WINE FOOD MUSIC

I cook with music and it must be there from the moment I draw my knife. I normally keep my mini hi-fi tuned to our local station Class 95FM with non-stop love songs from the 80s and 90s. These are songs with the power to arouse my emotions and awaken all my senses  to create the right aroma, taste, texture and color for my dish with love.

Along with music, tasting a glass of wine when I am cooking increases the sensation to elevate the whole process to a different level. It keeps my momentum going when I need to take short breaks while waiting for the fragrance of the garlic to infuse into the olive oil or when my marinara sauce is simmering away with fresh basil, onions, garlic and Italian canned tomatoes.

Something that adds to the happiness is to appreciate all the ingredients in front of me. I give huge respect to the farmers who had put in hard work to plant, rear and cultivate all the beautiful produce that are able to help me create my dish. No ingredients are to be taken for granted. Every grain of rice, every dash of black pepper is precious and should be treated with great value.

When you cook with passion and love, people can taste it.

PESTO SAUCE

Finally after ten weeks, my sweet basil that I have planted from seed is ready for the first actual harvest and pruning. That adds another happy moment in my life. Immediately, I turned them into my long awaited pesto sauce.

Lots of fresh sweet basil

Pine nuts

2 cloves of garlic

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly crushed black pepper

Grated parmigiano-reggiano

Wake pine nuts by toasting in a pan over medium heat without oil. Other than parmigiano-reggiano,combine all ingredients in a blender and mix using high speed. Add enough olive oil at different intervals during blending to create a smooth paste. In a bowl, blend in parmigiano-reggiano into paste with a fork and it’s done!

Bring water in a pot to boil and add salt. Add in pasta and cook to al dente, drain well and mix in pesto sauce.

You can store the excess sauce in the fridge for other use. To my surprise, it tastes extremely good when I use it to make ham sandwich.

BASIL

A small handful of sweet basil can cost more than a plate of chicken rice in Singapore. When my hobby in Italian cooking takes me from using dried herbs to fresh basil and rosemary, I took the challenge to plant my own and start a little herbs corner along my corridor.

When I first started, I had a hard time finding sweet basil plants and I am not sure it can grow well in this hot and humid climate. There was no answer found on the internet. It is as if no one on this island is planting it or there are just too few of them wanting to post any tips.

My failure came after I tried to replant my first pot into more portions. The plant went dead with wrong soil and bad drainage. I didn’t even know I have to water it every day and that’s when I realized it shouldn’t be plant like a flower.

Unwilling to be defeated, I did more research and discover the right way of planting by putting pebbles in the pot and use compose instead of soil. The next few plants supplied me with good leaves over nine months. Yes, sweet basil can survive in Singapore.

When I want to create my first pesto sauce, I realized the supply from just a few stalks is not enough. I got greedy and went into another phase of research learning how to plant from seeds. That will allow me to have enough supply and create dishes that I long to try. 

After I gather enough knowledge to start, I am unable to find sweet basil seeds on the island until I chance upon it in Switzerland during my trip to Europe. I was overjoyed! Then luck came by when I met an experience gardener in a nursery who taught me how to harvest my own seeds. I’m all ready to take on this challenge.

CHICKEN WINGS WITH BABY CARROTS IN TOMATO SAUCE

 

Deep fried chicken wings can be found everywhere in Singapore. As much as I love it like many others, the burning weather over here do not allow us to have it as often as we like before a sore throat develops commonly follow by cough.  Today, I turn it into Italian style.  

Wings

10 mid joint wings

Olive oil

Salt

Black pepper

Season wings with salt and black pepper. In a pan, heat up olive oil over medium high fire and fry wings till golden brown. Put wings aside for later use. Add left over juice into sauce. When sauce is ready, put in the wings and simmer for 15 minutes.

Sauce

Refer to my post meatballs in tomato sauce . This time, I substitute grated carrots with baby carrots.

ROSEMARY

Since many years back, I have been longing to plant my own herbs for cooking.

Shifting to my current home made my dream come true.

I made full use of my corridor which is at most times fill with great sunshine and wind.

Once it’s planted correctly, rosemary grows like a weed and can last for a long while.

Chicken, beef and potatoes are good friends with rosemary.

The next thing I want to try is to scent a small bottle of olive oil by dipping a few stalks of rosemary with black peppercorn.