Grilled vanilla peaches on truffled ricotta rye

Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (23 of 26)

VANILLA DREAM | Vanilla and maple glazed peaches layered on a  ‘truffled-up’ ricotta rye toast.

If the thought alone of grilled peaches is enough to excite your taste buds, try adding a smidgen of vanilla bean and a dash of maple before subjecting them to grill pan. Trust me, you won’t regret. It adds that extra oomph of sophistication to coat the soft, warm fruit.

These grilled peaches are as versatile as you want them to be. Serve them as a dessert, with vanilla bean ice-cream and drizzle of warm balsamic if you may. For me though, since the occasion was to host  a birthday lunch for my dear friend, I decided to deploy them as a convincing starter.

With the aid of creamy ricotta – which I magnificently combined with a drizzling of Pukura’s much loved truffle flavoured extra virgin olive oil (yes, going gourmet I am) – you can transform this simple fruit into an attractive starter even for the most discerning palate. Simply grill some sourdough or rye bread and spread a generous layer of the truffled-up ricotta cheese, then top with two slices of these grilled peaches. Finish with a drizzle of reduced balsamic glaze and chopped mint for garnish. Voila…a crowd pleaser.

Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (18 of 26)

A simple to make crowd pleaser sure to impress even the most discerning palate.

Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (26 of 26)

Crostini anyone?

Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (20 of 26)

Grilled Vanilla Peaches on Truffled Ricotta Rye

Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (12 of 26)

INGREDIENTS (makes 5-6):

  • 250g tub of ricotta
  • 6 slices of rye bread, cut 1 cm thick and about a palm size each.
  • 2 peaches, cut into wedges  (1/8th each).
  • 1 vanilla bean (substitute for powder of essence if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of Pukara’s truffle extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of truffle salt (optional)
  • Balsamic glaze (or reduce one cup of balsamic vinegar)
  • Handful of shredded mint (for garnish)

Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (19 of 26)

METHOD:

  1. Wash peaches, pat dry. Slice open and take out seed. Cut into 8 wedges.Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (7 of 26).jpg
  2. Mix cut peaches with vanilla bean (I have a vanilla bean grinder) and tablespoon of maple syrup.Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (8 of 26)
  3. Turn heat on grill pan on high. After pan heats up, layer wedges on the pan and grill until beautiful char marks form on both sides (roughly 2-3 minutes each side). Be careful not to overdo it.Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (10 of 26)
  4. In the meantime, mix the ricotta with the truffle oil using a tablespoon. Add a pinch of truffle salt (or regular salt) and combine thoroughly.Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (2 of 26)Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (4 of 26)
  5. Toast the rye or sourdough bread on a grill pan or oven. Generously spread the done up ricotta over each toast. Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (11 of 26)
  6. Layer 2 grilled peaches on top of each crostini. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Finish off with a sprinkle of the shredded mint for garnish. Serve while warm. Enjoy!Grilled Vanilla Peaches with Ricotta Toast (18 of 26)

 

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Roast Rosemary Rack of Lamb

Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (4 of 13)

Hosting a dinner party for friends but can’t think of what to make in a short amount of time? In situations like these, a quick and easy solution would be to roast a rack of lamb. Roasting is the ideal way to cook a rack of lamb. The process can basically be broken down further into three distinct parts: preparation, roasting and resting.

First, the prep work. Prepare a combination of fresh or dried herbs and spices or create a paste by combining the herbs and spices with a little bit of olive oil and rubbing it over the lamb. For best results, use the following steps for preparation:

  1. Score the fat covering the meat using a crisscross pattern across the surface of the lamb.
  2. Season both sides of the rack with salt and pepper.
  3. Rub the lamb with single herbs, mixtures or herb paste.
  4. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

What’s the best temperature to roast a lamb rack? Ideally, the best roasting temperatures are between 425 and 450 ° F (about 230°C ). Cooking lamb at high heat preserves the tender and juicy nature of the meat. The lamb rack should cook to a medium pinkish rare in about 12-18 minutes.

For me, I like to sear the lamb before roasting to get a nice brown finishing. This can simply be achieved by heating a salute pan with olive oil until the oil shimmers. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper, and sear the meaty side for 3-4 minutes until a golden brown colour emerges. If you elect to pan sear before roasting, add herbs, crust or herb paste after searing and before roasting to ensure the lamb remains juicy and succulent.

Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (10 of 13)

Roast Rosemary Rack of Lamb

Total time: 25 minutes | Serves: 6 (roughly 3 chops each)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two baby back lamb ribs
  • Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil, to rub
  • Salt and black pepper, to season

Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (2 of 13)

METHOD:

  1. Season the lamb racks first by generously rubbing them all over with olive oil, black pepper, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Leave to marinade for a few hours, or overnight if desired.Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (5 of 13)
  2. Preheat oven to 230 degrees celsius and line roasting tray with parchment paper.
  3. Heat sauce pan on medium high. Pour some olive oil to coat and once oil starts shimmering, throw the lamb racks in and brown evenly on both side (roughly 2-3 minutes each side).Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (7 of 13)Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (3 of 13)
  4. Transfer browned racks to the preheated oven and roast for 12-15 minutes depending on how “rare” you like your lamb.Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (8 of 13)
  5. Let the rack sit for a few minutes (can cover with an aluminium tent foil) to let the juices run so that the lamb chops will be tender upon serving.Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (12 of 13)
    Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (1 of 13)

Ottolenghi’s Aubergine with Black Garlic

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (3 of 25)

Talk about unwavering devotion – my obsession with aubergines and Ottolenghi’s style of cooking has not ceased ever since I got back from London. Tonight, I experimented with his Aubergine with Black Garlic recipe set out in his vegetarian cookbook “Plenty More”.

Many of you may be asking “what exactly is black garlic?”. To save you the trouble from wikipedia-ing it, black garlic is the latest “it” ingredient, a new superfood. No, it is not a new strain of garlic nor a mutated garlic derivative. It is simply a type of caramelised garlic made by heating whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar or tamarind. It gives an unexpected depth of flavour to dishes. It is mellow enough not to dominate. As an added bonus, it supposedly has twice the antioxidants as regular garlic.

As for black garlics origins, it was first used as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine. Nowadays, its popularity has spread to the United States as it has become a sought-after ingredient used in high-end cuisine. Thanks to its recent appearance on Top Chef and Iron Chef, these two television shows have created newfound fame for this otherwise frightful thing. Trust me, if you found this on your kitchen counter and didn’t know that it was supposed to be black, you would mistaken it for being rotten.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (22 of 25)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium aubergines, sliced widthways into 1.5cm rounds
  • 200 ml olive oil
  • 8 large or 16 small black garlic cloves
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1.5 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 7 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 red chillies, sliced on the diagonal into 3mm rounds
  • 5g dill leaves
  • 5g basil leaves
  • 5g tarragon leaves (though I had to do without tarragon as this is not easily found in Hong Kong)

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees celsius.

2) Place aubergine rounds into a large bowl and mix with 60ml of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (24 of 25)

3) Lay out on roasting tin lined with parchment paper. Roast until golden-brown and completely soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (10 of 25)

4) While aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Place the black garlic cloves in a small food processor with 1/3 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of yoghurt and the lemon juice. Blitz for a minute to form a rough paste and then transfer to a medium bowl. Mix through the rest of the yogurt and keep in the fridge until needed.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (17 of 25)

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (12 of 25)

5) Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan on high heat. Add the garlic and chilli slices, reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the garlic is golden-brown and the chilli is crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and chilli on to a kitchen paper-lined plate.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (9 of 25)

6) Arrange the aubergine slices, overlapping, on a platter. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top, sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and finish with the herbs.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (1 of 25)

Eggplant with Buttermilk Greek Yoghurt Dressing and Pomegranate

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (6 of 18)

After a month of silence, I am finally back with the postings. Past month has been hectic. Got caught up with a multitude of tasks, then travelled to London and Sicily for a much needed and long-awaited break. Finally back and over my jet lag. Fell in love with Ottolenghi’s restaurants in London. In fact, I kept going to his pastry shop in Notting Hill almost every morning since it was just around the corner from where I was staying (hence I unavoidably stacked on the pounds but it was definitely worth every calorie). Bill Granger’s Granger and Co. was just around the corner too. How can one resist Bill’s breakfast, especially his signature ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter that brought him to fame (the scrambled eggs as well of course) in Sydney?

Now that I am back, the first dish I felt naturally compelled to make is an Ottolenghi inspired creation: the baked aubergines with a buttermilk greek yoghurt sauce from his book Plenty. Given the sloppy texture, I know aubergines may not be everyone’s favourite vegetable, but I personally love aubergines. There are so many ways you can dress them up with and they absorb flavours like a sponge. They are the perfect staple vegetable for several middle eastern dishes.

As for the dressing, the yoghurt sauce has the ability to round up so many flavours and textures like no other component does. The addition of buttermilk adds some acidity which works wonders with the slightly greasy nature of the aubergines and the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds. The original recipe calls for Za’atar, which is a Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, sesame seeds and herbs. I value efficiency so I simply just sprinkled sumac on top of the buttermilk dressing to add some contrast in colours and flavour. Finish off with some chopped fresh mint (again, original recipe calls for lemon thyme leaves but these are not so easy to find in Hong Kong).

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (2 of 2)

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 as a side dish):

  • 2 large long eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of Za’atar or Sumac (or combination of dried thyme, oregano, and pepper)
  • 1/2 pomegranate
  • 3-4 tablespoon of pine nuts, roasted
  • Some fresh mint leaves, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt (Maldon sea salt is ideal)
  • Black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon of greek yoghurt
  • 3 tablespoon of buttermilk (alternative is to add 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk and let it stand for 5-10 minutes and let it stand)
  • 3/4 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon of garlic past (about 1 small garlic clove)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cumin powder

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a roasting tray with parchment paper or aluminium foil.

2) Cut eggplants diagonally into rounds, almost an inch thick. Use a small sharp knife to make a criss-cross hash pattern on one side of the eggplant so that the flavours can absorb more readily.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (18 of 18)

3) Spray with olive oil cooking spray (or brush with olive oil). Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper, sea salt and dried thyme.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (17 of 18)Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (16 of 18)4) Shove into the oven for ~20 minutes until flesh goes soft and turns into a nicely brown colour (NB: can check by inserting a skewer). Take out of the oven and let it cool completely.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (15 of 18)

5) Whilst eggplants are roasting you can start preparing the buttermilk sauce. Whisk together the buttermilk, yoghurt, cumin, olive oil, garlic paste, and salt. Feel free to adjust for taste according to your own liking (sometimes I like to add a squirt of lemon juice). Keep sauce chilled.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (11 of 18)6) Roast the pine nuts by heating up a pan on medium heat and pan-frying for 2-3 minutes.
Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (12 of 18)7) Cut pomegranate in half and remove the seeds with your fingers. Make sure that all the attached white skin or membrane has been removed apart from the seeds.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (1 of 18)

8) To serve, lay out the cooled aubergine rounds onto a dish and spoon plenty of the buttermilk dressing on top. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Za’atar or Sumac, and garnish with the pomegranate seeds, roasted pine nuts and some freshly diced mint leaves. Finish with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (3 of 18)

Three Cup Chicken (三杯鸡 - “San Bei Ji”)

Three Cup Chicken (12 of 18)

Three Cup Chicken, or “San Bei Ji” is a popular standard dish in Taiwan. Why “three cups”? Well, the name refers to the recipe used to make it, i.e. a cup of each of the three ingredients that create the sauce: rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

No two households will make this dish exactly the same way. The basic recipe. however, will consist of using these three ingredients to create a thick, dark, reduced syrupy sauce that absorbs right into the chicken. It really is an easy recipe, as everything is just chop and drop and stir frying it all together in one big wok (or a skillet if you don’t have a wok). For my adjusted version, I did not use exactly three cups of each (must have been for a bucketload of chicken).

As for the meat, feel free to opt for chicken wings or chicken drumsticks or thighs. I personally like using thighs. Can’t beat the taste of juicy chunks of meat with no bones. As for the garnish and extra ‘kick’ in flavour, if you can find Thai basil, then great, use that. If you can’t, regular basil or scallions will suffice.

INGREDIENTS (serves 3):

  • 3 chicken thighs (~1/2 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced into rounds
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Small bunch of Thai or regular basilThree Cup Chicken (2 of 18)

METHOD:


1) Wash chicken thighs and trim excess fat. Slice into smaller bite-size pieces. Three Cup Chicken (4 of 18)

2) Slice the ginger and garlic.

Three Cup Chicken (3 of 18)

3) Heat wok over medium heat. Add sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Heat for a couple of minutes to let the ginger and garlic aroma infuse into the oil.

Three Cup Chicken (5 of 18)

4) Add chopped chicken thighs into the wok in one even layer. Sear the thighs until golden brown on both sides, approximately 5 minutes.

Three Cup Chicken (6 of 18)

5) Add 1/4 cup shaoxing wine and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Cover the wok. Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes to cook the chicken through.

Three Cup Chicken (9 of 18)

6) When time is up, remove the cover and quickly turn up the heat so the remaining sauce reduces and clings to the chicken to give it a rich, dark colour. Make sure to stir the chicken during this process to prevent burning. Toss in the basil and fry for a few more minutes until the basil has wilted and chicken turns dark. Three Cup Chicken (10 of 18) Three Cup Chicken (11 of 18) 7) Congratulations, the cooking has been done. Plate up the chicken and serve. Serve with a bowl of rice and enjoy! Three Cup Chicken (1 of 18)

Three Cup Chicken (13 of 18)

Oven Baked Barramundi with Rosemary and Lemon

Baked Barramundi with Rosemary and Lemon (1 of 3)

Barramundi is Australia’s favourite fish and is known through many parts of the world as “Asian Sea Bass”. It has the same sweet flavour and meaty texture as other seabass, yet its unique eco-friendly profile makes it unlike any other fish available.

Barramundi seabass has a mild buttery flavour and a dense meaty texture (think snapper crossed with halibut). It’s not a ‘fishy fish’ and just about everyone – even kids – love it. It’s healthy,  delicious and affordable.

How about its health benefits? Barramundi has omega-3 levels that rival wild Coho Salmon, which is unheard of for a mild white fish! With just 137 calories and only 2.5 grams of ‘good fat’ per portion, it has half the calories of salmon and is ideal for anyone looking to make healthy food choices.

How can it be cooked? Don’t let the exotic name fool you – barramundi seabass is a snap to cook. Bake it with some bread crumbs, sauté with a little lemon butter, or marinate it with some olive oil, herbs and fresh squeezed lemon and toss it on the grill. One of my favourite ways to cook a whole barramundi is to garnish the fish with lemon and rosemary first and give it a good salt and olive oil rub, then roast the entire fish in the oven for ~15-20 minutes or so. Voila!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole barramundi (~500g), cleaned and scaled
  • 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Maldon sea salt flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed with back of knife
  • Olive oil, to drizzle over fish

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 190°C. Place fish on top of a wire rack in a foiled roasting pan. Like an amateur surgeon, slash the fish diagonally three times on each side – approximately 1 inch apart – and insert half a thin lemon slice. Repeat on other side. Massage ~1 teaspoon of olive oil on each side of the fish then generously rub the Maldon sea salt flakes and rosemary all over.

Baked Barramundi with Rosemary and Lemon (2 of 3)

2) Stuff cavity the remaining lemon slices and the crushed garlic cloves. Add rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Stick fish in oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until flesh is opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve immediately.

Baked Barramundi with Rosemary and Lemon (3 of 3)

Sweet and Sour Fish (the “air-fried” way).

Sweet and Sour Fish (11 of 12)

Seeing I stocked two cans of pineapples last time for my sweet and sour pork and have some remaining capsicum sitting idly in the fridge, I thought I’d be resourceful and make use of the other can by experimenting with air-fried sweet and sour fish this time. Batter the hoki fillets up with bread crumbs, stick it in the fryer for 10 minutes at 180 degrees celsius, then mix it in with the sweet and sour sauce. Simple.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Slice of hoki fillet (large palm size) cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1 small can pineapples in syrup
  • 1/2 red and 1/2 yellow capsicum, sliced into cubes
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 shallot, wedged
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/6 cup apple cider sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

METHOD:

1) Cut capsicum and shallot into wedges.

Sweet and Sour Fish (1 of 8)

2) Wash and pat dry fish fillet. Cut fish into slices.

Sweet and Sour Fish (2 of 12)

3) Rub white pepper and salt over fish. Batter fish with bread crumbs mixed in with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Stick in air fryer for 10 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.

Sweet and Sour Fish (3 of 12)

4) Heat saucepan on medium heat. Add oil, capsicum and shallots. Fry until lightly brown.

Sweet and Sour Fish (4 of 12)

5) Make sauce. Pour in apple cider vinegar, ketchup and sugar in saucepan. Heat until boiling. Pour mixture into saucepan with the vegetables and stir together.

Sweet and Sour Fish (5 of 12)

6) Cover fish with the sauce. Transfer to plate and serve.

Sweet and Sour Fish (9 of 12)

Sweet and Sour Fish (12 of 12)