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Lamb Sausage Ragu with Conchiglie


(serves 3)
This is a speedy (relatively) and convenient method of making a Lamb Ragu Pasta that makes no compromises on taste. I avoid the arduous task of slow-cooking mutton by using the minced meat from lamb sausages. In fact I find the starch, fat, herbs and spices of the sausage actually make for a better pasta sauce. The result is a delicious wholesome and flavourful meat sauce that can’t be beat.
 
Ingredients Lamb Conchiglie 1200
  1. Lamg Sausage (350g)
  2. Brown or White Mushrooms (100g)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Garlic(1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  5. Conchiglie (3 cups)
  6. Oxo Stock Cube (2)
  7. Red Wine (1 cup)
  8. Turmeric
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Oregano

Preparation

  1. Peel and then cut your onion into 6 wedges. Then slice them coarsely and pan fry in a large pan with some oil on low heat.
  2. In the meanwhile, slice your lamb sausages lengthwise on one side and peel off the skin. Place all the minced lamb in a bowl with half a cup of water. Mix well to loosen up the meat.
  3. Remove the onion from the pan, turn up the heat, add some oil and throw in the meat. Break up the clumps of meat as the water boils away. When the meat begins to brown, return the onion plus any drippings to the pan and continue stir-frying for another minute.
  4. Next add 1 cup of wine. Then add 2 oxo stock cubes (I normally use beef but you can also use lamb) dissolved in 2 cups of hot water.
  5. Peel your garlic bulb and throw the individual cloves into the pan. Quarter each mushroom into and add them to the pan as well.
  6. Add 1t sugar, 1t turmeric, 1t coriander seed powder and 1T oregano. Turn down the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes to1 hour – until the sour taste of the wine is gone. Add water as needed such that you end up with a light sauce. You can make the sauce ahead of time, just keep it in the fridge til its needed.
  7. Boil your pasta in a pot of water with a dash of olive oil until it is about 2/3 cooked. Strain and then add your pasta to the pan and stir fry until the pasta is al dente. Add water as required such that you end up with a thick sauce just as the pasta is done. Splash on 4T of olive oil after turning the fire off.
  8. Sprinkle on some black pepper and perhaps some parsley after plating.

Notes

  • You can use 3/4 cup red wine plus 1/4 cup Marsala wine for a more authentic Italian taste – remember to skip the 1t of sugar in step 6.
  • Conchiglie a.k.a. seashell pasta is the best choice of pasta for this kind of sauce as it can hold the bits of meat better. Another type of paste suitable for this dish is farfalle, a.k.a. butterfuly pasta.
  • The picture would look nicer if I had just cooked the pasta separately and then poured the sauce over it, but then it wouldn’t taste nearly as good. Sometimes you have to sacrifice looks for taste.
  • Ragu and Ragout are both a dish made from gamey meat and chopped vegetables. Ragu is Italian and is usually cooked as a sauce. Ragout is French and is usually a stew.
 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe, Red Meat

 

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Japanese Wafu-Style Orzo


(serves 3)
How does one cook a light pasta that still tastes good? For the answer we have to look not to Italy, but to the Far East where the Japanese have developed Wafu Cuisine, a style incorporating the best of Japanese and Western cooking. Miraculously, my Wafu Pasta recipe is not based on cream, cheese or oil, yet it’s still delicious and satiating. You will find this Italy meets Japan recipe great for the formal dinner table but also perfect for those times when you just want to have dinner on the sofa.      
 

Ingredients Wafu Orzo

  1. Scallops (12=200g)
  2. Shaved Ham (100g)
  3. Mushrooms (100g)
  4. Corn (1 ear)
  5. Scallion (4 sprigs)
  6. Orzo a.k.a. Risoni (200g)
  7. Miso
  8. Butter
  9. Sesame Oil
  10. Sherry

Preparation 

  1. Slice each scallop into 3 discs. Marinate them in a mixture of 1T of sesame oil and a flat 0.5t of salt.
  2. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices. Any kind of brown or white mushrooms will do. If they are large, cut them in half before slicing.
  3. Julienne the bottom 1/4 (white) of the scallion into one bowl and the second 1/4 (green) into a separate bowl. Discard the remaining tips.
  4. Cut the ham into small pieces. Brine soaked pre-sliced ham, the type that is sold for sandwiches, has the texture best suited for the Wafu style.
  5. Shave the corn kernels into a bowl. Retail the cob.
  6. Fry the white scallion bits with1T of sesame oil in a pan. When the scallion begins to brown, add the shaved ham. Continue to stir fry for a minute. Mix 1 heaped t of miso with 1T sherry and add this to the pan followed by 1 cup of water. You now have a ham and scallion miso soup base.
  7. While the mixture is simmering, rinse 200g or orzo in boiling water and then add the orzo to the pan, followed by the corn kernels and mushroom. Scrape the cob with the back of a knife blade over the pan. Leave uncovered on a low simmer.
  8. In the meanwhile melt a large knob of butter in a second pan over high heat. When the butter browns add the scallops. Stir fry for thirty seconds and then turn off the heat. Immediately add a second large knob of butter to cool the pan.
  9. When the liquid in the first pan thickens, test the texture of the orzo. If it is still hard, add 1/4 cup of hot water and continue simmering. Repeat until the orzo is just right, then pour the scallops and butter into the pan and mix well.
  10. Spoon the orzo into your serving dishes. Dust with black pepper and garnish with the green scallion bits.

Notes

  • I suppose I should start off by explaining what the Japanese Wafu-style is. It translates as ‘Winds in Harmony’ and refers to the way the Japanese prepare Western dishes to suit local tastes. Its a style of cooking that developed gradually after WWII and has now become immensely popular in family restaurants in Japan. You could go as far as to say it is a type of fusion cuisine. Salad dressing containing soya sauce, yozu or sesame oil and mayonnaise containing wasabi are both examples of Wafu.   
  • One important aspect of Wafu cooking is it tends to be balanced with delicate flavours. If you want to stay true to the Wafu style, stay away from strong tasting ingredients like garlic, olive oil, bacon, blue cheese. A little cream is ok, but not too much. 
  • This is quite a flexible recipe and you can substitute a number of ingredients to create many different varieties of the pasta. You could for example swap the corn for baby asparagus (you might want to add a bit of sugar though), the shaved ham for smoked turkey or the scallop for clams.
  • The prime flavour for the sauce is Miso. For more information on Miso, refer to this page
 

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Spaghetti with Seafood in Miso Cream Sauce


(serves 3 full portions)
Spaghetti in Miso Cream is quite the quintessential Japanese pasta and is on the menu in family restaurant chains all over Japan. You will find the fusion-style dish a refreshing adaptation of the more traditional pasta sauces. This recipe is a special version of the dish with crustacean flavour infused into the miso cream. To accompany the pasta, I have used soft tender scallop slices and lightly cooked morsels of prawn.    
 

Ingredients Miso Pasta

  1. Scallops (8=150g)
  2. Large prawns (4=300g)
  3. Miso
  4. Crushed Garlic (4t)
  5. Sesame Oil (1/3 cup)
  6. Cream (100ml)
  7. Spaghetti (300g)
  8. Shredded Nori (Dried Seaweed)
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Honey
  11. Cognac

Preparation 

  1. Mix 4T of sesame oil with 0.5t salt, 1t coriander seed powder.
  2. Cut the heads off the prawns and stir fry the heads in a pot with a few dashes of oil and 2t of crushed garlic. Use a low flame and when the garlic begins to brown add 1.5 cups of water. Cut the heads up with a pair of scissors while they are in the pot and leave to simmer. You should end up with a rich red broth.
  3. Slice each scallop into 3 round slices.
  4. Shell and devein the prawns. Slice the prawns lengthwise into 2 and then into small pieces.
  5. Marinate both the scallop and prawn pieces with the salted sesame oil but in separate bowls.
  6. Mix together 2 heaped t of miso with 2t of crushed garlic. Fry this mixture in a pan with 3T of oil on low heat. After a minute, add 3T cognac and 1t honey.
  7. Slowly pour in 100 ml of cream and mash the miso till you get a nice even emulsion with no lumps. Pour in the prawn head stock through a strainer. Simmer down till you get a nice sauce and remove from heat.
  8. Put 300g of spaghetti into the pot of boiling water with 1t salt and a dash of oil.
  9. Reheat the sauce and when it is boiling add the prawn meat. When the prawn meat has curled, add the scallop slices and immediately turn off the fire. Mix well to make sure no scallop slices are stuck together and leave for a minute.
  10. By this time the pasta should be al dente. Strain and plate the spaghetti, and pour the sauce over it.
  11. Garnish with black pepper, some Nori and serve.

NotesPrawn Stock

  • If you want to go the extra mile, add Uni (raw sea urchin) together with the scallops into the pan in step 9. It is the Japanese equivalent of adding truffle shavings to a pasta.
  • The stock will not be red (see photo) or have a rich taste if you use small prawns or shrimp. The prawns have to be large, i.e. 4 per 300g. 
  • Most of the greyish stuff in the ‘spine’ of the prawn is roe. When deveining the prawn, you really only want to find and pull out the alimentary canal. 
  • You’ll notice I did not mention olive oil. The taste of miso is quite distinctive and will clash with the hint of olives. You’ll do better with a milder vegetable oil.
  • Reduce the amount of cream by half if you want a very light sauce.
  • For more information on Miso, refer to this page
 

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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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