The UnProfessional Chef

A girl's commentary on food, cooking and all things delicious!

Location: Singapore

A closet food critic and wannabe chef who loves the art of cooking and enjoying great cuisine in the company of great friends!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Weekend wining and dining

Ah, the weekend! The time to take a break from the routine flurry of work and settle down to the creation of meals and sit-down dinners at home with friends. Though I was probably on my feet more today than I normally am during the working week, it was thoroughly relaxing to measure ingredients, mix dough and assemble the various components together to produce a great dinner. Moreover, my two girlfriends came over early to help in the kitchen, so our meal was sprinkled with laughter and gossip as water boiled and pastry baked.

I had Chef Sebastian, whom I mentioned in my last post, to thank for tonight's dinner. His recipe for miso cod worked out excellently! Having marinated the cod for two days, I fished it out of its lovely miso-mirin broth, cleaned off the excess and roasted it for about 20 minutes in the oven. The cod was then held under the grill for just a few minutes to caramalise the miso-mirin layer and seal in its delectable sweetness. We served it up with mashed potato using 8 medium potatoes (boiled thoroughly and peeled), a 100 g of butter, oodles of mayonnaise (the Japanese brand with the baby on the bottle is best!), some cream, lots of freshly-ground pepper and salt, and, since we were feeling decadent, drizzles of truffle oil. On the side, we quick blanched sweet peas in salted boiling water for slightly under a minute as a crisp, fresh accompaniement to the rich tasting cod.

It was absolutely delicious. Although we'd burnt the cod slightly, I'd forgotten to debone it and our plating skills left much to be desired, the cod was melt-in-your-mouth tender and permeated thoroughly with the sweet fumes of the miso-mirin broth. The home style mashed potatoes and sweet peas set off the fish perfectly and provided sufficient carbohydrate sustenance to Mr UnProfessional Chef. We were enormously chuffed that a dish we had previously only partaken of in a restaurant could be recreated at home without too much fuss.

But more was to come. At that same cooking class, Chef Sebastian had also taught a recipe for chocolate tart. The plain ole title of 'chocolate tart' says absolutely nothing about the mind-bogglingly superb chocolatiness of his creation. First, the tart shell had to be baked. This was the most difficult, requiring the tart dough to be mixed and left in the fridge for at least 4 hours to rest, before being rolled out and painstakingly shaped into mini tart tin and baked 'naked'. Then, a ganache comprising butter, brown sugar, cocoa powder and cream had to be made. This was to form the surprising heart of this dessert but turned out so good it could be eaten on its own. Finally, a mousse-y chocolate mixture of eggs, sugar, great quality dark chocolate, butter and flour was prepared to create the hiding place in which the ganache centre could nestle. Thus assembled, the chocolate tart was baked for about 8-9 minutes before being finished off in any form of decoration preferred. Given that I had some blood oranges indented from the Ritz-Carlton Millenia, we placed some small wedges on the top of the tart. Lacking in icing sugar, we settled for the artfful sprinkling of cocoa powder over the tart and plate.

The final result left the chocaholics (ie all three of us girls) craving for more! The softer texture of the chocolate mousse exterior broke nicely to reveal the warm, melty goodness of the ganache within. We polished off our individually-assigned portions of tart in quick succession but then split the extra two tarts in greedy desire.

A great dinner and evening in the company of my closest friends is one of life's greatest pleasures. In these days of uncertainty, war, threat of pandemics and terrorism, living life to its fullest while we can is a great way of beating down the bleak outlook. Happy weekend!


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