Friday, 26 October 2012

Attempt #10: Delicious roasted white fish wrapped in smoked bacon with lemon mayonnaise and asparagus

My 10th attempt! Wait a minute, 90 more recipes to go. L

Anyway, this 10th attempt didn’t turned out to be as great as I thought it would have been. Reason being, I thought that anything with bacon is easy breezy to cook. As I just found out, so not true for a chef wannabe.

The buying process:
As I was doing the shopping for bacon, I realized that there are so many different types of bacon. OK, in my defence of the shallow knowledge of bacon, I am not much as a meat eater moreover bacon which is the part of the swine that carries one of the fattest content.

Anyway, not know the difference between smoked and unsmoked bacon, I checked out The explanation:
The difference between the two bacon types come from the way in which they are cooked. The smoked bacon is just that: smoked over a specific type of wood to give it a distinct flavour; unsmoked bacon is cooked to whatever specification the chef would like, with no flavour initiated into the meat before it is sold commercially.

The cooking process:
When I was wrapping the fish with the bacon, I felt almost like an actual chef as the wrapped fish looked so artistically creative.
Photo of the marinated raw fish being wrapped in smoked bacon as below:

As for steaming of the asparagus, I can never get this right. It is either overcooked which means it gets all limpy or undercooked, which makes it taste too close to eating grass.  

The result:

The fish was quite dry while the bacon wasn’t crispy enough. The recipe asked for 10-12 minutes in the oven but I had mine for 15 minutes but the bacon did not turn crisp nor golden like the recipe said it would. The lemon mayonnaise did helped to add some tangy juicy taste to the dryness of the fish.

Picture below shows better clarity of the dryness of the fish without the lemon mayonnaise.

Link to full recipe here.

Attempt #9: Cod potato and spring onion stew

Who would have thought that a little bit of orange zest would make a difference in the taste of the stew!

I bought my cod fillet from a friend and wanted to try something different apart from steaming the cod seasoned with garlic, pepper, soya sauce, sesame oil and fried shallots. Browsing through Jamie’s site, I thought this recipe looks simple and different.

Very very interesting. And more importantly, the kids love it. It could be that the recipe calls for milk to be added into the broth and this thickens the stew making it creamier and tastes almost like their own formula milk! J  

The idea of adding in the anchovies was a good way to add the element of saltiness to the stew. And because I did replaced the white wine with apple juice and the final touch of grating the zest of the orange to the stew, it makes the whole dish flavoured with a kind of salty, zesty and fruity taste to it.  
Jamie's rendition:
• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 leek, washed and finely sliced
• extra virgin olive oil
• 2 medium courgettes, halved lengthways
• 1kg potatoes, peeled
• 2 anchovies
• 1 wine glass white wine
• 565ml milk
• 565ml stock
• 1kg cod fillet, skinned and pin-boned
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
• a bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
• juice of ½ a lemon

In an appropriately sized large pan, slowly fry your onion and leek with around 5 tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes until soft and tender. With a teaspoon, remove and discard the fluffy tasteless core from the courgettes and grate the rest into the pan. Chop the potatoes into rough 2cm dice and add to the pan. Give everything a good stir and then add the anchovies. Turn the heat up and add the white wine. Allow to cook down by half before adding your milk and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour until the potatoes are tender. At this point, add your cod and simmer for a further 15 minutes until the flesh flakes away; feel free to stir and break up the fish, but it's quite nice to leave some big chunks as well. Season carefully to taste. Divide between your bowls, and serve with a small handful of parsley and spring onion dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

Try this: Sprinkle a little orange zest over the parsley and spring onion. It really works with the cod.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Attempt #8: Potato and chorizo omelette with a kinda parsley salad

This is my first time baking eggs!

I have tried scrambling eggs, poaching them, boiled, steamed…but never baked them like a soufflé. And I must say that it is so much easier than trying to poach an egg! (I am still sore that my earlier recipe asking for poached egg turned out to be a disaster).

According to Jamie Oliver, this omelette recipe is supposed to be a cross between a Spanish tortilla and an Italian frittata. It’s Spanish because of the chorizo and potato, but a little Italian too because it is finished off in the oven instead of on the hob.
Overall, interesting and easy recipe to make. It tastes almost like quiche but ‘heavier’ in terms of texture. The added rosemary leaves gives a pungent, spicy taste to the omelette. The rosemary also further enhanced the spiciness of the Spanish chorizo sausages.
Besides, anything with eggs, sausages and potatoes in them, along with onions as a salad dressing - it won’t go really wrong I think. J As Jamie says it, these are 3 ingredients which are usually "all time favourite” 
- 4 small waxy potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 6 large free-range or organic eggs
• 2 x 60g good-quality Spanish chorizo sausages, cut into 1cm thick slices
• 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
• 2 shallots, peeled and very finely sliced
• juice of 1 lemon
• extra virgin olive oil
• a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
Preheat your oven to full whack, (I PRE-HEAT TO 240C AS THAT IS THE HIGHEST IT COULD GO FOR MY OVEN) or get your grill nice and hot. Put the potatoes into a saucepan of boiling salted water and simmer them until cooked, then drain in a colander and leave them to steam dry. Beat the eggs with a fork in a large mixing bowl, season well with salt and pepper, and put to one side.

Heat a 20cm non-stick, ovenproof frying pan. Add the chorizo slices and the potato chunks. The chorizo will start to sizzle, releasing all its tasty oils and spices. After a couple of minutes, when everything’s lightly golden and crisp, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves into the hot fat. As soon as they hit the pan, they’ll start to crisp up. Pour the beaten eggs on top immediately, adding the potatoes and chorizo and spreading everything out evenly. Place the whole pan in the preheated oven or under the grill until the omelette is golden brown on top and just cooked through in the middle.

While the omelette is cooking, put the shallots into a bowl with the lemon juice, some salt and pepper and a glug of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and pinch the shallots with your fingertips to soften them slightly, then mix in the parsley leaves. Serve a little on top of the omelette and tuck in!
Jamie Oliver's Rendition of the Omellete:

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Attempt #7: Soy-baked salmon with zingy salsa

With the poor attempt on my crab cakes, I still wanted to make a fish-based dish.

Having just bought a kg of fresh, chilled salmon from my friend (PM me if you ever want to get your hands on fresh, premium quality salmon), I selected this recipe (link to Jamie's website). Looks easy enough for a quick bake for dinner!
The result….absolutely Y.U.M.M.Y.

The zest from the lemon and the lime added in a taste of sweet bitterness to the fish. And the grated ginger provides that zingy, spicy element to the creamy texture of the salmon. The idea of searing the salmon (skin down) on the pan before popping it into the oven is fantastic! This way, it makes the skin of the fish so crispy and nice.
Here's the photo:
I did omit chilli again in this recipe. And I added in some finely chopped red onions and garlic into the salsa mix since I omitted the chillies.  

Curious Corner:

Do you know that salmons have a peculiar life cycle?
Extracted from Organic Factswebsite, salmons will lay their eggs near the mouth of the rivers. The eggs hatch there, develop into fries and start their journey towards seas. They grow in the seas into adult salmons and again go back to the rivers to reproduce, where most of them die after laying eggs.

Attempt #6: Home-made crab cakes with a hot blackened salsa

Biggest mistake was not to get fresh or premium crabmeat. So, should you plan to attempt crab cakes, make sure that you get premium crab meat. And try not to get flower crab as these are not as sweet as other types of crabs in general.

Another unique element to this crab cake recipe (link to Jamie's website) was it doesn’t ask for eggs or breadcumbs or flour to hold the patties together. Instead, the recipe asked for potatoes and mashing the steamed potatoes together with the crabmeat.

Although I did pop the nicely shaped patties into the fridge overnight which was supposedly to help hold the patties together, I still had a difficult time trying to keep them together when frying them. In the end, I still had to re-shaped them into patties for the presentation of the finished dish.
My rendition:

Jamie's rendition:

Result: As I bought frozen flower crabmeat, I couldn’t taste the crabs nor its sweetness. Instead, it felt more like having potato cakes L
But the salsa recipe was yummy. Think we enjoyed the salsa more than the crab cakes this round.

Curious Corner:
How many potatoes make up to 500gm?

That was my first challenge. Well, for those who doesn’t have a weighing scale readily available, 500gm of potatoes is about 4 pieces of a medium sized potato.
Here’s a photo to help you make that gauge. Hope this helps!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Attempt #5: Tender and Crisp chicken legs with Sweet Tomatoes

Since a tomato-based dish turned out pretty good in my last attempt, I thought why not test the theory that anything with tomatoes will taste good regardless if you can cook or not.

An Ah-HA! I can now confirm that theory - “ANYTHING WITH TOMATOES WILL TASTE GOOD”.

For this Tender and Crisp chicken legs with Sweet Tomatoes dish, I substituted chicken legs with chicken pieces and I omitted the red chilli so that it is suitable for the kids as well.

The result : Yummy and to quote Jamie Oliver’s famous expression…”Heavenly”. Although I am not sure how Jamie got his dish coming out looking saucier than what I had. But it still taste yummy.
Getting read to go into the oven...
Hot out from the oven...

Jamie's rendition...looks soo much better as usual :)
For the full recipe, click on this link to Jamie’s website.

Curious Corner:
Difference between red and yellow tomatoes. Extracted this from

The most obvious difference between these two types of tomato is their color. Red tomatoes are far more common than yellow tomatoes, and are often the only color of tomato found in grocery stores and supermarkets. Red tomatoes are high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant thought to prevent some cancers. Lycopene is what produces the tomatoes' red color. Yellow tomatoes do not contain lycopene. Red tomatoes are highly acidic, which produces their tangy flavor. Yellow tomatoes are lower in acidity, making them generally sweeter than red tomatoes. Red tomatoes are higher in vitamin C, while yellow tomatoes are higher in niacin and folate. Both colors are a tasty and nutritious addition to any meal.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Attempt #4: Baked white fish with olives and a simple tomato sauce

With almost 1 month down, I am only at my 4th recipe attempt. Yikes!

Time to speed the cooking up. But I do have a valid excuse *grin*…I was on a road trip to Italy with my girlfriend. Here’s a sneak peak to one of the many yummy food that we had. More on my roadtrip later.


Moving on to my Baked White Fish attempt. This attempt proved to be quite successful. The recipe for Jamie’s Baked White Fish with olives and a simple tomato sauce is oh so easy and more importantly, very yummy.
I guess any tomato-based recipe will not go wrong much. I did substitute red wine vinegar with ginger wine vinegar and it still taste right! And I skipped the olives and capers. I may have short-changed Jamie’s recipe a tiny bit but hey credit to the chap, the fish still turns out yummy! J  

Enclosed the full recipe below by Jamie Oliver:


To make your sauce:

1. Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves. Pick the basil leaves and put aside, finely slice the stalks.

2. Add a good couple of lugs of olive oil to a large pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and basil stalks. Pierce the chilli once with a knife so it doesn’t explode when frying, and add to the pan. Fry gently until the garlic is soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the tins of tomato and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Gently simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the chilli. Break and mush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Season the sauce really carefully with more salt and pepper, if needed, and add a tiny swig of red wine vinegar to give it a little twang.

To prepare and cook your fish:

4. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas7.

5. Pour your tomato sauce into a roasting tray (about 20cm x 30cm). Season the fish fillets on both sides with a little salt and pepper, then place on top of the sauce. Squash the olives, using the base of a jar or something heavy, and remove the stones. Sprinkle the olives and capers over the fish. Scatter the reserved basil leaves over the fish.

6. Cook in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through (check by cutting into the thickest part of one or two of the fillets; they should be pearly white and not transparent). Lovely served with new potatoes and a green salad.

• 3 cloves of garlic
• a small bunch of fresh basil
• olive oil
• 1 fresh red chilli
• 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• red wine vinegar
• 4x 150g white fish fillets such as coley, whiting or pollock, skin off and bones removed
• a handful of black olives, stone in
• 1 tablespoon capers, drained