French classic cod with olives

This French classic is one of those instantly look healthy, and it is incredible easy to prepare. It is very hard to get cod fish in South East Asia, however any white fish can replicate this dish easily.

  • 20g butter
  • 2 rashers of bacon cut into strips
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g cod fillet, skinned and cut into chunks (or any white fish will do)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 8 pitted black olives
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, torn into chunks
  • 20g pine nuts
  • parsley, roughly chopped
  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the bacon and onion and fry for 2 minutes or until the onion is starting to soften and bacon is cooked. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 second or so.
  2. Drop in the chunks of cod (or any fish of your choice) and fry, turning the chunks every now and then, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes an bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the olives and mozzarella, then take the pan off the heat and let the mozzarella melt in the residual heat.
  4. Serve the cod topped with the pine nuts and the parsley.

This dish could make ahead if you short of time, by that mean you could cook the sauce and fish separately and keep them in the fridge until you needed.

Home made pancetta tasting

P1170045AIt has been week after week I waiting for this cured meat to be tasted, it is firm to touch as it feels solid, the colour of the red meat had became dark maroon. I believed it soaked up all the red wine and it smell absolutely great.

Finally, I going to pan fry it for tasting, I don’t know how to slice it thinly like the butcher did, and I don’t have a good curving skill either, so cut it into cubes will do. Cured meat content higher salt as it is part of the curing process, alcohol added is to give it a flavour and cure. You could reduce the salt but it is a risk. I cooked it in non stick pan, once the meat hit the pan the fat will release when frying, no extra oil is needed. Pan fry it until golden brown and remove the pancetta onto a plate that lined with kitchen towel to absorb the exceed grease from the meat. Then I tip a bit of frozen pea into fat until is soft. It does made a different with bits of green over the meat. Do remember no extra salt needed for this as meat was cured with salt. I maybe shouldn’t say this, I the first pancetta hit in my mouth I bites the pancetta with fat, it burst! The meat is very tender and succulent, juicy as well because of the fat. I been mentioned the word “fat”, indeed pancetta need fat to protect the meat while curing process begun. It sort of seal the meat after the herbs, salt, alcohol was absorb into the meat, that is where is fat and skin come in useful to seal the meal and starting the curing process.

Most people are terrified when I told them I curing my own meat, and the first thing in their mind, curing is butchers specialty, how could a household could do it? And being a raw to deal with and a lot of risk if didn’t done it correctly. It is always got alternative to do something, not necessary to follow the butchers’ way, think of the shortcut and whichever tool or equipment you got there.

The reason I cured my own meat, is it being too expensive to buy it from the local butcher as he charged me MYR70 (£13) for three slices that is less than 100 grams, that is how I do it myself instead. Well, it won’t be very Italian pancetta, I know this is going to be a good one, indeed it is. If you like to the same here is the delicious recipe.

Although it took longer time to cured than cooking it, it is worth to have a go for it, you may fall in love cure the meat in your household. Hope you going enjoy it!

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.

Feast of 2013

P1310870During Christmas 2013, I hosted the dinner at my friend’s apartment, a wonderful couple that runs a private dining in Malaysia. I’m writing to acknowledged Tracy and Alberto for accommodate me for the feast of Christmas. Is a bit late to showing the feast at this time. Here are some explanation of the table setting, I don’t really set a format table for occasional like this because I want to feel comfortable and simple, so tangerine and gold coin should be on the table, as there are some story behind of tangerine and gold coin, but I won’t go deeply about the history. My Chinese guest though it is like a Chinese New Year setting. Indeed it is a bit cliché when over done. Somehow they were similar. Red and golden colour is the rich decoration element, so do the food as well.

P1160714AMy typical feast started with snacks as spice nuts, parmesan biscuit and mulled wine. Most of the dishes you can prepare in advance so you won’t have a panic on your party day. I can’t help myself to thinking about mulled wine all the time during Christmas, the thing that makes Christmassy is mulled wine; the wine and spice that been warmed in saucepan that making this happening. It reminds me the Christmas market in Lincolnshire, the glittery Christmas ornament, street light; it is a feast for my eye, music, church bell and carol singing was everywhere this calming voices are really good for the soul and ears; the smell of mulled wine was a good treat for my nose. Indeed it is a feast for my senses and make my heart lift for Christmas.

Spice nuts is a good idea for starter with mixed of cinnamon and other spice, it is seems like the medieval feasting that using spices to preserved their food during winter. Apart from spices, I do need savory nibble for starter- parmesan biscuit is handy and easy to serve and eat. You even can make it in advance and keep in the air tight jar up to two days.

P1160717AFirst large dish I put on the table is this red salad that simple to make, toss the kidney bean, tomatoes, onion together with dressing then pop on the table. Another classic dish during Christmas – Brussels sprout, you can’t have Christmas without Brussels sprout, this classic dish had the most delicious ingredient – chestnut! The bacon gives a bit of crunchy bites and extra push of savory

P1160732AHere comes the beauty – gammon, the feature of the feast that sat on the bed of roasted potatoes. I called this Christmas ham, the glory redcurrant jelly that gives the beautiful colour on the surface, the gammon had been cooked in simmering for more than two hours for the succulent, tender texture on the meat. This looks absolutely appealing on the buffet table too.  This should be the dish you should show-off.


In every Christmas story mentioned about lights in the dark, it has a very comforting agenda and it delights me. Christmas pudding with flame is representing that part of Christmas. This has become the ritual of my Christmas dinner, and it is my love affair moment to flame the pudding at this time of the year, simply because they are beautiful. The secret of keeping the flame duration is to using vodka, I know it sounds not very appealing but it doesn’t really matter because the alcohol will evaporate.

By the time had the pudding, everyone will need some rest for their stomach. Honestly, this dessert is extremely light and the citrus of the strawberries and lemon will helping the digestion the dense of the pudding, the pistachio that finishing touch of dessert otherwise it will be too light to consume.

I hope my way of British Christmas is not too embarrassing to the classic version. The message I would like say, try cooking at home, it will definitely bringing to another level of life about home making. There is no one can’t cook; just being lazy. Hope you enjoying cooking. Let’s food celebrate your life! Bon appétit!

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.

Classic Lamb Shank Pot Roast

photo(1)AThis is a very quickly prepared, and easy dish to make for a special occasion, the only drawback is it does require a long time in the oven, but it’s well worth the wait. The Lamb will be incredibly succulent and tender, and full of rich deep flavour. The recipe is for one portion suitable for a main course, and you’ll need a heavy roasting pot with a lid. That is what I call it minimum of fuss and maximum of eating pleasure. It required no work, the oven does it all for you. By the time you had your bath the dinner is ready.

  • 1 Lamb Shank
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped into small 1cm pieces
  •  ¾ bottle of red wine
  • 200ml water
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 10cm sprigs of fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsps of vegetable oil
  • Freshly milled black pepper and salt to taste.
  • 1 knob of butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 140°C
  2. Heat your pot with the oil, then add the Lamb shank and let it brown a little on all sides by turning it in the pot.
  3. While the lamb is browning, add the Bacon, then the Onion and the black pepper.
  4. When the bacon starts to brown, add the Garlic and Rosemary.
  5. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes to let the flavours develop.
  6. Add the ¾ bottle of red wine, and stir. (keep the ¼ bottle to enjoy with your meal.
  7. Let the wine boil for 5 minutes to remove the alcohol. Then add water after that the salt; and Bringing back to the boil.
  8. Cover with the lid and put into the oven for a total of at least 2 to 2½  hours depending on the size of your piece of lamb.
  9. When the lamb is cooked, remove the meat to a warm plate and cover with a piece of foil to keep warm and rest.
  10. While the Lamb rests, add the butter to the sauce then reduce the sauce by boiling, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick enough and glossy.
  11. Serve with any fresh steamed vegetables and some roasted sliced potatoes, or crusty bread which is delicious dipped into the sauce.


Andrews’ Salad

P1150761AAMy large plate of salad that I rustled up some bits and bobs  in the fridge before I go I home visiting my Mother.

Nothing technical in this dish, no measurement is needed at all either, but the special ingredient is the “gravy dressing”, I will reveal the delicious and naughty ingredient.  Here is how I make this salad special for myself.

  1. Tearing the romania then wash the romania and dry it with salad spinner. Set a side.
  2. Bring the water to boil then put a pinch of salt into boiling water and place the eggs for 8 minutes, drain and set aside to cool down before peeling off the shell.
  3. Heat up the non-stick frying pan, put the chopped bacon into the pan and fry about 3 minutes or until the fat of the bacon came out and golden brown and then add in the chopped garlic. Once the garlic is brown finally drain the whole lot of bacon garlic through sieve, reserve the bacon fat.
  4. In other pot bring the water to boil, add some salt; and then put the French bean to cook about 2 minutes, then add the mushroom to cook both for another 1 minute. Finally plunge it in cold water to stop it cooking further. Drain both in colander and make sure is well drain and tap it dry.
  5. In a sautee pan heat up 2 tbsps of water and 30g of butter until emulsify together, put the french bean and mushroom into the pan. it will splash do be careful on that, sauteed it for 3 minutes.
  6. On the serving plate, place everything together, sprinkle some course salt.
  7. To make the dressing, simply add the bacon fat into jar, add some salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce. Clam the lid on and shake it well, pour over the salad. You can tuck in for it.

Voilà! Bon appétit.

Roast Chicken with Buttered French Bean

P1150750AAI love the colour of this dish, it’s a happy looking plate for my dinner. I don’t know if I can call this a British roast, as the beans have been cooked in a French method, so these two country haven’t been talking to each other for centuries.

For the bean

For the roast

  • 1 chicke Thigh
  • 5 Strips of bacon
  • 20 g salted butter, slightly soft
  • 1 tbsp of dried rosemary
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C
  2. Loosen the skin of the chicken, rub the chicken skin and underneath the skin with butter, put it into roasting tin, set aside.
  3. cut the bacon into short strips and scatter around the chicken. Sprinkle the dried thyme on top. Then place into the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile the chicken is cooking in the oven. Bring 700ml of water to boil the add in the salt.
  5. Cook the bean uncovered for 2-3 minutes, according to size of the bean.
  6. Drain and pluge them into cold water for 5 minutes, to arrest the cooking process, then drain again. Reserve. if you want to dry it with salad spinner or with paper towel.
  7. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of water together to emulsify. Mix in the beans, season with salt and blackpepper, and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Place the cooked bean on serving plate as a base, remove the chicken from the oven, place cooked chicken on top of the bean, then place the bacon around.

Serve one, I’m happily eating it. I hope you will enjoy it the same way I did too, is devine. I loved this way of method of cooking the French bean, because it kept the green. Even my cat can smell the tasty food in the kitchen and she been meowing her head off again. Obviously she can’t have it!

Chicken Pot Pie

P1150454AI’m not been cooking for nearly a week now, I feeling is bit not right when the kitchen is quiet. Beside there was a time after I cook a supper and had enjoyed it, I just realised the water supply had stopped. I can’t do my washing up, I nearly scream.

I think this is one of the comfort food that I can easily make it. As I always will keep some pastry in freezer, it come in very handy when you need something that.

For puff pastry (375 grams all-butter puff pastry sheet (23 x 40cm / 9½ x 9½ inch)

For the chicken filling

  • 3 rashers streaky bacon (cut or scissored into 2.5cm / 1 inch strips)
  • 1 tsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 125 g chestnut mushrooms (sliced into 5mm pieces)
  • 250 g chicken thigh fillets (cut into 2.5cm pieces)
  • 25 g plain flour
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 300 ml hot chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp Marsala

To make the puff pastry

  1. Pulse the flour and salt together in the processor, then add the butter and pulse 3-4 times, the butter should be cut up but still be in visible chunks.
  2. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the iced water, and pulse till the pastry begins to form a ball, then tip out onto the bench and form a ball. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Dust the benchtop with flour, then roll the pastry into a long rectangle into a long rectangle three times longer than it is wide, then fold it in three like a business letter. Roll out again to the same length and repeat the fold and roll another 2 times (not rolling out after the last fold).
  4. Wrap in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes before using it to allow the gluten to relax.

To make the chicken filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7/425ºF. In a heavy-based frying pan, fry the streaky bacon strips in the oil until beginning to crisp, then add the sliced mushrooms and soften them in the pan with the streaky bacon.
  2. Turn the chicken strips in the flour and thyme (you could toss them about in a freezer bag), and then melt the butter in the streaky bacon-and-mushroom pan before adding the floury chicken and all the flour left in the bag. Stir around with the streaky bacon and mushrooms until the chicken begins to colour.
  3. Pour in the hot stock and Marsala, stirring to form a sauce, and let this bubble away for about 5 minutes.
  4. Take two 300ml / 1¼ cup pie-pots (if yours are deeper, don’t worry, there will simply be more space between contents and puff pastry top) and make a pastry rim for each one – by this I mean an approx. 1cm / ½ inch strip curled around the top of each pot. Dampen the edges with a little water to make the pastry stick.
  5. Cut a circle bigger than the top of each pie-pot for the lid, and then divide the chicken filling between the two pots.
  6. Dampen the rim of the pastry again and then pop on the lid of each pie, sealing the edges with your fingers or the underneath of the prongs of a fork.
  7. Cook the pies for about 20 minutes turning them around halfway through cooking. Once cooked, they should have puffed up magnificently.
Don’t be fool by the photography, is actual taste so much better. You can skip the pastry making by getting a shop brought pastry is fine with this recipe. Everyone is busy, this is the express way to get satisfied in cooking. Don’t you think?

Italian Red Penne

P1150319ABeen a while, I posted the last post; simply because I looking for new inspiration for my meal. Obviously this is not a new idea but along the line I cooked for my pleasure, and satisfied my hunger. Is easy to cook.

  1. Heat up a pan with pancetta and bacon, when the fat of the meat is release adding the crushed garlic and stir fry until golden brown and set aside.
  2. Empty the can of tomato into deep pot with medium heeat. Fill the can with a quater of water and pour into the pot, then you can mash it with potato masher until the plum tomato had completely mashed, add in the wine, and give it a stir, then tip in the cooked bacon and pancetta, tomato puree, salt, blackpapper, leek and cheese. Keep stirring the sauce otherwise it will stick to the bottom of the pot. Once is done set aside
  3. In another pot of boiling water, add salt into the boiling water then tip in the penne and cook until al denta. Drain and return the pasta in the hot pot with some olive oil and stir the pasta until is coated with olive oil.
  4. Scoop the pasta onto serving dish, and dollop the red sauce on pasta and garnish with basil. You done!