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?

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

Zucchini Pasta

photo (27)_1

 

This is undoubtedly a classic dish in many parts of the world but it is hard to find on menus here in Singapore. I was encouraged and inspired to create this recipe by the beautiful blogger Gabriela Blandy who is able to paint pictures with words in her popular blog thesenseofajourney . I sincerely hope that she will come round with her unforeseen transition in life and start writing again.

Gabriela suggested a recipe using fresh mint when she was visiting my post Pecorino Romano . As I could not get hold of mint while making, I adjusted the recipe into this.

Serves Three (my mom was here to taste it :))

2 big zucchinis

3 small bowls of penne

Chopped tomatoes

1 small chopped chili

Chopped Garlic

Dry Italian herbs

Half cup of cooking cream

Grated pecorino cheese

White wine

Balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly crushed black pepper

A wedge of lemon

Cut 6 thick slices of zucchini with skin on. Marinate with lots of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt. Bake at 200 degrees C for 50 minutes. I started with a cold oven and it still came out well.

Chop the rest of zucchini into small pieces with skin on and blend with cream into a puree. Set aside for later use. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water. Add salt and start to cook penne till al dente. In a frying pan, heat up olive oil and fry garlic and chili till garlic starts to brown. Pour in white wine and continue cooking till the liquid is reduced by half. Pour in zucchini and cream puree. Add salt, pepper and a handful of Italian herbs to taste.  Cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add in grated pecorino cheese and penne. Squeeze some lemon juice over and serve immediately with baked zucchini and chopped tomatoes. Complete the meal with crusty bread and a glass of white.

Thanks for stopping by and please tell me how you like this.

SPICY TOMATO BASIL SOUP

tomato basil soup 1

I have always wanted to make this soup using big fresh sweet juicy tomatoes only to realize it is not going to happen. Such tomatoes don’t exist here. They are all sour. So I tried using Italian canned tomatoes which turn out great!

canned tomatoes

Italian canned tomatoes

Loads of fresh basil

The hottest chili you can find, chopped

One onion, chopped

Fresh milk (use cream if preferred)

Olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly crushed black pepper

In a pot, fry onions and chili in olive oil till onions starts to brown. Pour in tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in all the basil, pepper and salt. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Blend everything in a food processor till smooth. Return to pot and add milk. Bring to boil and serve immediately with crusty bread.

AGLIO OLIO WITH DUCK LIVER

aglio olio w duck liver

I’ve always wanted to do a more daring pasta dish. Although this recipe works for me, it may not be for the fainthearted. And I think sesame oil is just the right ingredient to blend the flavors together. 

Duck liver

Fresh duck liver, cut to bite size

Minced garlic

White wine

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Olive oil

Sesame oil (must have)

Heat up olive oil in a pan and fry the minced garlic till it starts to brown. Put in duck liver follow by salt and pepper. Fry liver till almost tender and add a tablespoon of white wine follow by a glug of sesame oil. It is important not to overcook the liver or it will become hard.

Aglio olio

Your favorite pasta

Fresh chili

Shallots

Garlic

Cherry tomatoes (optional)

White wine

Fresh basil

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Put pasta into a pot of boiling salt water and cook to al dente. While pasta is cooking, chop up shallots, garlic, chili and fry in olive oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes follow by salt and pepper. When garlic starts to brown, pour in a glug of white wine follow by some pasta water. Add chopped fresh basil. When pasta is ready, toss it directly in the pan to soak up the sauce.

Serve pasta with liver and grated parmigiano if desired.