had a most wonderful & memorable homecooked dinner get-together on 24apr2015.
a most fun part was the interactivity & excitement with several friends bringing their dishes, from morocan salmon, hummus, biscotti, konnyaku to tofu cheese cake & ma hua 麻花 airflow from tianjin.^^
a friend even set up a separate whatsapp chat (so as not to bore the rest of dinner friends with cooking talk). 🙂
it was just wonderful. excluding bread, humus, ma hua, fruits, konnyaku, biscotti, we had 14 dishes (12+2 desserts). 🙂
because a friend was bringing hummus, that motivated me to do a onion sunflower seed bread. i didn’t realise i had walnut (was searching for it) for walnut bread, so settled with sunflower seeds.^^
the laughable thing was after looking at several online recipes i decided hack just used the ariston oven bread function & recipe. of course i tried the recipe once. dough was too sticky & too much salt & i added too much browned onions.
for the actual day, the bread was quite perfect. all the friends like it. crisp not hard outside & fluffy well-risen inside. for the recipe, i used 600g plain flour, 3 packets yeast (33g) dissolved in 1 cup (240ml) warm water, & 1 tsp salt. 🙂
my friend made excellent chickpea hummus, and the green coloured one she added avocado. i think it was new to her too, so there was a lot of fun doing this dinner for all our good RI friends.
a friend was with her students in tianjin for some exchange programs & brought back ma hua 麻花. i finished them the next day, pretty good, not sickeningly sweet like the malaysian ones.
#1 my wife made a pumpkin tofu salad. this a wonderful salad she made after some lunch at marmalade.^^
the angus ribeye was pan-grilled, charred to produce the maillard reaction to impart the flavours & nicely medium rare. 🙂
i used my own teriyaki sauce recipe, this time adding 1 tsp of miso. miso cures the cod & give a firmer, less flaky texture.
#4 a friend made a very nice morocan baked salmon with pistachios & ritz biscuits, and condiments of chives & lemon. it was also his first time. for me, this was a lot of fun & buzz.^^
#5 i made a chilli crab capellini (angel hair pasta). i had the sauce made the day before, taste was not ideal & i made some adjustments on the day. it turned out quite perfect, an excellent chilli crab sauce & after pasta & prawns were added, the capellini soaked up the flavours remarkably & was very well infused with the shellfish flavours (from prawn heads & shells, and w/o crab). 🙂
& very important pasta was al dente!
#6 i made an excellent very tasty squid ink sauce & a friend came to the kitchen to help out & tasted the sauce. it was superb with a nice chilli padi spike.
unfortunately, after adding linguine, sauce looked low & i made the cardinal mistake of adding some water. did a rescue by removing the pasta & ingredients (so as not to overcook) & reducing the sauce. still when plating though sauce was sufficiently dark colour & slight creamy producing good texture feel on pasta, the top less coated linguine looked off in colour.
fortunately taste wise it was very good. i guess could have been better.
i browned some shallots in chicken fat (this was a key) & added cut ginger. the other key was a very intense chicken bone soup for cooking the rice. the soup came from making the chicken & adding the bones after i deboned the chicken & boiled for >2hrs.
& i made the chilli sauce & ginger sauce that everyone loved.
a friend brought excellent achar, just the right appetising condiments for the chicken rice.
#8 the jap miso salmon was done like the japanese bento style.
i didn’t have the recipe so experimented myself. i marinated with miso etc & dried it in the fridge for 2 days then 3hrs at 55degC to dry it further. after that it was 15mins in foil+10mins open in tabletop electric oven at 250degC.
i would say result was almost same as the bento salmon & those we brought back from japan. it was best served on japanese rice don with tamago but will do for the chicken rice.
my helper’s spicy pork ribs was also a perennial favourite. 🙂
#11 dry wok prawns was 1 of my standard dish. this time though i did not dry the prawns enough before adding to the wok so it became a bit wet. prawns was fresh & sweet but the charred bbq flavours were missing. some hits & some misses.
#12 & my helper’s romaine lettuce, complemented the pumpkin salad & good counterpoint to the meat dishes.
#13 a friend brought a tofu cheese cake. i took the cake & taste was pretty good. unfortunately the gelatine he used seemed to be weaker concentration than the ones i got from phono huat. so though he used the same recipe, the cake did not hold. it was a waste really for the effort but i guess doing it was a fun thing we all shared.^^
2 friends brought jackfruit & grapes to round off the dinner.
the friend who brought hummus also did 2 very nice petite fours – a konnyaku jelly & biscotti.
it was an evening of fellowship & sharing, a lot of fun, catching up & sharing good food together.^^
a friend bought dinner this evening at la braceria on 17.4.2015.^^
years ago, la braceria was located at ming teck park area, close to my place. after that the chef has moved to different places a few times.
this friend last joined my home dinners more than 1/2 year ago. this time, he wanted just to buy dinner & have a tete a tete. 🙂
we ordered 1 antipasti & 2 pastas to share, and my friend wanted to share a choc lava cake.
the calamari was good! batter was not crispy & yet it was very nice overall, and with a touch of mayonnaise. ^^
the wagyu & porcini fettucine was “must try for meat lovers”, according to the menu.
& YES!! must try!
pasta was very good indeed. very tasty & savoury.
we also had the seafood squidink linguine. there was quite a bit of scallops & squid. again very tasty. this i can make myself though, and my version of seafood squid ink linguine is almost as good.^^
i am impressed with the flamed lava cake. the flavour was very good. texture was better than my lava cake, a lot more lava, anyway i will adjust my lava cake a bit & see if i can produce more lava. the lava texture is an important contributor to the overall experience.
while it was a very enjoyable dinner with friend who picked up the tab, the dinner cost S$102, about same as what i paid the other night for 2pax at il Lido.
there was no comparison for the ambience & class of il Lido, and we had black cod with unit & scampi pasta with uni & a grilled octopus. on top of that we had 2 great amuse bouche of fine dining standard. so la braceria pales by comparison & is really not competitive on price.
the sous vide crispy duck breast was one the dishes i was ambivalent & uncertain about. first, it was troublesome to buy a whole duck, cut out 2 duck breasts, and then think what to do with the rest. i usually made a good lor arh (braised duck) from the remaining pieces but it was not healthy to keep eating duck with all the fat. second, while i was quite confident the sous vide meat would turn up well, i was not confident of doing the crispy skin w/o overcooking the duck & was not entirely convinced that the crispy skin was not just much ado about nothing (same ambivalence i had when practicing crackling belly pork). did the skin add much to the experience? i guess it did but whether the result was deserving the effort?
anyway for this evening, it turned out that the sous vide duck breast & the striploin pot-roast, a method i did for the first time on striploin, were quite excellent! 🙂
menu planning – i was looking for a change of menu for my RI buddies dinner from the usual miso cod & pan-fried wagyu as main courses. i did a good gordon ramsay crispy salmon so i knew i would do ok with garoupa fillet. it was not convenient to practice the gordon ramsay pepper sauce nor the pot roast but i felt quite comfortable to do it for the first time for my friends. 🙂 the poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall was also a new dish. i did it once & it was good. for the pasta, i thought to revisit my seafood pink sauce linguine (& i did a very good one recently) to replace my usual alio olio. 🙂
#1 got dinner started with a very good pan-seared giant hokkaido scallop & my usual 4hr miso belly pork. both were very good. this the first time i added cooked vegetables. the carrot sticks were done in the steam oven, very sweet & consistent. the pencil asparagus were pan-roasted after i did the scallops & miso belly pork.
#2 next was the poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall. the pig trotters was done overnight (about 7hrs) together with dried scallops & thick dried mushrooms & 2 chicken drumsticks (skin removed) for stock in a crockpot on low. the pig trotters were removed & put in the fridge to preserve the nice gelatinous texture. 🙂 the limpets & sea cucumbers were added just before serving, together with cut pieces of pig trotters. the soup was quite perfect at the time i was about to serve, but i was worried it was not enough for 8pax, so i added a bit of chicken stock. it was still good but i felt the flavour was not as intense, and actually there was enough soup w/o diluting it. it was kind of guesstimate thing as cooking for 8pax & practicing it once for a smaller serving did have some variations. 🙂
#3 the duck breast turned up supremely good! was brined in sugar & salt for 2 days & cooked at 60degC in the oven for 4hrs. the skin was then scored & i put on a pan at medium fire for 5mins to render out the fat to create a thin crispy skin. an important addition was orange sauce (see recipe here). i reduced this substantially to produce a thick caramelised nicely citrous sweet sauce. it went really well with the duck which was super tender. 🙂
#4 next was the seafood linguine in pink sauce. all my friends thought it was very tasty, but another & i still preferred the alio olio style which i did very well every time. 🙂
#5 then came the 2 main courses. first up was the pan-grilled garoupa fillet with gordon ramsay pepper sauce. my hand-held food blender was evidently not the right tools to produce the very smooth blended sauce in gordon ramsay’s pepper sauce video (a real beauty). the garoupa were marinated well so flavour was ok. the texture of the garoupa fillet (frozen pack) was not great. of course it was too much to compare with my usual miso cod (also frozen pack).
#6 the striploin pot roast was a beauty. see the nice maillard reaction brown ring in the photo. it was nicely seared all round before placing in a crockpot on low with the vegetable ratatouille to reach 125degF (52degC) – about 1.5hrs, then in a 55degC oven for another 1 hr. it was a very nice medium rare, & medium at the ends. i was very pleased with this first crockpot roast on a striploin. my first was a chuck pot roast. it was good but this was lots better! 🙂
#7 the last course was my chocolate lava cake. i had done very many good lava cakes. this time i did the exact same recipe & timing (3m 40s in a 210degC oven on broiler setting). somehow it was overdone & there were not much lava. will need to reduce to 3m 30s next time. sigh! i really need to work on another dessert recipe.
it was a really enjoyable & fulfilling experience for me (1 of my good friends described as full-filling haha!). i really feel good about this! 🙂
doing a 8pax dinner for my RI buddies this evening – feeling excited! 🙂
for me, cooking is about planning & making it happen, and the process is quite fun.
i don’t have to start cooking until 1.30pm.
the soup for poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall was done overnight. so i just need to add back the individual servings of pig trotters, limpets, sea cucumbers & mushrooms when serving the soup.
the miso belly pork & crispy skin sous vide duck breast will be in the oven at 60degC for 4hrs. during the 4hrs, i will prepare the chocolate lava cake (takes <1/2hr) and 4 sauces- orange sauce for the duck, gordon ramsay pepper sauce for the garoupa fillet, pink sauce (creamy tomato) for the seafood linguine & vegetable ratatouille for the striploin pot roast. each takes say 15 – 30minutes.
at 5.30pm, i will start my striploin pot roast (700g) with ratatouille in the crockpot on low & should get to 125degF (52degC) in 1 hr, & i can place it in a covered oven dish in a 55degC oven for another 1.5hrs, probably serves it at 8pm.
when the friends are here at 7pm, i will do the pan-charring for the scallops & then miso belly pork (which were marinated in miso for 3 days & “sous vide” at 60degC for 4hrs in the oven, & then pan-roast the pencil asparagus.
after that i will serve the soup, and then do the cold pan method to try to get the crispy skin “sous vide” duck breast (brined for 2 days & also 4hrs at 60degC in oven). as i told my friends the medium rare duck breast is ok, but i unsure of the crispy skin (both texture & taste) & will probably not do this dish much in future if it doesn’t work well (just like the crackling pork belly – not worth doing if cannot get it right).
the seafood linguine in pink sauce is straight forward just tossing, with both pasta & the prawns & squid already prepared.
for the garoupa fillet, i had a good marinade (2days) so it should be quite nice pan-grilled. i am doing the gordon ramsay pepper sauce for first time today, but the video sure looks really exciting. 🙂
for the striploin pot roast, i have done this before on chuck pot roast (a cheaper cut) but this the first time i am trying it on striploin. never really know how it will turn out especially i am varying the temperature a bit to make rare instead of medium rare, but that’s the fun & challenge of the unknown. 🙂
my chocolate lava cake is quite standard fare, so should be ok though occasionally the lava part still doesn’t work out well as the timing is too short & any slight variation in oven temperature & timing will affect the result.
looking forward to a fun evening. we are going to share our secondary school photo albums too…haha. 🙂
bought some frozen crab claws from giant, thought to try out the excellent mud crab cold pasta i had at au jardin on new year eve but had yet to do. 🙂
had sudden inspiration (心血来潮) to cook a crabmeat linguine in pink sauce, & since i had the other ingredients like hokkaido scallops, medium prawns, canned tomatoes etc, it was easy to do.
i used the same crabmeat pasta in pink sauce recipe i did almost a year ago in mar2013. the pink sauce looked & tasted yummy.
i had earlier sauteed an entire clove of garlic bulbs in olive oil (full of aroma) & set aside. i then fried in butter medium prawns that were shelled, butterflied & deveined. after i cooked the linguine to just below al dente (just below the 11mins instructions on the packet) & drained, I pan-seared the hokkaido scallops over a very hot pan greased with vegetable oil.
the last step was just to toss the pasta with the sauce & ingredients & add some sugar (or agave nectar) & sea salt to taste.
the result was brilliant, the best pink sauce pasta i have made so far, not that i made so many, maybe just 4 or 5 times. 🙂
my dining quartet had this sudden spell of interest in hotel buffet. for this round, our hostess selected The Edge @ Pan Pacific Singapore, which had last year undergone a major renovation. lunch was S$58pax and there was an ongoing 3paying 1 free promotion for various credit cards, so the price worked out to S$43.5++pax. 🙂
i (& i think in fact all my dining quartet friends) had no fondness for buffet – yet there we were! I always thought buffet main courses “sucks” (pardon the language) & if I went to buffet I would just take very selected items from the appetizers or antipasti & the cheeseboard if they had.
The only buffet I thought worth going was the semi-buffet lunch at Equinox which served a selection of good fine dining main courses & great appetizer buffet/cheeseboard at S$59pax (so S$29,50pax for 50% Feed at Raffles discount for 2pax). Lately I have added One-Ninety @ Four Seasons, which I now think serves a higher quality semi-buffet than Equinox and at S$38pax w/o main course suits me fine (S$48pax with main course). 🙂 The other very good buffet is Basilico at Regent Hotel. I went during RestaurantWeek in 2012 & the antipasti was excellent. I think I should go back there to try again soon, talking about not having too many buffet..haha.. 🙂
I had tried The Line st Shangri-la & Carousel at Royal Plaza at Scotts but sad to say I didn’t think much of them even at 50% discount! I saw The Edge’s menu and didn’t think it was going to be any different.
the sashimi section was very limited for lunch! the kajiki (sword fish) sashimi was good, the salmon was ok, just average same as other buffet & not the best ones. I went back for a second helping of kajiki w/o the salmon. real nice! 🙂
there wasn’t much to pick in the sushi section so I just picked 1 maki (one of my friends liked the inari aburaage sushi though). that’s quite the same in most buffet. In Equinox I would pick a unagi (eel) & a ika (squid) sushi, and in One Ninety I had smoked duck but that’s about it.
the laksa at the Chinese station was very good – gravy was excellent only regrets no “hum” ie cockles.
I also took a slice of roast duck (very crispy skin & flavourful), & also 1 slice of roast chicken (good but ordinary, the ginger sauce was good)..
I did not take any from the malay/peranakan? station. there was a beef rendang and my friend thought the steamed rice (basmati?) was “super aromatic”. 🙂 I took 1 stick each of beef & mutton satay (above right photo). One friend thought the mutton satay was very good. it was kind of average ordinary to me. there was no pineapple sauce with the satay gravy.
there was salmon and grilled aussie beef tenderloin (medallion) at the western station (above left photo).
I asked the station chef who replied that the beef were medium to medium well. I ordered rare & he grilled on the spot for me. it was super (top photo) – very sweet, tender, flavourful, well beyond my expectation of buffet main courses, even though tenderloin not my favourite. 🙂
I skipped most of the Italian station – the pasta, pizza & pork rib. My friend who bought lunch thought the rib was good & healthy lean. the other friend thought it was too dry. The 1 item i thought was excellent was the roast pork. I had 3 slices. 🙂
& not forgetting the cold entre station. I took 4 oysters (very sweet) & 2 scallops (good). the station chef told my friend the orange ones were female & tasted better than the all white male ones..lol. 🙂 i skipped the prawns but took the prawn salad – it was kind of limited selection.
the dessert station was quite ordinary, and included chocolate fountain & nonya cakes. i took my fav the 9 layer kueh (good) & angkukueh (not good – don’t like the shaved coconuts flakes, that one better for tutu kueh). I also helped myself with some brie at the cheese section & we all took quite a bit of nuts (macadamia, walnut, pistachio, pine nuts, sunflower seeds etc).
the ambience was great. there was good drinks like calamansi juice with sour plum, very good coffee & also tea selection. it was a fun lunch, food & company & trying out a new place (it was first time there for all of us).
At S$43.50pax after 25% discount, would I come back though? regrettably answer is no or very unlikely!
One of my favourite pasta is the crab meat linguine in pink sauce. Many moons ago, when Chef Valentino was still working (I guess he was a partner) in Cantina which was a short stone-throw from my place, we dined there a few times and also “da bao” (take-out) his crab meat linguine in pink sauce.
The good Chef left & set up his own Ristorante da Valentino at Jalan Binga and later shifted to the much larger premises it is currently located at Turf City. Some months back, a friend & his wife invited me for a lunch there, and I enjoyed immensely the burrata cheese and also relished my old-time favourite – but this time a squid-ink seafood linguine in pink sauce.
I thought I would give it a go myself, so I googled and assembled this recipe, tried it and was ok the first time, and I was able to repeat the dish w/o difficulty. The result is in the picture above, which I made for my friends at one of my homecooked dinners. It is nothing even close to what Valentino serves, but still it is a pretty nice pasta. 🙂
To make the sauce, I saute minced garlic and 1 small onion (diced) in olive oil on medium heat. I then add chopped basil (I have fresh basil from the garden), 1 can of diced tomatoes with sauce, sugar, dried oregano, sea salt & coarse black pepper, boil for about 5 minutes. I then turn off the fire and mix in the heavy cream & butter.
The spaghetti is cooked in the usual way following the timing instructions. For the scallops (optional), I pan sear them first (see recipe); and likewise for the prawns I stir-fry them in olive oil first to almost cooked. All these can be set aside first and toss together when ready to serve the dish. I heat up the pink sauce, add the prawns & drained crabmeat, cook for few minutes, then turn off the fire, add the spaghetti & toss, and then add the seared scallop, and serve.
- 250g crabmeat drained (I use frozen crab claws from NTUC Fairprice)
- 12 Hokkaido scallops (I use frozen scallops from Sheng Shiong)
- 15 pieces of medium prawns (shelled)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- sea salt & coarse black pepper to taste
- Prepare the pink sauce – saute minced garlic and diced onion in olive oil on medium heat. add chopped fresh basil, 1 can of diced tomatoes with sauce, sugar, dried oregano, sea salt & coarse black pepper, boil for about 5 minutes. turn off the fire and mix in the heavy cream & butter.
- Prepare the scallops (optional) – see pan-seared scallop recipe.
- Cook the dish – stir-fry the prawns (shelled) in olive oil first to almost cooked. cook the spaghetti in the usual way following the timing instructions. heat up the pink sauce, add the prawns & drained crabmeat, cook for few minutes, then turn off the fire, add the spaghetti & toss, and then add the seared scallop, and serve.