Post-Valentine’s Day Debrief

by gigi on February 22, 2009

It’s been a bit over a week since Valentine’s Day and I thought I should share with you what Jenkins and I did that day before it started to become untimely. :) Jenkins and I are usually pretty low-key for V-day and we try not to buy too much into the commercialism of it all. The past few years, we “celebrated” by going to our favourite HK-style diners but since this is our first year as “marrieds”, we decided to cook dinner together.

We scoured the internet and our cookbooks for some tasty and simple recipes. Jenkins and I ended up finding a couple of good recipes for the first and second courses, both from Gordon Ramsay. We originally wanted to make dessert as well, but we didn’t want to be overly ambitious so we bought a couple of tasty looking desserts from Ganache Patisserie.

For the first course, we made a spaghettini with crab, chilli, and lime by adapting the recipe found here.  (I’ll also include the recipes at the bottom of this post along with my mods.) The recipe called for a red chilli but we ended up using a serrano pepper instead, which turned out to be good but I prefer it to be spicier. I was also uncertain about the amount of spring onions to be used, but it really added a nice flavour to the dish and gave it a very fresh taste. As you can see in the picture below, I made a bit too much for 2 people so we were able to pack a lot of it away for lunch the next day. :)

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For our main course, Jenkins and I made mashed potatoes with a pan-fried crispy skin trout. Although the skin did not work out to be as crispy as we anticipated, this was a very tasty dish. :) See the original recipe here.

First, Jenkins worked on the tomato and potato sides while I prepped the trout. We cut large cherry tomatoes and roasted them in the oven with some olive oil and salt. Then we peeled the boiled potatoes and mixed them with a mustard vinaigrette, spring onions, and flat leaf parsley. I enjoyed the mashed potatoes immensely and this is a much healthier alternative to the traditional mashed potatoes made with milk and cream.

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The pan-fried trout turned out to be the tricky part. I normally broil my fish in the oven so was not prepared for the splattering of oil as the trout was cooking in the pan. :) We scored the skin of the fish to make it crispy but this did not turn out as well as we would have liked.

Overall though, both Jenkins and I enjoyed this dish quite a bit. The moist and flaky trout went really well with the sweet roasted tomatoes and the fresh garden-y taste of the mashed potatoes. I was uncertain if so many raw spring onions would make the potatoes too strong in flavour but the flavours all went very well together.

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By this point, Jenkins and I were both quite full. We took a break by watching a movie before making our way to dessert. We had gone to Ganache earlier in the day and selected two items: one that we were sure we’d like and another that sounded a bit more unusual.

Our traditional/safe choice was the Chocolat-Pistache. It combined two of my favourite flavours together so I did not see how this could go wrong. :) The layers of light chocolate and pistachio mousse went very well together in a creamy and light combination and did not overwhelm one another. The two mousse layers were separated by a light and slightly crunchy pistachio layer. I also enjoyed the base layer of chocolate, which had a mild hint of orange to it and a slightly crispy and crunchy texture.

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Our unusual choice was the Blanc Sichuan. When Jenkins and I read the description in the bakery, it did not sound too appealing to us but at the same time, I could not shake the feeling that its interesting blend of flavours may turn out to be quite tasty. The Blanc Sichuan was a white chocolate cheesecake with Szechuan peppers and had a rhubarb compote in the centre all on a chocolate cake base. My first bite into this cheesecake was quite delightful. It had the rich dense texture of most cheesecakes and the sweet white chocolate flavour created an interesting contrast to the peppery taste of the peppers. I found that the peppers did not really hit me until shortly after my initial bite. The rhubarb also added a tangy component to the peppery and sweet taste which surprisingly worked. I would definitely recommend this cheesecake to anyone who isn’t afraid of trying something different. Even if your taste preferences are more on the traditional side, I would still recommend you try this. :)

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All in all, Jenkins and I had a very enjoyable V-day dinner. We were very glad that we made the decision to buy dessert though as the first two courses took a bit longer to prepare than we expected. :)

For the recipes that we used as well as the modifications that I made (in blue), click on “read more”.

Gordon Ramsay’s Angel Hair Pasta with Crab, Chilli, and Lime
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 200g angel hair pasta <I used spaghettini instead>
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 red chilli <I used a serrano pepper but I think red chillis would have been better>
  • 4 spring onions
  • Approx 75ml dry white wine
  • 1 lime
  • 250g white crab meat <the recipe recommended fresh crab meat but we used canned crab leg meat from Costco, which turned out quite well and was a lot less work!>
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Method

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to pack instructions until al dente (approximately 3-4 minutes). <Note that spaghettini will take slightly longer to cook>

2. Heat another large pan with the olive oil. Chop the spring onions, thinly slice the chilli (deseed if you prefer) and crush the garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the wine to the pan and cook out for a minute to reduce. Add the crab meat, stir together and allow to heat through.

4. Drain the pasta and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta to the crab mixture, chop the parsley and toss the ingredients to combine.

5. Divide between warm plates and serve immediately with a generous squeeze of lime juice, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Wild Sea Trout and Baby Leeks with Crushed Potato and Tomato Butter
<Jenkins and I actually found our original recipe on You Tube and this was the closest approximation we could find :)>

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 wild sea trout or salmon fillets, with skin, about 150g each <we used steelhead trout from Costco>
  • 250g new potatoes, peeled
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 125g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 125g baby leeks, halved <we skipped this>
  • Few spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp classic vinaigrette<we made this with lemon juice, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and a dash of water>

Tomato butter sauce: <we skipped this sauce>

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 125g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 50ml double cream
  • 25g butter, diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil

Method
1. Check the fish fillets for tiny bones, score the skin-side deeply and set aside. Cook the potatoes in salted water until tender. Heat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.

2. To make the tomato butter sauce, heat the olive oil in a small pan, add the tomatoes and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor, add the sherry vinegar and sugar and whiz to a purée. Pass through a sieve back into the pan. Add the cream and simmer for a few minutes. Whisk in the butter and basil. Keep warm. <we skipped this>

3. Put the tomato halves, cut-side up, on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 5 minutes (or slowly overnight at 100C/Gas 1/4). <we roasted our tomatoes for about 15 minutes and the blitzed it for 5 minutes on broil>

4. Drain the potatoes, toss with a little olive oil over heat, then crush lightly with the back of a fork. Stir in the spring onions and vinaigrette. Season to taste.

5. To cook the fish, heat a non-stick frying pan and add the olive oil. Fry the fish, skin-side down, for 31ž2 minutes or until the skin is crisp, then turn and cook for 30 seconds only. Season lightly and rest in the pan for a few minutes.

6. Pile the crushed potato and leeks in the centre of two warm serving plates and top with the fish fillets. Surround with the cherry tomatoes and serve the tomato butter sauce on the side.

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