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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Zucchini and oyster mushroom pasta

Maybe it was Sofie's post about Florence that triggered happy memory of the month spent exploring Tuscany. Or the new Pope. Or maybe it's Terry rereading The Name of The Rose. Or maybe it's just the fact that it is spring and you can get organic zucchinis in the Friday market in abundance.
The first time I had zucchini pasta was in the Salvatore Ferragamo boutique's cafe in Florence, where they serve this daily for lunch. I remember the sweetness of zucchini, almost melting in my mouth and freshly made penne laced with pine nut, olive oil and garlic - so simple and yet so sublime. I remember Ghani and the love of his life (then) threatening to lick the bowl off, maybe because they can't lick each other then but it was so good we once asked for seconds.Over the years, I have been perfecting the recipe, here recreated with the addition of oyster mushrooms but there is something about one month in spring in Tuscany with your best buddy and his lover that can never be replaced.

1 Zucchini sliced or ribboned
100g oyster mushrooms
2 cloves of wild garlic - crushed
1 TBSP pine nut
extra virgin olive oil
white wine or pasta water (the water used to boil the pasta)
your favourite short pasta
shavings of Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano)

Method:1. Boil some water and add in the pasta when it starts to boil.
2. Warm up a pan and add pine nut
3. Add in the olive oil and garlic
4. Add the zucchini and stir and toss in the oil for about 3 minutes.
5. Add the mushrooms and toss about.
6. Add 10 teaspoon of pasta water to the dish or some white wine.
7. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and salt.
8. Add in the cooked pasta. Mix thoroughly.
9. Toss some shavings of Parmigiano.
10. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

... another cheer for aphrodisiac

The first time I had asparagus was when my dad took it home from a little farm. I remember the sweet taste of the freshly dug green stalks and the purplish pink spears. It was a true treat. My mom simply stir fried it with garlic, salt, pepper and sesame oil. That was probably the beginning of my love affair with asparagus and all thing phallic... or was that when I discovered lipstick at the age of one and a half?
Over the years, I have had asparagus done in every way possible - steamed, cooked, barbecued, grilled, chargrilled, roasted, BOILED and stir fried with beef, chicken, prawns and even belacan.I like my phallics crunchy, hard and dignified. No flaccid, limpy stalk would be admitted into my mouth. I like roll it between my teeth taking a bite of the spear and later to suckle the glorious juice.
So this afternoon I was walking in the rain to the green grocer in town thinking I might chance upon some white asparagus - specialty of this region and the perfect time to eat it too - but instead, I brought home these gorgeous beauties from Spain.
I knew the moment I saw them, before I actually picked the bouquet up to my nose to catch a whiff how I was going to cook them - very simply with garlic of course and serve them with fish. You see the star of the meal has to be the asparagus - regal, dignified, hard and crunchy. The fish was cooked very simply too - just seasoned with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and fried on both sides in sunflower oil and later a squeeze of lemon to serve.
This was what we had for din dins tonight... Asparagus in all it's glory... with garlic of course ;-)
Roasted Asparagus with garlic
500g of green asparagus
1 clove of garlic
50g of butter - melted
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to gas mark 7/220C.
2. Snap the woody ends of the asparagus and rinse in hot water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
3. Crush garlic and mix with melted butter.
4. Brush the asparagus with the garlic butter and lay each of the stalk in a single layer in a baking tray.
5. Season with salt and paper.
6. Roast in the oven for 5 minutes and then turn the stalks and roast for another 5 minutes.
7. Crank up the oven to gas mark 9 and let it roast for another 3 minutes and then turn the oven off.
8. The asparagus will be vibrant, juicy, crunchy, caramelised and slightly charred. Serve immediately.
Foodnote:I prefer to use butter instead of olive oil when I cook asparagus this way. I do use olive oil when I cook it with pasta. And ground nut oil (and sesame oil) when I cook it chinese style.
Footnote:Refrain going down on your partner after having asparagus... and don't say I didn't warn you!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

ohhh I've been so spoilt!

Sometimes even you - a goddess - wonders what you do or have done to deserve your husband. Especially on a Sunday morning like today, when you're woken up with kisses, nibbles and long luxurious lovemaking. And after, when you thought he deserved a great breakfast; he turned and told you, "We run out of croissants. What would YOU like for breakfast?"
Any goddess would tell you to look deep into his eyes, touch his cheek, pout a little and purr:"Surprise me..."
He kissed you and tucked you back to bed and said he'll be back soon. And you hear the little princess giggling in the hallway, whispering and conspiring yet another surprise.You heard the butter sizzling and the house is pregnant with cinnamon.
And soon after, the little pitter-patter of tiny feet skipping on the hallway... and you closed your eyes, pretending to be asleep. And then your face is covered with a thousand million wet sloppy BIG kisses.
"Mommie wake up... Breakfast is ready!"
And you glided to the living room where the table was set with orange juice, fresh fruits, honey and you smelled coffee percolating and then... He brought in the centerpiece:

According to Terry, this is a hentam-hentam recipe ;-) and not for the faint hearted!

Sexy man's French toasts:

day old bread - he used sesame topped brown bread

4 eggs






1 tub of cream to whip

250g of strawberry - or banana, or mangoes, or pineapple or kiwi or any fruits you like


1. Whip cream with a bit of sugar until stiff and leave to chill

2. Hull and cut strawberries and chill

3. Whisk eggs lightly with cinnamon, salt and pepper

4. Heat pan and throw in butter

5. Coat bread in egg mixture and place on pan

6. Cook on both side and set aside

7. Place French toast on the plate, drizzle with honey (or syrup), pile on cream and top with as much strawberries as you like.