Mushroom Pumpkin Mixed Rice

If you know me, I’m a huge fan of one-pot-dish meal. Call me lazy but there are really too many things to handle and I just need to fix a quick and healthy meal for the family. I can certainly eat out, like what the hubs always tells me to do but I don’t really fancy that idea because I want the little one to be interested with what’s going on in the kitchen, just like how my mom got us all to be so hands-on with food preparation and cooking from young. Yea, even my brother cooks well. It’s certainly a skill that I want to impart to Faith.

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I love this Mushroom Pumpkin Mixed Rice because it is absolutely tasty and doesn’t involve too much work. Credit goes to Naturel Living who inserted a recipe in the goodie bag that I received during the recent Eeva Chang’s Language Power talk show. I thought it would be worthwhile to try out the recipe since Faith loves pumpkin and mushroom. Win-win situation for me!

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Ok, I must also confess that the pressed rice on the first page attracted me so much that I kept the leftlet. I had wanted to make Bento sets and this picture really captures my attention. Oh! The many things that I want to do!

Anyway, here’s the recipe, just in case the words in the picture are too small. By the way, I used their organic mixed brown and red rice and I must say it is good! The recipe serves 4.

Ingredients: 
2 cups Naturel Organic Mixed Brown and Red Rice (uncooked)
300g Pumpkin (small cubes)
200g Chicken thigh (small chunks)
100g Chinese cabbage
12 pcs Shittake mushroom
20g Dried shrimp
1 stalk spring onion
10g Raw ginger (sliced)
20g Garlic (2 cloves)
500ml Chicken Stock or Woh Hup Concentrated Chicken Stock

Seasoning (Pre-mix in a bowl)
2tsp salt
1tbsp Light soy sauce
1tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1tbsp Naturel Pure Olive oil
1/2 tsp Ground white pepper
1tsp Sesame oil
1tsp Thai Fish Sauce

Preparation:
1. Rinse the rice and drain.

2. Rinse pumpkin and cabbage.

3. Soak dried shrimp.

4. Cut ginger into slices, crush and peel garlic and dice spring onion.

5. Pre-mix all seasoning in a bowl.

Method:

1. Heat the olive oil in a wok. Add chicken, ginger, garlic and dried shrimp. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked on the outside and fragrant.

2. Add in shittake mushroom, cabbage, pumpkin and mixed brown and red rice (uncooked). Stir-fry evenly.

3. Add in the chicken stock, seasoning and continue to stir-fry for another minute.

4. Transfer all ingredients to an electric rice cooker to cook fully.

5. Garnish with spring onion (and seaweed) and serve hot.

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Maybe I will attempt Bento next… for Faith!

Foodie Friday | Teriyaki Chicken Don

I cook often and sometimes in a bid to get the meals out quickly, I stick to the ones that I often cook. It gets boring after a while and I think it’s time to inject some life into my cooking.

9789814398510Recently, I’m into Donburi, a rice meal topped with any ingredient. Still sounds dull right? Thankfully, I received some inspiration from a cooking book by Aki Watanabe called Donburi which includes a lot of delicious-looking rice meals waiting for me to try. I whipped up a few and love the end result so I thought I should share one of the recipes found in the book, a widely popular meal – Teriyaki Chicken Don. I’m sure many have tried cooking this but I absolutely adore the homemade teriyaki sauce listed in the book, so I thought I should share. I hope she doesn’t mind. This is an adapted version. I have omitted the salt and pepper since I am offering to the little one and soy sauce is tasteful enough for her!

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What you would need (yields 2): 
Boneless chicken leg 300g (I got mine from the market, deboned)
Canola oil for pan-frying
Steamed rice
Nori & wasabi sprouts for ganishing
Mixed chilli powder for seasoning

Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce 40ml
Caster sugar 15g
Sake 10ml
Mirin 4 tbsp

1. Heat all ingredients for teriyaki sauce in a pan. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Set aside.

2. Remove yellow fat from chicken meat.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Pan-fry chicken over medium heat until both sides have browned.

4. Cover with a lid and cook chicken over low heat. When chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan.

5. Clean the pan with kitchen towels and pour in teriyaki sauce. Place chicken in the sauce and heat until the meat is glazed and the sauce thickens.

6. Slice chicken into strips and place on rice. Pour the sauce over.

7. Garnish with wasabi sprouts and nori or toasted sesame seeds.

8. Serve with mixed chilli powder.

Using the recipes found in the book, I’ve also cooked the Tofu and Mushroom Don, adjusting the flavour of the seasoning to suit my daughter. And she loved it!

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This is another meal that is inspired by one of the recipes. Not a don but ramen.

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The book has inspired me to cook better rice meals. Perhaps you can take a look for yourself? 😉

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Chicken Pie

So, I’ve been rather disappointed by the chicken pies that I have bought recently. My complaints: the crust is too hard and thick and the filling is oh-so-very-little. Economic downturn is it? Must the filling also be reduced?

So, I decided to make my own chicken pies and hopefully, they will turn out fine (remember, I’m still trying to make friends with my oven). After googling for some recipes, I’ve decided to modify this.

For the pastry:
200 g unsalted butter
250 g all-purpose flour/plain flour
110 g plain yoghurt
1 tsp sugar
1 egg yolk
A pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl except yoghurt, and mix to a crumble. I used my fingertips. Add in yoghurt and mix to a dough. Dough will be very soft so you would need to keep it refrigerated for at least 30 mins. Alternatively, you can use puff pastry.

Filling:
113g diced potatoes (about 2 1/2 potatoes)
1 big onion diced
70 g mixed vegetable (depends on how much you like)
Sliced canned mushrooms (amt up to you)
2 chicken breast diced (depends on how much you like)
1 tbsp corn starch or potato starch mixed with 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper


Heat abt 2 tbsp of oil and fry potatoes with abt 118g of water and 1/2 tsp salt until soft. Set aside.

In a clean wok, heat 2 tbsp oil. Fry the onion until transparent. Add mixed vegetable, mushroom, chicken. Fry for a while to break up chicken. Add in potatoes. Add in abt  118g of water and cook for abt 5 mins. Add in salt, sugar and pepper. Add in the cornstarch and stir to thicken mixture. Set aside for later use.

 



To assemble, roll out the dough, cut the size required and place in a pie case. Have to be fast since the dough is soft and the butter melting! Poke holes on the base using a fork and place filling on top. Cut another piece of dough to cover the top. Poke a few more times using fork on the cover of the pie and brush with 1 beaten egg. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 mins. I baked mine at 170-175C for 40 minutes. 

Next time I do it, I will put more filling since I could have a rounded top as compared to a flat one. Aesthetically, there is a need to improve!! This portion yields about 7 chicken pies.

Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce

This recipe is good! The dish reminds me of mom’s cooking.

Yum! Yum! Yum! Yum!

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Cook and share a pot of curry!

So, today, in my home country, a lot of people would be cooking curry, thanks to a FB event (that has grown too wild) put up by a group of friends whose aim was to say, ‘let’s not argue, let’s not quarrel, let’s learn to tolerate, embrace and appreciate our multicultural way of life.’ in response to an incident between a new Chinese PR and the neighbour, an Indian family.

I shan’t go into the details of the story. But I want to declare that I love curry, all sorts and versions of it, and all the more when I can mix the correct spices and cook my own curry.

Obviously, there are also many who cannot take to the smell of the spices in the curry. It’s well…normal, I think. Like I dislike the smell of durians and shun it at all cost while my colleagues and family members love it and my mother would purposely bring one piece near to my nose. It’s all right.

I love anything and everything  spicy while my dear hubs cannot really enjoy it. It’s okay. I just do separate dishes or sometimes he will try the spicy food, with loads of water to accompany, that is. This is called preference and surrounding it, respect.

My dear hubs can’t force me to quit eating spicy stuff like belachan, no, hell no! But he will tolerate the smell and avoid the dish when I cook it. I will stay away from durian but that does not mean that I react violently when my colleagues have them as treats.

It’s all about respect for one another, even if a certain action or smell, in this case, makes us very uncomfortable, revolting at times. But if it is part of a person’s culture, shouldn’t we be open and learn more about it instead of rejecting it straightaway?

Anyway, I am enjoying my Bombay curry and spiced roast potatoes with my hubs but felt that the curry is not spicy enough. Will add more chilli powder the next time. Oops..I mean, I will add more chilli powder to my own portion. =p

Bombay Curry
Source: The Essential New York Times Cookbook
Serves 4

One 4 -pound chicken, cut into 6 pieces (alternatively use parts of chicken; I used chicken wings)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, thinly silced
2 tbsp curry powder
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup grated fresh or frozen coconut
1/2 cup light unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup water

1. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, add the chicken skin side down and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides. Remove the chicken to a plate.

2. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion to the pan, and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the curry and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Add the coconut, coconut milk, and water, return the chicken to the pan, and cover with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes. Baste the chicken with the pan juices. When the meat is done, remove it from the pan.

3. Arrange the chicken on a platter. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce. Spoon it over the chicken.

Spiced Roast Potatoes (Sekela bateta)
Source: Cooking with my Indian mother-in-law

These potatoes can commonly be found in many rice dishes. Originally, they could be added to stretch quantities to feed more people.  I think they are excellent as a side dish too!

For dishes serving 4 people (adjust accordingly)

4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
1/2 tbsp groundnut (peanut) oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of chilli powder
1/8 tsp tumeric

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. In an ovenproof dish, toss the potatoes with the oil, garlic, salt, chilli powder and tumeric. Put the dish in the oven and roast the potatoes for 25 minutes until they are golden-brown and cooked through – test them by piercing with a skewer or the point of a knife.

Chicken Gohan (rice)

One of the surest thing that Ken and I would do while travelling is to visit bookstores. Bookstores are to the Queks what museums are to history buffs. As usual, Ken could most commonly be found at the Fantasy section while I at the Cookbook section.

So that day in D.C., we were tired from walking down National Mall where our last stop was the Natural History Museum. It was still early and we need to bum somewhere. Barnes and Nobles came to mind.

Browsing through the cookbooks, I found a Japanese one and the following recipe which is easy. All I need is 1 tbsp of sake and soy sauce each and 1 tsp of grated ginger juice and sugar for the chicken bites marinade. The rest is up to my improvisation…because I couldn’t remember the rest of the ingredients/steps. =p

Then I remember Oyako-Don and decided to throw in eggs (with mirin) and onions. It’s a simple meal, the way I like it.

Tandoori Chicken & Zucchini pancakes

The school has sent me the orientation schedule and I can start volunteering soon! There are a total of 8-9 days that a teacher has to attend before the semester officially starts. Hmm, that’s a few days more than what we need to back home. But most part of the schedule is for teachers to plan the curriculum though I’m not entirely sure what it means. I would know more as the days progress.

Ken and I had been rather lazy in our training for the 1/2 marathon in October. So, this day, we resolved to run a longer distance and thank God for him who will always press me on when I get LAZY.

Lunch for today – Tandoori chicken and zucchini pancakes – a treat after a long run (just 9km). Thankfully, these two dishes are super easy to prepare, without the complicated spices which also means it may not taste as good as the authentic ones? Still, these will suffice.

Tandoori Chicken (Serves 2)

1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt/ sour cream
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
4 skinless chicken breast halves

1. Preheat the oven to 475F. In a large bowl,  mix together 1/4 cup of the yogurt, the garlic, tumeric, ginger, 1 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Add the chicken; turn to coat.

2. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 160F, 25 to 30 minutes.

Extra: Peel an apple; coarsely grate into a medium bowl. Add cilantro and the  1/4cup yogurt; season with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce alongside the chicken, with rice, if desired.

Zucchini Pancakes (makes about 9 small pancakes)
(Source: Heart of the artichoke and other kitchen journeys by David Tanis) 

1 large zucchini
1 tsp salt
1 to 2 eggs
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano (optional)
Olive oil for frying

1. Grate the zucchini. Toss the grated zucchini with the salt and let it drain in a colander for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, you can go running. Squeeze very fry in a clean kitchen towel.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg with the pepper and scallions. Add the flour, then add the grated zucchini and cheese (if using) and mix thoroughly.

3. Pour olive oil into a cast-iron skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch and heat. Carefully place spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture in the pan, then flatten them to a diameter of about 2 inches. Make only a few pancakes at a time so you don’t crowd them, and turn each once, letting them cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden. The heat should stay moderate.

4. Serve immediately, or hold in a warm oven until the entire batch is cooked.

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Day 3 and I already felt that I’m a permanent fixture at the Apple store. Thankfully, there are a lot of staff members and I had a different trainer for each workshop.

So this day, I was a tad early and at the table sat 3 Chinese nationals and a caucasian. I asked one of the Chinese ladies if the workshop was ….. but she gave me a blank look. Never mind. “Is this seat taken?” Blank look again and this time, asked her friend, “Eh….”

I reckoned she didn’t know much of English and asked the same question in mandarin. This time she answered and after that, muttered under her breath, “If you know Chinese, why don’t you speak it? Use what English?” (Using Singlish will explicitly translate what she said).

Duh! We are in America and of course, my first inclination is to speak in English. I’m not in China! (I would have spoken in Mandarin if I were there!) Anyway, thinking that replying her was just a waste of my time and folly on my part, I  minded my own business; I couldn’t help being thankful that I’m bilingual (though not a very effective one)

Thankfully, they were just occupying the space at the table and were not there for the workshop. I couldn’t imagine how they would understand the lesson if they didn’t know English.

I had iPhoto workshop and the lesson was rather free-flow. I was aware of some of the applications but enjoyed my time interacting with the trainer and the students more. I think I just like the interaction rather than staying at home all the time. =)

I guess I would just take a break and sign up for more when we come back from our upcoming short trip.

Hopped over to the Tay’s to prepare salad for small group. Did the Zucchini and chicken salad.

Serves 4

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 bunch (8 ounces) spinach, chopped
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the zucchini; toss to coat, and let marinate while cooking the chicken.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 7 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and slice thin.

3. Toss the chicken with the zucchini mixture, the spinach, pecans and Parmesan cheese. Serve.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Curry and roll

Time flies. August celebrates our one-year of being in Boston. That also means that I have been working in the kitchen for the same period of time. No longer am I frustrated with certain outcomes of my culinary adventures but am embracing the uncertainties and amazing discoveries along the way.

But, to be honest, there is perhaps one cuisine that I’m still doubtful of even though it is commonly found in where I live. It is the Indian cuisine, one which is unimaginable without spices. And it is precisely the spices that deter me from attempting the recipes since the complex, multilayered flavours associated with the best Indian food are achieved through careful cooking and the artful combination of usually small amounts of several different spices.

Thankfully, though the spices are varied, you can be sure that the same basic ones are used. In the Indian pantry, the following spices can more often be found and it is advisable to buy whole spices since they can keep longer.

Whole spices:
Dried red Kashmiri chillies | Black (or brown) mustard seeds | Cumin seeds| Fenugreek seeds | Coriander seeds | Cinnamon sticks | Green cardamoms | Cloves | Black peppercorns | Whole nutmeg | Fennel seeds | White poppy seeds | Saffron strands

Ground spices:
Asafortida | Chilli powder | Tumeric

Of the above, how many are you familiar with? I don’t usually buy whole spices, preferring ground ones and I’m thankful to have found this recipe – Kari Ayam (Malaysian Curry Chicken) which uses ground spices! Obviously, you can try to replace whole spices with ground ones but I’m just too lazy to do the conversion. =p

To complete this dish, I’ve decided to bake some old-fashioned dinner rolls (Source: The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet)

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Chicken with Sherry and Mushrooms

Got hold of James Paterson’s Meat: A Kitchen Education and came across the following recipe. It is classified under chicken fricassee which is  chicken simmered with broth, cream, mushrooms, and pearl onions, and the sauce is thickened with egg yolks. It describes a specific technique: cooking partly in fat, partly in liquid. The chicken is lightly sauteed on both sides until it barely begins to brown, the cooking fat is thrown out, and liquid is added. The chicken finishes cooking in the simmering liquid, and the liquid, usually based on broth, is converted into a sauce. A point that he highlighted: Nowadays, a fricassee chicken is almost impossible to distinguish from a sauteed one.

Makes 2 main-course servings

3 – 4 chicken thighs
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp butter
1/4 dry sherry
140g button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 heavy cream

1. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Use a non-stick skillet just big enough to accommodate the pieces in a single layer, without crowding.

2. Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat. When the butter froths, add the chicken thighs, skin side down and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the skin barely begins to brown. Turn the chicken over, flesh side down and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter, and pour the fat out of the pan.

3. Return the chicken thighs to the pan, add the sherry and mushrooms, and place over low heat. Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is just form to the touch. Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover, and place in a warm spot.

4. Add the cream to the liquid in the pan, stir with a whisk to dissolve the glaze and boil down over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce forms a lightly syrupy consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.