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Weekend Cooking: Sausage Meatballs with Gravy

This was a recipe I made a long, long time ago for Hari Raya celebrations, and at the point of time I haven’t started blogging my culinary exploits just yet. The recipe is from Emeril’s Potluck, and as you probably can imagine, this makes a potluck-sized batch.

Aside from the Essence which you may want to invest some time in (really worth the effort), the ingredients for this recipe are fairly easy to find. The Italian Seasoning and various types of canned tomatoes are available even in hypermarts like Tesco, and you can find the fresh sausages at the more upmarket grocers such as Village Grocer or B.I.G. What I found slightly more challenging is finding canned tomato sauce, but this can be substituted by pureeing canned stewed tomatoes.

I also splurged a bit on San Marzano canned whole peeled tomatoes; these are Italy’s best tomatoes, grown on volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius. Look for the words “Pomodoro S. Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino” on the can, which is supposed to indicate that these San Marzanos are the real deal. If the can doesn’t have any English on it, look for the words, “pomodori pelati interi” which means whole peeled tomatoes. San Marzanos are known for their sweetness and low acidity, which makes them perfect for making tomato soups and sauces. And my oh my, the investment really paid off.

The San Marzanos gave the sauce such a rich flavor and sweetness, I didn’t have to do much else to make the dish taste good. It was as if I made completely different recipe from the one last time, just by switching this one ingredient. So worth it!

Bring this to a potluck, San Marzanos and all, and I assure you it will be a hit at any gathering. Enjoy!

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Steak and Mushroom Pie

When I first started cooking I basically had one go-to chef for most recipes I wanted to try – Emeril Lagasse. In the beginning I focused more on so-called Western dishes – pies, pasta, and casseroles – and one of my earliest attempts on pies was this steak and mushroom pie.

Last time I followed the recipe to a T (non-alcoholic ingredient substitutes aside), but this time, with more experience I’ve given it my own spin and also used my Philips electric pressure cooker to ensure the meat is tender and succulent.

Be sure to use a deep dish pie pan for this, as there is a lot of filling. The crust is wonderfully crispy, and its buttery aroma will fill your kitchen as the pie bakes in the oven. The tender beef and crispy beef breakfast strips is super hearty, perfect when paired with crusty country bread. Enjoy!

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Weekend Cooking: Prejean’s Potato Salad

I’m on a short break before starting a new job next month, and Kak’mbang has gone back to Terengganu and will only be back at the end of the week.  We’ve been eating leftovers and takeout for the past few days, so today I made Smoked Duck and Sausage Gumbo for dinner, for a change.  The gumbo recipe was based on the one made by a restaurant called Prejean, and it is often enjoyed together with their potato salad.

The first time I made the gumbo I didn’t bother with the potato salad, but since today I had more time I wanted to try it out.  The potato salad was great on its own, but when mixed with the gumbo the tangy flavor of the relish and mustard went so well with the gumbo’s rich, smoky flavor.  So so good!  Definitely a winning combination.

Based on the recipe from Saveur.

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Ramadan Cooking: Peri-peri Sausage Rolls

Ramadan mubarak, everyone! I can’t believe a year went by so fast.  Since I get off work an hour early, again I try to make small dishes like appetisers and snacks for breaking fast.  I still have a few bottles of Nando’s PERi-PERi sauce in the larder, so I looked through their website for ideas.  These sausage rolls looked so yummy, so away I went to Ben’s Independent Grocer during my half-hour afternoon break to buy what I needed.

A few things I did for this recipe: I used chicken cheese sausages and breadcrumbs with Italian herbs, and I think this made the rolls “taste like pizza”.  I also used Italian flat-leaf parsley instead of English (I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to use until I came back and watched the video), which had a stronger flavor I didn’t fancy too much, so I’ll use English parsley next time.  In the spirit of Ramadan I gave the dish a slight Middle Eastern twist and used habbatus sauda in place of black sesame seeds.

Mind you this recipe makes quite a lot of filling, and depending on how big your bread is you might end up with multiple rolls instead of just one as stated in the original recipe.  I used Massimo white sandwich loaf, and ended up with four rolls in total.

Overall this was a delicious snack, great for moreh and sahur, as well as for potlucks and afternoon tea.  Give it a try!

Based on the recipe by Nando’s UK.

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Weekend Cooking: Paella

Tesco had some good shrimp and mussels in stock, and I really wanted to take my lovely Le Creuset casserole (thanks Tiff!) for a spin, so I decided to try making and perfecting a paella recipe.

I’ve made this twice now, but am still not fully satisfied with the results.  The first time I felt that the meats were not adequately seasoned and there was just way too much rice.  The second time, I used a bit too much liquid so the rice turned out a bit mushy.  Flavor-wise I think the rice was nice, but I really need to get the rice to liquid ratio right.

The following recipe has been tweaked with my notes on what I’d do differently next time.  From the base recipe I added a few more herbs to the stock mixture, and salt the chicken and shrimp a little for a bit more flavor.  I found using beef bacon resulted in a less salty dish and additional salt might be required, so I tried smoked chicken breast and it gave a nice smoky taste to the dish.  I also chopped my onions and bell peppers using a food processor, for a finer cut as well as to save me a lot of time. I’d use a spicier sausage next time, though, for a bit more kick.  Italian just tastes too herby and mild for me.

Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya

After cycling through quite a few Middle Eastern dishes of late, I decided to revisit some of the old recipes I made but never got around to properly document.  This jambalaya recipe based on the one by Emeril Lagasse was particularly nostalgic for me, because this was one of the first dishes I made when I started cooking at home about 6 or 7 years ago.   There was a time when Kak’mbang going back to our hometown meant having takeout or delivery every day.  This dish was my first home cooked dinner for my family, and it was the start of many many more thereafter.

This dish is fairly foolproof and not difficult to make. All you need is patience, because you’ll be spending around 40 to 45 minutes stirring the stuff in the pot almost non-stop.  The result is a light, healthy one-pot meal, great for potlucks and gatherings.

The ingredients aren’t anything too fancy either – I usually get my Italian sausages from B.I.G. lately, but I used to frequent Village Grocer and I think theirs actually taste better.  Village Grocer also carries chicken Chorizo sausages as far as I know, and you can use that for a slightly spicier flavor.  Unlike commercially packed, mass market sausages which are very firm (and cooked, I’m guessing), premium sausages like those at B.I.G. or Village Grocer or the ones by Victoria Crest are raw and therefore can be quite challenging to slice when thawed.  I usually prefer to slice them when frozen to maintain their shape.

Enjoy!

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GobbleFest 2017 Leftovers: Turkey Waldorf Salad

Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s a lazy New Year’s Day, and I wanted to put together a light snack.

The first few times I made this was way back in 2012, when I was still actively involved in the Repertory Theater Club (RTC).  I made this for a post-rehearsal gathering with the RTC gang, and it turned out to be one of those salads that my guests surprisingly liked and actually finished.  I used chicken back then, but since we had our GobbleFest recently, I decided to make this in its original intended form, using our leftover turkey.  I’ve also included my notes in case you don’t have any turkey on hand.  Try it out!

Based on the recipe on Food Network, with my own twists.

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GobbleFest 2017 Leftovers: Turkey Noodle Casserole

When there’s a turkey dinner there’s inevitably leftovers, which opens up opportunities for more culinary adventures.  I saved the carcass to make turkey stock later, and while some of the meat I planned to make yummy turkey waldorf salad with, for the family coming over for dinner tonight I decided to try this simple yet yummy looking recipe by The Kitchn.

I tweaked the ingredients based on the quantities I had on hand.  The results were still great, and guests cleaned out their plates and the whole tray of pasta, with enough for a few people to have seconds.  Give it a try!

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GobbleFest 2017: Twice Baked Potato Casserole

I actually made this for our first ever GobbleFest back in 2012.  At the time we bought our roast turkey from Turkey Point Cafe, and I only made the sides.  Back then I wasn’t wise enough to know to make a few dishes in advance, but this time, especially now that I roast my own turkey, I really needed to plan ahead.  This casserole tastes just as great made a day ahead; just take it out of the fridge about an hour to return to room temperature, and bake as instructed.

This is one of those dishes in which you can throw all sorts of additional ingredients to suit your fancy.  My first time making this, I ran out of beef bacon so I added a few Italian sausages in there.  Add a bit of chopped broccoli if you like, to fulfil your veggie quota.  It’s quite labor intensive and requires quite a lot of prep time, but the result is a wonderful comforting dish, excellent for potlucks and goes really well with your roast turkey or chicken.  Enjoy!

Based on the recipe by Emeril Lagasse.

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Weekend Cooking: Saleeg

I’ve been looking through the Saudi Food Eman YouTube channel, and seriously this lady is pretty talented.  I’ve tried a few of her recipes already, and have quite a long list of others in my weekend cooking queue.  This particular dish, saleeg, was something different from the recent rice dishes I’ve been making.

Looking at how simple the ingredients were, I had my doubts about whether this was really as good as I imagined it to be, but in the end my fears were unfounded.  This tasty rice porrige worked so perfectly with the no-frills roast chicken, and yes, I think I agree with Eman that this dish may satisfy the pickiest eaters.  Try it out!

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