Warm family dinner: Fettucine with spicy meatballs!

I dare not call this an Italian dish because I don’t really know if they have “spaghetti and meatballs” in any authentic Italian kitchen or not (I guess it’s more of an American “invention”). Nevertheless, this is my own take on this “classic” dish and I promise this is a recipe that even Italians would love 😀 What’s brilliant about this dish is that the meat is so soft and succulent, the sauce well balanced and… it’s easy to make! You can do it in a big batch and just reheat when you need, so it saves a lot of cooking time as well. Now let’s get to the point.

*Ingredients: serves 4 people

– Meatballs:

  • 200 g minced pork
  • 200 g minced beef
  • 50 g bread crumbs
  • enough milk to soak the bread crumbs
  • 50 g parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 small shallot diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 300-400 g fettucine
  • fresh basil to garnish

– Tomato sauce:

  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml of beef stock
  • 1 diced shallot
  • 1 chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp basil, oregano, thyme

*Methods:

1. Warm the milk and soak the bread crumbs for 10-15 minutes.

2. Mix the meat well together with the spices, cheese and 1/2 of the diced shallots in a large bowl.

3. Add the soaked breadcrumbs and mixed thoroughly again.

4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let rest in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

5. Uncover the clingfilm and start forming the meatballs (the size is your choice)

6. Heat a non-stick pan with olive oil and start browning the meat.

7. In another pot, heat olive oil and stir-fry the garlic and shallots until fragrant.

8. Add the canned tomatoes and herbs.

9. Add the stock and turn heat on low , only simmering.

10. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook until the sauce is reduced to the right thickness!

11. Served with fresh fettucine. DONE!

Enjoy your meal!

 

Le Degustationator.

Twist and roll! Chicken roulade in spicy tomato sauce (Gà cuộn sốt cà chua cay)

I’ve seen people making this a lot. Actually, I haven’t seen anyone personally but I’ve seen Masterchef contestants making this dish … on the TV. No idea how it tastes like, not truly sure how to make it but I decided to give it a go, luckily it totally paid off! Absolutely on the mark to be honest. If you want something “gourmet-like” for a fancy dinner for 2, something warm, something healthy but flavourful, I highly recommend this dish. It isn’t so difficult as well, so much the better 😀 Here’s how things work. Oh by the way, it’s kinda my recipe, not that I’m a genius or anything but I just made up the combination of the stuffing inside the chicken breast and they totally worked together 😀

*Ingredients: serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts = 250-300 gr
  • 120 gr fresh baby spinach
  • 4 slices of parma ham/prosciutto
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 100 gr chopped tomatoes
  • 200 gr high-quality tomato sauce (Barilla Napoletana, Olives, Basilico, etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder
  •  olive oil

*Method:

1. Preheat oven to 150 oC.

2. Wash the baby spinach, quickly stir-fry with garlic and nutmeg powder in olive oil.

3. Drain all water out of the baby spinach, set aside.

4. Carefully butterfly the chicken breasts. Search youtube for a video teaching this technique.

5. Place a piece of cling film on the butterflied chicken breast. Pound until about 5 mm thin.

6. Remove the cling film and season the breast with salt and pepper.

7. Place two slices of prosciutto/parma ham on the end of each pounded chicken breast.

8. Place 1/2 of the spinach along the prosciutto.

9. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into thin, long slices. Lay on top of the spinach.

10. Place the chicken breast under a piece of cling film, roll and form a cylinder.

11. Roll again inside another piece of cling film, firmly tie the ends of the cling film to form a sausage looking chicken roulade.

12. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan until hot, then add the chicken roulades and cook for one minute on each side, or until golden-brown.

13. Transfer to the oven for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is just cooked through. (The chicken is cooked through when the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer.)

14. While waiting for the chicken roulade. In another sauce pan, heat olive oil and add the onion and garlic.

15. After 1 minute, add the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add sugar. Season with salt and pepper.

16. After 5 minutes on medium heat, transfer to a blender. Blend the sauce until smooth.

17. Spoon the sauce onto the plate, slice the chicken roulade and plate it up. DONE!

Hope you will enjoy it 🙂

Le Degustationator.

Back to childhood: Vietnamese stuffed and grilled tomatoes (Cà chua nhồi thịt)

I loved  this dish as a child and still love it now. One embarrassing memory was when I was 4-5 years old, one day, Mom decided to invite some guests over for lunch, she made this and since I was so so so hungry and I loved this dish so much (okay, I’m trying to make it sound more justifiable 😀 ) I decided to ate several pieces on the dish mom put on the table for the guests BEFORE they arrived!!! Mom was really angry I remember, lucky I didn’t eat all of them otherwise… let’s say it would get really messy and I mean really messy… for me and for her (mostly me 😦 probably ). Anyway, the point is this dish is simply beautiful. Large vine-ripe juicy tomatoes, stuffed with a fragrant and flavourful traditional Vietnamese filling that would blow your guests away. Even better, it’s HEALTHY! YAY!

*Ingredients:

– 600 gr minced pork

– 10-12 medium/large tomatoes

– 100 gr vermicelli

– 100 gr wood ears

– 100 gr sun-dried shiitake mushrooms

– 1 large onion

– 3 medium/large eggs

– 2 tbsp pepper

– Salt to taste

– 2 tbsp tomato puree (to thicken the sauce)

– 2 tsp sugar

– Chicken/Pork rib stock

*Method:

1. Soak the wood ears and mushrooms in warm water for 20-30 minutes in total to hydrate and soften them. Squeeze out all the dirt inside them and change the water every 10 minutes. Finely chop them or put in a food processor to save time.

2. Soak the vermicelli in warm water for 15 minutes. Change water once and soak for 10 more minutes until it’s soft. Cut into short threads. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

4. Finely chop the onion, mix together with the minced pork, wood ears, mushroom, vermicelli in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper, a little bit of sugar if you will. Add 3 whole eggs and thoroughly mix them. Set aside.

5. Cut the tomatoes in halves. Use a spoon with sharp edges, spoon out all the meat of the tomatoes and set aside in another bowl. They will be used to make the sauce later on.

6. Stuff the tomato halves with the meat. Lay them on a baking tray with the tomato side on the tray.

7. Bake the tomatoes for 45 minutes.

8. Blend all the meat of the tomatoes in a food processor into a smooth paste.

9. In a pan, add finely chopped onion, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tbsp of tomato puree and the tomatoes. Stir and add the chicken/pork rib stock to the sauce. If you need to thicken, add more puree. If you think it’s too sour, add a little bit more salt and stock, add a little more sugar. The sauce should not be too runny in the end.

10. Spoon the sauce over the grilled tomatoes and SERVE!

Enjoy 🙂

Le Degustationator.

Romantic for two: Tiramisu <3

Hi all!!! 😀 Haven’t been updating for a few days since I was on vacation in Croatia (warm, sunny and lovely beaches => huge thumb up ;D ), time for some new foodie post!

Ok so, I just watched Masterchef U.S a few days ago and recently discovered that “Tiramisu” in Italian means “pick me up” which is unbelievable. At this moment, I can’t think of a dessert that is more romantic than Tiramisu (sounds Japanese to me though :)) ). Oh by the way, you know, after a romantic dinner, you guys share this dessert and the caffeine might help you have the stamina to go to second and third base.. he…he…he…if you know what I mean :-” No but it’s really awesome, my first attempt and it turned out perfect. By the way, it’s really simply to make as well! Can’t get any better. Just to give you a better picture, this dessert is supposed to e perfectly light, creamy, not to sweet, not to bitter but very fragrant due to the espresso and coffee liquor. YUMMY!

Here is the baby ❤ (Modified version of Gordon Ramsay’s Tiramisu)

*Ingredients:

– 500g mascarpone
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 tbsp Coffee Liquor
– 300ml strong coffee or espresso, cooled to room temperature
– 180ml single cream
– 8 tbsp icing sugar
– 24 lady fingers biscuit
– Espresso powder, to dust
– Cocoa powder, to dust

*Methods:

1. Whisk the mascarpone with the vanilla and Coffee liquor and 50ml coffee, until everything is thoroughly mixed together.

2. Whisk the cream with the icing sugar until smooth, then fold in the mascarpone mix.

3. Pour the remaining coffee into a dish (sweeten with more icing sugar if you like). Take one sponge finger at a time and dip it in to the coffee. Line it in the baking dish.

3. Continue lining the baking dish with sponge. Spoon the mascarpone mix in until the first layer is fully covered.

4. Continue with a second layer.

5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to infuse and the tiramisu to set (so you can cut and plate beautifully)

6. Remove the tiramisu from the fridge. Dust with sifted cocoa and espresso powder to serve.

Delicious!

Le Degustationator.

A taste of America: Apple Pie :) (Bánh táo)

When you think of America, you think of a nice, warm slice of Apple Pie (well, sitting next to a fat, juicy steak of course). This all-time-American favorite dessert is so perfect for any occasion, at any time of the season. But making a perfect Apple Pie isn’t easy, the finishing product has to be absolutely on the mark: the pastry must be crumbly and flavourful, the filling needs to hit the right balance between sweet and sour. Too much nutmeg and cinnamon isn’t great either (not for Swedes… they can take in as much cinnamon as you throw at them). Finally, it has to look good! The good news is that it isn’t rocket science either, a little patience, a little tinkering and a little practice would soon allow you to make the perfect Apple Pie. This is my first time making a real Apple Pie, I and my girlfriend has this thing about carving out “spheres of influence”, she makes desserts, I make savoury stuff but hey, I can’t participate in Masterchef without knowing how to make desserts :)) Nah, joking, I’m not that good. Not the perfect Apple Pie but definitely something you can impress your friends and family. Oh, this time I got some help from my sister as well, kinda like a 60:40 job so I have to give her some credit 😀

*Ingredients:

for the pastry

• 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

• 50g icing sugar

• sea salt

• 125gunsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

• 1 egg

• a splash of milk

• a pinch of salt

for the filling

• 3 medium-large apples

• 3 tablespoons brown/white sugar

• 2 tbsp of cinnamom + a dash of nutmeg

• ½ a lemon

• 25 g butter

*Method:

1a. Preheat oven to 180oC

1b. To make the pastry, measure out the ingredients. Use your fingertips to gently work the butter and egg into the flour and sugar  until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, make sure that the butter is really cold in the beginning.

2. Add a bit of milk and gently mix with your hands until the dough comes together.

3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for >30 minutes.

4. Peel the apples, remove the core and slice into fairly thin slices. Shape doesn’t really matter.

5. Melt 25 g butter in a pan, add the apples, add sugar, a pinch of salt and cinnamon, nutmeg.

6. As soon as the apple starts to soften and becomes transparent, add the lemon juice. Let it sit.

7. Dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour. Divide your pastry dough into two and roll out one half until ½cm thick.

8. Roll the pastry on the rolling pin then gently ease it out on the baking dish.

9. Add the apple filling.

10. Roll the rest of the dough to make the top of the pie.

11. Brush some egg yolk on top of the pastry. Use your knife and make some incisions on top of the pastry to let the steam escape when cooking in the oven.

12. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. DONE! (Serve with some ice-cream or custard cream)

This is how it looks like after I had already taken a piece out 😀

Enjoy!

Le Degustationator.

Hot and spicy = pan-grilled chicken with tzatziki !!! (Ga nuong sot tzatziki)

Hi all!

A new day is approaching (it’s 00.42 right here, right now). Just arrived in Bratislava for summer vacation and felt like blogging a bit 😀 Well, I have to do some stuff afterwards anyway, important stuff, this is kinda like a warm up. And talking about warm and heat, nothing could beat a really hot and spicy pan grilled chicken with tzatziki sauce (indian + greek I guess???). This is not an original recipe per se but the combination is kinda wacky and it’s my own idea, but hey, it works like a charm. That juicy, tender and flavourful piece of chicken goes with that cool and fresh yoghurt cream like bread and butter. And you know what happens when bread goes with butter? They go to hell… which is your stomach, kind of :”) hihi. If you’re still in doubt, try it out for your self right now and tell me about it!!!

*Ingredients: serves 2

– Chicken breast : 300 gr (lườn gà)
– Greek yoghurt 300 ml (sữa chua không đường, đặc)
– Cumin 1 tbsp (hạt thìa là ai cập)
– Coriander : a big handful (mùi ta)
– Cayenne pepper: 1 tbsp (ớt khô cayenne)
– Tikka masala paste: 2 tbsp
– Garam masala : 1 tbsp
– Salt and pepper  to taste (muối + tiêu)
– Lemon juice : just a nice squeeze of half a lemon
– Minced garlic (tỏi): 3 tbsp
– Cucumber: 1 medium  (dưa chuột)
– Salad = rocket, mangold, water cress, spinach, etc. (rau salad của tây)

*Method:

1. Slice chicken breasts into big rectangular pieces (so they look pretty when plating).

2. Mix 100ml yoghurt with 1 tbsp of garlic, chopped coriander, salt and pepper, tikka masala paste, and the rest of the spices in a big bowl. Marinate the chicken and leave for at least 2-3 hours.

3. Cut the cucumber into 2 halves, scoop out the watery party with the seeds so the tzatziki will be nice and thick afterwards. Grate the cucumber into thin slices.

4. In another bowl, combine the rest of the yoghurt, garlic, salt and pepper, cucumber. Mix well together and chill in the fridge.

TIP! You can add dill or mint to the tzatziki if you want, a bit of olive oil as well 😉

5. Set the stove on high, make sure your pan is hot and start grilling your chicken. Don’t use too much oil otherwise it will become “frying”. Several minutes on each side would do, depends on the thickness of the cut. You don’t want to overcook it, trust me.

TIP! Make sure you get a nice sear and colour on the chicken, that’s where the flavour comes from. If a grilled piece of chicken looks like boiled, consider shoot yourself :)) nah, joking.

6. Plating it up! Take two pieces of chicken, make a V-shape by putting one on another at an angle. Add some fresh salad leaves behind the chicken. Spoon some tzatziki on the side. DONE!

This is how it’s “supposed” to look like 😛 According to ME

Hehehe, I gotta sleep now but I’m thinking about this dish… Oh dear

Anyway, have fun trying out this dish! I’m sure it will pay off 😉

Lots of love,

Le Degustationator