Tuesday, 27 April 2010

pan-roasted bream

I didn't actually plan what to have for dinner tonight. This morning I went to my trusty fishmonger with Jamie's book and I just looked for whatever is available. I still have 18 recipes to do from the fish, scallops, crab, clam and lobster chapters.

Anyway, the bream caught my eyes and so for dinner tonight I made pan-roasted bream with a quick crispy fennel salad.

Jamie says that this dish represents the best of British: everyone should eat it; and I think so as well. The bream fillets were seasoned with salt, pepper and fennel seeds before pan-roasted and then served with fennel salad, finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. delicious. I especially love the crispy skin.

My friend Mark and Kelly are coming tomorrow to watch the football and I've been using a very good use of my time. My beef and sausage chilli is ready to reheat for tomorrow's dinner. If I plan to have things like chilli or curry, I like to make them a day ahead because I think they taste better the next day. Don't you think?

I'm off to bed now... Good night.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Lime and coconut chicken

I had a great night out yesterday with friends from work... lovely food, great company and lots to drink. I woke up this morning and I craved a burrito. I first discovered burrito when I lived in California during high school. My favourite has got to be the carne asada burrito with grilled steak. It's a little on a heavy side for the morning, so I made a breakfast burrito instead with eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, salsa and jalapeƱos. Yum! and to drink I made banana and peanut butter smoothie.

Fast forward to dinner, this evening I made lime and coconut chicken, a recipe I found from a very scrumptious blog, One Perfect Bite. When I read about this recipe, I just got to try it and I did and it was utterly delicious. The chicken is marinated in coconut milk, soy sauce, lime zest, cumin, coriander, curry powder, sugar and cayenne (what not to like from that list?) before grilled to perfection. YUM! I want to thank Mary, the author of the blog for sharing this recipe.

I served the chicken with coconut rice with flaked almonds and coriander, and a crunchy salad with Asian dressing.

Have a good night everyone...

Friday, 23 April 2010

salad and tuna

On the menu last night was unbelievable root vegetable salad which consisted of beetroot, carrot, celery heart, radicchio, radishes, fennel and served with fiery, fresh and zingy grilled chilli dressing. If you’re looking for a dressing with a ‘kick’, this is the one. I’m sure you are all aware that you MUST wash your hands properly after handling chillies, and don’t go picking your nose or scratching your face or worse, going to the toilet before you done so, like I did, because it burns! (A little too much information there I know, sorry...)

I also made chargrilled tuna with oregano oil and beautifully dressed peas and broad beans. Delicious.

Gotta go to work now and it’s Friday! Yay! Have a good one everyone.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

squid with black pudding stuffing and sticky tomato sauce

for lunch today I made squid with black pudding stuffing and sticky tomato sauce. If you're not familiar with black pudding, it is a type of sausage made by cooking blood (pig or cattle most often used) until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled (doesn't that sound delicious?). It is commonly served in a traditional English breakfast along with the fried eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, hash browns, bacon and sausages.

I'm not a fan of black pudding but I promised myself to eat it just for this recipe. I was glad the squid wasn't just stuffed with black pudding, but also with pancetta, red onion and lemon zest.

Cooking it couldn't be any simpler, I seared the stuffed squids in olive oil and to make the sauce, simply add a handful of both red and yellow tomatoes, a pinch of dried chilli, garlic and let it simmer with a lid on for ten minutes until it creates a lovely sticky sauce. And don't go anywhere, stay in the kitchen because the smell, oh... like summer in the medditerranean.

I surprisingly enjoyed the dish and inhaled it in minutes. However next time, I think I'll stuff the squid with minced pork or chorizo instead.

Day 232, Recipe 107

Sunday, 18 April 2010

delicious crab crostini

I did it. I prepared and boiled my first whole live crabs yesterday. It was an 'interesting' process.

So let me start from the beginning:
After getting the crabs from the fishmonger, I was walking home and it's a strange feeling to have things moving in your grocery bag. I was very nervous.
I got home, put the bag in the sink and in a big pot I prepared the cold bath of fish stock and peppercorns for the crabs. I then put on my CSI rubber gloves for protection. I had Merlyn on speaker phone and using a pair of tongs, I tried to put the crabs into the pot. And what a challenge that was! All three crabs were holding their claws tight together which made it hard and they refused to co-operate. After 15 minutes of yelling to the crabs (which was no use) I finally got all of them in the pot (I won!). I put the lid on, and in case if they try to escape, I placed a heavy iron cast pot on top. I cranked up the heat, turn on some music, left the kitchen and did some cleaning in the bed room.

After half an hour, I went back to the kitchen to check the crabs and guess what, the song 'psycho killer' by Talking Heads was playing. My ipod was on shuffle and out of the 1195 songs in it, what are the chances?!?

I lifted the cooked crabs carefully out of the hot stock and left them in a big bowl to cool.

When cooled, I pulled the claws and legs and picked all the meat out with the handle of a teaspoon. I don't have the proper cracker, so I used a heavy rolling pin instead.

The picked crab meat was then dressed with fresh red chilli, lemon, olive oil, fennel tops and became the topping for delicious crab crostini. The title speaks for its taste.

I also made blackened barbecued pork fillets which was also delicious. And dessert was chocolate mousse from the latest issue of Jamie magazine.

I'm just glad it's all over with the preparing whole live crab business and I'm glad to have done it and learn something new. So, thank you Jamie.

And would I do it again? yes.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Oh Crab!

I've been studying and preparing myself for today. I'm going to prepare and boil whole live crabs. My dad does it all the time. He uses a big cleaver and chopped them in half. No chance I'm doing that.

This is Jamie's note on the subject:
Dealing with killing a crab is quite a controversial thing. Some people believe you should just drive a sharpening steel or skewer straight through it, which kills the crab instantly. I have always put mine into a great big stock pot, seven or eight of them at a time, layered up with some nice bits of fennel, peppercorns, etc., then covered them with cold water and turned the heat on, so by the time it comes up to temperature they should have gone to sleep and won't know what's going on.

If you prefer to kill the crab first, place it upside down on a chopping board and feel for the bony flap on the underside of its body. Pull it back, poke a sharpening steel or a thick skewer into the hole you see there, and thump the top of it with your hand so it shoots right down into the crab. This crushes the crab's central nervous system, killing it immediately (am I still reading Jamie Oliver's book or is this a scene from a Quentin Tarantino's film?).

To cook the crab, fill a deep pot with cold water and stir in salt, until it tastes about as salty as seawater. Drop your crab in the pot and make sure it's completely submerged. Put the pot on the stove and bring the water slowly to the boil, then turn the heat down simmer gently for about 10 minutes to make sure the heat has penetrated the thick shell and cooked the meat inside. Lift the crab carefully out of the hot water, using a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs, and leave it on a tray to cool down.

Ok, out of the two options, I'm going for the boiling them alive. I don't think I can do the poking with sharp steel thing.
My friend from work Sandra told me to make sure to secure the lid just in case if the crab try to crawl out based on her experience. oh no...!

I'm going to the fish market now to get some scallops, clams and of course, the crab. Wish me luck...

PS. Jamie also says to watch out for its claws - a big angry crab can give you a bone-crushing pinch if you're not careful!

Monday, 12 April 2010

potato salad

I have had a great long weekend with friends. We went to visit some of the local tourist attractions like Penshaw monument, Angel of the North, Bowes Museum, Blackpool, Alton Towers and York. The weather has been beautiful here in England as well for the past few days. Even though it’s sunny, it’s not that warm yet, but spring is definitely coming.

Anyway, I’m glad to be home and to be cooking again. For dinner tonight, I made amazing potato and horseradish salad with fine herbs and bresaola. I went and bought the bresaola (lean cured beef, by the way if you don’t know) from an Italian restaurant during my lunch break today. I never had bresaola before, and it’s delish as so the rest of the salad.

With the salad, I also made salmon, spinach and goat’s cheese frittata and a glass of red wine (I thought I’d treat myself). I am stuffed.

Many of my friends asked how I decide what to cook from the book. Honestly, I don’t have any particular orders. I normally read the book in the morning and decide what I feel like having for dinner and also the ingredients I can find. With 61 recipes to go and running a little behind, sooner or later I have to prepare and cook live crabs and lobster. Dreading, dreading, dreading...

Monday, 5 April 2010


yesterday I had Leo and Merlyn over for Easter. I love having them around. Although once they're here, there's no way to get rid of them... I'm just kidding. It's always fun!

For lunch I made gnocchi with braised oxtail which was delicious. The braised oxtail took just over four hours to make, but not at all difficult. I made it the day before to save time and the flavours just got better.

Dinner was roast salmon with fennel, parsley and tomato and potato rosti. I cooked whole fish many times but they still scare me. I think it's their eyes staring at me.

I had to cut the tail because my oven wasn't big enough.

My verdict on the salmon: I'm sorry to say the salmon was just so-so. I thought it was missing like a sauce or something.

Dessert was a collaborative work. We made molten chocolate babycakes, a recipe from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess cook book. After 12 minutes in the oven, the chocolate cakes was still too runny when tipped out of the individual moulds. Delicious though.

The leftover salmon is now transformed into a curry for dinner tonight. Leo and Merlyn are coming over again (see, there's no way to get rid of them). hehe...

Day 216, recipe 101

Friday, 2 April 2010

long weekend at last

So for dinner tonight I made steamed broccoli with beurre blanc. I love saying it: beurre blanc; because, one, it involves one of my favourite ingredients, butter; and two, it’s in French and sounds very chef-y. And is it just me or do you also think anything sounds better in French?

If you don’t know, beurre blanc is this delicate sauce made with white wine, shallots, peppercorn, oregano, tarragon and butter. Delicious. Jamie says the sauce goes well with any green veg, like asparagus, broccoli or mangetouts.

With the broccoli, I also made double beef burger topped with beef tomatoes, wholegrain mustard and caramelised onion. I know, I know, they’re not exactly the perfect match, but I’ve been craving for a burger since this morning.

I’ve also been very good with my time today. My friends Adam and Claire are coming for a visit from Birmingham tomorrow and I’ve been baking. I made a loaf of chocolate cake ready to be indulged along with other dish which I have not decided yet (fish or pasta or both, maybe) and cold drinks. I cannot wait!

What are you cooking this Easter weekend?