Friday, September 21, 2012

Pasta With Anchovy Sauce

I was on Twitter late one night when I saw Su-yin's photo about a dish she made. I was already feeling peckish, and her plate of pasta coated in anchovy sauce only made it worse. I think I sadly settled for some bread and Milo that night. While they served their purpose of quelling my hunger, they did nothing to satisfy my craving.

So I made a mental bookmark on that dish, and cooked it at the first chance. I don't know about you, but anchovy sauce is such a winner in my book. It delivers so much dimension to a dish, a punch of umami in every mouthful. Absolutely yummy!

Aside, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Su-yin last December when I was in London. She is as lovely in person as she is online, and we had a great time chatting over lunch at Kopapa Cafe. I also tasted the most fantastic walnut paste udon (ever!) at Koya, thanks to her recommendation. :)

It's amazing how blogs bring people together, isn't it? I always get that surreal feeling whenever I meet with fellow bloggers in person. For one, without our blogs, we would be total strangers; and when we do meet, we already know so much of one another!

(from Bread et Butter, with some minor tweaks from me ... and you should also do the same to suit your own preferences!)

- 1 large white onion
- 3-5 cloves garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
- 30g anchovies (actual weight), chopped finely
- 2-3 sundried tomatoes, sliced into medium strips
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
- pepper, to taste
- 300g broad pasta, like fettuccine, bucatini, linguine, etc (or heck, just use spaghetti, if that's what you have)
- chopped parsley to serve (optional)
- freshly grated parmesan

The great thing about this dish - no need to add salt!

1. Finely chop the onions and garlic. You can use a mini food processor for a smoother ‘paste’, but that is optional.

2. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over low heat. Add the onions, garlic and anchovies and cook until it becomes fragrant (should take 8-10 minutes).

3. Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and let the mixture cook for another minute. Taste. If the mixture seems a little salty, add the extra teaspoon of brown sugar.

4. Stir in the butter and the sundried tomatoes, followed by the water. Let it simmer gently for a minute or so, and take off the heat.

5. Whilst the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water, until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta cooking liquid (1 cup should be enough).

6. Mix the cooked pasta with the anchovy sauce, and add the pasta cooking liquid (as needed) to lubricate the pasta.

7. Serve the pasta into a plate, sprinkle with chopped parsley or toasted breadcrumbs (optional).

The beauty of pasta dishes is that they are so versatile. My daughter doesn't like onions, so I omitted them when I cooked her portion. I threw in shredded smoked ham, and she gave the dish two thumbs up. The funny part was when she licked the platter clean, then asked, "You said it was anchovy pasta but I didn't see any anchovies!"

Well, they were all in the sauce, my dear! ;)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Best Cocoa Brownies

Sometimes, people ask me for suggestions on what they should bring to a potluck. My reply is always the same - bring dessert! And no, it doesn't have to be some complicated 4-tier cake or a fussy french pastry. You can make simple things, like vanilla cupcakes, or a banana cake, or indeed, the very basic of bakes - brownies ... and still make an impression.

I have a potluck in 2 weeks and I know exactly what I will be bringing. These:

Cocoa Brownies! I tried them out and was quite surprised by the texture, given that there was no melted chocolate at all. They were rich, very moist - almost fudgy - and had a deep chocolatey flavour. Exactly how a brownie should be ... read: not a crumbly cake.

Do use a fairly large bowl for this though, because not only will you will be adding all the ingredients into it, you will also be doing some wrestling with that thick, viscous batter. But you know, you get your workout before you eat your brownies. :) Everything just falls into place, doesn't it?

I like my brownies warm, and if you're like me, zap them in the microwave for a few seconds before serving. You can dust them with some icing sugar or cocoa powder, or simply pair them with a generous scoop of good ol' vanilla ice-cream. Calories? Who's counting when everyone's having a good time? *wink*

Have a wonderful, restful weekend, everyone of you!

(from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet and seen at Smitten Kitchen)

- 10 tbsps (1 1/4 sticks, 5oz or 141g) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups (9 7/8oz, 280g) sugar - I cut down to 230g
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (2 7/8oz, 82g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
- 1/4 tsp salt (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp Maldon sea salt)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, cold
- 1/2 cup (2 3/8oz, 66g) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.

3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Munavalgekook (Egg White Cake)

Hey, all! Meet Munavalgekook, a tongue-twister that ranks one notch below Eyjafjallajökull. Just kidding. :)

Munavalgekook is this cake you see - made using egg whites, with some butter sneaked in. I used up all my leftover egg whites for this, instead of frying them into an omelette as I usually do. It tastes very much like an angel food cake.

Making this cake is very straightforward. It requires few ingredients, hardly any technique, and takes a short time to bake. However, as I was quite concerned that the cake would have an "eggy" smell, I added some vanilla extract to it. I also thought of more variations - lemon zest, orange zest, ground almonds, and so on. Don't you just love options? :)

On a personal note, I have been terribly busy, hence the infrequent posts here. If you want short, regular updates, find me on Twitter and Instagram (or Webstagram). My username is @littleteochew ... come say hi. :)

Have a great, great weekend, everyone!

(from NAMI-NAMI)

- 6 large egg whites
- 250g caster sugar (can cut down to 220g, especially if you intend to dust with icing sugar)
- 160g plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 heaped tbsp potato starch or cornflour (I used cornflour)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100g melted butter (just under a stick), slightly cooled
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)

1. Whisk the egg whites with 2 tbsps of sugar until thick and pale and very foamy.
* I was not too sure what "thick and pale and very foamy" meant, so I whisked till soft peaks.

2. Mix the rest of the sugar with flour, potato starch (or corn flour) and baking powder, then sift into the egg mixture and fold in gently.

3. Finally fold in cool melted butter.

4. Pour the batter into a buttered bundt-form and bake in a pre-heated 180°C oven for 30-40 minutes. Test for doneness with a wooden toothpick.

5. Cool slightly before turning out of the cake tin.