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Toaster Oven Baked Salmon


(serves 2)
Baked Salmon is one of those dishes that is a good fit for the unique qualities of the toaster oven, allowing it to be cooked to tender perfection every time.
 This recipe is fuss free and fast, you can manage it in under 15 minutes if you are versed in the ways of the kitchen. The dish also comes complete with pasta and veggies cooked in the juices of the salmon, making it a complete meal in of itself. This recipe is for 2 servings but can easily be scaled down to 1.

Ingredients

  1. Salmon Fillet (2 belly fillets = 450g)
  2. Pasta (140g)
  3. Garlic (9 cloves = 3/4 bulb)
  4. Mayonnaise
  5. Coriander Seed Powder 
  6. Butter (30g)
  7. Misc Vegetables (optional) 

Preparation 

  1. Put a few cups of water with 1t salt and a knob of butter to boil in a pan. You can also use a pot, but a pan means one less thing to wash up later. Also preheat the toaster oven, after you remove the baking tray.
  2. Peel the garlic and mince it through a garlic press. Wet the garlic with a touch of olive oil. I normally use bottled garlic (see notes), a great time saver.
  3. Dust the salmon fillets with salt, black pepper and coriander seed powder. Don’t forget the sides of the fillets, which you can rub against the seasoning on the board.
  4. If you plan to have veggies, you can use practically any type, par boil them in the pan at this stage.
  5. Arrange the garlic on the tray in the shape of the fillets. Place the fillets on the garlic in the position shown in the picture below. Cover the fish with thin slices of butter.
  6. Put the tray into the (hot) toaster oven and readjust the dial to 5 minutes. When the toaster goes ding! leave the fish in for a further 5 minutes to slow cook.
  7. In the mean while, fish out the veggies and throw the pasta into the same boiling water. When the pasta is semi soft, drain the water away and turn off the heat, leaving the pasta in the pan.
  8. When the 10 minutes is up, temperarily place the salmon onto a plate. Mix 1T of mayo into the hot drippings of salmon oil, butter and garlic. Pour the mixture over the pasta in the pan. Fire up the pan and add the veggies.
  9. Put the salmon back on the now empty tray and use a kitchen torch or cigar lighter to crisp the skin evenly. Then put the whole thing back into the toaster to keep it warm.
  10. When the pan is searing hot, add 1/4 cup of water. Stir fry till the pasta is al dente and then plate the pasta together with the salmon.

Notes

  • THIS IS POST NO. 100.
  • Salmon comes in three cuts. Tail fillets, mid body cross sections, and thick boneless belly fillet. Use only belly fillet and don’t use salmon that has been frozen before.
  • Salmon is one of those special fish which you don’t have to fully cook, like beef steak. My 5+5 timing results in nice pink tender meat which sloughs off easily in layers that melt in your mouth. If you want it more well done, set the dial to 6 minutes.  
  • To ensure even cooking, position the salmon with the thin ends touching to the side, and the fish slightly towards the back of the tray. This is because the center and back of the toaster oven is always hotter.
  • If you don’t have a kitchen torch (and I strongly recommend you get one) your other alternative is to peel away the skin since it will not be cooked sufficiently on the thinner parts of the fish that are further from the heating element.
  • I keep a bottle of store bought minced garlic in oil in the fridge for recipes where minced garlic is cooked. Its perfect for this recipe. Or you can just make some of your own ahead of time.
 
 

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Lasagna Carbonara


(serves 4-5)
How does one go about marrying lasagna with carbonara? I’ve used pretty much the same run-of-the-mill ingredients as you would find in any carbonara : bacon, pasta, parmigiano, egg yolk; but I had to get a little creative to make it work, introducing a juicy bacon terrine to house the ‘carbonara’ between the layers of lasagna pasta and mushrooms. The end result is another kobi-original.  

Ingredients

  1. Bacon (12 slices)
  2. Marscapone (250g)
  3. Parmigiano Reggiano (100g)
  4. Emmental (100g)
  5. Eggs (2)
  6. Brown Mushrooms (200g)
  7. Onion (1)
  8. Lasagna (8 slices)
  9. Bread (4 Slices)
  10. Milk (1 cup)
  11. White Wine (1/2 cup)
  12. Oregano
  13. Turmeric

Preparation 

  1. Dice the onion and cut the mushrooms into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Cut the bread into cubes after trimming away the crust. Soak the bread in a mixture of 1 cup of milk and two egg yolks. Use a large bowl as you will be adding more things to it later.
  3. Finely grate the parmigiano reggiano. Slice the emmental into thin pieces.
  4. Stack your bacon on the cutting board such that the fat layers coincide and trim off some of the fat as shown in the photo. There is no where for the fat to go once it melts so this is an essential step. Discard the trimmings and then cut the meat into small pieces.
  5. Pan fry the onion in a bit of oil over low heat till they soften and start to brown. Pour in 1/2 cup of white wine and reduce it to 1/4 of its original volume. After you turn off the heat, add the marscapone and stir well.
  6. Add the contents of the pan to the big bowl. In addition, add 1T oregano,1t sugar, 1/2t turmeric and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Finally add the bacon bits and 3/4 of the grated  parmigiano reggiano.
  7. Mix the contents of the bowl well with a large spoon. Use a food processor to blend everything until you get a lumpy bacon paste. There is no need for it to be totally smooth. This is your sauce.
  8. Preheat your oven to 160oC (320oF).
  9. Apply a thin layer of the sauce to the bottom of a pyrex dish (that can hold eight cups of water). The add layers on top of it in the following sequence: pasta, mushroom, sauce, pasta, emmental, sauce, mushroom,  pasta, sauce. You don’t have that much sauce, ration it appropriately so you don’t run out before the end. Top off with the remaining grated parmigiano reggiano. 
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes or until you see the parmigiano form a golden brown crust. The lasagna is best served with a sunny-side-up egg on top (not in the picture because I didn’t want to obscure the beautiful lasagna crust).

Notes

  • The inspiration for thsi recipe comes from a ‘white’ lasagna I ate when my dad took me on a vacation to Europe. I was only 11 years old, but the taste of that dish from Venice lingers in my mind til today. I didn’t come across a similar dish for over three decades so I finally decided the only way I was going to taste something similar was to cook it myself.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, use pancetta instead of regular bacon. You can also consider dressing the plate with some actual carbonara sauce (which is what I should have done for the photo but was too lazy).
  • I prefer to work with ‘instant’ lasagna as it is less messy. When using this type of pre-cooked lasagna, one must remember to soak each piece of the pasta in hot water for about 10 seconds to get rid of their coating of fine flour. If you choose to use uncooked pasta, boil them till it they are semi-soft -between steps 8 and 9.
 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in A Kobi Original, Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe

 

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Farfalle in Oxtail Reduction, with Truffle


(serves 6 - appetizer size)
Ever come across that rare pasta dish that doesn’t use tomatoes, cheese, cream, olive oil or bits of meat? This is it. Its sauce is a high-gelatine reduction of oxtail consommé. Despite its simple appearance, I consider this to be one of my consummate pasta recipes. It has the full flavour of meat, but no meat itself and to round it off, the pasta is lightly topped with a few slices of truffle to give it the perfect aroma. It might take some time to prepare this dish, but its not technically difficult and it will be well worth the effort.

Ingredients

  1. Oxtail (800g)
  2. Dried Red Dates (20)
  3. Truffles Slices in Oil (60g bottle)
  4. Farfalle (300g)
  5. Fennel Seeds (1T)
  6. Thyme  
  7. Oxo Beef Cubes (2)
  8. Brandy

Preparation 

  1. Make deep slits across the white connective tissue to expose the meat beneath. Place the oxtail in a pot and top off with boiling water till the meat is just covered. Use a pot where all your oxtail can fit in without stacking, but keep it as small as possible to minimize the amount of water.
  2. Apply low heat and keep at a slow simmer for 1 hour followed by 2 hours of gradual cooling while covered. Top off with water occasionally to keep the oxtail covered. Repeat the simmer/cooling a seond time. 
  3. Add the red dates and do the simmer/cooling a third time, but this time don’t top up with water. If you add all that up, the minimum cooking time is 9 hours. It would be best if you let the oxtail cool overnight while you sleep in one of the cycles.

    nothing but oxtail, red dates, water and lots of simmering

  4. When the meat is finally shrinking away from the bone (see photo), remove all the solids from the pot. In a bowl dissolve 2 Oxo beef cubes and 1t sugar in half a cup of hot water. Add this beef stock plus 1T fennel seeds, 1T chopped thyme, 2T Brandy to the pot.
  5. Reduce under low heat till the mixture begins to thicken. Cover and allow to cool. This concludes the pre-preparation phase.
  6. When its close to dinner time, boil a new pot of water with a knob of butter and pinch of salt. Half cook your pasta in this and then strain it.
  7. Put your concentrated oxtail bullion through a fine tea strainer to remove all solids and pour the resulting sauce into a non-stick pan and reheat till boiling. Add the half cooked pasta to the pan and stir fry it in the sauce till it is al dente. You’ll probably need to add water to keep the pan from drying up, but add only a bit at a time. At the very end, taste and decide if you need to add salt.
  8. Arrange the pasta on dishes and top off with a few pieces of truffle and a very light drizzle of the oil the truffle is soaked in. A small 60g bottle should be enough but you can use more if you like. If you have fresh truffles to shave on, all the better.

Notes

  • The cooked meat can be stripped from the bone and shredded for a second dish like braised oxtail, oxtail shepherds pie or jellied oxtail; no point letting all that work to soften it go to waste. Remember to drench the shredded meat in some of the bullion to keep it from hardening.
  • Why use oxtail when plain beef is so much easier to work with? It is the gelatine extracted from the connective tissue that makes this recipe work, so you need to use either the tail, cheeks or a certain part of the ribs. For a pork version, the trotters will work as well as the tail.
  • I picked bow-tie pasta because its shape is perfect for capturing the sauce. When you look at the picture, you can see the pasta is brown because it is completely coated. If you want to try something else, stick to small pasta that is in plain wheat colour.
  • Dried red dates are a common Korean/Chinese ingredient for soup and they go really well with beef. Another good thing about them is they float, so they won’t get stuck under the oxtail and become burnt during the long simmer (and thats why we didn’t throw in the herbs until the final reduction phase). If you can’t find dried red dates, go with fresh wedges of apple.
  • If you find truffles too costly, you can just use truffle oil without the truffles. Or try other garnishes. Pick those with a strong aroma and weak flavour, for example: Deep fried shallots, pan fried fennel or perhaps coriander/cilantro leaves.
 
 

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Rigatoni with Ragout of BBQ Ribs


(serves 4)
This recipe uses pre-cooked southern style BBQ pork ribs and as the meat is already saturated with flavour and tenderized during the BBQ process, this makes for a fast and convenient ragout pasta. It’s delicious but probably the last thing you’d find on the menu in an Italian restaurant, given that its main ingredient is from the US of A. The other key ingredient is mascarpone, which has the effect of transforming the tangy BBQ sauce into a hearty ragout sauce.
 
Ingredients
  1. Rigatoni Pasta (350g)
  2. BBQ Pork Ribs (half slab)
  3. Mascarpone (250g)
  4. BBQ Sauce (0.5 cup)
  5. Bourbon (2 T)
  6. Chicken Stock Cube (0.5)
  7. Coriander Seed Powder (1t)
  8. Chopped Basil (1T)

Preparation

  1. Put a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. 
  2. Next, debone you ribs. Without paying too much attention to appearance, cut the meat into smaller bits. You should end up with about 3 cups of meat. 
  3. Using half a cup of hot water, dissolve your chicken cube. Add to it 1t of sugar and 1t of coriander seed powder. If you have (salted) chicken stock available, you can use that instead of the cube.  
  4. In a pot (or frying pan if you have a big one), fry the meat in 2T of olive oil, doing your best to smash the pieces into shreds (with a wooden spatula). This should take a minute or so once the oil is hot. – By now your water should be boiling and you can put your rigatoni into the water.
  5. With the fire still going, add the mascarpone, BBQ sauce (I like hickory smoked myself) and 2T of bourbon. Cook for another minute and then remove from heat.
  6. You should cook your pasta until it is still hard but no longer powdery when bitten. Rigatoni takes longer to cook than most other pasta so this should take about 7 minutes, but will depend on each particular brand.
  7. When the pasta is ‘done’ , drain it and then add it to the sauce in the pot. Pour in the chiken stock and continue to cook the pasta in the pot until it is al dente, or as soft as you like. Stir gently all the way. You are supposed to reduce the water content by heating but if it looks like the sauce is drying up to much, add a bit of water. Add salt to taste if neccessary at the end. 
  8. Sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with some chopped basil after you have placed the individual servings on their plates.

Notes

  • The Italian term ‘ragu’ is usually used when you have a meat and veggie bolognaise style sauce. ‘Ragout’ is the French term and is interpreted more loosely to include any kind of slow cooked meat sauce. 
  • When using ragout or any other sauces with chunks of meat, you have to stick to the large pasta so the meat has a surface to cling to. If you don’t have any rigatoni handy, you can also try parpadelle or hand torn lasagne.
  • One of the key secrets in making pasta dishes is to undercook and do the final softening in the sauce itself. This allows the pasta to capture flavour from the sauce and also keeps the temperature from falling before you serve.
  • The whole idea is to not have to BBQ the ribs yourself. You can buy pre-cooked BBQ ribs at the supermarket, order home delivery, or as I often do: over-order at the restaurant and doggie-bag half a slab. However, if you want to BBQ the ribs yourself, I have a recipe for BBQ ribs as well.
 
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Posted by on March 1, 2010 in Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe

 

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Penne with Smoked Salmon, in Dill Cream


(serves 3)
If there is one herb that brings out the best in smoked salmon, it is dill weed. So why not use them together in a pasta sauce? This is a simple, yet delightful pasta dish, ideal for first timers and people comfortable in the kitchen alike. I’ve arranged the recipe so you can cook the pasta and the sauce at the same time, so you should be able to make it in under twenty minutes.

Ingredients

  1. Penne Pasta (3 cups)
  2. Smoked Salmon (200 g)
  3. Cream (1 cup)
  4. Grana Padano (3T)
  5. Garlic (2 cloves)
  6. Dill Weed (3t)
  7. Brandy

Preparation

  1. Put a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Then peel and press your 2 garlic cloves. 
  2. Next, you need to flake the smoked salmon. Stack your smoked salmon pieces in 3s and roll them up.  Cut each roll lengthwise once and then proceed to slice the rolls into thin pieces.
  3. In a pot (or frying pan if you have a big one), fry the salmon in 3T of olive oil, doing your best to smash the pieces into flakes (with a wooden spatula). This should take a minute or so once the oil is hot. – By now your water should be boiling and you can put your penne into the water.
  4. With the fire still going, add 1 cup of cream and 2t of dill weed to the salmon. Cook for another minute. To round off the sauce, add 1t sugar, the pressed garlic (1 heaped t or so) and 4T brandy before you turn off the heat.
  5. Grate some Grana Padano into a fine shaving. You should end up with 3T of grated cheese.
  6. You should cook your pasta until it is still hard but no longer powdery when bitten. Penne takes longer to cook than most other pasta so this should take about 7 minutes, but will depend on each particular brand.
  7. When the penne is ‘done’ , drain it and then add it to the sauce in the pot. Continue to cook the pasta in the pot until it is al dente, or as soft as you like. If it looks like the sauce is drying up from the heat, add a bit of water. You may need to do this a few times.
  8. With the fire off, stir in your grated cheese till it melts and then divide onto your serving dishes. As a final touch, sprinkle lightly with black pepper and 1 further t of Dill weed. 

Notes

  • If you are into drinking, add the brandy at the end so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate.
  • One of the key secrets in making pasta dishes is to undercook and do the final softening in the sauce itself. This allows the pasta to capture flavour from the sauce and also keeps the temperature from falling before you serve.
  • This recipe calls for Grana Padano as it is the mildest of the grated cheeses. Although you are using only a little cheese, if you use a stonger grating cheese, the smell may overpower the primary flavour.
  • You can use Rigatoni if you don’t have any Penne handy but the 3 cups amount is for Penne.  With the bigger tubes, you’ll need a ‘larger’ amount.  I guess thats why some people use the weight rather than volume?
 
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Posted by on December 10, 2009 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe

 

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Macaroni and Cheese


(serves 3-4) 
A while back I came up with a ‘European’ version of Mac & Cheese, which contains a secret ingredient, bacon. When you want to add flavour to a vegetarian dish, use meat I always say. It’s great as a side dish or can be eaten on its own. I’ve also made it extra creamy by using mascapone and doing away with any kind of bread or flour.  I guess that sums up why my macaroni and cheese is European?   

Ingredients 

  1. Emmental (125g)
  2. Mascarpone (125 g)
  3. Cheddar Singles (4 slices)
  4. Farfalle Pasta  (3 cups)
  5. Onion (1/2)
  6. Bacon (5 slices)
  7. Milk (1/2 cup)
  8. Chicken Cube (1)
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Tarragon
  11. Brandy

Preparation

  1. The recipe starts off with a soffritto of bacon and onion. Cut your bacon and onion into pieces not exceeding 3x3mm in size. The smaller the better as they have to disintegrate into the cheese. The bacon needs to be almost frozen for you to accomplish this easily.  In a pan, heat the bacon until some of the fat liquifies and then add the onion bits.
  2. While the soffritto is frying, cut the Emmental into 1 cm cubes so that it fills half a cup. Take the opportunity to dissolve a chicken cube in 3/4 cup of hot water to make chicken stock. Mash the cube with a spoon to ensure it dissolves. At this point, preheat oven.
  3. When the onion softens, add the chicken stock and milk. Boil for 30 seconds. Next add the Mascarpone, then Emmental and finally the cheddar singles in that order, making sure the previous cheese has been fully mixed in and melted before adding the next one. Reduce this under low heat until you end up with about 2 cups of sauce. Flavour with 1t of white pepper, 1t of coriander seed powder, 1T of tarragon and 2T of brandy. Set aside.
  4. Now for the pasta.  Pick a pyrex or casserole dish where the raw pasta fills about half the container. Boil the pasta for five minutes (olive oil and pinch of salt in water before pasta) and then strain. 
  5. Place the pasta, which should still be hard, into the pyrex or casserole dish. Pour the the cheese mixture in and mix lightly. Bake for 20 minutes at about 180oC (350oF) or until cheese begins to brown.  

Notes

  • OK, I didn’t actually use macaroni. I’ve swapped in bowtie pasta for macaroni as coats and stacks well but really any type of non-noodle pasta will do.
  • Why am I using the yucky processed cheese instead of real cheddar? It melts well because of its inferiority and gives the cheese sauce just the right consistency by preventing the emmental from clumping. The emmental is the main flavour so don’t fret, no one will know there is processed cheese unless you tell them.
  • You can also choose to make the macaroni and cheese in individual portions by baking a seperate serving for each person in a ramekin.
 
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Posted by on November 7, 2009 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe

 

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Spaghetti Bolognese


(serves 1) 
This is the quintissential Italian dish that is ironically seldom found in Italy, and also the perfect rush food. You pre-make the sauce and freeze it and when the time comes, boil the pasta and reheat the sauce. But you can go one step further and serve the perfect spaghetti bolognese. Here’s how…. 
 
p.s. this is for one serving, so you can scale it up to any number of servings easily.
 
Ingredients 
  1. Bolognese Sauce (1 cup)
  2. Spaghetti (63g)
  3. Cheddar Singles (1)
  4. Butter 
  5. Parsley Flakes
  6. Sherry (1t)

Preparation

  1. OK, first I am going to assume you have already made the bolognese sauce ahead of time (my Bolognese Sauce Recipe is here ). If not, make the sauce first.
  2. Half fill a large pot with water and heat to a boil with a pinch of salt and a knob of butter. When it is boiling (and not a second before) put your spaghetti in. Dried pasta comes in packs of 500g and these make 8 servings, so that’s why I have a funny quanity like 63g. The spaghetti is long, hard and brittle and it can’t fit in the pot in one go. Hold your pasta in a bunch and wet one end in the boiling water first, then put the other end in. This helps the pasta cook evenly.
  3. Cook until the pasta is al dente (i.e. slightly hard), keeping in mind it will continue to soften even after it is strained. Some people advocate flushing in cold water to stop the cooking process but I normally just compensate by cooking the pasta a tad less. I don’t really like the pasta to get cold.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, you should heat up your sauce in a saucepan.  Add 1t of sherry and 1 slice of processed cheese to enhance flavour. The singles are perfect for this purpose as their  inferiority to good cheese allows them to melt easily into the sauce. This is the one step that will make your spaghetti bolognese special.
  5. Arrange the spaghetti on your serving plate, mix in a second knob of butter and sprinkle in some parsley flakes. That little bit of green makes all the difference in presentation.
  6. Finish off by spooning the sauce onto the centre of the pasta in a circle. At the dining table itself, coarse grate a generous amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the entire plate.
 
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Posted by on October 17, 2009 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta

 

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Angel Hair Nippon-ara


This post has been reposted here under a new name.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2009 in Appetizers, Italian, Pasta, Recipe

 

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