Basil

IMG_2050AWriting this post to honour Doris Andrew, one of Andrew’s family member pass away two weeks ago. I will be missing your laughter, your accompany, your food. All these are going to lived in my memory forever. I remembered you enjoyed the pizza with the fresh basil on the topping, you said the leaf is the fragrance on top of the pizza…. I will be missing you, I love you!

Growing your own herbs is so fun to do at home, if you have some left over herb that you brought from market. I picked those mature leaves for cooking and I remain some of it, so I can plant them in a pot for my potted herbs garden.

I love the fragrance of sweet basil leaves, the smell of the Italian cooking. This delicate herbs has a very unique story behind back to Ancient Greeks. You may have noticed I had been away for long time and I didn’t update my blog. I been reading a lot of home grown produce for the past few months. I found one of the article written by Anne Del Conte regarding basil.  There is a wonderful story of it, and recipe are superb too.

A native of India, basil was known to the ancient Greeks and the Romans and flourished wherever it could find warmth, sun and sea breezes. In Boccaccio’s Decameron, basil is the symbol of love when the noble Lisabetta, whose brothers have murdered her plebeian lover, buries the lover’s head in a pot of basil, a story that is taken up some 400 years later by Keats in his poem ‘Isabella, or the Pot of Basil’. During the Renaissance basil is mentioned by Platina, who suggested using it in moderation. It was popular all over Italy, often kept in pots on window sills as it appears in some Renaissance paintings.

For hundreds of years, basil had been used around the Italian coast in salads, with fish and in tomato sauces. In the 18th century, Corrado is the first cookery writer to mention the use of basil to dress stewed meat and to flavour vegetable soups. Artusi adds basil to his tomato sauce which, he writes, is ‘good with boiled beef and it is excellent to make very pleasant a dish of pasta dressed with butter and cheese, or a risotto’.

Basil gained a wider fame when Pesto crossed the borders of Liguria to become one of the favourite pasta sauces of the world. But that didn’t happen until well after World War II. Apart from pesto and in tomato sauces, basil also gives an extra dimension to a Minestrone or a vegetable soup and it makes a delicious salad with tomatoes and mozzarella, insalata caprese.

There are many varieties of basil, including: the Genovese, with a very strong yet sweet flavour; the Napoletano, with rather crinkly leaves and a minty aroma; the Fine Verde Compatto, with very small leaves and more delicate scent; and the Mammoth, with very big leaves, the best for drying. However, basil does not dry well and its flavour changes considerably. The best way to preserve basil is to layer the leaves with olive oil in a sterilised jar, or to freeze the leaves.

Basil sauce Pesto

This famous sauce has its origins in Liguria, when the basil is sweeter yet more aromatic than anywhere else, thanks to the perfect balance between humidity and hot sun. It is indeed odd that the only speciality from Liguria that genuinely needs a local ingredient should be the one that has travelled all over the world.

There are two fundamental types of pesto: the pesto of the western Riviera and the pesto of the eastern Riviera. The former, which includes the classic pesto genovese, is stronger and simpler, the latter is more delicate, containing less garlic, some pine nuts, grated Pecorino and or Parmesan and other ingredients which make it less fierce. But, after that, there are as many recipes as cooks, and no Ligurian cook would actually know how much of this or that goes into it: it’s all a question of judgement and personal taste. The basil is pounded in a mortar with some garlic, salt and, if added, pine nuts or walnuts, the basil local extra virgin olive oil being added drop by drop. This at least, is the old-fashioned method; nowadays it is often made in the blender or food processor. Connoisseurs say this is to the detriment of its flavour, since the basil is being chopped by a metal blade. which might also warm the mixture, rather than pounded by wooden pestle. There is a more delicate version of pesto, in which some butter or cream is added, and the garlic reduced.

Pesto is traditionally used to dress Trenette, Trofie and picagge; to a Genoese it would be inconceivable that it should be used with any other shape of pasta. The pasta is often cooked with sliced potatoes and green beans and all three ingredients are dressed with pesto and eaten together. Pesto is used also to dress potato gnocchi or to give a local touch – one spoonful is enough – to a Minestrone  all genovese.

Make for 4 pasta or gnocchi
20g/ 2 1/2 tbsp pine nuts
50g fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled
a pinch of coarse sea salt
4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp freshly grated mature pecorino cheese
125ml extra virgin olive oil, preferably Ligurian

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F.

Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 3-4 minutes, to release the aroma of the nuts

Put the basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt in a mortar. Grind with the pestle, crushing all the ingredients against the side of the mortar until the mixture has become a paste. You can use a food processor or blender.

Mix in the grated cheeses and pour over the oil very gradually, beating with a wooden spoon.

Doris, this recipe is dedicated for you.

Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbsNever ever throw away a stale bread, otherwise you may throw away the most delicious thing. I used a whole stale bread including the crust, cut them into small pieces then put them in the food processor or blender, blitz it until the consistency that you wanted to achieve. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Spread the processed breadcrumbs on the Swiss roll tin, let it dry for 20 minutes (to drying it further) while waiting for the oven to heat up.

There is several type of breadcrumbs you could make it yourself.

  • White breadcrumbs – Remove the crust from some stale bread and rub it through a fine wire sieve, using the palm of the hand.
  • Brown breadcrumbs – Put the crusts or any pieces of the stale bread there may be into a moderate oven, and bake them brown. Then crush them with a rolling pin or pound them in a mortar, pass them through a fine sieve, and keep them in an air-tight tin.
  • Mollica (Italian) breadcrumbs  – Soft breadcrumbs: the inside of a loaf or roll, as distinct from the crust. Mollica is used principally as a binder in Polpette and Polettoni, in fillings for Ravioli and other pasta shapes and in stuffing for vegetables, fish etc. In Calabria and Sicily fried breadcrumbs are the main ingredient in many pasta sauces as a substitute for the more expensive Parmesan. The taste is, of course, different, though not necessarily less good, but the appearance is similar. There is one dish in southern Italy, in the poor regions used this breadcrumbs, even still serving today.

The French breadcrumbs (panure in French) are made from fresh bread and are soft and large-crumbed. Dried breadcrumbs (chapelure in French) are finer, made from bread that has been dried in oven or slightly stale, or by drying fresh breadcrumbs and crushing them. Browned breadcrumbs are dried crumbs that are lightly toasted. (Alternatively, the bread may be baked until browned before it is crumbed.) Breadcrumbs are used in cooking for coating food or as a topping for dishes. They are also used for binding mixtures or thickening soups or sauces.

  • Coating with breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are used to coat delicate foods before frying, typically fish or seafood, chicken breast fillets, croquettes or fritters. Dry white crumbs do not absorb as much fat as fresh crumbs; they produce a fine, crisp coating and turn golden on cooking. The food is first dusted with flour, then dipped in beaten egg and finally coated with breadcrumbs. This gives a secure coating, ideal for soft mixtures which may melt during frying. Less delicate items can be moistened with melted butter or milk before a fine layer of crumbs is pressed on – this is useful when baking or grilling (broiling) the food. Dishes coated with fresh breadcrumbs must be cooked slowly so that the crumbs do not brown before the foods are properly cooked. The French are prefer their fresh breadcrumbs, making that misnomer!

If you had a very tired or lazy day, you could even ignore the step of drying the bread in the oven. You can cut the crust off and cut the bread into chunks and lacerate  into crumbs in the food processor, and then leave the crumbs in a shallow bowl or spread them out on a plate to dry and get staler naturally. You can keep breadcrumbs in a freezer bag in the freezer and use them straight from the frozen. An average slice of good bread without crusts, should be weights 25g; this in turn yields approximately 6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs.

Porcini & Chocolate Risotto

IMG_9614Typically chocolate always give you the impression of dessert, something that sweet. The Dutch chocolate company had imposed that image into everyone. However, this wonderful author had changed my impression toward chocolate forever, thanks to Willie Harcourt-Cooze.  I picked up one of his recipe and will love to give it a try, it may sound odd to add chocolate into savory. The flavour is really married well.  Here is the recipe for your adventure with cacao.

  • 100g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 250g Arborio rice
  • 1 litre hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp finely grated 100% cacao
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

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  1. Place the porcini mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry over a gentle heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft and translucent.
  3. Stir in the butter until melted, then stir in the rice.
  4. Tip in the porcini mushroom, along with their soaking liquid. Bring to a gentle simmer, strring continuously, until all the soaking liquid has been absorbed. Add a ladleful of hot stock and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid has again been absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the stock and stirring in this way, until all the stock has been used up and the rice is plump and tender.
  5. Finally, stir in the cacao, season with salt and black pepper to taste and serve with grated Parmesan sprinkle over the top.

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The most honest opinion about this apart from the strong bitter cacao that really wonderful with the note of earthy taste to it, likewise with the porcini mushroom. I do suggest to use a bit of thyme to garnish on top. It did settle both strong flavour because of the aromatic of the thyme. This kind of dish as is does look like Chinese porridge, I am wondering does all these food culture related once a upon a time? That will be very interesting subject to find out too.

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Crumpets

IMG_5339AIs had been many year I had crumpet, I think probably about six years ago was last time to had crumpets.  Few days ago I was tidying my books and I found a recipe of crumpet dated back to 1900. Obviously I didn’t follow this recipe to cook the crumpet because it doesn’t specified the amount of flour, as I remembered it is ratio of 2:1 of milk to flour; salt is usually a pinch will do it. Basically is my instinct for this recipe, and it is for a large amount of crumpets  with 1 quart of milk that converted to nearly 1 litre of milk. Somehow I got it right, now I’m really starting historical cooking. It is very amazing when you using the recipe like this, is not only makes you think how our ancestor doing in the kitchen; that obviously make me appreciated more of their cooking, with jotting down every detail that will definitely helps the future generation to understand how their grandparent’s food look like.

I had make a little extra by using our convenience of supermarket, so I came up with this a bit modern version of crumpet away from 1900.

  1.  Sift the flour, salt, sugar into a large bowl. Place the milk in a saucepan, add 125 ml water and warm gently. The mixture should be just hand-hot.
  2. Pour the mixture into a small bowl, sprinkle the dried yeast on top and leave for 10-15 minutes or until frothy.
  3. Add the yeast liquid to the flour and beat to smooth batter. Cover the bowl with a large lightly oiled polythene bag and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until the batter had doubled in bulk.
  4. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1 tablespoon warm water, beat into the batter. Cover and leave to rise again for 20 minutes.IMG_5337A
  5. Heat a griddle or heavy-bottomed frying pan or non-stick frying pan over medium heat, then grease it when hot. Grease metal crumpet rings, poaching rings or large plain biscuit cutter about 7.5cm in diameter. Place the rings on the hot griddle, pour a spoonful of batter into each to cover the base thinly and cook until the top is set and the bubbles have burst.IMG_5338A
  6. Remove the rings and turn the crumpets over. Cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes only, until firm but barely coloured. Cool the crumpet on wire rack. Serve toasted, with butter.IMG_5342AI loved the sponginess of the crumpets and the melted butter, ooze in the holes, oh my god, it is so enjoyable. Yes! Butter makes everything better, this is so true. This recipe original recipe has been pass on for many generation, therefore I’m here to do the same pass the goodness to my family and friends. Start to collate your family recipes and pass-it-on.

 

Fresh Egg Pasta

 

IMG_0916I got a very good article to share with you, it is from the great Italian food writer – Anna Del Conte. Pasta is the generic word for any kind of dough, such as bread and pastry. ‘Pasta’ is also a paste, such as pasta di Acciughe (anchovies), Pasta Di Mandorle (almond). When used by itself the word usually means pasta in its best-known sense, which, to be correct, in Italian is called Pasta alimentare. And what is this food that in the last half a century has conquered the Western world? It i simply a mixture of flour or Semola and water and/ or eggs.

Pasta, as a mixture of some sort of ground cereal and liquid, was obviously made in ancient times. If the first pasta maker were the Greeks or the Etruscans it does not matter. Pasta was not brought back to Venice by Marco Polo in 1295, because there are references to it before that date. Personally I think that pasta was yet another Arab import into Sicily. In the past the Sicilian were recognized as the authority on pasta and Sicilian food was greatly influenced by the Arabs.

By the Renaissance, pasta – at that time called vermicelli – was enjoyed only by wealthy people. It became popular at the end of the 18th century, but only in southern Italy. Naples was the scene of the eruption of pasta as the food of the people; along with Vesuvius it became the symbol of Naples. In 1700 there were 280. On most street corners there was a maccheronaro selling Maccheroni from his stall – maccheroni being the general local name for pasta. The first pasta factories were established around the Gulf of Naples and it is from there that pasta, and spaghetti in particular, reached the United States when the Italians began to emigrate there at the beginning of the 20th century.

But there was an American who fell in love with pasta much earlier. It was Thomas Jefferson, third president of the US, who, having no doubt enjoyed eating pasta on one of his visit to Italy, ordered a pasta-making machine to be sent to Monticello, his house in Virginia.

Up until World War II it was only in southern Italy that pasta was eaten daily, usually as a first course at lunch. But in the second half of the 20th century pasta has become the most popular starter to a meal also in northern Italy, where it has ousted the local Risotto. A dish of pasta is now often served as a Piatto Unico (one-course meal) but never with salad. It is the typical meal of southern Italians, and it provides a healthy and well-balanced diet based on pasta plus a sauce consisting either of small amount of meat, or some vegetables, pulses, cheese or eggs.

In Italy, pasta usually means dried pasta. Fresh pasta is eaten far less frequently and is by no means considered superior, but rather a different kind of food which can be better or worse, depending on its quality.

Fresh pasta: In Emilia-Romagna fresh pasta is made using only eggs and 00 flour. The classic recipe is given here. In order regions one or two of the eggs may be replaced by water, which produces a softer and less tasty pasta. In the south the mixture is of durum wheat Semolino, flour and water, a type of dough that is hard to knead and shape. All these mixtures, once the dough is rolled out, are called sfoglia. Rolling pasta totally by hand is difficult job, but there are many machines for making fresh pasta at home. The Macchina per la pasta will roll and cut the pasta, too.

Dried pasta: This is commercially made pasta, the composition of which is tightly controlled by law. It is made only with durum wheat semola and water. For pasta integrale (wholemeal pasta) the durum wheat is less refined. Equally important is the drying process, which must be gradual and lengthy. The best pasta is dried over 48 hours, as opposed to 32 for the more mass-produced type. The dies through which the mixture is extruded also play an important part: for the best pasta bronze dies are used, giving a rough surface that is ideal for retaining the dressing. Dried pasta comes in many shapes and sizes, most of which are best suited to a particular type of sauce. Generally speaking, long pasta, such as spaghetti, is best with a sauce based on olive oil, as this keeps the strands slippery and separate. Thicker long shapes are dressed with sauces that may also be based on butter, cream and cheese, which also go well with medium-seized tubular pasta. These shapes are also perfect dressed with vegetables or pulses, while the large rigatoni and penne are used for baked dishes.

Cooking pasta: Pasta may be everyday food, but it should be cooked with great care. It must be cooked in a large saucepan in plenty of salted water: there should be 1 litre of water to every 100g of pasta, to which 10g of salt is added and immediately stirred. The cooking time varies according to the shape and quality of pasta, and whether it is fresh or dried.

When the pasta is al dente it is drained through a colander or, for long pasta, by lifting it out with a long wooden fork or a spaghetti server. Some of the cooking water is sometimes reserved to add at the end, should the finished dish seem too dry. This is always done when cooking fresh pasta, since it absorbs more liquid. Once drained, the pasta is transferred to the frying pan containing the sauce or to a warmed bowl and immediately dressed; it should never be left to sit in the colander or bowl without any dressing. Pasta shouldn’t be dressed with too much sauce, nor should the sauce be watery.

Pasta can also be cooked using a totally different method, which is called ‘the Agnesi method’, since it is from the late Vincenzo Agnesi, the founder of the Pasta Agnesi company. And here it is: bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the usual amount of salt and then add the pasta and stir vigorously. When the water has come back to the boil, cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes and then turn the heat off, put a clean towel over the pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Leave for the length of time suggested on the packet instructions. When the time is up, drain the pasta and dress as usual. Pasta cooked in this way will retain more of the characteristic flavout of the semolina. The other advantage is that it does not overcook if left a minutes longer.

Pastasciutta is a term meaning pasta that, once cooked, has been drained and served with a sauce. Pasta in brodo (‘pasta in soup’) on the other hand, is pasta served in the liquid in which it has cooked, which is the brodo, or stock.

Pasta colorata or aromatizzata (coloured or flavoured pasta) – pasta that is yellow (saffron), brown (fungi), red (tomato) or black (cuttlefish ink) – has now become as widely available as the traditional green (spinach) pasta from Emilia. Pasta ripiena (stuffed pasta) includes the large range of different types of ravioli. The wrapping is made of egg pasta and the stuffing is different for each type of raviolo.

In Italy, pasta is made in different ways in many regions, but the most popular fresh pasta is the pasta all’uovo made in Emilia, for which this is the traditional recipe.

  • 300g Italian 00 flour, plus extra for dusting (Double “O” is finely milled, it is easy to built the elasticity of the dough, you could use normal plain flour)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Put the flour on the work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the salt and the eggs. Using a fork or your fingers, mix the eggs and draw in the flour gradually. Work quickly until it forms a mass. Scrape the work surface clean and wash your hands. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Put in the flour and salt, switch on the machine and drop in the eggs through the funnel. Process until a ball of dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.
  2. Knead the dough for about 5 – 7 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes – or up to 3 to 4 hours.
  3. Unwrap the dough and knead on a lightly floured work surface for 2 – 3 minutes, then divide into 4 equal parts. Take one piece of dough and keep the remainder wrapped in clingfilm or cover with a damp tea towel. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, or by machine following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. If you making lasagne, or any type of stuffed pasta, proceed immediately to cutting and stuffing. If you are making long pasta, before you cut it, leave the dough to dry until it is no longer sticky. Then feed each strip of dough through the broad cutter of the machine for tagliatelle or fettuccine, or through the narrow cutters for tagliolini. For tonnarelli, roll the dough out only to the fourth setting of the machine. Whe dry, feed the sheet through the narrow cutter to achieve a sort of square spaghetti.

At least you try this recipe by hand during the mixing process, I think it is very important for you to feel the ingredient when you working on it. The first attempt I made fresh pasta before I found this recipe, I didn’t use machine but by hand, it was very exciting when I mixed the flour with eggs, using heel of my hand to roll it as is using my body heat to gently working with the gluten of the flour rolling it and giving my attention and love toward the mixture. This is a good collaboration between me and the food; I called this the good relationship. Then when I rolling out into a sheet I cut them into several piece and floured each of them and piled them together and then rolled it like a swiss roll then used a sharp knife to sliced it. Unfortunately it doesn’t came out as I expected because it was stuck together badly. The second time I made it I didn’t dry them much it cooked too quickly and it fall apart. The third time I made it by machine and it is great!

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Clarissa Dickson Wright, remembered

IMG_0268AAs the title does sounds very tense, indeed I cooked this dish to honor and remembrance of a great food writer and television cook – Clarissa Dickson Wright has died in Edinburgh aged 66 on 15 March 2014. Today will be exactly one month of remembrance of her.

I adored her writing, she is the most eccentric, classic British lady. Her book named A History of English Food is one of the magnificent guide of British cuisine, a book that content from the medieval feast to a modern-day farmers’ market, revisiting the Tudor working man’s table and a Georgian kitchen along the way. How could any person writing this historical topic of food back to Medieval? A lot of research and study will needed for her great work. Now we understand how our modern cookery evolved, thanks to our ancestor that recorded the detail for the new generation. I enjoyed reading her book because she have great sense of humour in her writing. I almost can hear she speak to me while reading it. I remembered there is a TV journalist asking her a question about being a “chef”. She nearly bite his head off, informing him that she was a Cook, and most definitely not a chef. Very humble person too!

Obviously I can’t paid tribute to her, as my honor and tribute I made one dish from her recipe that she wrote in one of her joined publishing Great British Food Revival. She named it as Medieval chicken because she used garlic as a revival ingredient. BBC was responded that garlic wasn’t British, then she pointed out the word of Anglo-Saxon origin and meant spear-leek. The Roman introduced garlic to Britain and now other types grow in Britain very successfully as illustrated by Colin Boswell’s work on The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. She also promised that one of her recipe would be medieval and this is taken from The Forme of Cury (Cookerya book complied by the cooks to the Court of King Richard II in the late fourteen century. Saffron was popular in the Middle Ages, a time when colour in food was a culinary obsession.

When you think again, indeed British is good with their roasting skill; have you ever wonder how the medieval kitchen works, and the ingredient they used for their daily consumption. Cooking in modern day can be very stress-free and relaxing, but definitely not the Medieval.

  • small packet saffron threads
  • 400ml white wine
  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1 tsp each pepper and cinnamon
  • 5 smallish bulbs of garlic
  • 5cm piece of root ginger, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 230ºC/ 450ºF/ Gas 8. Soak the saffron in a little wine to soften.
  2. Rub the chicken all over with the pepper and cinnamon and place the chicken in an ovenproof dish.
  3. Cut the top off the garlic bulbs until you can see the cloves and arrange the bulbs and chopped ginger around the chicken.
  4. Pour the oil into the garlic bulbs and pour the saffron and wine around the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and then place in the oven.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 170ºC/ 325ºF/ Gas 3 and cook for another 40 minutes, or until the juice run clear when you insert a skewer and the chicken is cooked. Regularly baste whist cooking, paying special attention to basting the garlic.

Clarissa will be remembered by all of us of her great book, recipe, the great ingredient was your humour, laughter and great attitude. R.I.P.

 

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Egg in sunset

IMG_0003AInspired from Nigella‘s recipe of Eggs in Purgatory, I should probably have to rename it. I think is a bit sad to say the sun is in hell. The egg in the middle is burning from the fiery red of the tomatoes.

It reminds me about the sun set at home when I was on holiday. The scene has the velvet red with golden yellow sun that smear out to the redness. Wonderful sunset I had seen. Just like this dish exactly the same colour obviously in different approach. My sun in this dish was not show is simply because it had dive into the gorgeously red tomato.

The key ingredient is egg and tomato, first, heat up some garlic oil in small pan (or you could use olive oil and grating a clove of garlic into it) then add a bit of chili flakes if you like some heat as I do; or you could just add some herbs such as a spring rosemary anything you like. Don’t let the garlic and herbs burn, what you need is to infused the flavour into the oil.

Now here is the sunset you about going to create it on your own. Open a can of chopped tomato and pour it in then let it cook and reduce the liquid a bit (you don’t want it too runny) about 2-3 minutes. I added some freshly grated Parmesan about 2 tablespoon, What the Parmesan did is simply replacing the salt and adding more flavour to the tomato. Here comes the sun crack one egg in the middle of the pan, don’t let the egg yolk sunk into the sauce (that is the reason you need to reduce the liquid), clam on the lid and let the egg pouch until the egg white is just cooked, yolk is still bit runny. Then remove it from the heat. Et voilà!

The moment of truth, you can choose to diving in with bread, it will helps you to wipe and clean the pan, definitely good choice to save up your elbow grease later for the washing up. There are something about this dish, it is truly satisfied, rewarding when you feeling like hell!

 

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Benefit of green tea with lemon

P1170053AFor me, this is smoothing my soul and it does help you to burn fat too. If you have a new year resolution plan about the waist line and spend less time in the gym, I think this is the way to go.

Most people will choose the diet tablets or supplement to helping them on this. I always believed these natural ingredients is much better than the man-made supplement and tablets. Yes. I am fusty when it comes to food, but at least I know what am I eating, that is truly important. We don’t lived as slave to be looking good, but we should lived enjoyable with everything. Most of my lady friend are worrying consuming food, the word they like to said Oh no! I can’t have this is too fat! Otherwise I have to work so hard in the gym or on the thrill mill for hours. That is not the way to live your life in the mental anguish with food, there is always a way out once you enter a room. I have some tips for you to workout less and still can burn fat but do let me share some information about green tea and lemon.

Green tea increases the metabolism. The polyphenol found in green tea works to intensify levels of fat oxidation and the rate at which your body turns food into calories. It apparently helps regulate glucose levels slowing the rise of blood sugar after eating. This can prevent high insulin spikes and resulting fat storage. Good for diabetes.

Green tea also works on the lining of blood vessels, helping keep them stay relaxed and better able to withstand changes in blood pressure. It may also protect against the formation of clots, which are the primary cause of heart attacks. It can reduce the risk of esophageal cancer, but it is also widely thought to kill cancer cells in general without damaging the healthy tissue around them. Green tea reduces bad cholesterol in the blood and improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.

Some studies shown, it is said to delay the deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies carried out on mice showed that green tea protected brain cells from dying and restored damaged brain cells. Also tooth decay,  studies suggests that the chemical antioxidant “catechin” in tea can destroy bacteria and viruses that cause throat infections, dental caries and other dental conditions. If you regular consumption of green tea is thought to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Surprisingly it works for depression, Theanine is an amino acid naturally found in tea leaves. It is this substance that is thought to provide a relaxing and tranquilizing effect and be a great benefit to tea drinkers. Tea catechins are strong antibacterial and antiviral agents which make them effective for treating everything from influenza to cancer. In some studies green tea has been shown to inhibit the spread of many diseases. Green tea can apparently also help with wrinkles and the signs of aging, This is because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Both animal and human studies have demonstrated that green tea applied topically can reduce sun damaged.

Since both are a good ingredient for health and it is natural, do consult with your doctor before you can consume as your daily routine consumption. Have a nice tea!

Cured meat – Pancetta

P1160932APancetta, as is Italian cured pork belly. When I spoken to someone about I am curing my own salmon and pork they though I had gone mad! If you imaged the medieval kitchen, they will have all sort of cured meat that hung around at the kitchen ceiling to drying. Unfortunately I don’t have a medieval kitchen, so I used alternate method to dry the meat. This is my first time doing it, fingers cross! I got a recipe from butcher, as I always get some advice from them about each cut of meat, he pass me a recipe for this.

I think it is easy to do, because the fresh ingredient doing the work for you. Of course it is time consuming curing process. Recently, I had studied a bit of food preservation, it is very fascinating to me, as I could understand about medieval life style and their kitchen especially during bitter cold winter, food preservation became very important at that time of the year as low supply of meat during winter, curing and preserve will help them to serving meat during cold days of winter, therefore alcohol, spices was used to keeping the meat last longer.

The reason I made this pancetta not only to get some understanding of cured meat but simply because it is too expensive to buy pancetta Malaysian, so I rather get my hands dirty instead!

I referring to Anna Del Conte’s book. She explained it as:

Exactly the same cut of meat as streaky bacon, namely the belly of the pig, but cured differently. Like streaky bacon, pancetta had layers of white fat and pink meat. There are two kinds of pancetta: pancetta tesa, which is left in its natural state, like bacon, and cured for about 20 days, and pancetta arrotolata (rolled pancetta). Pancetta arrotolata is made from very fatty pancetta, and only shows two or three streaks of lean meat. It is flavoured with cloves and pepper, rolled up, sewn and tied up. Pancetta tesa can also be smoked and is a speciality of Alto Adige, Friuli and Valle d’Aosta. Pancetta tesa is one of the most important elements in a soffritto, the starting point for so many dishes. It is the main ingredient of some pasta sauces, such as carbonara, and a component in all kinds of spiedini (kebabs), whether of meat, liver or fish. Pancetta arrotolata is eaten by itself, very thinly sliced, or with other salumi.

  • Dry cure
  • 60g Kosher salt
  • 3tbsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 2tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 2tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2tbsp juniper berries, cracked
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1tbsp red pepper flakes or red pepper
  • 4 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1tsp pink salt
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pork Belly 2kg, skin removed, belly trimmed to uniform thickness and shape
  • 60ml red wine
  • 2tbsp pepper or white pepper, coarsely ground
  1. For the dry cure: Mix all ingredients together in bowl until thoroughly combined.
  2. For the pork belly: Place the pork belly in large glass baking dish and rub all sides and edges with dry cure mixture.
  3. Gently sprinkle belly with red wine, being careful to wash away as little cure as possible. Cover tightly and refrigerate until belly feels firm about 7 days, flipping and redistributing rub mixture everyday. (If after 7 days, belly still feels soft, continue refrigerating additional 1 to 2 days until it firm)
  4. Thoroughly rinse pancetta with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Place on counter, meat side up, with long side facing you. Sprinkle with pepper, then roll into tight cylinder and tie very tightly at half inch intervals using kitchen twine.
  5. Using additional kitchen twine, form loop at one end of pancetta for hanging. Hang in cool, humid place, away from sunlight, and let it dry for 2 weeks before using. Or could place the pancetta on wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered until very firm but not hard for 2 to 3 week.

Storing pancetta: Dried pancetta can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in fridge for up to 3 weeks or frozen up to 4 months.

Gastronomy of Italy

P1160926AThe best Italian food writer – Anna Del Conte. If you adore with Italian food and love to get hands on cooking Italian food; this is a book you must have, is packed with knowledge, technique, history, regional food of Italy.

I had little embarrassing moment in a very quiet book store, when I saw this book on the selves, unconsciously said My goodness, I found you!

I like the way Anna write about the history about the regional food, as she had tasted them and described it as she felt about the dish; Of course I believed she did cook it at home as well for the dishes that she had tried. I do love the way of Italian cooking, they do know how to make something special while keeping it simple to make. I do enjoyed reading every dishes’ history and the background, and some were love story too, such as Panettone. How could you leave these useful information away, if you have guests for dinner the you could really sharing a little story like that on the table as well.

If you do discover the root of Italian food, basically it was influence from two civilization that flourished there: The Greek and the Etruscan. When you looking at the map of the European, you will see the southern of Italy was very close to Greece, as Greek brought the cuisine of sea, with their unerring knowledge of all the sea creatures; while the Etruscan turned toward the land produce. These characteristics still, to some degree, divide the cooking of the south, which was Magna Graecia, and of Sicily, from that of the more northerly regions whither the Etruscans went from their original settlements between Siena and Rome.  

Anna Del Conte is widely recognised as the doyenne of Italian cooking, In 1987 she was awarded the prestigious Duchessa Maria Luigia di Parma prize for Gastronomy of Italy. Her books include Italian Kitchen, Cooking with Coco and The Classic Food of Northern Italy, which in 1996 won both the Guild of Food Writers Book Award and the Orio Vergani prize of the Accademia Italiana Cucina.

In 1994 Anna received the Premio Nazionale di Cultura Gastronomica Verdicchio d’Orro prize for her contribution to the dissemination of knowledge concerning authentic Italian cooking. In 2010 she was awarded the honour of Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana; it was proposed to the President by the Italian Ambassador, Giancarlo Aragona, and the honour was given in recognition of the importance of her work in keeping alive Italy’s good image in the UK. She was also awarded The Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

The first edition of this book was published in 1987, as a gastronomic dictionary, set out entirely from A to Z, it included recipes to allow readers to experience the Gastronomy of Italy for themselves. A second edition appeared in 2001, in which the emphasis was on the recipes, many of them photographed in colour. This new edition, which has been fully revised, combines the best elements of both books.

I do hope you going to enjoy this book as well as you cooking with it.