I’m not sure if I can hold my head up high as I write this. I could feel my cheeks slightly flushed with embarrassment. It’s true. I have never attempted roasting a chicken since I started cooking years ago. It’s one of those tasks that seems huge and too much work to me. I think I used to assume that anything that takes more than 30 minutes to cook must be hard.
I started reading up on how to roast a chicken and was surprised to learn that it’s really… all in my head. The preparation work may take a tad longer than what I am used to, but having a fresh roasted chook in our humble kitchen is pretty amazing. More like a sense of achievement (ha ha, yes i know, simple things amazes me). The crisp skin, moist meat and addictive stuffing.. argh.. why haven’t I discover this little secret before?
But you will not laugh at me… will you?
Roasted Chicken with Herb and Lemon Stuffing (serves around 5-6)
1.6kg of organic free range chicken
2 tablespoon of olive oil
sprinkle of salt
3 cups of a day old multigrain breadcrumbs
a tablespoon of margarine
2 tablespoon of mixed herbs
1 tsp of lemon zest
1 tablespoon of garlic
half an onion sautéed
wash and pat chicken dry. Trim any fat that you can see. Preheat oven at 200C.
Combine stuffing together. Spoon stuffing into chicken cavity. Tie legs together. Brush or using your hands, oiled chicken. Sprinkle generous amount of salt on chicken. Roast it for 1 hr till golden brown. Serve with crisp potatoes and veges.
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It’s seriously difficult to photograph a chunk of meat. To me anyway! I tried the top approach, the left side, right side, half dish..and it still looks..
like a chunk of meat.
How in the world did Donna Hay make a piece of meat looks so good? grrrrrrrrrrrr
I spied this Donna Hay Spicy Bean Mash with a simple pork cutlet. It looks so simple but so hearty!
It’s the bean mash that won my heart in this meal though. Who would have thought? It’s almost like a dip, but good enough to be served as a side.. Ahhh…
Spicy Bean Mash (Serves 4)
2 tins of Cannelloni Beans or white beans drained
1/2 lemon juiced
2-3 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of chili powder
1/2 tsp of paprika
1 clove of garlic minced
Microwave beans for 1 min. Add all ingredients and mash with fork. Serve as a side dish with grilled meat and beans.
There is something about Spring and Autumn that makes me want to make pies. Moreover, I love cooking with the oven. It’s really time saving- and easy. I like to roast some vegetables with it usually. Again, just marinating the vegetables with some olive oil or even some sweet chili sauce makes it tasty.
This time round, I made a one dish chicken and leek pie. It’s much easier than making them individually. One thing though, making pies individually makes them more freezer friendly (easier to defrost one at a time).However, by making a one dish pie, there is less wastage. Often, I find myself lost on what to do with those leftover ends of the pastry! LOL
As usually, I added some chili flakes for abit of a zing. I don’t think I can do without chili flakes these days. I like my food spicy! Must be something to do with my grandmother teaching me how to enjoy spicy food since I was 5 years old.
Chicken and Leek Pie (serves 4-6)
500 grams trimmed and diced chicken thighs
2 leeks washed and sliced
1 red onion sliced
1-2 tsp chili flakes
dash of white wine if you have
1/2 cup of water
1 piece of puff pastry defrosted
2 cups of soy milk or milk
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoon of spread
1 cup of low fat cheese
Preheat oven 180C.
In a separate pot, melt spread. Stir in flour till it becomes golden brown. Add milk and whisk in low heat till smooth. Add cheese. (add more milk if mixture is too thick)
In a pan, saute leeks and onions. Add chicken and cook till brown. Season with chili flakes, salt, pepper and white wine. Add some water if mixture appears too dry. Add the bechamel sauce and simmer. Do a taste taste. Spoon into oven proof dish. Line with puff pastry, scoring the top and then placing pieces of pastry in a cross action on the top. Bake for 25 mins.
My goodness! This is certainly been a winter meals week hasn’t it been? I was flipping through Jamie Oliver’s Minstry of Food book and the delish looking mince pie caught my attention this time. It was easy to do too, so I decided to try making a classic English pie for dinner one evening.
I think I didn’t put enough flour in because the gravy isn’t as thick as what I thought it should be. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a hearty pie with the crisp crust and tasty mince. What surprised me was that Jamie Oliver used marmite in this dish! woohoo, so grandma is not the only one who do that for her stews. Wait a mind, maybe Jamie Oliver took the idea from Grandma? Or maybe Grandma was influenced by the British way of cooking in her days as working as a nanny in British households (the days when Singapore was governed by British)?
English Onion and Mince Pie
2 red onions chopped
500 grams beef or lamb mince
1 bunch of rosemary coarsely chopped
1 carrot diced
1 cup of beef stock
1 small bunch of celery chopped
1 tablespoon of flour
1 tablespoon of marmite
1 piece of puff pastry defrosted
Pre heat oven 180C.
Cook onion till translucent. Add mince and break it up as it cooks. Add all ingredients (just not flour). Simmer for 5-10 mins. Stir in marmite. Do a taste test and adjust taste accordingly. Stir in flour till mixture thickens. Cool slightly.
Spoon mixture in heat proof dish. Seal with puff pastry, slitting a cross in the middle and patching it up with some reminder of the puff pastry. Bake for 30 minutes till golden brown.
ps-one tip is to place the dish onto a baking tray so that it is easy to remove from the oven.
I saw my colleague eating polenta and got really curious about it. I have seen it before but never knew how to prepare it or how it taste like. So after a chat with her, i did a goggle and found out that it is made of corn!
From chatting with my colleague, I decided to pair polenta with lamb shanks. I found a recipe in the Australian Women’s weekly featuring red wine and onions. I love how rich the flavours are in this dish! Next time, I would have ask the butcher to trim it as my shanks looked like huge drum sticks!!
Slow Cooked Caramelized Onions Lamb Shanks With Polenta
3 lamb shanks
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 trimmed celery stalk
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon rosemary coarsely chopped
Pre heat Oven 150C
Cook lamb till all browned over. Stir in sugar, wine, stock and garlic. Bring it to boil. Place mixture in oven proof dish, bake for 4 hours, turning twice.
2 medium red onions
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 cup of stock
Melt spread in saucepan, cook onion for 15 mins till brown and soft. Stir in sugar and stock till caramelized.
1 cup of polenta
3 cups of water
1 tablespoon of spread
Bring water to boil. Add polenta and keep whisking gently. Keep stirring for 5-10 mins till mixture is soft. Remove from heat. Add in spread and seasoning. You can also add parmesan cheese.
It happens rarely but sometimes, I get ideas for a meal randomly. Does it ever happen to you?
This happened when I had 1 chorizo sausage in the fridge and some chicken mince. Not quite sure what to do with it, I decided to make a simple meat loaf combining both ingredients together. The strong flavours of chorzio certainly added flavour to the loaf!
What I would have done differently though is to pan fry the chorizo till the fat melts-this way, it reduces the amount of oilyness in the loaf without compromising the taste of it.
Chorizo Chicken Meat Loaf
1 chorzio sausage diced
400 grams chicken mince
1 carrot shredded
1 red onion chopped
1 tablespoon of garlic
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
sprinkle of sea salt
2 tablespoon of corn flour
Combine all ingredients together. Press into pre lined loaf. Marinate for around 20 mins while preheating oven. Bake in oven for 40 minutes. Serve with green salad.
We are very blessed to have a friend who is a chef. On a gathering one evening, he brought gorgeous sexy looking meat for a bbq. Alas, they (and the rest of the crew) wanted steamboat and the meat was kept aside. As we were leaving, C started splitting the meat (I still have 2 pieces of steak in the freezer) and handed us the dorper lamb racks. They are the lamb to have in terms of best quality. The 1. something kg of lamb would have at least costs us AU$40ish if we buy it at retail.
You can just imagine my excitement.
I decided to marinate these gems with some red wine, rosemary and garlic. Then, I was at abit of a loss. Should I roast it or pan fry them? Luck has it that I under cooked them by around 5-10 mins (hey, my first lamb racks, i wasn’t sure how long to cook them for, at least i under cooked it! ;p), and I finished them but quickly searing them on high heat.
Then, I pour the sauces into the pan, stir in some flour and some magic beautiful red wine gravy was born.
Twice Cooked Red Wine and Rosemary Lamb Racks
around 1 kg of lamb racks
1 red onion chopped
2-3 springs of rosemary from the garden
2-3 tablepoon of garlic
2 cups of red wine
Wash and clean racks. Score the meat and marinate with onion, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and red wine for around 20 mins or so. Pre heat oven at 200C. Roast meat for around 20 minutes. Rest. Slice cutlets up and sear in high heat for around 1 min on each side.
Gravy-after roasting, keep gravy aside. Pour gravy into pan and add around 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir and stir. When it is thicken, lower heat. Simmer. Serve lamb with gravy and roasted veges.
Back in Singapore and Malaysia, Satays are a treat! Skewers of tender tasting meat, marinated for hours…cooked on a flamed grilled bbq and served with spicy nutty sauce. ooo.. just thinking about it makes me drool!
The version of Satay appears to be different in Australia. When I first saw satay on the menu, I was mortified to see “Satay chicken”, “Satay lamb”..etc. And they are pretty much just meat simmer in a nut sauce. Not the tender tasting skewers of meat that I was used to!
Still, the casserole version tastes fairly decent. It’s pretty much just peanut butter chicken casserole! (That sounds sooo mid western!). I wrapped the mixture in some puff pastry and viola! A pie is formed!
Satay Chicken Triangles
1 chicken breast sliced thinnly
1 cup of peanut butter (i used the chunky kind)
1 red onion chopped finely
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1 carrot diced
1 cup of frozen corn
2-3 tsp of chili flakes
3 puff pastries-defrosted
1 egg yolk
Saute onion till soft. Cook chicken till nearly done. Add chili flakes, stock and veges. Simmer for around 10 minutes. Add peanut butter. Stir till it melts and the casserole turns creamy. Do a taste test and season accordingly. Cool
Cut each pastry up to 3 squares. Spoon mixture into each square and fold across. Seal with egg yolk. Brush each pastry with some egg yolk. Bake in a 180C pre heated oven.
Sometimes, just in a very odd day… I do not feel like cooking.
Ever have one those days?
You know, those days when it is probably towards the end (or start) of the week.. when it has been a long long week, where everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. And when you snap at loved one around you who asked you to to count your blessings ( you know it wasn’t that bad afterall). When the last thing you want to do is to face the kitchen and think about what you and your family would like to eat.
I experienced one of those days recently.
The thing is, on those days, action counts. And once I am in there, knowing that I am making something simple and comforting seems to relieve the “pain” for just that 15 mins that I am in the kitchen. When chopping veges actually cleared your head. And slipping hot spicy soup brings warmth to your heart.
What will we do without soup?
Spicy Bacon and Bean Soup (Serves 4-5)
Beef stock (1 ltr)
1 can of mixed beans
1 packet of lean bacon (I used weight watchers) chopped
1 onion chopped
1 tsp of chili powder
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 red capsicum chopped
1 cup of mushrooms chopped
4-5 stalks of celery chopped
1 cup of frozen corn (make that 2 please!)
2 fresh tomato chopped
some Parmesan cheese and toasted bread to serve
Heat soup pot. Cook bacon till it is slightly brown. Add onion and cook till translucent. Toss veges and beans through add stock. Simmer for15-20 minutes. Taste and season. Serve with cheese, cracked pepper and bread.
And so I am a fan of taking a few short cuts here and there. Having a few friends over for lunch, we decided to have a variety of dishes-the previous dish, honey pumpkin pecan salad was one of them. The plan for this one was to mix up some spinach, feta and chicken, wrap it in filo pastry, bake it and viola! lunch is served!
Two days before the lunch, I realised that in between coming home from church and preparing lunch in 45 minutes means time is tight! Not to mention, I am still a novice in handling filo pastry! I picture torn pastries, with spillage from the filling to the tray from my incomplete mess of trying to handle filo. So I chickened out and used spring roll pastry instead!
Surprise surprise, it was better than expected. Still with the crunch factor but not as flaky as filo of course. I think it was a tad dry and should have less chicken and more feta. Instead of shallow frying, I sprayed the parcels with some oil and baked it for 20 minutes. Lunch was served just in time!
Spinach, Feta and Chicken Triangles (makes around 12)
1/4 of roast chicken shredded
50 grams of feta cheese crumbed
150 grams of slightly wilted baby spinach leaves
1 tsp of garlic
squeeze of lemon juice
cracked pepper and sea salt
2-3 tsp of poppy seeds
6 spring roll wraps cut in halves.
Mix mixture together. Spoon it on to spring roll wrappers and wrapped it from corner to corner to create triangles. Place them on trays. Spray with some oil and sprinkle poppy seeds over them. Bake in pre heated oven of 180 C for 20 minutes or till golden brown. .