TOMATO SALAD WITH ONIONS, OLIVES AND AGED CHEDDAR

I like black olives in tomato salad or marinara sauce (Click here for my marinara sauce recipe). With the closure of Carrefour Singapore, I had a hard time trying to top up my olive bottle. I can only find green olives in other supermarkets. Black ones that are imported from Spain or Italy seem to be hiding themselves away. Green olives are good too but I just got that special love for black ones.

Cherry tomatoes

Pickled small crunchy onions

Black olives

Aged cheddar

Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

Black pepper

Dry herbs

Extra virgin olive oil

Emulsify olive oil with vinegar, dry herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well with all other ingredients. If you happen to have fresh basil, throw some in. Basil is good friend with tomatoes.

COOK FEEL LOVE

Some of my friends comment that my recipes are not precise. I did not include measurements for the amount of ingredients or seasoning used. The fact is I don’t do that when I am cooking.

I prefer to cook with feel instead of going by the ‘rules’. For a same dish, the amount of seasoning depends on the different quantity of main ingredients for that day. There are times when I may not get to buy enough beef for meatballs so I used more pork or maybe some chicken. Pork is cleaner while chicken is sweet so I got to adjust the amount of salt or pepper accordingly. A pinch of sea salt taste different from rock salt and their taste varies when it came from different regions.

The touch of seasoning will differ again depending on who you are cooking for. Everyone’s taste bud varies. And if I am cooking for my mum, I may stew the meat a little longer so that she won’t have to chew that much. But the sauce may be gluier because of the longer cooking time so I will need to add extra stock or wine to get it right. I have definitely not make the grade many times before I can sum up my experience to finally create it accurately for most dishes.

I always believe seasonings and herbs are meant to enhance the natural taste of the main ingredient. Not to overpower it. Love all ingredients and they will combine beauifully like magic to love you back.

portobello mushroom recipe

aglio olio

garlic, finely sliced or chopped

your favorite pasta

white wine

olive oil

dry herbs or fresh basil

sea salt

black pepper

parmigiano cheese

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and put in pasta to cook till al dente. At the same time, heat up olive oil in a pan, put in garlic to infuse the oil. Add salt, pepper and herbs. When the aroma fills the kitchen, pour in white wine follow by some pasta water. Drain pasta, put into pan and mix well. Top it up with portobello mushroom and grated parmigiano.  

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.

CHICKEN FILLET WITH PESTO SAUCE

 

I’m so glad to have explored making fresh pesto sauce (Click here for the recipe). Once you have it in your fridge, you can create any dish you can come up with. This time, I blend it with pan fried chicken fillet.

Chicken fillet, cut into bite size

Pesto paste

Cherry tomatoes

Olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

Prepare pesto paste by adding extra virgin olive oil to create a smooth sauce.

Here’s a tip when using stainless steel pan for frying. After heating up pan with olive oil, sprinkle some salt before putting in chicken fillet. This will help to avoid meat sticking onto pan while frying. Fry fillet for three minutes on each side and add black pepper.

Off heat and stir in pesto sauce. Garnish with chopped cherry tomatoes and serve immediately. 

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.