Zoodle chicken broth


I could never believed I could make noodle without using flour, but using zucchini instead, I was surprise it is delicious when you pairing with a flavorsome broth, I couldn’t resist to use up my frozen chicken broth that I save it whenever I have some spare time in hand, I made them from scratch. Don’t be shocked with my freezer as I kept roasted chicken bones, a friend of mine keep saying I kept plenty of “animal corpse” in my freezer like those science fiction story. Well, you will be amazed by it, you could rustled some food out from those “corpses”. I don’t always prepare of stock from scratch, nevertheless keeping some reliable stock cube in the larder is useful when you just can’t face cooking from scratch.

This isn’t a recipe, is an idea. Sometime you will just need a bowl of hot soup to going through your stomach. I have a urge to use up cut ingredient that as been in the fridge for few days when I see the fridge have some empty space then I will be happy. I started off by chuck the frozen stock into a pan with low heat to let the stock melt gradually. Meanwhile I spiralized the zucchini into spaghetti form and place them into a dry bowl. When the stock is ready I will tumble in some chopped broccoli and tip in handful of frozen pea. If I feels like making the soup cloudy,  then I will separate an egg, pour the white into soup then turn the heat into low, disturb that liquid by stirring it, let the egg white break into small bits. I will finally drop the egg yolk and let it cook about 1 minute in the abandon water. Finally remove the pan from the heat and place the zoodle into a serving bowl and pour the soup into the bowl, you could sprinkle some chopped spring onion, this look like a Chinese noodle soup.

There many way of prepare this, you could do this. I certainly like it with the broth base, it is such comforting when the warm broth and zoodle met in the bowl. Beside that, during this tough time of pandemic, mindful eating was been talked a lot, I do think of starting a plant-based with mindful cooking, often people talk about mindful eating but not mindful cooking. I think gradually adding plant-based ingredient into my meal will be a surprised that how much plant-based food can be beneficial. Even I switching myself from meat eater to plant-based I though I shift from this zoodle chicken broth.

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.

Vanilla Meringue

Vanilla meringueFrench meringue, one of the easiest meringue you could make in no time, this is my version of mini meringue that melts in your mouth. Only three ingredient, you could have a jar of this to keep in cupboard for a week. In my case, it won’t even last for a week, should be gone in third day. Meringue and macaroon is a very similar however macaroon involved many steps and preparation. Macaroon, always gave an impression that it was one of the recipe I called “failure of success” and the pâtissier recover the bake goods with filling the bottom with cream and sandwich another piece of macaroon. Somehow many French recipe had that kind of repertoire.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1.  Preheat the oven to 100ºC/ 212ºF. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg white until peak firm was formed.
  2. Shift the caster over the egg white, make sure there is no lumps of sugar, then add in the vanilla extract.
  3. Use a large metal spoon, careful fold over the sugar and vanilla into whisked egg white. Do not over work with it otherwise you may knock out the air you had created into the egg whites.
  4. Use your finger or a spoon and dip into the mixture and smear it onto the four corner of the baking sheet, then line the baking sheet with baking parchment or baking paper.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a large plain nozzle piping bag and pipe it on the baking paper.
  6. Pop them in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Once it is done remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before you store them in the clean jar.

There texture is smooth and melts in your mouth, however it has a bit of chewiness at the end, that is because of the sugar. I think in the batch I going to reduce the sugar, as I think is a bit too sweet to my tooth, however in some explanation saying sugar in the meringue is crucial because sugar is the structure of the meringue, since I’m architectural amateur that word “structure” is sounds seriously in construction industry; which is true because that is the only ingredient comes in a tinny little form or crystal, supporting the “cotton” above it. How wonderful is that?

Big sandwich

P1170050ASandwich can be in any form you prefer. I had mine with rye bread, I think I got the bread wrong for this recipe or the boulangerie had made this since morning and gone a bit stale when I got it in the afternoon. So I treated it as old bread, I using it up for sandwich on the next day lunch even dinner too.

As you could see the interesting layers of colour is lovely filling of my choice, you could easily have your own filling whichever suits your mood. Eating is all about yourself, as you feeling like what you wanting to eat on the next day.

I had chicken fillet, fresh basil, red and yellow pepper, fresh mozzarella cut into slices, basil pesto. (I always have it in my store cupboard, you could buy one from supermarket) To start off with I give the chicken fillet a bit of garlic oil massage with bit of cinnamon powder, black pepper, salt, thyme. Give it a good coating of the spice scrub, then leave aside to relax.

Slide the top of the bread off about 1/3 of the bread, scoop the bread and you end up with a bread bowl. Put the scooped bread into a large bowl then crumble them and let it stale a little.

Cut the pepper lengthways and remove the seed. pop into the hot oven for about 10 minutes or until it brown at the edge. Then on the medium heat for a frying pan tip the chicken fillet into the pan and fry it about 10 to 15 minutes depending the size of the fillet, until is brown on the outside cook through. Set aside.Come back to the bread crumbs, mix in the cooked pepper into the bowl to mix with bread crumbs, add some olive oil, sherry vinegar about a tablespoon each.
Now layering the bread, start at the bottom, spread the basil pesto then layering the pepper, mozzarella, chicken fillet, more pepper then fresh basil leave on top layer. Finally pop the bread lid on, use cling film to wrap it round tightly and put it in the fridge.  You could serve as it is. I think the best bread for this is Bloomer. Simply because the colour, the crust. You can refer to the recipe for the bread if you are keen on making bread. Honestly I couldn’t find bloomer in any local boulangerie, maybe not French bread but the British should have it in their bakery. It will be better if you could make your own bread. That is a lot of non sense about making bread must using machine, think again those year before machinery every household making their bread by hand, why shouldn’t embrace it, the joyfulness of making bread by hand. The is the wonderful relationship between you and the food. I hope you will having a good time with bread and make use of the whole bread as well.

Meat ball pasta

P1170019ASome bits and bobs in the fridge and freezer that will really become a wonderful meal, do you know most people tend to throw away some leftover that maybe just few days old in the fridge. Something got to change this habit, the leftover ingredient over here is three pork sausage, one very wrinkle lemon, (very doubtful if it still have lots of juice, I only need its zest, I save the ever last bit of lemon for washing up later) three slices staled bread about two days old, (tip the staled bread in food processor or tear it by hand and crumble it since it is dry and staled) semolina flour around about 50 gram. The rest is are store cupboard standby such as tomato purée and canned plum tomato. You will be surprise this could feed three greedy people. But right now is only me eating, so I make extra meat ball with bolognese sauce to keep in the freezer for a standby or emergency meal.

I am too lazy to break down the detail of the recipe but I will just write how I do with these ingredient and the cooking step in paragraph, I still got the washing up to finish off.

Ready to get your hands dirty. First, cut the sausage and tear off the skin of the sausage, put them into a glass bowl use your hand to mash the sausage up until it breaks like a mince meat, then season it with pinch of sea salt, black pepper. I do feel like to have extra heat in the sausage; I added about half teaspoon of cayenne pepper. That’s what I want. Grated some lemon zest just to give a fresh citrus taste to the meat, sprinkle the bread crumbs, semolina flour. Finally to crack one egg to bind them together by hand, although is a mess; I do enjoy it! Once is all mix up, pinch it about the size of your thumb and start roll it into a little meat ball shape and place it on a flat surface tray. If you have children to help you on this you could make 40 meat ball easily, because they got small hands. I had made mine slightly larger.

Pour two cans of plum tomato into a pot. Half fill each empty can with water and swirl and clean the can then pour it into the same pot on the high heat. Slightly mash the tomatoes and stir it occasionally with a wooden spoon to avoid it stick at the bottom of the pot. Season it with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile the sausage is cooking, in a sautee pan, fry the bacon without any oil because the fat of the bacon will release during cooking. I like my bacon golden brown and crispy then I place the cooked crispy bacon on plate line kitchen towel to absorb any exceed grease. Use the same pan that still hot with bacon fat, mince two cloves of garlic into the hot fat. Now you can tip in the meat balls to fry them until brown at the outside around 6 to 8 minutes on medium heat, it depends on the size of the meat ball that you had rolled. P1170022ABy the time meat ball is nearly finish its cooking time. Check the pot of tomato the liquid should be reduced to thicker consistency, turn the heat up. Add a splosh of sherry and give it a stir, shortly in about least than a minutes you will smell the alcohol is evaporating then is the time you add the meat balls into the pot and turn the heat to medium and cook them gently and stir it ever now and then and make sure the sauce is covering the meat balls.

Bring another pot of water to boil, at the boiling water point add sea salt then give it a stir and tip in the pasta of your choice, whatever pasta you got in the cupboard. Cook it until al denta. Roughly 8 to 10 minutes for the dried pasta; fresh one should be 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and coat the pasta with olive oil and tip the pasta onto serving plates. Spoon the bolognese sauce and meat ball on the pasta, then crush the cooled crispy bacon on top. Voilà!

P1170026AI made extra bolognese and I let it cool in the pot and spoon it into a freezer bag, and I keep it in the fridge for maximum 2 days, in the freezer for 1 week. Thaw it overnight if you stored them in the freezer then pour it in a pot and reheat it. That will be another meal. Saving your cost as well, hope you enjoy it.

Croûton

P1160607ACroûton, choice of my snack. although my croûton not evenly brown on the side. I do like a bit of white but normally you will have all side brown. I used up some leftover stale bread about 4 days old. I like it less salt and more herbs. Is worth a moment to rustle up this and it is useful to have it in kitchen whenever you feel like having a salad and you have some croûton to garnish.

First, cut off the crusts of 4 slices of stale white bread, then cut into crouton sized cubes. Next, they need coating in the oil mixture, and I find this easiest to do with a freezer bag. Pour into the bag 4 table spoons of sunflower or olive oil, half a teaspoon of sea salt, a dried herbs of your choice, I used two chopped sprigs of rosemary. Then tip in the cubed bread, seal the bag and give it a good shake around to make sure all of the bread is well coated with oil.

Place a non-stick saute pan in medium heat. When is hot tip in bread, strring, until golden all over. When is place it on a baking tray to cool before storing into air tight jar.

Believe me, once you done it once you may keep topping up all the time. Then you will have handy croûton whenever youu need one.

Stale baguette

stale banguette1

Don’t throw away your stale baguette, bread. You can freshen it up by brush water on the crust and stick it into a slow middle oven for not more than 10 minutes. It come out like you just brought from the boulangerie, I loved the sounds when the bread knife cut into bread like walking on snow, the crust is superb!

Or you can make a croutons from your stale bread. Cut them into cube size (if you like to spread with butter, olive oil etc) and then dry it out in the slow middle oven for less than 15 mintues depending on the size and the fat that you applied on it. Keep them in air tight container. You can serve on caesar salad, or eat it like snack! Very tasty!

Image resource: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evefox/7007166115/