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Tag: Italian

Eggplant parmesan

What do you do when you have some leftover tomato sauce and odd knobs of cheese? Well, some of you may be thinking about pasta or some sort of weird tomato cheese soup. I made a quick dash to my nearby wet market for some inspiration. Nothing really captured my attention until I spotted the really shiny eggplant. The fate of the eggplant (and the tomato sauce and cheese) was sealed – eggplant parmesan.

Roasted eggplant

I didn’t refer to any recipes – I built this dish based on what I know about eggplant parmesan, and what I have in the fridge. A lot of the traditional cooking treatment and ingredients to this dish is kind of “ignored” by me. Supposedly, mozzarella cheese is used in eggplant parmesan to give it that chewiness. As I don’t have that on hand, I substituted it with Gruyere and Parmesan. I also did not bother to pan-fry the eggplant (to prevent it from becoming soggy) – I didn’t want to wash another pan.

All I use was the oven and whatever the fridge has gifted me. Recipes are great but don’t be afraid to give it your own spin. Unless you are feeding it to your nonna, as long as the dish is delicious, I am sure it will keep many bellies happy.

Eggplant parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan
When I made this dish, I did not make the effort to measure any of the ingredients. This was created based on leftovers. I strongly encourage you to think about what’s already in your fridge and build a dish. This way, we would prevent wastage of food and also boost your creativity. You do not need to cook an entire dish on leftovers – like me, think about what you have and grab one key ingredient (in this case eggplant).

Serve one

Ingredients
1)      1 small eggplant
2)      ½ cup of tomato sauce
3)      Odd knobs of Gruyere and Parmesan, grated
4)      Panko crumbs
5)      Olive oil, salt and black pepper
6)      Puttanesca mix (optional)
7)      Thyme (optional)

Methods
-        Preheat your oven to 220oC.
-        Wash and cut the eggplant into ¼ inch thick slices.
-        On a baking tray, pour some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and black pepper. Place the sliced eggplant on the baking tray and coat each piece with the oil, salt and black pepper.
-        Put the baking tray in the oven and let it bake for about 15 minutes (you can rotate the tray after 8 minutes; but I usually leave it alone).
-        Once done, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 200oC.
-        In a small baking dish (I got mine from Daiso), layer it with about ¼ cup of tomato sauce or just enough to cover the base. If you have it on hand, you can add in a teaspoon of the puttanesca mix, and mix it with the tomato sauce.
-        Place the baked sliced eggplant on top of the sauce and sprinkled both cheeses – make sure you put enough to cover the eggplant.
-        For the second layer, repeat – tomato sauce (no puttanesca mix; the mix is actually pretty strong and salty, hence use it for one layer is good enough), eggplant and cheese.
-        To finish, cover the dish with panko crumbs and if you must, finely grated parmesan (Of course, I add in the extra cheese).
-        Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, and switch to grill/ broiler setting and bake it for another 5-8 minutes or until the top turned golden brown.
-        Sprinkle some thyme leaves (or basil) and serve it warm.
-        You can have this dish on its own, or serve it with some mix salad.

Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce

Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce recipe has been floating around the Internet for years and I do not know why the silly me took so long to make this sauce. Its bloody simple, needs three ingredients, a pot and half an hour.

Tomato Sauce in a Jar

Tomato Goodness

This woman is brilliant. The tomato sauce is sweet, mellow and buttery. And I used it not just for pasta, I cooked vegetable stew with it too. My friend, Lynda heat the sauce up and used as a dip for her toast. We labelled this sauce as multi-purpose sauce.

Chicken Pasta

 

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce (with Onion and Butter)
Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

Ingredients
1)      28 ounces (800g) canned whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if possible. I don’t seem to be able to find them in Singapore so I used this brand called Cirio).
2)      70g unsalted butter
3)      1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
4)      Salt to taste

Methods
-        Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes.
-        Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.
-        Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste.

oink’s guide to … New York City! Otto

One of the places that I have heard so much for their reasonably priced pastas, pizza and anti-pasti was Otto. Owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali (Iron Chef!) and his business partner, Joe Bastianich (Masterchef USA), Otto served up comforting and delicious cuisine.

Otto – Love the clock!

Linguine Puttanesca (US$10)

For lunch, I chose my favourite – Linguine Puttanesca. This Southern Italian pasta is simple and savoury, combining anchovies, capers and tomato sauce. Three ingredients. That’s all. Otto’s version was flavourful and not overly salty. The portion was huge too – I only managed to finish half the plate.

I liked Otto for its take on food – simple yet delicious. The place itself had an old school charm too.

Otto
One 5th Avenue New York City 10003
+1-212-9959-559

oink’s guide to … New York City! Motorino Pizza

I cannot remember exactly how it happened. But after a few direct messages (Twitter) and a couple of emails, I met Robyn aka The Girl who Ate Everything. I have been reading her blog and writings (via Serious Eats) for a couple of years. She is hilarious and animated. And her doodles are pretty incredible too.

Robyn gave me a few food options. All of them sounded delicious but I decided to go for Motorino Pizza – I think it will be wrong to come to NYC and not have a slice of pie.  And it was the best decision I ever made – Motorino produced these gorgeous artisan pizza from its wood burning oven, and till now, they are best pizza I ever have.

Since Robyn was the only one who been to Motorino (Robyn’s friend, Francine also joined us for dinner), she suggested that we should try the cherry stone clams, and brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza. Thanks to the high temperature of the wood burning oven, the pizza were delivered to our table pretty fast.

Cherry stone clams pizza (US$17)

The cherry stone clams pizza was delicious – it’s like a piece of heaven. With a tiny squeeze of lemon on top of the pie, the clams were sweet and melt in your mouth. The pizza and the mozzarella were soft and chewy. And the crust. The oh-so-wonderful crust. It’s a good crust.

Brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza (US$16)

I was not exactly looking forward to the brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza as it was a combination of the two things that I don’t like. I detest brussels sprouts as they always leave a bitter after note. As for the pancetta, it’s pork. And miracle happened. I was in love with this pizza. For the first time, brussels sprouts tasted so good – they were actually sweet and earthy. There was no bitterness. For the pancetta, well, it’s savoury and porky. Without letting Robyn and Francine know, I secretly picked the pancetta and hide them under my crust.

At the end of my NY trip, though Motorino Pizza was the only pizza place I went; it will be the pizza place that I will always lust (A little shout out to Robyn for bringing me to Motorino and sharing a slice with me).

PS. Robyn did a great write up on Motorino too!

Motorino Pizza
349 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003
+1-212-7772-644
Opening hours: 11.00am-midnight (Sun –Thu), 11.000am-1.00am (Fri, Sat)

oink’s guide to … New York City! Torrisi Italian Specialties

Touted as one of the most wanted tables in NYC, Torrisi Italian Specialties operates as a sandwich shop by day and just last year, they decided to open for dinner.

It was her much awaited birthday treat

Kat and I rushed down to Torrisi after our ice cream. Phew we made it in time and managed to get the 6pm reservation. After a walk around the neighbourhood, we returned to the restaurant and  were promptly seated.

The menu for the night

Torrisi is small – there are only 18 seats. Everyone was seated at the same time, and all of us were to get the same four-course meal (antipasti, pasta, main and pastry) which changes daily and no menu substitution allowed. The service staff at Torrisi were warm and friendly. They took our bags so that we have more seating room. One of them noticed we have cameras and promptly told us that photography was allowed (just no flash).

The divine warm mozzarella

Once we were settled down, our first antipasti dish was served to us – warm mozzarella with Da Vero olive oil, milk thistle cream and a sprinkle of sea salt. This dish was DIVINE! And it was also the best dish we had for the night. The warm mozzarella which was made to order was fresh, chewy and ridiculously milky. The olive oil and the cream just worked so well with the cheese. The sprinkle of sea salt gave a bit of texture and enhanced the flavour of the mozzarella.

Garlic bread

While Kat and I were indulging in the warm mozzarella, a complimentary plate of garlic bread was given to us. The garlic bread was delicious – it was rich, crispy, and buttery.

Octopus salad

The next antipasti dish was the octopus salad. Can I say Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone (chef-owners of Torrisi) know how to prepare seafood? The octopus was cooked to perfection – it was not rubbery – just a few bites, and everything just melted away.  

New Yorkese cucumbers

Next was the New Yorkese cucumbers. I was given the honourable task to finish this plate (Kat don’t eat vegetables. YAH). This dish was more like an assortment of pickles. Explained by our server, the cucumbers were aged differently – some were a few days old, while others were aged for a couple of months. I like some of them while some tasted like dill pickles which I don’t like.

Liverwurst and pretzel

Our last antipasti dish was liverwurst and pretzel. Though I don’t fancy liver, I decided to give it a try. Indeed, I still don’t like liver. The liverwurst was creamy and rich but it has a porky aftertaste which I hate. That said, love the pretzel!

Spaghetti de mare

For our pasta course, we got spaghetti di mare. I kid you not with my earlier comment on the brilliantness of the chefs when it came to cooking of seafood. Every piece of scallop, clam, prawn in my spaghetti di mare was well cooked – buttery and soft.

Black bass

When it came to our mains, our server told us we have a choice of a fish or meat course. Since I am not a fan of lamb, I went with the black bass. The black bass was not overcooked – it was flaky and delicious. The pairing of the black bass with pickled tomatoes was great – it made one salivate and wanting more.

BBQ lamb

I had a bite of Kat’s BBQ lamb with molasses vinaigrette. Though I like the vinaigrette, I really don’t like the taste of lamb – too gamey.

Lemon ice

Before the pastry was served to us, we were each given a tiny cup of Italian ice. The flavour of the day was lemon. I am a big fan of citrus – but the lemon ice was way too sour – I only managed to finish half of it. Still a good palette cleanser.

Dessert

Finally. Dessert. We were given a plate of pastry which consisted of celery sugar cookies, cannoli with Salvatore filling, rainbow cookies, rhubarb bar and sunchoke tart. My favourite was of course the cannoli – the “shell” was crispy and the filling was creamy and rich. I also quite like the rhubarb bar which was earthy and tart. As for the rest, they were alright – didn’t rock our world.

The bill

Though this was a four-course meal, it turned out to be a nine dishes affair. The portion for each course was just right. It was the first time we were not struggling to finish the food. For the price of US$50, this prix fixe dinner was value for money – everything that was served to me was fresh, well cooked and delicious.

Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012 (at Prince Street)
+1 212-965-0995
(If you want to get the 6pm reservation, reach the restaurant by latest 530pm and leave your name with the waitress.)

Tomato and sausage pasta

as my office will be moving from the east to the west thus the chances of me working from home are pretty high. unlike some of my friends, i don’t really enjoy working from home. the temptation of the bed, refusal to change out of pjs and most important of all, missing out on the social interaction with colleagues. the only great thing about working from home? – i can cook and bake any time i like.

when it comes to lunch, i usually prepare no-fuss food – ingredients that i can find in the fridge) dumped in a pot and viola. yes i love one-pot cooking.

one pot wonder

one of my favorite things to cook – pasta! seriously what is not to love about pasta. firstly its CARBO (=comfort food), easy to prepare (hot water + salt) and you can throw in whatever things you like, and no one will judge you (ok maybe the italians will. ha). my all time-favorite classic (in my oink dictionary) is tomato and sausage.

tomato and sausage pasta

ingredients (the portion is for 1 serving only)
1)      1 garlic clove (chopped)
2)      1 white onion (diced and chopped)
3)      1 tomato (diced; i do keep the pulp and seed and i definitely don’t see the need to skin the tomato)
4)      1 sausage link  (i used turkey but you can use whatever meat you like; sliced)
5)      1 cup of dried pasta (i love barilla farfalle and also because i need to finish up the last of my pasta before they expired)
6)      passata (i have no qualms in using store bought pasta sauce but please give passata a try. i find the flavor is richer and tasted less artificial. if you can get passata made from san marzano tomatoes, you scored big time! i didnt manage to find it. sadness)
7)      fresh basil leaves (this is not essential. no one will die if you don’t have it. i just happened to grow some on my balcony)
8)      salt and black pepper to taste (depending on the sausage you used, some are already packed with spices thus you can omit the black pepper)
9)      extra virgin olive oil (once again not essential. use whatever you have at home though you should try use evoo. you will love the fruity taste)

methods
-        boil a pot of water enough to cover the pasta. once boiled, add in salt and throw in the pasta. based on the packaging, drained the pasta 1-1.5 minutes before the actual cooked time (that is, if the packaging said 8 minutes cooking time, off the fire after 6-7 minutes). alternatuvely TRY the pasta. remember we do not need the pasta to be thoroughly cooked; we are leaving it aside for awhile so it will cook itself.
-        as you drain the pasta, keep a bowl of the pasta water. set the pasta aside on your serving plate.
-        using the same pot (no need to wash), fire up, once the water evaporated, add in evoo. and you can start throwing in the garlic and onion. 30 seconds later, throw in the sausage to brown.
-        after the sausage has browned on one side, throw in the diced tomatoes. after a minute, add in the passata (i dont use alot; perhaps around 2-3 tablespoons). at this point, add in the pasta water that was saved earlier (once again you do not need alot; 3 tablespoons)
-        toss in the cooked pasta. stirred. you can add in more pasta water if you find the pasta to be too dry.
-        taste the sauce and add in salt and pepper if need to (i will add salt at this stage because i am quite heavy handed with salt when boiling the pasta thus i sometimes omit salt completely)
-        dish up and garnish with fresh basil leaves (if you have parmesan or pecorino, go ahead and use it. i would. ha.)

tomato and sausage pasta

Birthday bash … happy birthday Chazza!

yes its another birthday bash. i was supposedly to organise this one but half way through i got distracted and my friend abh helped me to choose de place for de celebration. despite de birthday girl whining request, we “democratically” chosen peperoni at greenwood avenue for her birthday.

happy birthday chazza!

its dinner time

i personally is not a big fan of greenwood avenue. firstly, its friggin far from my house and de traffic around that area is horrid. and because its at de bukit timah area, i find that most of the people who ate there are pretty chi-chi, and de same apply to de food.

peperoni

calamari fritti (S$13)

peperoni is a small, homey kinda restaurant ran by le amis group. de service there is pretty good. when we arrived, i noticed they allowed customers to bring their pets (outside of course) and even provided a dish full of water for them. as i was starving, i made de early birds share a plate of calamari with me. de calamari was a bit soggy but it was not terribly overcooked. for de salsa, it was alright. nothing extraordinary.

frutti di mare (S$21)

as everyone arrived, we all ordered our own mains. i got myself a frutti di mare with angel hair. i was pretty disappointed. de pasta was overcooked and de same goes for de rest of de seafood. it was truly forgettable.

seafood risotto (S$25)

i also have a taste of c’s seafood risotto – once again, disappointment. hers was undercooked and i felt there was a lack of pecorino or parmasan – no creaminess no “kick” in that risotto. s also shared her beef bolognese with us. my god its bloody salty. de beefiness is there but de salt. no way in hell i can finish that plate of pasta.

PIZZA!

rae ann drawing

de only good dishes that came from that place were the vongole and de pizza (which i didnt had any as no craving). i also observed that many residents came over and do takeaways for de pizza. so perhaps they really do good pizza.

peperoni
6 greenwood avenue hillcrest park
+65-6465-6556
opening hours: 12.00pm-12.00am (daily)

Easy peasy pasta

by some twisted luck, i accidentally discovered de easiest pasta to make. i wanted to make aglio olio pasta w mushroom and chilli. however we ran out of chilli at home and i was too lazy to get some from de store. so i used de next best thing – store-bought belacan chilli.

pour some evoo (extra virgin olive oil)  into de pot, dumped in de garlic and belacan chilli then de sliced mushroom. stir fried for a couple of minutes, let de juice from de mushroom to ooze out. then throwed in de pasta (of course cooked! in a pot of salted and evoo-ed water) to absorb de juice. stired abit (if its abit dry, pour in abit more evoo). and VIOLA. de yummiest pasta ever!

seriously its that easy. de only you need to chop is de garlic and mushroom. i made it twice in a week and i am NOT sick of it at all.

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