Category Archives: Western

Making My Own Pasta

Hello fellow readers, I am back! PonPeko is still alive and eating!

My apologies for not updating my foodie adventures here. What have I been doing? Well, I have been busy visiting cafes and restaurants every weekend, trying out new places as well as exercising. I totally enjoy the privileges of staying near the city as I have many different eating places to choose from. Remember my motto, ‘Eat first, worry later’? I have been practicing the first half of the motto ever since I moved up here. Suddenly it dawned on me that I should start worrying now as I have been putting on weight and my five-year-old jeans is feeling tighter than it used to be. Hence, I signed myself up for gym membership to ensure that I can have the best of both worlds (Yes, I am greedy! :P).

As promised in my previous post, I would like to share with you my pasta making experiments. Homemade fresh pasta has different texture and taste compared to the store bought ones. These are especially apparent when you have them with lighter sauce. You would be glad to know that fresh pasta is not difficult to make. In fact, they are pretty easy and fun to make. It is like playing with play dough :D.

Fresh pasta
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Gnocchi Gratinati Con Mozzarella (Baked Potato Gnocchi with Mozzarella)

Gnocchi are considered to be a type of dumpling and they are extremely soft and light. I know nuts about them before I came over to Australia. Two years ago I was at an Italian restaurant at Lygon Street in Melbourne and decided to try the dish with the cute name called Gnocchi Gorgonzola. It was pleasantly tasty. The second time I tried gnocchi was at Sapore, a one hat restaurant at St. Kilda. The gnocchi was absolutely divine. They were lighter, fluffier and softer compared to the ones at the previous restaurant.

I enjoyed gnocchi so much that I decided to make it at home one day. At that time, I was too lazy to make the potato gnocchi myself so I bought the pre-made ones from the supermarket and mix it with my homemade sauce. It was clearly a bad choice as I barely touched the dish. The sauce was OK but the problem lay in the store bought pre-made gnocchi. They tasted appalling and due to the high flour content, they were super tough, gluey and tasteless.

Last weekend, I decided to re-visit my gnocchi dish and this time I did not take any shortcuts. I made everything from scratch and it was extremely fruitful and rewarding. Be careful not to add too much flour to prevent it from being too heavy and hard. The thick and dense tomato sauce combined with the melted cheese enveloped the pillowy soft gnocchi creating a silky smooth sensation in your mouth. The sauce is simply marvelous. Simple yet packed with flavor.

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Mac & Cheese

For me, it’s important to obtain good quality cheese and pasta when cooking Mac & Cheese because these two are the heroes of the dish. I enjoy Barilla’s pasta more than San Remo’s as Barilla’s pasta has nice bitey texture and shorter cooking time. As for the cheese, I used Bega’s vintage cheddar and Mainland’s Gruyere. This recipe by Neil Perry calls for the addition of smoked paprika and Dijon mustard into the cream mixture. The flavor is rather interesting and all of them goes hand in hand together. I usually give it a generous sprinkle of breadcrumbs over the top and slowly grill it for better crunch and fragrance. I can assure you that you’ll be sticking to this recipe after you try it as it’s so easy, quick, and most importantly, DELICIOUS. I was pleasantly surprised at how light this dish is despite the amount of cream and cheese used in this recipe. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

IMG_6418These are what you need. Missing breadcrumbs as I forgot to take it out from the cabinet.

IMG_6449Yum yum…

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Creamy Mushroom Soup & Pan-Fried Chicken

Last week, Coles had specials on mushrooms. The timing was perfect as I had plan to cook my own creamy mushroom soup. However, I didn’t have the chance to cook it until tonight as it was pretty hot for the past whole week. There’s no air-conditioner in our house and we only have a tower fan to keep ourselves cool. Drinking hot soup on a hot day in our hot house is definitely a big NO NO. Tonight is good as the temperature is slowly going down.

Actually, I tried making my own mushroom soup once, last year, but didn’t like the consistency of the soup because I didn’t blend them at the end. I did not have a stick blender or a food processor at that time. We bought a stick blender at the beginning of this year so time to re-visit my creamy mushroom soup. This time, I added dried porcini mushrooms to give the soup a stronger earthy flavor and it really worked wonders. The aroma was absolutely fantastic. Dried porcini mushrooms are not cheap though, $5.89 for 20g but you only need a small amount for the soup. Having soup alone could not satisfy our large capacity tummies so I did a quick pan-fried chicken to go with the soup.

IMG_6305Wonderful stuff.

IMG_6306I need to improve on my food presentation skills.

IMG_6308Pan fried chicken inspired by Jamie Oliver.

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