The Trattoria Project and Spectaculars: July 2007

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Easy Peasy Prosciutto Panini "XIII"

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
Panini means bread roll in Italiano, in Hokkien(Singaporean dialect), it means "slap boob", LOL i fuckin swear.

Anyways, heres a really delightful recipe i whipped up over leftover prosciuttos last night.

Perfect for a take-away office lunch or anytime you feel like it.

This is way too good for easy peasy food.
Try it yourself to believe, details below.

I used foccacia bread and got them toasted cause' i like them better that way.

Here's how you do it:

serves bout 4

300-400g good bread roll (try Gardenia's foccacia)
12 paper-thin slices of Prosciutto di Parma
Parmesan, shaved, you decide the amount ; )
2 Handfuls arugula (rocket), stems picked, washed
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper (S&P)

Slice bread into half, toast(optional), rub garlic, sprinkle S&P and drizzle EVOO.
Lay Prosciutto slices on one side of the bread, sprinkle parmesan shavings and add rocket leaves. Sandwich tight with the other half, give it a little squeeze.

Bon appetit.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Set Dinner for 12. Blissful.

It went well, everyone loved the food and wine. I was flatter bugged.

Now my eye bags couldn't get any bigger.

Soon i won't be mistaken for an already dreadful 30 year old but maybe 40 now.

Project Trattoria is painstaking, pocket burning and dosen't fit into my 7 hour age rejuvenation sleep schedule.

But I still have a long way to go and i still want my Trattoria and i will get what i want.

The only big rock in my way now is the army. Zzz.

Moving on,

Dinner was completely Italian, from the table settings to wine to bread. That burnt $30 off my pocket and it's just the start.
Tuscan bread salad($20), Calamari Risotto($50), Stewed Chianti chicken(whoppin' $85) and strawberries with cheese(easy $15), as follows -

Insalate: Insalata Panzanella "IX"

Tuscan bread salad or Panzanella, is a greatly acclaimed dish, mainly because it turns leftovers into colorful and delicious things.

I've tried many variations of it, but what seems to work best is the traditional way where i'll soak the bread in cold water for 10 mins and squeeze em out dry before crumbling them.

It was very tasty and refreshing, all thanks to the organic hothouse vined tomatoes i got from Jelita.

Primi: Risotto con Calamri e Pomodoro "X"

Italians don't use Parmesan with fish-style risottos or pasta.
For one simple reason - to stop you from pouring your risotto into the fucking bin

The tender calamari was excellent, the Vermouth and vegetable consomme made it really aromatic and the arborio was creamilicious, but i felt like it wasn't "pomodoro-ed"(tomato-y) enough.

Because i am such a lazy fuck, having to know from the start that a tin of tomato wasn't enough but still believing it would do fine cause at that point of time i felt like my bum was too heavy to make it down the building to get a god damned 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, i felt like the risotto was a tad away from perfection.

Getting the calamari was a bitch, they were sold out everywhere, doesn't really happen normally. Red Algae?

Secondi: Pollo alla Chiantigiana "XI"

Prices of chicken here have been mysteriously slashed.
A good large whole chicken is now SGD$2.45, down from SGD$5+ last week.
New genetical modification research perhaps.

But Pollo all Chiantigiana tells me to take total advantage of the situation. "Carpe Diem" it says.

Now, you are looking at perfectly stewed chicken, meat off the bone and soaked up with Chianti, all topped up with sultanas, pine nuts and fresh sage. It is such a joy to tuck into and they just melt in your mouth.

Actually no words would describe how good this is until you tried it yourself, so mail me or leave me a comment if you want recipe and i will get back to you as soon as i can.

Dolci e formaggi: fragola in aceto balsamico con mascarpone "XII"

This recipe will make women(and some men) go weak on their knees.

It is the ultimate concoction of sugar, spice and all things nice. Vanilla-y mascarpone cheese with strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar and basil.

It should even guarantee you to get laid if you made this for a girl.

It is da bomb.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rucola con pinoli e melograno "VIII"

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
Its been a rainy month and i've been bumming up.
Its also been long time since I've traveled to get good ingredients and traveling for good Italian ingredients can be a real bitch.

Although i am living in a multi-ethnic country, majority of the markets around are catered for chinese cuisines which make up of about 70% of the type of food being consumed here, therefore good western ingredients are scarce and i have to travel around.

That also means, I can easily be stereotypically admonished as an asian tryin' to be white by eating and cooking western food.

But the thing about me is that i can't give a flying fuck about public opinions and traditions cause' most people are always wrong.

Don't get me wrong, i like Chinese food alot and i am mostly asian except for one or two body parts, but i like Italian food more.


Cause' its more interesting than MSG.

Anyway, my planned dish for the day was Rocket with pine nuts and pomegranate in shallot and anchovy dressing.
So i made my way to the Cold Storage in Jelita, about 5 mins off Holland V where it seems like the rocket leaves are forever in season. With that, I got a couple of pomegranates, grabbed a really expensive 45g bag of pine nuts and got home with a charred pocket.

20 mins in the kitchen made 1 min of heaven. Each mouthful of the salad is a serious palate flirtation. Tasting, bitter meatiness from the rockets, sweet crunchy juciness from pomegranate seeds, creamy smokiness from the toasted pine nuts and soury saltiness from the anchovy shallot dressing.

It was seriously delicious, it made sex only a tad better.

It was SO good i had to take a picture of it with my pyrex plate.

It only makes you want to have more of it.

Vegetables never treated me this good.

a Boastful Bastard's Bloomin' Brilliant Basket of ever-growing Basil

I swear it will turn into a tree one day.

Pukka Prosciutto

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
$7.95 for 13 slices of good nutty Prosciutto di Parma.

I hate to say this, but it was all thanks to Wei Shen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bye bye

Thats all for my one day book-out, i am going back in tonight, 15km run tomorrow morning. boo hoo.

I will be doing a 12pax set dinner this Saturday, i hope i won't screw up.

Until then,

Ci vediamo dopo.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Italian Egg Sandwich "VII"

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
I initially thought i was too tired to cook today, especially after a 24-hour guard duty and a day of receiving orders and expectations from camp morons, but a missing entry from the past week is unacceptable!!

An Italian Egg Sandwich was supposingly the arranged dish for the last weekend but having it for dinner made it seem really inappropriate.

I had it for supper, though i seriously felt this would make a perfect breakfast, then again the missing post.

As you can see, it looks more like a crostini than a sandwich, trust me i know that, its the Italians that might think otherwise.

Over here i have a slice of toasted rustic white bread, with drips of e.v.o.o, rubs of garlic, lottsa grated parmesan, chunky marinara, egg and loads of black pepper. The bread, crispy as fuk, with a good garlic and evoo aroma, was unimaginably great with the sunshine and the tasty tomato marinara. This is good stuff and its easy, but finding a good rustic white bread in Singapore will bore you down.

And i still think this will be very very oh so perfect in the morning with an americano together with a nice friend after a good night-long session of you-know-what.

Right now i am beat and i will retrograde to my bed. It has been 2 weeks since i last had a straight 7 hour sleep.

Tonight will be it. I am excited.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chicken Saltimbocca "VI"

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
The menu line-up at the chef course today consisted of "greeky" greens, avocado-shrimp timbale and ni├žoise salade, it was what i had solely during the entire day of my very one and only weekend book-out. They weren't displeasing, disappointing or anything like that, i even got to savor organic globe artichokes, but it certainly got my body screaming for some meaty protein which i perpetually need very much to revitalize my diminishing brain cells and my sagging biceps.

Giada de Laurentiis, my italian culinary sex goddess, tells me i should make Chicken Saltimbocca today. "Saltimbocca" means "Leap in the mouth" in Roman, or so she says. It is basically Proscuitto di Parma and spinach wrapped around with a slab of chicken chop with a reduction of chicken broth and lemon juice. Oh, it costs a bomb too. 6 paper-thin slices of good Parma Ham will cost
anywhere from SGD$15-$25(if you know a place to get it cheaper please mail me), but there was certainly no compromising on getting it especially on a day like this.

My spinach was taking too long to thaw and the broth was taking its time, my supposing happy bookout will all lie down to this, i couldn't wait already, i was desperate. I seared the chicken and simmered in the broth, set aside the rolls and reduced the sauce. It was ready. I sliced them into "california maki"-shaped portions hurriedly place them on a plate for the photo. Here you see the photo wasn't well taken, i couldn't care much about the photo at that point of time, i just wanted to devour that readily served chicken saltimbocca and absorb every single bit of protein and flavor in there. I dipped the roll in the sauce and excited stuffed it in my mouth.
The romans were not lying, it was good. Damn good. I swear my eyes went half shut and my vision went blurry. The tender meaty texture of the chicken complimented the nutty saltiness of the Parma and the delightful aroma of the parmesan-ed spinach in absolute harmony. The soury consume-like sauce amplified the taste and awakened my buds. It was then that made me consider renewing my faith in female chefs, not being sexist or whatsoever, but my luck with female chefs' recipes were over-hyped or lacking in flavor. But god, Giada is HOT.

So my Saturday is now complete. I have guard duty tomorrow and my mates are wanting drinks tonight.. decisions decisions!

Next post on Tuesday, it is my special OFF day.

Note: Main picture obtained from Giada's webpage -

That ass-fucked time of the year

It is the peak period in-camp and the army marathon training phase has begun. My offs will be burnt and my weekends will be made shorter. 5 3/4 days in camp, shagness personified. Worst still, i am booking in tomorrow night for guard duty, sucks be to me. Life's now a bitch, 11 months more otherwise. Nevertheless, in the unexplainable motivation from my passion, the project and my personal chef course will undoubtedly continue.

Until tomorrow, thank you for your patience, ciaozers.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pasta alla norma "V"

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
This is a classic Sicilian dish they have really commonly there. Pasta alla norma is actually aubergine pasta, or eggplant or brinjals or whatever you call it. Little did i know, Sicilian aubergines are huge, firm, very flavorful and are constantly in season. Being the smart alec that my alter ego is, I substituted the very amazing Sicilian aubergines for the NTUC Singaporean aubergines. Not to mention they were 4 teeny weeny ones, in which i probably need 7-8. Oh god. I must have forgotten this was an AUBERGINE PASTA.

Anyways, yes I butchered it. With the tomatoes overwhelmingly overpowering the aubergines, my lovely Pasta alla norma became Pasta alla normal bolognesely. Being a true gentlemen, I got roasted ribs in bbq sauce for everybody, hahahaha. And it ended.. happily ever after.

There is absolutely no doubt i will REDO THIS. 2 semi-screwed up dishes this week, next week must be better!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Zucchini Minestrone(sorta) "IV"

Got up at 8am and rushed to the Sunrice Academy with a post long island tea effect in my head. I knew i shouldn't have gone anywhere the night before my much anticipated Private and Personal Chef training course, but 5 days of funlessness and uglychicksiness in the jungle and in camp made it seem inevitable.

I was told to make lunch by 1345, my sister's got tuition, in which i got home at 1230 and was still feeling light headed.

1245: I was testing and admiring my new set of knives i got from the course.

1300: Still testing and admiring the knives. And safe keeping my new jacket.

1305: Now flipping my sous books, sloooowly over a cup of coffee.. finding lunch.

1315: Woken up from my drunken stupor and realized its not 1215.

1316: Found the fastest and easiest recipe, zucchini soup. Yes. Soup for lunch. Ran to the mall.

Note: You must be wondering how did i get to the mall and got back so quickly. I have a mall directly below my home, Compass Point.

1330: I begin washing and roughly chopping everything. Proceeded to making the stock and broke the spaghetti into pieces. Everything in double time.

1345: Mom and sis got home. They were looking angry.

1350: Lunch was ready. Everybody happy. Lunch was soup. Everyone's faces became poop. Situation Wrap: spaghetti bits were too long, stock is a little light and basil was skimpy. Viola! Half-fucked minestrone. Surprisingly(i swear), it was okay, not bad at all, though it could have gotten way better. But it only made them more hungry, exactly like having an appetizer for lunch.

1400: They had their lunch and scurried off, i was in sweat and in tomato stains, but something told me i had to lay on the couch with the tv for abit. So i did and subconsciously, i went flirting with the zee monster, got knocked out later, got my all energy drained and there went my Saturday.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunday Nights

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
I have a week long mission starting tomorrow.. thats all for this week. Going back to camp. God this sucks.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bacon Aglio Olio with Basil and Parsley, "III"

Nothing fairly spectacular today. Woke up at 8 in the evening after spending 24 hours at the wake, feeling particularly tired and hungry. So i started ravaging the fridge for a abit.. having to find a proportionally decent amount of ingredients for a simple classic Italian dish i used to make for a nice lady friend of mine on a weekly basis. I swear i have had this recipe on my finger tips pretty much by now. So i boiled pasta, chopped garlic and herbs, fried bacons, cracked chilli flakes - that was it, all done nonchalantly in no time at all.. only to find out my pasta was undercooked. Didnt taste bad nonetheless. Guess i still need more rest, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Risotto con pancetta, salvia e parmigiano "II"

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
My granny has just passed away and everyone at home's on a not so unmoody mood. To add to that, my ingenius domestic maid fixed us a lunch of boiled pasta with "campbells vegetable tomato soup" sauce which was inevitably, horrid. I dumped the shit away after a spoon, my siblings very unwillingly and amazingly had half of it. There wasnt a trace of happiness on their faces since, not to mention myself. Can't blame the maid can i? She know nuts about pasta. Then why did she cook pasta? Momentarily, after a series of angry questions in my mind and like a slap on my face, i thought i could do something about it.

I immediately made my way down to mall and to search for a couple of comforty ingredients. Browsed my sous books when "Pancetta, sage and parmesan risotto" glowed brightly and blinded my eyes. My brother loves rice and lil sister gets all smiley when she has bacon in her mouth, so it shouldn't go wrong.

And no nothing went wrong, though it was hard work (if you tried making a risotto from scratch you will know what i mean). It went in your mouth like an ocean of creamy smoky dancing grains scattering sage bouquets while having a subtle but sophisticated perfume that raises your eyebrows almost immediately. I naughtily added a splash of dry vermouth for the kick to it and substituted sage for the dried ones to match the martini. It was unusually creamy and the delightful aroma of the pancetta and sage blended so perfectly together. To sum it all up perfectly, i dripped a couple of e.v.o.o on the completed dish to fuse and compliment all the flavours together making it an absolutely joy to tuck into. All smilies after that. Haha!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Insalata di Caprese - 23rd June 07

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
It was Roy's big birthday. I strangely volunteered to cook for his birthday function, catering for 30 people at a birthday-special low fee. I didn't know why I did that seriously, till now I am still sulking about it.

There was this recipe i got straight up from Jamie's Italy, insalata di caprese or capri salad, that looked amazing and "imaginatingly" mouth watering and i had always wanted to try.
Since there were ample morzzarella balls for the catering, i stole 2 of em to fix my whiny "kitchen's-a-mess-get-out" mom.
By doing the Capri Salad.
It was a blast.
Soury goodness of the tomatoes infused with oily herby sensations from the pesto all summed up with a nice creamy melt in your mouth fresh morzzarella.
Best of all, it was easy peasy.
I ripped the morzzarella into pieces, chopped some tomatoes, worked some basil and e.v.o.o(extra virgin olive oil) in the pestle'n'mortar, drizzle in my dressing and vioLa! pacified mom the instant she had a spoonful in her mouth, leaving her speechless and walking back into her room.
Must have worked.

So it begins

Originally uploaded by uncle_bleu
Here we go!
I hope im not doing this on impulse, i plan to finish this.
Everything thats gonna happen next will depend on my safekeeping of these books. I call them my "sous" books or personal assistant books. Written in there are a series of mind blowing and electrifying recipes i have painfully and carefully selected from thousands of cookbooks and articles. Ok, it was only a hundred maybe, but it seriously felt like a thousand.