Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recipe: Lemon Curd Tart

Lemon Curd Tart

I love tarts, really because I need an excuse to indulge in the buttery and flaky tart shell.  Whenever I see carb-phobes intentionally leaving the shells alone, I wished the shells could scream at them like "Don't be silly!  I am worth the calories!"

Then I love lemon desserts.  So when you put lemon curd in a tart shell and place that in front of me, not only do you get a marriage made in heaven, you also get one excited lady who cannot wait to dig in.

Recently, I attempted to make my own lemon curd tart.  I based the tart shell recipe off Chez Pim's one pie dough and the lemon curd recipe from no other than Pierre Herme.  Well, the final product was uh-maze-zing although I wished the process would be less of a pain in the butt.  It was not like the recipes were difficult but they were at times long and tedious.  The results were worth it though.

The pie crust was just what I was looking for: super buttery and flaky.  The use of salted butter gave the dessert a slight savoury twist against the sweet curd.  The curd itself was thick and creamy, and miraculously, tasted light despite all that butter that went into it.  I cut back on the sugar just a little (minus 2 tablespoons)  and it was not noticeable.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dinner Party: Tapas

Encouraged by the tapas experiences in Spain, I organised a Tapas Party ala Chez Mia.
On this note, I thought I should explain the concept of Chez Mia.  It is the branding I created for my dinner parties.  Chez Mia aims to please hungry tummies, be the ground for innovation and creativity.  It happens as and when I feel stressed enough I have to cook up a storm.

So what was on the menu?

Flan for dessert.  Creamy, dense, silky, sweet.

Tortilla de Patatas - an ubiquitous tapas found possibly in every tapas restaurant in Spain.
disclaimer: I didn't make this - my galfriend did  :)

Pintxos - of sardines and anchovies

Chorizo - Iberico Bellota Grade from Spain.  The friends LURVED it.

Paella - makeshift in a large baking tin.  Tried to make it as authentic as possible without the use of a paella pan.  But I got the delicious smokey flavours from the lovely caramelised and charred bits on the bottom (called 'soccarat')

stewed squid and chickpeas - addition of thyme and oregano gave this a lovely flavour.  squid was a little tough though.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sneak Preview

I had an opportunity to organise a high-touch event for our clients during the first night of the F1 2010.  Yes, that was just last night.

When I got the assignment, I was scratching my head for possible venues.  I asked around and the usual names came up - Les Amis and Iggy's are amongst the top two thrown at me.  But I had to fulfill a few key criteria:  budget (of course), quality of food and service, and more difficult things that are intangible, like include "Singapore" elements.

So good as those two restaurants are in their own rights, they are somewhat lacking in the intangibles or too expensive.   Luckily, I managed to find out more about an upcoming new restaurant and negotiated for them to host my event even before the official launch.  I was taking quite a gamble, but at the same time, fairly confident my bosses would be impressed as this restaurant would likely become the next 'it' place; many ardent fans are already anticipating Chef's return impatiently.

So where else could be a better location than this? Well, I am glad to report the bosses loved it and the clients raved about it and got Chef to sign on the menus.  But all that just means I was happy and relieved my job was still in tact.

Here is a preview of what is to come.

customised plates that are simple, beautiful and elegant
"Presse" of Foie Gras coated with PX Jelly
Salt baked Marble Goby, Blue Crab emulsion, Potato Risotto
Snickers 2010 - classic flavours presented unconventionally
house bread - freshly baked.  rather moist with a dense crumb.  now, was there honey? 

These were just three courses out of the seven that I arranged. 
Have you figured out which restaurant I had eventually chose and gone?

Hint: He is one of the youngest top chefs in Singapore, rather tall and well-built; cute in a boy-next-door kind of way.

Venture a guess!

Monday, September 06, 2010

San Sebastian: Etxebarri (1*)

We rented a car from San Sebastian, with a sole reason - to visit Etxebarri. I concur with another fellow blogger that the car journey to the restaurant itself as an experience. The directions were clear but we still felt unsure with each turn we made. It was worth it though, as the restaurant was beautifully nestled in a tranquil and green countryside, with clear blue sky as the backdrop.
Much has been written about the amazing restaurant awarded 1* by Michelin. Chef owner Victor Arguinzoniz made the charcoal grill famous by using it to grill impossible things like butter and caviar. The exterior of the restaurant was a quaint stonehouse flanked by two benches and some wild flowers. Inside, on the first floor was a casual bar and the main dining room was upstairs. There was not many tables; roughly could seat about 20 guests at any one time. The interior was sparsely decorated. I guess functionality was the name of the game.

Instead of the tasting menu, we went ala carte. Beware - the portions were generous and we got too full eating too much of one thing. Not always a good thing as defined by the law of diminishing returns. That said, the food was fresh but I sort of wished there was more of that char-smokey flavour.

Language barrier was a major issue for us. Only one senior staff (a lady) could understand a bit of English but not great either.

Baby octopus with sweet and sour notes, squid ink jam.

Gambas de Palmós. Hands-down my favourite dish for the entire trip.
These shrimps were on the large side, barely cooked and had an extremely creamy texture with just a touch of bite. The heads oozed with sweet, natural juices and I made sure to clean them out. The hunk of homemade bread came in handy as the vehicle to ensure I mopped up every drop of goodness.

Smoked oysters with fresh wakame. I think I prefer raw oysters.

Whole sea bream - bathed with plenty of good olive oil and garlic slice 'chips'. Very fresh, very good. But it was a 1.5 kg fish amongst three girls. Not good.
Plaza San Juan 1, Axpe Achondo, Spain
Tel: (+34) 946583042