The Perfume of Food

porcini pasta

Since I embark on my cooking journey, I have discovered various ingredients that surprise me. Among them is a group which I refer them as the perfume of food. From lime, mint, pepper to porcini, saffron and truffles, these ingredients has the power to transform the flavor of a dish like magic!

I am fortunate to have the chance of using dried porcini in some of my dishes and today I would love to share this simple pasta recipe which most of you are familiar with.

Aglio Olio with Porcini

Dried porcini mushrooms

Your favorite pasta (I used spaghetti no.3)

Cherry tomatoes (optional)

Chopped garlic

Sea salt

Freshly crushed black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Parmigiano

Chopped fresh basil

White wine

Soak porcini mushrooms in hot water for half an hour. Chop it into small pieces and set aside for later use. Keep the water as well.

Bring a pot of water to boil and add salt follow by pasta. Cook to al dente.

Heat up olive oil in a pan and fry garlic with whole cherry tomatoes. Put in salt and pepper. When the tomatoes become soft, put in porcini and saute till the mushroom’s flavor fills the air. Deglaze the pan with white wine, mushroom water and some pasta water. Throw in chopped basil. Drain pasta from water and toss them in the pan with rest of the ingredients.

Serve with grated parmigiano and more basil with a good bottle of bianco.

Can you share another ingredient that can create magic?

What a Year

hk skyline

2013 was a big year for me. Last night, as I flipped back the pages in my mind before the clock strikes twelve, some memories formed into paintings of joy and laughter while others displayed a sense of melancholy.  It was the year where I decide to make a drastic change in my life with a precious opportunity which I am actually not quite prepared for.

Leaving home to work in a foreign country for the first time, the move to Hong Kong itself was already an experience. Besides getting to know the ways of living in this new city, my taste buds are also being challenged to recipes, flavors and textures that I am not accustomed to.

While the new may be interesting, it is often the familiar that kept me settled.  I’m so glad that my tiny kitchen is now stocked with extra virgin olive oil, Italian canned tomatoes, balsamic and my favorite spices.

Here’s a simple recipe to share. Happy New Year my friends!

Drumsticks Baked with Balsamic Vinegar

baked chicken with balsamic

Drumsticks

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Crushed black pepper

Dried rosemary (fresh ones are too costly over here)

Sea salt

Paprika

Lemon juice

Marinate drumsticks with all other ingredients overnight. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 45 minutes or until it looks good to the eye. Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over before serving with your favorite greens or baked vegetables.

East Malaysia Cooking Trip – Part 1

brinjals

Hello my blogger friends, greetings from Hong Kong! For those who have been following my blog, I’ve finally settled down in this city that never sleeps. It’s been more than two months since my last post and I hope you will still get to see this in your reader or email :)

I am preparing to start cooking and baking soon but for now, I would love to share with you an amazing trip that I’ve made before my move. For this trip, I get to stay with my relative in Sarawak, East Malaysia who owns a little vegetable garden right in front of the house. Of course, you know my itchy hands wouldn’t leave those gorgeous plants alone. Hee hee!

chinese squash

These are oriental squash which are great for making clear soup with dried scallops and pork short ribs. Boil them together for an hour and all you need is just a little salt to flavor it.

be different

While most squash are long and straight, some just prefers to be different.

robot oven

dough in robot oven

I would like to introduce this powerful oven that looks more like an alien in scifi films which can pre-heat to 220C within 10minutes. The only thing to be careful is that the heating element is at the top so attention is needed to avoid the crust of my bread from getting burnt. Yes, I baked bread with it and the result is very satisfying.

foccacia

I made this foccacia bread with dried Italian herbs using that robot. It was really crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The bread was very well received and before I knew it, the pan was empty.

12 hour overnight poolish 

150g strong flour, 150g warm water, 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix everything together  and let it ferment overnight.

Main dough

278g strong flour, 150g warm water, 1 & 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast, dried Italian herbs, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, 2 tablespoon olive oil, poolish

Mix everything together and work your dough till it is smooth. Let it rest for 45 mins. Stretch and fold the dough and let it rest for another 45mins. Pre-heat oven to 200C and bake for 20mins. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano if desired.

harvesting egg plant

I just can’t keep my hands off these gorgeous brinjals or long eggplants. I’m so lucky that they are at their best when I was there. Green on the inside with no seeds yet.

pasta with brinjals

With limited ingredients, I turned the brinjals into this pasta dish.

brinjals, cut into circles

red chili, chopped

1 onion, chopped

italian herbs

1 big lime juice

olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

your favorite pasta

Fry brinjals in olive oil till caramelized and set aside for later use. With the same oil, saute onions till caramelized and put in red chili, sea salt and pepper. On another burner, cook pasta to al dente and keep some pasta water. Back to the frying pan, add in lime juice and pasta water follow by a good handful of italian herbs. Put in pasta, brinjal and toss well. Serve with grated parmigiano and perhaps more chili.

It’s been a great trip. I’ll share more recipes in part 2 okay?

Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce

mussels in spicy tomato sauce

Hello my friends! Hope all is well and that you have not forgotten me. Its been a while since my last post or rather since I last logged on to this site. And I’m deeply touched when a couple of you specially wrote to ask about me. I’ve been busy making some changes to the next stage of my career/life and will need to take another break from sharing my recipes after this till I’ve settled down in another city.

This is a really simple and flavorful dish to make.

big fat mussels

finely chopped garlic

black pepper

sea salt

finely chopped fresh chili (the hottest you can find)

tomato sauce

fresh basil

olive oil

white wine

Heat up olive oil in a pan over medium heat and throw in garlic, chili, pepper and salt. When aroma fills the air, put in mussels follow by a glug of white wine. Once the alcohol evaporates, put in tomato sauce follow by fresh basil and cook for another minute or two.  Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Hope you will like it. Take care everyone. I’ll be back!

Aglio Olio with Prawns

prawn pasta 2

I am surprised to miss out publishing this recipe that I make most often. I just love the juice of the prawns clinging onto the pasta in every mouthful.

Medium size prawns, vein removed

Cherry tomatoes

Chopped Chili

Your favorite pasta

Fresh basil

White wine

Olive oil

Garlic, chopped or sliced

Crushed black pepper

Sea salt

prawn pasta 1

Heat up a good amount of olive oil over medium-high heat and fry prawns till cooked. Remove prawns from pan. Turn down the heat to medium and fry garlic and chili using the same oil. Put in tomatoes follow by salt and pepper. Once tomatoes are soften and the fragrance of garlic fill the air, pour in white wine and let the alcohol evaporates. Add sweet basil follow by some pasta water to thicken the sauce. Add pasta which is already cooked to al dente follow by the prawns and all the juice. Mix well and serve with parmigiano if desired.

Kitchen Emotions

My profession in identifying and creating core emotions for tv promotion enables me to also connect up all the different emotions that leads me into cooking and baking.

It all begins when I often walk out from a restaurant feeling dissatisfied along with ANGER for paying high bills for lousy food and bad service in this city. And most of the time, what disappoints me is the way good ingredients are being treated poorly.

That is when the temptation and CURIOSITY of wondering if I can cook better food arouse my desire to take up the challenge and re-look at the function of my kitchen with a whole new perspective.

After numerous failures that eventually leads to a few good attempts with some recipes, the feeling of SUCCESS encourage me to create more to share with friends and neighbours which increases HUMAN CONNECTIONS without even noticing it. The reward is enormous.

Here’s a really simple recipe that makes me happy.

marinara w scallops

Pasta Marinara with Canadian Scallops

Canadian scallops

Sea salt

Black pepper

All-purpose flour

Olive oil

Heat up olive oil in a pan. Season scallops with salt, pepper and coat lightly with flour. Fry scallops for 2 minutes on one side and another minute on the other side.

For the sauce:

Fresh basil

Half an onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 can of Italian tomato

Black pepper

Salt

Olive oil

Heat up olive oil in a pot with onions and garlic. The fragrance from the onion and garlic will infuse into the oil when heated up together. Add salt to avoid onions from burning. Sautee till onion turns translucent. Add black pepper, tomatoes and basil. Simmer for 30 mins.

Serve with your favourite pasta and top it up with the gorgeous scallops.

hk loaf 4

Now comes to baking. My FEAR of sending something into the oven and hoping it will come out good stays with me for many years ever since I failed terribly trying to bake a basic sponge cake.

It was until early this year when Anto from relaxingcooking encouraged me to bake my first bread. It is a big emotion of DARING to take up the challenge to start a bumpy journey which I am glad I did and to discover the many secrets of baking along the way.

hk loaf 2

I got to admit I am quite obsessed with bread baking for now and I just can’t wait to log this recipe in that uses ‘tangzhong’ mentioned to me by Jean from bentodays. This method creates a super soft loaf with a long lost flavor which brings me all the way back to my childhood days. Yum!

Soft white bread using ‘Tangzhong’

TangZhong:

50g bread flour

250g water

Cook on low heat and keep stirring continuously until it becomes sticky.

Main dough:

270g bread flour

30g sugar

4g salt

1 egg

90g tangzhong

60g milk

5g yeast

30g butter (soften)hk loaf 3

Mix all ingredients except butter. Put in butter when rest of ingredients is well mixed.

Knead the dough till it passes the window pane test. Form it into a ball and put it into a greased bowl.

Sprinkle some water on dough and cover. Let it proof for 45mins to an hour.

Pre-shape dough into three round loaves and let it sit for 15mins.

For the final shaping, roll the dough to resemble soft rolls and put them side by side in a loaf tin.

Sprinkle some water on top and proof for 45mins to an hour.

Brush with egg wash and bake at 170C in a pre-heated oven for 30mins.

hk loaf 5

BRUCE LEE MOVIE SPECIALS

gotasté:

This is another happy moment! My Bruce Lee promo just garnered another Gold award two days ago at Promaxbda World competition held in L.A. Too bad I wasn’t there to witness the win.

Originally posted on gotasté:

This is a happy moment!

I can still recall the number of compliments that was received from my boss, colleagues and friends when they saw this movie trailer on TV five months ago. Many told me it will win an award. Such wishes add on to my stress for the desire to hope that it will eventually happen for real. So I decided to put that thought away and keep my fingers crossed while waiting patiently for the day of the event.

The broadcast industry recognizes Promax as the Oscars of TV promotion. Yesterday night was the annual Promax Asia Awards ceremony. Like everyone else, I was among the audience hoping for a present from Santa to end the year with joy.

Just into the first quarter of the awards show, the category of my entry was up and I heard a familiar title being announced. Before I can receive…

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