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Grana PadanoThis recipe is from a supplement to my September delicious magazine called Modern Italian. A few of us were curious as to how Grana Padano was different from Parmesan, so my friend Denis made this for us tonight. We decided that although they seem to be quite similar, Grana Padano is milder and sweeter than Parmesan. I don’t always like chicken breasts because I find them too dry, but as the recipe says, they stayed juicy in their cheesy crust.


Pan-fried Chicken in a Grana Padano Crust

Serves 4.
Ready in 20 minutes.

Cooking chicken breasts quickly, and in a crust like this, guarantees they stay juicy and succulent. Any leftovers make a great sandwich filling with a bit of garlic mayonnaise.

Pinch of saffron threads
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tbsp plain flour
1 large egg, beaten
4 tbsp olive oil
8 tbsp finely grated Grana Padano
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs to garnish
Herb mash and lemon wedges, to serve

1. Put the saffron in a bowl, add a tablespoon of boiling water and set aside for a few minutes to infuse.

2. Meanwhile, cut the chicken in half widthways to make 8 thin pieces and dust very lightly with flour.

3. Crack the egg into the bowl of saffron. Add a good grinding of black pepper and beat well.

4. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Mix the cheese and thyme together on a plate. Dip the chicken first in the egg mixture, then coat in the Grana Padano mixture. Fry in 2 batches, adding the remaining oil with the second batch, until crisp, golden and cooked through. It should take about 5 minutes each side, but don’t be tempted to lift of turn the chicken too soon or the crust might stick to the bottom of the pan.

5. Serve 2 chicken pieces each, with herb mash and lemon wedges to squeeze over. Garnish with thyme.

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I found this recipe in a delicious magazine (July 2007) that my friend Anika gave me when she moved away. I was reading the magazine in bed one night and oohhing and ahhing over lots of great looking recipes, but so far have only made this one. I even made it twice in one week.. partly because the first time I only made half a batch and had chicory leftover, but mostly because it was good!

The chicory used in the recipe is not the kind that has blue flowers and grows along roadsides that I remember from my childhood, but what I more commonly know as endive, or Belgian endive. According to Wikipedia, “Endive (Cichorium endivia) is a variation of the winter leaf vegetable chicory which can be cooked or used in salads, created by growing chicory (or certain similar breeds) until its foliage sprouts, then cutting off the leaves and placing the still-living stem and root in a dark place. They grow a second bud, but without the sunlight it is white and lacks the bitterness of the normal chicory bud.”

Although I found this recipe in a magazine, it is actually Angela Hartnett’s recipe from her new cookbook, Angela Hartnett’s Cucina: Three Generations of Italian Family Cooking.

Notes: I couldn’t find golden raisins in the shops, so I used sultanas instead. I also substituted curly parsley because that’s what I had on hand.


Chicory, Golden Raisin and Green Bean Salad

Serves 4 as a starter.
Ready in 25 minutes.

Adding nuts and dried fruit to salads makes them more interesting and, here, the sweetness of the raisins offsets the bitter chicory. Dress the beans while they’re warm so they take on the flavours of the dressing.

150g golden raisins
300g green beans
4 small chicory heads
Handful fresh flatleaf parsley leaves
120ml red wine vinagrette (see below)
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1. Soak the raisins in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and plunge immediately into iced water. Drain and set aside.

3. Halve the chicory lengthways and separate the leaves. Toss in a bowl with the raisins, beans and parsley.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the vinagrette with the mustard. Add just enough to the salad to coat. Season and serve immediately as it won’t keep in the fridge.

Per Serving: 295 kcals, 19.3g fat(2.8g saturated), 2.8g protein, 30g carbs, 26.9g sugar, 0.2g salt.


Red Wine Vinagrette

Makes 120ml.

1. Put 20ml red wine vinegar in a bowl, season well with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix until the sea salt has completely dissolved. Add 100ml extra-virgin olive oil and whisk together.

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This yummy sounding recipe was sent to me by Nathan Eng. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks so good I had to post it. Let me know if you try it.


Uncle Robert’s Easy Baileys Cheesecake

1 (9-inch) chocolate graham cracker crumb crust (or regular graham or shortbread crust)
1 (8-ounce/ ~226g) package of light cream cheese, soften, get all the lumps out
1 can of light sweetened condensed milk (300ml, 397 g)
¼- cup (4tbsp, 50ml) of lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
½ cup (125ml) of Baileys Irish Cream (or your favourite cream liqueur)

1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy and non-lumpy.

2. Add sweetened condensed milk; blend thoroughly.

3. Stir in lemon juice, vanilla and Baileys.

4. Pour into crust.

Chill about 2 hours so it holds its shape. Cut and serve. Enjoy.

Variants: If you don’t have the crumb crust, a thinly baked instant brownie will do. Also, served in wine glasses with crumbled chocolate chip cookies underneath and a square of quality chocolate on top makes it fancy and you don’t need to chill it as much.

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Wright Bros Oyster & Porter House

11 Stoney Street
Borough Market
London
SE1 9AD
020 7403 9554

We went to Wright Bros in Borough Market on Saturday night for my friend Shufan’s birthday. It is a small place and the menu is mostly seafood and oysters on the half shell. I had oysters on the half shell with bacon as a starter but unfortunately the bacon overpowered the taste of the oysters. I swapped one with Shufan who had Oysters Rockefeller and it was much better. For the main course I had Moules Mariniere and they did not disappoint. They were small and tender and almost all of them had opened. We ordered a variety of dishes including the Harissa Lobster, Petit Fruit de Mer platter, Traditional Fish Pie and a Steak and Guiness Pie. It was all very good, but not everyone was full up and they only had strawberries and cream or chocolate truffles for dessert. There were other things on the menu but they must have been sold out. It was a good meal, but I must say… nothing beats Malpeque oysters from Prince Edward Island.

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Tabouli

Another one of my favourites from my mom’s cookbook. I often put in more garlic and add about a third of an English cucumber. Great to take to a BBQ or picnic. I almost always get asked for the recipe when I bring it to a pot-luck. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

A salad with grain. Can be a meal in itself. Take your time. Chew slowly while reading a magazine if eating solo.


Tabouli

Serves 4.
Make at least 3 hours before serving.

Bulgur are wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried, and crushed. So, it is pre-cooked and easy to prepare, but also perishable. Store in fridge for months or freeze for up to a year.

1 C bulgur, medium grind
1 1/2 C boiling water
1 tsp salt
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil
1/2 tsp dried or 1 TB fresh mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced 2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 C fresh parsley, chopped (packed)
1/3 English cucumber, sliced and cut in half

1. Combine bulgur, water, and salt in a medium glass or pottery bowl. Cover and let stand 1/2 hour. Liquid should all be absorbed. If not, drain it and put it back in the bowl.

2. Add lemon juice, garlic, mint and oil. Mix thoroughly (even with your hands). Refrigerate 2 hours.

3. When serving, add vegetables. Toss together gently. Taste for seasoning. Fresh ground pepper and/or crumbled feta cheese can be sprinkled on top.

Keeps for a few days in the fridge.

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Matsuri St James’s

15 Bury Street
London
SW1Y 6AL
020 7839 11014

I took my mom to this great Japanese restaurant for her birthday. She’s eaten Japanese food all over the world, including in Japan, and she said it was some of the best she had ever tasted. Matsuri St. James is one of the two Matsuri Japanese restaurants in London (the other being Matsuri High Holborn) and has a sushi counter as well as Teppan-yaki grills. We arrived early since we were heading to the theatre afterwards and were seated at an empty Teppan-yaki grill. Perhaps a bit of a novelty, Teppan grills are apparently a new addition to Japanese cuisine. They consist of a large stainless steel grilling surface with a small eating surface (like a bar counter) surrounding it. The chefs cook your meal right in front of you and entertain with quick flipping and chopping of the meat and vegetables before transferring their finished masterpiece to your plate. Some chefs seemed more friendly than others, but all in all, a trip to a Teppan-yaki grill, especially for a first-timer, is an experience that will not disappoint.

We each ordered one of their set menus that consisted of about seven little courses. I had Mikoshi with Rib-eye steak teri-aki and my mom had Wakana with grilled tofu and exotic mushrooms. It definitely wasn’t cheap, but the food and service were both impeccable. My mom and I were both well impressed and would definitely go there again.

Lettuce Roll Sea lettuce maki… one of our many courses.

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Saki Bar & Food Emporium

4 West Smithfield
London
EC1A 9JX
020 7489 7033

I went to this restaurant a few weeks ago with some of my colleagues and future colleagues from Goldman Sachs. The selection on the menu was huge and it took us a long time to decide what we wanted. In the end we mentioned to the waiter a few things we really wanted and asked him to sort out the rest. Several large sushi and sashimi platters arrived shortly after ordering as well as tonkatsu, grilled aubergine with red miso and many other delights. Saki has received several awards for its sushi including Restaurant Magazine‘s Best Sushi award in 2006 and I must say they are well deserved. Although this is the kind of place you might want to save for when someone else is paying, it was very, very good and well worth the price. Not to mention the extra fun we had changing the windows in our private room from clear to opaque with a switch on the wall.
Saki wins its first trophy from the Restaurant Magazine’s prestigious awards

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Fleur de Sel Brasserie

#2, 2015 4th St SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2S 1W6
(403) 228-9764

Finding a good restaurant is always a treat. Calgary is not the place where one would expect to find a charming and unpretentious little French restaurant, but in fact Fleur de Sel fits that description perfectly. I haven’t been there since my dad and I visited in December 2003, but we bought my brother a gift certificate for his birthday in 2004, and he also thought it was amazing. This is a small restaurant with a clientèle of regulars and is well worth a visit.The staff provided an exceptionally high standard of service along with fine food and wine in a very comfortable atmosphere. Check it out and sit at the counter for something a little unusual in a dining experience. Reservations are advisable and can now be booked via e-mail.

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Seasons Restaurant

Herenstraat 16,
1015 CA
Amsterdam
31-20-3303800

Rob and I stumbled across this restaurant in summer 2006. We had chosen a different restaurant for dinner that night, but when got out of the taxi we realized it wasn’t open. We wandered around the neighbourhood a bit and discovered Seasons Restaurant. With delicious food and a friendly owner, this small restaurant was a welcome respite from the craziness that was Amsterdam during Pride Weekend. We would have dined there the next night as well, but it wasn’t going to be open because the owner said there usually wasn’t much business on parade day.

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