Monthly Archives: May 2013

Indulgence

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Zzz lunch at a sushi bar.
Hungry.

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Mushroom soup

mushroom soup

Up till today, I think the Marche restaurant here has one of the best mushroom soup.
It’s rich, creamy and full of mushroomy flavors and we can taste mushroom bits in every spoonful.

It’s not exactly cheap. Probably sold at $6 for a small portion?
Well, considering this dish is quite a handful (anything that is not one pot and requires additional cooking methods is, to me), I think the price is ok.

The great thing about home cooking is that when zzz cooks it, I have a whole steaming hot pot of soup all to myself-just that its really too hot to have something so hot.

Recipe:

Vegetable stock:
1 bi-colour corn
1 carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 yellow onion
1 medium potato
mushroom stalks from below
coriander stalks

Mushroom soup:
1200 ml vegetable stock
600+ g mixed fresh mushrooms (i happen to use a mix of oyster, shitake, portobello and buna-shimeji)
30g mixed dried forest mushrooms
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic
juice of half a lemon
coriander leaves for garnish
truffle oil and lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Make the vegetable stock first. Roughly chop the veggies into a medium pot and add about 1500 ml of water. Bring to boil and allow to simmer for at least 45 mins. Meanwhile prepare the ingredients for the soup.

Briefly run the dried mushrooms under tap water and soak them with just enough freshly boiled water to cover. Wipe the fresh mushrooms clean and remove the stalks. Throw the stalks into the simmering stock. Roughly slice/tear the mushrooms (the small ones can be left whole). Finely chop the red onion and garlic.

In a large hot saucepan, add olive oil and half the mushrooms. Sauté at medium high heat for a few minutes, add the garlic and onions and the rest of the mushrooms. Continue to sauté, noting that the water in the mushroom should be cooked away. Add the dried mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid. Add a dash of salt. Continue to sauté for another 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked perfectly (ermm, taste and trust your senses!). The mushrooms should not be wet nor burning dry.

Strain the vegetable stock. Pick up the potato chunks and add them into the pot of mushrooms. Add the soaking liquid and 800ml of the vegetable stock. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until no big chucks of mushrooms remains. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and check consistency. If soup is too thick add more stock gradually. Add lemon juice and bring to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Serve hot with coriander leaves, a dash of lemon zest and a few drops of truffle oil (optional).

Freeform lasagna

free form lasagne

The thing about cooking is that sometimes we have lots of single or small quantity items in the freezer we don’t know what to do with.

Like the other day, we had frozen pork ribs, slices of threadfin fish and some vegetables and we didn’t want to waste them but couldn’t make a decent dish out of each. So, zzz decided to combine for a stew paired with the leftover lasagna sheets.

The result was great! It’s wasn’t too much of a big deal but I loved the way how zzz managed to whip up such a hearty dish out of so little things available.

Recipe (for 2)

a couple of meaty pork ribs, about 500g (we happen to have these on hand, otherwise 300g of pork shoulder will be good as well)

half a carrot, finely diced

half an onion, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

1 tablespoon of tomato paste, stirred into a glass of water

lots of freshly grated parmesan

4 sheets of dried lasagna (abt 18g per sheet)

Directions

In a hot dutch oven, sear pork ribs. Remove and set aside. Deglaze pan with some wine/vermouth/stock/water. Sauté the veggies for  3-5 minutes. Add the ribs and the tomato water. Add more water to almost cover the ribs. You may add some dried herbs and spices now if you have some (bay leaf, fennel, thyme, etc). Bring to boil, cover and reduce to a bare simmer for at least 2 hours. (put it into a low heat oven if your pot allows.)

After 2 hours, check if the meat is falling off the bone. (If it is not, simmer for another half and hour) Taste and season. Add half the grated parmesan and stir. Turn off the heat.

Cook lasagna in boiling water till al dente. Assemble 2 lagsanas in a free-form manner. Top them with the remaining parmesan. Add lots of black pepper on top of the cheese, drizzle some good olive oil and serve.

Gougeres with cream cheese chantilly

Gougeres with cream cheese chantilly

Sweet and savoury: Gougeres with cream cheese chantilly

Puff pastries are never a favorite of mine. I liked my desserts ‘with bite’. Like cakes, cookies and ice cream. Chomp chomp to savor the taste and texture.

But puffs? Hmm. They are errr, airy. Like its not satisfying enough. And it’s savory. Totally doesn’t fit my criteria of desserts. I like the beard papa pastry, piping hot puff pastries filled with cold sweet cream. But that’s different, the sweet cream totally takes the show.

This is somewhat different. Its small enough to keep popping them in without even thinking they are puff. Anyway, anything from the French Laundry sounds like a good attempt. So when I found this recipe, I immediately asked zzz to make a batch to freeze. Turned out it was soooooo good, the freezer batch didn’t even last a week!

Recipe (adapted from http://kirbiecravings.com/2013/01/french-laundrys-gougeres.html)

140 ml water
60 g ounces unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
dash of ground pepper
140 g tsbp all purpose flour
150 grams eggs, lightly beaten with fork
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a mix of emmental and parmesan)

Melt butter in water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer briefly and remove pan from the heat. Stir in all the flour. to obtain a paste-like consistency, then place back on the heat and stir rapidly for a minute, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean. The dough should be glossy and smooth but not dry.

Slowly begin to add the eggs, 50 grams at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next. Continue adding the eggs, mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl but immediately grabs back on again.When the dough is lifted, it should form a bird’s peak- it should hold it’s shape and turn down on itself but not break off. Add the cheese and pulse to incorporate.

Put batter into pastry bag. Piped little free form balls, about 1.5 inch in diameter since he makes his so small.

Either bake immediately or freeze to bake later. Bake immediately: 180 deg Celsius, 20 mins. Bake from frozen: 185 deg Celsius, 25 mins.