Monthly Archives: May 2011

Very Succulent Braised Chicken Portions

If you haven’t already discovered the wonders of a Microwave, this recipe will shed some light on that radioactive box sitting on your kitchen counter. Apart from preparing readymade meals from the store and reheating overnight leftovers, the Microwave can make you Very Succulent Braised Chicken Portions in under 15 minutes.

Here what you need:

  • a dish-plate or a plate-bowl, whatever you call it
  • 2 chicken portions, I used frozen chicken thighs
  • 2/3 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 dash of white pepper
  • 1 sprinkle of black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 50ml of water
  • chilli powder (optional)
Here’s how you do it:
  1. Note: The time needed to cook this is for frozen chicken portions.
  2. Get the bird parts onto a dish-plate or plate-bowl.
  3. Pour the soy sauce over the chicken.
  4. Dash the white pepper and sprinkle the black pepper
  5. In goes the sliced garlic clove.
  6. And chilli powder to if you wanna add some spice to your life.
  7. Add the water.
  8. Stick it in the microwave. If you have a fancy microwave lid, cover the dish.
  9. Hit it on full whack for 5 minutes. Note: I used a 700W microwave.
  10. Flip parts over. Hit another 5 minutes.
  11. Note: Ensure water does not dry up entirely. Top up a little as needed.
  12. Welcome the Aroma Fairies.
  13. Chicken should be almost done, if not completely cooked.
  14. Flip again and hit it for 1 more minute, if juices do not run clear when poked with a fork.
  15. Repeat on other side if necessary.
  16. Let it rest for about a while, or dig in right away. I always choose the latter and wind up burning my tongue.
Microwave, bravo!

Pasta Evolution

Remember Pasta Promotion?

Well, I am now proud to present to you, Pasta Evolution.

So what is it?

It’s Aglio Olio made with Chicken Oil

Yes, it’s exactly the same as your usual dry parmesan, garlic, basil, oregano and parsley spaghetti, except that you use the oil rendered from Very Succulent Braised Chicken Portions instead of olive oil.

Try it now or regret forever.


Spanakotiropita

Strangely enough, after coming back from Oslo, I found myself reminiscing Greece. One of the things unique to Greek cuisine is the Spanakitiropita, or more commonly known as Spanakopita, which is a spinach and feta cheese pie. There are proper better recipes out there but here’s how I did mine, as little tarts.

Stuff you’ll need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 200g of feta
  • 75g of cheddar
  • a bag of prewashed spinach leaves
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • a box of filo pastry
  • a 12-hole shallow muffin tray
Doing it:
  1. First things first, get everything ready. Preheat the oven to 200°C, boil about 2 pints of water, get a pot on the hob on low heat.
  2. Next, into the mixing bowl, crack the eggs and dump in the cheeses. Add the lemon zest and dried oregano as well. Pepper goes in as well. Stir about and stop before it’s all smooth. In this case, chunky is pretty good.
  3. When the water has boiled, empty the bag of spinach into the pot on the hob, then pour the boiling water in, just enough to wilt all the spinach leaves. Add a sprinkle of salt and toss about. The leaves should wilt in about 40 seconds or less. Once wilted, turn off the hob and drain the spinach leaves. Add them to the mixing bowl and mix everything about.
  4. Get your muffin tray ready. Then, on a board, lay out a layer of filo pastry from the box. Half it lengthways and sideways so you get four individual pieces. Drizzle olive oil and pat each of them so they are coated evenly. Sprinkle paprika over the pieces. Layer each of them atop each other. Don’t worry if they’re broken here and there. Once done, lay it in a well of your muffin tray. Repeat for all 12 holes; you should only need 12 layers of filo pastry then.
  5. Fill the wells of filo with the spinach and cheese filling, or with spanakitiro. Pardon my urge to speak Greek. Wrap the little tarts up erratically.
  6. Pop them into the bottom rack of the oven. Welcome the Aroma Fairies into your kitchen.
  7. Take those babies out when they’re golden brown and let them rest for about 10 minutes or so, while you salivate.
  8. Wait some more if you want. If not, DIG IN.

Couscous, Stocked

Before I depart for my food expedition in Oslo, Norway, I’d like to leave with a very late but fortunate discovery. I have no idea why I didn’t think of this earlier, but here it goes.

Prepare your couscous with soup stock.

Whether you’ve got vegetable soup leftovers, or chicken juices from a roast, do not throw. You can always keep it for the next day with couscous. Add a tad bit of water so the soup or gravy leftover isn’t too thick. Then bring it to a boil and use it with your couscous.

I still have no idea how I didn’t think of this earlier.

Mindblowingly genius.


Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

It’s been a while since I’ve been back to Singapore, and aside from many other things, I miss the food there. I thought I was dealing fine with the abstinence of Singaporean cuisine, until I was reminded of my beloved Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee. My stomach grumbled to the rhythm of the words as they entered my ears. No, I’m not talking about the black sauce variant from Kuala Lumpur.

I’m talking about this:

 

It’s far from anything you’d get in the hawker centres back in Singapore, but it’ll do. Craving, momentarily satisfied.

What you’ll need:

  • Fresh yellow egg noodles
  • Fresh white rice noodles
  • Whole prawns, heads and shell on
  • Squid
  • Pork belly
  • Eggs
  • Chives
  • Beansprouts
  • Garlic
  • Lime
  • Pork lardons (optional)
Preparation:
Prawn Soup Stock
  1. Before you get down to frying the noodles, you gotta have the prawn soup stock ready. Here’s how I did mine. Peel and shell the prawns, then cut the squid into rings. Into a pot, dump the prawn peelings and heads. Also, in goes the peeled prawns, squid and pork belly. Here, I like adding a couple of smashed garlic cloves too. Then fill the pot with boiling water so that there’s just enough to cover what’s inside. Let it boil away before turning it down to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, so it eventually becomes a peppery and tasty almost-thick sort of soup.
  2. Keep a check on the peeled prawns, squid and pork belly. Once they’re just cooked, fish them out. Slice the pork belly thinly and set all aside.
Fried Prawn Noodles
  1. In a screaming hot wok, drizzle some oil.
  2. This next step is strictly optional. Fry bit of pork lardons and remove when brown and crispy. Leave the rendered fat in the wok. It is liquid gold.
  3. Then, in goes an egg. Erratically break and beat it as it cooks.
  4. Before the egg gets proper fried, toss in the noodles, both yellow and white. Add a ladle-full of that awesome prawn soup stock you made earlier. This will soften the noodles. Stir till there is no more soup left in the wok.
  5. Toss in the beansprouts and stir about.
  6. Then, add another ladle-full of the soup stock and cover the wok for at least 20 seconds. This is an extremely important yet understated step. Commonly overlooked, this will allow the noodles to absorb all the goodness from the soup stock.
  7. Remove the lid and toss in the cooked prawns, squid and sliced pork belly.
  8. Moving everything in the wok aside, make space for a teaspoon of chopped garlic. Fry that till fragrant, before combining with the noodles and all.
  9. At this stage, I like to add the bits of crispy fried lard to join the party. Heart-stoppingly extravagant.
  10. Add a little more soup stock to wet the noodles. In my opinion, the best of this dish are those that have gravy to slurp at the end.
  11. Chives go in, while the fire goes out.
  12. Serve with more chives atop, a halved lime and some kickass sambal, which I haven’t tried my hand at making, yet. This time, I substituted with trusty  feisty chilli padi.
  13. Welcome a couple of Aroma Fairies, then dig in right away. Your stomach cannot wait any longer. For me, I’d like to commend Will Power for allowing me to take a photo before savagely devouring the noodles and all its brilliance.

Little Lamb

Today, I was on my routine grocery run at the supermarket, when a hunk of lamb breast caught my eye.

Then I remembered seeing a recipe about a 4-hour lamb roast.

Grab.

Here’s what you need:

  • 600g of lamb
  • 7 sprigs of rosemary
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Turn the oven to full whack.
  2. Score the lamb erratically and season with salt and pepper. Be sure to cover both sides.
  3. Smash the garlic cloves and toss half the number of them into a roasting tray.
  4. Lay in half of the rosemary sprigs as well.
  5. Then sit the hunk of meat in the tray.
  6. Drizzle olive oil.
  7. Place the remaining garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs on top.
  8. Cover well with foil and stick the whole tray into the screaming hot oven.
  9. As soon as the lamb goes in, turn the temperature down to 170°C.
  10. Let it roast for 4 hours, while you watch soccer and salivate.

What to have it with:

Serve with a potato smash, greens, an optional mushroom sauce, and most importantly, a berry or currant jam.

There’s something absolutely magical about having an ultra-tender roast with a jam. I don’t know about you, but it knocked my socks off.


Lazy Fried Rice

One of the first meals I prepared for myself when I was younger. Beginner level.

Fried Rice is probably the laziest dish in the world. After pre-made meals from the frozen section, that is. Choose whatever you’d like in your meal. Then, simply cut everything up, and fry it all, together with rice and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and you’ve got a proper meal right there. Best part is, because you’re deciding what goes inside, it can be a vegetarian meal as well!

For best results, use rice that’s sat in the fridge overnight. The rice comes out not gooey at all and sometimes even crispy. Freshly steamed rice tends to be a tad sticky.

Also, if feeling extravagant, serve with a fried egg.


Pizza Saucery

 

Tried out making your own pizza dough yet? Here’s how you can make your own Pizza Sauce now. Yes, that tomatoey first layer that goes onto your perfectly round and flat pizza dough. Instead of buying a jar off the shelf at the store, here’s a really good cheat. It’s actually Spaghetti Bolognese without the spaghetti and chopped up ingredients. Just the sauce alone. Combine a lug of olive oil, tomato puree, basil, pepper and water into a bowl and mix. Add water bit by bit till you get the consistency of a spread. You don’t want it too paste-like nor too runny.

So simple to do, it doesn’t even take a minute.


Mediterranean Couscous

There are a couple of things that are absolutely necessary in a couscous dish, especially if you’re making one ‘cos you crave the rich flavour of the brilliant Mediterranean. Oregano and Cumin are essential. Unfortunately, I had a craving and had no cumin powder of any sort. But here are the ingredients I used to satisfy the craving as best as I could:

  • Onions, preferably red.
  • Mushrooms, just because.
  • Balsamic vinegar, for ZING.
  • Garlic, for wholesomeness.
  • Parsley, for healthy colour.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.
  • Oregano, essential.
  • Sage, as a pathetic substitute for Cumin.
  • Tomato puree, for lush redness.
Roasted root vegetables like aubergines or cucumbers would’ve been lovely. Bell peppers even. But I really had to make do with what I had in the fridge and great thing I had Asparagus and Greek Feta to save the day.

Mummy’s Pizza

This one’s for you, Mummy. 

I remember fondly, the first time I’d ever had pizza. It was homemade, and Mummy made everything from scratch. Before I knew pre-made pizza doughs existed, I discovered the use of a rolling pin.  I sat by the dining table, as Mummy dusted the surface with flour and rolled the dough round and flat like a pro. I begged her to let me have a go, and wound up making a mess.

It was not long before Pizza Hut and other pizza delivery companies made their killing in the market, and in my house. Pizza was never the same again. Their crusts were incredibly thick and heavy, overwhelming bready and thus, unforgivingly filling.

Eventually, I grew older and found myself paying for better pizza. Better, meaning pizzas with thiner and lighter crusts, toppings laid on with love and consideration, entire faces of dough made to look beautiful. I guess good things do come with a price. Even so, good memories are priceless.

Long story short, I had some pretty good pizza a couple of days back and I thought I’d have a go at making my own.

Thin-Crust Pizza Dough

It was my friend’s birthday party two nights ago and I made six 9-inch pizzas. Here are the numbers for the dough:

  • 2.5 mugs of plain flour
  • 0.75 mugs of tepid water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 0.5 tbsp of salt
  • 7 gms of dry yeast
Dump out the flour onto a (clean) tabletop and make a well in the centre. Pour the water into the well and using a fork, introduce the flour to the water, bit by bit. Before it gets thick, add the oil, salt and yeast. Then combine everything and knead till smooth. Once done, place into a big bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 45-60 minutes. Roll out as desired. Anything edible can go on it, so go crazy.