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Caesar’s Salad


(serves 3-4)
If there is one salad that everybody likes, it’s Caesar’s Salad. The Caesar is the salad for people who are not into salads; it’s got the taste of bacon, the taste of fish and also cheese. At the same time the Romaine lettuce doesn’t have the bitter taste of the greener leafy vegetables while the dressing is beautifully creamy. Everything that can be done to make a salad less like a salad defines the Caesar. In my version I incorporate the super salty slivers of anchovy that often catch you by surprise into the salad dressing itself.  

Ingredients

  1. Romaine Lettuce Hearts (2)
  2. Cherry Tomatoes (8)
  3. Bacon (4 rashes)
  4. Bread (2 Slices)
  5. Anchovy in Oil (10g)
  6. Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (40g)
  7. Mayonnaise
  8. Mustard
  9. Vinegar
  10. Minced Garlic
  11. Vegetable Oil

Preparation 

  1. Slice 4 rashes of bacon into 1cm squares. Fry the bacon in a pan to render their oil. Turn off the fire when three quarters of the bits are hard and crispy, allowing the residual heat to brown the remainder. Spoon out the bacon, leaving the oil in the pan.
  2. Dice 2 slices of bread into 1cm squares. Stir the bread cubes in the pan to soak up the oil from the bacon. To make them into croutons, toast the bread pieces in the toaster oven for 15 min at 120oC to harden them and a further 3 min at 180oC to impart some colour.
  3. Mash 2 slivers of anchovy in their oil in a mixing bowl. You should end up 2t of anchovy oil suspension. You may need to heat the anchovy in the pan for them to disintegrate – see notes below.
  4. Peel and mince a few cloves of garlic.
  5. Add 1t mustard, 2t minced garlic, 2t vinegar and a pinch of sugar to the bowl and mix well.
  6. Add 4T of mayonnaise and mix well. Then add 3T of vegetable oil 1T at a time, stirring the oil in each time before the next spoon. This is your Caesar’s salad dressing.
  7. Cut each of the Romaine lettuce hearts into 5 equal sections. Open up the sections into individual pieces and place them in a large salad bowl. Cut each cherry tomato into half and add them to the salad. Spoon in the salad dressing and toss well.
  8. Separate the salad into plates at this stage if you are serving the salad individually.
  9. Top off the salad with the bacon bits and croutons.
  10. Grate your cheese and sprinkle over the salad.
  11. Finish with some black pepper.

Notes

  • Anchovy from a can will fall apart easily. Anchovy from a bottle is of a higher quality and requires heating before it will disintegrate into a suspension. I typically just heat the contents of the whole bottle of anchovies in a pan, mash them and pour everything back into the bottle after its cooled. This makes it really convenient to spoon out the anchovy suspension whenever I need it.
  • Add 1T of water to the salad dressing if you are not rinsing your lettuce.
  • Do not use extra-virgin olive oil as you don’t want the taste of olives in your Caesar’s salad. Use any kind of vegetable oil, or a light olive oil is fine too.
  • Follow the sequence given for making the dressing. If you add the oil before the mayonnaise, it will be impossible to get a smooth mixture.
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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Appetizers, Recipe, Salad

 

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Chicken A La King


(serves 3)
Chicken A La King is simple conceptually, but it is one of the most difficult dishes to perfect. My mom taught me how to make this the standard way when I was young and over the decades I’ve developed my own improved method of preparing Chicken A La King, one that has superior flavour and at the same time avoids all your typical A La King problems (see notes). I have yet to taste a better version in any restaurants I’ve tried – something I can’t say about any of my other recipes. 

Ingredients

  1. Chicken Legs with Thigh (2)
  2. Capsicum a.k.a. Bell Pepper (1)
  3. Brown Mushrooms (150g)
  4. Leek (1)
  5. Milk (1 cup)
  6. Butter (100g)
  7. Flour (3T)
  8. Anchovy in Oil (10g)
  9. Chicken Stock Cube (1/2)
  10. Cream Cheese (1T)
  11. Worcestershire Sauce
  12. Sherry
  13. Coriander Seed Powder
  14. Cooked Rice (4 cups)

Preparation 

  1. Pour 1 cup of milk in a cup and spoon 1T of cream cheese into a bowl, to let them warm up.
  2. Fry 2 slivers of anchovy in its oil in a pot until you can mash the anchovy into a fine suspension. Add 3 cups of water and half a chicken cube and bring to a low simmer.
  3. Cut the leek in two and put the top (green) part into the stock pot. Slice the bottom portion lengthwise into half, then cut into 1/8 inch thick half rings. Cut the mushroom into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut the capsicum into 1/2 inch squares; making sure you discard all the seeds and white pulp.
  4. Debone the chicken legs and add the bones to the stock pot. Cut the meat into bite sized chunks – its more important that the pieces of chicken are of the same thickness than of the same volume. Place any excess flaps of skin into the stock pot.
  5. Mix 1T of oil, 1T Worcestershire sauce, 1t coriander seed powder, 0.5t salt in a large bowl. Put the chicken chunks into the bowl and mix well.
  6. Stir fry the leek pieces in a large pan with some oil on low heat until they begin to go limp. Turn up the fire and push the leek to one side of the pan.
  7. Add the chicken when the pan is really hot and stir fry until no visible part of the chicken is raw. Then combine with the leek and continue to stir fry until the chicken is cooked (i.e. shrunk a bit like the first photo). Move the chicken to a temp container.
  8. Melt 70g (1/3 of a standard block) of butter in the same pan on low heat. Spoon in 3T of flour and stir fry until the flour begins to darken. Very slowly add the cup of milk a bit at a time while stirring continuously with a flat spatula to combine all three ingredients. When all the milk is used up, continue the process by adding the hot chicken stock instead. Finally, stir the cream cheese into the sauce. When you are done you should have a smooth velvety white sauce.
  9. Add the diced capsicum to the sauce and continue to simmer, until the capsicum is no longer rigid. This will take a while, perhaps 10 minutes, add hot water as needed. Next add the mushrooms and 1T of sherry. When the mushrooms begin to shrink, add the chicken and simmer for 1 more minute. Sprinkle on black pepper and taste the sauce to see if salt is required.
  10. Serve with steamed white rice, topped with a knob of butter.

Notes

  • Capsicums comes in 4 different colours which have different tastes. Red is sweet and easiest on the taste buds, Green is an acquired taste as it is less ripe and bitter. Orange and yellow capsicums are in between the two. A mixture of two types would be visually pleasing if you are cooking a double portion.
  • If you are using chicken breasts instead of legs, you should brine them first. There will be no need to marinate the brined chicken pieces as they are already salty.
  • Chicken A La King is supposed to be served with steamed white rice. If you don’t have rice, the other permissible option for Chicken A La King is puff pastry cups (a.k.a. vol au vent). I am against serving it with bread or pasta as some websites show. 
  • How is my recipe different from the commonly used ones?
    • 1. Cooking the chicken separately under a high heat will remove any freezer taste.
    • 2. Using chicken stock enhanced with anchovy brings out the flavour of chicken in the white sauce.
    • 3. The extended cooking time for the sauce removes any residual taste of flour and fully infuses the sauce with the taste of the capsicum.
 
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Posted by on February 20, 2018 in English, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Flourless New England Clam Chowder


(serves 10)
New England or Boston Clam Chowder, the ultimate blending of seafood and vegetables in a hearty soup. When you are making 
America’s most famous soup there are a few things you want. Thicken the chowder without any taste of flour, make the chowder faster without having to wait an eternity for the potatoes to disintegrate, give the chowder rich layers of flavour. After a lot of trial and error, I think I have come up with just the right recipe to achieve all these things. 

Ingredientsclam chowder 1000

  1. Canned Clams in Brine (3 x 184g)
  2. Bacon (6 slices)
  3. Canned Anchovies in Oil (50g wet weight)
  4. White Wine (0.5 cup)
  5. Potatoes (5 large)
  6. Leek (1 stalk)
  7. Onions (2)
  8. Scallion (10 stalks)
  9. Mascarpone (125g)
  10. Bread (4 slices)
  11. Hon Dashi
  12. Sherry
  13. Dill Weed

Preparation Part I

  1. Cut the crust off 4 slices of bread and leave in the fridge to dry overnight.
  2. Peel the potatoes. Boil 3 (not all 5) of them in a large pot with 10 cups of water.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, cube the bread into 1cm pieces and crush them into crumbs in a plastic bag with a mallet. Toast the bread cubes lightly if they are not crispy enough to be smashed.
  4. Dice 5 slices of semi frozen bacon and allow them to thaw.
  5. Fish the potatoes from the pot after boiling them for 20 minutes. Keep the water on a low simmer and put the bread crumbs in.
  6. Julienne the onions. Partially open a tin of anchovies and pour its oil into a pan. Fry half of the onions on low heat in the pan, stirring occasionally.
  7. In the meanwhile dice the remaining 2 potatoes into 1cm cubes. Julienne the scallion and the leek. Don’t add them to the pot just yet; you can put the cut vegetables with the raw onion bits.
  8. When the onions have become limp and translucent, mash the anchovies in the tin itself and add to the pan. Stir fry for a minute to mix the anchovy into the onions, turn up the fire and then deglaze the pan with half a cup of white wine. Bring to a boil and after a minute pour the contents of the pan into the simmering pot.
  9. Next, stir fry the bacon bits in the same pan. When the bacon fat has rendered and the bacon begins to brown add the brine from the clams, reserving the meat for later use. After a minute after it reaches boiling, again pour the contents of the pan into the (still simmering) pot.
  10. When all the breadcrumbs have melted, mash the 3 cooked potatoes and add the mash to the pot followed by all the vegetable bits. Add 1T of Hon Dashi pellets, 1T dill weed and 1t sugar. Top up with water such that everything is submerged. Continue to simmer for another 40 minutes stirring occasionally, then leave the pot covered on the stove to cool.
  11. When you are about ready to serve your clam chowder, bring the pot back to a boil and add the clam meat. Place 125g of mascarpone in a bowl with some hot liquid from the pot. Mix until all the lumps are gone and pour back into the pot.
  12. Add 3T of sherry and 1t black pepper, simmer for a further 5 minutes and then add salt (and sugar) to taste. Serve with oyster or other similar type of unsalted crackers

 Notes

  • If you have fresh clam meat you can add that to the chowder in step 10, but you still need to use the canned clams, for the clam brine.
  • Yes I did not use any celery in my recipe, its not essential in my opinion. If you insist on adding some chopped celery, fry them with the onions in step 6.
  • If you are using waxy type potatoes, you can keep the skin on the diced potatoes if you prefer. Depending on the size of your potatoes you may need more than 5; I’ve assumed the use of large ones. For a thinner chowder, mash only 2 potatoes.
  • If you don’t have any Hon Dashi, you can substitute in any kind of seafood-type stock cube.
 
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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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High Tea Sandwich Rolls


(serves 6)
The sandwich roll is simple yet elegant way of making canapés. There are several advantages to the sandwich roll.  Sandwich rolls are easier to make than fancy tower canapés. They don’t dirty your hands eating them. However you hold them you don’t have to worry about bits falling off. They are bite-sized. Less bread is exposed to air, reducing the amount of bread that dries as your sandwiches sit there waiting to be eaten. And you know what? Sandwich rolls just look nice.        
 

Ingredients Salmon Rolls

  1. Eggs (3)
  2. Smoked Salmon (100g)
  3. Anchovy in Oil (Small Tin)
  4. White Bread (12 Slices)
  5. Red Onion (1)
  6. Cucumber (1)
  7. Cream Cheese (200g)
  8. Guacamole (150g)
  9. Dill Weed.
  10. Nori Sheet (1, optional)
  11. Maple Syrup
  12. Cumin
  13. Mayonnaise

 

The Basics Basic Sandwich Roll

  1. Use white sandwich bread or yellow bread. Brown bread is harder and less malleable, not meant for rolling.
  2. As you can’t roll bread with crust, its best to use bread that is perfectly square or rectangular.
  3. Use bread that is fresh, that you just bought from the supermarket, not bread you have kept in the fridge for a week. Dry bread will be too brittle to bend without cracking.
  4. After you have cut the crusts off, flatten each piece of bread individually. This is the secret to the rolled sandwich, squashing it with a rolling pin. You can also press down sequentially using the cheek of the blade of a large knife to achieve the same effect.
  5. Whatever you choose to put inside your sandwich must include a creamy spread like mayonnaise, Heinz sandwich spread, tahini, cream cheese, peanut butter, jam etc. as the binding agent. This will hold the roll in place.
  6. The simplest version consists of just a simple spread which you cover the entire piece of bread with – like the Curried Egg Salad Rolls below.
  7. For variety you can add slender sticks of cucumber or cheese for texture – like the Anchovy Infused Cream Cheese Rolls below.
  8. You cannot use whole sheets of meat or cheese and this will completely nullify the effect of the binding spread, unless you rolled them up and have them as the core. This method is shown in the Smoked Salmon Avocado Rolls at the bottom.
  9. The 3 varieties explained here are savoury, but you can make sweet sandwich rolls too. Dried apricot or fresh bananas can be used as the core for example.

Curried Egg Salad Rolls  Egg Sandwich

  1. Boil 3 eggs for 15 minutes. Begin with cold water so the eggs don’t crack and begin counting the time only after the water starts boiling. Peel after the eggs have cooled.
  2. Dice half a red onion and fry on low heat with a little oil till the onion is limp.
  3. Cut each egg in half and spoon the yolk into a bowl. Mash the yolk with 3T of mayonnaise.
  4. Add 0.5t cumin, 0.5t pepper and 2 pinches of salt.
  5. Dice the egg white and mix it into the bowl with the onion bits.
  6. Cut the crust off and then flatten 4 slices of bread.
  7. Spread the egg salad onto the bread as shown. You’ll need to leave one end empty as the whites make the egg salad a bit lumpy.
  8. Spread some plain mayonnaise onto the empty part to seal the roll.
  9. Roll the bread tightly (from the right in this picture).
  10. Slice each roll into 3. Use a gentle sawing motion and don’t press down on the knife.
  11. Rest the rolls on a plate with the edge at the bottom for a while before standing them up.

Anchovy Infused Cream Cheese RollsAncheese Sandwich

  1. Allow 200g of cream cheese to warm to room temperature. You can also use a short burst in the microwave oven.
  2. Dice the remaining 1/2 red onion into fine bits. The bits should be smaller than for the egg salad rolls, since you’ll be eating them raw. Reserve half of this for the smoked salmon rolls.
  3. Peel and cut a cucumber into thin strips as long as your bread. Try to avoid the seedy core as it is less crunchy. Slice more strips than you need as you’ll be using some for the smoked salmon rolls as well.
  4. Mash 2t of anchovy in the oil they came in.
  5. Mix the anchovy emulsion, 2t maple syrup and half of the onion bits into the soft cream cheese.
  6. Cut the crust off and then flatten 4 slices of bread.
  7. Spread the anchovy cheese mixture onto the bread. Add a few cucumber strips as shown. Be sure to leave one end empty.
  8. Roll the bread tightly (from the left in this picture). Slice each roll, following the instructions as per above.

Smoked Salmon Avocado RollsSalmon Sandwich

  1. Cut the smoked salmon into long strips and marinate with a little bit of oil, some black pepper and dill weed.
  2. Mix the remaining diced raw onion with 150g of guacamole or avocado dip. Avocado is soft even when cold so there is no need to let it warm up.
  3. Cut the crust off and then flatten 4 slices of bread.
  4. Spread the guacamole evenly onto your bread.
  5. Arrange pieces of smoked salmon with a few cucumber strips on one end as shown.
  6. Roll the bread tightly using the salmon as the core.
  7. Slice each roll, following the instructions as per before.

 

 

The Professional Look  Sushi Sandwich

  1. Even the best made sandwich rolls following all the rules of sandwich rolling might unroll a bit at the loose end.
  2. One way to prevent this is to apply a few bands of Nori (Japanese dried processed seaweed) before you cut your rolls as shown below. All you need to stick the ends of the Nori strips to each other is a dab of water. You can see the final result of banding in the photo right at the top.
  3. You can also cover the entire roll with Nori to create sandwich sushi, as shown on the right.
  4. All the your rolls will look alike if you cut them the same way. Slicing the rolls diagonally will give some variation to your sandwich rolls. This will help your guests distinguish between the different varieties that you made.
  5. Yellow bread is another option for differentiation.
  6. You can also give some colour to your sandwiches by dusting (the outside surface, and do this before you apply the spread) them with some fine coloured spices. Paprika for example will result in a light orangey coat.

Sandwich Platter Sandwich Banded

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Appetizers, English, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Capellini with Sakura Shrimp


(serves 8 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course)
This was my first successful attempt at an Angel Hair dish. It is surprisingly heavy for a pasta dish, and is ideally served as a starter in half-portions. The philadelphia cream cheese was the ‘missing ingredient’ that took me quite a bit of trial and error to discover. It somehow blends with and takes the edge off the anchovy flavour, creating a really unique taste for the dish.

Ingredients

  1. Anchovies in Oil (50g)
  2. White Wine (1/3 cup)
  3. Salmon fillet (100g)
  4. Sakura Shrimp (6T)
  5. No. 1 Capellini (250g)
  6. Cream (1/3 cup)
  7. Cream Cheese (2T)
  8. Chopped Parsley (1T)

Preparation

  1. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan for the stock. Throw salmon in and cook for 10 min. Turn off heat and remove the fish from stock. Mash with a spoon to detect and remove any bones.
  2. Mash the anchovies in its own oil all and fry in a pan together with 4T of olive oil. When hot, throw in the salmon pieces. Stir fry with a wooden spoon and make sure all the salmon is thoroughly flaked and browned, then add the white wine as a deglaze.
  3. When the pan begins to dry, add the cream and 1 cup of fish stock just after turning heat off. Add 0.5t sugar and 2T of (Philadelphia) cream cheese.
  4. Boil a pot of water with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Place the capellini into the water for two minutes and not a second more. Drain immediately. It should still be semi hard.
  5. Lightly toast the Sakura in a toaster oven while the pasta is cooking and leave them inside the oven after the timer goes to keep them warm.
  6. While the pasta was cooking, you should reheat the salmon sauce. Immediately upon draining, stir fry the capellini for an additional minute in the sauce where the pasta should soak up most of the liquid. Turn heat off and mix in an additional 4T of olive oil and 1T of finely chopped parsley.
  7. Using a large fork, twirl the capellini on to the serving plates. Sprinkle the Sakura and black pepper as a final garnishing before serving. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • This is a re-post using a name that is more easily searchable.
  • If you don’t know what Sakura Shrimp are, click on the link.
  • I like to use salmon head instead of salmon fillet, which imparts more flavour to the stock. In an emergency, you can use canned salmon too.
  • Use only No. 1 capellini as No. 2 is too thick for this recipe. (i.e. No.1 = Angel Hair). Capellini is notoriously difficult to work with as it becomes mushy for 100 different reasons. Its extremely small diameter ( i.e. large surface area to volume ratio) makes it soggy very quickly if a water or cream based sauce is used. Oil on the other hand, locks out additional moisture and keeps the pasta springy, so it is my belief that Capellini can only ever be served with an oil based sauce.
 
 

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