Although the past couple of weeks have been unseasonably warm, it has finally felt like winter where coming out of the shower is like stepping into a fridge. These temperatures are ideal for stews and pots of comfort food. However, recently I’ve felt a bit unmotivated and short of cooking ideas. Thankfully, a very knowledgeable foodie at work suggested a coq au vin. I’ve made a beef bourguignon before and this dish is not that dissimilar with the beef replaced with chicken. However, it is definitely a weekend feat requiring several hours to simmer away until the slightly unctuous meat yields at the touch of a knife.
- 1 small chicken
- 800 ml red wine
- 2 celery stalks chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 carrot chopped into large chunks
- Handful of plain flour
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 slice of pancetta or rasher bacon chopped into small pieces
- Sprig rosemary
- Couple sprigs of thyme and parsley stalks
- 3 bay leaves
- Slightly less than 1 tbsp of tomato paste
- 500ml chicken stock
- 1 brown onion quartered or 5 pearl onions if you could find them
- handful of button mushrooms halved
- Salt and pepper
- A bit of chopped parsley for garnish.
- 2 tbs butter
- 1.5 tbs plain flour
- Chop up chicken into large pieces, leaving the meat on the bone. When you chop it up follow the joints for clean cuts. There’s another option of deboning the breast and using the carcass for stock.
- Bring red wine to simmer and then cool for a bit before placing in the chicken pieces, carrots and celery to marinate. Marinate at least over night then drain reserving the red wine.
- Take out the chicken and dry on paper towels before dusting it with flour.
- In a pan on medium-high heat, fry off chicken in a bit of oil until browned well.
- Deglaze the pan with a little bit of stock and reserve.
- In a medium sized pot, on medium-high heat fry off carrots, celery, pancetta and garlic. Add in the herbs
- Place chicken back into pot then add in reserved wine and all the stock.
- Season with a bit of salt and pepper
- Cover lid and simmer for 2-3 hours.
- After finished simmering, take out chicken and continue simmering to reduce liquid.
- In a pan on medium-high heat, brown mushrooms and onion.
- Add mushrooms and onion to simmering gravy.
- In a clean pan, heat butter until foaming stops. Add in flour and mix together to form a paste and cook it through. Cook the roux until it changes to a nutty brown colour.
- Add the roux into the gravy and mix together making sure there are no lumps of flour. Keep simmering to let the gravy thicken up.
- Add chicken back in to warm up and turn off heat.
- Serve up with some mash or beans and garnish with chopped parsley.
I’ve always thought deboning meat was a finnicky and complicated procedure best left to professionals. However, since learning how to debone a chicken thigh from youtube, I’ve felt empowered…. Seriously, when I laid out that thigh meat with no bones attached I felt like I had performed magic. So naturally, I turned to the whole chicken as my next deboning project. Thankfully, these days you can learn just about anything from youtube and deboning chicken is made easier with videos like this.
Deboned chicken is perfect for a dish like shandong chicken which speeds up the frying time and prevents greasy fingers :P. I’ve had different variations of Shandong chicken in restaurants with some serving the chicken crispy while others steamed the chicken post frying. However, vinegar is the one element which should be present in all recipes. For my recipe, most of the flavour comes from the seasoned batter and the punchy vinegar dressing.
I ran out of spring onions from the garden for the garnish so the picture looks kind of plain, but I promise it tastes better than it looks.
- 1 whole chicken boned (I kept the thigh bone in place). Chop into large pieces.
- 3 tbsp self raising flour
- 3 tsp spicy bake mix seasons. It looks like this. If you don’t have it don’t worry
- 3 tsp five spice powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp ginger ground
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3-4 tbsp oil
- Oil for frying
- Green onion sliced roughly
- 1 red chilli sliced roughly
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- half cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp black vinegar from asian grocery
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Mix together the flour, seasons, five spice, salt, white pepper, ginger ground and sugar.
- Add in oil tablespoon by tablespoon until a very thick paste forms
- Slowly add in 1 tablespoon of water at a time, mixing it in until the mixture resembles something like a thin pancake batter.
- Heat oil in pan/wok at around 2 cm height on medium-high heat.
- Pat dry the chicken and coat in batter.
- Slowly place chicken into hot oil. Fry in batches
- Fry on one side for 4-5 minutes and flip and fry other side for 4-5 minutes. Time of frying depends on cut of chicken. Thigh takes longer than breast.
- Drain and place on paper towel. Keep warm in oven
- To make sauce, heat a pot with brown sugar until it starts turning into caramel
- Add in chicken stock.
- Add in soy and vinegar and taste.
- Season with salt, taste and pour out into serving bowl.
- With a little oil from the frying, quickly fry off green onion and chilli pieces for ~1min. Take out and reserve.
- Serve chicken and garnish with green onion and chilli. Spoon as much vinegar dressing onto chicken as preferred.
Note: You can use the chicken carcass to make a stock and using the fried chicken oil, you can boil some chicken flavoured rice.
Woo it’s Thursday! There’s only one more day till the end of the week! By the sounds of it, I don’t seem to like my job, but it’s actually not that bad. I get to go out to different places and get encouraged by stories from resilient people living with mental illnesses.
A couple of days ago I was able to get home early from work and had a bit more time to cook. Usually with pork belly I would just whack it in the oven and let it do its job, but this time I decided to braise it in a sticky, sweet soy concoction. Served together with preserved mustard greens this dish is available at some Cantonese restaurants.
- 400-500 g Pork belly. Slice it across the grain at 1.5 cm thickness. Try to slice it into the size of playing cards
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp five spice powder
- 3/4 cup of water
- 3-4 strands of salted mustard greens. They look like this. Don’t get the ones that look like pickles.
- 1.5 tsp of sugar
- 2-3 cloves of garlic minced.
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tsp cornflour and 1 tbsp of water mixed together.
- Optional garnish of spring onions.
- Combine pork with dark soy, light soy, brown sugar and five spice powder. Massage the sauces and seasoning into the meat. You might want to wear gloves as the dark soy can stain. Let it marinate for around 2 hours.
- Heat oil in pan/wok on medium to high heat. Sear off the pork until it is browned. You have to look extra hard to see if the meat is caramelised as the colour is already brown.
- Once done take out pork and deglase the pan/wok with the 3/4 cup of water. Reserve the liquid.
- Heat oil in another pan on high heat and sautee the salted mustard greens, garlic and sugar for ~1 min until fragrant.
- Lay some of the sauteed mustard on a shallow bowl. Place as together as possible the pork and sandwich the rest of the mustard between the pieces of meat. Pour over the reserved liquid.
- Heat a wok/steamer of water on medium/high heat. Steam the pork and mustard for 1.5 hours.
- After it is done, heat pan/wok and pour in the steamed pork/mustard. Taste and see if it needs more salt/ pepper or sugar.
- When it starts simmering, add in the cornflour/water mixture. Make sure you are mixing the pork/mustard as you pour it in.
- When the sauce thickens up and comes back to a simmer switch off and serve. You can garnish it with some thinly sliced spring onions.
Yesterday was mothers day in Australia…and for those regular readers, you know what that means… Another opportunity to cook up a storm!! It’s becoming quite a pattern now, every special occasion has been accompanied by an elaborate meal. I’ve always believed that cooking is better than buying a gift, but I have a feeling that soon any positive event will be an excuse to practice my culinary aspirations.
This time, I decided to go with a ballotine. I’ve been wanting to make it for a while. The medallion of meat and textural filling just looks so fancy and fit for a special occasion. Some of the websites even said that it wasn’t too hard……
o what lies…
This was the most technical dish I think I’ve ever attempted. What was supposed to be dinner ended up being a late night supper at 9:30….However, I have to say that it was quite delicious, but then again, I don’t have prosciutto wrapped chicken everyday.
- 2 maryland cuts of chicken
- 500g chicken breast chopped roughly into cubes
- 5-6 button mushrooms sliced roughly
- Knob of butter
- 3 sprigs of thyme- leaves stripped off
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves- chopped finely
- Scant handful of shelled pistachio nuts
- Thickened cream
- Salt and pepper
- 6 prosciutto slices
- Baby spinach leaves. Snip off the longer stems
- Cling wrap
- Cooking twine
To finish off
- 2 Litres chicken stock
- 2 Litre of water
- Bowl of ice water
- Knob of butter
- Debone the chicken. I had to learn this first and found this video quite helpful. Trim off the sinew and any fat. Save the latter for roasting your veges.
- Lay out the deboned chicken pieces and pound under some cling wrap until it is somewhat flattened.
- To start on the mousse, heat butter in pan on medium heat and saute mushrooms until browned and cooked through.
- Place mushrooms and chicken breast into blender and blend until really fine.
- Whilst blending on high, slowly add in cream until a thick paste is formed.
- Fold nuts and herbs into mousse mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- Season the boned chicken then lay it out flat. Evenly place the baby spinach on top of the meat as the first layer of ballotine.
- Using your hands shape some of the mousse into a sausage shape and place it lengthwise on top of the spinach and chicken. Leave an inch of space between the mousse and the edge of the chicken.
- Roughly using your hands again, roll up the chicken into a log. Try to keep it as tight as possible without having the filling spill out. Do the same steps 7-9 for the other piece of chicken
- Stretch out three layers of cling wrap and lay out 3 slices of prosciutto lengthwise along cling wrap.
- Place one roll of chicken across the prosciutto near the bottom of the clinwrap.
- Slowly grab the cling wrap and roll the prosciutto around the chicken. Use your hands to squeeze tight the ballotine as you roll. Also, make sure the cling wrap doesn’t get wrapped into the ballotine and stays on the outside. Twist off the ends like they do in lollies. Repeat steps 10-12 for the other chicken roll.
- Using twine, tie off the ends tightly. You can also tie up the ballotine 2-3 times in the middle to make sure the glad wrap doesn’t come apart in the stock. However, make sure its not too tight as the ballotine expands while cooking.
- Bring stock and water to boil in a pot large enough to fit ballotines. Place in ballotines and turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 min.
- Take out chicken after cooking and plunge into ice water.
- Remove chicken from cling wrap after cooled in water for a while.
- Heat butter in pan on medium heat until it stops foaming and has turned slightly nutty brown
- Place in ballotine and brown the outside, basting it with the butter as you turn them.
- After browned a bit, place on chopping board and cut into medallions for serving.
And that’s it. All that is left is to hope that the inside is cooked through…
As if that wasn’t complicated enough, I decided to bake a dauphinoise and roast off some turned carrots in chicken fat. Unfortunately, with the amount of cooking and tasting involved, by the end of it, I wasn’t really that hungry but at least they enjoyed it.
Here’s some evidence of my kitchen marathon
Goodbye long weekends 😦 This was the first full week back at work for me after two 3 day weekends in a row….I had a look ahead for those of us working in Australia, and the next one is on June the 9th… that’s like a whole month away. And it really doesn’t help waking up when its getting so cold in the mornings. But with colder weather comes more opportunities to simmer away some delicious warming comfort food.
Italians especially, are masters at flavour packing comfort food with their pastas and rustic stews. As I posted previously, I was inspired to try making my own tagliatelle the other day, and because I had some 00 flour left over, I decided to have a go rolling out some gnocchi. My previous attempts have been a hit and miss. I once ended up with a whole batch of rubber bullets… mmm. I think it was because I used too much plain flour and forgot to take out the egg white.
This time I trusted my touch a bit more and didn’t really follow a recipe. I ended up using:
- ~400g sebago potatoes (I cut mine into quarters)
- 00 flour
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt and pepper to season
- I started by peeling and steaming the potatoes until they were soft. Then I let them cool.
- I didn’t have a potato ricer which would have been ideal, so instead I pressed the potatoes through a seive into a large bowl.
- I then mixed in the egg yolk. Roughly but gently. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t thoroughly mixed in. Season.
- Next, I add one big spoon of sifted flour into the potato mixture. This is the part where I used my hands and started folding the flour through the potatoes.
- Little by little, I added the flour and started kneading gently. Keep adding flour and kneading until the ball of gnocchi dough feels like its sitting on the border between wet and dry.
- I then tipped it out onto a floured wooden chopping board and divided the dough up into four sections.
- Taking one of the sections, I rolled it out until its diameter was sausage size and then cut it up into 2-3 cm chunks. Place in a single layer on a floured tray
- You can do that fancy thing where you roll the gnocchi on a fork but it’s fine if you don’t.
- Boil a big pot of water, salt, then drop in gnocchi
- When they float, boil for another 10 seconds and scoop out, drain a little and place into sauce.
For the sauce, I went with a simple one with tomatoes, chilli and garlic
- Olive oil
- 3 tomatoes chopped roughly. Best if they are still trussed
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped roughly
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 chillis chopped finely. Seeds removed.
- Handful of torn up fresh basil leaves if you have them
- Fresh oregano if you have it.
- Salt and pepper
- Half a ladle of water
- Parmesan to garnish
- Heat oil in pan on medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic and chilli. Stir a bit and make sure you don’t burn it.
- Add in tomato paste and fry for a bit until you see the oil turning orange in colour.
- Add in tomatoes. Mix for a bit and let the juices come out. Add in the water and season
- Add in the herbs. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. In the mean time boil the water for gnocchi
- Open lid and taste sauce. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Let it keep simmering away and let the sauce reduce for another 5-10 minutes. Keep tasting. I wouldn’t mind making the sauce a little bit saltier than preferred as the moisture from the gnocchi would mellow the sauce out when you put them in.
- You can probably boil the gnocchi and once they’re ready, drain and place into sauce.
- Gently, use a spatula to fold the sauce through the gnocchi. If you’re skillful (I tried and failed) you can use your wrist motion to toss the gnocchi with the sauce and let them mix together.
- Dish out and garnish with parmesan.
I had some lamb chops as well and fried them off to make it a meal. Yumm
So along with the ragu posted last night, I also attempted to bake a Japanese cheesecake for my cousin’s birthday. Funny thing is, I think I was more excited about his birthday than him because I get to make all this food that I normally wouldn’t… (I need to get a life haha). Cheesecake isn’t even one of these things I eat often…but I think I was just sick of making Chocolate cakes.
The idea to attempt this cake came to me while I was walking down the street, like literally, I saw it in an Asian bakery and thought I might make it later when I had time. I’m not sure what’s so Japanese about this cheesecake. Maybe it was created by a Japanese person, I don’t know.
So I looked around the internet and found that most recipes have similar ingredient quantities. In the end I decided to go with one from here. For mine I didn’t have cake flour so used plain and substituted 5-7g for cornflour. I also took out the lemon juice. The whole recipe was pretty straight forward except I felt a bit uncertain when whipping the meringue as I always do. As my cake tin was a bit leaky, I lined it well and forwent the water bath and instead wrapped a wet tea towel around it when baking. I also placed a tray of water on the rack under it. Through the oven glass door I could see my cake rising nicely with a browned top. I even baked it a further 15min past the recommended time just in case. I was so happy and relieved!
Then this happened…
The whole thing just collapsed as I opened the oven door slightly to let it cool. See I even knew not to take it out directly onto the bench top but even so I was robbed of my beautifully risen cake. So so cruel…
It really demotivates you to finish decorating, but I decided to press on and tried my hardest to pretty the thing up.
However, I have to say that it tasted pretty good and had a light moist texture without being too airy. Maybe for the next birthday I can perfect it…. Now to google “cheesecake collapse”. 😛
Over the long weekend, with the luxury of waking up a bit later than usual, I reverted back to a really bad habit of watching youtube videos in bed. Specifically cooking videos… While tapping away on my phone’s screen, I stumbled onto a very charismatic and vibrant Italian cook called Gennaro Contaldo. I didn’t realise how famous he was, but then I found out he was a part of the show Two Greedy Italians. And he mentored Jamie Oliver….He was so entertaining and passionate that I had soon watched nearly every single one of his recipe videos. His family ragu in particular aroused the greatest craving which was quite inconvenient considering that it was 12:30 in the morning.
Coincidentally, it was also my cousin’s birthday which provided a perfect outlet to bring that ragu from youtube to life. Here’s the video which started it all, and the recipe. The video is a bit different from the recipe but they are both fine. To match the ragu, I also took the risk to make my own pasta. I tried making pasta before and ended up with thick pieces of rubber. After chatting to a former chef at work I found out that I should have used 00 flour instead of plain flour as it has a mid-protein level and is ground finer. I followed a guideline by Jamie oliver which is pretty simple: 100gm flour to 1 egg. I mixed up the egg with the flour until it was roughly combined then tipped it out on the bench and kneaded away. After some strenuous kneading (~5 min) the dough was done. I wasn’t sure whether I should knead longer but then the dough felt smooth and came together like playdoh. I let my dough rest for 3 hours and hoped for the best.
And wow it turned out so well this time. Finally, something that looks like the images in the recipe. After flattening it out as much as possible with my rolling pin (I don’t have a pasta machine) I folded it up and cut it into ~0.5-1 cm widths. I purposely cut it up roughly so it looked handmade haha. After the ragu had finished cooking I boiled some water, slipped the pasta in and let boil for around 2 minutes. Then I dunked it into the ragu and let it soak in all that meaty simmering flavours.
O my gosh it was so delicious. Too bad it took such a long time to make or else I would have this more often. The pasta was silky soft with a bit of bite and the ragu was just delicious. I broke up the meat after cooking so each mouthful had ribbons of beef intertwined with the pasta. Yum.
I must have shaken my hand while taking this photo out of hunger. I started cooking at 4 and started eating three and a half hours later.
I would highly recommend trying Gennaro’s recipe and tasting it for yourself.
This is another common dish you’ll find at a Hong Kong style restaurant. As soon as you bite into that seasoned crispy batter and moist flaking meat you’ll understand why it’s so popular. The key to this dish is simplicity. There’s nothing much to it but everything works so well together. My favourite part is the vibrant garnish of fried garlic, ginger, green onion and chili which adds that extra boost of intense flavour.
This was my first attempt and I was quite pleased by the result. Perfect with a bowl of rice.
- 2.5 tbsp self raising flour
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1 tbsp of water
- 1 flounder
- Oil for frying
- 2 spring onion sliced roughly
- 2-3 chilies chopped roughly seeds removed
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped finely
- a small knob of ginger chopped finely
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chicken powder
- Dash of 5 spice
- Dash of ground coriander
- sprinkle of sugar
- Prep fish and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix flour with oil until paste forms. Mix oil little by little.
- Add in water little by little until thickish lava like batter forms
- Coat fish in batter. It may be more practical to spread the batter over the fish.
- Lightly coat fish in corn flour, doesn’t matter if its a bit patchy
- Heat oil in pan on medium to high heat.
- Lift fish and place into oil. Don’t touch it and let it crisp up.
- After frying for around 5 minutes flip and fry for another 6 minutes. Our pan didn’t fit the fish entirely so you may need to shift it around to make sure all parts are cooked through. Using two spatulas helped.
- Take out fish and place on presenting plate
- Heat a little of the remaining oil in a small saucepan or wok on high heat. Add in garlic and ginger. Mix around regularly to prevent burning.
- After the ginger and garlic are just starting to turn golden brown, place in chili and spring onion. Mix around for a bit until garlic and ginger have turned gold. Take out immediately and drain on paper towel.
- Scatter the drained mixture ontop of fried fish.
- Combine salt mixture ingredients and taste. Then sprinkle lightly and evenly over fish.
- Serve and enjoy!
Wow I am getting worse… 2 posts in one month.. I thought I’d have greater blogging discipline, especially since its about food…but obviously not. To be honest, my recent eating experiences have been quite mundane. Noodles, mince and whack-it-in-the-oven stuff aren’t really worth sharing online. However, just the other week I saw a post by grabyourfork on a Newtown pizzeria and couldn’t help but feel like making and stuffing my face with delicious pizza. Not the dominos stuff either, I was after real earnest flavours and a delectably thin yet slightly chewy crust.
Having never made pizza before, I turned to a basic online dough recipe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any 00 flour and my dry yeast was expired by 2 years but you use what you have when you just can’t wait. In the end I decided to make 2 toppings, a sausage one and one with mushrooms.
Pork sausage pizza toppings
- 2 italian pork sausages or normal pork sausage with the meat removed from the casing
- Sprinkle of fennel seeds
- Sprinkle of dried oregano and basil
- Couple of bocconcini balls torn up
- Grated mozzarella
- Pizza tomato paste or you can make your own
- Salt and pepper
- Sprinkle of dried chillli
- Break up sausage meat and pan fry until browned
- Roll out dough, spread tomato paste sparingly
- Top with all the ingredients and bake at the highest temperature until dough is browned and looks cooked.
I was pretty happy with the outcome despite not having a wood fired oven. As you can see it kinda looks alright… the rustic label is especially applicable in this context.
For the Mushroom and caremalized onion pizza topping
- 3 mushrooms sliced thinly
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp of oil and butter
- Half a brown onion sliced thinly
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
- Couple of pieces of bocconcini torn up
- Grated mozzarella
- Salt and pepper
- Saute mushrooms and garlics in some oil until cooked through
- On lowest heat, cook onions. Stir around frequently and cover to speed up caremalization process. Take off heat when onion has browned a bit and softened completely.
- Roll out dough. Place a bit of the bocconcini and mozzarella on the base. Add mushroom/garlic mix, onion and herbs. Place the rest of the cheeses on top.
- Season with salt and pepper then bake until ready.
I really enjoyed the flavours in this pizza as well. The textural nature of the mushrooms and fragrant herbs really placed it on par if not better than the sausage one. It also looked better in my opinion.
The funny thing was that later that evening I ended up eating pizza with some friends at a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint near Wynyard station…so I think I can do without pizza for a while now.
I realised that I haven’t blogged in a while… I’ve been caught up with working and just being tired in general so cooking hasn’t been something I’ve looked forward to. Another reason is that I don’t feel like I’ve made anything “blog worthy” enough. But then I guess simple everyday dishes can definitely be delicious as well. The highlight of this recipe is definitely the flavoursome nubbins of fried pork mince which go so well with a bowl of plain rice. I know there are other versions which are a bit more saucier but I prefer this drier version as wet stew-like egg plants aren’t really my thing…
- 4 tbsp oil
- 500gm Mince pork (a bit of fat is good.. flavour wise)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Japanese eggplants segmented at random angles
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 or more birds eye chillis seeds removed if you like it more restrained
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 0.5-1 tbsp oyster sauce
- salt and pepper
- 2 tsp sugar
- 0.5-1 tbsp soy sauce (normal soy)
- 0.5-1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Mix 1 tbsp of salt with egg plant pieces and let sit for half an hour.. after the bitter brownish juices have been released, wash thoroughly under running water. Pat dry.
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wok on high heat. Wait until it is very very hot.
- Add in garlic and minced pork and let fry for around 6 minutes. Whilst it is frying, using the end of the spatula, break up the pork into very small pieces. Don’t stir too much though as that would make it stew… just mix minimally. After it is browned dish out.
- Add in the rest of the oil and heat until hot. Add in chillis and eggplant. Don’t stir it too much just toss lightly now and then. After around 1-2 minutes, add in chicken stock and cover to let steam.
- When the liquid has just about evaporated add in the meat again and stir fry let the pork caramelise just a bit further.
- Add the wine and let evaporate
- Add in the normal soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and dark soy sauce. Mix around making sure the pork and eggplant are coated. Continue frying for a bit longer ~1 min
- Add in salt and pepper to taste.
- When you are just about done, add in the sesame oil and stir through.
- Dish out and enjoy!
A simple dish and better yet to finish with some humble basic carrot watercress and pork soup. Perfect for this rainy suddenly Autumn weather.