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Monday, August 29, 2011

Chef Ivy & Co

@ Sin Ming Bakery / Cookhouse / Whatever

“I love desserts, I love cooking.. can you show me how it’s done?”  Those were the questions posed to me by a friend of mine a month back, with the promise of having some of the recipes I’ve cooked before (and published here): and the to be our lunch for the day I decided to let Ivy loose in the kitchen.

Prior to the cooking however, we set about sourcing the ingredients.  Spending nearly every second day visiting the supermarket or wet market one tends to take the location of things as second nature; when visiting said establishments with people who don’t frequent such places you’re often seen in a slightly different light, so a mental note for those of you shopping; sometimes you’ve gotta take the time to help those who don’t regularly shop and help educate them on the variances of certain ingredients in the store.

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With the groceries done it came time to prep! Ivy and my new friend Garbor got down in the kitchen.  After a quick explanation of how best to slice and dice the ingredients, the chicken cordon bleu was ready in a flash and we were all set to get a frying!

Once the chicken was fried and the salad was made, all that was left was to sit down and savor our delicious lunch!  Well done Ivy.. told you cooking was easy peasy!

With the main out of the way there was a small question as to dessert.  The dessert that Ivy wanted to make was a chocolate fondant; despite her initial thought that it would be difficult she managed to soldier on and well all that I can say is that the result speak more than what I can write here.

Well done Ivy, knew you’d be able to cook like a pro.  It’s just a reminder to all of us out there that cooking should always be ‘fun’ if you don’t enjoy your time in the kitchen it will be reflected in the food that you dish out.  You don’t have to be a seasoned pro to produce good and tasty food, you just need the passion and the heart to dare to dream to try something new!

Sidney

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meatball Maddness

@ Sin Ming Bakery / Cookhouse / Whatever

While browsing through my recipe books I stumbled upon a  recipe for a Greek rendition of meatballs: Yiouvarlakia in Avgolemono Sauce (which basically translates into Meatballs in a Lemon-Egg sauce) and I thought to myself “a lemon-egg sauce? I wonder how that would taste"!”, so off I went to the kitchen to give it a try!

So here is my attempt at the Yiouvarlakia in Avgolemono Sauce recipe that I found in the June 2011 edition of Epicure magazine.

Ingredients – Yiouvarlakia (meatballs)

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 grated onion
  • 300g minced beef
  • 3 tablespoons of uncooked long grain rice
  • 2-3 sprigs of chopped dill
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 700ml Chicken stock

Directions – Yiouvarlakia

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste
  2. Using your hands or a small ice cream scoop mould meatballs
  3. Heat chicken stock in a pot, once simmering add meatballs, cover and allow to simmer
  4. Once meatballs start to float they are cooked, sift liquid and removed meatballs

Ingredients – Avgolemono

  • 2 eggs
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Directions – Avgolemono

  1. Using a whisk, beat eggs and lemon until frothy
  2. Ladle in meatball sauce into the egg-lemon mixture to temper (this gently heat egg yolks before adding to a hot sauce by adding a small bit of the sauce, this technique prevents curdling)
  3. Heat on very low heat until the sauce thickens
  4. Add meatballs

And hey presto you’re done! You can dress up the meatball soup with a few additional sprigs of dill!

Bon Appétit – Sidney

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What a Nice Rack!

@ Sin Ming Bakery / Cookhouse / Whatever

What do you do when you’ve got an ample supply of Rosemary (from your own little spice garden) and a rack of lamb sitting in the freezer?  Why not try a pesto marinade?

Having seen pictures of basil pesto recipes from a variety of sources I thought why not give a rosemary pesto on lamb a try; it should work right?  The fresh piney scent goes really well with a roasted lamb shoulder so why not give this a try.  Cooking I find is more about experimenting with things and seeing how far you can try pushing flavors and textures.  So it was off to the kitchen I went to give this recipe a try.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves and stems
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary plus rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 500g Frenched rack of lamb

Directions

Seared and Ready for Roasting

  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 200°c
  2. Place parsley, chopped rosemary, grated Parmesan cheese and garlic in a food processor
  3. Process to coarse paste. With machine running, gradually add olive oil
  4. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sear the lamb on both sides 2-3 minutes*
  6. Remove lamb from the pan and spread all pesto over rounded side of lamb
  7. Place back in cast iron pan (or baking tray) and roast in the oven for 5 minutes
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C and roast to desired doneness, about 5 minutes longer for medium-rare
  9. Cut lamb between bones into chops

*step is optional.  If you are omitting this step add an additional 5 minutes to steps 7 & 8

In addition to the lamb I oven roasted some South African pears and made carrot puree, let me know if you want the recipe for the carrot.

Bon Appétit – Sidney

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Visit to the Queen

Antoinette – Penhas Road

Address:Antionette Rating Meter

30 Penhas Road, Singapore

Tel: +65 6293 3121

 

Something’s been missing in my culinary life for the past few months, some would say it’s a craze (much like the bubble tea, pork floss and coffee bun fads) but I’ve always been in the hunt of the ideal macaron (and by the way before you correct me on the spelling “macaroon” is the coconut variant).  I use to love the macrons at Canele but when their head chef left so did (sad to say) the standard of their macarons and desserts!

Can’t Keep a Pastry Chef Down!

Enter stage left: Antoinette, a café/restaurant set up by chef Pang from the Les Amis group.  I’m happy to say he’s brought with him the taste and standard that I have been missing of late.  So with my pastry chef friend Sebastien, chef Bansani and the chili padi in tow so began our descent down the rabbit hole!

The interior is a welcome change to ‘cafes’ here in Singapore.  All the furniture is well spaced; no overcrowding, the furniture and fixtures are clean and elegant accentuating the Bourgeois nature of their cakes and pastries.  The set up and display is rather reminiscent of what they have at Canelé their desserts too draw many parallels to what you can find there; but hey what do you expect if the formula for success works why try to change it?  The only real differentiating factor visually are their boxes Smile

I’d tried their macarons on a previous occasion, they were the best (in my opinion) that you can get currently in Singapore; though funnily enough the macaron craze has all but died here now, but it hasn’t stopped me!

Verseille

All lovers of chocolate please fall in line!  This mean desert is chocolate and nothing but, rich and texture filled it symbolizes all things good in the world!

Tarte café Caramel

This take on a caramel tart was my favorite of the day.  The sweet pastry was nice and firm, yet still crumbly, while the caramel mouse with just a hint of coffee was awesome!

Mont Blanc

The mont blanc looked promising but it failed to deliver.  I found the texture and the taste of this dish more hit and miss than pulling me back for more!

Antoinette

This was another beautiful creation; much like the former queen of France herself.  It’s a cake comprised of milk chocolate mousse infused with earl grey, earl grey tea crumble, chocolate biscuit, dark chocolate earl grey cream, and raspberry, it was a shame to sink my fork into it, but when duty calls Smile 

Saint Honore L'amour

Profiteroles swimming in rose flavored cream was divine, topped with a sugared rose petal, a tad bit girly for my liking but I’m willing to look over that for the taste Winking smile

Religiuese Caramel fluer de sel

According to my friend Sebastien the ‘religiuese’ is actually modeled after a nun, and after taking a closer look.. low and behold he was right.  Who’d of thought religion would inspire desserts!  Oh by the way, it tasted awesome!

Le Royale

What do you get when you add chocolate, nuts and praline together? Chocolatey nutty goodness!  This cake was so moreish I was tempted not to share, everything just melted and swam in your mouth!

Antoinette is the place if you want to go to taste and sample good desserts and pastries in a not too cluttered environment.  It’s a place where you come and spend a lazy afternoon in the company of good friends (and a pastry) sitting and watching the world go by.  For those of you who like the convenience of the city, they have opened up their second branch at the Mandarin Gallery @ Orchard.  Let’s hope that they don’t go the way of Canele too soon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The First Joël..

L’Atelier Joël Rubuchon, Resorts World Sentosa

Address:joel Rating Meter

8 Sentosa Gateway

Hotel Michael Level 1, Resorts World Sentosa,

6577 7888

It’s not every day that you get a call from one of your good friends with an invitation to dine at an acclaimed Michelin Star restaurateur's Singapore rendition of: L’Atelier Joël Robuchon.  Having previously dined at a restaurant with food prepared by a Michelin star chef, I knew what to expect: clean tasting, beautifully presented food with a respect for ingredients.  It was something that I used as my bench mark for the evenings dining, I honestly couldn’t wait!

The Entrance – Welcome!

The entrance to the restaurant is an impressive sight in itself! Walking through the door we were greeted by our maitre d' who lead us through the ‘casual’ dining area of the restaurant; as a matter of fact L’Atelier is divided into to restaurants the casual and full service restaurants.

The interior of the restaurant remains consistent with L’Atelier’s around the world; the signature  black and red décor and the synonymous open concept kitchen ensure a standard ‘familiarity’ no matter which L’Atelier restaurant you visit in different parts of the world.  We were seated at the counter, though I thought it more conducive to sit at a table and chit chat; perhaps if it were just two people dining the counter made more sense.

A lot can be said of an eating establishment based on the bread that they serve.  I have to say I was very impressed with the wide variety of bread, just a note here to those of you who love butter with your bread, you’ve got to ask your waiter for the butter as they don’t usually serve it with the bread basket (oh and it’s unsalted butter)

Amuse Bouche - Foie Gras Custard with Red Porto wine and Parmesan Foam

The amuse bouche was divine; all the lovely sweet tasting goodness of foie gras in a custard with a little dash of the tart wine which was then balanced out by the creamy saltiness of foam! I could have eaten a dozen of these and still not be sick!

Le Vitello Tonato – Veal Carpaccio Topped with a Tuna Sauce

This dish was delicious, the mild flavor of the veal coupled with the tuna sauce was soft and silky.  I was too engrossed with eating this that I forgot to add these delectable morsels to the lettuce hearts!

L’Hamachi – Yellowtail Tuna Tartar with Spicy Tomato Sauce

I absolutely loved the tomato sauce, it was so nice, refreshing and complemented the tuna so well each bite left my mouth refreshed and wanting more.

IMG_1936Les Encornets – Squid and Artichokes Fried with Iberian Flavors

Cooking a squid is a delicate task; undercook the squid and it’s semi slimy, overcook it and you get yourself rubber bullets.  Luckily the squid here was cooked to perfection, coupled with the smooth texture of the artichokes and the saltiness of the Iberian cubes I was in a happy place Smile

IMG_1937Le Cochon De Lait – Milk Fed Pig with Braised Green Cabbage and Fresh Ginger

Mmmmm milk fed pork!  What’s the difference I hear you ask?  Well I don’t know if it was just me but the dish again seemed very ‘clean’ in that eating the pork it was well seasoned yet not overpowering on the palette, there wasn’t too much of the pork taste and the meat itself was smoother and sweeter, if that makes sense?  Coupled with the crispy fried pieces of ginger and the soft creamy mash it was absolutely delicious!

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La Sphere – Caribbean, Hazelnut Dacquoise, Thin Orizaba Chocolate Leaves (before)

Have you ever had anything on your plate that looked just so nice that you avoid eating cause you don’t want to ruin it?  La Sphere was a thing of beauty; a pristine chocolate ball sitting atop halved raspberries..

IMG_1940La Sphere – Caribbean, Hazelnut Dacquoise, Thin Orizaba Chocolate Leaves (after)

Pour over it a warm pot of raspberry compote (yes I really did it) and you get a warm cold chocolatety melted ball of yumminess!  After reluctantly sharing some of it with my friends I ate the remainder of my desert in gleeful silence!

Aside from the amuse bouche and the desert (which were really way over the top) I kind of expected a little more flare or ‘specialness’ from the other dishes; perhaps I was expecting too much?  But hey this is just my opinion / my review.  I do highly recommend you going there to try the food, the excellent service and the ambiance for yourself.  It was a fantastic experience; thankful most for the company that evening!

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