Friday, March 15, 2013
When it comes to dating my other half, I try not to take things for granted. Love expressed through my food, although easily appreciated and never expected, is always a journey of thought and mindfulness. There are things we both like to eat and then others only I would bother with. I try not to venture to the latter too often. And when there are those little moments where I manage to turn him towards things he thought he would not enjoy as much, I dance a little inside and claim what small victory I'm given.
Throughout the 3 years of this cook and tell endeavor, I'm thankful for his support. The never ending taste test, honest critiques, tiresome photo shoots, occasional breakdowns in the kitchen, dirty dishes duties; his knees are as deep as mine in this. The broken camera, the new camera, and now, with an upcoming adventure, a storeroom turned amateur photo studio. We may be chest deep soon, and he gladly plays along, investing for more than what you will see here.
Without doubt, food will remain one of those things strengthening our bond, a crucial constant and serious pursuit in our lives as a couple. Here I share what I made for our belated Valentine's Day dinner at home, quietly savored with our favorite wine, to return the favor of an incredible foot massage I received on the day. I'm aware it's a month late, but as you know, it's never too late to share love.
Fennel Squid-Ink Pasta with Baked Cod
Adapted from Saveur's Squid Ink Pasta with Salt Cod Confit
Serves 4 to 6
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, place the cod fillets on a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper, coat with a light drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.
- 4 fillets of individual serve cod, about 350-450 grams each
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ pound dried black squid-ink pasta (angel hair, spaghetti or linguine works well)
- 1½ teaspoons crushed red chile flakes
- 15 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and grated on the large holes of a box grater
- Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Heat oil in a heavy base skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs, a pinch of salt and pepper; cook until golden, about 6–8 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Put the prepared fish into the oven and cook till just done, about 7-8 minutes. Generously salt the boiling water and add the pasta, cook until al dente, about 8–9 minutes.
When pasta is just about done, heat remaining reserved oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the chili flakes, garlic, and fennel and cook until soft, about 2–3 minutes. Drain the pasta and remove the fish from the oven. Add pasta to the pan, zest and juice of the lemon, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, coating the pasta well. Dish onto serving plates, place cod fillets on top. Garnish with bread crumbs and roasting juices from the baked fish.
Silky Chocolate Pudding
Adapted barely from Smitten Kitchen's Best Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4 to 6
Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top bowl of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over just simmering water and whisk occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon (similar to cooking a custard), add in the chocolate. Continue whisking until the pudding is smooth and thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- 25 grams cornstarch
- 100 grams sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups/705 ml whole milk
- 200 grams good quality 70% bittersweet chocolate (chopped or chips)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes. I don't mind pudding skin, so I cling wrap over the top of the serving dish(es) before refrigerating. If you dislike pudding skin, place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Pudding keeps up to 3 days (yes, we got dessert covered for the week, win!).
Life Is Great explores the incredible world of food and cooking. We hope to share with you our most delicious moments and inspirations.
“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
“Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion.”
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- Salted Egg Prawns
- Kai Tan Koh/Ji Dan Gao (Steamed Egg Cake, 鸡蛋糕)
- Char Siu (Cantonese Barbecued Pork)
- Gordon Ramsay's Perfect Scrambled Eggs
- Lemon Meringue Tart (Tarte au Citron Meringuée)
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- Hong Kong Part II: Zongzi/Bakchang (粽子/肉粽)
- Caffè HABITŪ (the table) at G.O.D. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Part I
- Australia 2010 Part 1: Melbourne
- Bourke Street Bakery, Sydney
- Il Fornaio, St Kilda
- Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne