The Trattoria Project and Spectaculars

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Really good(and easy) noodles. Recession friendly.. uhh.. relatively.

Ginger-infused Dark Noodles with Spicy Fried Eggplants

It's cold outside and you're broke and you've been surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week. I feel your pain. Let's get drunk on cheap whiskey like hobos, admire our trophy mantels and commit seppuku with a plastic knife.


I hope everyone is looking on the bright side somehow because everything happens for a reason. Like how my new restricted meal budget has expanded my creativity to make use with what I can afford and have them taste amazing. See, the recession isn't so bad after all, it allows us to settle down to reorganize our plans for a bit and realize the things we've been taking for granted and hiding from all these while. In other words, it's the right opportunity to make you a better person if you want to. Everyday is a new day to learn something. Start afresh tomorrow and be happy, because you can. (what? no applause?)

Spend less than ten bucks*, and serve really good noodles for four with the recipe I'm about to show you. It consists mainly of rice vermicelli, not the chinese dried type but the ones already cooked and packed in plastic wraps. If you can't find them, get Spaghetoni or Bucati, it works great as well.

* That's presuming you already have the spices and condiments at home.
** Okay, I might be wrong. But just to be fair, it costs SGD$8 in my country.

Hot, invigorating, saucy and absolutely luscious.

Ginger-infused Dark Noodles with Spicy Fried Eggplants
serves 4

1 pack of Rice Vermicelli or cooked Bucati
200g Minced Pork
3/4 cup Dark Sweet Soy (careful, don't get the over-salty ones)
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
2 tsp Shaoxing Wine or Sherry
1 thumb of Ginger, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 Tbsp Sesame oil
White Pepper
Corn or Olive Oil

4 small Japanese Eggplants or 1 large Eggplant, sliced lengthwise
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Cornstarch

Fried Shallots
Chives or Spring Onions

- Heat oil in a hot pan.
- Saute ginger for 3 mins. Add pork and saute for further 3 mins.
- Add wine, dark soy, soy sauce and rice vermicelli. Toss with tongs.
- Saute for 5 mins, until noodles are well coated with sauce.
- Discard ginger.
- Turn off heat, add sesame oil and white pepper.

- Salt eggplants and let rest for 15mins.
- Add spices and cornstarch, eggplants should be sticky now.
- In a saucepan, heat oil until relatively hot, fry eggplants in batches until they turn golden brown. Set to rest on wire rack.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday Night Happy

Seared Sea Scallops with Quail Eggs and Caper-Oregano Vinaigrette
on a bed of Corn and Brussel Succotash drizzled with Black Truffle Oil

If you're not on a tight budget, I'd say get bigger scallops! Because I will admit shamelessly now that I bought 3 medium sized ones and sliced them into half and they were not nearly as enjoyable as I thought they might be. To hell with the economic downturn! Not because uncle dee lost his stocks but because the food prices strangely went up again. So if anyone knows of a place for me to get inexpensive, wide-ranging and fresh produce in this tiny little island of ours, contact me with the details because I will be eternally f******* grateful and might even send you a tub of demi-glace that I'm about to make again.

Now that I have roughly avoided my cheapskate personality from being perceived, let us move on to the dish itself.

In all honesty, this is not an original creation. The root recipe came from the really expensive Gordon Ramsay Three Star cookbook. I had wanted to try this for the longest time, but the largest of excuses and procrastinations has always got the better of me. Till one f****** fine day, when I chanced upon a read at Zen Chef's blog, I had a boner.

I mean look at those scallops - so nice, so round, caramelized with that sexy little quail egg oh my god this is insane. Some call it food porn, I call it a boner.

A frantic, mind-drilling week awaits. Tonight I rest and not think of tomorrow. For tomorrow will be tomorrow itself. On the unusually calm night that is now, I converted the fantasy that gave me the boner into reality. And GOD it was good.

Adapted from a Gordon Ramsay recipe
serves 4

4 Large Fresh Sea Scallops, halved
1 tbsp Curry Powder
8 Quail Eggs
zest of 1 Lemon
knob of Butter
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

1 large knob of fresh Corn, kernels sliced off the cob
1 tbsp chopped Prosciutto di Parma or Pancetta
300g Brussel Sprouts, roots removed, julienned
1/2 cup Dry Vermouth or Sherry
1 knob of Butter
2 tsp of Cream
2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
tonnes of Black Pepper
Sea Salt

Caper-Oregano Vinaigrette
2 tbsp Capers, rinsed and dried
1 handful fresh Oregano, chopped
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 med Shallot, chopped
1 tbsp Champagne or White Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
1/2 cup of EVOO


Black Truffle Oil

-Subtly dust scallops with curry powder, salt and pepper.
-Lightly coat with zest.
-Get a pan searing hot, add butter.
-Sear scallops 30 secs a side, add a touch of EVOO to stop it from burning then further sear it for 15 secs.
-Remove immediately and let it rest on a wire rack.
Using a paring knife, tap on the tip of the quail's egg to crack. (unless u have tiny and sharp fingernails) Cook eggs on the same pan for 20secs, remove and set aside.

-Get a pan searing hot, add butter, garlic and prosciutto.
-When garlic starts to turn golden brown, add in corn and brussels. Toss. Saute for 2 mins.
-Add vermouth. Reduce. Season lightly with salt but lots of black pepper. Add a touch of EVOO if it looks like its starting to burn.
-Saute until brussels are tender, turn off heat.
-Stir in cream and set aside.

-Blitz everything in a blender for 1 min.
-To serve, spoon succotash on a plate, top with scallops then egg, then a dot of vinaigrette and drizzle with black truffle oil.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stayin' Alive (Ahhhh, Ahhh, Ahh, Ah.)

Everyone thinks I'm too lazy to update the blog. Fair enough. Guilty as charged. But just so you know, every time you think I'm bumming around, the stock market plunges. Look what happened, the world is heading for a global recession. Next time, think of something more positive, like "uncle dee must be busy with a hot chick". So for the sake of the global economy believe me when I say I am occupied with something because I really am.

Nonetheless, I haven't forsaken cooking. In fact, I'd cooked 16 times since the last post. 4 failed experiments, 3 ingenious creations, 4 adapted ones and 5 repeat recipes. 8 times out of 16 I couldn't be bothered to take a food photo. 3 times out of 16 I forgotten to charge the camera. Yes. I see your math is good, I have 5 new photos left.  

So now I present to you, my five recipes of Aug 12th - Oct 17th. Enjoy, cook for your love and make babies. Ciao.

Spicy Sausage and Okra Orzo
serves 4

2 cups Orzo
6 med links of Spicy Sausages, skin removed, diced
4 med Okra, sliced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 Pimento Peppers or Red Peppers, diced
1 large Onion, diced
1 heart of Celery, chopped
1/2 liter Chicken Stock and a little extra, just in case
1 handful fresh Sage Leaves
1/2 Tbsp Cumin
1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Red Chili Flakes
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Zest of 1 Lemon
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

- In a hot dutch oven, drizzle a little EVOO, brown sausages for few minutes then add onions, celery, tomatoes, sage, oregano, half of the paprika and cumin, pepper and a little salt. Saute 5 mins. Add in chicken stock and simmer for 20 mins. Drain mixture into a bowl to separate sausages and stuff from stock.

- In a hot pan, drizzle about 2 Tbsps of EVOO, add pimentos and okra and saute for a bit. Add in orzo, rest of the paprika and cumin, chili flakes and cayenne. Coat them with the hot oil and saute for 5 mins. 

- Using a ladle, pour in 2 scoops of stock and let the orzo absorb all the liquid before adding another scoop. Do this until the orzo's cooked to al dente. Takes about 15-20mins.

- When orzo is cooked, add in sausages and stuff to cook through. Turn off heat, drizzle in lemon juice. Check seasoning. Sprinkle lemon zest and a little olive oil for garnish. Serve. 

Pasta alla Norma
serves 4 

1lb Pancetta or Bacon
1 whole Eggplant or 4 mini Japanese Eggplants, sliced
200g Spaghetti 
1 can of Roma Tomatoes, crushed
2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
4 clove of Garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tsp Dried Oregano
2 tsp chopped Chili
1/2 cup Dry Vermouth or White Wine
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

- Boil pasta in salted boiling water for half the time it takes to cook. Drain and set aside. It should be hard in the middle.

- On a hot pan, render bacon fat. Takes about 10 mins on med-low heat.

- Using bacon fat, fry eggplants with chili, garlic, oregano and black pepper.

- When eggplants turn light brown, add in tomato puree, saute for further 5 mins. 

- Add white wine and deglaze bacon residue. 

- Add in pasta and crushed tomatoes. Simmer until pasta is al dente.

- Add EVOO. Season. Serve.

Ginger Ponzu Steak with Poached Eggs
serves 2

500g Skirt Steak
1 thumb of Ginger, shredded
2 Tbsp Ponzu
2 tsp Honey
Black Pepper

a handful of Haricot Verts, poached and sliced
a handful of Thai Asparagus, poached and sliced
a handful of Chives, sliced
1 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
Sea Salt 
Black Pepper

2 Eggs, cracked into two separate ramekins, yolk intact
Pot of boiling salted water
1 Tbsp Vinegar, any

- Preheat oven 180C.
- Marinate steak with all the ingredients for 15 mins.
- On a non-stick pan on medium, sear steak 2 mins a side. They caramelize quickly due to sugar content.
- Transfer steak into a sheet of aluminum foil, wrap it up and throw it in the oven for 5 mins.
- Remove from oven and let rest for another 5 mins. Slice them up.

- Toss.

Poached Eggs
- Stir the pot of boiling salted water with a spatula or whisk until you get a huge ass whirlpool. 
- Add vinegar.
- Carefully slide in the eggs one at a time and watch the egg whites magically wrap around the yolk.
- After 3 mins, remove the eggs gently with a slotted spoon.

Lay steak on plate, top with salad and then the egg. Slice the egg a little on the edge so all the yellow goodness comes out.

Grilled Miso Fish with Sweet Bunashimeji and Daikon Puree
serves 4

Miso Fish
4 White Fish Fillets, preferably Cod or Perch
2 Tbsp Miso
1 cup Mirin
2 Tbsp Sake or Rice Wine
White Pepper

200g Shimeji Mushrooms
1 med Shallot, sliced
1 clove of Garlic, peeled
1/2 cup Mirin
1/2 cup Kikkoman Soy
White Pepper

Daikon Puree
1 med Daikon Radish, skinned and diced
500ml Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 cup Milk
Sea Salt 
Black Pepper

Miso Fish

Preheat oven 200C.

In a saucepan, add mirin, miso and sake. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 5 mins.

Baste fish with miso mixture and allow it to marinate for at least 15mins. The longer the better. Best overnight.

In a hot pan, melt a knob of butter and sear fish 4 mins a side.

Finish it off in the oven for 5 mins.

Saute garlic and shallots in butter until golden brown. Add mushrooms and saute for 5 mins. Add mirin, soy and pepper. Reduce until sauce consistency. Discard garlic.

Daikon Puree
Poach daikon in boiling chicken stock for 15 mins. Drain, reserving some stock. Puree daikon and put it back in a saucepan on low heat. Add butter and milk. Stir for 5mins until most liquid have evaporated. Season.

Parmesan and Basil Crusted Chicken with a Fennel, Apple and Grapefruit Salad and Honey Soy Vinaigrette
serves 4

4 Boneless Chicken Breast, skin removed, pound to tenderize
1 Handful of Freshly Grated Parmesan 
2 cups of Panko Breadcrumbs
1 small bunch of Basil, chopped
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Flour
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

1 bulb of Fennel, shaved with a mandolin
2 Red Apples, julienned
1 large Grapefruit, peeled and 'supremed'
1 small bunch of Cilantro, chopped
1 tsp Whole Grain Mustard
Sea Salt 
Black Pepper

1 Tbsp Accacia or Orange Blossom Honey
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tbsp Malt Vinegar
2 tsp High Quality Soy Sauce
1 clove of Garlic, chopped
1 cup EVOO

- Pat dry breasts and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix Parmesan, Basil, Zest and Panko together and lay it out on a flat plate.
- Coat evenly with flour.
- Coat evenly with the beaten egg.
- Coat evenly with panko mixture. 
- Tap more crumbs on the chicken to ensure even coating.
- On a hot non stick pan, heat EVOO and sear chicken for 3.5 mins a side until brown and crispy. Keep in mind you do not want to overcook the chicken or undercook it, 3.5mins per side is a good timing for a relatively thick breast(like the one in the picture). 
- Set aside on a wire rack to cool.

- Put everything in a bowl and toss! Use your fairy fingers, be delicate.

- Whisk everything in a bowl.
- Taste. Add more soy if required.

Putting it altogether:
1. Make the vinaigrette.
2. Make the salad, chill in fridge.
3. Cook the chicken. 
4. When chicken is ready, slice it up and immediately serve with salad on top and drizzle vinaigrette.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seared Sea Scallops, Fresh Fruit Salad and Curry Vinaigrette

Life is good.

God I love fresh scallops. I don't really buy them because they cost like a bunch of trophy bitches on golden pedestals. But I bought some anyway because I was starving and my paycheck just got through. Now I can't afford train fare. But it's all good, I'll try my luck hitching rides from the sociopaths.

Seared Sea Scallops, Fresh Fruit Salad and Curry Vinaigrette
serves 4

12 medium sized Sea Scallops, organs removed
2 Granny Smith Apples, julienned
1 handful Baby Romaine Lettuce, wash and patted dry
1 handful Cashews, roasted
2 Blood Oranges, supremed
1 Tbsp Curry Powder
juice of 1 Lemon (2 Tbsps)
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

- Using a quarter of the curry powder, sprinkle lightly on scallops. Season. Sear in hot butter 45 secs a side. Set aside. Drizzle a little lemon juice. (2 tsps)

- Whisk rest of curry powder and lemon juice with EVOO. Season.

- Toss everything and serve.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last Minute Entertaining

Prosciutto Wrapped Snapper with Vanilla Oil

Ten minutes. Succulent fish, crispy aromatic wrap, sweet subtle oil, tart crunchy garnish - very satisfying indeed. Try.

Serves 4

2 Snapper or Perch Fillets, skinned
4 slices of Prosciutto di Parma
small handfuls of Baby Frisee and Radicchio
juice of 1/4 Lemon
1/2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp Orange Blossom Honey
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Vanilla Oil*

- Coat fillets with black pepper. Wrap each fillet with 2 slices of Prosciutto.
- Get a pan really hot. Add a dash of EVOO and sear fillets for 4 mins a side.
- While searing the fish, whisk L.J, honey, vinegar, EVOO, salt and pepper. Dress greens lightly.
- When fish is done, remove from pan and allow it to rest for 30secs.
- Slice fish, add greens on top and drizzle vanilla oil.

*If you can't find it anywhere then this is how you make it:
500ml Light Olive Oil
1 Vanilla Pod

- Score pod into half and drop it in a bottle of light olive oil for 3 days.

Can be stored for months. Shake before use.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Zucchini Pasta with Fried Silver Fish and Lemon Oil

Work has been keeping me insanely busy. If you haven't already know, I'm currently part of a hair salon to get enough funds for the Trattoria. We all know managing a hair salon has nothing to do with food, but in my eyes, it's a brilliant opportunity to learn the dynamics of leading a business structure effectively. Which in my opinion, is crucial for an ass-kicking Trattoria.

While I am not in the kitchen for the past few weeks, I have been gathering inspirations for new recipes and flavor, through nights of dining and days of lunch takeaways from the very delicious meals around my workplace.

I found sweet time to cook today. But this is no inspiration. I just wanted to eat some zucchinis.

serves 2

300g Spaghetti, cooked
100g Silver Fish
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp Crushed Pepper Flakes
1 cup Flour
Handful of Freshly Chopped Parsley
1 med Zucchini, julienned
1 cup Dry Vermouth
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 small Shallots, minced
1 large Red Chili, chopped
Lemon Infused Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

- Toss silver fish with salt, flour, half the zest, pepper and pepper flakes.

- Fry silver fish in hot oil until crispy, set aside.

- In a hot pan, saute garlic, shallots and chili in EVOO.

- Add in zucchini and saute for further 5 mins. Season.

- Add vermouth and let it reduce for 5 mins. Season.

- Add in rest of the zest, pasta and parsley, toss. Adding additional EVOO if necessary.

- Serve on plate with fried silverfish, drizzle lemon oil. Serve.