On The Menu :: Moroccan Chicken Stew with Carrots, Apricots and Raisins

If you haven’t already guessed, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Dessert is probably my favourite course at dinner and I’ve always been a little partial to main courses that have some sweet, dried fruit in them. I guess I’m a big kid like that – need something sweet or I won’t eat my vegies etc πŸ˜›

After having Moroccan-style chicken stew for lunch at Kindy some time ago, I was determined to recreate it at home. I loved the party in my mouth with every bite of currants I got and I figured I could do the same with raisins – my favourite snack! To complete that journey to Morocco, I threw in some apricots too. The result – a lip-smacking dish that took no time to prepare! #WINNING πŸ˜€

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Carrots, Apricots and Raisins (Serves 4-6)

INGREDIENTS

1KG chicken drumsticks

3 large carrots, coarsely chopped

2/3 cup of dried apricots

1/2 cup of raisins

3 tbs plain flour

2 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs tomato paste

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

500ml Campbell’s chicken stock

salt and pepper

METHOD

1. Marinate the chicken drumsticks with a pinch of salt for about 30 minutes in the fridge.

2. Whisk together chicken stock, ground cumin, ground ginger, plain flour, tomato paste, lemon juice and a dash of black pepper. Set aside for use later.

3. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep casserole pot and brown chicken drumsticks, taking care not to over-crowd the pot.Β 

4. Once all the chicken drumsticks have been browned, add in chopped carrots, apricots and raisins.

5. Pour in chicken stock mixture and bring stew to a boil. Lower the fire and allow stew to simmer for about an hour.Β 

6. Serve hot and on a bed of couscous.

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So, tell me, do you like fruit in your savoury dishes? I know of people – chefs included – who simply will not stand for it. Why not, I will never know! I, for one, am pretty turned off by cashew nuts in food πŸ˜›Β 

I hope you give this recipe a whiz and if you do, let me know how it goes! Bon appetit! xx

On The Menu :: Steamed Egg Custard

I’m no MasterChef but I do love cooking and I love knowing the science behind it. I’m a bit of a nerd like that. Some tips and tricks I can understand the logic behind, but other things just stump me. It just simply, IS. A’s grandma will also tell me – as she’s teaching me – that as long as I do as she says, I’ll be just fine πŸ™‚

One of the dishes A and I really love is steamed egg. Such a simple Asian dish and every mouthful just brings back wonderful memories of having mum and grandma force feed me πŸ˜› The first time I made steamed egg, I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing. I used the very same bowl my mother-in-law always uses; I put water into the bowl up to the line as per her instructions; I even left a little gap so that steam could escape during the cooking process.

The result was a horrendous looking dish… The eggs were steamed but where was that smooth silky texture?! My husband and I had to make do with a steamed egg dish that was full of holes and just kinda BLEAH. We finished it, mind you. But we’re good Asian children like that – we finish off everything that’s placed in front of us.Β 

When I once again managed to get A’s grandma in the kitchen with me for a lesson – because she’s the chef bomb diggity in the family – I asked her to PLEEAASE tell me how to get a good steamed egg custard. And here’s what she said:

– Boiled water is best.

– Approximately three “shells” of water per egg used.

– Sieve the egg mixture and carefully spoon out as many bubbles from the surface of the egg mixture as possible, before steaming.

– Bring water to a boil in steamer and ensure that fire is on low when steaming.

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Have I done as I was told? Hell yea! And since then, we have not EVER had steamed eggs that did not look like this:

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To change things up a little last night, I decided to useΒ dashi broth, instead of just water, and hey, presto! Japanese Chawanmushi πŸ™‚ We had ours straight up – without the fuss of any fish cakes or shitake mushrooms. If you’re feeling fancy, please knock yourselves out! The best thing about anything home cooked is that you can have chawanmushi just BURSTING with fish cakes and mushrooms! Β 

Here’s how my Chawanmushi went down, if you’re interested:

INGREDIENTS

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Dashi broth — 15 “shells” of broth was approximately 750-800ml. I’d save a “good” egg shell and fill it 15 times with the cooled down dashi stock. This is what I use to make my dashi stock:

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I used 4 packs because I really wanted a very strong taste of dashi coming through but you might want to use just 2 packs on your first attempt.

Pinch of pepper

Dash of sesame oil

METHOD

1. Add dashi stock to the lightly beaten eggs and mix to combine. Add a pinch of pepper.

2. Sieve egg mixture into your bowl(s) of choice and scoop off any bubbles from the surface of the egg mixture.

3. Bring water in the steamer to a boil, lower fire and start steaming your egg mixture.Β 

4. A large bowl of about 5 eggs will take approximately 45 minutes. If you decide to use individual ramekins/bowls, I’d say to check on your eggs after 15-20 minutes.Β 

5. You’ll know your eggs are done if they wobble a little. If the center still looks very wet, allow eggs to steam for another 5-10 minutes.

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Please have a go at this recipe if you, like me, love EGGS πŸ™‚ I love eggs in all forms – steamed, fried, sunny-side up, scrambled… You name it, I love it! πŸ˜› Let me know how you go if you do attempt this! Bon appetit! xx

On The Menu :: Pressure Cooker Hearty Lamb Shanks

Winter and I – we’ve got a little love/hate relationship going there. Having grown up in the tropics and not a fashionista by any means, I’ve never really known HOW to dress for winter. I remember living in Sydney and feeling really daggy, much like Selma Blair in “Legally Blonde”. All my law classmates looked hip and chic; I just looked very… warm.

I still struggle to dress appropriately in winter but thankfully, my husband, he’s quite the fashionista, so even though I hate that I sometimes have to change out of something because he doesn’t quite “approve”, I’m glad I have him to sorta point me in the right direction.

What I do love about winter? All the hearty one pot wonders I can whip up in minutes. MMMMMM… osso bucco, lamb shanks, beef brisket – COME TO MAMA! I’m so very grateful to the personΒ Denis Papin, who invented the pressure cooker, for without that lovely contraption, I would have to leave my stews on the stove for hours and hours… and not be able to put my legs up as soon. Merci Monsieur Papin!

Pressure Cooker Hearty Lamb Shanks

Ingredients

4 lamb shanks, chopped in half (I asked the butcher for help with this.)

4 bay leaves

2x 400g cans of crushed whole tomatoes

500ml beef stock

125ml white wine

salt, pepper and flour (used to coat the lamb shanks)

3 medium carrots, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

Method

  1. Marinate lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Coat with plain flour and dust off excess.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in pressure cooker and brown lamb shanks, one at a time if necessary.
  3. Deglaze the pot of lamb shanks with white wine.
  4. Add in the crushed whole tomatoes, juice and all. Throw in beef stock, bay leaves, chopped carrots and sliced garlic.
  5. Add a little more liquid to ensure that most of the lamb shanks are covered in water but not totally submerged.
  6. Add some cracked pepper before covering the pressure cooker.
  7. Bring pressure up to high. Lower the fire and allow to cook for approximately 30 minutes.
  8. When the pressure has completely dissipated, open the pressure cooker carefully, taste and add more salt and pepper as you like.
  9. Serve on steamed white rice, if you’re Asian like me! πŸ˜›

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Do you love a good feed in winter as much as I do?? πŸ˜› Please give this recipe a whizz and let me know if this warmed up your cold wintry night like it did mine πŸ™‚ And hit me up with some of your favourite recipes too!

Bon appetit! xx

On the Menu :: Easy Chicken Pot Pies

Have you heard about the end of Google Reader? Anyhoo, you can now follow me on Bloglovin!

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Come Thursday evening, I usually will ask A what he feels like having for dinner on Friday, even though he’s normally late home because of after-work drinks etc… I like know that if he’s hungry or just peckish when he gets home, there’s something hot for him to eat. Hashtag best wife EVER *LOL* πŸ˜›

If I’m really tired or simply too lazy, I’d suggest takeaway but I normally just throw together something easy. A dish like nachos or even fettucine carbonara that takes no time to prepare after a long day at work but is still super duper yummy! Plus all I have to do when I get home is prep (easy peasy), then put my legs up (even easier!) and only throw everything together when I get his “On the way home” text πŸ™‚

Yes. I really do “THROW” it all together by then.

So a couple of nights ago, he said that he felt like chicken pies because he hadn’t had one in a long while and that he used to make THE best chicken pot pie filling using Campbell’s “Cream of Chicken” soup. So off to Woolies I went the next day to buy a whole roast chicken from the Deli and some cans of creamy chicken soup and dinner, was served! πŸ˜› OK. Not really. I threw in some frozen veges and cubed potatoes and THEN my chicken pie filling was truly complete πŸ™‚

So here’s my little recipe. If you give it a go, I hope you’ll like it! xx

Recipe – Easy Chicken Pot Pies

Ingredients

1 whole roast chicken

2 cans of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken

400g of milk (I just filled up one of the empty soup cans)

2 large potatoes, diced

1 cup of frozen veges (Eyeball this as you might like more… or less)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Pepper

Frozen sheets of puff pastry

Method

  1. Put diced potatoes into a small saucepan and fill it up with cold water. Bring it to a boil and simmer over a low fire for about 8-10 minutes.
  2. As the potatoes are cooking away, start shredding or dicing the roast chicken. I made sure the chicken meat was still large enough for a good hearty mouthful.
  3. Once you’re finished with the chicken, your potatoes should be done too. Drain potatoes using a sieve or a strainer.
  4. In a large pot, mix both cans of soup and milk over low heat, stirring occasionally. As per the instructions on the can, do not bring the soup to a boil.
  5. When little bubbles start appearing on the surface of the soup, throw in the chicken meat, frozen veges and potatoes. Give everything in the pot a few good stirs, turn off the fire and allow your pie filling to come to room temperature.
  6. In the meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 220 deg celsius,Β butter up your muffin pan(s) – if you’re planning on using them – or simply let your frozen puff pastry thaw a little before you start cutting them up.
  7. Once the pie filling has cooled down sufficiently to the touch, start creating ’em pies! Get creative! The world is your oyster πŸ™‚ Seal your delish delights and gently brush tops of puff pastry with the prepared egg-wash. Mummies, this would be a great time to involve the children!
  8. Pop your pies into the hot oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and allow pies to cool on racks for as long is humanly possible… That is, if you can resist not eating those freshly baked piping hot goodies!

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Bon appetit! And have a lovely week ahead, friends!

On The Menu :: Soya Sauce Chicken

Growing up, Mum cooked dinner for us every night. There was always soup on the table (we’re very Cantonese like that :P), steamed fish, meat and veges. My favourite dish was probably her signature See Yau Gai, or Soya Sauce Chicken. Every time she asked what I wanted for dinner, I’d say “See Yau Gai!” I didn’t always get what I wanted coz that would have meant her having to cook that chook EVERY. DAY.

Now that it’s my turn to put dinner on the table, I am, as you know, always on the hunt for recipes, especially the good ol’ Asian ones πŸ˜€ I finally got around to asking Mum for her recipe and here it is:

Ingredients

1.2-1.5KG whole chicken (I use free-range)

2 tbs Chinese cooking wine

4-5 tbs thick dark soya sauce (This actually exists πŸ˜› I found it at the Asian grocers’)

4-5 tbs soya sauce

spring onion (just the white stalks), chopped into 1-inch pieces

4-5 heaping tbs white sugar

salt

pepper

Method

  1. Scrub the chicken clean with a lot of salt. Rinse salt off the chicken and pat dry.
  2. Rub a generous amount of salt and pepper all over the chicken and inside too.
  3. Stuff spring onion into the cavity of the chicken.
  4. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes or more in the dark soya sauce, soya sauce and Chinese cooking wine.
  5. When the chicken has been nicely marinated, heat a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. Gently caramelise the sugar in the pot, stirring constantly.
  6. Once the sugar has turned a lovely golden brown colour, gently place the chicken, breast-side down, into the pot.
  7. Using tongs, move the chicken around the pot so that it’s nicely coated in the caramelised sugar. It’s IMPORTANT to move the chicken around to prevent it from sticking to the pot!
  8. Do the same for the flip-side of the chicken. Be careful when flipping the chicken over as the caramelised sugar will spit!
  9. When both sides of the chicken have been browned, pour in enough water to cover half the chicken. (My mum said half a cup but I didn’t measure that out because I didn’t think it’d be enough.)
  10. Bring water to a boil on high heat, before lowering fire to simmer the chicken.
  11. Simmer the chicken for about 30-40 minutes. When it’s cooked, use the tongs to take the chicken out of the pot and allow it to rest until it’s cool enough to be chopped up, dished out… and eaten!

Now kids, I’m not being preachy when I say you should always listen to Mum because there are dire consequences should you choose not to… For example, your chook ends up looking like this —

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All that beautiful skin – GONE! Torn off all because I decided to multi-task, instead of moving the chook around the pot… Just as Mummy had instructed 😦

A. should be on his way home from work right about now. His response when I emailed him the above 2 pictures was “Scrap the skin off the bottom of the pot.” Erm. OK.

It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday and if you’re looking to whip up a treat for Mum, impress her with this Soya Sauce Chicken πŸ™‚ And let her know this recipe’s been passed down through the generations!Β Happy Mother’s Day, Mummy! Vous me manquez… Bisous xx

If You Are The One [ιžθ―šε‹Ώζ‰°]

Trust the Chinese to produce a dating show that is controversial and yet, so very very riveting and entertaining! Ever since A. and I came across one episode of “If You Are The One [ιžθ―šε‹Ώζ‰°]” on SBS, we have been HOOKED! Watching is believing, so knock yourselves out! πŸ˜€

Sometimes, A. and I cringe when we lay eyes on the boys. And at other times, we’re egging on the girls to “leave their light on” for those less cringe-worthy. How emotionally invested in this show are we?! πŸ˜› Mind you, it airs on SBS every Friday night. I’m sure most people have somewhere better to be and have something better to do. But nooo, not us. We’re sitting in front of the telly watching a Chinese dating show.

I love being married πŸ˜€

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Most nights, A. and I have our dinner in front of the telly. It’s my fault really – I grew up in front of the box and as much as I know it’s a very VERY bad habit that I should kick, A. has somehow indulged me from the start, so I’ve never had a reason to stop. Maybe when we have kids?

Dinner tonight was super simple because I feel the beginnings of a cold coming on and so, I just wanted to keep prep/mess etc to a minimum. I fried up some Porterhouse steaks – Heston-style*, no less – whipped up a Steak Diane sauce and prepared sides of stir-fried mushrooms and potato gratin.

I’m knew A. was loving dinner when he said “MMMMMM” to me TWICE as we ate. He proceeded to DRINK the Steak Diane sauce from the saucepan.

I have no pictures tonight – just a couple of empty plates and very happy bellehs.

*I think I’ve preeetty much got it pat down when it comes to the perfect steak because even though A. always says his steak could do with more salt, he’d compare steaks we have elsewhere to those I cook at home πŸ˜€ If you don’t want to use a thermometer to check for doneness, I usually take the steaks off the pan at about the 2-3 minute mark for medium rare-medium and after about 5 minutes for a well-done steak. I also use a regular non-stick fry pan over the biggest/strongest gas hob on my stove.

On the Menu :: Poulet Cocotte Grandmere + Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Early on in the week, I’d planned to make a chicken casserole for dinner tonight but didn’t think about adding on any sides. Just as I was about to step out of the house today, it hit me that chicken casserole alone would probably not be enough for A. Because he’s a growing boy like that – he needs to eat lots to grow big muscles πŸ˜› That said, he’s not particularly fond of vegies of any kind and would most happily settle for a table full of meat dishes. So to get him to eat his vegies, I have to either deep-fry it or in tonight’s case, add lots of cheese to yummify it πŸ˜€

And because I haven’t baked in a while, I made our favourite Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownies, recipe courtesy of Lorraine Pascale. So for dinner tonight, we had: Poulet Cocotte Grandmere // Three-Cheese Cauliflower Bake // Homemade Meatballs (leftovers from dinner the night before) // Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownies

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β€œAΒ good cookΒ is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.” ~Β Elsa Schiaparelli

One day, I’ll be that good cook πŸ™‚ Bon appetit mes amis! Bisous xx