The last day of CNY holiday – bake stuffed pumpkin with quinoa, minced pork & mushroom

Four days of CNY holiday is ending soon, tomorrow have to get back to work. What should I cook for tonight? I would like to do something with quinoa, quinoa is really healthy and we should eat more quinoa! Maybe with minced pork, mushroom, carrot…… How about stuff them in a pumpkin?

First of all, steam the pumpkins until they turn soft, leave them aside and let them cool down. Cook the quinoa with double portion of water, I like to use the rice cooker to cook it which it’s so much more easier, but you can also use a sauce pan to cook that. For the fillings, heat up the pan with a bit of butter and olive oil, fry the minced garlic, followed by roughly chopped onion and carrot. Then, we can start to add the minced pork, and then the roughly chopped mushroom. Cook until they are done, then switch off the heat and add in the quinoa, cheese ( I use mixed of 6 kinds of Italian cheese), finely chopped parsley, fresh thyme, and season it with salt and pepper. 

Now put the fillings inside the pumpkin, fill it up and add cheese again on the top and cover the entire top part. Place the pumpkins in the oven under 190C and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is nice and brown.

The first dinner for the year of the rooster, let’s go for chicken! 

Happy Year of the Rooster!!!! It’s the first day of the lunar new year, let’s have some chicken for our first dinner.

I start it off with making us cocktail. Yes! Again related to cock, just to fit into the theme. I’ve made the Old Fashion, nice to start to night with a cocktail. Place 1 teaspoon of brown sugar into the glass, then add few dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of water, then crash the sugar with a wooden muddler. I like to add a touch of orange juice, and a slice of orange peel and orange. Then add around 2 oz of whiskey, place one big ice cube in the glass then fill up the rest of the glass with water. 

I actually didn’t plan to cook any appetiser, but the portion of the chicken cordon bleu turned out to be smaller than I expected. Moreover, I screwed up with one piece of the chicken, that’s why I have some chicken leftover, so why not have a bruschetta with some chicken and eggs? which fit perfectly to the theme! So, put butter on the slices of the baguette, then place them on the grill pan, put them aside when they are done on both side. Heat up the pan with butter, then fry the minced chicken, season it with some salt and pepper. Add one egg into the pan when the chicken is done, break up the egg and stir fry it when it’s done. Place the chicken and egg on top of the slices of baguette. Add some cheese on top and garnish it with a bit of spring onion or parley.

For the Chicken Cordon Bleu, get two big piece of chicken breast and slice them into two thin pieces. Add a touch of olive on the entire surface of the chicken breast, then place one piece in-between two pieces of cling film, use a meat mallet to bite the chicken breast until it becomes really thin and even, remember to use the flat side. Brush the chicken breast with dijon mustard, then lay a piece of sweet ham and a piece of Swiss cheese on top. Roll up the chicken breast and tighten it up with the cling wrap, place them in the fridge and let them sit there for 30 minutes. When they are ready, cover the chicken roll with plain flour, then soak it with egg wash and then finish it with breadcrumbs, breadcrumbs should be seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat up the pan with butter and some olive oil, fry all side of the chicken roll, and don’t forget the two ends. Sealed all side, and then place them in the oven and bake them under 180C for 20 minutes.

Let’s prepare the creamy sauce, heat up the pan with olive oil, add minced shaollot and garlic, fry them for 2 minutes, and then add a touch of flour. Add chicken stock, and a touch of white wine, let it simmer. Add cooking cream, bring it to boil, then let it simmer until it turns thicker. Season it with salt and pepper and add the chopped parsley in the end. 

I’ve also prepared the potatoes and zucchini as side dishes. Steam the potatoes for 20 minutes, let them cool down. Heat up the pan with olive oil and butter, fry the potatoes and then add the zucchini. Season them with salt and pepper when they are done and garnish with some parsley.

Cut the chicken cordon bleu in half and serve them with the creamy sauc, with the vegetable on the side. 

First cooking in 2017, let’s make it big! Even for our dogs……

 

French Onion Soup

 

This is my first cooking in 2017, I was thinking to have a great start in 2017, kick it off freshly with some nice cooking in order to celebrate my one year anniversary of this blog, which ended up with a lot of my posts are based on my cooking.

This was the Sunday cooking on 8th January, the first Sunday at home after we got back from our Christmas and New Year holiday in Germany. Unfortunately, I got laid off last Monday, the day after this Sunday cooking. It took me a week to get over the entire thing and put myself back on track, and finally I felt a lot better and want to write this down before I forget what I’ve cooked.

So, I was trying to make it big for my first Sunday cooking! I was thinking to do a main dish and an onion soup, I love onion soup especially during Winter time. I would love to learn how to make it, so I started to search some recipes online the night before, and I found two recipes that I would like to base on. First of all, we definitely need A LOT of onions, that recipe on youtube is using a lot of onions. But I guess I’ve been using maybe a bit too much, and the soup ended up full of onion but not much soup. I guess I should have a better control of the proportion between soup and onion to start with. I was using 4 big onions to go with 1 litre of beef stock, I guess I can cut down 1 big onion next time and see if that will be better. So, heat up the Dutch oven with some butter and a touch of olive oil, pour all the chopped onion into the Dutch oven, season them with some salt and fry them until they are all caramelised. Add some dry white wine or apple cider vinegar, followed by some flour, then mix them well with the onions. Stir in the beef stock, and add a handful of herbs, bay leave, rosemary and thyme. Let it simmer for around 15 to 20 minutes, season with salt and a touch of brandy, adjust the taste until you think it’s good. I also add some sugar, as I also see people adding sugar in the other recipe, that’s why you really have to taste it and adjust it according to your taste buds. Then, transfer the soup in a bowl and place the toasted bread slice with butter and garlic on top of the soup. Add some parmesan cheese on the bread, and then cover the entire bowl with Gruyère cheese. Place that in the oven with maximum heat and bake for few minutes until the cheese start to turn brown. Save the rest of the soup and you can still have it a day later by repeating the last step in oven.

For the main dish, I would like to cook a meat dish. I was searching the recipe from Gordon Ramsay, and I found this roasted pork loin with lemon and sage, looks easy and delicious. You just need to score the skin of the pork loin, and that cut it on the section and open it up. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic, lemon zest, sage, parsley, and some olive oil, then roll it up and close it with cotton. Season the outside with salt, pepper, olive oil and sprinkle with a touch of thyme. Place it in hot oven around 210C for 45 minutes, and there you go, so quick and easy!

I’ve cooked this Fondant Potatoes to go with the pork loin, which it turned out so tasty! Try to get potatoes with similar size, and chop them into a truck shape. For the cut out of the potatoes, I’ve cooked them for my dogs, not a waste. This is also very simple, but very delicious. Heat up the pan with butter, fry the potatoes until both side with a touch of brown and season them with a touch of salt. Pour in chicken stock, cover around 1/3 of the potatoes, add in some fresh thyme. Place the pan into the oven under 220C and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes. Monitor the chicken stock, and add some water if the stock becomes too less. Serve them with the slices of pork loin.

Roasted Pork Loin and Fondant Potatoes

I also cooked something for our two labradors. I am thinking to get rid of the kibbles and canned food by just feeding them home made dog food starting from 2017, which is one of my new year resolution! I started to do a bit of research to see what to cook for them and what is suitable. Before completely getting rid of the kibbles and canned food, which I still have few KGs left. I am buying time to explore the kind of dog food should prepare for them. Of course there are different strategies out there, but I do believe the base is pretty much based on a balance between meat (protein), vegetable and starch (carbs). One of our doggie is food allergy, she should avoid eating carrot, rice, pasta and etc. Therefore, I have to be extra careful to see what to feed her. With the balance between the three key ingredients, I decided to cook with minced beef, potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs with egg shell. Boil the potatoes in hot water, then add minced beef. For the green beans, I steam them and then chop them into smaller pieces, which should be easier for them to digest. I just learn that is good to feed your dogs with egg shell, as there is good amount of calcium that you can get from the shell. This is my first attempt, other than the regular dinner I cooked for them every Sunday with just potatoes and salmon. They just loving it and finish the bowl so quickly that I almost have to slow them down! For the leftover, store in the fringe and that’s enough to feed them for 2 more days.

Dog Meal

 

Cooking with healthy Quinoa – roasted with broccoli and chicken

I always try to eat healthy and explore something new. I’ve never cook quinoa, but I’ve heard a lot of good thing about it.  It is very nutritious, good for blood sugar control, gluten free, very high in fiber, protein, important mineral and antioxidants. It sounds like all you can get!!! Why not trying it out?

Find out what is good about quinoa

I grew up with rice and noodle, quinoa is definitely something new to me. I know there is a trend in the Western world to cook with quinoa, but I have no idea how should I cook them. Therefore, I have to look into some recipes, to get the idea and some inspiration. I found this recipe to roast it with broccoli and chicken, looking quite delicious. So, I am going to try my first quinoa dish with this.

Roasted broccoli chicken and cheddar quinoa bake

Of course, I always improvise the recipe a bit, to make it my own style. To add something on top, or to change the ingredients that I don’t like. But I like almost everything of this recipe, the only thing I feel missing is a bit of garlic, and to mix with some parmesan cheese, instead of having only cheddar cheese.

First of all, I would like to do the chicken with sous vide cooking. So, I’ve spent one hour to  cook the chicken breast with 60C in the hot bath, get them out and let them cool down. To cook the quinoa, more or less like cooking the rice or risotto. I am following this recipe to use 1 3/4 cup of chicken stock to cook 1 cup of quinoa. But I guess you can also cook with regular water, and I might try to cook them in the rice cooker next time and see if that works. When the quinoa absorb all the stock, switch off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I am getting the vegetable ready, I prefer to fry them with a pan instead of grilling them in the oven. Hit the pan and drizzle with some olive oil, put some minced garlic, and then put the chopped red onion and broccoli. Fry them with medium heat until they are half way cooked, do not oven cook them as they will still be cooked in the oven for another 25 minutes later on. Season them with some salt and red chilli flakes.

Now, let’s work on the quinoa. Mix the chopped tomato and shredded chicken in, and then add the cheddar cheese mix with parmesan cheese. Mix them well, and then also adding the broccoli mix, mix everything together in a large pan and season it with a bit of salt and pepper. Finish it by adding more cheese as a top layer, and some breadcrumbs to make it more crunchy. Roast it in the oven for 20-25 minutes under 200C.

I feel very satisfied with my first quinoa cooking and I like the texture of it, for sure will try out new dishes with it in the future.

No Cheese with Seafood!!! Calamari night – stuffed calamari and calamari pasta with cheese

I went to bed very late on Saturday night, it so happened that I caught this TV show about David Rocco. I like to watch his show, as the way he cook is very simple, simple Italian food, just like home cooking. As he always says that he is an Italian, not a chef. All the dishes he made are very down to earth, and simply just about food.

That episode of this show is about seafood, and he would like to break the rule of putting cheese in the seafood dish. I still remember back then, I used to work with Italian crew in New York. When we go out for dinner, I ordered a seafood dish and asking the waiter for some cheese, they all looked at me like, WHAAAAAATTTTT? “You NEVER put cheese with seafood, you will be killing the dish!!!!!” And I remember there is a poster on the wall at Da Silvano Restaurant in NYC, with a big bubble saying “WHAT??? Cheese with Seafood???” something like that. So, I became very careful on putting cheese with seafood since then.

David Rocco in the show was cooking two dishes with calamari and pecorino cheese, he said why not putting them together, as they taste good! I know seafood and cheese together is not tasting bad, but it’s more about what the Italian said somehow. Hearing that from an Italian, and said that they do that quite a lot especially around the South, I am happy to try it out.

Stuffed Calamari –

The stuffed calamari is actually very rich, make sure you have few people to share, otherwise will be tough to finish it by yourself. For the stuffing, mix breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, spicy salami cubes, pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add one egg to bind them together. Get a calamari tube ready, and stuff everything inside the tube, close both ends with a toothpick. Heat up the pan, put some olive oil, fry the garlic and parsley for a minute and then place the stuffed calamari in the pan. Fry each side for few minutes until it’s done, do not overcook the calamari, otherwise will become too chewy.

Calamari and Pepperoni Alfredo Spaghetti –

I used spaghetti for this dish and boil a pot of water for getting the spaghetti ready. On the other hand, get a sauce pan and heat it up, add olive oil, garlic and parsley in the pan and fry for a minute. You can add some red chili flakes if you like spicy, then add the calamari strips. Now add some salt, white wine or procescco in the pan, let it boil a bit, make sure there is enough sauce or otherwise might need to add olive oil. Meantime, crack two eggs in a bowl, add some black pepper, beat the egg and then add pecorino into the egg. When the pasta is ready, drain the water and then pour all the spaghetti into the sauce, and add the eggs into the pasta and the sauce, mix them well and ready to serve. Add some pasta water if you feel it’s too dry.
 

Pair it up with pears – two pear dishes


Fruit is part of the healthy diet, and it’s good to do some simple dishes with fruit, especially canapés or salad. Today, I am going to talk about two dishes with pear.

The first one is a simple canapés that you can simple get it done in 10 minutes. All you need is pears, lemon, arugula, prosciutto and cheese, choose the kind of cheese you like, as cheese sometimes could be very personal. Some people like to go with the blue cheese, but some might think it’s a bit too strong. I like parmesan cheese most of the time, so it’s up to you, and I feel the pear can kind of go nicely with any kind of cheese. So, just cut the pear in wedges, and splash a bit of lemon juice on them to add the flavour. Then, simply just use a piece of prosciutto to wrap the pear with some arugula and a bit of the cheese that you like. Isn’t it so simple?

If this one is simple, the next one will be even more easy! This one I ate in Italy one time and I just love it, love the simplicity of it, but yet so tasty. Just simply cut the pear into slides and top it with parmesan cheese in thin slides, and finish it with a bit of basil on top. Season it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That’s it! How simple but lovely!