January 26 is Australia Day. It’s a day of BBQs by the beach, picnics in the park, summer music concerts and this year, it also includes watching scream queen Azarenka beat smiling assassin Li Na at the Australian Open. Not quite patriotic I guess unless you count the thong throwing contests or men painted in blue and wearing nothing but the Australian flag, throwing around an inflatable kangaroo. Ah Australia…
However, nothing is more Australian than this…
…the infamous Vegemite, dreaded by many but loved by many more. I grew up loving Bovril and Marmite. And it was a no brainer that I switched to Vegemite when I landed on Aussie shores years ago.
It’s not appealing to many and I can imagine why – it’s dark brown, doesn’t smell very nice and super salty. Made from yeast extract (what?? I don’t even know what that means)…it can be quite a potent spread for an amateur.
I love this stuff, especially on generously buttered toast with a light scraping of vegemite. (Yes, please do not treat Vegemite like your regular peanut butter or nutella spread where more is merrier). It’s great also with cheese toasties and some people put a little in sauces and gravies.
Vegemite Chicken is another great way to use Vegemite. My hubby will not go anywhere near my Vegemite toast, but this dish is now in his list of ‘yes’ food. In fact, he requested for it this time!
Trust me, it’s good. You’ll hardly taste the Vegemite but it sure gives the dish an added depth of flavour. Imagine honey soy chicken but with more power!
Try it to believe it. I’m sure many of you will be using that long-abandoned jar of Vegemite in your pantry after this.
Adapted from Almost Bourdain
650g chicken wings, split and without tips
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp Vegemite
Toasted sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)
1 tsp Vegemite
1 tbs honey
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs Shaoxing wine
A dash white pepper powder
1. Marinade chicken for at least 3 hours or overnight.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan on high heat. Add chicken wings and stir fry till lightly brown on all sides. Set leftover marinade aside.
3. Add in honey, dark soy sauce and vegemite to the chicken, stir fry and mix well. Add in marinade, coat chicken well and simmer till the sauce is thickened, dark and syrupy.
4. Taste and if required, add a splash of light soy to taste.
5. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, steaming hot white rice and a side of stir fried veggies. Perfect.
The new year celebrations have come and gone. Many of us have returned to work and the Christmas break seemed so long ago. The gyms are packed full of people attempting to keep to their new year resolutions of losing weight, getting fit etc etc. January is probably the month where carb intake is the lowest due to enthusiastic weight watchers who stuffed one too many roasted spuds and christmas pudding. Don’t quote me, i’m making stuff up, because I am one of those who tries very, very hard to go the non-carb or low-carb way.
Safe to say, I haven’t been very successful. When I’m after a quick and easy one dish meal, I tend to turn to rice or noodles. Hey I can’t help it – I’m asian!
So I try to be as healthy as possible, loading the dish with more vegetables and protein. This cabbage and chicken pilaf is a quick and easy one-pan meal. If you’re really not in the mood for cleaning up either, you can eat directly from the pan too – no one’s judging!
A pilaf is a rice dish (usually, but not always of Indian influence) cooked with vegetables and broth. It’s versatile, so you can chuck in protein like chicken or other meats or seafood. A way to describe it is like an Indian paella? Just with different flavours and spices and much less labour intensive and time consuming.
Simple ingredients, cooked in 30 minutes or less! Great mid-week meal.
CABBAGE & CHICKEN PILAF
3 fillets of skinless and boneless chicken thighs, sliced
1/2 a head of white cabbage, coursely shredded
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice (you can use basmati rice too)
2 cups of unsalted chicken stock
2 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste
light soy sauce to taste (optional)
In a 30cm fry pan or cast iron braiser, heat a splash of vegetable oil. Brown chicken pieces until just lightly browned.
Add in ground ginger, cumin, curry powder, garlic and rice. Stir to mix ingredients well and ensure rice is well coated with spices. Add in cabbage, mix well and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add in chicken stock and frozen peas. Mix through and cover pan. Cook for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Season to taste. Sprinkle with crispy fried shallots before serving (optional).
One of the best things about having leftover roast dinners is having fun the next day creating new dishes from it. Sandwiches filled with sliced roast beef – yum. Warm lamb salad – yum. Diced up roast pork in fritatas or fried rice – oh yeah. And perhaps some leftover roast chicken pizza?
Easy to make, these personal sized pizzas make great weekend lunches. Generally everyone gets creative when it comes to toppings, but the base of the pizza is just as important. I used tomato pesto for some and mayonnaise and bbq sauce for the other. They’re probably not the healthiest (who am I kidding?) but they’re delicious and loads of fun!
Here’s the basic pizza dough base (makes 5-6 thin personal sized pizza bases)
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
300g strong white bread flour
1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
1/2 tablespoon golden caster sugar
around 325ml lukewarm water
Pile the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make an well in the centre. Add your yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like thick porridge. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using your left hand to stretch the dough toward you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let double in size for about 45 minutes.
To make pizzas:
Place the dough on a floured surface, divide into 6 portions (or less if you prefer bigger pizzas). Flour and cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.
Take a portion of the dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour and roll it out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick.
Tear off an appropriately sized piece of tin foil, rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour and place the pizza base on top. Continue doing the same with the other pieces and then, if you dust them with a little flour, you can pile them up into a stack, cover them with cling film and put them in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook them, preheat your oven to 250°C/500°F. Top each pizza with your favourite stuff (don’t forget the cheese!), drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and place pizza (on the foil) one at a time directly on the shelf of the oven. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes until golden and crispy.
If you’re currently living in London and you haven’t had the Ottolenghi experience, I highly recommend it. For those not in the know, Ottolenghi is a cross between a modern upmarket restaurant with its sleek white and black settings and a home-style kitchen diner with chefs proudly bringing out platters of food to the display counters. You are surrounded by freshly prepared salads, warm dishes and baked goods and they are all designed for sharing. It is their belief that most dishes are at their tastiest and best at room temperature or just warm – so you will not see refrigerated display shelves for their salads, nor bain-maries for their hot food.
True to their philosophy of using fresh, quality produce and clever combinations of raw, basic ingredients – you’ll be able to taste every ingredient in each dish. Nothing is is disguised or smothered by another. Simple, tasty food.
I’ve tried a couple of salad recipes from the Ottolenghi cookbook and they have both been superb – Roasted aubergine with saffron yogurt (yum!) and Chargrilled courgettes, asparagus and haloumi (yum yum!). So this time, I thought I’d try a meat dish.
The original recipe has hazelnuts instead of almonds. I only had almonds and I thought the flavours worked just as well. I loved the combination of juicy roasted chicken, spicy saffron and the sweetness from the nuts and honey. So simple, so tasty.
I shall endeavour to try out more wonderful recipes from the cookbook and bring Ottolenghi to my very own dining table here in Melbourne.
ROAST CHICKEN WITH SAFFRON, ALMONDS AND HONEY
Original recipe serves 4 (which I halved)
1 large chicken, divided into quarters
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a generous pinch of saffron strands
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp cold water
2 tsp course sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
100g unskinned hazelnuts (I used almonds)
2 tbsp rosewater
2 spring onions, roughly chopped (I skipped this, but added a couple of parsnips to bulk up the dish)
1. In a large bowl, mix the chicken pieces with onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for an hour or overnight in the fridge.
2. Preheat oven to 190 deg celcius. Spread the nuts on a an oven tray and roast for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Chop roughly and set aside.
3. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a large roasting tray. Arrange chicken skin side up and bake for about 35 minutes.
4. While chicken is roasting, mix the honey, rosewater and nuts together to make a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven, spoon generous amounts of nut mixture on to each piece and spread it to cover. Return to oven for 5 – 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and nuts are golden brown.
5. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with chopped spring onions.
(As I added parsnips to the dish, I mixed them in with the chicken in step 1 and cooked them for as long as the chicken.)
I am such a slacker!!! Sorry folks, it just seems that leisure days are more difficult to manage than when I was working. Time between blog posts have been too far apart, and I apologise. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking…don’t worry, the hubs is well fed and watered. Procrastination and telly time have simply taken over my life for a bit. I’m back now so let’s move things along.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Jamie Oliver’s recipes. Right next to me is one of his latest cookbook – Jamie’s 30 minute meals. I enjoy watching the series and marvel at how easy and quickly he whips up those 30 minute meals. What they do not show on TV is the crew of people he has in the background prepping and cleaning after him…which makes the 30 minute meal into realistically a 45 to 60 minute meal. However there is no doubt he’s planned the dishes well and they are indeed easy to cook and absolutely delicious.
I bookmarked one of Jamie’s 30 minute meal dishes – Piri piri chicken – and was really keen to try and make my own piri piri sauce. Piri piri is actually a small, spicy member of the chilli pepper/capsicum family which some refer to as the African bird’s eye chilli. My very first experience of Piri piri is from the famous Portuguese style grilled chicken dish – juicy, spicy barbequed chicken that is constantly basted in the spicy piri piri sauce. Nando’s is a famous restaurant chain that serves up this chicken dish with your choice of mild, medium or hot sauce. I like mine hot. Mmmm…
Compared to the bottled sauces which is very much a generic tangy and spicy sauce, this homemade rustic version tasted of fresh ingredients like chillies, herbs and smoky paprika. I liked it a lot and would recommend your own tweaking to suit your tastes. I would add a little more vinegar or lemon juice and less of the paprika next time because my sour taste buds were craving for more tang. But that’s just me – I used to love those super sour candies called super lemon, where the best part of eating it was to see all your friends’ faces cringe from the sourness and I also enjoy eating the actual lemon slices that serves as a garnish in iced teas. So unless you’re like me, I’d say stick to the recipe and you’ll be right.
One word of warning if you do try this recipe – beware of the chilli and vinegar fumes if you decided to sniff in the perfume of freshly processed chilli sauce. I did that straight after blending the sauce and popping the cover of the liquidizer (food processor). Oooh boy…stay at least two nose lengths away from the processor. Trust me.
PIRI PIRI CHICKEN
Adapted from Jamie’s 30 minute meals
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
1-2 bird’s eye chillies
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
large bunch of basil
4 large chicken thighs, skin on bone in
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
8 baby potatoes, halved, unpeeled and parboiled for 6 minutes*
Pre heat oven to 200 deg C.
Peel and roughly chop red onion and add to the liquidizer with 4 peeled cloves of garlic. Add the chillies (stalks removed), paprika, zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1 lemon. Add white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, a good pinch of salt and pepper, the bunch of basil and swig of water. Blitz until smooth.
Slash flesh side of the chicken thighs a few times, drizzle with olive oil and season. Brown chicken in a hot pan ( i used an ovenproof casserole pan) till golden on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside.
Slice the peppers into strips and add to the pan, char peppers for about five minutes. Set aside. Brown parboiled potatoes for another five minutes in the pan. Pour the piri piri sauce into the pan with the potatoes, then return chicken pieces and peppers to the sauce and scatter the sprigs of thyme on top.
Place pan into the oven and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve straight from the oven with a side of salad and rice or crusty bread.
* Jamie’s original recipe did not have potatoes.
So, there’s been some progress. We found a lovely apartment and have just moved in. Most of the stuff have been unpacked, but part two (currently on a ship somewhere in the Mediterranean) will only arrive later in June. What’s left to do? Setting up a kitchen from scratch. Let me just say, it’s NO FUN. I’d rather have all the things I’m familiar with – all the spices, flours and condiments, the pots, pans and baking equipment. I miss them all! I do have really nice cutlery, glassware and crockery though. Mostly gifts from our wedding five years ago. I just have to be very patient. Very, very patient as I discover how slowly ships sail…
I also ask for your patience as I get things going down under. In lieu of actual cooking, I am now using one of my few back ups from the last few days in London. I had leftover flour which I didn’t want to chuck out, and so it was either a cake or pizza. Pizza won.
So I made some home-made white pizza with spice-roasted chicken, pesto and sundried tomatoes. Great way to use up all the last bits of condiments and spices!
For the dough, I used Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe and halved it.
Pizza making can be quite a mess but it’s loads of fun and definitely very therapeutic.
Makes about 4 medium pizzas
500g strong white bread flour
1/2 level tablespoon fine sea salt
7g of dried yeast
1/2 tablespoon golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
325ml lukewarm water
Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas.
With this white pizza, I used pesto as the base and topped it with sliced chicken breast which I roasted with some dried herbs and spices. Sundried tomatoes gave the pizzas a zing and cheese, lots of yummy cheese is essential. The best part about home-made pizzas is that you can top your pizza with your favourite ingredients. Go crazy!
I’ll be back soon with some new posts soon. Fingers crossed. xx
I’m starting quite a few posts with ‘easy’ recently. What can I say? I like simple, home-cooked meals and if it’s as fuss-free as possible and yielding good results, I’m not saying no!
This particular dish is one of my regulars. It’s not only easy to prepare, it’s delicious, comforting and hubby usually has a look that says ‘oh yes please!’ when I even mention it. There are loads of different green curry recipes out there, some more complicated than others with the preparation of the actual curry pastes from scratch and gathering of exotic ingredients etc.
This one’s just a matter of putting together chicken pieces, vegetables and just the few vital ingredients below. You’ll need fish sauce, palm sugar (or regular sugar is fine), coconut milk and green curry paste. That’s it! I like the Mae Ploy brand of Thai curry pastes, and my Thai friends highly recommend them too, so I know I’ve got the right stuff.
First you brown the chicken pieces in batches, I’ve got about 8 chicken thigh pieces in this recipe. Once lightly browned on both sides, plate it and leave it aside.
You can use most typical ‘curry-friendly’ vegetables. For a thai green curry, I recommend onions, aubergines, carrots and basil.
Once the chicken is browned and set aside, in the same pot / wok gently fry up the onions. When they are lightly cooked (not browned) and translucent, add in the curry paste. Make sure not to skip this step. By pre-frying the paste, the oils from the paste is released and you get a more robust release of flavours.
After frying the paste and onions for about 2 minutes, return the chicken back to the wok, stir and coat it with the paste which would have been loosened up and creamy.
Once evenly coated and smelling wonderful, add the can of coconut milk. The whole can, that’s all the liquid the dish gets, and it’s going to make some lip-smacking curry sauce. So pour it all in.
Mix well and let it simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes, then add in all the vegetables except the basil leaves. Add the sugar now if you’re using. I recommend it as it gives the dish a slight sweetness and it evens out the spice hit a little.
Once the vegetables are cooked through (should take about another 10 minutes or less), throw in the basil.
Mix well and voila! Serve with a bowl of steaming jasmine rice. Yum yum!
EASY THAI GREEN CHICKEN CURRY
8 pieces of chicken thighs with bone
2 tbsp Mae Ploy Thai Green Curry Paste
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
1 tsp palm sugar (or if you’re using regular sugar, just add to taste)
a few dashes of fish sauce, to taste
1 large aubergine, cut into medium chunks
1 carrot, sliced
1 small red onion
a handful of basil leaves
1. Brown chicken pieces on both sides in heated pot or work with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Plate up and leave aside.
2. Add onions to the wok and cook till translucent (about a minute or so) and then add the curry paste. Fry the paste and onions for another minute or so till the paste is loosened up and fragrant.
3. Return chicken pieces to the wok. Stir to coat the chicken in the curry paste, then add the coconut milk. Mix well and let it simmer on medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes or until chicken is about 3/4 cooked.
4. Add the vegetables, palm sugar and fish sauce to taste, stir through and simmer for another 6-8 minutes. Or until veggies are cooked through. By now, the chicken should be done. To check, pierce the chicken to make sure the juices are clear.
5. Stir through the basil leaves right before serving.
Have you even given a chicken an exfoliating scrub and massage? I have!
First they’re all a little loose and wrinkly…so you give it a nice sea salt scrub massage. How luxurious…rub…rub…rub…
Eh…voila! Post exfoliation chicken skin is smooth and shiny. Now you know it really does work on our face!
I’m not crazy I can assure you. I was just preparing to cook the ultimate favourite dish of my original homeland…yeah I have made one too many homes now. Singapore’s pride and joy – Chicken Rice. Otherwise known as Hainanese Chicken Rice. I first learnt how to cook this dish from a friend who is Hainanese, so I guess it’s considered somewhat authentic…somewhat.
The essentials to good chicken rice is the tenderness of the poached chicken and the fragrance of the rice.
So, back to my chicken. Having been exfoliated, stuff the chicken’s cavity with thick slices of ginger and spring onion. Bring a pot of salted water to boil (with enough water to cover the bird), immerse the chicken breast side down and let the pot come back to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Make sure there’s no major boiling action…just slow, slow simmering. This produces juicy, tender chicken. Just the way it should be.
There will be scum. Lots of it. If I hadn’t exfoliated the chicken, there would have been way more scum. Skim the scum off with a fine sieve or other fancy gadgets you may have.
Once cooked, dunk the chicken in an ice bath. Watch the ice melt helplessly…but leave it in the bath for about 10 minutes.In the meantime, cook the rice (instructions below) with the chicken stock, garlic and screwpine (pandan) leaves. Let the fragrance emanate through the whole house, sit in the corner with hungry hubby and wait patiently. Or leave hungry hubby alone in the corner, and head back to the kitchen to prepare homemade chicken rice chilli sauce. No no…not cheating and getting it from a jar this time.
The chilli sauce is an important factor to this dish. Along with dark soy sauce…it takes the simple, poached chicken and rice to a whole different level. It is a must have…otherwise, you’ll just have regular poached chicken and rice. It’ll still be delish I’m sure, but I’m a chilli freak.
Oh, aside from crispy deep fried chicken skin, this is about the only non-fried chicken skin I would actually eat. (If it’s not too fatty)…so this is when you’ll truly appreciate the scum-free, smooth skin of the chicken. Yummers.
FOR THE POACHED CHICKEN:
1 whole chicken (about 1.8kg), preferably organic
Course salt / sea salt
5 inches of fresh ginger, sliced
2 stalks spring onions
light soy sauce
1. Exfoliate chicken with the salt till the dead skin bits are gone and what is left is smooth, shiny skin.
2. Stuff ginger and spring onions in the chicken’s cavity.
3. In a big pot, boil some salted water. Immerse chicken breast side in, make sure there’s enough water to cover the chicken. Let the water come back to a boil, lower heat and let it simmer slowly on low for about 45 minutes.
4. Once done, lift the chicken out of the stock and immerse in ice bath for about 10 minutes. Let chicken cool completely before cutting / de-boning it.
5. Once de-boned, drizzle lightly with sesame oil and light soy sauce. Garnish and serve with rice.
FOR THE RICE:
3 cups of jasmine / long grained rice, rinsed and drained well
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 stalks of screwpine leaves, washed and knotted
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cooking oil (or chicken fat if you have some)
6 cups of chicken stock (which is why you need to cook the chicken first!)
1 tbsp of chicken stock powder (optional – but I find that it adds more flavour)
1. In a hot pan, heat the oil, add the garlic and fry till fragrant (but not browned!) add the rice, salt and stock powder and fry till the rice is slightly translucent.
2. Place rice in rice cooker, add the screwpine leaves and stock and cook as per usual. (Same way you’d cook rice in a pot if you do not have a rice cooker)
FOR THE CHILLI SAUCE:
2 – 3 large red chillies which are less spicy (I used the super spicy small ones)
2 – 3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp of chicken stock
a generous pinch of salt
1. Whiz everything up in a blender and hurrah we have chilli sauce.
Thanks to my friends from all over the world who are just as passionate about food as I am, I get regular photo updates on all the local delicacies that I am missing out.
Resulting in major food cravings.
Resulting in my attempts to replicate the dishes that I’m missing out on.
Resulting in lots of cooking, and an expanding waistline.
See the very vicious but delicious cycle?
This marmite chicken dish is one of the many results of this vilicious cycle. I first came across it on a few of my Singaporean friend’s facebook albums, except that it was in the form of marmite pork. Deep fried marinate chunks of pork coated in a glossy, savoury and yeasty marmite sauce.
You either love or hate marmite and I am in the love camp. So seeing this dish in all its technicolour glory, made me drool big time. Why have I never heard of it in my twenty five years in Singapore?? Where has it been all my life? Why can’t I find it here in the UK – land of marmite?
Of course I was delighted to find fellow bloggers who have gone before me and taken the brave marmitey step to recreate this dish. Thanks to a combination of various’ blogger’s recipes, my very own crispy marmite chicken was born.
I didn’t like the idea of deep frying the chicken and so I oven baked the coated chicken pieces till they were nice and crispy before coating them in the sauce. Worked really well, and hubby (who happens to be in the marmite hate camp) devoured every bit of the chicken, marmite sauce and all…
The dark, sticky, yeasty sauce was surprisingly delish with sweet undertones of the wonderful marmite and honey flavours. I have no clue if it’s anything like the ones back in Singapore / Malaysia as I have no personal experience of it to compare it to. But there’s some major love for this version…and until I try the original…I’m happy to remain blissfully ignorant.
CRISPY MARMITE CHICKEN
I used about 700g of chicken thighs and drumsticks
1/2 tbsp marmite
1 tsp light soy
3 tbsp corn flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp chicken stock powder
2 tbsp marmite
2 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp honey
1. Marinade the chicken for at least an hour.
2. Mix the flour and stock powder well. Coat the chicken pieces in the beaten egg before rolling lightly with flour mixture. Knock any access flour off. Lay in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake in pre-heated oven 200 deg celcius for about 30 minutes (depending on how large your chicken pieces are) flipping them over halfway through to ensure crispy chicken all round. Check to see chicken is cooked by piercing a thick part and the juices run clear.
3. In a pan, heat through the marmite sauce ingredients. Adjust taste of the sauce at this point – you may want to add more marmite and/or honey. Once it’s well mixed, heated through and bubbling, removed from heat and add in the cooked chicken pieces to coat.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Ahh…that age old question…
Oyako donburi, also known as Oyakodon and is literally translated as ‘parent and child rice bowl dish’ which is a reference to the chicken and egg combination. Apparently there’s a fish version, with salmon and roe! Talk about taking this poetic comparison to a whole different level.
Oyakodon is a simple dish of chicken and egg stewed in a broth of dashi or chicken stock, mirin and soy (or shoyu, if you want to be more authentic) and served over freshly cooked rice. It’s simplicity is very much in line with the Japanese way of cooking and it’s one of the more popular rice bowl dishes alongside ramen and soba meals in traditional Japanese restaurants.
Plain Japanese rice drenched with the stock combined with mirin and soy is simply divine – with chunks of tender chicken, soft sweet onions and cloud-like tufts of egg.
2-3 cups cooked Japanese rice
2 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup dashi stock (or chicken stock)
2 teaspoons of mirin
1 teaspoon of Japanese soy sauce (shoyu) – you can use regular light soy sauce
Salt to taste
Chopped spring onions
- Add stock, mirin and shoyu to a pan, bring it to a simmer then add in sliced onions.
- Cook onions for about 2-3 minutes till it’s just tender, taste the stock and season accordingly with salt. Lay chicken pieces evenly over the onions. Let the chicken simmer in the stock for about 4 – 5 minutes, covered. Then turn the chicken pieces over and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
- Pour beaten egg evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle some of the spring onions. Do not stir. Simmer till the egg is almost set – you do not want it to be totally hardened.
- Serve the chicken and egg equally over two bowls of freshly cooked rice. Garnish with more spring onions.
Enough of Paris for now. Here’s a quick and delish dinner that I made a while back. Wraps are like my go-to option when I’ve run out of time or ideas for a quick meal. I’m thankful for ready, off-the-shelf sauces and packaged tortillas. They have been wonderful life-savers many, many times.
Hoisin sauce, is a common Chinese dipping sauce used mainly for spring rolls, peking duck pancakes and barbequed pork but its use has been extended to westernised stir-fries, roast marinades etc. The Vietnamese also like hoisin sauce in their bowl of phở. ‘Hoisin’ comes from the Cantonese word ‘seafood’ but there’s not even a sniff of seafood in the sauce. Made mostly out of sweet potato starch and soybeans, this thick syrupy sweet sauce is very versatile.
The more commonly seen store-bought hoisin wraps are usually filled with duck, spring onions, lettuce and cucumber. Very much like a poor cousin to the peking duck pancakes.
Well, I made an even poorer cousin to the duck wrap – a hoisin chicken wrap. Easily available chicken thigh fillets, marinated with hoisin sauce, soy, pepper and sesame oil (for at least 20 minutes, preferably overnight) and grilled in the oven till cooked through and has some caramelisation and colour. (About 30 minutes depending on how big your chicken fillets are)
Spread some hoisin sauce on a warmed tortilla and top with sliced up grilled chicken pieces and salad of your choice. You can basically add any ‘supplements’ to the wrap, in my case – I made a thin omelette and sliced it up. I also spread a little chinese style chilli oil on top of the hoisin sauce for that added depth of heat and flavour.
Wrap it, eat it. Yum.
I’ve just returned from a wonderful weekend in Paris…and my head is still somewhere in French gaga land. I’ve got photos to share, but it also means I have to sort through them and that takes just a little too much effort at this point. I’ll get there I’m sure…there’s a long weekend coming up, I’ll be recovered from post-holiday blues by then. Fingers crossed.
For now, I thought I’d share this simple, comforting meal that is healthy and tasty. And the best part – only one pan for washing! Good deal all round especially for those über lazy days.
Cooking basmati rice in the same pan with flavour-laden pieces of chicken and vegetables cannot go wrong. The grains soak up all the delicious spices and juices and you end up with guaranteed mouthfuls of yum.
Easy Chicken & Broccoli Pilaf
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 small boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into chunks
- ½ – 1 tbsp of your favourite curry paste (more if you like it punchy!)
- 3/4 cup of basmati rice
- 1 cup of chicken stock (or just enough to barely cover the chicken and rice)
- 1 small head of broccoli, split and cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup of frozen peas (optional)
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Heat up some oil in a frying pan, cook the onions for about 5 minutes till they’re soft. Add in chicken pieces and curry paste and fry till they have some colour. Add in basmati rice and mix well.
- Add in chicken stock, till they just cover the chicken and rice, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Add in broccoli and peas, cover and cook for another 10 minutes till all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.
- Stir through cooked chicken, rice and vegetables, season to taste and enjoy.
It’s no secret that I love hot pepper sauce. Occasionally, I have a strange craving for FRIDAYS’ buffalo wings. Spicy, tangy, salty…mmmm….finger lickin’ good. So I thought I’d give it a go and spice up some homemade wings.
Usually these wings are deep fried first before being dipped in the golden hot sauce. (Which explains why they are so fab! OMG, I want some right now) As I prefer to keep my body fat from going berserk, and I’d much rather let someone else do the frying – I decided to grill the wings in the oven instead. I followed this recipe which suggested grilling the wings on a bbq. Well, an oven will have to do…
When it came to making the hot sauce, I got very excited. It’s so simple to prepare…and my mind was going on overdrive thinking what else I could coat in this wonderful mix of hot pepper sauce, onions and tomatoes. I’m picturing chicken nuggets, shrimps and maybe nachos??
Hubby brought home several bottles of Dorothy Goodbody. He was raving about this other ‘woman’ on his recent hike with the boys. Turns out she is one smooth lady.
It’s a smooth, creamy stout which was surprisingly different from a Guinness. I can only compare it to a Guinness as that’s the only other stout I’ve ever tried. The creamy, hoppy stout went really well with the hot and spicy wings. The good thing about having buffalo wings at home – we were free to be sloppy, splashy and totally messy – and there’s no one to judge us. Not even Miss Wholesome Goodbody…
Ready-made frozen puff pastry is a godsend. You want pie? You’ve got pie! This is a simple chicken and leek pie – which normally has chicken filling doused in a rich cream sauce – but I’m trying to lose unwanted kilos eat more healthily, so I’ve left out the rich cream sauce bit.
Okay, so apparently you can get fat-reduced puff pastry as well, but I’m not seriously taking this health kick that far! Gotta show some love here y’know…regular fatty puff pastry it is.
Just to be good, I took out the usual bacon and potatoes and kept the chicken, leek, onion and carrots. Turns out hubby didn’t even notice the difference… Right? There are endless ways to reduce carbs and fat and still enjoy tasty, delicious meals.
But I’m 100% sure that if there was a blind taste test, skinny pie can’t hold a candle to fatty. Just don’t put the two side by side and expect people to choose. Fatty wins – all the time.
The original Mexican quesadilla - supposedly folded tortillas with melted cheese and maybe another ingredient like beans, chicken or vegetables for variety. However the ‘Americanised’ version of the tortilla has taken over and what we now know as quesadilla is actually ‘sincronizada’ – which means ‘to be synchronised’ referring to the two tortillas fused together with cheese, like a sandwich. I never knew that, until now. Researching for this blog has opened my eyes to very interesting things.
Anyway, if that was indeed true I made some sincronizada, but for the sake of common ‘wrong’ knowledge…let’s just call it quesadilla.
Tortilla wraps have been quite a regular dinner option these days simply because it’s quick and there’s no cooking involved, just some ‘construction’ work. To jazz up the same ingredients a little, I thought making quesadillas may be a nice twist to a weeknight dinner.
Being Asian, cooking and the concept of ‘less is more’ doesn’t quite go together. I stuffed this baby to the max! There were roasted chicken pieces, sweet Ramiro peppers, mushroom, onion and cheese. More, more, more!!
The idea was to have a bunch of the ingredients spread on a tortilla, topped with cheese, covered with another tortilla, and placed under the grill or in the oven. With the exception of the pack of pre-roasted chicken breast fillets, I only cooked up the mushrooms. Everything else was left to be heated up in the tortilla sandwich while the cheese melted.
I don’t quite fancy the taste of raw onions, so I marinated some sliced up eschalion shallots with red wine vinegar and sugar. Like magic, the raw bite of the shallots melted away in the acidic marinate and you get the sweet flavours of the shallots without the stink.
Served with a side baby herb leaf salad, this was a very satisfying faux-mexican meal. All done in 30 mins. Sweeeeeet.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of Jamie Oliver’s cooking style. With the exception of ‘Jamie at Home’, I now own all of his cookbooks – thanks to my hubby for buying the last two additions to my collection. I may not follow recipes to the ‘T’, but in general his ideas and tips are very handy and I’m always awe-inspired watching him in action on TV. His latest series ‘Jamie Does…’ combines two of my faves – cooking /food and travelling. Latest episode on Venice is waiting for me in my set top box recorder. Looking forward to it!
This seemingly famous ‘Chicken in a Bag’ recipe is from one of his early books (Happy Days with the Naked Chef) and has been tried and tested many times over. Not only is it a breeze to prepare – it’s delicious, rather healthy and there’s almost no cleaning up after the meal! You can find the recipe online as well.
Things to keep in mind when making this dish:
1. Make sure you score the chicken breasts for more even cooking (don’t want to have a salmonella breeding bag with uncooked chicken)
2. Don’t go overboard with the wine – I know it’s tempting, but save the wine for drinking with the meal, excessive pouring of wine in the bag will give you an overpowering alky flavour to the sauce, not nice
3. Have a mixture of mushrooms if possible. Gives the dish a fuller, earthier flavour. Not having the luxury of easy access to mixed wild mushrooms, I have used the typical supermarket regulars like closed cup, chestnuts or oyster mushies and they worked just as well
Once cooked, pop the foil bag on a plate, split the top of the bag open, breathe in the delicious aroma from the steam wafting out, pour yourself a good glass of the wine that’s leftover…and tuck in. Don’t forget your spoon as it comes in handy for sauce slurping, or have a freshly baked bread roll ready to mop up all the tastiness.
I don’t normally make New Years’ resolutions and this year was no exception. However I did decide to get my fitness and health in order and swore off unhealthy snacks like potato chips (or crisps as the Brits would call them). Chips used to be my weakness. I could sit in front of the telly and finish a whole packet of Walkers Sweet Chilli or go through half a family pack of cheesy Doritos. Since I’ve stopped this indulgence of mine, I’ve missed crunching on crispy stuff. The crunch of healthy food is way less satisfying. Carrot sticks vs crispy fries? Not quite the same thing is it?
This craving to crunch was the inspiration behind this wonderful dish I made last week. I went through many, many recipes, watched many, many videos and picked up a few tips on creating the best oven baked crispy chicken.
The skin is removed from the chicken, and in its place is a sneaky replacement. A combination of seasoned cornflour, oats, cornflakes, mustard, milk and eggs – A faux crispy skin is born! Oven baked with minimal oil (only used for greasing the baking sheet), this healthy version is highly recommended for all who desire the crunch and flavour of deep fried chicken but would like to avoid the grease and its possible artery clogging effects.
- Remove skin from chicken portions (I used 8 pieces of thighs and drumsticks)
- Beat 2-3 eggs, add about ¼ cup milk, salt, pepper and 3-4 tsp Dijon mustard. Mix well.
- Marinate skinless chicken portions in the egg mix for at least 20 mins, the longer the better.
- Pre-heat oven to 190 deg celsius. Lightly grease baking sheet.
- Crush a cup of cornflakes until roughly fine, add 2 tbsp rolled oats and ¼ cup cornflour. Season lightly. Mix the dry ingredients.
- Coat the chicken well in the dry ingredients, make sure all the chicken is well coated (this has to resemble the chicken skin).
- Place on baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until juices run clear. Turn the chicken over half way through baking to ensure both sides are equally golden.
There’s just something about chicken soup that is just good for the soul…I’m referring to the real kind, with chicken bits and all…not the series of inspiration books. Chicken soup is like a hot water bottle on a cold wintry night – keeps you warm and happy. It can range from the most complex of recipes – with lots of browning, thickening, sieving to the simplest, and most often the healthiest versions. No prizes for guessing which kind of recipe I went for…
Cooking with a whole chicken no doubt produces the most flavourful broth and is most often the recommended way to go. I believe it’s the combination of meat juices, bones and skin that does the trick. It’s not quite the same when you try to get a good broth from chicken parts, and even worse – skinless breast meat – well, that just produces lame tasting water with a slight hint of chicken. Urgh!
Sometimes I make do with store-bought chicken stock – which works out well, especially for time-challenged people like me. When I felt like making some chicken and vegetable soup the other day, all I had in my fridge were skinless chicken breasts (horror!) So…chicken stock in a pack to the rescue.
I also have this particular liking for shredded chicken as opposed to diced or sliced chicken. In my little world, shredded chicken tastes better. Maybe it’s the texture thing, or it could be the whole rustic appearance to shredded meat that deceives my brain to thinking that it tastes yummier. Perfectly diced or sliced chicken is somehow associated with a factory-produced chunk of non-nutritional protein-wannabe. Okay, I’m biased but its my blog and I can write whatever I want to.
For this particular chicken soup, I pre-cooked my chicken and shredded it (yes!) and I used onions, carrots, cabbage and potatoes as my vegetable base. All natural ingredients. All good. All yum. It’s one of those ‘feel good’ soups with a natural, clean taste of chicken and fresh vegetables. Can’t go wrong with this one.
I had a stick of lemongrass sitting in my freezer for ages. Until last week…I finally found a recipe I liked and looked fuss-free enough. To make it better, I was prepared (for once) and thawed out my chicken in advance for some overnight marinating action.
The recipe was easy to follow and most of the work was done the night before. I think this would be a great recipe for BBQs too, in fact, it’d probably be better with all the charred bits from the grill. However, it’s the middle of winter, and I don’t have an outdoor grill – so it’s the good, old fan forced oven this time.
The recipe called for a tangy sweet and sour side sauce to go with the cooked chicken, however if I had honey or palm sugar added in the marinade, it may have worked without the sauce, plus the caramelisation would have given me my charred bits. See, I can’t help myself – always trying to alter recipes so I do not have to do too much. Maybe I should just come up with my own cookbook entitled ‘The Lazy-Ass Cookbook’. (I just googled to see if there was indeed one in existence and there isn’t! Haha. May not be a good marketing strategy to put the word ‘ass’ in the title of a cookbook.)
I’m not a big fan of the sauce recipe. It was sweet and sour (duh!) but other than that, it did not do much to enhance the already flavourful chicken.
Thanks to overnight marinating. The chicken was full-flavoured – a wonderful blend of lemongrass, garlic, ginger and coriander. Grilled slowly in the oven, the chicken was tender, the skin was slightly crispy and it was indeed a delicious end for the single stalk of leftover lemongrass.
According to CW when promoting their re-make series, Melrose Place – Tuesday is the new hump day. Seeing that this was going to be a rather long work week I decided to celebrate the new hump day with a mid-week roast. I scoured through tons of recipes online only to return to the trusty JO aka Jamie Oliver. I’ve tried a few of his recipes and have loved every single attempt. Jamie makes it look so easy on TV, and you know, if you’ve got a sense about cooking, it really isn’t all that bad, you just won’t be breezing about the kitchen like a pro that’s all! I was sweating like a horse but preparation was quick and once the chook’s in the oven, it really is happy days.
Roast chicken with lemon and rosemary roast potatoes was on the menu. I had some leftover green beans so I steamed those, tossed in a bit of butter and lemon juice, seasoned and sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan. Was a great side for the roast.
But the main star of the show was the rosemary roast potatoes. The method of boiling the potatoes and the lemon together really gave the potatoes a bit of flavour. Don’t forget to steam the potatoes in the pot after draining, and the whole tossing them about bit is definitely not a farce! It gave the potatoes a creamy coating which roasted to crispy bits after. Totally delish! P absolutely loved it and said (in his words) ‘these are the best roast potatoes EVER!’
Instead of rubbing olive oil over the chicken, I did the stuffing butter under the skin thing. Awesome – made the chicken very tasty and moist and the skin was crispy and yummy. Reminder to self when cooking this again next time – Be careful of hot lemon juice geyser when piercing the lemon prior to stuffing it in the chicken. Hot juice and skin = ouch.
Paired with a glass of Ocean’s Edge Sauvignon Blanc from NZ, we had a great hump day celebration meal. Happy days indeed.