05 July 2007

Cooking from Europe

Mozzarella and Prosciutto
The joy of meeting people who are just as crazy about cooking as you are (though I think I am pretty mild) is just impossible to describe. Most of the times, I try to hold my tongue when in fact I wish I could share my excitement at having perfected Creme Brulee (which by the way I haven't, but have to by Sunday), or at having discovered this fantastic waffle recipe that beats any waffle I've ever eaten. That is because I would then very uncontrollably launch into a high-pitched speech on the technicalities of cooking or how I so feliticiously decided on giving the recipe a go.

But to meet someone who doesn't only indulge me by listening intently to my every word, but also tell me that he has been trying various egg tart recipes for the past five days? Now that's seriously insane. Insanely wonderful.

To meet another who gets just about as excited as I am about cooking, and mulls over the potluck theme as long as I do just adds to my happiness. Then bringing these two individuals, GM and P, together and inviting a spunky old friend, SY, at a tiny potluck made for such an enjoyable dinner. This is the precise dinner I referred to in my previous post. The one that was so long, but too short. That knocked me out till the next day when I was meant to shave.

SY and I looking really blur, literally. Courtesy of P.

After much ding-donging back and forth through emails and sms-es (did I mention we were all a little crazy about cooking?), we finally settled on cooking from a single continent. This would give us plenty of leeway to get creative. I decided that SY would do the starter since she is possibly nowhere near as manic about cooking as the other three of us are, though always game to try the latest kid on the block.

It was incredibly heartening to know that since SY returned from US, she had not stepped into the kitchen. And that her first time handling real food, was for us! As she stepped through the door, she bore luscious balls of buffalo mozzarella (alliteration on the wrong words!) and paper thin prosciutto. The combination of which brought back beautiful memories of Rome where I had tucked into a platter of prosciutto wrapped mozzarella. If I'm not wrong, it was drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with a special combination of herbs her mom had.

Glorious Moussaka

P decided on a Moussaka, most closely associated with the Greeks or Turks. Moussaka always has eggplant but may contain almost anything else imaginable. The Moussaka P concocted by bringing two recipes together had pork mince, egg plant, onions (all the crying was worth it), tomatoes, yogurt, eggs and cheese. As the sauce bubbled away and spilled over the deep dish in the oven, I couldn't wait to work through the crisp top layer to the soft and oozy mince at the bottom.

Paella with Prawns, Chorizo , Red Peppers and Peas

I'm sure GM hummed and hawed as long as I did to choose what to cook for the dinner. He finally settled on Paella (Spain), for which he used a recipe from America's Test Kitchen (the irony!). This website is pretty cool though, and suits GM's style of cooking to the T. Like a science experiment, he would go through the recipes and stick to the recipe as closely as is humanly and financially possible. So even though I had a paella-like pan that would have passed off almost perfectly as a paella pan, he chose to use my Staub cast-iron dutch oven instead simply because the recipe said so.

Perhaps it was because he used the Dutch Oven or perhaps it was just the recipe. A crunchy layer of paella formed at the bottom of the cocotte, just like what you would find at the bottom of your traditional claypot rice. I really enjoyed that part the best, and found out that GM had to put it over the stove for a little just before serving in order to achieve that effect. So having the patience to allow your food as much time it needs to blossom definitely pays off.

Pour, close till golden brown and serve.

As for my little contribution, I took the easy way out and prepared all the ingredients one would need for some DIY Belgian Waffles. Waffle batter, check. Salted Caramel Sauce, check. Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar, check. Vanilla Ice Cream, check. And I am not tooting my own horn, but I've really never tasted any waffle as good as that. It was so crisp on the outside (partly because it was eaten straight out of the waffle pan), and incredibly light and airy inside.

Drizzle Salted Caramel, top with ice cream and tuck in.
Certainly helped that the caramel was smooth and not too sweet, that the strawberry sauce was chunky with a slight tang, and that the vanilla ice cream was rich, smooth and delicious. The accompaniments just had to be prepared a day in advance, and the waffle batter in the morning. This would leave you plenty of time to go for a leisurely swim, shine your silverware, set the table and enjoy the rest of the evening.

While scanning the web for waffle recipes, I could not find one that would promise light, crisp waffles. That is until I decided to google yeasted waffles. Deeply embedded in one of the nooks of my brain sat 'yeasted waffles = crisp waffles'. So when I read this article, I couldn't wait to jump straight into it. Though it is a little time consuming, I swear it is worth it. At this time, I am not inclined to attempt any other waffle recipes but this one, over and over and over again.
For Yeasted Waffles click here.


Stephen said...

Potlucks are so much fun. I wish my friends were as excited about food as much as I am!

Anonymous said...

I know! I have been blessed. You could try to inspire them, though I know how difficult that really is.

Anonymous said...

Daphne! I jsut made an online pledge :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much joyce! =) *hugs* See you thurs?

snugpug said...

Hi, I got onto your blog via the Sunday Times article. I'm a Warwick alumni too (English & American Literature, 1987 -- I know, probably way before your time) and was so amused to read about your attempts to recreate Singapore food at Warwick because it reminded me of what I used to do too. I wonder how many Tocil kitchens were the scene of such recreations. :)

jy said...

Hey you were in the papers yday! ;)

Oops late reply pertaining to your question in the previous post... Yep I've tried Cedele's sandwiches, but I prefer Toast's... Cedele stands out more for their muffins which I totally adore! Anyways which is the one with onion marmalade? I like their Wasabi mushroom sandwich, the wasabi aioli is v addictive! :P

Have you been to Delicatessen at UE Square? Wonder if their sandwiches/breakfast-brunch items are good... I vaguely remember that looong ago I read an article which featured their Valrhona hot chocolate.

Anonymous said...

snugpug> I know! Ice Kacang really beat the cake upon reflection, and in the middle of winter, it really wasn't the best choice of dessert. I stayed at Claycroft!

Jy> I haven't really tried Cedele's muffins, only their sandwiches. Onion marmalade comes with one of the vegetarian sandwiches. I think it's with grilled veggies if I'm not wrong. I like toast just cos at certain times of the day, it is absolutely quiet. The last time I had their roast beef with wasabi, each mouthful had me stinging in my nose, and I had a headache by the end of the meal!

I've only been to delicatessen once, but can't remember what I had. I remember though, that they serve pretty fancy food for a deli, which I usually associate with something much more casual. Valrhona hot choc! Yum. Ever tried Amedei choc at choc factory? I really like it.

Anonymous said...

yoyo darkie you probably wouldn't know who I am. Im your stalker. Hohoho.

I'm working at.. no, I cannot reveal cos i'm a secretive stalker. But it's a F&B industry hoho. And my colleagues said your food photos are great. If you wanna try some bread/cake photography.. nudge me!

p.s. you look great when bald too

Anonymous said...

Haha, hello Gene. Nice try! Lets chat on msn. Of course I'd love to try out some bread/cake photography, what exactly do you have in mind?

jy said...

Yeah chocolate factory rocks, the pastries and choc drinks are excellent (for those that I've tried)! I've not tried its chocolates though, it's currently out of my budget to pay $2.80 for a tiny piece (no matter how wonderful it tastes)... But I shall definitely buy some one day, maybe when I feel rich! :P

Hmmms however their chocolate souffle can be richer, the chocolate sauce was way too diluted and milky :( Oh have you ever observed the chef's volatile mood... He can be quite PMS-y!

Anonymous said...

Jy! You definitely must try a few pieces. Or at least try these ones I love - The sesame, passionfruit, miss izzy, and ginger. I actually love their choc souffle, the crisp tops. And I also like that the sauce is not too thick or it'd be too cloying for me. To each her own I guess =) Have you tried making your own choc souffle? Super satisfying!

jy said...

Oh yes I'd definitely want to try the sesame chocolate, I believe everything goes right with sesame! :D

Erms I've never tried making my own chocolate souffle, actually I'm more of a foodie than a kitchen person (hats off to you for taking on both these roles)! I strongly believe it is very satisfying to make my own food, but don't think I currently have the time and patience to source for ingredients as well as kitchen gadgets! Perhaps I'll start whipping up some interesting dishes when I get older :P

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

jy> you can always ask me if you need help with kitchen gadgets! I can share what I know with you at least. And I agree that these are really important. I never had many dinner parties until I decided to make investments in machines and tableware etc... And you shouldn't wait till you're older!

Shu>hahaha *rubs shu's temples* *shouts in face* ARE YOU OKAY?

SiHaN said...

Hi, I just so happen to drop by your site and saw the moussaka that you girls had! by any chance you have the recipe? It's one of my favourite turkish dishes!