Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Attempt #3: Creamy Asparagus Soup with a Poached Egg on Toast

Result of my soup in 4 words. Tasty but visually ugly.   

I wanted to make something simple and fast for this attempt. Saw this recipe for Creamy Asparagus Soup with a Poached Egg on Toast on Jamie Oliver’s website and thought would be a good choice since my kids love asparagus and eggs! However, it didn’t turn out as fast nor as pretty as Jamie’s rendition.

Nothing much I could say further except to show the pictures. Here’s a side by side comparison of the result of Mr Oliver’s Cream of Asparagus Soup and mine.

Same recipe but different outcome.

I had trouble with blending the asparagus in the soup and making the poach egg. I used a handheld blender but the content of the hot soup kept skirting off everywhere outside the pot. And the poach egg, hats off to the folks who can make perfect poach eggs!

Visually,  I think my soup even made melted ice-cream looks good. Sigh…

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Attempt #2: Sausage Carbonara

Thought that it will be good and easy enough to try out pasta in my second attempt.

The recipe for Jaime’s Sausage Carbonara looks so, so simple and the photo shot of the dish look so, so yummy! Here’s how I see it:
Simple + Yummy = Good idea for a Chef Wannabe

But, here’s what went down:

(First) 5 min : I stared at the pasta.
Any of you ever had problems of trying to gauge how much pasta to cook? Or am I the only one? Here's the thing...too little, you get too much sauce leftover. Too much, you have pasta going to waste. Perhaps it is time I invest in a pasta measurer.  

(Next) 10 min : I stared at the Italian sausages.
Recipe says With a sharp knife, slit the sausage skins lengthways and pop all the meat out. Using wet hands, roll little balls of sausage meat about the size of large marbles and place them to one side.’

Firstly, I have never thought that I could actually make use of those sausages that we get from the Deli and make them into meatballs.
Then, I was questioning if the sausage skins were that easy to slit. How much pressure do I have to use?

(Next) 15 min :
Tried slitting the sausage skins. OMG!!! Miracle!!! It actually slit opened perfectly!
It was like an Eureka moment for me! What a great way of making meatballs. The sausages were already pre-mix with herbs and best of all, it stays together easily. The ball making was really easy and fun!

See the before picture and after pic of the Italian Sauages. 


 (Next) 30 min :
The cooking process started. I followed the step by step guide provided in the recipe. Some learnings to look out for in future:  

1.  Never grate the lemon beyond the yellow part of the lemon peel (skin) as the white inner part is actually bitter.

2.  When I tossed the cooked pasta into the egg mixture directly, it did not thicken as described in the recipe. So, I had to heat up the pan. Only then it helped to thicken the mixture well.

3.  The Italian sausages/ meatballs should not be fried in the pan for too long as they become hard. My mistake was that I was afraid they were not cooked and I usually like my meat well done. Hence, the meatballs were not as juicy as it should be.

The Result:

Overall, the pasta was quite yummy. The taste of the lemon zest was a perfect touch to the salty cheese mix and cream. The lemon also provided an amazing bitter sweet fragrance to the sauce and dish.
Attaching Jamie's Sausage Carbonara below:
Ahem...I did replace linguini with angel eye pasta and pancetta with mushrooms. Figured too much meat.

But linguini does make the dish look 'sexier' and the pancetta added colors to the dish which is definitely lacking in mine.


FUN FACTS: Did you know? The word carbonara is derived from the Italian word for charcoal, and its origins are as a sauce served with pasta to the coal miners in Italy in the mid-1900’s.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Attempt #1: Perfect Roast Chicken

News has it that roasting a chicken is one of the easiest dish for new cooks (or a chef wannabe) to start with. So, when I found this recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website for a Perfect Roast Chicken…I thought I struck gold…or poultry heaven in this case.
But oh….roasting a chicken was not as easy as 1-2-3 as news has it!

Here’s what happened and learning! Learning! Learning! to remind myself the next time I attempt to roast an entire chicken! 

Mistake #1: Never try to adjust the recipe of a great chef when you are trying your virgin attempt to roast a chicken!

Instead of organic, free range chicken which I thought was rather large for a family of 2 adults and 2 small kids, I bought a ‘kampung’ (village fed) chicken. This means that I should have also halved the other ingredients which I did not and adjusted the baking time.

IMPORTANT: Depending on the size of the chicken, may not be full 80 minutes as per recipe. Else, you will get a much burnt bird!


Recipe asked for celery and carrots. I replaced with leaks and cherry tomatoes. Reason being: I had leftover of leaks and cherry tomatoes and I wanted to use them before they went rotten. Waste not, want not right?

IMPORTANT: Roasting is like a box of chocolates, you will never know what it will taste like if you have not tried it. So, don’t try to be creative just yet!

Mistake #2: Size of the lemon must be in according to the size of the chicken!

The lemon keeps popping out from the chicken’s rear end as you can see from the photo! It took me longer trying to tackle the lemon and stuffing it into the chicken’s behind than to clean the chicken.

Not just that, if the lemon doesn’t get inserted well into the chicken, you get burnt lemon.

The RESULT: Chicken was slightly burnt and a little tad too sour (probably from the tomatoes!). But overall, it was quite tasty. The citrusy taste of the lemon goes really well with the sweet onion.

p/s: Visually, I thought the roasted chicken looks like an alien trying to eat that lemon! Don't ya think? See the resemblance? Gosh, I got to do something about my visual presentation of the food!