Sunday, September 29, 2013

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree

This dish is inspired by something that I had when I was out with the wife one evening. It was a rather interesting combo, which inspired me to try it at home. I do recall seeing something similar on MasterChef Australia.
Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree

Can't go wrong with bacon and scallops. The parsley vinaigrette adds an acidic hit that cuts through quite nicely.

Ingredients to serve 2.
6-8 large scallops - seasoned with salt and pepper
2 rashers of streaky bacon
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

Cauliflower Puree
200 grams cauliflower - roughly cut into large chunks
1/2 cup milk
1/2 yellow onion - diced
2 cloves garlic - chopped
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
handful of fresh parsley - finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Cook bacon in an oven at 190 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes, until crispy. While the bacon is in the oven, mix all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Or you can use a jar and shake it really well. When bacon is done, remove and allow to cool for a short while. Then break up the bacon into bits.

2. Boil the cauliflower in salted water for about 3-4 mins. Remove from water when cooked and set aside.

3. Over medium heat, fry the onions and garlic until they soften, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Add all the puree ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Reserve/set aside when done.

5. Heat a tablespoon of unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a saute pan. When pan is really hot, sear the scallops about 30-45 seconds on each side. Remove from pan and set aside when done.

6. Spoon half the puree onto each serving dish. Place scallops on the puree itself and then garnish with bacon bits and the vinaigrette.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spaghetti with Sausages, Tomatoes and Basil

Spaghetti with Sausages, Tomatoes and Basil

This is a simple dish can be done in about 30 minutes or less. Tastes great and also child friendly. The savoury sausages, sweet and tangy tomatoes together with fresh basil make a awesome combo. Even the wife who is not a fan of sausages like this one. There is a reason that tomatoes and basil make a classic combo, this is one of the dishes that reminded me of that.

Here what I used to serve 2.

160 grams Spaghetti - Cooked according to package instructions. (you can use your preferred pasta.)
1x 400g can of diced tomatoes
3 pork sausages (about 250-350 grams) - pre-cooked. Roughly cut into 1cm chunks.
half yellow onion - diced
3 cloves of garlic - chopped
handful of fresh basil - roughly chopped.
Parmesean cheese for garnish
salt and pepper


1. In a frying pan, heat some oil (about 1 tablespoon) over a medium high heat. Saute the sausages chunks for about 2-3 mins, stopping when almost all the chunks have achieved some browning. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside. Turn down heat to medium.

2. In the same pan, add in the chopped onions and garlic and fry for about 2-3 minutes over medium heat until they soften.

3. Add sausages back into the pan, together with the can of tomatoes. Mix well and allow to simmer over low heat. (you can use this time to cook the pasta. You and start boiling the water for the pasta even before you start step 1)

4. Add in the cooked pasta and basil, mix well and dish onto pasta plates. Garnish generously with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Roasted Chicken and Baby Spinach Salad

I thought this up when I needed a carb-free dinner one evening. But you could serve roasted potatoes on the side as a carb element. Its an easy to do chicken salad dinner. Basically oven roasted chicken on a simple salad.

Grilled Chicken and Baby Spinach Salad

The chicken was really great, the lemons added a nice hit of acidity to chicken as well as the salad. The dressing was light and refreshing. The lemon infused roasting juices helped to lift the salad up with its acidity. Nice and fresh veg don't really need a heavy dressing.

Ingredients for 2
2 boneless chicken thighs

spice rub:
1 tablespoon parika
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Rest of the stuff:
1 Lemon - Thickly sliced. Should get about 6 slices at most from a whole lemon.
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1.2 cup rocket leaves
Parmesan cheese.
1 tablespoon mixed seeds (use your favourite seeds, e.g pine nuts, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds etc)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Mix all spice rub ingredients together in a large bowl. Coat both chicken thighs fully and place them in a resealable bag, pour any remaining run into the bag. Mix well, shake the bag a little, don't be shy about it :)

2. Lay the lemon slices on a baking tray. Use them as a base for the chicken. Lay the chicken on the lemon slices, skin side up. Its alright if the chicken is alot larger than the base of lemon slices. Cook in a preheated oven 180 degrees celsius for 35 minutes.
(optional but I like to do this. Use the grill function for the last 3-5 minutes.)

3. While the chicken is cooking, you can prep the salad. Mix all the salad greens well. Season with salt and pepper and toss with Extra Virgin olive oil and mixed seeds.

4. Optional - When the chicken thighs are cooked, cut them up into more manageable sizes.

5. Dish the salad onto individual dishes and garnish generously with Parmesan.

6. Lay the chicken on the veg, drizzle with the lemony roasting juices. Serve with more freshly ground pepper if you like.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Asian Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Spicy Garlic Shrimp
A really tasty dish that packs a punch. Serving it over steamed rice is ideal. The rice just get soaked in the sauce. Simmering the shrimp heads with chicken stock really draws out the flavour from them, bringing this whole meal to the next level.

400-500 grams shrimp/grey prawns - shelled and deveined. (weight was with shells on)
Note: Reserve all the heads and some shells for the sauce.
5-6 cloves garlic - sliced
2 shallots - sliced
1 large chilli - sliced
2 chilli padi/bird's eye chilli - sliced (replace with large chilli if your heat tolerance is low)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cups chicken stock (optional but highly recommended - water is an acceptable substitute.)
1 teaspoon light soya sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
Cooking oil for frying

1. Heat up a small saucepan over medium low heat. When heated, add in the shrimp heads. You should heat a low sizzle immediately. Stir them a little and add 2 teaspoons unsalted butter and stir well. Keep stirring occasionally until the prawn heads turn fully pink/red. At this point add in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil.When the stock starts to boil, turn down the heat and gently simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and generous amount of pepper. Strain the mixture and reserve the "prawn stock". You may discard the shells/heads.

2. In a saute pan, add some oil and heat over medium heat. When pan is well heated, add in the shrimp. Cook each side for about 20 seconds, until almost cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of cooking oil in the same pan. Heat up the oil and then add the garlic, all the chillies and shallots into the pan.  Stirring frequently, fry the ingredients until they start to turn brown.

4. Add the "prawn stock" into the pan and allow to simmer for about 1 minute. Then add in the shrimp and light soya sauce and rice vinegar. Mix well and turn off the heat.

Serve on steamed rice and garnish with fresh coriander.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Italian Style Roasted Chicken Thigh

I had a similar dish at an Italian restaurant recently and it left me feeling rather unsatisfied. The chicken was under seasoned and the skin was not rendered well enough. That inspired to try this at home.
Italian Style Roasted Chicken Thigh with Pan Roasted Vegetables and Chorizo
Wifey agreed that this time around it was much better than that we had. The awesome smell of rosemary permeated the house during the oven roasting. Simple yet tasty combination. The chorizo add a nice kick to the dish.You can call it rosemary chicken thigh I guess as it will be the primary fragrance and flavour.

2 boneless chicken thighs
1 cup pumpkin - cut into chunks
1 red pepper - cut into pieces about 1 - 2 inches across
Handful of asparagus - tough bases trimmed
50 grams of chorizo - sliced
Leaves of 2 Springs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic - sliced/chopped
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
oil for frying

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary - leaves only (or 1 tsp dried leaves)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme - leaves only (or 1 tsp dried leaves)
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of lemon juice

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Place chicken thighs in the bowl and fully coat the chicken in the marinade. When done, place them in resealable bags. Pour remaining marinade into the bag. Mix well my massaging the bag a little. Re-seal and place in fridge for at least 20 mins. Longer if you have more time.

2. When ready to cook, place chicken thighs skin side up on a baking/roasting tray. Cook in a preheated oven at 190 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes. (Cooking times may vary depending on the size of your chicken) Use grill mode for the last 3 minutes to crisp up the skin.

3. While the chicken is in the oven, you can start to cook the vegetables. In a saute pan over medium heat, brown the pumpkin about 3-4 minutes per side. When the pumpkin softens, remove from heat and set aside.

4. Wipe the pan down and add a little oil. Saute the red peppers until they begin to blister and soften. When done, remove and set aside. 

5. Add the chorizo to the pan, fry until they just about turn crisp, the add the garlic and fry for another minute or so. At this point add the asparagus, red pepper, pumpkin, butter and thyme leaves. Saute for another minute or so. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from pan.

6. Dish the vegetables onto dinner plates. Place the cooked chicken thighs on the vegetables and drizzle the roasting juices onto the chicken and vegetables. Garnish with herb of your choice.

Note: Vegetable combination is to your preference. Based on what you feel works for you and your household. Squash, potatoes and zuchinni come to mind. Do note that differernt vegetables have varying cooking times. E.g, carrots take a whole lot longer.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Baked Garlic Onion and Anchovy Cheese Dip

Here’s an easy to make dip that easily impresses. It’s awesome with chips, crackers, vegetable sticks (Asparagus, Carrot Sticks etc..) Its also great used as a spread over bagels and/or bread. 


250gm cream cheese (That’s the whole tub)
1 cup whipping cream
2 heads baked garlic - cooled to room temperature (See note below on baking garlic)
2 stalks spring onion, very finely chopped
1 x 80gm Tin of anchovies (minced in a food processor or finely chopped with a knife)

1. If the cream cheese is hard (just out of the fridge) leave it out of the fridge for a while to let it soften.

2. Empty out the tub of cheese into a larger mixing bowl. Squeeze out the baked garlic into the cheese. (Remember to remove the hard roots). Add in the spring onions and anchovies as well. Fold in the garlic and onions into the cheese, ensure they mix well. Season with pepper.
3. Gradually add in the cream and fold it into the cheese mixture.

4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve cold later.

Note: Baking Garlic:- Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Warp a whole head of garlic in aluminum foil (single layer will do) and bake for 40 mins.
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