Cauliflower and nutmeg soup

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather recently, and there’s nothing more comforting than a big, piping hot bowl of soup.  My ill-timed flu coincided with a quiet dinner at home with a few friends; we had planned it so that they could meet the new addition to our household – Jagger, our outrageously cute and superbly energetic Bengal kitten! I thought about cancelling the dinner so I wouldn’t pass my yucky germs to our friends, but then I figured that they’d all be playing with Jagger anyway, so I could keep my distance!

Jagger says “Miaooooooow”

I promised myself that I wouldn’t become that annoying girl who won’t stop showing you pictures of her pet, but he is just too adorable to not share with you all. Plus he won’t be a cute little kitten for much longer, and I’m sure he’ll be jumping on to the kitchen counter to try and steal my salmon fillets in no time – I’ll be too busy swatting him away to take photos!

Blogging with Jagger

Now back to the food…

The soup went down a treat, and as I sip on it now for lunch the next day, I’m feeling a bit better already! This is a super tasty recipe, which serves 6 easily as a starter, with more than enough leftovers for the next day 🙂

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Pear and Frangipane Tart

My bestie girlfriend (and home cook extraordinaire) VH has been telling me about this recipe for ages, and I’ve never had the balls to try it. Why? Shortcrust pastry. I’d never tried making my own shortcrust pastry. And if anyone knows me well, they know that if I have a dinner party at home, they should show up at least 30 minutes late, because I inevitably always take longer that expected. And so as to not keep my dinner guests waiting for 2 hours, I’ve never tried shortcrust pastry for fear of messing it up and having to serve my guests raisins for dessert.

A few weekends ago, I finally bit the bullet and took a shot at it. This one is a really great recipe by Michelin-starred chef and Gordon Ramsey protégée , Angela Hartnett. Although it takes some time, the final result is worth all of the kneading, poaching, rolling and chilling (not you, the pastry).

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Sticky Lemon Chicken – one pan, less mess!

I’m on a gym & healthy cooking frenzy! I am not a big fan of eating diet food – it takes the pleasure out of eating and it’s just NOT FUN. In the words of the great Julia Child:

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

Quite right. And so, in order to not turn into a porker, the only way to eat what you want is to exercise and balance what you put into your body with what you work out of it. I’m not talking about “balancing” eating a Big Mac by walking to the McDonalds around the corner. I’m talking about a good sweat, followed by a healthy and nutritious meal. For me this means  minimising butter, fatty oils and carbs, eating more fish and chicken, while maximising taste with herbs and seasonings, and plenty of greens.

So I thought I would try this recipe, adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s…

Sticky Lemon Chicken
Prep time 10 mins + cooking time 25 minutes = a quick meal!
Serves 4

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Salmon en Papillote – light ‘n tasty

I wanted something light and easy for Monday dinner, and adapted an online recipe to make it a complete meal in a bag. Below is the recipe for four people, but you can just half it for a dinner for two.

It’s in the bag!

Salmon en Papillote with Potatoes and Leek

Ingredients:

4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
1 leek, white part sliced thin and well washed
5-6 red potatoes
Dry white wine
Olive oil
1 bunch chervil or other fresh herb, chopped (optional)
Unsalted butter, melted

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All hail the Japanese Arus Melon!

After lunch at Otto e Mezzo Bombana last week, where they served a simply exquisite melon with prosciutto, I’ve had melon on the brain.

Otto e Mezzo Bombana’s melon and prosciutto

Melon, melon, melon. Where could I buy this melon? I wanted this melon at home, I wanted to cut it up and serve it on a pretty plate with some beautiful cured meats. I wanted to eat it again, and again.

So on Thursday, I had a lightbulb moment. Who grows the best fruit in Asia – the Japanese. Where’s the closest place I can get Japanese fruits? Bing! I went straight to CitySuper, where I found two different melon options. Next to them was a sign for a gift wrapping option … this was not going to be a good thing for my wallet!

The Japanese Arus Melon is apparently called “the King of the Japanese Fruits”. It has a beautiful webbed pattern on its skin that looks slightly more perfect than other melons, but apart from that, it looked pretty much the same as any other melon. I asked one of the staff to help me choose one – I wasn’t going to fork out $288 for a melon that wasn’t perfect!

That was me being reasonable. I decided to take my melon tasting in baby steps. I’d try the Arus melon before the Shikuoka Melon for $588. Perhaps someone would like to gift wrap one for me? 🙂

I took very good care of my melon. As instructed, I put it in the fridge when I got home, then took it out to ripen more for a day, and returned it to the fridge in the evening to have it ready to eat for lunch the next day. There was only one out of 12 or so melons that was ripe enough in time, so I suggest you go to buy your melon 3 days in advance.

So here it was on my kitchen counter, my precious! The colour doesn’t betray the sweetness of his wonderful fruit, but when I opened it up and scooped out the seeds the scent was so wonderfully sweet and delicate.

A succulent, sweet and juicy thing

I served this starter to my family and it was gone in moment. It was, quite simply, the most beautiful piece of fruit I have ever bought.  Sweet, firm, musky, and refreshing.  One melon can serve 6 people, but two I’m sure two would have been just as welcome.

Try it yourselves, you won’t be disappointed.

Japanese Arus Melon and Prosciutto

Joia Ristorante Italiano – Elements Mall

Last night we went to watch Looper (if you haven’t gone to see it yet, I highly recommend you do very soon)!! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a tasty one, yet we still needed some real food, and so we made a choice from the dining options in Elements Mall. We usually go to Prime Steak House because we know it’s good, and it’s always the busiest restaurant in Civic Square, which is always a good sign. However, we wanted to try something different this time, and when I asked PB if he fancied Western or Asian f0od, he replied “Something good”.

Well, despite the large number of restaurant choices in Elements Mall, “something good” usually falls in the Asian category – I find the Western options slightly lacking (unless you go to the Ritz Carlton or the W Hotel of course, but that is a different ball game). After a little research, I happily discovered that Joia is part of the Gaia Group (which includes Va Bene, Gaia, Isola etc. ), and Gaia is one of my favorite restaurants. Of course the downside of this choice would be that I would compare Joia to it’s sister restaurant, but considering that the price point is about the same, I assumed it would be an even comparison.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. Continue reading