When Is the Last Time You Cooked Lamb for Dinner? Tips on how to cook and choose your lamb.

Lamb is not the kind of meat that everyone would like to cook at home. Its strong flavour and not quite knowing how to cook it makes many of us pass it up for more familiar and popular cuts. If you are a lamb lover, don’t let this unfamiliarity deter you from cooking a succulent piece of lamb. Because if you think about it, cooking lamb chops is no different from cooking pork chops and braising a lamb stew is pretty much the same as braising a beef stew.

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Slow-braised Lamb Ragu with Paparadelle

For all meats, whether they come from a cow, a pig or a lamb, the types of cuts are very similar because these animals all have 4 legs and move in the same way. Therefore the muscles and parts of their bodies that are used (or not used) are pretty much the same. The tenderest cuts will be the loin chops and tougher cuts will be their shoulders, legs or shank area. For example, lamb chops can be quickly pan fried just like pork chops or steaks. Tougher cuts such as leg of lamb or brisket area are best to braise slowly for 2-3 hours.

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The strong flavour (gamey flavour) of lamb that some people don’t like mainly comes from the fat. You either love this taste or you hate it. There is really no in between. So if you want to try lamb but cannot stand the strong flavour, try trimming away as much of the fat as possible. The strong taste of lamb is also more subtle if you cook the lamb to about a medium to medium-well, with just a touch of pink in the middle. Another way to slowly incorporate lamb into a dish is to use mince lamb, where you can start with mixing minced lamb with minced beef, pork or chicken to make meatballs or burgers.

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Pan Seared Lamb Chops with Port and Cherry Sauce

 

Lamb is actually a very versatile meat when it comes to flavour combinations. With lamb having such a rich and meaty taste, it is best to season the meat with fresh herbs and spices that will bring some freshness and contrast. Rosemary, mint and lemon zest are classic combinations. Aromatic spices such as curry, cumin, cinnamon and black pepper are good choices for warm stewing dishes. Lamb also goes very well with fruits such as apricots, pomergrante and any sweet chutneys.

 

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Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Black Olives and Dried Apricots

If you are still not convinced, take a look at one of my July cooking videos here – “Summer Roast Rack of Lamb with Vegetables and Fresh Mint Sauce”.

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Baking Tips That Will Make You a Better Baker

I think baking is one of many people’s favourite things to do in the kitchen. I know a lot of my girl friends love to bake, whether it is homemade breads, 3-layer cakes or the simple breakfast muffins. I certainly started my cooking journey in the early days with baking. It was one of the first things they taught us in our home economics class – to bake.

Baking requires precision and for you to follow the recipes exactly. It is an art of science. Aside from being precise, here are a few tips that I’ve learned throughout the years that made me a better baker.

  1. Make sure your diary ingredients are at room temperature (unless the recipes stated otherwise). When your dairies and eggs are at room temperature, they will blend easier and also cook more evenly. If you did not plan ahead by taking the ingredients out of the fridge, you may try the follow tricks.

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  • Cold Butter: Put the measured amount in a ziplock bag and beat it with a rolling pin. This will help soften the butter and make it easier to blend.
  • Cold Eggs: Place the eggs in a bowl and cover them with warm water for 10 minutes to bring them up to room temperature.
  • Cold Cream Cheese: Leave the cream cheese in its foil packet and put it in a bowl and cover it with warm water for 10 minutes to bring it up to room temperature.
  1. Measure your ingredeints precisely. As mentioned above, being precise is very important in baking. So make sure you invest in proper measuring equipment, using liquid measuring cups to measure your liquids and dry measuring cups or electric scales for your dried ingredients. Sometimes the slightest difference in measurement can cause you a cake.

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  1. Mixing well. You should always mix your dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately first before combining them together. It is also easier to blend everything well together by stirring in your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. And remember, do not over mix! It will make your baked goods very tough. Just stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated and then stop.
  2. Make sure your raising agents are active. By raising agents, I mean the most commonly used baking soda and baking powder. If you are not a regular baker, it is very easy to leave your baking soda and baking powder in your cupboards for too long and way pass their expiry dates. I know I am guilty of this. Once they are opened, their life span might be shorter than the date stated on the box. To check whether these 2 ingredients are still active and will make your cake and muffin rise, you can mix spoonful of baking soda with vinegar and a spoonful of baking powder with hot water. If both of these mixtures fizzes (i.e. you hear a fizz sound and see bubbles), then they are active. It is worth checking if these raising agents are still working, if not, your bake goods will not rise at all.

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These are simple tips that should help you to become a better baker. I hope this was helpful!

If you want to see more baking videos, leave me a comment down below.

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The Naked Finn Hong Kong Pop Up Tasting – What An Experience!

It’s been awhile since I have been to a tasting dinner for a potential new restaurant. I remember back in the days when I was working in the restaurant industry, tasting was part of my job and it was just wonderful. You get to experience what is going on in a chef’s mind. All their creativity, cooking and artistic talents are presented to you on plates and plates of mouth-watering food. There is always something new to learn in every tasting.

I was lucky enough to have had the chance to attend The Naked Finn’s Hong Kong pop-up tasting dinner in the beginning of May. There is cooking and there is passionate cooking. And the team behind The Naked Finn is definitely the passionate type. It was one of the most amazing dinners that I have had in a long while.

Menu of the night

A 16-course seafood tasting dinner

The Naked Finn started out 5 years ago in Singapore focusing solely on seafood. By seafood, I don’t just mean the regular kinds you see in the wet market. Chef Ken Loon and his team pour their hearts and souls into researching and finding the best species of each type of crustaceans for each specific dish. They understand where these creatures come from, how deep from the ocean, which part and what they eat can affect their texture and taste. Every part of the crustaceans are put into some sort of use and nothing goes to waste. With such fresh and amazingly tasting shellfish, less is always more. Minimal seasoning is used, sticking with just sea salt olive oil and occasionally, unsalted butter.

First dish

A quick grilling of Indian Squid on a cast iron grill with no seasoning. Simply Divine!

 

Second dish - One of my favourite dishes

One of the favourite dishes of the night. It was a very simple cold vermicelli dish made with 7 ingredients. The dried Sakura Shrimps on top gave this dish the saltiness and freshness of seafood.

 

Hae Mee Tng (prawn noodle soup)

Hae Mee Tng with Gamero Rosso – This is one of The Naked Finn’s most popular dishes on their menu. The prawn broth is made with both the shells/heads AND prawn meats all blended together.

 

Each dish was crafted with care with no extra embellishment. You can truly taste the freshness and sweetness that the seafood brought to each dish. The seasoning WAS the seafood itself. It was truly amazing! There were finesse and elegance yet everything was extremely approachable and non-pretentious.

Naked “Orh Jien_ on Warmed Oyster

Naked “Orh Jien’ on Warmed Oyster
Made with 2 ingredients, the oysters and seasoning was from squid’s innards, including the ink.

 

Ezo bafun uni with squid ink and liver risotto

Ezo Bafun Uni with Squid Ink & Liver “Risotto” – An extremely fresh dish with amazing knife skills. The squid was cut up into fine and small cubes to resemble the look and feel of risotto rice. A bit of Spanish Bomba rice was blended in for more texture.

Chef Loon and his team believe in sourcing and supporting small fisheries that focus on non-mainstream species and truly sustainable practices. Therefore, you won’t see any tunas on his menu, as this is one of the fish that has been very much overfished.

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Queen Crab Bee Hoon Consommé – The broth was packed full of flavour and filled your mouth with ‘umami’.

 

Dessert

Naked Chendol – This is The Naked Finn’s interpretation of the classic Chendol (珍多冰)


This pop-up tasting dinner ran for a week and I believe it was a great success. They got many feedbacks from various top chefs in Hong Kong and also food critics and connoisseurs who know what works in the Hong Kong’s restaurant scene. I really do hope that I’ll be seeing The Naked Finn opening up their first restaurant in Hong Kong in the near future.

For more information on The Naked Finn, visit: www.nakedfinn.com

Address: Block 39, Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109442

 

 

Being a Cooking Instructor

It was a lucky chance that I stumbled upon being a cooking instructor. I never dreamt of being able to teach people what I am passionate about. As someone who loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen, I always get requests from family and friends to cook them dinners or teach them how to make a dish or two for special occasions. I love sharing my creations, my cooking tips and knowledge with them. It is an extremely satisfying feeling if my food puts a smile on their faces and make them feel loved and cared for.

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When I tell my friends how to make certain dishes, I don’t think of it as teaching them, I think of it as offering a solution to their problems, sharing what I know to make their lives easier in the kitchen. Because for someone who seldom cooks, making dinner can be a daunting task. And I think this is my approach in being a cooking instructor as well, sharing what I know and making cooking fun and easy in the eyes of the students.

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I am grateful that I get to host a few cooking classes a month at the DayDayCook Concept Studio. You can always get a general idea of what a person is like by the way he/she cooks. Do they follow instructions exactly or are they more carefree? Are they organised or less so? Are they extremely focused or do they talk and share what they know with other students? These are all the things I get to observe during my classes and I love every single minute of it. I am very happy to have the chance to get to know these lovely students this way – in a fun and informal setting, over delicious food!

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My style of cooking is quite unstructured but I still have a basic framework in mind and I use this framework as the basis for all my classes. I think in terms of a 3 course meal, just like how Chinese families would go for “3 dishes 1 soup” style. Many of my classes will consist of a main course and paired with either an appetiser or a dessert. If the dishes are easy to make, I would demonstrate all 3 dishes. I also think about what ingredients are in season and include them into my recipes so that the students will be able to get the freshest of the produce.

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Chicken Roulade

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Seared Scallops with Mango Salsa

By structuring my classes this way, my students will have a collection of appetisers, main courses and desserts that they can mix and match when they cook at home. I think this is where creativity comes in for the students – it is seeing how each dish is unique yet being able to pair them with each other to make each cooking and dining experience different and special.

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Seafood Paella in the making

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Free-form Mixed Berries Pie

 

If you want to see what a cooking class is like at the Concept Studio, come join us on one of the weekends! shop.daydaycook.com

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