Pasta used to be a regular feature on tea noir until I cooked it too often in the first two years of uni that I began to see it as a means to an end. Freshly cooked pasta is a wondrous blend of parmesan, herbs and olive oil but one, two, three day-old pasta becomes goopy threads of its former scrumptious self. Leftover pasta became a symbol for frugality (not that being frugal’s a bad thing) but cooking and eating a week’s worth of pasta to pay off a shopping debt will never make the list of things I’d feel most nostalgic about.
This must be the most pessimistic I’ve been about food so I’m putting an end to this bashing since the problem here isn’t pasta per se, but my incurable health condition where I can’t seem to hold onto any cash for lengthy periods of time. And to finish this poor girl’s tale with a happy ending: after a year of skillful evasion, I am ready to embrace the durum!
What’s different about the way I cook pasta now is that I look for recipes which are more versatile – take my Poor Girl’s Vongole, for instance. I never got sick of it; I had it as a pasta on the first day, as a soup with homemade focaccia on the next, and had a ball picking out the last serving of mussels with a fork. It’s a relatively simple recipe if fresh clams are easy to find for you (i.e. you don’t live in Melbourne). But if you’re in the same sitch as I am, mussels would do just fine. I confess I’m not particularly fond of mussels but this recipe temporarily suspends my hostility towards the poor shellfish – that’s just how good it is!
Poor Girl’s Vongole
Adapted from The Food I Love by Neil Perry
400g dried spaghetti
1kg live clams or mussels
1/2 cup or 125ml extra virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 French shallots, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (I sliced up a real chilli tho, yeahhhh heat!)
1/4 cup or 60ml dry white wine*
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
*I used apple juice instead and I swear it worked out good. Actually, better than good. Apple juice is a Muslim miracle.
1. Clean the clams by giving them a quick rinse in water. If using mussels, you need to debeard them – this is a slightly time-consuming technique which I am no expert in, so give it a quick google and you’ll know what to do.
2. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the garlic, shallots, chilli flakes and white wine/apple juice and bring to the boil.
3. Add the clams and cover. Steam over high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan, until the shells open.
4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain well.
5. Add spaghetti and chopped parsley to the saucepan and toss through. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in four deep pasta bowls.
Note: Don’t freak out at the overtly generous amount of olive oil you’d have to use. 1/2 cup wtf, even I had my doubts (isn’t that heart suicide?) but the shellfish juices will be released into the oil, turning it into a beautifully light broth. I like it when my ingredients do all the work for me.
Poor Girl’s Vongole is probably best served with your favourite TV show, unwritten essay tucked out of sight and the same cheap bottle of apple juice/wine you used to cook the vongole with – nothing wasted!
A recipe post, as promised! I know, I know – I can hear your “pasta, A-GAIN??” groans from my bedroom. Listen up mmkay, pasta is a staple in any student’s pantry because they’re cheap, they don’t go bad, add in some olive oil and they make a far better couple than Blair Waldorf and Dan Humphrey are being made out to be.
I really ought to stop watching that show since it’s evident from the degrading quality of the past seasons that the writers have been at each other’s throats, trying to think of more ridiculous situations that would never happen to even the most filthy rich of New Yorkers. BUT IT’S SUCH A GUILTY PLEASURE GUYS D8 I like watching each episode, scoffing at the unrealistic tribulations that plague Ms Waldorf (obvsly the only character worth watching) and asking my friends, “Did you see that episode? What were they thinking?!”
If I could distill the entire Gossip Girl narrative into a pie chart:
It’s a little sad to laugh at your own jokes but HAHAHA SO TRUE NE!
Thankfully, I have other shows to distract me from the fall of Gossip Girl:
Not so serious: The Big Bang Theory (love Sheldon!!), Community (Jeff is SO hot!), Doctor Who
Serious-serious: FRINGE, Burn Notice, The Mentalist
I was so upset when Ugly Betty and Pushing Daisies got cancelled some time ago, they were such good shows! A lot of my friends enjoy watching Grey’s Anatomy and I’ve tried getting into it but I have this unfortunate thing against medical dramas. My mother works in the medical industry so I find hospitals utterly repulsive. This doesn’t apply to my brother though, he’s been watching Grey’s since he was 14? IKR, SO INAPPROPRIATE LOL. I asked him how he got introduced to it when I first caught him watching the show and he said, “Dad downloaded it for me.” I don’t even know where to begin.
Anyway, back to the main point of this post:
My friend, Amy, takes up kickboxing and the people she meets at her gym have rather colourful personalities that’s all I’m gonna say ;p She’s close to this girl, Ching, who has been a secondary savior in my life. I say secondary because we don’t know each other personally but this girl has changed my life forever! She taught Amy how to cook this pasta dish, which is both easy and tastes absolutely divine, delicious, amazing etc. It doesn’t really have a name so I’m calling it Ching’s Pasta and you gotta admit, it has a nice ring to it.
Ingredients – No real measurements, sorry!
Pasta of your choice (I used linguine!)
A few tbs of olive oil
Garlic (I used a LOT)
Italian Herb Mix – you can get this at any supermarket
About 1/2 cup Chicken Stock (or vegetable, if you’re vegan/vegetarian)
Mushrooms, as many as you prefer
Freshly grated Parmesan*
*I didn’t have basil on hand so I used coriander/cilantro leaves instead. I happen to be a huge coriander fan so all the better!
*Also, Parmesan cheese wasn’t included in the original recipe but you can’t make pasta without the cheese, that’s my philosophy. Can I insist that you buy REAL Parmesan cheese (like the actual wedge!) and not the pre-grated ones? It does make a difference, trust me.
1. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente.
2. Slice the garlic evenly, DON’T dice as you normally would (Ching’s special instructions k take note!)
3. Heat the pan with the olive oil and add in the sliced garlic
4. Once the garlic’s been cooked, add in about 3 heaped tablespoons of the Italian Herb mix (again, depending on the intensity of your herb mix – adjust accordingly)
5. Add the chicken stock and the mushrooms, stir!
6. Dump in the cooked pasta and add the chili flakes, coriander and possibly 2/3 cup of grated Parmesan.
So fricking good. Thank you for the recipe, Amy and Ching! It is now immortalized on tea noir and ready to be passed down to my children.
A shout-out to Amy who has been inflicted by self-confidence issues as of late: Girl, stop over thinking things – you are a beautiful person and I refuse to let you believe otherwise COS BABY YOU WERE BORN THIS WAY AND GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES (What, you trying to defy HIM now?)
School is killing me, guys. I have so many essays and a presentation due in the next two weeks, someone please volunteer yourself and write them for me ;__; BUT! I’m so excited for school tomorrow. They’re screening Star Wars (The Empire Strikes Back, I think?) for my Hollywood lecture and we’re sorta having an impromptu snack party in the lecture theatre as well. I don’t think food is allowed in there but whatever, you can’t watch Star Wars without popcorn and crisps! Hope everyone’s had a brilliant week so far! <3
AND BEFORE I FORGET: Check out Cat's BLOGSALE FOR JAPAN! She has some really great cosmetics up for sale and it’s for a good cause!
I haven’t blogged in…7 weeks.
And my friends have been dropping ~subtle~ hints.
It’s a bit unethical of me to keep bribing for your love and forgiveness with snapshots of food but I do it so well I don’t think I’ll ever stop for as long as school continues to pervade every second of my life lol.
I was lucky enough to be invited over for a dinner party at a friend’s place a month ago and impressed with his cooking, we made a covert deal: he was to email me his favourite recipes and I was to reveal the address of my secret brunch hangout. This pasta recipe is so easy to make; it’s actually deceiving and I say this because yes, it’s a cinch to make but it tastes like you’ve actually made an effort lol. Whiffs of this would make your dinner guests think you’ve spent hours at the stove stirring while the sauce simmers away, a seemingly complex coral-red with bits of herb green strewn in.
Capellini with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. Peeled shrimp
3 large garlic cloves, mashed.
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup sweet red vermouth*
1 can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream (aka double cream)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
*I don’t drink alcohol so I substituted this with 1/2 cup of apple juice and a generous squeeze of lemon
1. Heat oil in skillet. Add shrimp, garlic with oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Turn until golden.
2. Stir in vermouth, tomatoes. Stir until tomatoes are soft.
3. Add cream and briskly simmer until sauce has thickened slightly.
4. Add lemon juice. Let it simmer for a while more.
5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Serve immediately.
In place of the powdered stuff, I actually used fresh oregano. I’d like to think that it does make a difference and plus, I love pulling the slightly woolly leaves off their stems and releasing them just centimetres above the pot so they can infuse perfectly with the pasta sauce by way of gravity. I like sprinkling more atop my pasta because god, I love its peppery sweetness that goes so well with anything tomato-based.
Also, I need to admit what you see in these photos aren’t shrimp; they’re grey prawns fresh off the market. Shrimp usually comes frozen here and I hate waiting around for anything to defrost (I’m lazy!) so I settled for the cheaper, faster option ;D Obviously, this recipe isn’t figure friendly (double cream omg) but does it even matter?
This is going into my instant salvation in 20 mins or less recipe folder for days when I need something more than what a few mediocre rolls of sushi can offer me. Thank you for the recipe, Felix!
Magazine picks of the month and I finally got Nigella Express – it was going for $12.95 at a bookfair in school, I’m extremely excited about this so it gets a spot in this entry >D
RUSSH is a bi-monthly Australian fashion magazine, I would consider it better than Vogue Australia actually. Alessandra’s on the cover of the current issue and urgh, could she be any perfect?
Catherine McNeil is on the cover of Vogue Australia but sadly, the editorials in the magazine are so lacklustre. This is a pretty picture no less and I like the dramatic eyeliner in this one whoo.
And finally, we return to the familiar food porn from the domestic goddess, the anti-chef I watch obsessively on the Discovery Home & Living channel back home. Nigella Express is a beautiful, well-written collection of fast recipes for the overworked and busy.
What would this entry be without the salacious promise of new make-up mmm? This is MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish in By Candlelight, quite the poetic name for a beautiful peachy highlighter from the In The Groove collection. To be honest, I bought Petticoat first but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. It’s a pretty raspberry but it wasn’t very exciting so I exchanged it for By Candlelight which I much prefer.
Here’s a swatch! You can barely see it on my skin – which is the point, really. You want highlighters to look like the glow on your skin is from within you, not on you (greasyyyy!) lol.
I must get back to my readings now sigh. I’m taking Anthropology this semester which exposes one to ‘unconventional’ culture practices e.g. eating the body of a dead relative and it is quickly becoming the subject I enjoy going to for lectures because my lecturer is this kooky English guy with the most remarkable and terribly explicit sense of humour. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to read all your entries but mid-semester break is coming and I’ll be doing some massive catch-up readings then. Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter or ask me a question on formspring. Take care and my muslim readers, sorry I’m a wee bit late but Happy Ramadhan & Eid!
This is something I whipped up this morning to eat for breakfast! Nigella Lawson’s lemon butter linguine, perfect for cold mornings when you don’t feel like doing any real cooking at all but still wanting something comforting and warm at the same time. This pasta dish is much like a dieter’s carbonara but making it is nothing as complicated.
I’ve actually modified Nigella’s recipe to make it er slightly more healthy by using whipping cream instead of the heavy/double cream she listed and cut down the amount of cheese and butter so just think of it as a lesser sin! Most “diet” recipes call for low-fat plain yoghurt to be used in place of cream but I think it’s an even bigger sin to even THINK about substituting cream with something else, especially in pasta. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating a little cream, it’s an instant mood-lifter, something yoghurt will never be able to give you so please stop worrying about gaining weight when you eat this because a plate of pasta is not going to make you gain a kilo overnight.
Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Butter Linguine
Enough linguine for 2 people
1 egg yolk
1/8 cup of cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/8 stick of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
Take note that all the measurements I listed above are just rough estimates!
1. Fill a pot with water and bring to the boil. Add some salt. Tip in the pasta and cook til al dente.
2. In a bowl, put the yolks, cream, grated Parmesan cheese, zest of the whole lemon and juice of half of it, a pinch of salt and a good grating of pepper and beat together until just combined.
3. Remove a cup of cooking liquid, drain the pasta and then, off the heat, toss it back in the pan, throw in the butter and stir and swirl about to make sure the butter’s melted and pasta covered by it all over.
4. Stir in the egg, cream, cheese and lemon mix and stir to coat pasta.
5. Sprinkle over some just-chopped parsley and serve now, now, now!
Note: Please for the love of god, I beg of you: do NOT use pre-packaged grated parmesan – I know it’s cheap and convenient but it is certainly not the same as buying a wedge of parmesan cheese and grating it yourself. It’s dry, tastes bad as heck that you might as well not cook the pasta at all >.>
If you’re not into simple, light pasta like me, you can add shrimp and field mushrooms sauteed in a little olive oil – guaranteed to hit the spot mmm!
I went out on a casual lunch date over the weekend with my fave lawyer couple, Shaz and Aidil! I’ve not seen Shaz in months, Aidil and I haven’t officially met so the lunch date was a long time coming. It was very impromptu honestly, Shaz had been tweeting about how deliciously light the food at The Marmalade Pantry was the past month, especially the risotto so I was like wait, hold on thar – did she just say RISOTTO?!
Here’s the sad truth: I’ve never eaten risotto in my life. I know it’s hard to believe since I’m pretty hardcore about food but yeah, srsly this girl here has never tasted a grain of the delicately flavoured arborio rice in the 21 years of her life.
So that was it, I had to ask Shaz out for lunch/dinner/supper/WHATEVER I DON’T CARE AS LONG AS I GET MY RISOTTO…Somewhere out there in the universe, the stars aligned in perfect symmetry and cleared Shaz & Aidil’s schedule on Sunday! We were all set for a gastronomical adventure whoo hoo!
God they are such an amazing couple. They have this special ability to make you feel comfortable, like you’ve known them for years because we just kept talking and talking and talking with no awkward pauses! They’ve been to the restaurant a couple of times already so they recommended me a few star dishes.
For starters, we shared this Warm Spinach Salad with breaded cubes of mozzarella and burnt butter dressing. It was served with a perfect poached egg on top and MY GOD IT WAS SOOOO GOOD. I have no clue what went into the burnt butter dressing but I did taste some hints of balsamic vinegar which I adore so that’s extra brownie points for The Marmalade Pantry!
* Muslims, please note that this salad originally has bacon in it, make sure to ask for the salad without the bacon when ordering!
Aidil had the Crabmeat Linguine with pine nuts in a tomato base. I had such a kick out of sampling his dish because I didn’t expect it to be…spicy. I love its spiciness, the crabmeat was flaked nicely and it was just really refreshing!
Shaz ordered the Cappellini Aglio Olio which had roughly a million tiny shrimp in it lol! I don’t know how to describe the taste of the pasta, it’s got a nice crunch and the shrimp added a slightly sharp contrast of flavour to the aglio olio – you guys just have to try it k!
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for – wait NO! it’s the moment I, ILYANA, HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR ALL MY LIFE…the Truffled Field Mushroom Risotto! My very first risotto and I am happy to say I’m not disappointed at all. It’s everything I’ve imagined it to be: creamy but light and absolutely bursting with flavour. Sigh I wish I could turn back time and savour it all over again!
CUPCAKES! So pretty to look at, no? They sell out really really fast and the ones we got were basically the “leftovers”. Shaz & Aidil recommended me the chocolate cupcakes the restaurant had like The Chocolate Deluxe (O.M.G) and The Nutella (how can u go wrong with nutella right?) BUT EVERY CUPCAKE WITH SO MUCH AS A DUSTING OF COCOA POWDER WAS SOLD OUT. WHY GOD WHY?!
We settled for the Limonata which is, if you might have guessed, a lemon glazed cupcake and the Strawberries and Creme (no explanations needed for this one I’m sure lol) They were nice but Shaz told me the chocolate cupcakes were much better in terms of taste and texture so I’m going to skip out on the fruity flavoured cupcakes and beeline for the chocolate ones next time.
Not only was it my first time eating risotto, it was also the first time I ventured into sticky date & toffee pudding land aka real-life heaven. This was actually Aidil’s but us girls being girls, we stole some baha! I LOVE THIS STUFF. I heard from the couple that this was the restaurant’s best seller and it’s no wonder really – the pudding was moist and slight chewy, accompanied with a sweet caramel toffee drizzle + a scoop of some damn good vanilla bean ice cream. Such a perfect symphony of flavours, yummm.
I think I’m in love with The Marmalade Pantry. I like the atmosphere, the food, the whole brand identity (srsly how quaint is the logo?!) I love this huge ass flower that sits prettily on every table (can someone identify this flower for me?), the prices, I won’t lie, are a little steep compared to what most people are used to but I believe you get what you pay for so if you have a special occasion coming up, bring that special someone here!
Lol moment: Aidil playing around with my wallet while we were waiting for the bill, you don’t mess with PRADA k!
A quick shot of me, Shaz and Aidil before we headed home! We watched Julie & Julia in the cinemas after lunch, you should check it out – it’s a nice heartwarming FOODIE movie! Just don’t watch it on an empty stomach, you’d be lusting after french food during the entire movie.
The Marmalade Pantry
2 Orchard Turn
Til next time~
Edit 10/11/2009: Okay guys I’ve just been informed by a commenter that the Risotto and the Cappellini Aglio Olio contains white wine in it! We were totally clueless about it and I’m slightly devastated that I can’t eat my risotto again. Muslim readers, I don’t want to go all preachy because I’m sure we get enough from our parents to last us a lifetime lol but please take note!