Friday, October 3, 2014

Asparagus with Honey Garlic Sauce

I prefer my asparagus steamed, but J served this for breakfast, and he never has time in the morning for steaming. Every day we wake up at dawn. I start work at 4 a.m. while he has to be at his company bus stop by 5 a.m. Before he travels, he makes sure the kids and I have edible stuff in our food bowls. He has roughly 30 minutes each day to whip something up. Hence, ingredients invariably end up in the frying pan. Looking at this beauty, I don't think that's a huge deal breaker.


Ingredients:

Asparagus, cut
3 tbsps. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1 tbsp. honey
20 grams butter
Salt and pepper


Procedure:

1. In a small bowl, coat asparagus with 1 tbsp. olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper.

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Fry garlic until golden brown.

4. Add honey, mix and remove from heat.

5. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan and fry the asparagus for approximately 4 mins., making sure to turn the stalks constantly.

6. Remove asparagus from the heat, arrange in a plate and pour sauce.

7. Garnish with minced onions.

Wife's Verdict: I am decidedly neutral towards asparagus. To me, it's one of those veggies you just have to eat for its nutritional value. I suppose the secret to making it more appealing is the sauce. Most recipes I've tasted pair asparagus with some type of cream sauce, so this sweet innovation is a welcome change.

I'd imagine this would have been overpowering if sugar was used, but honey gave it a more subdued tone, mixing perfectly with the mildly bitter garlic and the moderate sharpness of minced onions.

J's Status: Working to perfect the honey sauce.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Baked Meatball Sandwich

When Jan feeds me breakfast like this, he says he has an ulterior motive. He says he wants to fatten me up. For what reason, I'm not sure, but I can almost imagine him channeling the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel. Kidding aside, I know why he does this. He simply enjoys it.


Ingredients:

½ kilo        ground beef
3 tbsp        tomato paste
2 cups        diced tomatoes
1 cup        water
2 tbsp        dried oregano
2 tbsp        dried basil leaves
2 tbsp        olive oil
1 cup        chopped onions
Salt and pepper
Aluminum foil
Butter
Mozzarella cheese slices
Thick slices of bread

Procedure:

Sauce:

1.    Sautee onions in olive oil until translucent.
2.    Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
3.    Add water.
4.    Add half the dried oregano and basil leaves.
5.    Add salt and pepper to taste.
6.    Let it boil in slow heat.

Meatballs:

1. Mix the remaining basil leaves and oregano with the ground beef.
2. Add salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
3. Form into balls about 2 ½ inches in diameter.
4. Brush aluminium foil with butter and arrange meatballs.
5. Preheat oven for 15 minutes at 200oC and cook the meatballs.

Sauce and Meatballs:

1. Spread tomato sauce on two slices of bread.
2. Arrange 3 meatballs on top of one slice.
3. Pour 1 tablespoon of the tomato sauce over the meatballs and cover with a slice of cheese and the second slice of bread.
4. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Wife's Verdict: Jan's taste often veers towards salty but this one was noticeably subdued. That was just as well though. I think meatballs with tomato sauce are supposed to be low in salt so the real stars of the dish can shine through.

Jan's Quip: "This is how spaghetti sauce should taste like."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Roast Chicken Breast Wraps

We all ate in silence, pondering the gentle roll of sweet cherries over a fusion of soft chicken and crisp bacon. We passed out after, unhealthy but profoundly happy.



We haven’t been able to post anything here for some time. As many of you understand, life can sometimes get in the way, but when J is able to jump back into the kitchen and I onto my keyboard, the result is always a gustatory celebration.

This time, J decided to recreate a recipe from Perfect Roasts by Paragon Books Ltd. Of course he’s had to improvise. Thanks to my mom, we now have an oven to make improvisation and experimentation a lot easier.

To prepare the meat for cooking, simply season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. We’ve had to use seven half chicken breasts instead of seven whole ones. Wrap each in bacon strips and sprinkle with thyme.

Spread some butter on aluminum foil, one piece per chicken breast. Wrap each breast lightly in foil.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. While waiting, prepare the sauce. For our version we’ve had to use cherries instead of cranberries as recommended in the original recipe. Melt some butter in a pan and add lemon juice, cherries, sugar, salt and pepper. Use your best judgment on the measurements because these days, J hardly ever uses exact measurements, making life difficult for his scribe. :P Cook for a minute or two.

Next, cook the chicken breasts in the oven for 15 minutes. After which, remove the foil and transfer the chicken breasts and its drippings on to the roasting pan. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve with the sauce.

How does it taste? Sweet. Crunchy. Soft. Mildly salty. Yes, I’m never able to write complete sentences when there’s good food on the table.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pan Seared Salmon with Basil Pesto Sauce

I’ve been out of sorts lately, too busy to even comb my hair much less blog. Hence, none of the personal cook’s delectable dishes have found their way here. There were quite many in the past two months.

I can’t just let this blog die though. After all, the objective has always been to maintain a place to document all of his culinary experiments --- online memories we can someday happily revisit. So here’s one of them. He whipped this up to make me feel better while the responsibilities of life harassed me.

 
Ingredients:

2 slices salmon steak
2 tbsps. sliced button mushrooms
4 tbsps. olive oil
1 tbsp. pesto
2 pcs. basil leaves, shredded
¼ cup cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

Procedure:

1. Pat salmon steak dry and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil in a non stick pan and fry salmon for approximately one minute on each side or until a light brown crust has formed. Remove from heat.

3. Heat the remaining olive oil and sauté the garlic and mushrooms.

4. Add the cream, mixing occasionally for one minute.

5. Mix in the pesto and basil leaves.

6. Remove from heat and pour over salmon.

Wife’s Verdict: My mother-in-law would only eat fish if it was fried stiff, so when we were living under her roof, fish always had to be cooked that way. Although I’d eat fish regardless of how it’s prepared (as long as it’s not cooked black as charcoal), I do prefer fish with a little juice in it. This one was just what I needed. Soft, juicy, creamy… yum.

Jan’s Implied Quip: “When life gets you down, have some salmon.”

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tomato Pesto Pasta


Rustans Fresh opened in our city a couple of months ago and we are eternally grateful that it did. For the first time, we found new ingredients not readily available in regular grocery stores. It was in Rustans that Jan discovered an amazingly wonderful thing, tomato pesto!

Sometimes I find plain pesto a little strong, but the one mixed with tomato is milder and a lot tastier. The bottled paste that we bought is light orange in color and can be found in the imported section.

Here's Jan's perfect pasta dish with tomato pesto.
 
Ingredients:

250 grms. pasta
2 packs all purpose cream
1 medium sized onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can button mushroom, sliced
3 tbsp tomato-pesto
1 tbsp olive oil
Parsley to garnish
1 tbsp dried basil leaves

Procedure:

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

2. Heat oil in a pan and sauté garlic until slightly brown.

3. Add onions until transparent.

4. Add mushrooms. Cook for 1 min.

5. Pour cream and let it cook for 4 mins.  Mix thoroughly.

6. Add tomato-pesto and mix. Cook for another 4 mins.

7. Add basil leaves.

8. Remove from heat and pour over pasta.

9. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Wife's Verdict: Surprisingly tasty! I did not expect this because I always found green pesto strong and veering towards "herbal" in taste. I suppose the addition of tomato into the pesto paste changes everything. This is by far my favorite of Jan's pasta dishes.

Jan's Quip: "My best pasta recipe. At least until the next one comes along."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tuna with Salted Japanese Seaweed

Maybe we should learn to read and write Japanese. We like Japanese food a great deal but unfortunately, many imported ingredients available at the grocery store carry only Japanese labels and instructions.


Just recently, a Japanese consultant at Jan’s office left for Japan and very generously bequeathed the contents of his pantry to us. Unfortunately, we absolutely have no idea what most of the food and ingredients we have are. Jan has had to make guesses based on pictures on the packaging.

This dish is probably more properly categorized as a “guess” recipe.

Ingredients:

1 can tuna in brine, drained
2 tbsp. Japanese salted seaweed strips
2 leaves lettuce
1 tbsp mirin
½ bell pepper, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Procedure:

1. Heat pan and saute garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add bell pepper.

2. Mix in the tuna.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add mirin.

5. Remove from heat and arrange on top of the lettuce leaves. Top with salted Japanese seaweed.

Wife’s Verdict: Simple and tasty. I must say though that those salted seaweed strips were an absolute marvel. I couldn’t get enough of them. I just hope we used them correctly. Hahaha.

Jan’s Quip: “Of course I understand Japanese. What are pictures for?”

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spanish Mackerel - Tangigue Steak with Vegetables and White Wine


Jan and I love Jamie Oliver. He’s inventive, a bit of a maverick and wears cooking like a second skin. Also, he makes British cooking look extremely tasty.

As expected though, replicating his dishes isn’t easy for Jan. There are too many ingredients that aren’t found in our city. This wonderfully perplexing mish mash fish recipe however is largely inspired by Oliver’s daring style of just putting things together.

Ingredients:

½ kilo     Spanich mackerel (tangigue) steak (about 3 slices)
1pc    lemon
1 ½  cups white wine
1 cup    milk
5 tsp    olive oil
1 pc    onion, chopped
5 pcs    cherry tomatoes, halved
15 pcs    water spinach (kangkong) leaves
2 tbsp    dill, chopped
2 tbsp    parsley, chopped
1 tbsp    salt
1 tbsp    pepper

Procedure:

1.    Shape aluminum foil into a rectangular dish, about  1 ½ inch deep.

2.    Season tangigue with salt and pepper on each side and arrange in aluminum foil.

3.    Arrange along the sides the cherry tomatoes and onions.

4.    Cover steaks with mixed parsley and dill.

5.    Drizzle lemon zest all over the dish. Slice the lemon thinly and put on top of dill/parsley mix.

6.    Put the dish on top of grill and pour white wine and olive oil.

7.    Cover the dish with aluminum foil and let it boil (around 5-10 mins).

8.    Add the milk and arrange on the sides the kangkong leaves and cook for another  5 mins.

9.    Gently remove the fish and arrange on a plate with the kangkong, onions and tomatoes on the sides. You can add grilled asparagus to serve.

Wife’s Verdict: Sweet. Zesty. Heavy. Light. Sharp. Dull. Never has there been such a joyful, agreeable contrast in flavor and texture.

Jan’s Conflict Resolution Strategy: Keep me well-fed.
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