Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blueberry Crumb Cake

It's the second time for me to make this cake. And as the usual cliche goes, "it's lovelier the second time around". True enough, this cake is now officially in my list of favorites. How could it not be? The recipe is from one of my favorite food celebrities no less than "the" Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. I made some modifications of the recipe though to suit my own liking. What I particularly liked about this cake is it's very mild profile. It's not too rich neither overwhelming in sweetness. It got the right balance of taste. The crumb gave an enjoyable texture to the overall flavor.

What you need:
For the Crumb or Streusel:
1/8 cup granulated sugar
scant 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup all purpose flour

For the Cake:
6 tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries plus extra for topping
1 tbsp caster sugar

How to make:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Make the crumb or streusel. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in melted butter and flour. Mix well and set aside.
3. Make the cake. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer on high speed for 4 mins until fluffy and light.
4. Reduce the speed to low and add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and sour cream.
5. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir well.
6. Transfer the batter into an 8-inch non stick round baking pan. Spread it out nicely.
7. Crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.
8. Coat the extra fresh blueberries with 1 tbsp caster sugar. Put on top of the cooled cake then serve.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake

If there's one type of cake that will be quite easy to play around with in terms of variations, it will definitely be Upside-Down Cake. As soon as you've perfected your base, the choice for decorative topping is endless. The most popular to use are nuts and fresh fruits. I'm starting to develop a high liking for this kind of cake. Within a month, I've already served three types of upside-down cake to my sweet tots. But why bother to count? For sure there are still more to come.

What you need:

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 apples, peeled, cored & sliced into wedges
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

How to make:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat bottom and side of an 8-inch round cake pan with 2 tablespoons butter; sprinkle bottom with brown sugar. In a medium bowl, toss apples with lemon juice; arrange in prepared pan in circles.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside
3. With an electric mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter with granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until incorporated. With mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture in three parts and the milk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
4. Spoon batter over apples in pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack, at least 30 minutes.
5. Run a knife around edge of pan, and invert cake onto a rimmed platter.

This recipe was lifted from Martha Stewart's.
note: Don't use a melted butter, just room temperature otherwise, the cake will break.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend Breakfast #02 : Tuna Linguine and Cucumber-Dill Egg Sandwich

The kids were enrolled in a swimming lesson. So their normal routine on weekends usually starts with a fun activity. If swimming is to them, then cooking is for me. Because this translates to having me prepare a filling breakfast to provide them the much needed energy for such a physical engagement. No complains though, it's an errand that I'm always more than willing to take. As usual, I'm happy to serve any wandering palate. Last weekend, their plate consisted of a carbo-rich meal - Tuna Linguine, Cucumber-Dill Egg Sandwich, Baked Beans and Fresh Fruits. 

 Tuna Linguine

What you need:
250g linguine
1/2 cup pasta water reserve
2 cans tuna in olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp ground basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

How to make:
1. Cook linguine according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain linguine and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan. Saute onion and garlic until fragrant. Add tuna (do not drain oil) and saute for 3 - 4 mins.
3. Add pasta water reserve and season with salt, pepper and ground basil.
4. Add linguine and stir well. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top.

Cucumber-Dill Egg Sandwich

What you need:
6 slices of loaf bread
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped into small squares
1/4 cup cucumber, chopped into small squares
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

How to make:
1. Mix mayonnaise, mustard, onion and dill in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add eggs and cucumber. Coat well with mayonnaise mixture.
3. Spread the egg mayo on a slice of bread until it covers all the surface of the bread. Top with another slice of bread and spread another layer of egg mayo. Cover with a 3rd slice of bread. Cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. Continue with the rest of the slices of bread.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mary Grace Ensaymada

One of the things that I truly missed in the Philippines is the abundance of delicious baked goods. From subtle and mild to sinful and indulgent, the market never runs out of new product ideas. The sweet industry is always abuzz with new craze. There was a time where premium Ensaymada became a must try pastry. And one of the names that made a mark was Mary Grace. It became popular for its melt in the mouth texture. For that alone, Mary Grace Ensaymada definitely won the sweet Filipino palate. Fresh from her recent trip to the Philippines, a colleague brought some in the office and I had a bit of nostalgia from every bite. It still tasted the same since the last time I tried it. It still delivered that promise of soft, moist and melt in the mouth indulgence.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lemon Cake

Undoubtedly, Lemon Cake is one of the most popular cakes around. So popular it is that in fact, recipes are abundant. It's almost a must have in any baking book. Likewise, there are a lot of variations available and the choices are limitless. Inspite of its popularity though, some people will still either hate it or love it. Since our taste buds were oriented with cakes having a sweet profile, anything that's out of the zone should require a development for liking. Generally, it can be quite subjective. But for me, the melding of sweet & sour notes is something delightful. When baked or combined with other sweet substances, the sourness of lemon becomes subtle and mild. It also provides a distinct juicy character that makes the cake more mouthwatering. This cake can be best served as a dessert to rich and creamy meals. It will definitely break the satiation factor.

What you need:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

How to make:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
2. Beat the flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, lemon zest, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended.
3. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until pale and thick, around 3-4 minutes. Spoon the batter into an 8 inch non-stick round baking pan. Bake for 40 - 45 mins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
4. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack.
5. Beat the confectioners' sugar and butter in a medium bowl, adding enough lemon juice to make a spreadable frosting. Adjust the amount of lemon juice if necessary.
6. Spread the cake with the frosting and decorate with fresh slices of lemon on top. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Alcohol & Caffeine Free Tiramisu

I'm a big fan of the classic Italian cake dessert - Tiramisu. Although I'm slightly averse with alcoholic notes, the blending of sweet, bitter and creamy flavors of the cake is something really enjoyable. It maybe one of the easiest cake to make since it only involves a simple mixing and layering process; but it could be one of the most delicate too in terms of preparation. The classic recipe includes raw eggs and food safety precautions must be observed at all cost against possible salmonella contamination. Personally, I don't prefer the recipe that calls for raw eggs especially if I'll be serving it to small kids. Hence, I came up with this child friendly recipe that both kids and kids at heart can enjoy. For people who are veering away from alcohol and caffeine, it's still possible to indulge into this yummy cake with this recipe.  

What you need:
200g pack lady fingers or Savoiardi biscuits
300ml whipping cream
40g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp granulated instant decaffeinated coffee
1 cup boiling water
1 cup (250ml) mascarpone cheese
2 tsp cocoa powder or more
3 tbsp chocolate drops for toppings

How to make:
1. Combine coffee and water; stir well, allow to cool and set aside.
2. Place half the biscuits, in single layer over a deep dish; drizzle with half of the coffee mixture.
3. Beat the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in mascarpone cheese.
4. Spread half of the cream and cheese mixture over biscuits in the dish.
5. Submerge the remaining biscuits, one at a time in coffee (do not over soak), place over the cream layer.
6. Top biscuit with the remaining cream. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
7. Dust with sifted cocoa powder and top with mini chocolate drops just before serving.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend Breakfast #01 : Penne alla Norma and Choco Banana Caramel Crepe

As a mom, my first errand on weekends is usually preparing breakfast for the kids. I look forward to it because it's the only day where I can dedicate ample time for mommy duties. I have two different kinds of palate to please. One that's adventurous and another that belongs to the more challenging group of picky eaters. Hence, it's quite tough to come up with food varieties from time to time. Nonetheless, the challenge of preparing something in between is always a welcome dilemma.

This year, I'll be starting some food series for the blog and one of which is Weekend Breakfast. It'll basically chronicle all our weekend servings of good food at home. I just couldn't emphasize more on how important family meals are. With a big sigh, weekends are our only time to get the best shot of gathering our loved ones. That's why personally, these are really treasured days for me. So let me start this series with an Italian and French combo meal - Penne Alla Norma and Choco Banana Caramel Crepe.

Penne Alla Norma (Pasta Alla Norma is a a classic pasta recipe that originated in Sicily, Italy. It's named after an Opera - "Norma" by Vincenzo Bellini. It's usually made with tomatoes, fried eggplant, grated ricotta cheese, and basil). For this recipe, I used Penne Pasta and added it with mushrooms for additional flavor. I replaced the ricotta cheese with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

What you need:
250g penne
1 cup pasta water reserve
1/2 cup olive oil
6 pcs large tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 whole aubergine / eggplant, cut into squares
4 pcs swiss bworn mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

How to make:
1. Cook penne according to package directions. Do not overcook. Reserve some pasta water before draining.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan. Fry the aubergines / eggplant until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Saute mushrooms in the same pan until tender. Set aside.
3. In the same pan, saute onion, garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta water reserve and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 15 mins.
4. Add aubergines, mushrooms, basil and cooked penne. Toss well. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

Choco Banana Caramel Crepe (For the crepe, I tried Alton Brown's recipe but you can also use any basic crepe recipe that you may have)

What you need:

Basic Crepe
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
extra butter, for coating the pan

Nutella spread
banana, sliced horizontally
caramel syrup
chocolate drops

How to make:
1. Prepare the crepe a day in advance. Mix all ingredients in a blender for 10 seconds. Keep in the fridge for an hour or overnight for best results. It will allow the bubbles to subside to prevent the crepe from tearing easily.
2. Coat a non stick frying pan with some butter. Pour 1 ounce of prepared batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone.
3. Spread 1 tbsp of nutella on 1 piece of crepe. Layer with sliced bananas. Roll the crepe and drizzle with caramel syrup. Sprinkle with chocolate drops. Serve immediately.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekend Dinner #04 : Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop on Garlic Spinach, Spaghetti Aglio Olio with Mushrooms, Garlic Bread and Mixed Berries Parfait

I simply love this plate! It speaks of subtlety. Although the main course I chose is meat, it's well complemented with a mildly flavored pasta and bread. I've been having this menu in mind for the entire week; thinking of the different ways how the pork chop will be cooked. In the end, I opted for a kid friendly recipe. Also, I decided to rest for a while from the sinful baked goods. We still have to stick to the diet plan for my eldest tot who's really going beyond the right range of weight for his age. Hence, that explains for the healthy dessert this time around.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio with Swiss Brown Mushrooms

What you need:
500g spaghetti
1/2 cup of pasta water reserve
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped horizontally
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 pcs swiss brown mushroom, sliced thinly
salt & pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

How to make:
1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan. Saute garlic until fragrant. Don't burn. Add in mushrooms and saute until tender. Add pasta water reserve. Season with salt & pepper. Add cooked pasta and basil.  Stir well.
3. Serve with parmesan cheese on top

Garlic Bread

What you need:
1 pc Baguette bread, sliced diagonally
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp chopped italian parsley
3 tbsp live oil
2 tbsp melted butter

How to make:
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Spread mixture on top of the baguette (just enough to cover the top)
3. Toast in the oven for 2 mins or until to your desired doneness for the bread.

 Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop

What you need:
6 pcs pork chop, room temp
2 eggs
parmesan cheese
bread crumbs
kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sunflower oil

How to make:
1. Pound the pork chop with a rolling pin until the thickness is reduced to at least half.
2. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt and pepper.
3. Dip pork chop in the egg mixture, parmesan cheese then bread crumbs. Allow to sit for a while to absorb coating.
4. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan until smoke forms. Fry the breaded pork chop 4 - 5 mins per side depending on the thickness or until it's brown.

Mixed Berries Parfait

What you need
1 pack fresh strawberries, halved
1 pack fresh blueberries
3 bananas, sliced horizontally
2 small tabs vanilla yogurt
pistachio nuts
1 tbsp sugar

How to make:
1. Add sugar into the berries. Mix well. Allow to sit for at least 10 mins to neutralize the acidity of the fruits.
2. In small serving glasses, layer the mixed berries first then add a dallop of yogurt. Add bananas and pistachio nuts then another layer of yogurt. Continue layering and end it with mixed berries on top.

note: choco bits or drops can be added for a more enjoyable texture and crunch

Having this kind of plate, makes me love weekends more. What do you think?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mango Walnut Crumb Cake

When it comes to having  the best tasting mango in the world, a number of countries want to claim the crown. In Asia alone, it will be a contention among countries like the Philippines, India, Thailand, Indonesia just to name a few. Having tried the varieties of these countries, I would say that Philippines definitely top the list. It got the right balance of sweetness, juicy and succulent. Its quality is definitely world class. So imagine my excitement and delight when a collegue generously shared some fresh mangoes from her recent trip to the Philippines. And so fortunate I was, that the mangoes even came from Zambales. A town that's made popular for its sweet and delicious mangoes. Instead of consuming the fruits as it is, I immediately thought of making a mango cake out of it. Still fresh from a Blueberry Crumb Cake indulgence (another cake recipe which I've yet to blog about), I decided to make another version with no less than the best tasting mango in Asia. The recipe is actually a take off from Ina Garten's Blueberry Crumb Cake. I just removed some of the ingredients to suit my own liking and replace the fruit with mangoes.

 What you need:

For the Crumb
1/4 cup granualted sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

For the Cake
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups fresh mangoes, diced

How to make:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Make the crumb topping (streusel). Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.
2. Make the cake. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer on high speed for 4-5 mins until light and fluffy.
3. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.
5. Fold in 1 cup of mangoes and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
6. Spoon the batter into an 8-inch non stick springform baking pan and spread it out evenly.
7. Crumble 1/2 of the topping (streusel) evenly over the batter. Add the remaining 1 cup of mangoes and top with the remaining streusel.
8. Bake for 60 mins - 1 hr and 10 mins or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 mins and unmold.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Steamed Red Grouper with Light Soy Sauce on Kailan Vegetables

Prior to moving to Singapore, I've always been wanting to prepare Chinese food at home. Especially the steamed fish, soaked in umami rich soy sauce kind. For us, it's a prime choice in every dining experience at a chinese restaurant. Needless to say, I'm always fascinated at how Chinese Cook usually stir this kind of dish. So when we relocated in the Lion City, I have every reason to believe that this time around I can easily make it at home. Chinese Cook books are abundant as much as the ingredients. Therefore, weekend lunch usually includes a serving of fish dish like this one.

What you need:
2 pcs red grouper fillet
a bunch of kailan vegetables
2 tbsp canola oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, julienne
1 small red onion, chopped
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp spring onions, julienne

How to make:
1. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Steam until the fish becomes tender.
2. Blanch kailan vegetables in boiling water for 1 min. Drain and set aside. 
3. Heat oil in a wok. Saute ginger, onion and garlic until fragrant. Add in sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and water. Allow to boil and simmer for 2 mins.
4. Transfer vegetables on a serving dish. Put steamed fish on top. Pour over the sauce and garnish with spring onions.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend Dinner #03 : Pan Roasted Round Steak and Nutty Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I just can't get enough of red meat these days. I found myself lucky perusing the aisles of the supermarket last weekend for I caught some good round steaks in the meat section. Notably, it has the right thickness that I'm looking for a steak, it's  not too thin nor too thick (about 1 1/2 cm).  So I thought it would be easier to cook. True enough, roasting it in the pan is like a walk in the park. I didn't have to bother at all on its doneness.  It came out just the way I liked it. I served it with baked asparagus and complemented it with a nice mushroom gravy.

 Pan Roasted Round Steak

Heat a non-stick frying pan to high heat. Oil the pan a little, add sprigs of rosemary and 1 garlic clove. Sear the meat for 1 1/2 mins on each side. Transfer to a plate and rest for at least 5 mins before serving.

Mushroom Gravy

Heat the frying pan with the meat drippings. Melt 1 tbsp butter. Add and saute 1 cup swiss brown mushroom slices until the juice comes out. Add 1 tbsp all purpose flour and cook for 1 min. Add 1 1/2 cup of water and season with salt and pepper. Allow to thicken.

Baked Asparagus

Season asparagus with salt and olive oil. Cook in the oven until tender.

Nutty Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I recently made a Chocolate Almond Upside-Down Cake and it was a hit at home. Hence, I was encouraged to  make another version that will equally be liked. I found out through some research that one of the most popular Upside-Down Cakes is actually Pineapple. When I searched for some recipes, I stumbled upon Martha Stewart's website and I got curious on a family recipe of the the famous designer, no less than Michael Kors. Knowing that the recipe is somehow related to a prominent name, that alone is  more than enough reason to give it a try. Fortunately, I was not disappointed at all.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

What you need:
1 can pineapple rings in juice
3/4 cup (12 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

How to make:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
2. Drain pineapple and siscard juice. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain, turning once for 5 mins.
3. Melt 6 tbsp butter and transfer to an 8-inch round cake pan to evenly coat bottom; sprinkle brown sugar evenly over bottom of the pan and top with an even alyer of pineapple rings and almonds. Set aside.
4. Whisk in a large bowl flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl whisk together eggs, egg yolks and vanilla until well combined. Set aside.
5. In an electric mixer, beat remaining 6 tbsp butter with sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until batter is just combined.
6. Pour batter in prepared cake pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (about 1 hour). Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 mins.
7. Run a small knife around the edge of pan to release the cake. Place a plate on top of the cake pan and invert the cake onto a plate. Slice the cake and serve with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Banofee Pie a la Our Taste of Life

Although my taste buds is largely partial to savoury flavors, there are certain sweet goods that definitely left a remarkable memory in me. So much so that occasional cravings of it continue to haunt me. A classic example of that is the pastry dessert Banofee Pie. In the Philippines, there are a number of food establishments that serve good quality Banofee Pie. But I guess, the most readily available is that of Starbucks. I've yet to see and taste a Singapore version and sadly, up to this day I haven't tried any. Thus, to satisfy an insistent desire for this goodie, I made one at home recently. It may be too rich to have, but really it'll leave you heavenly satisfied.

Banoffe Pie

What you need:
200g + 50g crushed graham crackers
1 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 pcs banana, sliced horizontally
4 tbsp nutella spread
1 pack heavy cream, whipped
caramel syrup
chocolate syrup

How to make:
1. Prepare the crust. Mix 200g graham crackers, butter and sugar. Press in a 9-inch pie pan. Freeze for 30 mins or until set.
2. Spread nutella onto the prepared crust. Add bananas and drizzle with some chocolate syrup.
3. Sprinkle 50g crushed graham crackers. Add whipped cream. Drizzle with some chocolate and caramel syrup. Serve.

Weekend Dinner #02 : Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken, Shrimps Dill Salad, Portobello Mushroom with Veggie Stir-fry and Chocolate Almond Upside-Down Cake

TGIF! Thank God It's Friday! It's perhaps the most appreciated remark in the workforce. After working so hard for the whole week, we all look forward to a relaxing weekend. For me, it usually starts on a friday night and it's marked with a good family dinner at home.  

For this weekend's menu, it's a take off from a typical Roasted Chicken Platter. We are a fan of Kenny Rogers and the like, so we tried to bring it at home with this repertoire - Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken for the main dish, Shrimps Dill Salad and Portobello Mushroom with Veggie Stir-fry for the side dish and Chocolate Almond Upside Down Cake for dessert.

Shrimps Dill Salad

What you need:
500g shrimps, cleaned and deveined
kosher salt
2 cups water
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
2 - 3 tbsp finely chopped celery
3 tbsp minced dill

How to make:
1. Boil water in a pot. Season with kosher salt and add lemon. Add shrimps and cook until they turn pink in color. Drain and set aside.
2. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Add in cooked shrimps and toss. Chill before serving.

Portobello Mushroom with Veggie Stir-fry

 What you need:
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 med size onion, julienned
6 pcs mini portobello mushroom, julienned
1 whole red bell pepper, julienned
2 cups broccoli florets
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

How to make:
1. Blanch broccoli florets in boiling water for 1 min. Drain and transfer to an iced water to retain crispy texture.
2. Heat olive oil in a wok. Saute garlic and onion until fragrant. Add in mushrooms and red bell pepper and saute until tender. Add in broccoli, season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken

What you need:
1 whole chicken, cut into parts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 - 4 sprigs of rosemary leaves
2 pcs lemon, cut horizontally

How to make:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 240 C with turbo function.
2. Mix olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary in a bowl. Toss the chicken well  in the mixture. Transfer the chiken into a baking dish or any aluminum foil lined pan. Add pieces of 1 lemon on top.
3. Rost the chicken in the oven for 45 mins or until brown and crispy. Garnish with the other pieces of lemon.

Chocolate Almond Upside Down Cake (a recipe by Gail Gand but I modified it a bit; I missed watching her show Sweet Dreams) - This is a soft, slightly moist cake with a good goeey almond caramel topping. It's one of my favorite cakes actually.

What you need

Caramel Topping:
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
 1 cup full cream milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

How to make:
1. Prepare the topping. Butter an 8-inch nonstick cake pan. Pour 6 tbsp melted butter into the cake pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Sprinkle in brown sugar. Drizzle honey over sugar and sprinkle evenly with almonds.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together for 3 times to make the cake extra light. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and continue mixing. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
4. Continue beating until light and fluffy about 3 mins. With tge mixer running on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add half the milk and continue mixing. Add another third of the dry ingredients mix and add remaining milk and vanilla. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan.
5. Bake until set in the center and springy 45 to 55 mins. Run a knife around the the edge of the pan and immediately invert the pan onto a serving platter. Let it sit with the pan still on top for 5 mins so the caramel can soak into the cake a bit before removing the pan. Let cool completely.

This was how our dinner plate looked like on a friday night. It's truly TGIF!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Dinner #01 : Pan Roasted Ribeye Steak, Linguine with Shrimps Scampi, Fresh Greens Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette and Very Berry Cheese Cake

Work life has been terribly busy this last week. So when the weekend came, I felt I really need a treat. And for a Foodie like me, what better way there is to de-stress than cooking? I made a trip to Fair Price Finest to look for a good cut of steaks. Lucky me! Fresh stocks of meat from New Zealand are still available. I opted for a 150-day grain fed rib eye steak. The moment I saw the meat, I felt some excitement started to build up within me. The marbling of fats in the meat is such a joy to behold. And boy, it was not cheap! These 2 slabs alone cost me S$38 bucks. Well, what's the surprise? Good quality usually comes with a price tag.

For tonight, we're having a western set meal. Fresh Greens Salad with Home made Vinaigrette, Linguine with Shrimps Scampi, Pan Roasted Rib Eye Steak and Very Berry Cheese Cake for dessert.

Fresh Greens Salad with Vinaigrette

What you need:
1 pack of organic greens
1 tsp minced garlic
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

How to make:
1. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Continue mixing until emulsified.
2. Add into the fresh greens and toss to coat it with the mixture.

Linguine with Shrimps Scampi

What you need:
250g linguine
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
ground pepper to taste
1 tsp ground basil
5 pcs kalamansi, juice extracted
500g shrimps, cleaned and deveined
1/2 cup pasta water reserve

How to make:
1. Cook linguine until aldente. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of water.
2. Melt butter in a pan. Add olive oil. Saute garlic until fragrant.
3. Add in shrimps and saute until it turns pink (about 5 mins).
4. Add pasta water reserve. Season with salt, pepper, basil and kalamansi juice.
5. Add in cooked linguine and toss to combine.

Pan Roasted Rib Eye Steak - This is a bit overdone I guess. But, we're just not into rare nor medium rare type of steaks. My taste buds specifically is not oriented into the "bloody" character of meats. If you prefer otherwise, the time of cooking can be varied to suit your liking. This is the 3rd time I'm doing this steak so the post on the recipe can be found here.

Very Berry Cheesecake
It's not my first time to prepare a cheese cake but it was a first for this kind. And I couldn't be happier for making it a success.

What you need:
200g graham crackers,crushed
3 tbsps brown sugar
120g butter, melted
1 pack cream cheese, softened
1 250g pack whipping cream, chilled
1 1/2 tbsp unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
fresh strawberries, blackberries and raspberries for toppings

How to make:
1. Mix graham crackers, brown sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Transfer into an 8 inch non stick baking pan and press firmly. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
2. Beat cream cheese and white sugar until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.
3. Add gelatin into the water and set aside to soften. Heat over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved. Add into the cream cheese mixture.
4. Beat whipping cream until soft peaks. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
5. Pour over the prepared crust and spread evenly. Top with the fresh fruits.
6. Chill for at least 2 hours or until set.

A scrumptious dinner plate..

I recently committed myself to a new mantra at home. Whenever possible, I would like to stage a special weekend dinner for the family hence the title of this post. So wish me good luck and may this be a good start of the many delightful dining experiences to be had at home.