Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Roast Pork Loin Stuffed with Spinach and Mushroom

I am sure every Christmas you will be wondering what is THAT recipe you will serve on your dinner table. A recipe good enough to make those heads nod with pleasure and yet won't make you run around the house like a headless chicken trying to get it done. Com-on...who has time to roast a whole turkey? Let alone time to visit the salon before the party? But again, you are not gonna serve just a plain old roast chicken...even NTUC has that :P So that pretty much leaves us with Lamb or Pork...on the safer side...go pork since it is more wallet friendly and not as gamey taste.

Pork can be quite blend if it is not seasoned well and quite dry if overcooked. So stuffing the most tender part of the pork sounds about the right choice. Better still, wrap it with Bacon!

Fresh out of the oven...oops pardon the string haha. My recipe is so easy and yet yields a really moist and delicious roast meat, definitely worth a try. Let's get started!

Ingredients for Bacon Wrapped Roast Pork Loin Stuffed with Spinach and Mushroom (Serves 4-5)

1.5-1.8kg fresh pork loin (I got mine from the butcher, those ready cuts in the fridge was too small)
2 cups fresh spinach
10-15 button mushrooms (white or cremini is fine)
1 large zucchini
1 carrot
1 large sweet potato
1 large or 2 medium red onion
4 cloves garlic 2 large potato or 4 medium potato
1 large tomato or 1/2 cup cherry tomato
4 to 6 strips bacon (I used apple-wood smoked)
  • First minced the garlic, slice the onion thin, slice the mushroom, wash the spinach, cut the vegetable into large chunks, this will help the vegetable to cook easily when roasting. As shown below:

  • Next you fillet the pork loin so it is flat sheet as shown below. Season the surface with salt and fresh ground pepper generously. Set aside for use later.

  • Next you heat up a saute pan and add a tbsp of olive oil. Next add in the minced garlic and sliced onion and cook at low fire till it is translucent and soft. Takes 5-8 minutes.

  • Next you add in the sliced mushroom and cook covered at low fire till it is cooked down and soft. Takes another 5-8 minutes again.
  • Scoop out the mushroom mixture. Add in the spinach, season well with salt and pepper, then cook till it wilt down. Then squeeze out the extra liquid. Chop it roughly.
  • Now you spread the chopped spinach over the pork loin, leaving about 2 inches on the side.
    After that you spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the spinach.
  •  Then gently roll up the pork loin from the long side and carefully wrap the bacon over it. Then if you like, you can use some baking string to tie the pork loin. Link here to check how to do that. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Now grease your baking dish and also add about 2 tbsp of olive oil over the cut root vegetables.Then season it well with salt and fresh ground pepper. Place the vegetables in the baking dish and then the pork loin over the vegetables.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, then lower the heat to 180C, cover the meat with aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Be sure to let the meat rest for a good 10-15 minutes before slicing into it. Enjoy!
The pork turned out perfect, tender and perfectly seasoned. Love the moist and flavorful mushroom stuffing inside too. If you are like me, lazy to make sides, baking the root vegetables together with the pork will be perfect! Yes, there is that extra time you earn to go salon haha!

Sliced version of my stuffed pork loin..served over my new Christmas theme plate. This lovely  handmade plate is from Italy. Also my new snowflake dinner plate from Boradallo Pinheiro from Portugal. Bought all these from Tangs last weekend so I can serve it during Christmas. :) My one stop shopping for Christmas this year. 

Hope you all like this recipe. And may all your dinning guest love it as much as I do.
Good night guys!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Roast Pork Belly

I guess every household will have a good banana cake recipe. Personally, I think having a good roast meat, specifically roast pork recipe is essential too :9 It's like a little pride and joy of every Chinese mama. Imagining the dinner scene, when she chops it up and serves it to her family and guests. That very first crunch is heard when one pops a piece in their mouth, followed by that wide grind of satisfaction. Priceless...:) And seriously, this ain't a complicated recipe, more of a test of patience if you ask me. Patience of letting the marinate slowly flavor that hunk of meat. Patience of letting that skin dry out. Yup, you hear me right, dry out. The drier the better. Yes, once majority of the moisture is gone, that pork skin crisp up real well in the oven. Don't believe me? Check this out:

Yeah I really don't have to say much...the picture should do all that talking...haha :D

Well then, what are we waiting for...lets get on with it! Let's see what we need ya?
Ingredients for Roast Pork (serves 4 pax)

2kg fresh pork belly
2 tsp seasalt   (I used Pink Himalayan salt which I find it really good)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp 5 spice powder
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine (optional)
1 tsp sugar 
Obviously a nice piece of lean pork belly is preferred....well at least it is for my case. By all means, if you like them fats, go get it ya? :D And as you can see, only the basic seasoning is required. Good quality salt, pepper and 5 spice. Actually, a tbsp of Chinese ShaoXing wine is used as well, I feel it removes some of that "porky" smell. But if you prefer not, it's okay too.

  • First you get a pot of water boiling. Enough water to submerge that piece of pork belly completely in. Once the water boils, dunk the meat in. Off the fire. (Note : I did once without parboiling and it still turned out super tender and juicy. It all depends if you are comfortable having raw meat in your fridge)

  • Leave the meat in the water for a good 5 minutes and then remove and drain on some paper towels. This step helps remove some of that porky smell as well.
  • Next you use a needle or for my case, I used the tweezers for pulling the pork hair to poke the skin. This step will definitely help let the marinate penetrate through the skin and flavor the meat better.
  • Next you flip the meat over and score the meat side with a sharp knife. This is again a step that will allow the meat to be well marinated.

  • Next you add in that 1 tbsp of Shaoxing wine and rub it in well. Let the meat sit for a good 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, make your marinate rub. In a small bowl, add in the salt, pepper, sugar (optional) and five spice. Mix well.
  • At this point, drain away the extra wine and dab the meat as dry as you can. Then rub the dry rub in with your hand.
  • Place the pork well on a sheet of  thick aluminum foil, skin side up. Again dab the skin as dry as possible.
  •  Now place the pork belly in the fridge for a good 8hours at least...uncovered. Yes you read me right, 8 hours at least, or up to 2 days, uncovered in the fridge. For what? To dry...to let that skin all dried up.
  • Okay, speed up to 2 days later. Remove the pork belly out of the fridge. It looks dry. Good. Preheat your oven to 200C.

  • Once the oven is preheated, pop that pork belly in and roast for a good 30 minutes. Then up the temperature to 230C and roast for a good 15 minutes till that skin starts to pop and crackle. :)

And isn't that a pretty sight. :) That bubbly crackly skin is about one of the "prettiest" thing you will want your pork belly to take on, I'm serious. Because you know the more bubbly and crackle it looks, the more crispy that bad boy is. Yum.
And we can't possibly forget about the inside could we? And here we have it!
Juicy, tender with a crisp top. Perfect. I know you really want a piece of that. But do remember to let the meat have a good 15 mins rest first before chopping it up. That will preserve the juices inside.
You can very well just munch them all up just like that. Or you can cook some noodles and serve them over...like what I did.
And here you have it. A plate of delicious roast pork noodles. Seriously can't ask for anything more...well perhaps some green chilli might make it more awesome haha!

Okay guys, enough reading. Time for some cooking. Hope this will knock your socks off, like it did for me every time I make them. :9

Have an aweseome day /night!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cranberry Orange Wholewheat breakfast rolls

Tis the season to be baking. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! Haha, somehow I feel it carries more meaning when you bake for someone during Christmas. Well, it is a season of gifting right? Let's start off baking something with breakfast, Cranberry orange wholewheat breakfast rolls, sounds good isn't it? Saw this lovely recipe from Smitten Kitchen awhile back and had KIV it till now. My cranberries which has been sitting in my freezer was perfect for this recipe! Yeah...like FINALLY! Furthermore, with my new Jamie Oliver Terracotta dish from Tangs, I have all the more reason to bake it. :P

I can't imagine what's better then waking up on Christmas morning to this lovely breakfast. :) The amazing smell alone is able to drag you out of bed. Awesome. Cranberries are just so christmassy...I think it brings out the holiday mood!

I did some modifications to Deb's recipe, replacing plain flour to bread flour and also replacing portion of that bread flour to wholewheat flour. I also replaced the store bought buttermilk with homemade version (lemon + milk) and also added more milk to my recipe, which I think helps made the bread softer. 

With that, let's get down to it shall we?

Recipe for Cranberry Orange Wholewheat breakfast rolls (makes 12-14 rolls or 9X5" dish pan)

4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg

50g caster sugar
85 grams unsalted butter, melted, plus additional to grease pan
175 ml buttermilk (I used 165ml fresh milk and 10ml fresh lemon juice)

100 ml fresh milk
Zest of 1 large Navel orange, finely grated (to be used in dough and filling, below)
350 g bread flour

120g wholewheat flour
7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon butter to grease the baking dish

25g salted butter at room temperature 
150g packed light brown sugar (reduced)
130g fresh cranberries
Orange zest leftover from above

Icing: (Optional)
20 ml+/- orange juice (I used part orange, part lemon juice, because I love the tang)
120g powdered sugar

=> Mix everything together till you get a smooth, thick gooey paste
  • First, you weighed out the fresh cranberries and zap it in a blender till it resembles a thick chunky paste. Set aside in the fridge for use later.
  • Next you place all ingredients for the main dough into your mixer bowl and start to knead the mixture till it all comes together.
  • Continue kneading till it is pulling away from the side of the bowl completely and it is very elastic.
  • Grease another big bowl and place the dough in to proof for a good 1.5hrs to let it double in size.
  • Once proofed, punched out the air and place roll on a lightly floured work area. Roll out into a large rectangle about the 18" by 12" . 
  • Use a spreading knife, butter the whole surface leaving about 1" at the edges using the reserved room temperature butter.
  • Then sprinkle evenly the light brown sugar on to the surface of the dough. The follow by scattering the cranberry paste all over the surface as well.
  • Gently roll up the dough from the longer end and try to make it as "tight" as possible so you will get really nice swirls in the middle. When you rolled to the other end, pinch and seal the edges nicely.
  • Use a sharp knife, divide the log into 2 equal halves, then divide the halves into 2 halves. And repeat till you get 12. Grease the baking dish with some oil and place the rolls in, lining them neatly in rows. Rolls in rows, hah! 
  •  Again cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and let proof for another hour or so till it doubled in size. Alternatively, you can leave them to proof in the fridge overnight and bake them in the morning....nice!
  • Preheat the oven to 175C. Once the buns have finished proofing, bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 33 minutes till it is golden brown on the top.
  • Remove from oven and let cool a little before tearing into it and chomping it all down. Yes...a little self control is required haha.
Be still my heart....I know, such a glorious sight isn't it. And it smells and taste incredible too. :) 

Such a genius idea to use cranberries as the filling I have to say. It's tangy, it's sweet, it's fluffy and it's comforting. You can make it a little more sweeter by coating the top with some icing. I opted for partly lemon juice because I find orange juice is not tangy enough to bring out the citrus flavor. Or you can opt not to put any icing at all of course. But again....

Why not?

Anyway....hope you like my rendition of this amazing recipe and give it a try. I am sure those that stuffed this in their mouths are gonna be super happy. :) And one last important note, make sure you have a nice baking dish to bake this...go treat yourself and grab Jamie Oliver's at Tangs haha!

Till my next Christmas bake....stay happy guys!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cheesy Baked Fish with Savory Egg Custard

As a SAHM, besides worrying about the kids' well being, I am constantly, yes constantly thinking of what I should cook for my family. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, I'm cracking my head to come up with quick and easy meals to fill those empty bellies. You're probably thinking "Just Da Bao please!" But I am weird I admit, I couldn't get myself to feed my kids those outside food! Too much seasoning, too oily and seriously you know what they put in it to make it taste that good haha! Well occasional weekend dine out is okay with me, but I do try my best to cook daily for my family.

Today's easy one pot dish is kind of a fusion between a quiche and a frittata. Not quiche because no pie crust involve...good, less work involve, heehee. Not exactly a frittata either because I am using less egg and a lot more ingredients, thus you can't serve them in slices. Just a simple dish that contains all the necessary carb, protein and even dairy needed to make all balanced and healthy meal.

Let see what we need:
Okay, I ain't gonna lie...I am just showing off my new Jamie Oliver Glazed Terracotta Casserole Dish. That blue...love! A good cook needs good tools..I live by that rule haha! Got this lovely bakeware from Tangs! Have you checked them out after they reopened their doors after renovations? I just love shopping at their home appliance and bake / cook ware section!
Ingredients for Cheesy Baked Fish with savory egg custard :(Serves 3-4)
1 broccoli head, cut into bite size (weighs about 250g)
300g white fish, cut into large chunks (I used Tilapia)
3 eggs
200ml fresh milk
4 strips bacon, but into smaller pieces
3 medium potatos
2 tbsp ketchup
1 cup Mozzarella cheese 
salt and pepper to taste
A good casserole dish for baking this dish.
  • Season the fish fillet chunks with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Heat up the cooking pan, no need oil, add in the bacon and cook till fat has been rendered out and golden crisp. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towels.

  • Remove the pork fat and add in a tbsp of fresh cooking oil at medium low fire. Add in the potato chunks and cook the potatoes till slightly golden on the outside. Dish out and again drain on the paper towel.
  •  Next cook the fish on the pan and just for awhile to get it slightly golden brown on the outside. 

  •  Lastly, you steam boil the broccoli pieces. You heat up a pot with only a centimeter worth of water inside. Then place the broccoli pieces inside and let it steam boil for a good 5 minutes, then dish out.

  •  Now in a mixing bowl, crack the 3 eggs in and add in the milk and ketchup. Mix well and add in a pinch of salt and few rounds of fresh ground peppers.

  • Add 3/4 of the egg mixture into the Casserole dish.

  • Then place all the ingredients in, that's the broccoli, fish fillets, potatoes and bacon.

  • Then you add in the remaining egg mixture and top it off with mozzarella cheese. Then send it into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes till top is golden brown.

  • And the aftermath....yummeh

  • Serve it while it is still hot...with toast or even pasta. :9
Oh that Jamie Oliver dish just baked beautifully! I am so gonna try using it to bake a Christmas roast later! :9
A quick and easy meal you can whip up in an hour. You are welcome to change the fish to chicken too. Anything that you family fancies. Just bare in mind that a good dish requires a good cook/bake ware. Grab yours at Tangs now! Tangs is located at heart of Orchard and VivoCity, happy shopping!