballs between four bowls. Spoon over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle over the reserved basil leaves and serve with a handful of fresh peas per person in the middle of the table, so that everyone can have a go at podding their own, and a little Parmesan for grating and shaving over the top.
Jamie's rendition of the pasta:
 

Attempt #22: Chicken with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce

I bought a jar of black bean sauce and was looking at a different way to cook using it apart from steaming my dish with it. I didn’t expect Jamie to have a recipe with black bean sauce but it was a pleasant surprise when I found a recipe this recipe of his – sizzling beef with scallions and black bean sauce.

However, instead of beef, I replaced it with chicken and I steamed the rice separately instead of frying it.

The result:

Really simple dish to make and goes well with rice. The cilantro leaves or coriander, provides that spicy, strong fragrant that enhances the ginger, garlic, chille and scallions mixture. And for anyone who loves sesame oil… you would just love this dish.
In short, an interesting discovery. A Chinese-inspired Jamie Oliver dish that my parents or for folks who are not fans of Caucasian / European based dishes can appreciate. J

Recipe:
Ingredients:

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Approx. 300gm of chicken
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
½ a fresh red chilli
2 spring onions
a small bunch of fresh coriander
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon groundnut oil (or any oil for frying)
2 tablespoons of good-quality black bean sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 limes

Method:

1.      Halve and deseed your pepper and cut it into thin strips.

2.      Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic.

3.      Finely slice the chilli.

4.      Cut the ends off your spring onions and finely slice.

5.      Pick the coriander leaves and put to one side, and finely chop the coriander stalks.

6.      Get yourself a big bowl and put in the ginger, garlic, chilli, spring onions, coriander stalks and chicken. Add the sesame oil and mix everything together.

To cook your stir-fry:

7.      Preheat a wok or large frying pan on a high heat and once it’s very, very hot add half of the groundnut (frying) oil and swirl it around. Add all your chopped ingredients from the bowl. Give the pan a really good shake to mix everything around quickly. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, taking care to keep everything moving so it doesn’t burn. Add the black bean sauce, and stir in half the soy sauce and the juice of half a lime. Keep tossing. Taste and season with black pepper.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Attempt #21: A Good Gravy by Jamie Oliver

I just learnt a new trick!! The layer of vegetables at the bottom of the roasting tray that your meat sits on which also holds the juices from a roasted piece of meat makes really nice gravy for you roasted meat dish.


The Result:

To quote Jamie from his recipe, “As long as you are using good quality meeat, your gravy will taste heavenly. Follow his method for making gravy and you’ll never look back”. And you know what, he is absolutely right! J

And if there are any leftover of that gravy, waste not. I refrigerated it and use it as a base to fry broccoli the next day!

Link to the recipe on Jamie's website. Click here.

Attempt #20: Roast Pork (‘Siew Yuk’)

‘Siew Yuk’! With a couple of friends over for dinner, I decided to attempt ‘Siew Yuk’.

Firstly, I have never had a whole chunk of 3 pound pork loin in my house before this which means that I have never handled a whole piece of meat of such mass before this either!
 
The Buying Experience:  
When I asked the butcher for 3 pounds of pork loin and as she was trying to slice the measured pork for me, I was getting an anxiety attack and started to tell her not such a big piece. She gave me a 'please-make-up-your-mind' look and confirmed that I wanted 3 pounds. So, I just simply nodded since the recipe did ask for 3 pounds and I wanted to ensure that I follow the recipe accurately for this one. A good Siew Yuk is not an easy task hence I didn’t want to risk it by getting a smaller piece of meat.


The Preparation/Cooking Experience:
Recipe asked for a box cutter or a very sharp knife to score the skin. The recipe reminded that we  need to make sure that we are to slice just the skin and fat and not the meat underneath. Do this all the way along at ¼ inch intervals. 
Now for this task…the knife must be really, really sharp. I thought my knife was sharp enough… I mean, it works smoothly with watermelons and melons are huge. But the ‘ah ha’ moment is when you realized that in the culinary world, size doesn’t matter but density. Lesson learnt: Ask the butcher to do this for you.

Once the pork loin is scored, the drizzling of the virgin olive oil and massaging salt and freshly ground black pepper onto the meat was quite manageable. But I now know what my masseuse has to go through - she has to massage more than 100 pounds of flesh daily. And I am here trying to massage this 3 pound meat on my chopping board which was already a handful!

The Result:

All diners gave a whopping ‘Not Bad!” feedback! The skin on top was really crispy but a little too tough to the teeth. Leaving it in the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes was 10 minutes too long.  But overall, it was juicy and fragrant.
The roasted pork was served with the horseradish sauce (see Attempt #19) and the roast pork gravy (see attempt #21 for the recipe for the gravy).