The Trattoria Project and Spectaculars: May 2008

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Evaluation Three, Messing with Meat

The stakes are steaks, meat fanciers are in the house and their support is crucial. I'm doing two dishes, one I bet my life on after months of refining, the other a menu tryout recipe that popped out of my mind a night before. It was tougher than I thought. Every inch of my lesser than average household kitchen was exploited and the atmosphere felt like that of a melting war zone. Sauces were spilled and fingers were burnt. But I like it so it's cool.


Fernandez, the seemingly amiable pinoy music teacher and Audrey, lady of prose. The meat whiners and diners.

Coming back to track my progress is Jon, deep thinker of food?

First Dish. Recipe from a dream:
Pork Shoulder Butt Steak with Burnt Butter Apple Sauce and Spicy Sweet Potato Mash
Fernandez: 8/10. "This is unique and the sauce is delicious. It is great to start with, but the experience goes downhill from there."
Audrey: 8/10. "Rainbow-phoric! This is so colorful. And that sweet potato mash is really good."
Jon: 8/10. "Lacking of focus. Nonetheless, it's a good combination!"

And the very refined,
Eye Fillet of Beef with Succotash X, Pomme Puree Y and Sauce Espagnole

Fernandez: 8.5/10. "If this is a well-marbled Kobe, it would be a 10. Otherwise, this is perfect."
Audrey: 9.5/10. "Quite perfect."
Jon: 9.5/10. "So good... Keep it up but don't get complacent, bitch."

You please the musicians and the musicians politely please you. Please, no puns.

I just did eye surgery and doc tells me to abstain from cooking for a week or two. Sorry if this is a rush, my eyes need rest. See you soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Steak, Eggs and a Tomato Nightmare

I have come to realize that cooking Italian every time is as boring as committing to a lifetime of oneitis. Same applies when any particular cuisine is repeatedly cooked for a long time. In fact, I am currently traumatized by tomatoes. Everything about it is scary, from the color to the taste to that uncanny looking vine. Time out, Italian cuisine.

When I can't sleep at night, it is usually because of two things. One of them is when a picture of 10 feet giant tomatoes crushing my hometown is lingering in my crazy little head. The other is when the food craving like that of a bulimic supermodel erupts so violently that I become slightly catatonic.

On a particular sleepless night during a military mission, the pathetic and overly abused kid that is my little stomach cries out loud for steak and eggs. "So why won't you give it to me? A little plate will do just a little of that will be just fine damn it," cries the stupid kid. But what that angry imbecile didn't know was that I am somewhere in the middle of a heavily forested jungle trying to protect my life by fending off commando-like mosquitoes and stinging spiders. It leaves me no choice but to bitch slap the kid and have it make do with the disgusting field rations.

Mission ends, I finally get to go home, for three consecutive days it was steak and eggs. On the first day of this insanity, I made good old all-American steak and eggs, pan seared sirloin with sunny side ups. Not bad, but the flavors were dead raw. So on the second day, I went eccentric, I fried chinese long beans and shiitakes with flank steak marinated in oyster sauce, garlic, pepper and dark soy. On top is poached egg drizzled with pan jus. Good flavors, but my greedy innate hunger for perfection demoralizes me. It says it's good but not mind blowing.

So behold. My perfected recipe for steak and eggs. Ponzu honey glazed skirt steak on asparagus and bean salad with poached egg, shaved daikon and sweet sherry vinaigrette, drizzled with truffled oil. It sounds motley crazy but what do you know, it totally satisfies my shit. Ponzu and truffle unites with a secret ingredient.
Maybe my expectations won't meet yours. But for what it's worth, this plate of my favorite kind of steak and eggs will go at SGD$12. Wait for my Trattoria.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Evaluation Two, Home-style Italian

Now that things are gradually getting back in shape, I have found time on a Friday evening to keep my tasting dinners going. That is with the help of two of my long time, almost blood related(ok, not really) and obviously food-loving friends.

Van and Vig

Van is the ex-navy lady specialist who didn't hesitate to give a full forced, body battering slap to my sorry ass when I once refused to leave a club because I had too much to drink. Also, she has a secret recipe for a sambal paste that is potent enough to raise the dead and it is something I strongly believe everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. Lawfully inseparable to her is Vig, my partner in crime during the days working at a nightclub, mocking losers and getting stupidly delirious together when the booze is free. Vig is heavily traumatized by the pasta in Singapore, which is totally understandable, and therefore he won't be commenting on any of the pasta dishes.

They are testing three rustic home-style dishes, the very basics of the Italian cuisine, to see if my months of trial and errors has come to any good.


This is my take on a Pomodoro Bruschetta. I used a softer bread and an additional element to the tomato marinate. Topped with rocket leaves and shaved pecorino.

Van: 9/10. "Deliciously fresh. I'm not big with raw vegetables but this is really good. Although I must say I'd still prefer the crunchy type of bread."
Vig: 8/10. "This is a must have starter for any Italian restaurant, but I wished the portions were smaller. Keep the bread soft, it works."


Spaghetti Meatball. I screwed up one this one when I left the pasta too long to cook and it became a little under al dente. I was quite reluctant to serve it out but they insisted so here are the comments anyway.

Van: 8/10. "This meatball is satisfyingly light! Ones outside are too heavy."
Vig did not have any pasta, ate all the meatballs and the extra ones instead.

Adapted from Chef John's recipe at, this is the famous Chicken Parmesan. I made this because I was craving for some fried chicken but I got too full at the end to enjoy.

Van: 8/10 "Nice sauce. I'm happy with this."
Vig: 7/10 "CHEESY CHICKEN DELIGHT, now where's the beer?"

If you think you've a good palate and got what it takes to give a good critique, contact me at the side bar on the left and we might arrange something. See ya soon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What happens if chicken soup don't work anymore?

I'm down with a nasty cold again and nothing makes me feel better like piping hot and sour Italian stew down my tummy. My blurry mind will then rejuvenate and my frigid appetite will revitalize. A feeling like this can only be subtly compared to that of being captivated in the midst of a three second orgasm or receiving a two minute blow job.

A good stew when I am sick is like a small miracle, some like good old chicken soup, but it comes to a point when you grow tired of that shit because you have been subconsciously having it in your sauces, risotto, pasta, etc all the time. Try the stew, you will regret nothing. Maybe it's just me but I think a stew gets ten times better when you can scoop up tiny little bits of starch(rice, couscous, risoni, etc.) to munch on. I know, I'm being a big baby but I can bet you a bunch of people out there will secretly agree with me behind their computer screens. Thanks, I know I'm right.

The following stew is very good for you.

Sicilian Calamari Stew with Okra and Olio Santa
serves 2

200g Calamari, cleaned and sliced
6 Medium Okras, top removed, sliced on bias
400g Canned Diced Tomatoes
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp Capers
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 cup Couscous, Rice or Risoni
Scallions for garnish
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Olio Santo or Chili Oil

- In a medium saucepan, saute garlic and Okras with a touch of EVOO until garlic turns golden brown. Season.
- Add tomatoes, capers, oregano and bring to boil. Simmer 10 mins.
- Add couscous and calamari. Simmer further 10 mins.
- Season and serve with Olio Santo and Scallions. Great with bread.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Trattoria Project Revamps!

I hope you like the new design. Because I do. Check back for more high quality posts later this week. Cheers :)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This is how breakfast-in-bed should look like.

It should also be messy and soul satisfying. It should make her hungry for some more. Breakfast-in-bed must be done fast. Don't have her waiting too long. Because when she comes to the kitchen it's breakfast-in-bed no more! Do it in ten minutes, love is in the air chemistry is smooth, you hit her buttons right, your competency sparkles her eyes, she gets to work on time. Fifteen minutes, you're trying she apprehends, you receive her benefit of doubt. Sixty minutes, you're trying too hard, game over, she thinks she slept with a loser who had never done breakfast-in-bed before but you got laid so you win anyhow.

Scrambled eggs and sausages maybe a good bet, but it is cliche. How about toast and butter? It shows how boring you are. Express fast food delivery? Great but transfer the food to the plates fast and don't make a sound, open the door before delivery guy hits the doorbell, fry some water in your pan to sound like you're busy. Too much trouble. Sod it, tell her you can't cook and it's not a big deal. It is not a big deal. Unless you're wanting to impress to go further. Then this is what you could do:

Breakfast in Bed - 8-10mins

Ingredients - 1 Egg, bunch of Salad Leaves(I used rockets, what's new), Fresh Mushrooms(Shittake in picture), 4 Bacon Strips, 2 slices of Bread, EVOO, Salt & Pepper.
Optional: Truffle Oil, Thyme Leaves.

0-30 secs: Get pan hot. Get your ingredients ready.
30secs-1min: Sear bacon strips in hot pan. Put bread in toaster.
1-4mins: Get a separate pan hot, add a touch of oil and fry an egg. Season egg. Take it out when it's cooked, set aside. Flip bacon when underside turns crispy brown. Remove bread from toaster and spread thinly with butter if preferred.
4-6mins: Using remaining oil from the pan you cooked the egg, saute mushrooms with a whole crushed clove of garlic and with thyme leaves. Saute for about 1 min on high heat, season and set aside discarding the garlic. Remove bacon(it should be crispy by now) and set aside on paper towels.
6-10mins: Put toast on the middle of a plate. Lay egg on top. Scatter with salad leaves, mushrooms and bacon. Drizzle with truffle oil. Good to go.

If this is too difficult, then wait for my upcoming quickie posts for more super fast recipes.