Senin, 27 Juni 2011

Spaghetti Trapanese

You know how difficult is to make a dish that everyone in the family loves. These dishes are very rare and once you find one you keep it like a treasure. One of those dishes for my family is Spaghetti Trapanese, a summer dish that is best when tomatoes are in full season. It is a pesto-like cold sauce and has only a couple of main ingredients. Those should be of the best quality that you can afford.

Spaghetti Trapanese
(Jamie Oliver)
serves 4

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2oz / 150 g  almonds, skins on or off
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 large handfuls fresh basil, leaves picked
  • 5 1/2 oz / 150g  freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, halved

Warm the almonds a little in a dry pan, then smash them up in a pestle and mortar or whiz them in a food processor until you have a coarse powder consistency. Put them into a bowl. Bash the garlic and the basil separately in the mortar and mix with the almonds, adding the pecorino or Parmesan, a good glug of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and really scrunch them with your hands into the almond mixture until they have completely broken up. Loosen with a little extra olive oil and toss with your hot drained pasta. Check the seasoning, divide onto 4 plates, and spoon any sauce that remains in the pan over the top.

Rabu, 22 Juni 2011


Gazpacho is a cold, Spanish, tomato-based, raw vegetable soup originating in the region of Andalusia.
Typically it includes stale bread, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt.
Until I owned a blender it never occured to me to make it myself but this tool makes it very easy and in minutes you have the most luscious soup you can imagine. It is refreshing on a hot summer day, healthy, and light. My version doesn't contain bread, so feel free to add some.


5 big tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled an diced
1 onion (I don't add the onion), peeled and diced
3 - 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar or more
Optional: 2 big slices of a day-old country bead, remove crust, cube, soak in water for 5-10 minutes, drain and squeeze out the excess liquid

1 Tablespoon olive oil 
salt to taste
2 slices of white bread
small dices of cucumber, bell pepper, tomato

Put the tomatoes in a bowl, cover them with boiling water and let them sit for 30 seconds. Drain, then peel and cut into pieces. Put the vegetables (and bread) into a blender together with the olive oil and vinegar. Blend until very smooth. Taste with salt and pepper. Put into the fridge until very cold, at least for 2 hours.

For the garnish
Remove crust of the bread, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the bread cubes until golden brown. Salt and set aside 
Put the diced vegetables and bread cubes in individual bowls an serve together with the soup.

Sabtu, 18 Juni 2011

Portuguese Egg Tarts

Portuguese Egg Tarts are traditional custard pastries that are of a creme brulee like consistency caramelized in a puff pastry case. It is a very popular pastry in Asia and Europe. Originally they were called Pastel de nata and the dish was created more than 200 years ago by Catholic Sisters.
They are so delicious that you can hardly stop eating them once they are out of the oven. I like them warm, cold, or even the next day given that you still have some left.

Portuguese Egg Tarts
(adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

Ingredients for crust :
1 box of Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix, (Net Wt 11 Oz) or
1 frozen and rolled Pillsbury 9-inch pie crust, or your favorite pie crust recipe (recipe follows)
3 tablespoon melted butter
⅓ cup cold water

Ingredients for filling :
4 egg yolks from jumbo sized eggs)
⅓ cup of sugar, (or slightly less if you don't like your Portuguese egg tarts too sweet)
⅓ cup of heavy whipping cream
⅓ cup of milk
3 drops of vanilla extract

Stir the pie crust mix, cold water, and melted butter until pastry forms a ball. On a floured surface, roll the dough and cut it into 12 balls. Set aside.

Use an electronic hand beater to blend ingredients for filling. Beat for about 3 minutes and strain the filling through a strainer. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F / 200C. Butter the muffin pan.

Flatten the balls into small rounds and fit them well into the muffin pan by pressing firmly on bottom and side (do not over stretch). Fill the pie crust dough with the egg mixture (about 80% full).
Bake the Portuguese Egg Tarts at 400F/200C for about 15-20 minutes or until the filling turn brown.

Pie Crust
(Recipe from notwithoutsalt)

200 g all purpose flour
125 g salted buter (frozen) diced
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Champagne Vinegar

Pulse dry ingredients in a food processor. Add ice cold butter and process until mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add egg and vinegar until combine. Knead gently just until it comes together. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Follow recipe above or bake shell completely and with pie weights (if available). 350F/180C about 20-25 minutes.

Selasa, 14 Juni 2011

Pasta with Shaved Asparagus

Green asparagus is known and eaten worldwide. Once a delicacy and only available in spring it is now accessible throughout the whole year. It is typically served as an appetizer or vegetable side dish, steamed, grilled or stir fried. Recently it became popular to serve it also raw and when  I stumbled over a shaved asparagus salad recipe on smittenkitchen I knew immediately that it would be good with Pasta too. So I cooked some spaghetti and added the shaved asparagus on top. With or without pasta this is a very refreshing, light summery dish.

Pasta with Shaved Asparagus
(inspired by the Union Square Cafe and Smittenkitchen)

There are no exact measurements in this recipe. Everything is to taste, so taste as you go along to make sure you’re getting all the Parmesan, nutty, and lemony flavors you want.

1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted* and cooled
1 pound asparagus, rinsed
1 lemon, halved
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese

No need to snap off the tough ends of your asparagus. Lay a single stalk on its side on a cutting board. Holding onto the tough end, use a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped peeler is easiest, but I’ve used a standard one successfully) to shave off thin asparagus ribbons from stalk to tip, peeling away from the tough end in your hand. [Updated] Discard the tough ends once you’re done peeling. Gently pile your ribbons on a medium-sized serving platter. Squeeze some lemon juice over the asparagus, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Toss gently and then use your peeler to shave curls of Parmesan right off the block, over the asparagus. Sprinkle with some toasted nuts. Repeat with remaining asparagus, a third of the remaining bundle at a time. Eat immediately.
* I toast mine in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 for 5 to 10 minutes. It’s really important, especially with pine nuts, that you stay close and toss them frequently because they love to burn, but if you move them around a bit, you can get a wonderful, even coffee coffee color on them and an intensely nutty flavor. It makes even unfancy nuts taste amazing.