Tag Archives: herbs

O’Gourmet Food Hall

2 Dec

As a passionate cook and a foodie, I am always on the lookout for places where I can source the best of the best. I truly believe that ingredients matter: the olive oil you use impacts hugely on the final taste of your dish; the nuts, spices and flavourings, if fresh and carefully sourced, can deepen and embolden a meal so much more than wan supermarket choices; and fruits and vegetables of sublime quality are not only a joy to work with, but their colours, textures and flavours make everything just taste better.

I will drive an extra mile to find food of extraordinary quality, to be able to speak with knowledgeable purveyors about their wares, and to sample different and new items. I am lucky though, because I live within a few minutes of what I consider one of the most wonderful collections of food and ingredients in Kuala Lumpur – the O’Gourmet Food Hall at Bangsar Shopping Centre. O’Gourmet has it all – a decadent and seductive cheese room; a bright and stunningly beautiful fruit and vegetable stand; fresh nuts, spices and herbs; the astonishing variety of Vom Fass vinegars and oils; pastas, flours, and grains of just about every description; a thoughtfully curated wine selection; chocolates, cookies, candies and cakes; and prepared foods that are made with care and quality.

O’Gourmet reminds me of a Malaysianised combination of Dean and Delucca, Chelsea Market and Zabars in New York with Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London. Its a Food Hall of quality, with resources from around the world. I have been deeply impressed by the way the way the people at O’Gourmet know their food. For example, Sebastien Le Francois, the resident sommelier and cheese guru, is not only deeply knowledgeable, but happy to make time to talk through selections, options, ideas, pairings. He tells you what he thinks, he explains the relative merits of different cheeses and wines, he talks recipes, combinations, flavours. Wonderful!

Its like a gourmet wonderland of food and ingredients, and I have always regarded a visit to O’Gourmet Food Hall as a thrill, a moment of inspiration and joy – a truly happy day. I can wander the aisles of O’Gourmet for hours. In fact, AngelKitten and I did so just yesterday, marveling at everything we saw. I love the food conversations she and I have together – we inspire each other, fantasise how different ingredients can be put together, find hidden gems and share our excitement. Our day at O’Gourmet Foodhall was pure happy – we marveled at the careful way in which each item is chosen, tasted the oils, sampled the cheeses and imagined different pairings of ingredients… from a gingerbread house with candied and sugared fruits to a hazelnut torte to a truffled macaroni and cheese. O’Gourmet has the resources to provide for all these imaginings and more.

First we stopped at the fruit and vegetable stand. Amazing! Such colour and texture. Such a wide variety to choose from, and so fresh, so luscious, completely delectable. Those fruits, oh my goodness. Tiny perfect apples (we want to candy them for our gingerbread house), comice pears at their peak of ripeness, a beautiful array of berries, tomatoes on the vine, voluptuous dragon fruit, and lettuce leaves so fresh their roots are still attached.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

Such a great selection – and so intrinsically sexy. Onions, cabbage, fennel and mushrooms so perfect that I couldnt wait to get my hands on them, to touch and tease them into recipes and meals. I felt like the little old lady in the movie Tampopo, who gets chased away from the produce section for touching and stroking and feeling the vegetables a little too much!

Luckily there were other things to mark our attention. We wandered through the herbs and spices, dried pastas and grains…Everything is lovingly laid out, like art, and easily accessible. You can sample, sniff, and consider to your hearts content.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

I love the fact that you can look and choose exactly what – and how much – you want – bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, mustard seed, mace, cinnamon, fennel, chili, nutmeg, dried pulses, and so much more – all arrayed temptingly, their colours a symphony of choice, and each pretty bottle a really exciting possibility of flavour and illumination. A spark of possibility every where you turn.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

From there, we wandered over to the oils and vinegars. Alongside carefully chosen bottled oils and vinegars, O’Gourmet has brought in Vom Fass – a German company that supplies artisanal vinegars and oils of the absolute highest quality. You can sample everything at the Vom Fass section because of how the oils and vinegars are presented in earthenware casks – and we did! From a stunning wild raspberry vinegar to the sharp brightness of calimansi vinegar to the syrupy dusky wonder of a 25 year old balsamico. From extra virgin olive oils that tasted like sunshine and light to hazelnut oil that was rounded and rich and wild to a truffle oil that was totally imbued with the haunting notes of truffle. Each oil and vinegar can be sampled, and they can be bottled in 100ml and up glass bottles of your choice. We were like kids in a candy shop!

O'Gourmet Foodhall

We wanted to bring all that we sampled home with us, but we tried to be restrained (!) and so we chose three – the hazelnut and truffle oils and the 25 year old balsamic vinegar. I have to admit, when we got home, we unwrapped the oils, and tasted them again. Tonight, I will make a hazelnut torte using some of that hazelnut oil. So beautiful!

O'Gourmet Foodhall

And finally, we went to the cheese room. We stood and sniffed that pungent enticing wild aroma of cheese, we tasted, we looked, and we chatted with the accommodating M. Sebastien. I am so pleased that Kuala Lumpur has a cheese shop of such high quality, beautifully curated and totally tempting.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

And we chose – a triple cream Brilliat Savarin, imbued with truffles. I looked at it and I could feel myself purrrrrr.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

I have been a customer of O’Gourmet for a while now. Each time I am at Bangsar Shopping Centre, I make time to wander and look and touch, to consider some special cheese or a prime flavour ingredient that will brighten the food I am cooking that day. I love that there is always something different, something unique, something deeply tempting.

Because I am so enamoured of the quality ingredients available at O’Gourmet Foodhall, and so inspired to creativity every time I visit, I have decided that I am going to do a weekly O’Gourmet recipe for the next few months. I hope these recipes will excite you with the possibilities inherent in ingredients of perfect quality, and will spark a passion for prime ingredients, treated with love and respect.

O’Gourmet Food Hall is at the East Wing, Ground Floor of Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jalan Maarof, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: +60.3.2094.9966

Visit their website and their Facebook page to be inspired!

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

8 Nov

Cheesy GloriousnessSo, now that I am re-inspired, what do I cook? I thought about it last night, and I knew that some beloved people were coming over for a spot of watching BBC’s Sherlock. We needed some good, hearty hungry people food. And I remembered… one of the first things I ever “made up” inside my head were these stuffed mushrooms. A little twee, I know, and very, very retro. However, classic dishes never ever go out of style, and at the time I first created these, I was on a second hand cookbook kick, and reading books from the 50’s and 60’s – jellied avocado salad and things like that.

The section in these old school cookbooks that really tweaked my interest was the hors d’oeuvres – wonderful things like  puff pastry cheese twists, sour cream onion dip, and mushrooms in just about every form possible. Mushrooms on toast, pickled mushrooms, grilled mushrooms, mushroom jellies. And of course, stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed with everything from spinach to simple breadcrumbs. I have to say here, I adore mushrooms. I think they are fantastic, delicious, easy and incredibly varied. Mushrooms are definitely amongst my favourite things to eat in the world. And I love love love this recipe because it, like mushrooms, is so infinitely adaptable.

I am giving you a basic infrastructure here. This recipe will make 8 large stuffed mushroom caps. If you only have small mushrooms, adapt. If you want larger still – like a big beefy portobello, adapt. If you want to add a certain ingredient (spinach, oven dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, for example), then do so by all means! I would hazard to guess that 8 largish mushrooms might serve 4 rather polite people as a main course – and they are definitely main course material. My nephew turned to me and said, “I wouldnt need meat if I could eat these all the time!” Music to a vegetarian’s ears 😉

Stuffed mushrooms are also fantastic as part of a feast or larger spread – they would be great as a side dish, or the stuffing part of a vegetarian Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years – or any other big celebratory party. They can be made in advance, held up to 2 days in the fridge, and brought to room temperature to serve. You could even warm them up a bit in the oven if you like. The stuffing must be cooked before refrigerating though because it has raw egg in it – and raw egg mixed with bread and mushrooms and other good things, sitting in the fridge, is a bad accident waiting to happen.

To be honest, I usually prep the mushrooms, saute the duxelles, and refrigerate that and prepare fresh on the day. Otherwise, I would be way too tempted to eat them all up before the party! They are that good. And leftovers (if youre lucky) make a sublime breakfast, cold from the fridge even, the next day.

Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side dish

  • 12 large mushrooms (Swiss brown or portobello) – very fresh and firm. About 2kg (1lb) or so
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or olive oil and truffle oil if you have it) plus additional for mushroom caps
  • 3 – 4 minced garlic cloves (or minced shallots if you prefer)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or white wine
  • 2 – 3 tbsp + 1 – 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs – I use Panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs, but use what you like – brown bread is really gorgeous and rustic in this recipe
  • 1/2 – 1 cup roughly grated parmesan plus additional for topping if you want (and I always do!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, minced – I used Italian parsley, rosemary and oregano – but you could add basil, rocket, thyme – whatever you feel like
  • 2 eggs

First comes the preparation of the mushrooms, and you really need to focus here. Examine all your mushrooms, and put aside your favourite eight. These will be the mushroom caps that will be stuffed. Peel and finely chop the remaining four mushrooms and stems. Place finely chopped mushrooms in a large bowl.

Peel your remaining eight mushrooms and stem them. Chop the stems finely and add to the bowl. Slice a thin slice off the top of the mushroom so that it will lay flat on the baking pan. Using a melon baller, scoop out as much mushroom flesh from the interior of the mushroom as you wish. With Swiss browns this tends to be quite a lot. Finely dice the scooped and sliced flesh. Place the scooped out mushroom caps in a small bowl, cover with a cloth and set aside.

You should have about 5 – 6 cups of diced mushrooms. Take a large non-stick frying pan, over medium high heat, and warm the olive and truffle oils. Saute the garlic lightly until it just softens. Add the diced mushrooms in three lots of about 2 cups each. You dont want to crowd the mushrooms in the pan – otherwise they will begin to steam, and wont saute well. Add one lot of mushrooms, and stir well, coating the mushrooms with the oil and garlic. Add salt and pepper, and allow the mushrooms to saute until lightly browned.

Only then should you add the second lot of mushrooms. Stir well, add a little more salt and pepper, and allow to saute again. They will begin to let go of some liquid. This is good. Each lot may take up to five minutes or more to cook through. Once the second lot has been sauteed to your liking, add the final lot of diced mushrooms, stir well to combine, and slice the butter thinly over all the mushrooms. Allow the heat of the mushrooms to melt the butter – this will flavour the mushrooms, encourage a little sauce to form, and add a bit of oil to the pan.

Let the mushrooms cook for a few minutes, and then pour over the balsamic vinegar. Stir well to combine, and then add the cream and Dijon. Stir, taste and adjust salt and pepper. You should have a pile of gorgeously sauteed mushrooms, with a little bit of thick mushroomy sauce.

Take the pan off the heat and transfer the mushrooms back to the large bowl. You should have about 2 – 3 cups of cooked duxelles.

Stir the mushrooms well and add the breadcrumbs immediately. Stir well, and allow the breadcrumbs to soak up all the wonderful mushroom juices.

Add the parmesan and stir well again. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Mince your herbs of choice very fine, and add to the bowl, mix to combine.

Whisk together the eggs and a further tablespoon or two of heavy cream. Pour this mixture over the mushrooms and stir lightly to create a stuffing. You really dont want to make a dense stuffing – just use the eggs and cream as a binder to get everything nice and cohesive. If you want to add anything else (a bit of spinach, some roasted peppers, a few shards of sun dried tomatoes), you can do so now. Set the stuffing aside for a moment while you prepare the mushroom caps.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

Take the mushroom caps, and pour a teaspoon or so of olive oil into your hands. Using your hands, rub each mushroom cap well, and place it on the baking sheet. This will ensure the mushroom caps bake through and dont dry out in the heat of the oven. You may need to add a bit more oil to your hands to really oil all eight mushroom caps.

Still using your hands, divide the stuffing between the eight prepared mushroom caps. Dont over stuff, and dont let the stuffing overflow too much. As the mushrooms bake, the caps will shrink, and the stuffing will fluff up – you dont want a huge difference between the two in the end product!

Grate a bit of parmesan and sprinkle over the stuffing – I used about half a cup in total. Bake the mushrooms in the hot oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking pan about 15 minutes into the baking.

Allow the mushrooms to cool down a little bit once removed from the oven, or serve at room temperature.

Beyond delicious. Enjoy!