I was kind of excited when I got a chance to meet Poh Ling from Masterchef Australia / Poh's Kitchen. I am quite a cooking show junkie and I always wanted to meet all the people I watch on television.
Thanks to TLC and MSL Singapore, I got to meet Poh in person! She's in Singapore as part of a promotion for her cooking show, Poh's Kitchen. You can watch it every Monday at 1900 hrs (7:00 pm SIN), starting February 14 on TLC, StarHub Ch 427. Encores the following Mondays at 1300 hrs (1:00 pm SIN).
Her show is quite fun to watch, I have been watching on online streaming from Australia! (Now, you don't have to! Just turn on your TV!) On her show, she will be preparing one dish and her guest chefs (like Neil Perry, David Thompson, Emmanuel Mollois) would be preparing something similar. Eg, She will be preparing Abacus Beads and her guest, Andre Ursini would be preparing gnocchi! Food that's almost similar yet different.
Poh was demonstrating how to prepare a very simple Italian meal. It's suitable for simple lunch or dinner without much ingredients. Busy mums or working adults can just grabbed the ingredients and prepare them quickly.
Poh prepared "Gnocchi with basic tomato and basil sauce" at the Loft Kitchen at Grand Hyatt. To prove it's really easy, she made it right in front of us and we got to taste it! It was just so delicious and simple!
I have included the recipe TLC provided at the bottom of this post, so you can prepare this at home too! The method is described in the post with photos. Enjoy!
Poh's so animated and she's quite pretty too! She's a KL girl who has migrated to South Australia with her parents when she was just 9. She studied Design and freelanced as a graphic designer and illustrator and then began painting full time in 2002.
Funny side note:
I studied and lived in Australia for 4 years long ago, so her accent reminds me of my aussie classmates and also our ABC (Australian Born Chinese) friends.
I did not hear Poh do the 'switch', but most of our ABC friends can do it! What we term the 'switch' is they can do the Malaysian/Singapore accent when you speak to some friends, and switch to the aussie accent when they speak to aussies or other ABCs.
My sister and brother in UK does that too! They will be speaking to us with the lah etc and suddenly when they pick up the phone when it rings in their house, they speak with a British accent. LOL
To prepare the sauce, she used vine ripened tomatoes. 2 kg of it. She did comment that she found vine ripened tomatoes expensive in Singapore. (yup, we already know that!)
She is seen (above) taking off the stems and the tops of the tomatoes. She then used a knife to score the tomato all around. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover it with boiling water. Weigh the tomatoes down with a small saucer and wait for 5-10 minutes. Drain the tomatoes and peel and discard the skins. Chop roughly and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and briefly saute the garlic until aromatic and not all coloured.
How many of you use the same aromatics for all your dishes, whether you are cooking Italian, Chinese, Indian or any kind of food? Many people seem to always add the same onions, garlic, ginger etc in all their dishes, thinking it will add more flavour. Poh said don't. All your dishes will then taste the same!
For this dish, she only used garlic and don't brown it (we are not cooking chinese food here!), just when it turns aromatic, add in other ingredients. (I wanted to laugh).
Pour in the chopped tomatoes, salt and sugar into the aromatic garlic oil.
Look, she's got a chef helper from Hyatt helping her clear up! I need someone like that at home when I cook too! To prepare all the ingredients and clean up for me. Yeah, you are telling me to dream on right?
Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 7 minutes.You can press and 'chopped' the tomatoes with your spatula if you want it to be smaller pieces.
You can see that the colour is turning to the colour of the bottled pasta sauce you get from the supermarket! Talking about tomatoes, Poh mentioned that tomatoes are not to be stored in the fridge if you want them to ripen. Cold temperature will prevent tomatoes from ripening and you won't get the maximum flavour out of the fruit. Leave your tomatoes outside the fridge.
I store my tomatoes in the fridge and it really does not ripen, but I like it because it can keep very long! Maybe I will ripen my tomotoes first and then put them in the fridge to stop the ripening when I buy too much of it next time!
Add the basil and simmer for another 10 minutes. You can see that the sauce have reduced and thickened. Just like how it is when you buy them in bottles/jars!
You can prepare a big batch of it and store them in your fridge if you want.
Halfway when the sauce was simmering, Poh was already preparing the gnocchi.
Her recipe used 1kg of Dutch Creams or Kipfler potatoes, skins scrubbed and left on. She said any waxy skin potatoes could be used if you can't find Dutch creams or Kipfler Potatoes. The reason is the texture of potatoes that does not absorb water while you are cooking it is what is needed to make very nice gnocchi.
Place the potatoes in a large port and cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Boil until they are tender and the tip of a knife can be easily inserted. Drain and cool them. Hold the potatoes with a tea towel and peel off the skin.
To mash the potatoes, either run though a mouli or a potato ricer or mash with a fork and push through a sieve. You can see above that she did not bring her mouli over from Australia and she is using a tool from Hyatt's kitchen. It's tough work! It's a great workout!
Place the mashed potato, flour, egg, salt and cheese in a large bowl. Mix together, then gently knead until just combined. The texture should feel like very soft playdough but it should not stick to your hands. Dust the bench with a small amount of flour, break off small amounts of dough and gently roll into 1 cm diameter long tubes. (like the photo above).
With a knife, cut off 1.5cm sections, roll them in plain flour and rest them on a tray till ready to boil.
In a large pot, boil plenty of water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Shake excess flour off the gnocchi before tossing it into the boiling water. When the gnocchi pieces are cooked, they will float to the top.
Gently scoop out with a slotted spoon and lower straight into the tomato sauce.
Handle the gnocchi tenderly! They are really soft and so delicious! It's like eating soft pillows of potato!
Serve with grated parmigiano-reggiano and a sprinkle of chopped parsley if desired.
We were standing in front of the bench when she was preparing it. No special TV effects! Everything was done right in front of us! It was so simple!
Here's the recipe:
Tomato and basil sauce
2 kg vine ripened tomatoes
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 handful basil leaves, torn
freshly ground black pepper.
1 kg Dutch Creams or Kipfler potatoes, skins scrubbed and left on
200 gm plain flour
1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
100 gm parmigiano-reggiano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 teaspoon salt.
Here's a reminder. You can catch Poh in Poh's Kitchen every Monday at 1900 hrs (7:00 pm SIN), starting February 14 on TLC, StarHub Ch 427. Encores the following Mondays at 1300 hrs (1:00 pm SIN).
For Malaysian readers, you can also catch Poh's Kitchen on TLC, Astro Channel 707.