Every once in a while, it’s nice to be able to sit down to something that’s less science experiment and more… well, comfort food. Alton Brown’s curry chicken pot pie is one such dish. Back in the States, G and I would buy a Costco roast chicken just so that we could have breast meat to use for this recipe. Since there isn’t exactly a plethora of Costco’s or cheap (western) roast chicken, I haven’t had a chance to make pot pie until recently when I was “gifted” 4 kg of turkey breast. But that’s a story for another day.
Ramen. It wasn’t really until our trip last year to Kyushu that G and I truly understood what the craze was all about. There is a local favorite, Taiho, that serves up a slightly greasy and salty tonkotsu ramen with pork rinds… mmm. Craving some noodles at home, I decided to learn just how difficult it would be to create a bowl from (mostly) scratch. Since I lack the patience to fry up rinds, I went with the next best thing- bacon. As luck would have it, the Momofuku ramen recipe happens to include this tasty internet meme as a key ingredient. In total, this dish took 3 days to make, but that was only because I also wanted sous vide crispy roast pork as well.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to cook/bake anything of interest. Truth be told, G and I have been so busy with the baby countdown and personal to-do checklists (buy baby stuff, clean baby clothes, change jobs, more baby stuff) before D(elivery)-Day that we’ve eaten out a bit too much (also on our to-do list: top 10 ramen joints, Andre…). Still, I did find some time last week to try and make a more “local” macaron.
Kaya is a spread (made from coconut milk, egg, sugar, and pandan leaves) that is great with butter on toasted bread. The first time I ever tried it was actually back in SF. G was so excited to find it available at our local Ranch 99. Here in Singapore, there are definitely more varieties of kaya that range in taste and color, from brown to green. I’m not enough of a connoisseur to tell you where to find the best kaya, and so I normally just reach in the fridge and grab whatever is available.
Barbecued stingray is a relatively inexpensive and oh-so-tasty dish that is available at just about every hawker center in Singapore. I love the combination of sambal chili and flaky flesh enveloped in the fragrance of banana leaf. Perhaps because of its ubiquity in food stalls, stingray is not as commonly found in the grocery stores. This is a shame since it is surprisingly easy to cook and freezes well. While it had never crossed my mind to either cook or process a stingray, one recent weekend found me and M on a “field trip” to the Jurong Fishery Port (JFP) that led to a better appreciation of cooking this funky flat fish.
I am in misery, there ain’t nobody who can comfort me…
5 frustrating batches later and I’m finally starting to get the hang of making french-style macarons. There’s a longer story to my ongoing fascination that I’ll share another time, but for now let’s just say that I’m enamored by the science behind these temperamental almond biscuits. …And I might have an addiction problem with hazelnut-coffee buttercream.
I’m collecting my lessons learned and will share when I can reliably make “perfect” macarons. So before that time in the distant future, I thought I’d first share a pic of this “milestone” where everything came together, albeit far from perfect. Like an Obama oratory, these macarons appear great on the surface but are sadly hollow on the inside. But at least I’ve narrowed down the number of my issues and have an idea on how to solve them (move somewhere with lower humidity).
For those interested in learning more about making macarons, I highly highly recommend the french macaron how-to guide from Not so Humble Pie.
I made a duck breast confit ala sous vide the other night using some leftover duck fat (more on that in a future post). This was the first time cooking the breast meat (as well as deboning an entire duck), and it couldn’t have turned out better. The meat was evenly cooked, incredibly juicy and tender. Normally picky cousin L ate half of the plate for her dinner, and G skipped the sauce that I made. This will definitely be a repeat dish.
Instructions: Dry rub duck breasts with salt, pepper, and thyme for 24 hours. Sous vide 57.5 °C for two hours in duck fat. Then pan fry to crisp the skin. Enjoy!
One thing that G and I miss from San Fran is the plethora of taquerias and taco trucks. There’s nothing quite so tasty as a juicy carne asada taco with a side of fresh pico de gallo and a lime. So when we had some uncooked tenderloin, I thought to whip us up a reminder of home. Since G prefers a bit more “ingredients”, I decided to make fajitas instead. The most important components for a good fajita (to us) are the guacamole, pico de gallo, and of course the carne asada. Other nice-to-haves include sauteed onions and bell peppers, shredded cheese, and sour cream.
Typically a cheaper cut of beef, namely flank steak, is used since the marinade will soften the meat after a few hours. No Recipes has a great recipe, especially if you plan to use it for tacos, check it out here. Since I’m making fajitas and will have salsa and guacamole, I prefer to use a simpler marinade. Continue reading
I was planning to sous vide another batch of pork belly when G pointed me to a (then recent) post on making sio bak (aka siew yuk) from I Eat I Shoot I Post. Hmm… same meat and cut, can brine with the same spices, and both are superb in part because of the texture contrast. Hence the birth of the sous vide roast pork (烧肉) frankenrecipe. The end result is a roast that is incredibly moist and buttery soft ala sous vide combined with the crisp crunchy crust of a traditional siew yuk.
Wholly unnecessary? Probably. Oh-so tasty? Definitely!
To familiarize myself with how to make traditional siew yuk, I did a quick search to learn how others approached this dish. It turns out there are more home recipe variations than there are dialect names (and spellings) for this roasted delicacy. In the end, I stuck with I Eat’s directions because of its elegant simplicity (though the photos for this other recipe are damn inspiring).
I managed to weather the great cupcake fad of 2008/9 without ever having to try or learn to bake any. However, thanks to G, I’ve regrettably succumbed to the macaron craze that’s spread worldwide with the virulence of the Macarena. My culinary interests are normally related to savory solids and sweet liquids, but since I had an opportunity to take a class at ToTT on macarons and prove a point (G doesn’t believe that I can follow recipes), I decided to learn all I could about these mercurial meringues.
Approaches for making the perfect macaron are as varied and confusing as the debate over whether it’s ok to refer to these confectioneries as macaroons (my spell checker refuses to acknowledge macarons). A quick search online turned up dozens of recipes and tips from which meringue type to use to proper oven baking and cooling techniques. In this ToTT class, Chef Mimi Wahadi of the 1-Rochester group taught us how to make macarons using a Swiss meringue* and very straightforward baking approach. Continue reading