Category Archives: Chicken

Easy chicken drumsticks

A mist of rain began, but we danced on…
~ Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

Sometimes, I don’t want a full meal – just something really easy to prepare and just as effortless to eat. I call those my tapas moments (though that hardly does justice to the real thing, I know). Do you get those days? Where you just want something like a peach. Or a jacket potato. Or a handful of red cabbage, simmered with thinly sliced apple, butter and fennel seeds…

Today, I had chicken drumsticks for lunch. Bonus points of chicken drumsticks: easy to eat and so many ways to flavour them (I went for a spiced up version today). Plus points of the oven: no standing by the stove required, so I could work on while lunch cooked itself.

Hope you are all having a great Wednesday :-)

    Easy chicken drumsticks
    Ingredients:
    5 chicken drumsticks
    a small knob of ginger, minced
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    a sprinkle of Chinese five spice powder
    a smaller sprinkle of ground chilli
    a dribble of oil
    4 tbsp soy sauce
    1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
    Method:
    Preheat the oven to 180°C.
    Place everything in a bowl. Mix it well with your hands, then cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    Line a baking dish with foil, then arrange the chicken drumsticks in a single layer inside. Pour on remaining sauce and garlic / ginger bits. Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes until they are golden brown on the outside, and a fork / skewer inserted into the thickest part of a drumstick finds clear juices and the chicken cooked.
    If desired, serve with bread, rice, or a side of your choice.
    Yields 1-2 servings.
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A chicken deboned

Learning is not a spectator sport.
~ Chickering and Gamson

Tonight, Gudrun taught me how to debone a chicken*.

Blood**, bones and vegetarian thoughts aside, there were moments during which I thought: how wonderful it is to be a woman, to cook from scratch, to laugh and be horrified while learning something new. All feelings I’ve experienced several times before, and never tire of experiencing…

Thoughts on the chicken front: I never understood why people bothered deboning ducks and chickens, but when it emerged from the oven and slicing was so slick and easy – I know I will do it again. Also, I need more practice.

And yes, we had a very fun evening indeed (thank you, Craig and Gudrun)! Dinner was: leek and spinach with mustard and cream, pillow-like mashed potatoes and baked-then-grilled chicken with lemon and garlic. Mmmmm, I wish I could feed you some through your screen now!

Have a beautiful Sunday :-)

* There are useful videos like this which can serve as a guide, but I’d say go with your instincts – feel your way around and aim to get the bones out while trying to keep the chicken in one piece. Also, I found using a small sharp knife easier (but figure out what works best for you).

** I suspect the chicken was more bloody than it should have been because we had to defrost it.

P.S. Don’t forget…

Easy flour tortillas

Humo[u]r is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.
~ Mark Twain

Occasionally, food items march through my mind unsummoned and uninvited. And, once in my mind, they simply refuse to depart until I make them (i.e. create them in the kitchen).

This morning, while getting a drink of water, my eyes fell on the tub of mole rojo paste from Jian. I thought about that meal with a big smile on my face.

Thereafter, though, thoughts of tortillas bloomed in my mind like happy wild mushrooms… no other thoughts could chase them away.

And so it was that I made tortillas today for the first time. Trusty Google led me to this recipe, and I was happy to discover that they are in fact so easy and quick to make!

While the balls of dough sat in their tea-towel-blanket-bliss, I cut onions, smashed garlic, blanched green beans, heated up black beans. I dissolved a spoonful of mole paste in chicken stock, added a few squares of dark chocolate for good measure, and tossed the sauce all over seared chicken cubes and a few prawns. I combined the cooked beans with diced onion and tomatoes. I preheated the oven to 50°C so it could keep everything warm.

The tortillas were all cooked in under five minutes, and happily emerged reasonably round and flat, given that I shaped them with my palms and fingers (we don’t have a rolling pin yet).

Still can’t adequately describe the taste of this mole rojo… smoky and elusive as ever.

Love the addition of creamy avocado and zesty lime…

Here are the beans…

And this is what Fran and I had for dinner tonight. What did you eat tonight?

Hope you all have a fantastic week ahead :-)

    Ingredients:
    1 1/2 cups flour
    3/4 tsp baking powder
    ~40g butter, at room temperature*
    2/3 cup hot water
    Method:
    Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, and whisk till well combined. Add in the butter and hot water, then mix the dough with your hands.
    On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by hand for around 5 minutes. Roll the dough out into a snake-shaped log and cut the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each piece of dough into a round ball and cover with a tea towel. Let them sit for 20 minutes (this is a great window of time to cook the rest of your dinner).
    Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Do not grease the pan. Flatten each ball of dough into a nice large circle, with a rolling pin if you have one – otherwise just with your palms and fingers. Cook the tortillas one at a time, 20-30 seconds on each side. Your tortillas should have little brown spots on them.
    They taste best warm. I like stacking them on an ovenproof plate and leaving them in an oven at 50°C until everything is ready, so dinner arrives at the table warm.
    Yields 6 tortillas** – enough for 2-3 people.

* If the butter is fresh from the fridge, microwave it for approximately 20 seconds so that it’s still solid but closer to room temperature.

** The sky is the limit with toppings – minced meat, grated cheese, sour cream, smoky mole, spicy salsa, guacamole… in fact, given their similarity to roti prata, I think they would taste pretty good with a spicy Malaysian curry too.

We had this meal three weeks ago, and I can still taste it

Some people have a sixth sense, and some are duds at it. I believe I must have it, because the moment I stepped into the house I felt a trembling along my skin, a traveling current that moved up my spine, down my arms, pulsing out from my fingertips. I was practically radiating. The body knows things a long time before the mind catches up to it. I was wondering what my body knew that I didn’t.
~ Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

It was like paprika occupied the wind and blew itself into my face, and dark chocolate took the shape of a willowy man and stood up to hug me. The limes were as sweet spring showers, the tortillas like warm fluffy blankets fresh from the dryer. It was smoky and mysterious, and I easily imagined the sound of foreign chants; of a mortar and pestle in use; of singing. Each bite further led my mind’s eye towards a secret chamber, towards the charred base of a solid black pot, towards a flickering flame…

The memory of this meal has been hovering on the brink of my consciousness for about three weeks now, ever since we ate it. Jian came back for a visit from the good US of A and cooked chicken mole for his family and I, you see, that was a treat to eat. Delicious food and amazing company – what’s not to like?! We sat at a table adorned with platters of chicken, mole paste, warm tortillas, fluffy rice, beans, salsa, cilantro, lime wedges – and had fun assembling our own mole parcels. I loved it, and was especially struck by how elusive the mole paste tasted, and by how beautiful and different everything tasted when they were combined. It was difficult to think about what I was eating in words. Suffice to say, the food was very delicious, tickled my imagination and made me smile :-)

After we had our fill of mole, Jian brought out a very pretty pastel de tres leches (or “three milk cake”) and we hastily commanded our stomachs to make room for dessert…

It looked to me like a sunny island in the middle of a white lake, and tasted like a cross between cheesecake and bread and butter pudding. Sweet, soft and decadent… mmmm!

Jian gave me some mole base and a few Mexican chocolate pellets which smell very exciting (gracias Jian!) and I certainly look forward to experimenting with them soon* :-)

* Though a little part of me would rather just eat Jian’s cooking, he is very talented in the kitchen.

See how they last

When I was in kindergarten, I had one line in a little play. I said, I am Patrick Potato and this is my cousin, Mrs. Tomato, and I heard laughter. I wanted to be an actress from that moment on.
~ Doris Roberts

Remember that Thanksgiving dinner, more than a week ago? And those tomatoes and various green things that made their way to the table for my Thanksgiving dinner friends? Well, there were a few luscious veges left over – which I crammed into the fridge amidst cheesecake*, pumpkin pie* and half-full bottles of wine* and promptly forgot about in the course of this busy week.

It was with a slight jolt that I suddenly thought of them yesterday.

I slowly approached the fridge, rubbish bag in hand, ready to collect brown wrinkled vegetables…

And… I was (nicely) surprised to see that the vegetables weren’t quite on the verge of death. The tomatoes were just beginning to feel a little softer, maybe, but they were still so good! The green things were still green too, but I have now popped the herbs into ziploc bags and into the freezer just to be safe.

Long live farmers’ markets and fresh produce!

Tonight, I preheated the oven to 180˚C and set two skillets on the stove. Into one pan went olive oil, chopped onions, garlic, rosemary, white wine, paprika and skinless chicken thighs. Into the other went more olive oil and some bright vermillion tomatoes.

Once the chicken looked more cooked than raw (really should’ve browned the chicken a little more, but never mind!), I poured everything from both skillets into a foil-lined oven-proof dish and baked it all for around 15 minutes. I then added in half a can of cannellini beans and popped it back into the oven for a few more minutes.

And that, with a loose handful of parsley, was dinner, which I started to eat, until a particular rendition of a Christmas carol made my feet itchy to dance. So dance I did, till a human and I locked eyes through the window… and I hastily sat down again to resume my dinner.

And on that note, here are some photos from last week’s trip to La Cigale, a picture of Saturday’s omelette and right near the bottom of this post are two photos of roses swaying in the sun. If only one could upload fragrances on blogs – I would post the smells from the market and the rose gardens… wouldn’t that be sweet!

* Some I ate, some I shared, some I regrettably had to bin.

La Cigale – 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland – open Saturday and Sunday mornings [delicious bistro open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays]

Dinner for seven

Precisely the least, the softest, lightest, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a flash, a moment – a little makes the way of the best happiness.
~ Frederich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

In pursuit of succulent prawns for our dinner party, Kath and I visited Auckland Fish Market on Saturday morning. Mmmmm seafood… there was a generous selection. Big and little fish. Spiky kina. Creepy lobsters, looking quite far removed from the beautiful, creamy white flesh encased in orange shells that I much prefer ;-) Looking at the lobsters, I thought of Julia Child clutching them and dropping them into scalding water… and my body itched with discomfort. :-o

We didn’t buy prawns here in the end, because the prices were a little higher than we wanted to pay – but we had a good time wandering around the shops in any case. The kind man at the smoked food section gave us samples of orange roughy roe… the wedge I put in my mouth morphed into a rich bittersweet bouquet, lots of depth, wonderful! (Though I am not sure Kath enjoyed it as much as I did). I also picked up some smoked broadbill steak which looked too enticing in its golden/orange glory to pass up.

Second stop: Sabato. When you first walk in, it doesn’t appear to be a dangerous place. Don’t be fooled – only ignorance and a very blocked nose could save you. This place forces you to smile, grin even. For the first few seconds as your eyes scan its interior, the words ‘gourmet’, ‘ridiculous’ and ‘food for rich people’ may float into your head and do a little dance. You’ll think you’re safe. But then you venture to one of their taste stations, carelessly take a bite – and suddenly the mist clears, and you realise you won’t be escaping for a while!

It’s not just ‘cos their offering sounds fancy (though incidentally, they do the fancy thing well. Truffle oil, aged balsamic, porcini crema, anchovies, orange blossom water – you name it!)… It’s the fact that (based on what I tried in their store) whatever they possess in ‘gourmet-ness’, they actually match in deliciousness too.

And if that ain’t convincing enough, they also have drool-inducing recipe cards scattered in various nooks and crannies, friendly staff who offer you a complimentary coffee while you browse, oh… and might I just casually mention that they have a tall shelf stocked with Valrhona (only the best chocolate ever?!) goodness! Eventually, I exercised some restraint and walked out with just a bottle of orange blossom water and a jar of sweet, sexy anchovies (the latter were at one of those tasting stations). Kath got a bottle of rose water.

We then stopped at a friendly vege shop which had very attractive-looking produce – see golden tamarillos above! Picked up fruit, herbs, miso paste.

Finally, we went to the supermarket to pick up everything else that we needed.

Back at Kath’s apartment, we put away the food that needed refrigeration before sitting down for a quick lunch: impromptu platters of smoked broadbill salmon from the Fish Market, avocado, tomato, black pepper and bread.

At some point, we rose from the dining table and got to work. I dawdled for ages, wanting to take photos of everything and talk and all; luckily, Kath is WAY more organised than I am and so our guests got to eat dinner before 8pm ;-)

Everything really smelled so good as we pounded, blended, fried – my nose was pretty happy while we cooked. Sizzling garlic. Sweet gingersnaps. Toasted seeds and spices. Chilli and chocolate. Ginger and miso. Etc.

Here is our mole in its infant state – containing onion, garlic, toasted seeds, cumin, fennel and more… believe you me, it was potent!

This is Kath, blissfully unaware of me snapping a photo of her whipping up a storm!

This is Kath again, aware that she wasn’t going to escape my camera and making the wise decision to smile.

Mmmm… it was all going along nicely and I was still thinking “yay we have plenty of time”, when all of a sudden I realised we did not afterall have much time left! Somewhere in the middle of the time speeeeeeeeding by and the stove on full throttle I stopped taking pictures of the food.

Sure, we had a few mini disasters along the way… this cracked egg being the least of those mistakes…

AND, at dessert time, we had a case of “our tart runneth over” (aka liquid mascarpone) and Ben was assigned the guest duty of being Tart-cutter:

But we managed to serve dinner, and eat with a bunch of fantastic people (including the very cool Kimberley, whose presence is every bit as delightful, interesting and thoughtful as her writing). It was great! And everyone was still smiling and talking at the end, so I think we can call everything an overall success! Our menu was as follows:

    Prawns with lemon, chilli and feta – served with crusty baguette
    Baked baby carrots with orange, ginger, miso and tamari – recipe here
    Chicken mole (our sauce comprised garlic, seeds, spices, tomato, chilli and chocolate)
    Wild rice with sliced almonds and raisins
    Berry and mascarpone tart

Thank you Kath, Ben, Komal, Quinn, Kimberley and Kirsty for a very full and fun Saturday evening (we missed the few people who couldn’t come along this time, and look forward to having you come next time)!

An impromptu roast chicken, and other stories

Most of the food allergies die under garlic and onion.
~ Martin H. Fischer

Tonight I roasted a chicken ‘cos I felt like it.

Free range chicken, on special at the supermarket ($10!)
+ wild fennel and 2 sprigs rosemary and 3 agria potatoes from the farmers’ market
+ 2 of Mom’s lemons (zest and juice)
+ garlic cloves, some smashed and some intact (all a little messy really)
+ salt
+ pepper
+ sprinkle of fennel seeds
+ stream of olive oil
+ smear of mustard
+ oven @ 180 degrees C
+ 1.25 hours (take it out midway and bathe it in its juices)
= impromptu roast chicken.

Dinner + cranberry juice + conversation with Fran. Bright night.

Leftover chicken now in the fridge for us all to lunch on tomorrow.

The other night I visited Deniro with K where we drank red and ate pasta and risotto and a certain lovely lady we knew there got us a small (to save us from ordering the full) platter of calamari… :-) The calamari was nice and fresh, and the spaghetti bolognese – well you know, a good plate of spaghetti bolognese always spells “comfort” (see quick snapshot below)! K’s seafood risotto tasted of that magic kingdom – the sea.

I like Elliot Stables for the way it feels like a mini globe within! So many accents and types of food. Topped with smiling service and a bustling atmosphere… nice!

Later that night K also introduced me to the joys of Giapo… home to one of the best ice cream flavours ever to grace the earth – organic meringue with hazelnut cream! Light meets sweet meets nutty meets fluffy meets mmmmmm… :-)

Pastry from a farmers’ market = always a good weekend breakfast option – this was mine yesterday, as I ran out of groceries at home in the morning: choc and pear brioche…

Mooncake – so many legends surround this one, there’s the one with a Trojan horse of sorts and another involving star-crossed lovers (see Google for details)… so many tales, which to believe? Possibly just the memories of lanterns and relatives and tea – warm thoughts.

Pictured here is a chicken/apricot tagine that Dad made last night… have to admit I was slightly teary-eyed; seem to get this way nowadays when (1) my parents cook for me and (2) I get to eat with my family! The evening flew by, too quickly – the hands on the clock seemed to be sprinting!

And today I went to the Auckland Vintage Textile Fair with T. Wonder what it would have been like to live in a different era… I bought clip-on earrings and aprons which would make anyone look more domestic than Martha S.

Other delicious links:
Wicked: Ottolenghi’s Caramel Macadamia Cheesecake!
If music be the food of love, play on, Turntable Kitchen
Barter trade: I like

Elliot Stables – 39-41 Elliott Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 308 9334

Giapo – 279 Queen Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 550 3677