Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fine Dining At Home 3/3 - Sage-scented Rhugs Estate Pork Tenderloin

Home plating - much room for improvement!
But I daresay my sous-vide pork tasted better than the one I ate at the event.
And here's the third recipe - Sage-scented Rhugs Estate Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients for prune compote
150g fresh pitted prunes
100 ml whiskey
100 ml water

Ingredients for Scotch eggs
4 quail eggs
1 large egg
20g flour
100g minced pork
20g bread crumbs
1 shallot
1 garlic clove

Ingredients for celeriac puree
1 Celeriac (can be replaced by any hard and root vegetables)
150 ml chicken stock
20g butter

Ingredients for pork tenderloin
100g pork fat net (I skipped this)
1/2 bunch fresh sage
2 rhugs estate pork tenderloin, whole

Ingredients for sauce
1 shallot
1 garlic clove
150g mixed wild mushrooms chopped
250ml whiskey
200ml chicken stock
100ml veal stock (I replaced with beef stock)
100ml double cream

Method for prune compote
1. Roughly chop the prunes.
2. Add into a vacuum pack bag along with whiskey and water.
3. Seal the bag and place in a water bath for 45 min at 65C.

(Note to self: skip step 1 to get whole prunes which look better when plated)

Method for Scotch eggs
(This was super yummilicious and it's worth the effort and time!)
1. Boil the quail eggs in water for 3 minutes, then take out and leave to cool. (I did 2 minutes and still didn't get runny yolks that I wanted. Will try 1 min 20 secs next attempt, as advised by another chef)
2. Season the minced pork with salt and pepper and add any dried herbs and mix well.
3. Take 1 spoonful of the minced pork and place it flat on a board.
4. Peel the egg and put in the center of the minced pork then fold the pork all over the egg and place in the fridge.
5. After an hour, remove the eggs from the fridge and coat with bread crumbs. (Just realised I missed this step!)
6. Dip the wrapped quail in flour, then into a bowl of whisked egg, and finally the bread crumbs again.
7. Deep fry for 2 minutes and set aside.

Method for celeriac puree (I made carrot puree instead)
1. Peel the celeriac and chop up roughly.
2. In a saucepan, add a little butter and the celeriac.
3. Season with salt and stir for 2 minutes.
4. Add 150ml chicken stock and top up wtih water to just cover celeriac.
5. Slowly cook for 1 hour, then quickly cook out the rest of the liquid. (Chef tip: simmer to reduce liquid instead of throwing it away.)
6. Blitz in a bar blender until you have a smooth puree. (Chef tip: must be fully cooked to get smooth puree)

Method for pork tenderloin
1. Lay the pork fat net (stomach lining) flat, then place the sage leaves all over the fat and lay the pork on top.
2. Roll the pork twice in the fat.
3. Add a little oil to a frying pan to cook the pork
4. Season the pork and seal in the pan all over until golden brown.
5. Add a spoon of butter and baste the pork evenly for around 8 min until medium well, then remove from pan.
6. Remove excess fat from the pan but keep it to make the sauce.

As the pork I ate at the event was dry and tough, I decided to sous vide my tenderloin instead of using the above method. 56C for 3 hours, and I got amazingly moist medium pork. My friend who has not eaten pork in a decade, emptied her plate - what a testimony to sous vide.

You know, sous vide is so simple and makes your diners think you can cook like a professional chef. It's so easy I feel like I'm cheating!

Method for sauce
1. Chop the shallot and crush the garlic.
2. Saute them, along with the mushrooms, in the same pan you used for the pork.
3. Add the whiskey (to deglaze) and reduce to a syrup.
4. Now add the stocks and cream, and reduce until a nice glossy sauce is formed.

My sauce turned out too liquid although the taste was acceptable. Felt like there was no time for the reduction to occur when the meat was already being plated and getting cold. Will have to try this again.

Method for plating
1. Place the Scotch egg at the back of the plate.
2. Place dots of celeriac puree all round the edge of the plate.
3. Place 1 spoon of prune compote in the center of the plate.
4. Slice the pork and add the desired amount on top of the prunes.
5. Spoon over the sauce and ready to serve.

Additional chef tip: heat oil very very hot and deep fry small sage leaves for 10 seconds to get dried sage for crisp and maximum flavour, and use it as a garnish on the puree.

I would say the Scotch egg is a must-try - it tasted superb with a lovely Tonkatsu kind of crunch and gooey inside. Sage and pork are also a winning combo to note. Overall, another tedious recipe worthy of your time, effort and attention.

Click here to see
The MasterChef class event where Chef Lee Bennett presented these 3 recipes
First recipe: Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with olive oil sorbet and lime vodka jelly
Second recipe: Pan-fried Scottish Salmon with basil pesto, citrus powder and olive oil dust

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fine Dining At Home 2/3 - Pan-fried Scottish Salmon

 Here's Recipe 2 from Chef Lee Bennett of Equinox Restaurant at Swissotel Stamford in Singapore:

Pan-fried Scottish Salmon with Warm Salad of Beetroot

I got my friends to plate their own dishes - you can tell none of us will make it to Masterchef, but it sure added much more fun to the evening.

If you think the list of ingredients for the first dish was too long, wait till you see this one, with an even longer list in the method. Ready?

Ingredients for citrus powder and olive dust
5 oranges
2 lemons
200g pitted black olives

Ingredients for pan fried Scottish salmon and warm salad of beetroot
2 Charlotte potatoes, large
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 garlic cloves
2 beetroot, large (note to self: just need one)
1 fennel, small
3 radish
1 bunch of wild rocket and frisee
4 x 150g salmon, centre cut

Ingredients for basil pesto
2 bunches of fresh basil
2 garlic cloves (I used 4)
150ml olive oil
100g toasted pine kernels
100g grated parmesan

Method for citrus powder and olive dust
1. Peel orange and lemon skin onto a metal tray.
2. Place in the oven at max 80C and leave overnight. (Totally dehydrate for maximum flavour)
3. Cut the olives into half on to a separate tray and leave to dry with the oranges.
4. Use a clean blender to blend the olives into coarse bits.

Old world charm vs new world food processor

Method for panfried Scottish salmon and warm salad of beetroot
1. Place potatoes to cook in gentle simmering salted water
2. Add some garlic and rosemary. (Optional: Leave in water for up to 2 days for flavour)
3. Once cooked, refresh in cold water and peel the skin off, then dice into 1cm cubes

4. Pour some rock salt on a baking tray, pierce the beetroot and place onto the salt.
5. Cover the tray with a layer of tin foil and cook in the oven at 150C for around 90 minutes. (I cooked for 120 min and they were still too crunchy. Note to self: will increase temp to 200 next time or boil to soften before putting into oven.)
6. Once cooked, remove skin and dice into 1cm cubes. (Store separately from potatoes as they stain.)

7. Thinly shave the fennel and radish into ice cold water using a mandolin.
8. Pick through the wild rocket and frisee, wash and pass through a salad spinner.
9. Put the beetroot and potato into a bowl together and season lightly, dress with olive oil, a pinch of the citrus powder and olive dust.
10. Mix the greens with the fennel and radish, then add a drizzle of olive oil.
11. Season the salmon with salt. (Oops, just realised I didn't do this and it tasted fine!)
12. Add a drizzle of oil into a hot non-stick pan.
13. When hot, place salmon on the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. (I did one minute on each side to avoid flaky salmon which I don't enjoy. At one minute, I got just past the sashimi stage.)
14. Remove salmon from the pan.

As a side tip, Chef suggested you can add crisp and crunch to the dish by grilling the salmon skin. 60C in the oven overnight. 

Method for basil pesto (key to this dish)
1. Pick the basil.
2. Blanch in boiling water for 30 secs then refresh in ice water.
3. Once cold, remove and squeeze water out completely
4. Place into blender with minced garlic, olive oil, pine kernels and parmesan
5. Blend to a smooth paste. (I blended to rather coarse so I could still bite on the little chunks of nuts which I love)

My pesto was a big hit that night. We ended up eating everything with the pesto, and my friend even placed an order with me! Expensive but oh so very healthy and delish.

The beauty of toasted pine kernels

My big hit that night - home-made pesto with fresh basil from the garden

1. Spread the basil pesto on a plate in a circular movement.
2. Add 2 Tbsp of the beetroot and ptoato onto the plate followed by a handful of the salad.
3. Top with the salmon then sprinkle the citrus powder and olive dust around the plate.
4. Ready to serve.

So, have I tired you out just reading the ingredient list? For me, I was inspired to try it and found it worth the colossal effort and every minute of my time, and highly rewarding to be feeding my friends good food, real food. Sick as it sounds, I would do this all over again.

Up Next: Recipe 3 Sage-scented Pork Tenderloins

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fine Dining At Home 1/3 - Chilled Tomato Gazpacho

I told you about the DBS Indulge MasterChef Class I attended and the recipes I would share when I attempted them myself. Well, this is the colossal effort dinner - to an extra virgin chef, this feels like a 100-step and a 100-ingredient recipe. I'll share everything with you but it probably needs to break into a few posts!

Not for the faint-hearted.

Ready? Let's go.

Recipe 1 Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with Lime Vodka Jelly and Spanish Olive Oil Sorbet (serves 4)

Ingredients for gazpacho
2 red peppers
1 shallot
3 Tbsp tomato puree
3 garlic cloves
1 cucumber
1 kg over ripe tomatoes
1 stick lemongrass
1/2 bunch basil
Few sprigs coriander
1 litre tomato juice
Sherry vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce

Ingredients for olive oil sorbet
100 ml EVOO
30 ml natural yoghurt
200 ml stock syrup
2 lemons (zest and juice)

Ingredients for lime vodka jelly
200 ml plain vodka
200 ml water
4 limes
6 leaves of gelatin

Method for gazpacho
1. Sweat peppers and shallot until soft, then add puree and cook for a couple of minutes.
2. Peel and chop the garlic and cucumber, as well as chop the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
3. Add the pepper mix, season well with salt, sherry vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
4. Marinade overnight.
5. Remove lemongrass before blitzing and pass through a large-hole strainer at least twice.
6. Adjust seasoning, spice and ensure it is well chilled.
7. Serve cold on cold plates (my own notes).

Use the lemongrass as a stirrer! But remember to remove when blitzing.

Method for olive oil sorbet
1. Pour the olive oil, yoghurt and stock syrup into a mould along with the zest and juice from the lemons.
2. Churn to make sorbet and serve immediately or freeze (my own notes as his didn't make sense to me)

Method for lime vodka jelly
1. Place vodka and water into a vacuum pack bag along with lime rind and slices of lime.
2. Seal and place into water bath at 50C for 40 minutes.
3. Take out and leave to infuse for as long as possible (make in advance and leave for future use).
4. Soak gelatin leaves inside ice cold water.
5. Heat up 1/10 of the liquid and whisk in the gelatin leaves until all have disintegrated.
6. Whisk that liquid back into the vodka and leave inside the fridge for at least 5 hours.
(Own notes: I didn't understand steps 5 & 6 and basically just did my own jelly after the water bath.)

My sous vide machine came in handy. 
The flavour of the gazpacho was amazing, and I've decided this is my go-to recipe for all tomato soup! Bennett expressed surprise that cold soup hasn't taken off in hot and humid Singapore. Well, I'm a convert now, but I think most locals still prefer their soup warm if not hot.

The sorbet and jelly, while keeping the soup temperature down, also lifted the game, otherwise it would be just another tomato soup. There is enough in the recipe to keep for future use. It differentiates your dish from home cooking, and it's worth all the effort.

Up Next, Recipe 2 - Pan-fried Scottish Salmon with Warm Salad of Beetroot. Look out for the basil pesto recipe which was a hit with my diners that night. Plus how to make citrus powder and olive dust!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I call this Avo-egg-cado. Or shall I call it EVC-cado?

Just 200 degrees Celsius for 15 mins to get creamy, gooey, baked eggs with avocado.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

He showed me that food has the power to inspire!

"It's about your own taste, what you like," said Lee Bennett. Thus began last week's session at the DBS Indulge, a dining programme that has run for 2 successful years to savour creations and learn culinary arts from renowned chefs.

Lee Bennett, a highly-acclaimed chef with numerous awards to his name, helms the kitchen at Equinox Restaurant, Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore. He towered over the counter in the signature kitchen of the Asian Food Channel studio at Orchard Central, with the various mise-en-place laid out by his efficient crew, many of whom are young, ambitious chefs  determined to prove themselves. Before him were 30 cooking enthusiasts, food bloggers or just people who have a pure love for food, all seated around in small groups of fours or fives.

"Cold soup should be taking off in this hot weather," Chef says as he introduces the first dish, worthy of its long title -

Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with Lime Vodka Jelly and Spanish Olive Oil Sorbet

Not having had my dinner yet, I was pleasantly surprised to be served the food as I had thought it was only a cooking demonstration. Food tastes best when you're hungry! With much anticipation, I tucked in to find a beautiful gelatin of vodka lime jelly in my cold soup. The flavours from the sorbet burst in my mouth and I was immediately happy. I was ready to hear more of what he had to say.

Next up, his signature dish - Pan-fried Scottish Salmon with Warm Salad of Beetroot

Wild salmon - a protein rush to my brain and I already feel smarter. You know, some things are taught and some things are caught - so you really have to be there in person to see and hear him. He willingly offered many nuggets of culinary knowledge as he cooked, and I appreciated that. His passion was obvious and contagious and got me thinking about his food for the next few days.

When you cook with passion, even a basic pesto sauce can stimulate all your senses!

Another nugget he shared - slice off salmon skin, pop them in the oven at 60C before you go to bed, and wake up to find delicious salmon skin crackers to add texture to your dish.

His third creation - Sage-scented Rhugs Estate Pork Tenderloin

Wrapped in pork fat net, also known as the stomach lining as I've been told. My mom said her mother used to cook this way when they were growing up but that few butchers even know about this animal part now.

What was beautiful in particular were the Scotch Eggs - boiled quail eggs wrapped in minced pork! Delish! A must-try, I tell myself, and made sure I brought the recipe notes home.

His food was paired with Marabino wine also served at the Miele Guide Gala Dinner 2011 and World Gourmet Summit WRX Brunch 2011. They are from Sicily, Italy, are certified organic and biodynamic. The white - Insolia 2010 - is full-flavoured and very fresh on the palate. The red - Noto 2009 - is intense and attention-grabbing. I enjoyed both tremendously, in particular the red. And that's saying alot, coming from someone who normally prefers a white.

Unlike some celebrities who are more anxious to be done with the evening's job, Chef Bennett lingered on after the 3 presentations, and offered a surprise item. Flambed crepes! It's his belief to bring back the classics, and I'm with him on that!

I left making a mental note that I have to go to Equinox, if not to eat his food, at least to be infected by his passion again. An evening well-spent.

P/S: I will share the recipes when I try out these dishes myself!

Update: Here are the recipes!

Monday, September 3, 2012

An EVC Update

Hi everyone, I've not posted for more than a week, the longest since I first started this blog. Something's brewing! Yes, I have a major, major distraction up my sleeve. Can't tell you too much yet at this stage but I promise to tell you as soon as I can!

I'm still active on my Facebook page so do keep in touch with me there by clicking on this -

Keep well, keep safe, and keep cookin'!