Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pasta in Tomato Sauce

This dish always reminds me of the scene from the movie No Reservations. The scene where Aaron Eckhart "cons" Abigail Breslin to start eating a bowl of pasta which got me wanting to eat this dish after watching the movie. I think it has do to with the way Abigail Breslin hungrily wolfs down the pasta.

Tagliatelle with Tomato Sauce and fresh basil

The basic pasta dish that and most likely the first pasta dish that most people here in Singapore encounter as a kid. This is more of a walk-through on the technique of making a quick pasta dish, rather than a full recipe.

This post will take you trough on whipping up this pasta dish in 15 minutes or less, with sauce that you pre-made yourself.

Ingredients to serve 2
160 - 180 grams store bought pasta (Or about 100 grams per person for a big eater)
2-3 cups tomato sauce (link here for recipe)
A splash of dry red wine (optional)
Handful of fresh basil for garnish (optional)
Grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)

1. Cook Pasta according to package instructions in salted boiling water. Remove strain the pasta. Dress with a little olive oil to prevent them sticking together. Set aside. (Note: Cook for 3/4 of the time stated on the package for Al Dente)

2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, pour all the sauce (and wine if using) onto the pan and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Allowing to reduce slightly.

3. Add in the cooked pasta and mix well. Allow the pasta to cook in the sauce for at least a minute or 2.

4. Portion into pasta bowls. Garnish and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Basic Onion Tomato Sauce

The emphasis of this recipe is the basic tomato sauce that I like to use in alot of the dishes I cook at home. On its own, it makes a great pasta dish!. It keeps quite well in the fridge and can be used as a base for many variations for several different of dishes. If you look through some of the other recipes in this site, you'll probably come across a variation of this sauce in use. So I thought I would create an entry for this sauce so that I can just refer readers back to this page when I use this sauce. Saves me the typing.

Cauldron of Onion Tomato Sauce bubbling away
This sauce uses canned tomatoes and bottled Passata, both of which can be easily found in most Cold Storage or and at Fairprice.

Here is what you'll need for the sauce. Makes about 1 litre of sauce.

2 cans diced tomatoes. (I like to use the ones that say Plum or Romano. You can get whole canned ones and dice them yourself as well)
1 700g Jar of Passata.
2 yellow onions - diced
4 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
few teaspoons of sugar to taste

1. Prep the diced/chopped tomatoes. Remove from the can and strain them. discard the liquids. Set aside

2. Over medium heat, heat about 2-4 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large saucepan or large deep sided saute pan. When oil is heated up (Rolls around easily in the pan) add in the onions and fry for 1 minute, then add in the garlic. Fry for a few more minutes until the onions become soft and translucent (Not brown).

3. Add in the tomatoes and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Then add in the passata. Mix well and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes over low heat.

4. Add in the thyme and rosemary. You can tie the herbs together so that they are easier to fish out later. Allow to simmer over low heat for at least 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally, to prevent the bottom of the sauce from burning.

5. After the sauce is allowed to simmer and cook down, allow to cool and store. Use as needed.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes.

This is one of my favourite ways to cook potatoes at home. Its really easy and you get crispy tasty potatoes at the same time. My personal preference, is to cut them in to smaller chunks. About 1.5 cm across, this gives more of that wonderfully crispy surface area.
Oven Roasted Potatoes
Ingredients to serve 2

2-3 large Russet potatoes - washed and cleaned
2 sprig of thyme (leaves only)
2 sprig of rosemary (leaves only)
2-3 cloves of garlic - minced or grated.
1/4 - 1/3 cup Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

2. Cut the potatoes into small chunks, about 1.5 cm wide.

3. In a large mixing bowl, add in the herb leaves, garlic and olive oil. Mix well. Then add in the potatoes into the mixing bowl. Season assertively with salt and pepper as well at this point. Mix well.

4. On the largest baking/roasting tray that will fit in your oven, lay out the potatoes in a single layer, together with the herbs and garlic. Try to ensure that none of the potato chunks are not sticking together.

5. Roast in the oven for about 35- 45 minutes. Until nicely browned and crisp.

6. Serve with your favourite protein.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Braising is a great way to expand your options in the kitchen. Its also a way to keep costs lower as cheaper cuts of meat tend to be better for braising. Cuts like pork shoulder, belly, short ribs, brisket are all good cuts for braising. As opposed to the really expensive cuts like tenderloin and so on.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
This recipe takes you through a simple braising recipe for beef short ribs.

Ingredients to serve 4:
1 - 1.2 Kg meaty beef short ribs
2-3 cups red wine
1 litre / 4 cups beef stock (Chicken stock would work too)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 sprigs of thyme
1 whole head of garlic - cut in half horizontally
1 large yellow onion - roughly chopped
3-4 carrots - cut into large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped Chives for garnish

1. Season the beef well with salt and pepper. Place a deepsided roasting tray on the stove and heat about 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil. When oil is heated, cook the beef, browning all sides well. should take about 10-15 minutes.

2. Next add the garlic (cut side down) and tomato paste in the pan together with the beef. Cook out the tomato paste by pressing it down on the pan a little. Cook for about 2 minutes. Then add in the wine and stock. Using a wooden spoon or similar tool, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and mix well with the liquid.

3. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover with foil and then cook in the oven for about 3-4 hours.
(If you do not have a roasting tray that you can use on a stove, you can use a large deepsided sautee pan, and then transfer the beef to a deepsided baking/casserole dish just before going into the oven.)

4. Take the roasting tray out of the oven and remove the beef short ribs and carrots, set them aside. Strain the braising liquid and reserve the liquid. This will become the sauce. Scoop and discard the excess oil/fat from the sauce. Squeeze the garlic out of the skin and press through a strainer into the sauce and mix well. Optional Step: Reduce the sauce further in a saucepan over the stove if you want it thicker.

5. Divide the ribs and carrots equally onto dinner plates and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with chives and serve with crusty bread.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gnocchi with Mushrooms

Gnocchi with Mushrooms
This is the recipe for the 2nd gnocchi dish I made from same batch of gnocchi that I made with the earlier recipe here. Its a great savoury dish with flavours that are awesome with gnocchi.

Serves 2
Ingredients for the gnocchi:
2 large baked russet potatoes (or 3 smaller ones)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup plain flour - plus extra for dusting
salt and pepper
1 egg - beaten
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Rest of the stuff:
3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
4 shallots - sliced or 1/2 purple onion - diced
150-200 grams Swiss brown or white button mushrooms - cleaned and halved/quartered (depending on their size)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock (use vegetable broth if you want a vegetarian version)
1 tablespoon butter
2-4 tablespoons grated Parmesan for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped chives for garnish

Steps: (1-5 are copied from the earlier gnocchi dish)
1. Cut the baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh from the potatoes. Set the flesh aside in the bowl, discard the skins. Pass the potato flesh through a ricer or mash them.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add in the egg, thyme leaves, Parmesan and about 3/4 of the cup of flour. Season with salt and pepper. Mix everything well with your hands. Add in more flour from the remaining 1/4 cup, if the mixture remains very wet. When the mixture begins to come together, transfer to the well floured board and knead gently for about 4-5 minutes until the ball of dough is relatively dry to the touch.

3. Roll into a ball and cut into 2 halves. Roll each half into a long cigar. Then cut of individual pieces from the cigar. About 2-3 cm for each piece. Using a floured finger, make a small indentation in each gnocchi.

4. Place the gnocchi gently into a pot of boiling water. When the gnocchi start to float, take them all out of the water and drain.

5. In a saute pan, heat some cooking oil over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, add in the gnocchi and saute them about 2-4 minutes per side. (depending on how brown you want them). Remove and set aside on a dish lined with paper towels.

6. In the same pan, reduce heat to medium, add in shallots and garlic. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until shallots soften then add in the mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms start to brown and the released moisture from the mushrooms dry up. De-glaze the pan with the white wine, and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Then add in the chicken stock and allow to simmer for another minute or so. At the same time, gently scrape the lovely brown bits off the base of the pan, mixing them together with liquid.

7 Add in the butter and mix well. Add in the thyme leaves and gnocchi. Mix well and fry for about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and dish onto 2 dinner plates. Garnish with chives and generously with grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Hope you'll like this. Enjoy!
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