Thursday, November 30, 2006


i'm back in melbourne but also in the process of moving to a new apartment. while utensils are put away, i find great delight in visiting--for lunch--Ken Zan (GPO), Degraves Expresso, Blufish (Central Pl), Supper Inn (chinatown, off Lt Bourke), Mekong (Swanston), Mr Tulk (La Trobe/ Swanston), and--for dinner, lunch or just drinks--Cookie (Swanston) and Hairy Canary (Lt Collins).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sautéed Eggplant and Mushroom with Mint Vinaigrette

I made this for lunch on my birthday, but i didn't expect it to be any good.
turns out, eggplant, mintsauce and mushrooms go really well with pasta.


and i've developed a special liking to wholewheat pasta. :) it just tastes better.

as for the mint sauce, i just had that lying around in the kitchen.
(i'll tell you how to make mint sauce from scratch near christmas time)

here we go.


1 serving of wholewheat spaghetti
1 eggplant / brinjal
8-10 white small mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion
25g butter (or 1cm of the stick)
2 tbsp ready made mint sauce
mixed herbs + salt + pepper to taste

some olives. if you like them.


Step 1: Make pasta
you know the drill.
bring a pot of water to a boil, throw in some salt and some pasta.
cook till soft or if you like, al dente (read: chewy)
meddle with everything else while this is happening.

Step 2: Preparing the vegetables
slice the eggpant at a 30 degree angle, making each slice no more than 1cm thich. (thiis so the eggplant gets nice and soft and sweet more quickly.)
slice the mushrooms and chop up the onion and garlic, then set everything aside.

Step 3: Saute the vegetables
heat up a pan and melt your butter in it. throw in half of the chopped garlic and all of the onion and fry till fragrant.
now, throw in the eggplant and let the butter and heat soften it. halfway through, throw in the mushrooms as well.

now, you may find that the pan is getting a little dry. no fear. its time to put in the mint sauce.

the vinegar from the mint sauce adds moisture to the vegetables (which should now be letting out some juices of their own) and thus, you have a sauce.

add salt, pepper and mixed herbs to taste.
(watch the salt, remember, your butter is already salted.)

Step 4: Toss it in the pan
fish out your pasta and toss it in the pan (which should now be on med-low heat so as not to overcook the vegetables while tossing)

also, throw in the reminder garlic.
(i always do this, because fresh garlic is what makes pasta smell so nice.)

Final Serve.
plate your pasta and garnish with more mixed herbs and olives, if you have them. :)

happy birthday me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cottage Pie.

Cottage Pie.

according to Food Timeline's entry on Shepherd's Pie, this English dish has its origins in the late Middle Ages (i.e. mid-16th Century AD). what began as meat served in pastry "coffyns" (coffins?) was only very late in the 19th Century cooked with mashed potatoes; the latter was a New World produce. Supposedly popular in the Northern regions of England and Scotland where sheep were in abundance (hence cooked with mutton and the name Shepherd's Pie), the pie became the people's answer to asian fried rice i.e. a creative way to rehash leftovers.

Shepherd's Pie = cooked with mutton
Cottage Pie = cooked with beef
Fisherman's Pie = cooked with fish

thesedays, it is but a relatively fuss-free dish for if/when you need to feed either an army of people or a ryce.

(for meat base)
500g beef mince
3-4 clove, garlic
5-6 cup mushrooms
2-3 sticks, celery
4-5 baby carrots
1 onion (using brown)
2-3 tomatoes (using roma)
1 can, cream of mushroom (not in pic; using campbell's)

(for mash)
3-4 potatoes (using brown)
4-5 bunch, parsley
2-3 tbsp, fresh milk
1-2 tbsp, butter

(for cheese topping)
Pizza Mix (cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella)

you will also need a baking pan of substantial depth, subject to how thick you want your pie to be.

Cottage Pie: Ingredients.


Step 1: Preparing Meat Mix!
finely chop up all your vegetables, separating the garlic and onion individually from the rest.

oil and heat up a sizable pan over a medium flame. when hot, throw your onions and beef mince into the pot and keep stirring. depending on how strong you like your garlic, you can either throw it in at this stage, or together with the rest of the vegetables later.

let it cook for 4-5 minutes before you throw the rest of the chopped up vegetables into the pan. don't forget to stir! while the vegetables are still cooking, add the cream of mushroom into the mixture. turn the heat down to a smaller flame, let it slowly simmer to a boil, and continue to boil for a while (3-4 minutes).

Cottage Pie: Cooked Meat Mix.

when that's done, pour the mixture into your baking pan and set it aside to cool for 0.5-1 hour. if you don't let it cool properly, the mash isn't going to sit well on your meat mixture. at this point, some people are known to put the meat mix into either the fridge or freezer even.

Making Mash Potato.
skin the potato before you put them in a pot of water to boil. add some salt into the water and let the potato boil for about 10 minutes or until it feels soft enough to mash.

meanwhile, mince or finely chop the parsley up.

when done, remove the pot from the fire and drain the water away. you may begin mashing the potatoes in the pot, adding the parsley, milk and butter in at this stage. mash and blend well until you get a relatively consistent and smooth mash.

Cottage Pie: Mashing Potatoes.

Baking the First Two Layers.
set your oven to preheat at 200 degree C.

apply the mash potato on top of the meat mix which by now should have cooled in the baking pan. when you have the meat mix nicely covered with mash, score the layer of mash with a fork.

Cottage Pie: Fancy Abstract Scores On Mash atop Meat Mix.

when ready, put the whole baking pan into your oven and let it cook for 15-20 minutes. remove the pan from the oven after. apply the cheese on top of the mash, ensuring that you've got all the mash more or less covered.

Cottage Pie: Cheese Layered Baked Mash.

return the pan into the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until your cheese turns a lovely golden brown!

Cottage Pie: Cooked.

Final Serve.

Cottage Pie: Final Serve.

ryce and i both enjoyed it quite a bit. though this version of the cottage pie is a little shallow on the mash potato. so if you're a fan of mash potato, you might have to up the number of potatoes in your attempt.

also, i realised that the meat mixture was a bit too wet for me. but this is more of a problem if you're gunning for presentation points like i do. to ease the problem, you can always drain some gravy from the meat mix before you apply the mash on top.


ETA: 25 1615 November 2006 Saturday.
my friend fiq made a mince beef mix last week by frying the mince beef with tomato ketchup, black pepper and i think a bit of soy sauce. it tasted great! so ketchup might be an easy and inexpensive substitute for the cream of mushroom.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rosemary Chicken with Vegetable Side.

obviously, i haven't been updating. the reason is that doing nothing can be an absolutely major preoccupation when you're back home in singapore for a holiday. there're so many ways to loaf, how does one even begin?

i know, i know, i know, woe is me.

what is most refreshing, however, is the fact that i'm again back to being looked after by my dear family (aka mom and grandma). it's been a while since someone else made sure that meals are decided and prepared without my active input--if i had any input it would be a specification on what i want to eat. as much as i aspire to be the bitch of the kitchen who decides what is and isn't cooking, i have to say i could very well get used to the life of being served.

on a cooking note, there're a couple of family recipes that i intend to learn while i'm back. among the mean dishes that my grandma is capable of producing, i'm particularly interested in mastering her Dark Sauce Pork, Lotus Root & Pork Rib Soup, and Hainanese Fried Vegetables. highly doubt i'd have the chance to figure out seasonal dishes like Longan Ginkgo Nut Soup, and rice dumplings this time around, but we'd see how things go.

until i learn those precious family recipes, i'd instead be clearing the backlog of recipes attempted back at ryce's place a month ago, beginning with a recipe introduced to me by my very good sydney-sider friend, fiq.

(because fiq remains skeptical towards both my cooking and fledgling relationship with the oven, i'd disclaim that the recipe has been reworked to my liking, and should therefore not reflect on him in any way--especially not on his mastery over his own kitchen and food.)

Rosemary Chicken: Final Serve with Steamed Rice.

Ingredients. (See below for update.)
(for the chicken)
1 whole chicken (small)
2 onions (brown for us)
5-6 clove, garlic
5 inch, ginger
.25 cup, rosemary
2 lemons
3 tbsp, honey
2 tbsp, olive oil
2 tsp, salt
.5 cup, dry white wine (i'm using a semillon chardonnay instead)

Rosemary Chicken: Ingredients.

(for the vegetables)
5-6 baby carrots
.5 bunch, cauliflower
2 lemon leftover, from the chicken prep.
4-5 potatoes (missing in this round because we didn't have them)
(ignore the leek-like vegetable in my photo)

Rosemary Chicken: Vegetables for Roasting.


Step 1: Preparing the chicken!
dice and even mince as fine as you can the onions, garlic, ginger and rosemary. mix them together and juice the lemons in. this is going to be the stuffing for your chicken.

rub the salt, honey and olive oil onto the chicken, remembering that you need to get some of it under the skin. when done, stuff the chicken with the mixture. i like to stuff some of it under the skin as well.

leave the stuffed-up chicken in a pot, and let it marinate in wine for at least 2 hours.

Rosemary Chicken: Stuffed and Marinating.

Step 2: Preparing the Vegetables.
other than the lemons, chop everything else up, and line the bottom of your baking tray with the vegetables. throw the lemon remains in as well. as the chicken cooks, the juices from the chicken will fall in with the vegetables to give you an interesting gravel.

Step 3: Roasting!
preheat your oven to 150 degrees C. place the chicken on top of the vegetables, and pour the rest of the marinade into the tray. set the tray in when ready.

every .5 hour, you'd need to baste the chicken with the marinade/ gravy in the tray. make sure to flip the chicken as well.

the chicken should cook for at least 1.5 hours, until it turns a nice golden brown or when the juices run clear.

remove from oven when done.

Rosemary Chicken: Chicken and Vegetable Side.

Step 4: Remove Stuffing.
pretty self-explanatory, use a spoon to remove the stuffing from your chicken, and have it mixed into your vegetables.

Rosemary Chicken: Removing the Stuffing.

Final Serve.
check your vegetables for taste, and throw some pepper in for taste.

Rosemary Chicken: Roasted Vegetable with Stuffing.

you can either serve the chicken whole like me, or chop it up into more decent looking proportions :)

Rosemary Chicken.

Additional Notes.
fiq recommends that the ingredients for the stuffing from Step 1 be blended into a liquid, or at least into a thick paste. his version of this chicken is left in this marinate overnight. also, he recommends some soy sauce (abt 2 tbsp), although he doesn't use any wine in his recipe.

(look out for my attempt at a Cottage Pie, and a Chocolate Fudge Cake topped with Chocolate Mousse over the next few days...)

ETA: 4 1422 April 2007, Wednesday
after several attempts, i've come to the conclusion that:
(A) there's no need for honey,
(B) Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (mine's always a Wolf Blass) is a good dry white,
(C) there needs to be enough wine to reasonably submerge the chicken--no worries, you won't inebriate, at least 3cups therefore.
(D) you should replace brown with red/ spanish onions,
(E) it's good to let your chicken marinate for 24 hours, and
(F) there's no need for soy sauce.