Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poached Salmon, Kale Latkes & Whipped Sun Dried Tomatoes Ricotta


It's a Saturday night and I'm having a quiet night in... A luxury I must admit I haven't had in a while and have thoroughly missed.

Today is the 3rd day of Chinese New Year and it seems like the festive mood is only just beginning. Today, I spent the whole day running errands as I will be cooking for all my relatives tomorrow night. Tomorrow will be a full day in the kitchen so I am making the most of this rest while I can. Cannot wait for the family to come over.


Anyway, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this previously but besides running this blog, I spent some time collaborating with David on a website he was starting, called Foodstarz (www.foodstarz.com). This may sound very 21st century, but I actually met David through Instagram (@daves_kitchen), where we quickly became fan of each other's work. David is an amazing home cook from Cologne, Germany and his creations, food styling and photography never ceases to inspire me. Instead of starting a food blog, he wanted to begin a website where other homecooks and chefs are able to share their recipes too. The great thing is that anyone can apply to be a Foodstar (or contributor to the website)! The other intersting thing is that a majority of our members now are actually professional chefs and it's so good to be able to get access to their amazing recipes.

We spent a fair bit of time bouncing ideas back and forth to help get the website off the ground. That said, I must make it clear that this entire website is completely David's idea and he is the creator and driving force of it all. I was just there to assist him where I could. David was very mindful about maintaining the level of integrity and quality of the entire website. To do this, he introduced a panel of Jury which includes him, a chef from the US called Albert and myself, where we would review all Foodstarz applications. It's been a lot of fun and it just amazes me how 2 people who has never met, from completely different parts of the worlds and backgrounds, collaborate on such a fun project like this. David has since become quite a dear friend and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.

Ever since the launch of Foodstarz.com about 6 months ago, I am so happy to see how well Foodstarz is doing right now... The amount of applications we receive and followers on the social media platform seems to be growing each day... All thanks to David's blood, sweat and tears to this project that he is ever so passionate about. The website is such a great resource for amazing food by homecooks like me or professional chefs from all around the world.

Oh, and this recipe here is adapted from one that David shared on the website a while ago and is also a snippet of the kind of food you'll find on the website. It's the kind of recipe that inspires people like me (who are always running out of fresh ideas) to cook something new in the kitchen now and then. It was actually the first time I've poached fish, made latkes or whipped ricotta but won't be my last! The final product is so delicious and I am so glad I made this dish. Do check out the website too, when you get the chance!

www.Foodstarz.com



Poached Salmon, Kale Latkes & Whipped Sun Dried Tomatoes Ricotta

(adapted from this recipe from Foodstarz.com, serves 3 to 4)

Click here to print the recipe

Ingredients

Salmon* :
500g salmon 
2 cups white wine
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 stalk celery (diced)

*Note: Poached salmon may be substituted with smoked salmon

Latkes:
300g potato (grated and squeezed to remove excess liquid)
1 red onion (grated)
2 large red chillies (minced finely)
150g kale
3 eggs
1 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp plain flour
Cracked salt and pepper
5 tbsp of oil

Ricotta:
300g ricotta (low fat)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt (or more)
100g sun dried tomatoes (sliced thinly)
6 tbsp oil from sun dried tomatoes
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
Cracked salt to taste

Other:
Chopped chives (to garnish)
Lemon wedges (to serve)

Method

1. For the poached salmon, place all the ingredients (except for the salmon) in a pot and boil for 15 minutes. Add the salmon to the pot and simmer for 7 minutes or until the meat breaks apart easily with a fork. Remove salmon from the pot and flake the flesh apart with a fork or your fingers. Set aside until ready for use.

2. For the kale latkes, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl (except for the oil). Heat up a pan and once hot, add in the oil followed by a scoop of the latkes mixture. Fry the latkes in batches until golden brown on both sides. Set aside.

3. For the whipped ricotta, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more yoghurt if prefer a thinner consistency.

4. To serve, stack the kale latkes on a plate and top with poached salmon and whipped ricotta. Garnish with chives and serve with lemon wedges on the side.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Stables of Como | Chimac | Hell of the North

1. The Stables of Como, South Yarra


One of the most stunning brunch venues I've ever seen...



Almost looks like a wedding venue eh?





Rumbled eggs with pancetta + truffle pecorino on griddled Dr Marty's crumpets -- $17


Chunky chips with aioli -- $5.50


Salmon + prawn fishcakes, tartare sauce, pickled onion + herb salad -- $21


Gorgeous day...

So, I want to start off by saying how beautiful Stables of Como is. As the name suggests, it was a former horse stable that has been transformed into a cafe...in the Como region. For me, it wasn't the table setting or furniture or whatever that made this place beautiful, it was the location and surroundings... This cafe had a unique location because it was nested in the middle of a park (Como park, to be specific). Loved it. Oh, and the fact that the weather was incredible that day definitely helped.

As much as I enjoyed the setting and environment, I must be honest by saying that I wasn't necessarily won over by the food. The menu was a little uninspiring to me. Nothing particularly exciting to try. Overall, the execution of the dishes weren't bad, but it just tasted okay. Wouldn't say it's particularly better or more memorable than other scrambled eggs, fish cakes or chips that we've had at other cafes. Quite ordinary and forgettable food to me. Like I said, it wasn't bad. But it was just okay. 

That said, still very happy I got to try this place out otherwise I wouldn't have discovered such a stunning cafe. Even though the food wasn't my favourite, I would still recommend it to people who are looking for food in the area because maybe their experience might be better than mine. 

The Stables of Como on Urbanspoon

2. Chimac, West Melbourne




Spicy Pork Taco -- $15


Kimchi Quesadilla -- $15


Oozy gooey cheese goodness...


Retro Korean School Lunch -- $15
Seared spam rice bowl with stir fried kimchi, sunny up fried egg, fried shallots, mozzarella, garlic granule



Tofu on Kimchi Field -- $22
Tofu, cheese and caramelised kimchi



Bulgogi Burrito -- $15


Seafood Pancake -- $17
Prawns, squid, scallion


Chimac Chicken -- $32
Ultra Crispy & Wonder Soy


Chimac Chicken -- $32
Bloody Sweet & Wonder Soy


Kimchi Cheese Fries

Chimac!! Hands down one of my favourite discoveries of 2014. So much so that I've honestly mentioned this place to so many of my friends last year. It's great. What sets this place apart is that this is a Korean Mexican FUSION restaurant. It's not the only one in Melbourne but they do it here really, really well. I'll be honest, I was one of those people that have always been highly skeptical about fusion cuisines, especially when it's an Asian fusion food as it always quite horrible more often than not. I'm okay with modern asian food, but not asian fusion... Ugh.

That said, I am always more than happy to have my stubborn and narrow minded preconceived notions about food shaken proven wrong so I can learn to be open to more new experiences... Which was what this place did for me. I mean, Korean AND Mexican??? I can't think of 2 cuisines that can be any more different to one another... But it works. 

I loved everything about my meal the first time I was here so much that I found myself back there the following week. It didn't take too long before I was back there again several times after that. First, let's talk about this fusion thing. If you think about it, taco/burrito/quesadillas really are a great vessel for anything flavourful (like Kimchi or Korean Bulgogi meats) so there really is no reason why it has to stop at Mexican food. The other reason why this works is that both Mexican and Korean food uses a fair amount of melted cheese in their food, which makes the combination rather familiar and not too foreign at all. My favourite of the night was definitely the quesadilla. Baked till crisp with a gooey melted cheese layer against the bulgogi or kimchi filling. Absolutely SMASHING.

Besides that, the other highlights of my meal here was definitely the KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN (KFC) and Kimchi Cheese Fries. The chicken here is hands down my favourite one in Melbourne and trust me, I've had my fair share over the years. At the end of the day, it's not about finding out which KFC is the best, per se, as most places do it slightly differently so it's more about finding one that suits your liking the most. For me, the batter was a great balance of crisp and crunch (yes, there is a difference). It was thin and crisp but still had a bit of substance and crunch to back it up. Plus, the sauces were so delicious and not too overbearing. Finally, how incredibly juicy my chicken. Fantastic. As for the kimchi cheese fries, it was AWESOME. Bit of kimchi relish, mayo, coleslaw with a few jalapenos to finish. I would have these kimchi cheese fries over the standard American chilli cheese fries any day.

Overall, the food here is absolutely delicious. I'd definitely recommend the retro school lunch for any spam lovers out there. The kimchi and tofu is delicious because the other reason why I love the kimchi in Chimac (and you'll find that it's different to any other Korean restaurants) is that they fry and reduce their kimchi so that it caramelises, thickens and intensifies in flavour and fragrance. Beautiful. So, if you haven't been to Chimac yet I highly suggest you get your butt there soon. Who knows, I might even see you guys there since I'm always finding excuses to go there every opportunity I can.

Chimac on Urbanspoon

Chimac plus on Urbanspoon

3. Hell of the North, Fitzroy









Pulled Pork & Gruyere Doughnut -- $7 each


Crispy Prawn Fritters, Tamarind Sauce -- $7 each


Mussels, Sauce Mouclade, Jamon -- $22


Spring Lamb, Sauce Bagna Cauda -- $32



Gratin Dauphinois -- $8



Free Range Pig, Sauce a la Diable -- $32


Braised Red Cabbage, Manchego -- $8


Grass Fed Beef, Marrow Butter, Sauce -- $32



I got a random text one day from a former coursemate from my Masters degree who had moved back to Indonesia that he happened to be in town for a few days for an impromptu trip. Soon after, we found ourself here for a catchup dinner with another friend. I first heard about this place from my friend Morgan who had first introduced me to LBSS Cafe and also Chimac (yep!) so I definitely trusted his recommendations. 

I had a bit of trouble finding the place as it was along an alley and there wasn't any clear signage of the place but I soon realised that it was behind this bright but mysterious looking yellow door. Do look out for this door if you're having trouble finding the place too. So, in I go and low and behold, this place which looked rather unassuming from the outside, was bustling with people inside. And on a weeknight too, if I may add. I've been to Smith St a bazillion times over the years but how have I not noticed this place before until now.

Anyway, cocktails were had as soon as we sat down, which tasted delicious. We started off our meal with the doughnuts which were really tasty. Next, the prawns... OMG THE PRAWNS. They were amazing!! Our eyes lit wide open as soon as we took the first bite. So big in size and can only imagine how much bigger they must've been before they were cooked. Perfectly cooked with a nice crunchy texture. Flavour of the basil leaf with the sweet but dark tamarind sauce was a match made in heaven. Not sure how French it is to use tamarind but who cares. It was so damn delicious. 

Initially, the 3 of us shared 1 prawn amongst ourselves (oh, the naivety) but as soon as we finished it, we IMMEDIATELY flagged the closest wait staff we could find and ordered 3 more. Had to be done because we knew deep down that if we didn't order another serve of prawns to ourselves and it didn't matter if the meal turned out to be great or not, we knew that we would still be thinking about that damn prawn if we didn't. We were telling the manager how damn good the prawns were when he walked past and his response was, "Well, we'd better make sure we give people bloody good prawns if we were charing them $7 each". What!!! Our jaws almost hit the ground after we heard that as we had no idea that it actually costed that much. That said, it was all good as we had a huge laugh about the whole thing because I kid you not, it was worth every cent to us and I would recommend people try it too. I may have set a mountainous expectation of the prawns here after this post but that's just how we felt.

ANYHOO, besides the prawns, the mussels were really good too. Plump and juicy, set in a creamy and delectable sauce. The jamon added the perfect saltiness to the dish too. Moving on, we had the pork, beef and lamb (basically every meat main they had on the menu). Each of these meat dishes came with a grilled component and a braised one (good concept, I thought). I enjoyed the grilled lamb the most (especially with that thin layer of skin on top yum) but did find the grilled beef and pork to be a bit tough. The braised meats were cooked very well but was definitely on the salty side. We did mention this to the waiter who did say that yes, that particular chef did have a tendency of being slightly heavy handed with the salt. Lucky we had the sour coleslaw and cheesy gratin to offset the saltiness.

Overall, I still really enjoyed my meal here at Hell of the North despite the meat mains. I think there's a lot of things to like from their menu and would definitely come back for the tasty cocktails, entrees and not to forget... The PRAWNS!! The place is quite the gem and I would recommend it to people because of the great environment and also for the fact that it's European food with a twist -- something different.

Hell of the North on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Asparagus, Pea & Mint Fettuccine with Smoked Trout


Hello!

Remember me?

I know it's a bit late for me to say, but Happy 2015 to you all! I must start off with the predictable (but sincere) apology for the lack of activity on this site. I've had a great Christmas back in Malaysia with the family followed by the most amazing trip to Japan and Hong Kong with my Mum & Sister after that. It was a great time away and something that really rejuvenated me mentally after another year of work. Besides that, it really made me appreciate my family even more than I already do. There honestly is nothing that makes me happier than spending time with them.

I may have been quiet here but my Instagram page is quite active and something I update very often. I think social media is a great tool for me to celebrate the happy things in life (which doesn't always involve Food too believe it or not) so I try to share something almost every day. Do connect with me there as well if you are on Instagram: @winceeee


Anyway, this recipe is actually one from the archives and something I made about this time last year but never got around to posting. I first saw it on TV when I was flipping through channels one day and I was a little bit intrigued by the flavours and ingredients (there was lots of milk and vegetables). Though to be frank, I really wanted to make it because I feel like I haven't used my stick blender for a while.

Side note: Stick blenders are very cheap to buy these days and can cost as little as $20 so would definitely recommend getting one. Very handy to use in the kitchen.

I must say that it didn't taste like what I would expect it to from how it looks. It was actually very light despite the thick creamy looking sauce, and that's because it's made with milk and flour instead of cream. The sauce had a good body from the blend of abundance veg but the mint is so cleverly disguised that it is quite unexpected but very fittingly lifts and refreshes the entire dish. I liked it a lot. Now, the flakes of hot smoked trout is optional if you want to make this dish vegetarian but complementary to the flavours.

Overall, very light and refreshing flavours. Definitely a very spring and summer kind of pasta to eat. Or when you feel like you haven't had an adequate dose of vegetable intake. Am trying to get back into the swing of blogging again so hope to see you guys very soon! Can't wait to blog about my Japan trip =)

____________________________________________

Asparagus, Pea & Mint Fettuccine with Smoked Trout

(taken from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, serves 3 to 4)


Ingredients

300g dried fettuccine
1 bunch spring onions
1 bunch asparagus (approx. 300g)
1 big bunch of fresh mint
Olive oil
300g frozen peas
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml milk
250g hot smoked trout
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (to serve)

Method


1. Place a pot of water on the boil and cook fettuccine as per packet instructions. Drain the pasta but reserve about half a cup of pasta liquid. Set aside.


2. While the pasta is cooking, trim off the edge of spring onion and roughly slice it. Roughly slice the asparagus and leave the tips whole. Set aside the asparagus tips. Roughly slice the mint.

3. Heat up a small pot with olive oil and add the sliced spring onions, asparagus and mint. Stir for about 1 minute. 

4. Add in the flour and stir. Pour in the milk and bring the pot to a boil, then simmer on low. Take a stick blender and puree the sauce until smooth.

5. Turn the heat for the sauce down to low and simmer. Flake in the trout and add the asparagus tips to the pot. Allow to simmer for few more minutes.

6. Add the cooked pasta and pasta water to the pot. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a grating of parmesan cheese.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Perfect Roast Ribeye Recipe


The perfect roast beef... An absolute joy to make and eat for this festive season
Meat so soft and succulent most people thought it was lamb

My relatives and I had our annual Christmas dinner last Saturday. Suffice to say lots of laughter and overeating was involved that night. These Christmas dinners are normally a potluck and because I wasn't on turkey duty, I decided to make another protein that was big and easy to cook.

I first watched this video from Chef John on Youtube about his perfect roast beef a few years ago and remember it vividly because he mentioned that the secret ingredient to a perfect roast beef is MATH. Yup... Mathematics.

Basically, he was able to work out a formula to determine the ideal cooking time for a beef based on its weight. Now, his original formula requires the oven to go up to 250°C but because my oven temperature tells me that the maximum my oven will go up to is 240°C, I've decided to modify his formula slightly and it still worked like a treat. 

Basically, the cooking time at 240°C is = weight (in pounds) x 6 
For example, my beef was 5 pounds and multiply that by 6, the cooking time was exactly 30 minutes.

Please note that for this recipe to work, the beef MUST be in room temperature. 



The other interesting thing about this recipe is also the method. It was interesting how after you've roasted the beef for calculated time, you switch off the oven the immediately (but don't open the oven door!!!) and allow to rest in the oven for 2 hours.

I've made this roast beef recipe twice now and both times the beef turned out GREAT.


This method of letting it cook/rest in the residual heat just produced the most amazing texture for the roast beef. First, I must say that I wasn't a fan of roast beef for a long time because I've been scarred by it so many times in the past. The meat for most roast beefs tend to be very rough, tough and fibrous. However with this method, what you get is a really soft, juicy and succulent meat. In fact, you could hardly feel the fibres in the meat and most people mistook my beef for lamb! It was absolutely delicious.



Bought this jar of Gold Mustard with Truffle Oil from Yarra Valley a few weeks ago and decided to serve it with the beef... 

Anyway, this recipe is insanely easy to do and yields fantastic results. I cannot speak more highly of it and definitely recommend you make this for your friends or family if you're not on turkey duty this festive occasion. It feeds a whole family and barely requires you to do anything so frees up time for you to prepare other dishes. It's great. Please try this for yourself.



Herbes de Provence 
(made with a variety of dried herbs I got from the market including rosemary, parsley, fennel seeds, thyme, marjoram and most importantly... Lavender)


Have you ever seen GOLD mustard before? It's so exciting. Costed me $14 but it's so cool! Especially great to serve on special occasions like these.



Perfect Roast Ribeye Recipe

(adapted from this recipe by Food Wishes)

Click here to print the recipe

Ingredients

2.3kg ribeye on the bone (room temperature)
250g butter (softened)
1/3 to 1/2 cup dried herbs of choice
3 tbsp cracked black pepper
Salt

Method

1. Preheat oven to 240°C. Mix the softened butter, dried herbs and black pepper in a bowl. 

2. Spread the butter all over the entire surface of the beef. Season all over with a generous amount of salt.

3. Place the beef on a baking tray. Place the tray in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Note: Cooking time depends on weight of beef. Convert weight in kilogram to pounds and multiply by 6 to determine number of minutes. (E.g. for this case: 2.3kg = 5.07lb. Total time = 5.07 x 6 = 30 minutes)

4. After 30 minutes, immediately turn off the oven (without opening the oven door!) and allow the beef to rest in the oven for exactly 2 hours. The residual heat will continue to cook the beef.

5. After 2 hours, remove beef from oven and carve to serve. No need to allow the meat to rest anymore.



Soft, pink, juicy and succulent... Absolute perfection.
You have to try it too!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Strawberry & Cherry Crumble Recipe


Dessert idea for this festive season

Oozy, bubbling and piping hot... Perfect with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Oh man, it honestly just hit me yesterday that we only have TWO WEEKS to go until Christmas (!!!). The 2 following reactions ensues:

1) Wondering where the hell the year went and how time could pass so damn quick
2) Thinking about the amount of work I need to get through before our office shuts down for Christmas

Both of the above was starting to make me freak the geek out.

No, really. I always take for granted how quickly time could pass me by. There's so many things that I want to do that I didn't get a chance to. People I've said I wanted to catch up with but didn't get to see as much. It's almost depressing, really. 

Have I accomplished the goals that I set out to at the start of the year? Have I had a fulfilling year both in my professional and personal life? Have I managed to either cultivate or nurture meaningful relationships with people in my life?

Why do I feel like time's just flown past and I haven't done as much as I'd hope. Or maybe I did, I just didn't realise it. I honestly feel like I've been running a mad race almost every day of this year. Maybe it's time I took time to just stop. And reflect. 

After all, it's not the quantity of time spent, but the quality... Right?



Anyway, I apologise for the melancholy of this post. It's just that this recipe reminded me of Christmas. And Christmas last year reminds me of Christmas this year being around the corner. And Christmas coming soon reminds of the year coming to an end and wondering where the year has gone.

Ok enough.

Back to this recipe, my cousins and I normally have an early Christmas dinner at their place in Templestowe every year and it's honestly a time that we really, really look forward to. It's honestly so much fun. All the food, fun decorations, gifts exchange and best of all... The laughter and company. I just love it so much. As you can see from the photo below, the food setup is INSANEEE everyone has so much fun with it!!

Anyway, it's normally a potluck so I actually whipped up this Strawberry & Cherry Crumble for the occasion last year (which explains the lame food styling, or lack there of). I enjoy warm desserts especially when they're served with ice cream. Strawberries and cherries are in season this time of year so it was great too. I didn't get a chance to share the recipe last year but here it is now.

It's honestly a very simple recipe that everyone can make. Also, perfect thing to whip up for your friends and family this festive season too!

We're having our Christmas dinner again this Saturday and can I just say how bloody excited I am for it WOOHOO!

Happy Early Christmas, everybody!


The seriously AMAZING spread at our family's Christmas dinner last year!!!


Strawberry & Cherry Crumble Recipe

(an original recipe)


Ingredients

For the filling:
1.2kg strawberries (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp sugar
200g cherries
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

For the crumble:
500g plain flour
300g butter (chilled and cubed)
2 cups walnuts/almonds (crushed finely)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Add all the ingredients for the filling into a pan and allow to simmer for approx. 30 minutes on low heat (stirring occasionally) or until the ingredients are softened.

2. Taste the filling and adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding more sugar if you wish. I prefer to leave the filling slightly tart/sour. Transfer the filling into a baking dish.

3. Place the flour and butter in a large bowl and press together with a fork until thoroughly mixed together and resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, you could place blitz the flour and butter in a food processor. 

4. Add the remaining ingredients for the crumble into the bowl and mix together until well combined. Pour the crumble mixture over the filling in the baking dish and place it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes or until the crumble turns golden brown.

5. Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream.