Friday, December 24, 2010

CoCo's Roasted Rack of Lamb

This dish has to be my crowning glory! I love rack of lamb, so this Christmas Eve I thought we cook something special and hubby suggested rack of lamb. I have never cooked it before, but how hard could it be right?

Seriously this was another one those dishes that seemed difficult, but it's NOT! OK the ingredients were a little expensive, this rack of lamb, which the butcher had already prepared by cutting away all the meat from the top of the bones, cost around S$38.00. But I guess for a special occasion, why not?

So anyway, very simple. I learnt all of these from daily tutelage from chefs around the world, gathered inside my television set. :)

1. Make sure the meat is at room temperature, take it out of the fridge early. Preheat oven to 200°C. Trim off some excess fat surrounding the meat. (Keep the fat*) Wrap the bones with tin foil to prevent burning.
2. Just before roasting, season the meat with a pinch of chopped sage, thyme, freshly ground pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil.
3. Sear the meat on a hot frying pan to give the meat a nice brown colour.
4. Place the meat into the oven and lower the temperature to 180°C. Roast for 25 minutes.
5. Up the temperature to 200°C and roast for another 10 minutes. Take out the meat and cover it up with aluminium foil for at least 10 minutes before slicing it.

Serve with brown sauce and salad.

Brown sauce:
-Pour away some of the fat from the baking tray.
-Place the baking tray (only if your tray is stove top friendly - if not, scrape everything onto a frying pan) on top of the stove and add 2 tablespoon of flour.
-When everything is lumped up, add in some soup stock or water until gravy is formed and keep stirring until smooth. Flavour if necessary.

Cut the fat into small cubes and cook in frying pan with some cooking oil in very low heat. Slowly, the animal fat would be rendered, leaving behind a super flavourful oil and crazy crispy and delicious crackling.

As the fat has been released, the crackling is not too oily and very delicious. Kind of like the chinese 猪油渣. The remaining oil can be used to make super yummy roast potatoes. Just add boiled potatoes onto the cooled oil and roast them in the oven at high heat, 200°C, for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally. The result is something you can match at Macdonald's! Serious!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bistro Du Vin

Fancy a French dinner that's friendly on your wallet? Had dinner with some old friends at Bistro Du Vin and I'm so hooked. It's no wonder, how can a small little French Bistro serve such wonderful food? Apparently it's under the Le Amis Group, which is like one of the most famous fine dinning restaurants in Singapore.

I just HAD to bring my hubby, my trusty side kick in my never ending quest to enjoy good food. Surprise surprise! They were FULLY BOOKED when I turned up with no reservations on a Friday night, hopping for another kick ass dinner on my wedding anniversary. Maybe it's due to the holiday season? Maybe they were really that HOT? I don't know.

Anyways, the very next day we called during lunch time to make reservations for dinner. They misunderstood and thought that we need a table for 3, and told us they were already fully booked for the night. Thankfully we cleared the misunderstanding. We only need a small little table for 2 and a baby chair? Please...? Just kidding, we didn't beg... Anyway the manager there is super nice and we got our table. YEAH!

So to cut to the chase, what did we order? Duh we're in a French restaurant, so you have crusty, warm, fresh from the loaf french loaf, which is free. Then we ordered their French onion soup, which was absolutely delightful.

French Onion Soup - S$14.00

A must try, their buttery, beautiful foie gras - S$22.00

Hubby tried their Pork Knuckle,(S$30.00) which was unfortunately a little too salty for his taste.

I ordered the Braised Beef Cheek (S$33.00). Looks fairly ordinary, but take one bite and you'll be surprised at how wonderfully tender it is. It literally melts in your mouth! Also, the button mushrooms and the carrots were super yummy. The sauce was a little salty too that night, but overall, I love it.

The first time I was there with my girlfriends, we ordered the creme brulee, which was like heaven in a dish. The 2nd time round, I ordered the souffle. I assumed that it would be chocolate flavour, but it turned out to be this vanilla with a dash of liquor flavour. Hmm...OK next time should really ask 1st. Still very good, very light and fluffy, but liquor was just not my thing. -_-

Souffle - S$12.00

Overall, a very lovely evening in a cosy little place with good food. Good for any occasions. :)

Bistro Du Vin
1 Scotts Road
#02-12 Shaw Centre
Singapore 228208
Tel: 6733 7763

CoCo's Raisin Loaf Bread

350g high protein flour
50g whole wheat flour
6g instant yeast
18g caster sugar
7g salt
7g milk powder
230g warm water
18g butter
80g raisins

1. Soak raisins overnight and chop half of them into fine pulp.
2. Place yeast, sugar, salt and milk powder into warm water.
3. Using a blender, put on the dough hook and mix the flours with the liquid in step 2.
4. When the dough does not stick to the side of the bowl, add in the butter and the chopped raisins. Continue mixing until the dough has once again unstuck from the side of the mixing bowl. Add more flour if it doesn't.
5. Remove the dough onto the floured surface, flatten the dough a little and fold in the rest of the raisins. Do it gently or the raisins would burst.
6. Oil the mixing bowl and return the dough back into it. Cover with cling firm and let it rise in a warm place till it's double it's size, which takes about 40mins.
7. When it's ready, cut the dough into 2 equal portions, roll into 2 round balls and place them into the oiled bread tin. Let it rise to fill the tin, which takes about 60mins.
8. Place it in a preheated oven of 200°C for 60 minutes.
9. Slice to serve! :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

CoCo's Glutinous Rice

The recipe sort of belongs to my Mummy I guess. She just verbally told me the basic techniques and rest was up to me. This was my very 1st try and I was surprised that it turned out quite well! So I guess it's not as difficult as many think it is.

Glutinous Rice - Best thing is, supermarkets now sell them in small packets rather than in huge 5kg packs. Which was just enough to fill a Tupperware to the brim. Rinse through with water a few times before soaking them in water overnight.

Mushrooms - I like those dried mushrooms as their flavour is much richer. Depending on personal liking, soak a few in lukewarm water overnight as well.

Dried Shrimps - key essential flavour. Soak a small handful in water for a few minutes.

Meat - some like pork, others like chicken. Here I'm using chicken breast meat, but you don't need much as it is only a supporting actor in this blockbuster movie. Slice them thinly.

Garlic - Mince 1 clove very finely

On the day of cooking, drain away the water from the glutinous rice, leaving a little behind. Add in 2 tablespoons of dark soya sauce, a few shakes of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of chicken powder and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Mix well, pour the rice onto a plate and steam it.

The shortcut way to making easy fluffy glutinous rice is by using a pressure cooker. If using pressure cooker, steam for 30mins. If using a regular steaming method, steam for 45min to 1 hour or until rice is just cooked, slightly translucent.

While the rice is steaming, heat up a little oil. Stir fry the chicken, dried shrimps, mushrooms and garlic with some oyster sauce, a teaspoon of chicken powder or salt, pepper and finally water or chicken stock to just cover all the ingredients. Remember that the rice is quite bland, so don't worry that it would be too salty.

When the rice is ready, just pour the rice into the mix and keep tossing until the rice has loosen and mixed well with all the ingredients. Taste to check the seasoning.

For an extra burst of flavour, you can make your own fried shallots and some shallot oil just before serving. To store, just make sure it's cooled before stuffing it into a Tupperware and keeping it in a fridge. The next morning, just scoop out, steam it for another 20mins and a sumptuous breakfast is ready!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

CoCo's Chicken Country Pie

This dish was inspired by the famous Chicken Pie from The Coffee Club cafe, which I absolutely love! I made this once many years ago and wrote it down into my recipe notebook. I was reading my notebook, looking for inspirations for dinner when I came across this. So I improved on my previous recipe and am happy to say it is now more yummy and nutritious than before!

To make 2 giant pies,

1 stalk of celery, chopped finely
1 onion, chopped finely
1 stick of carrots (half minced, half diced)
1 clove of garlic, either grated or chopped finely
1 de-boned chicken thigh, diced
chicken stock
1 small pinch of Thyme, Rosemary and 1 Bay leaf
a small knob of butter
2 tablespoons of flour

Pie covering on top:
Store bought mixed cheese
Potatoes, carrots and pumpkin

For the filling:

1. cook celery, onion, minced carrots and garlic in low heat with a small pinch of salt. The aim is to soften the vegetables, which would remove the yucky celery taste that many people hate, including me, and give the dish this lovely flavour.

2. Add in the chicken pieces, carrots, spices and cover the meat with chicken stock. Simmer for 5-10mins.

3. In a separate pan, melt butter and add flour onto melted butter. Stir till the mixture is dough-like. Add the watery juices from the chicken to make a thick gravy. (If too dry, add warm water) Mix into the chicken and vegetables, season to taste and you have your filling!

For the top:
The original was just instant mashed potatoes, but I wanted to make it more nutritious, so I boiled potatoes, carrots and pumpkin for 15-20mins, until it's soft. Then I mash them all up, added some butter, salt and pepper it's done!

To finish, dish the chicken gravy into oven proof dishes, spread the mashed vegetables on top, and just before serving, sprinkle cheese generously on top and bake the pies in a 200°C for 10mins, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly!

World best...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CoCo's 爱心菜心 (Love Love Stir Fry Caixin)

This was just a very simple stir fry vegetable dish. But I was just inspired to do a little "art and craft" and have fun with everyday cooking! I guess sometimes you don't need to take things too seriously!

1. Stir fry sliced shitake mushrooms, carrots and garlic with a little oil till fragrant.

2. Add in the caixin, season with chicken powder and a little water.

3. Stir in a little cornstarch water to thicken up the sauce and give the dish a nice shine.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CoCo's Stir Fry Leeks with Sweet Peas and Prawns

Hubby loves leeks, so this was not the 1st time cooking this. But it was the 1st time I added other vegetables into the dish. I just thought that adding sweet peas would add another dimension of texture to the dish and I loved it. The soft and fibrous leeks with the sweet and crunchy sweet peas. Delicious!

1. I stir fry the fresh shitake mushrooms with the prawns. I want the original sweetness of the prawns intact, so I didn't marinate it.

2. Add in the sliced leeks that has been sliced on the bias, which means to cut diagonally. I don't know why, but this is how my Mom taught me. I guess this gives the vegetable more surface area and cooks faster and more evenly, as leeks are like onions, with many layers.

3. Mix half a teaspoon of chicken powder, 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar, a little hua tiao wine and a little water. Pour in the sauce and the sweet peas and let it simmer for only a minute or two before dishing it up.

Don't let it cook too long or risk losing the sweet crunchy lovely-ness of the peas! Enjoy~!
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