Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Spring onion pancake February 4, 2009

Filed under: Chinese,Savoury — smop @ 4:04 pm

I must’ve mentioned before how one of my ‘things to do in life’ is to learn how to make dimsims.  Of all the things that I would really love to learn how to make are har-gau, char siu bau, chiu-chow fun gwo (as my Mum loves them), ma lai go and those sesame balls filled with red bean past.  I’ve yet to attempt them, partly because they’re all labour intensive or require equipment that I don’t have.  The things that I have tried are egg tarts, the various types of pastries, other types of buns and now, the spring onion (or scallion) pancake.  I came across a recipe for the spring onion pancake a while ago, bookmarked it and forgot about it.  It only came back to me when I was clearing out my fridge and saw half a bunch of spring onions looking like it needed to be used.  It’s a simple recipe — the only downside is that it isn’t fast food.

individual

Spring onion pancake
The recipe can be increased, decreased.  I halved the original recipe and ended up with one pansized pancake, and I ate it all, and enjoyed it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup of warm water + more (if necessary)
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • Salt
  • Sesame oil

Method

Make your dough by adding the warm water to the flour and incorporating well.  You want the dough to be come off the sides easily but be barely sticky but not rock hard, so add more water as you see need be.  Cover with a damp tea towel and let sit for 30 minutes so the dough can relax.

After resting, roll your dough out to about 5mm thin. If you’re doubling the recipe, divide the dough into two pieces first before rolling out.

Brush with sesame oil and sprinkle lots of salt over it.  Add the spring onions (up to you!).  Pick up one end of the round and begin rolling it into a tight little cigar.

to be rolled

Pinch the ends, then twist the dough into a snail.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Then roll it out to the thickness you want (I’d say 5-10 mm thin).

rolled again

Heat a non-stick pan and add oil — enough to just slightly coat the entire pan.  Enough oil makes it crispy, and really, if you don’t make it crispy, what’s the point of this then?

uncut

Slice and eat while warm.

sliced1

And just a photo to show the layers.

layers

It’s a wonderful snacking food.  I ate it all while watching the Saturday Night Live vids of Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.  Hee-larious!  And it was an afternoon well spent.

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Chicken, leek & mushroom risotto with black truffles December 21, 2008

Filed under: Risotto,Savoury,Truffles — lewislikesolives @ 5:53 pm

If you pause for a moment in our busy lives, you might realise that much of the efforts made in life are geared towards gaining a status or possessions to set yourself apart from those around you, to move up the social economic ladder (or in the case of a mid-life crisis, a porche is often used to reaffirm one’s existance). Such is the way that society defines success most of the time, though how fulfilling such a life would be is beyond the scope of this food blog. Or any food blog really… But one might argue that truffles, with the raw material fetching up to thousands of dollars per kilogram, sits on top of the gastronomic status ladder. Have you made it when you can afford such luxuries in life? or is it a waste of money, what is the fuss about? and more importantly – can you have it at home on a budget?

Well, I have only recently discovered that you can pick up a small jar of truffle salsa for around 40 bucks at quality delis, and trust me, it could last you a while. And seeing that I’m the type of guy who likes fool proof recipes – this is definitely one of my favourites for a hearty meal to impress. Again, like the ice-cream recipe posted earlier (courtesy of chef-extraordinaire & friend Beck), when the ingredients you use are all decadent and delicious in itself, you really can’t go wrong so long as you don’t burn it. Or drop it on the floor. Actually that is not true – truffles in itself is an acquired taste already (some question if is it really gourmet or just gross?), so you can definitely spoil the risotto by adding TOO MUCH black truffle salsa – it’s strong stuff!! In which case, wash it down with a glass/bottle of Moet…

Chicken, leek & mushroom risotto with black truffles
serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, diced & marinated for at least 30 minutes
  • 1/2 brown onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, only use white part, thinly sliced
  • 250g brown swiss mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 3 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 1.5L warm chicken stock
  • 2 & 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp of black truffle salsa, or to taste
  • Unsalted butter as needed
  • Shaved parmesan cheese to fold through, and to serve
  • Cracked black pepper to season

Chicken marinade – 2 tbsb dark soy, 2 tsp corn flour; mix well

Method

Cook chicken through with equal parts butter and olive oil, then set aside. In the same pan on medium heat, sweat onion & leek with a good amount of olive oil until fragrant & soft. Add rice and stir well, allowing rice to absorp the pan juices. Add 1.5 cups of the white wine and stir until all absorbed. Add garlic. Add warm chicken stock, 1-2 ladles at a time to rice, stir well while allowing all the liquid to be absorbed, before the next lot. Do so for approx 30 minutes or until rice is soft and of a risotto texture. Stir in mushrooms and allow to soften. Return chicken to the rice, stir in baby spinach, and turn the heat to low and stir through. Add 1/2 cup remaining wine, stir in 2-4 small cubes of butter, and truffle salsa. Take off heat, stir in desired amount of shaved parmesan. Season with pepper, garnish with shaved parmesan.

 

Sausage buns December 20, 2008

Filed under: Breads,Savoury — smop @ 11:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Since Mum had come back from HK, she brought back a heap of Asian cooking magazines; and while poring through them, I’ve been hit by Asian-food cooking fever and then decided that I wanted to try my hands on making sausage buns (腸仔包).

The original recipe is from this site (http://yujai.blogspot.com/2007/08/sausage-bun.html).  I’ve just put the recipe with my own modifications below

This is what they’re supposed to look like …

This is how mine turned out

sausage bun1

Slightly overcooked (the annoying thing about a fan-forced oven) and lacking that sheen, but otherwise not too bad for the first time I guess (even if I say so, heh!).

Sausage buns
Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 40g Bread Flour
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 40g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 160 mL warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 12 cocktail sausages or 6 frankfurts, halved.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine everything except butter.  Beat until well blended (about 7 min) using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (I used a handheld mixer & it was OK!).  Add in butter (in small cubes) and knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. 1st Rise:  Shape into a ball.  Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once.  Cover, and let rise in a warm place until 2.5X in size (60-90 min).
  3. Punch the risen dough down completely.
  4. Divide dough into 12 portions.  Cover, and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
  5. To shape for sausage buns, roll each dough into a long strip and roll Roll the strip around the sausage diagonally.
  6. 2nd Rise: Let the dough rise until doubled in size (50-60 min).
  7. Preheat oven to 200C
  8. Brush egg wash or milk on the top of each dough.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Some more pictures.

tray1

prebaked

There was a lot of waiting involved with making this.  1.5 hours for the first rise, then 15 minutes resting and then another hour for the 2nd rise.  I was running short of time as I had to go off to dinner, so enlisted the help of a warm oven to speed the process up a bit.  This was prior to the 2nd rise.

And another baked photo

baked

The bread was alright — it had probably a bit too much of a crunchy crust as opposed to the soft ones found in HK bakeries.  The inside was fluffy and had a sweet aftertaste to it.  While Mum and I were discussing what it was about the ones I made that were different to the commercial ones in terms of taste and appearance, Ray had come along and grabbed his second helping of it.  So I guess they didn’t taste too bad, and even if the bread wasn’t the right thing, at least the sausage tasted nice.

Will try again next time.
They tasted better the next day (I’d left them in the fridge, then nuked it in the microwave for about 40s – soft and sweet)

I’d love to take a course in making Asian breads and dimsims one day.

 

Garlic & Herb pull-apart January 10, 2008

Filed under: Breads,Savoury — smop @ 6:07 pm
Tags: , ,

After waking up earlier than usual, and having more hours to spend for the day, plus with shops being closed, I decided to venture into baking yeast bread.  It was another one of my attempts to see how making bread will turn out.  The recipe I got from Taste.com, and I just left out the feta and added sliced olives instead.

Herbs (basil, thyme and parsley) picked from my pots.

herbs

Dough pre and post-proofing (done in my bedroom – the only place that gets the sun).

preproof postproof

Portioned and layered.

portions prebake top

Just before going in the oven & soon after it came out – still steaming hot.

prebake baked1

Innards!

innards

It tasted pretty good while it was warm and I ate one of the tops, but when I cooled down and had another top, it didn’t have that ‘bread’ taste anymore.  I’m not sure whether it’s the flour, the way I’m kneading, not adding enough of a salt / sugar / other things.  I need the Baker’s Delight or Brumby’s recipe.  It was good fun though … I think I need to practice kneading.  Then I need to attempt at making a pizza base.

 

Meatballs January 6, 2008

Filed under: Beef,Savoury — smop @ 2:37 pm
Tags:

There are a couple of things where it is just much easier to make a big batch of in one go … curries, filos, and meatballs if I had to list things off the top of my head.  But I will be faced with the knowledge that at for the next few meals, I will be eating the same thing.  From living in a household where the only things in the freezer would be ice-cream, frozen veg, and frozen dumplings (my parents are pretty averse to the idea of frozen meals, and frozen blocks of meat and fish), I’ve picked it up and my freezer is only used to store ice-cream, frozen veg and frozen dumplings.

So, anyway! I decided that I wanted to eat meatballs last week, so I made them on the Monday and on Friday, I finally finished the last ones off.  I was so glad to see all of them gone by then.

The recipe I use is based on a Bill Granger recipe.  With everything bar baking, I use recipes as inspiration rather than following them exactly – I go by look, smell and taste (when its cooked) and this is roughly how I made it this time – as it changes depending on what I have in the fridge.

When mixing meatballs, there’s no substitute with getting your bare hands and really getting in there to mix everything up.  While the ‘experts’ would say it is because the bare hand gives it that edge when it comes to taste, (perhaps in extra salt or dead skin), I do so only because I find it therapeutic to feel the mince, with the carrot, the warm onion, and whatever else I have in there being squeezed from my palms and through the spaces between my fingers.  And I love the squelch it makes.  It is something I find particularly endearing – it sort of reminds me of going to the beach as a kid and feeling my toes squelch in the wet sand.  Now you can’t tell me you didn’t like that as a kid.

The same goes with moulding meatballs.  I will have none of this using a meatball scoop.  If one has been bestowed 2 palms, use them to roll a meatball.  It’ll be uneven, and there might be a flat edge, but they are meant to look rustic, because the fact is, meatballs are rustic.

I also bake them – it saves oil.

Meatballs
(adapted from Bill Granger’s recipe)

Ingredients

  • 500-600 g good quality beef mince (or a mixture of beef and pork / beef and lamb / lamb and pork / chicken and other meat … )
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & pepper
  • Plain flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200oC.  Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Add milk to breadcrumbs and allow it to sit until all the milk has been soaked up.
  3. Heat a pan up with some olive oil.  Sweat off the onion (until it is translucent – usually around 3-5 minutes), then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Turn off the heat and set it aside to cool.
  4. In a mixing bowl, pop the mince in and add grated carrot and parsley.  You can also add zucchini but make sure after grating, drain well, sprinkle some salt on top and let it drain a bit further.  Add in the breadcrumb and milk mixture
  5. Season with lots and lots of salt and a lesser portion of pepper.  It needs to be well salted as there is nothing else that has flavour in there (If you want a gauge, I think I turned my salt grinder about 20+ times.)
  6. Add in the onion and garlic.
  7. Mix everything by hand. Hear it squelch.  At this stage, check whether the mixture is dry (i.e. can you mould it into a ball and it keeps its shape? If so, then forget about adding the egg, but if not, add just the egg white to help it bind).  Moosh, moosh, moosh … Make sure everything is well incorporated
  8. Mould into balls – like a golfball size (though they can be made into patties for burgers too).
  9. Pop on baking tray and sieve a bit of plain flour over the top.
  10. Place in oven for 15 minutes or until goldern / cooked through.

You can now use this for anything.  Because this recipe gives me about 40-50 meatballs, some nights, like tonight, I cook it in pasta sauce.  Other nights, I cut them in half and stir fry it with some greens.  And some nights, I just heat them up and eat them as is with a bit of ketchup.