The Sweet Spot

Pastry Chef & Traveler

Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Ratatouille; how Remy would make it.

I always love a good movie about food. Julie & Julia, Ratatouille, and one of the more recent ones, The 100-foot Journey. These are some of the movies that I don’t mind watching over and over and over again. What more in Ratatouille, the passion for food is ignited by something often regarded as filthy, a rat; Remy. Maybe in some ways, the movie is trying to pass on a message where if you have passion for something, throwing in some effort and extra love will make things all possible, even if you are a rat.


Of course, in real, Ratatouille is not made or conceptualized by a rat. This was a rendition of Thomas Keller’s Confit Byaldi. The recipe I used was adapted from smitten kitchen. Ratatouille (pronounced as rat-a-too-ee) is a traditional baked french dish. Tomatoes are a key ingredient, with garlic, onions, courgette (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), bell peppers, marjoram and basil, or bay leaf and thyme, or a mix of green herbs like herbes de Provence. It’s a very summery dish as tomatoes are often abundant and flavourul during summer.

But if you didn’t cook your own tomato sauce, using tomato puree from the jar is permissible.

IMG_5176ratarouille baked and unbakedThe key difference to the Ratatouille version is that the vegetables are sliced thinly and arranged in the most impressive way. Stews can be quite boring and hard to capture but with this dish, you want to show the beauty of what vegetables has to offer. Using a mandolin would quicken the process of making this beautiful dish (but you know, I actually don’t have a mandolin at home) SO MY MOM SLICED IT for me (easy for her cause she has samurai knife skills) . Cause I was busy making some chicken roulade for the entire family (of 8) So, really, I just flavoured the sauce with some onion, garlic and thyme, then arranged it all on 2 dishes, which didn’t take too long.

After that, place an aluminium foil over and put it in the oven. This would prevent the vegetables from browning too fast while retaining it’s gorgeous colour.

A tip on preparing this dish is to get the vegetables at about the same size so you have a more uniformed arrangement. It’s a very easy dish to make, though it takes a long time to prepare if you do not have a mandoline that is. A very flavourful and hearty dish to serve on the table, shared with family.

ratatouille slice

Serves: 8
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 smallish zucchini (green)
  • 1 smallish yellow squash (yellow zucchini)
  • 1 longish red bell pepper
  • Few sprigs fresh thyme and basil leaves.
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Lightly saute onion and garlic with some olive oil on a pan till fragrant. Pour in tomato sauce, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Leave it to simmer on low flame for 10 minutes.
  2. Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
  3. On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.
  4. Pour tomato sauce onto a baking dish. Arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.
  5. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish. Randomly stuff basil leaves in between the vegetable.
  6. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper or aluminium foil.
  7. Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes on 170 C, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
  8. Serve hot.



Scotch egg with tomato jam


You must be thinking, what? tomato again?

You really can’t argue that sometimes, tomato is like the underrated vegetable which is more likely used as a garnish in a salad, or a soggy little thing in between sandwich. Sure, tomato sauce is like THE thing but how many of you know how much of tomato actually goes into the sauce?Or, have you came across people who go like …. I eat tomato sauce (aka ketchup) but I don’t eat tomato. Sure. of course.

Actually, that’s me. Was me.

scotch egg 1

These days I want to go for ways you can make interesting dishes with vegetables which are not leafy greens, which are not just stir fried. I think vegetables deserve so to be paid a litle more attention :) But of course, here I’m going to talk about scotch egg, and a tomato jam.

I first came to know about the tomato jam when I was dining in the Kitchen Table supper club in their cozy home and was served a toast of sourdough bread, tomato jam, quail egg and a crispy bacon. So I went ahead and ask how to make the tomato jam cause it’s way way way beyond the flavours of tomato ketchup and so so yummy (addictive too). It’s like this concentrated taste of tomato, sweet and tangy but with a hint of molasses; kinda like sundried tomato but without the saltiness. What’s not to love?

Anyway so I came back and had to have my hands make it so I came across this recipe of caramelized onions and tomato jam instead of just tomato. Did someone say caramelized onion ? (me me me!) So cut things short, this is my 2nd time making the jam and this time around I just made without an actual measurement of the recipe and just went with tasting instincts. If you need the recipe, it’s here.

As for scotch egg, when I researched a little about my travels to London, I wanted to go to Borough Market and one of the many tasty things there was scotch egg. Of course, I never did tasted it because I didn’t even get to go to Borough Market. boo. So I made it myself.

scotch egg with sausage mix

And I also wanted to make the yolks to be runny …… But it was a little over :( But it is still good.. It was a good try. And you know what, you can also add this scotch egg to congee ^^ and even use it for a sandwich the next day ;) Plus it’s a protein packed food except that it was deep fried.

I used a mixture of chili sausage and minced pork to make the outer part. Usually sausages already have a mixed ratio of fat and lean meat, so I just added in a pack of lean pork mince to balance it.

Other than that, the other crucial part is the breading of the skin. You don’t want it to be soggy or the meat to be falling apart or stuck onto the pan when frying. So double coating gives it a good crispy texture. It’s coated with egg wash, then panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), then egg, and panko again. It ended up being this fist sized meat ball with a good surprise!

I would like to make them again and try to get runny yolks for sure!

scotch egg minced meat

Scotch Egg with tomato jam
Serves: 4
  • 6 eggs
  • 200g plain sausage meat (not frankfurters but fresh sausage)
  • 200g pork mince
  • 3 tbsp chopped mixed herbs (I used sage,thyme, rosemary)
  • 1 tbsp English mustard
  • Splash of milk
  • 50g flour
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, to cook
  1. Put four of the eggs into a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes, then put straight into a large bowl of iced water for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Put the meat, herbs, and mustard into a bowl, season and mix well with your hands. Divide into four.
  3. Carefully peel the eggs. Beat the two raw eggs together in a bowl with a splash of milk. Put the flour in a second bowl and season with salt and pepper, then tip the breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Arrange in an assembly line.
  4. Put a square of clingfilm on the worksurface, and flour lightly. Put one of the meatballs in the centre, and flour lightly, then put another square of cling film on top. Roll out the meat until large enough to encase an egg and remove the top sheet of clingfilm.
  5. To assemble the egg, roll one peeled egg in flour, then put in the centre of the meat. Bring up the sides of the film to encase it, and smooth it into an egg shape with your hands. Dip each egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then egg and then breadcrumbs.
  6. Fill a large pan a third full of vegetable oil, and heat to 170C (or when a crumb of bread sizzles and turns golden, but does not burn, when dropped in it). Cook the eggs a couple at a time, for seven minutes, until crisp and golden, then drain on kitchen paper before serving.


Fresh tomato soup with grilled cheese toast

Hey hey,

I’ve been cooking quite a bit lately to make dinner for 1 (me) So I make things I like to eat, things that came across today in the mail / pinterest / food sites. As the grocer is just 5 mins away from my work place, I will make a note on what fresh ingredients to buy then go get them after I leave work before I head home.

40 minutes later I would be back and start cooking! I usually try not to do anything tooo over the top and go with just fresh and simple ingredients but not too boring. I also don’t really cook so much chinese food as we eat out alot on chinese food it makes it no reason for me to cook that.. It isn’t very economical honestly to cook for 1. Sometimes you buy a packet of salad leaves and you only eat 1/4 of it. Hence for the next 4 days, you need to incorporate them into your meals before they spoil. It would be great if you have a week meal planned out, reuse some of the ingredients that you can’t just buy ONE unit, then you would save more compared to eating out alone.

fresh tomato soup cheese

So you have two choice, cook for more than one, or don’t cook chinese, indian, italian and greek in the same week ;)

Anyway, one of the days, I came across Food52’s site and ding!!! I saw this recipe for a 20-minute fresh tomato soup with grilled cheese toast.tomato soup

Believe it or not, I’ve not had tomato soup, unless minestrone soup counts as that but just pure tomato…. hrm… nope. So I was quite intrigued by it, plus it was easy to make. I just need to buy …….. tomato! and I already have the rest of the things at home, so, bingo! It’s cheap, kinda healthy and easy to make (did I just say that twice already?) Plus, it’s the perfect comfort TV food without guilt. OKAY I’m not going to say the cheese toast wasn’t that tiny bit guilty but come’on!! It’s Pont L’eveque which I bought from Bastille Market in Paris (for only 6.80 euro for 400g) As for basil, I have them growing in my garden. You don’t know, but the feeling of having to cut or pick your own fresh herbs from your own garden is like a …….. moment of glory, a moment of satisfactory, contentment, however you call it. It’s just different. I urge you to get your green fingers going (I don’t even have green fingers but I think basil plants are quite easy to grow so give it a try.

tomato soup grilled cheese toast

Fresh tomato soup with grilled cheese toast
Serves: 1
  • 20g softened butter
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes (I use very ripe local tomatoes) quartered
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • White wine vinegar to taste
  • 2 1 inch-thick slices white sandwich bread
  • few slices of cheese
  • fresh basil leaves and baby radish for garnishing
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat half of butter and the tomato paste over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring until the butter is foamy and the tomato paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, sugar, half a garlic clove, and 1 cup water or vegetable stock. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, and rapidly simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have broken apart.
  5. While the soup simmers, make the sandwiches: Rub the inside of the bread slices with the cut side of the remaining garlic clove. Stack the cheese on top and a basil leaf and and sandwich it with the remaining bread slice (garlic-rubbed sides of all bread slices should be facing the cheese).
  6. Spread the exposed side of the bread slices with the remaining butter. Add the sandwiches to the hot pan and place a second, heavy skillet over the top or press down with a spatula.
  7. Fry the sandwiches, turning once, until the cheese is melted and the outside of the sandwiches are crispy, about 8 minutes.
  8. Remove the thyme stems from the cooked tomato soup. Transfer the tomato soup to a blender and purée until smooth. Season the soup with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Garnish with sliced baby radishes, a swirl of olive oil and basil leaves.
  9. Serve the soup in bowls, each accompanied with half of a sandwich.

Yummmmy indeed!! I think I have grown an appreciation for soups so I’m going to explore more of it next time. I’m thinking clam chowder, mushroom soups and bisque! I’m not going to lie, this wasn’t just my dinner. I had an omelette at the side after this soup. But after the omelette, I was full already! So sometimes it’s good to eat less meat. There are many ways that we can all eat more vegs, i think soups are just a good way to incorporate more greens into our daily diet.



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