Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A New Attempt and Rediscovery

Unknowingly, I’d spent more than 3 hours in the kitchen that late Saturday afternoon preparing dinner while listening to the limited, repetitive coverage of the Bersih rally on Channel NewsAsia. My menu was a progressive build, which started from my purchase of a bottle of white truffle oil (that made up a third of the dinner’s cost) at noon. The rest of the ingredients were picked up at a hypermarket, mindfully and economically, as to not exceed my personal budget (truffle oil included) comparable to a main course at most starred restaurants in town and yet, are able to be used to create dishes that are much more interesting than most weekday dinners of stir-fried leftovers from the refrigerator with soy sauce, dark or light.

Cream of Carrot, Dried Shrimps and Pumpkin with Truffle Oil

I have been using a lot of carrots and pumpkins for my regimented weekday dinners. Apart from being a rich source of vitamin A, I begin to discover the immense natural sweetness of these two ingredients and have been planning to create a dish to just showcase this character, hence the cream of carrot and pumpkin. I used a stock of sun-dried local anchovies and pork bones, which were simmered for almost an hour. It’s an easy starter to prepare – just pureeing the softened mirepoix of carrots, onions, garlic and pumpkin with toasted dried shrimps and stock. No cream of any kind was used. I topped the dish with a crack of black pepper and a drizzle of truffle oil. I should have omitted the latter as its scent was overshadowed by the pungency of the dried shrimps. The sweetness of the cream was expectedly intense. The dried shrimps gave the starter an Asian twist, which I thought was interesting. This was served with slices of dark rye sourdough.

Spread of Spinach and Anchovies

The chilled spread of spinach and Spanish anchovies in a yoghurt/chilli powder dressing, believe it or not, was supposedly a two-dish of palak paneer and fish/vegetable curry! I’d decided to scrap the idea of preparing two dishes as it was laborious and of course, more expensive. I toyed with the idea of canapés for the spread as well, but ended up conveniently smacking a thick layer of the green paste on the sourdough. I thought the combination of savouriness of the anchovies, sourness of the yoghurt and tinge of heat from the chilli powder worked well with the bland, finely chopped spinach. The remaining spread was sandwiched between multi-grain toasts for breakfast on Monday.

Angel Hair Carbonara, Truffle Oil, Assorted Mushrooms in Balsamic/Muscovado Reduction

One of the reasons why I bought the bottle of truffle oil is to improve my carbonara recipe. Previously, I’d used truffle salsa and the scent was consistently mild, despite my pouring of almost half a bottle to approximately half a pack of spaghetti. Perhaps I should have made some truffle butter for the mix but I guess I’m just too lazy for that. So, this time, with three raw eggs, a pack of grated parmesan cheese, some truffle oil and another generous pouring of truffle oil to every individual serving, the scent was much more prevalent. Instead of the usual bacon strips, I’d incorporated a medley of mushrooms (white, porcini and portobello) into the carbonara mixture. The sliced mushrooms were flavoured with a reduction of balsamic vinegar and a dash of muscovado for a sweet contrast against the rich carbonara sauce.

Not every dish that I make turned out edible like any of the above, I must note. And embarrassingly, I still haven’t been able to grasp the fundamentals of cooking plain white rice. Desserts? I’m definitely a goner. In my last attempt at something sweet, I’d wasted a few eggs, cubes of cheddar, sugar, dried longan flesh, beancurd skin and some wolfberries. Among other memorable sweet failures include a carrot cake that ended up dark brown lumps of carrot shreds, crushed walnuts and pineapple cubes that resemble...I shall not elaborate further. I did consider restarting with simpler desserts like a trifle or crepe. But I’m not really interested in either, so why waste time and effort constructing such dishes, right? I’d decided that I should just stick to what I enjoy making the most – savouries. :D

11 comments:

UnkaLeong said...

You do know that AFC is looking for their next Celebrity Chef right? ;)

Anonymous said...

Just thought u shld know your blog has been plagiarised (not me, just being a good netizen)

http://food.bonology.com/2011/07/new-attempt-and-rediscovery.html

HairyBerry said...

unkaleong, oooohh, i haven't heard of it but sounds like a fun reality tv show thingy, eh? what's the prize? :) :)

choi yen said...

Man can do cooking is sexy...jia you!

fatboybakes said...

how apt.... yellow soup for bersih rally....missed you at the NCY nuptials.

UnkaLeong said...

Check Ah Pa's latest post for the details ;) sounds like a sweet deal!!!

HairyBerry said...

anonymous, thanks so much for the note. sigh, can't believe there are people out there who do such things....SIGH...shame on them.

choi yen, xie xie nie! :) i'll try to come up with new stuff when i can afford the time. :)

fatboybakes, yalor, i was really hoping to meet everyone at NCY's party....hope to see y'all soon la. it's been a longggg time!

unkaleong, oooh, just read fbb's post on the celebrity chef. it does sound interesting but i think i'm not there yet la. i'll be one of those clowns who'll kena slam by the judges...haha!

Eat Only Lar! said...

Haha, I did the same thing as well, unknowingly spent lots of time in the kitchen, experimenting with different food. I have to admit it was quite fun! And I don't know how to make desserts as well, haha! Can I try some of your angel hair carbonara? =D

HairyBerry said...

eat only lar!, yes, i absolutely agree that cooking is fun. in fact, it's also a good stress buster too! :) sure, i'll be more than happy to share my carbonara with you...but hafta wait until you are back in kl lah...hehe

Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah said...

Oops. I think my comment had disappeared into the ether... anyway, let's just condense it to: Job well done, bro! :)

HairyBerry said...

Kenny, haha, no worries, bro. It happens to me all the time! Haha. Thanks so much for the encouragement! Will do betta next time! :)