linguine with mussels & clams

First, the mussels and clams were steamed in a pan with some white wine.  In a separate pan, I heated olive oil, added a few garlic slices and diced onion, then after a few minutes of sautéing, added canned san marzano tomatoes and simmered the sauce for about twenty minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.  I was going to save the liquid from cooking the mussels and clams to add to the tomato sauce, but decided against it to keep more tomato flavor in the sauce.  When the linguine was cooked, it was mixed with the sauce and shellfish, and fresh parsley and freshly grated parmesan were sprinkled on top.

Posted in Pasta | Leave a comment

spaghetti alla bottarga

This is spaghetti alla bottarga made with Taiwanese mullet roe (“wu yu zi”).  I could not get enough of it ever since my friend Daphne first made it for me.  The most common way to serve mullet roe in Taiwan is as an appetizer, in slivers with daikon slices.  Since Chinese meals often amount to feasts with many dishes served one after another (or altogether), this dish seems neglected on the table.  A recent trend of replacing the daikon slices with pear slices may be an effort to dress up the dish, but I still prefer the peppery crunch of the radish to go with the cured saltiness. 

I left the garlic in the olive oil, though some may choose to remove it after it heating it in the oil.  I peeled off the skin of the mullet roe, then brushed the mullet roe with white wine before heating it on both sides in another pan, without overcooking it as that would destroy the roe’s moist chewiness.  Recipes I found online do not include this step and use bottarga as is, so this is just a personal habit to heat it first.  The mullet roe is chopped into pieces and added to the spaghetti mixed with olive oil, with a sprinkle of fresh parsley on top. 

Posted in Pasta | Leave a comment

fresh fruit cheesecake tart

I made this fruit tart awhile ago and I wanted to share it because it was a dessert that looked and tasted scrumptious. I found the recipe on the epicurious site:

The only changes to the recipes were the fruits and glaze, because I didn’t like the idea of putting papayas on tarts and I didn’t have guava jelly or crab apple jelly.  The sweet cheesecake filling was balanced with strawberries, mango slices, blueberries, and kiwi.  I also went easy on the glaze (strawberry) as I am not crazy about thick glazes and didn’t have a problem with keeping the fruits fresh for the couple of hours before the tart was served.

It was also my first time making pastry crust and I made a note to use the crust recipe as a base for other tarts.  The crust was simple enough to make, and tasted just right when biting into its buttery and flaky goodness.

Posted in Desserts | Leave a comment

salmon and roe spaghetti

I usually prefer tomato-based pastas, but once in awhile, I try something different  and I’m always excited when the dish turns out delicious.

I love salmon roe and came across this pasta recipe that uses it with smoked salmon, white wine, cream, and chives.  Since I had fresh salmon fillets in the fridge, I pan-fried them and cut them into bite-size pieces to subsitute for the smoked salmon.  Chives were omitted in favor of arugula leaves and green peas.  The pasta turned out silky and flavorful without being too creamy, yummy!

Posted in Pasta | Leave a comment

crazy for camellia

Since discovering camellia oil three years ago, I became obsessed.  Camellia oil is also known as “olive oil of the east”, but I was surprised to learn that many from Taiwan are either not familiar with it or simply do not use it, despite the fact that it is produced locally and is rich in monounsaturated fats like extra-virgin olive oil.  It may have something to do with the limited supply and relatively high price, but I suspect it also has something to do with its name in Chinese, which translates to “bitter tea oil”.  Contrary to its name, its taste is pleasant and nutty, and is suitable for cooking under high heat, a plus for a kitchen staple.

I am trying out different camellia oils I can get my hands on.  Though I typically use it as a cooking oil in vegetable stir-fries or meat stews, here I try it in desserts: camellia oil biscuits with sesame and fennel seeds.  Crispy and just sweet enough to enjoy with tea or coffee!

Posted in Camellia oil | Leave a comment