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

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FRENCH BATARD

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This is a happy moment!

From basic white bread to artisan bread that bakes in a pot, I’ve been trying to search for the recipe to make the kind of crusty bread that I like to be my daily staple. It was until I chance upon a 6 part video posted by King Arthur’s flour baking factory (click here for the first video) demonstrating French Baguette and Batard using the traditional way. It seems time consuming but the result is amazing and just the way I like it.

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The overall preparation time takes 5 hours but I realized it is not a trouble at all as I normally spend Sundays tidying up my home and explore new recipes so I can still carry on with my activities while the dough is rising.

The little drama came during my second attempt when my dough was in the final rising stage. During pre-heating, my oven decides to retire after a 10 good years of partnership.

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In that split moment, I was lost. Don’t know what to do with the dough. Throwing it away is my last option. Purchasing a new oven won’t make it in time. Then Mr Raju appears in my mind. He is the helpful neighbor who brings us nice food during Deepavali. When I approach him for help, he stopped whatever he is doing and lends me his oven without a slight hesitation.  

The over rising time and the transferring flattened the dough. My hard earned French Batard came out a little flat but it was good just the way I like it.

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This recipe makes one small loaf.

1/4 tsp dry instant yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar

All-purpose flour (enough to mix until it sticks together and away from the bowl)

 

My Sunday routine

8:00 am- Mixing and Kneading

In a bowl, mix two cups of flour with salt and sugar. Mix yeast into water. Pour yeast with water into flour and start mixing. Add in more flour and mix until the dough sticks together into a ball and away from the bowl. Sprinkle some flour on table and knead dough for 10 minutes. Sprinkle more flour when dough gets sticky during the kneading process. Place it back to the bowl and cover with moist towel to rise for 2 hours.

8:20am – Morning run

10:00 am – Folding

Sprinkle some flour on table. Spread dough on table and stretch out on 4 sides. Fold all sides inwards like wrapping a present and place dough seam side down back into bowl. Cover with moist towel to rise for 1 hour.

10:05 am – Breakfast and grocery shopping at the local market

11:00 am – Pre-shaping

Sprinkle some flour on table. Place dough seam side up and pat on it to release extra gas. Fold the sides to the centre and shape it into a ball. Place dough seam side down back to bowl. Cover with moist towel to rise for 1 hour.

11:05 am – Tidy up home

12:00 noon – Final shaping

Sprinkle some flour on table. Place dough seam side up and pat on it to release extra gas. Shape it into a Batard and place dough seam side down on baking dish. Cover with moist towel to rise for 1 hour.

12:05 pm – Rest and relax

1:00 pm – Baking

Pre-heat your oven to 425F. After slitting the dough, spray with water and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

I am now baking with my new oven that produces great results.

french batard 1b

french batard 2

 

BASIC BRUSCHETTA

Ever since I discover my love for Italian food, I don’t think I can part with olive oil, tomatoes and basil anymore. Just these basic ingredients combine to create a simple dish can make me a very happy man.

It’s another lazy Sunday with a gentle November sun. After a fruitful run up the hill opposite my home followed by my favorite bowl of steaming hot tasty prawn noodle soup from the food center for breakfast, I simply refuse to move for the rest of the day. It was until my hungry stomach wake me up to lure me into the kitchen.

Bread is mostly available in my kitchen with cherry tomatoes chilling in the fridge and fresh basil along my corridor. I wanted some extra flavor so I took the trouble to blend some garlic with olive oil and spread onto pieces of French bread before grilling.

For some reason I just feel like tasting lots of olive oil and basil that day. So I tear up the basil into big pieces instead of chopping them fine.

Simply with crushed black pepper, sea salt and chopped cherry tomatoes, I indulge myself to a satisfying lunch accompanied with lemonade made from fresh lemon juice, salt, sugar and soda water.