Tag 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…

S.T.A.Y. on a Michelin star

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Hello from Beijing! I’m here visiting my friend Jane – and we have been functioning on an average of three hours’ sleep a night, but we’re pretty happy.

Initial impressions of this city: DUSTY! BUSY! Dust descends daily on me like an army of microscopic aliens – and people are gruff, cab drivers especially so (though I guess I wouldn’t like to be spending my days driving random people around in Beijing traffic either). Personal space doesn’t appear to exist as a concept here.

Yet, for all its smog and busy-ness, Beijing possesses a tangible charm amid all the chaos – I feel safe on her streets and pleasure fills my pockets as I gaze at street stalls boasting luscious fruit and street food like jian bing; people playing chess under bridges; the beauty of faces on the subway, on bikes, at the market…

It’s been wonderful exploring Beijing via subway, ‘tin can cars’ and taxis with Jane as my personal unpaid tour guide ;-) I’ve loved everything from hearing Mandarin all around me, fumbling with my own questionable command of Mandarin, to meeting the people who make up Jane’s China world…

One highlight was going to S.T.A.Y. last night, a restaurant championed by Michelin-award-winning chef Yannick Alléno.

Does one need a good reason for a special dinner? Yes and no – the simple joy of a great friendship is reason enough for me… but on this occasion we also had Jane’s birthday to celebrate (she terms it as “the 26th anniversary of her expulsion from her mother’s womb”). We spent a few hours on Google trying to decide where to go, and when at last Jane rang them to make a booking our eyes held a matching gleam. :-D

And so it is that we spent an hour travelling via tin can car (see first picture), taxi and subway to get to S.T.A.Y. where we very happily stayed for three hours! We had an outstanding waiter and sommelier who made us feel at once like old friends and like royalty – and who arranged for us to have champagne on the house (for Jane’s birthday)!

We began our evening with a generous selection of amuse-bouches including: cherry-coloured radishes brushed with butter; cubed tomato with parmigiano (these held their shape on the plate but collapsed immediately upon meeting our tongues); fish fingers served with a paprika dip; a bread basket with butter checkered with creamy ham.

We opted for the four-course meal (with two options per course, RMB528 per person).

Course 1: both of us had spanner crab cakes rolled in sesame seeds, served alongside fresh broad beans and greens with a beautiful shallot/ginger/garlic sauce. This was a light course, and I enjoyed the way the individual sweet strands of crab meat mingled with the fragrance of the sesame seeds and the savoury sauce… mmm.

Course 2: Jane had the chicken consommé, a clear, refined soup with mushrooms and carrot – and garnished with toasted crostini spread with foie gras and chicken liver pâte. My cream of cauliflower arrived as a bed of crispy croutons, delicate seaweed strands and cauliflower to which the waiter added a warm, delicious cream…

Hmm… you’ll have to trust me on this, but it really looked much better in real life than it does here:

Course 3: The black pepper Angus beef fillet with cafe de paris and gratin dauphinois floored her… she was speechless for some time and I wondered if her face could split from smiling. When I took a bite of her meal, though, I understood :-) And I was well pleased with my red snapper with clams – the dish was awash with the sweetness of clam juice – and the zucchini, tomato marmalade and basil leaves added texture and flavour that was really complementary to the fish and clams.

Course 4: And finally, dessert – a stroll through Pastry Library wonderland! Here we were treated to a visual feast of treats in glass cabinets and left to select our sweet of choice. Jane opted for a vanilla tart, which arrived at our table topped with gold-dusted caramelised pistachio nuts – and I had a passionfruit cream-filled biscuit cigar reminiscent of a brandy snap, topped with a passionfruit/chocolate mousse and almonds. Of course, we were also given an additional complimentary platter of other sweets (including meringue cigars, mini pistachio balls, etc)… ah lovely staff.

As I ate, I thought “everything stands out but nothing sticks out”… it was a moving portrait of harmonious perfection, flawless yet welcoming. I loved the way food and joy met on every dish and meandered through our bodies and minds as we ate.

Something else I found remarkable – that they served such food and waited on us with such style as if it were everyday fare – as if this was the only way to eat. Special turned Ordinary… amazing :-) 2am now and I want to continue waxing lyrical about S.T.A.Y. but frankly, my mind is turning to custard with lack of sleep so I’m going to sign off for now!

I look forward to many more privileged years of being your friend, Janey! (And thanks for coming up with the somewhat clever title of this blog post).

S.T.A.Y. – 29 Zizhuyuan Road, Beijing, 100089, China – Phone: +86 10 6841 2211

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]

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

Winter + oven =

It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption.
~ Edward Bunyard, The Anatomy of Dessert

I chanced upon this delightful post by Chef Millie and it sounded too delicious not to make.

So last night I made a slightly modified (to suit what I had in my pantry) version of this roasted pear, leek and chicken salad – and… tonight, I made it again (admittedly again modified to suit what I had in my fridge). I don’t think I have ever cooked the same thing twice in a row when cooking for others – but try it and you may just decide to make this for dinner every day for the rest of the week. Or month? ;-)

I actually felt a little guilty when John, Fran and Heather complimented me on this dish because it was really so easy. There is no real need to measure anything, and ingredients can be substituted. Everything goes into a baking tray, which goes into an oven – and you can read a book or take a shower then sit down for dinner and have just one tray to wash afterwards. Magic!

Last night, I roasted leeks, pear wedges and chicken breasts and plated it individually atop a bed of baby cos/romaine lettuce with toasted Turkish bread on the side.

Tonight, I baked yellow capsicum pieces, pear wedges, half a leek and chicken thighs and placed the tray on the table for everyone to help themselves. Along with this I toasted ciabatta with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper on each slice, and served up bowls of Nigel Slater’s pumpkin, tomato and cannellini bean soup for us all. I still had a bottle of sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from Mindfood magazine so that found its way to the table too…

Main modifications with this recipe: I used different parts of the chicken; smeared wholegrain mustard on the chicken and left out mustard seeds; added in rosemary last night, thyme tonight; changed the goats’ cheese to feta; used more garlic. I also left out the step at the end to heat the fat on the stove and deglaze with red wine vinegar, even though it sounded divine – purely to save time, will have to try it next time!

So I already knew that chicken + mustard + herbs + salt + pepper + oven is often bound to please, but baked leeks and pears together? – a revelation for me. The leeks went slightly pink and so sweet and melting; and pears – they are a total pleasure to eat raw, but when cooked – they are like a golden crown, a fancy something. I really like cooked pears – they make a meal special, somehow. Oh, and fennel seeds – I wish I had discovered them sooner. Now I have to actively restrain myself from this wild urge to spray them liberally on everything…