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Penne Pasta with Chicken, Bacon and Mustard Sauce

Penne Pasta with Chicken, Bacon and Mustard Sauce

This pasta dish makes regular appearances in our home.  It was given to me by my Aunt Jenni – who has a reputation for dishing some of the most delicious yet simple to prepare meals.  I have a feeling she may have adapted it from a Jamie Oliver but I’m not entirely sure.  In any case, this is our adaptation.  The original recipe uses roast chicken, but we’ve substituted smoked chicken instead.  The addition of mustard is something unusual but it does provides some oomph.  In any case, this can be prepared in 30 minutes or less and is great for a quick weeknight meal.

Penne Pasta with Smoked Chicken, Bacon, Peas and Mustard Sauce

Serves 4

  • 500 grams penne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 rashers bacon (around 175 grams), rind removed, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 2 smoked chicken drumsticks (around 450 grams), cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 100 grams parmesan cheese
  • 75 grams frozen baby peas
  • 200 ml cream
  1. Bring a pot of water to the boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat the olive oil and add the diced onions and garlic, cook out until translucent, around 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Add the bacon rashers and cook for about 5 minutes, add the chicken, mustard and finally the cream. Allow the sauce to simmer around 10 minutes to thicken.
  4. In the meantime, salt the water and add the pasta once the water comes to a boil. Cook as per the directions on the box.
  5. Once the pasta sauce has simmered, add the parmesan cheese and peas.
  6. When the pasta has cooked, drain and add to the sauce. Serve immediately.

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Chicken and Egg

Chicken and Egg

I’ll be the first to admit, I am a gadget junkie.  This weekend I stepped inside the mall and stepped out with an electric groom tool and a soft serve ice cream maker.  It really didn’t matter that even the salesman tried to dissuade me to get the groom tool or that I had previously bought two ice cream makers (which I had each used once).  My desire to have a soft serve ice cream party during the summer (only six months away) was enough to cloud my normally better judgement.  The truth is, most of the gadgets would be lucky to be used twice… Like my coconut grater, express pizza oven, and smoker (oh actually, that was only used once!).

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White Chicken Adobo

White Chicken Adobo

I remember the exchange of emails just like it was yesterday.  A couple of Filipina friends exploring the possibility of starting a cooking club that would promote Filipino food.  We talked about designing a banner and spent a few days coming up with an “introduction” to our club.  We talked about having monthly themes which we would then post our own version of on our blogs.  So in November 2009 a group of three friends decided to officially kick off the the Kulinarya Cooking Club.  I’m proud to say that twenty dishes later, the group still continues to celebrate the wonderful flavours of the Philippines. In fact, the group today numbers over 50 members!

This month, Kulinarya does “White Food”, chosen by Adora from Adora’s Box and Diona from Tita Flips.

I’ve chosen to share my version of one of the Philippine’s well known and most loved dishes…adobo.   Now,  you must realize that Filipinos take their adobo very seriously.  Almost everyone seems to think that their version is the best.  Well,  this version is sure to rival the best of the best.  Seriously.

A more common version of adobo is cooked with vinegar and soy, this recipe eliminates the soy sauce, which makes it the “white” version of adobo.  Adobo is essentially a stew, usually made with chicken and pork, where the meat is simmered over and the dish is finished by pan frying the meat before serving.  Quite different from  most stews where the meat is seared and then simmered over a long time.  As for me, I’ve pan fried the meat before and after simmering – a little extra step but I do love the resulting crispiness of the chicken skin in this recipe.

Adobong Puti (White Chicken Adobo)

Serves 4

  • 8 chicken thighs, de-boned (with skin on)
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 125 ml white vinegar
  • 6 pieces black pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt  to taste
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan. When hot, add the chicken in batches to brown the skin, around 3 minutes. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  2. Remove the chicken pieces and take out some of the oil in the pan and put the pan back on the heat.
  3. Add the garlic and saute, then add the white vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves and chicken. Allow the vinegar to come to a boil then add enough water to cover the chicken, around 500 to 750 ml.
  4. Allow the chicken to simmer, around 30 minutes until cooked. When done, remove the chicken from the pan and allow the sauce to simmer further until the sauce thickens to almost a syrup, around 20 minutes. When ready to serve the chicken, heat the rest of the oil in a separate pan and crisp the skin once more. Serve the sauce on the side and some white rice.

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Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Many many years ago a large Philippine newspaper asked my Mom if she wanted to be featured in their food column.  Despite my lack of food knowledge I volunteered to take her place and be interviewed.

So I made my signature dish of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

The lady who interviewed me must have thought it strange that not once during the interview did I enter the kitchen.  After we chatted for twenty minutes or so, my Mom brought out a large platter of a juicy roast chicken adorned with a generous amount of garlic which I claimed I had made earlier.  The interviewer raved about how delicious the chicken was, how the garlic was not too strong and how the chicken was simply cooked to perfection… the best she ever tasted.

I think it’s only right to once and for all set the story straight.

The truth is, all credit for that dish should have gone to my Mom who spent the better part of the morning marinating, stuffing and roasting the chicken, plus making a strawberry cake for dessert.  I, on the other hand,  sat back, basked in the limelight and answered the interviewer’s questions.

So I’m coming clean with my version of a roast chicken in garlic sauce.   This chicken is first pan fried and then finished off in the oven with slow roasted garlic and chicken stock which is then reduced into a sticky, garlicky sauce.  Finally, a sprinkle of parsley to finish.

And, if you’ll take my word for it, this recipe is just as good as the one I didn’t make many years ago.

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Serves 2

  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 chicken quarters (your choice of supreme or marylands)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  1. Place the garlic on a piece of foil and season with salt and pepper and drizzle a tablespoon of oil over it. Wrap the garlic cloves with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 c for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and unwrap the foil
  2. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and heat a pan with oil until very hot. Place the chicken pieces (skin side down) on the skillet and fry the skin until nicely browned, around 5 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and place the garlic cloves in the pan.
  3. With the back of a fork, press the cloves of garlic to remove the flesh of the garlic from the skin and add the 200 ml of stock.
  4. Place the skillet in the oven (which is still at 180 c) for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Chicken Pie - inspired by Maggie Beer

Chicken Pie - inspired by Maggie Beer

My home is located at the bottom of a very hilly area. Each morning, I get up and take my dogs for a walk up and down a series steep inclines to reach the peak. The task is arduous and always leaves me out of breath. But it’s worth it since I know that once I reach the bottom at the other side, lies the most amazing view of the harbour and the city as the sun greets Sydney good morning. The first time I climbed the hill was torture and even worse when I had reached the bottom knowing I had to climb the same rolling hills to get back home. If I miss a few days, I still find myself out of breath and need to stop along the way for a rest. My lack of fitness is a far cry from years back when I managed to run eight kilometers without breaking a sweat.

Early on, I would see runners pass me by, easily scaling the inclines that leave me gasping for air thinking “One day… I’ll get back into shape and run all the way up and down like they do!”

That was more than two years ago. For some reason, I always had an excuse not to follow through – I was too tired, too lazy, No time, maybe after Christmas, maybe after Easter… and then I stopped bothering to make excuses and decided to keep walking.

And then one day some one told me to stop with the excuses and “just get over it”.

So the next day, I put on my running shoes and ran.

I stopped to rest eight times that day. My legs felt like lead and my chest like it was about to burst. Halfway through I contemplated walking home but somehow I managed to make it home swearing I would never do it again.

The next day, I ran again.

Tomorrow – rain or shine… will be day five.

I am sure we all have our demons holding us back but sometimes we just have to “get over it” and put on our running shoes, climb those hills, knowing that the view on the other side will be worth it.

Chicken Pie inspired by Maggie Beer

Chicken Pie inspired by Maggie Beer

Chicken Pie inspired by Maggie Beer

This chicken pie was one of those dishes that I needed to “get over” as well. This dish is influenced by Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Pie which I had been meaning to make months ago after watching her on Masterchef.  I finally, managed to make it over the weekend.  I’ll be upfront – this dish takes a lot of effort, the pie crust, roasting the chicken, making the filling, baking… but I have never ever tasted a better pie.  My husband says he can’t eat any other chicken pie after this.   Toasted walnuts, fresh herbs folded through a creamy chicken and mushroom filling lifted by hints of orange is unforgettable!

Also, the pastry is quite easy to work with and tastes amazing.  I am already thinking of other fillings to go with it!
For the chicken and marinade

  • 1.2 to 1.4 kilo whole chicken
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • Juice of one orange (separate the zest for the pie)
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 4 bay leaves

For the filling

  • 60 grams butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 350 grams portobello mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 40 grams flour
  • 200 ml hot chicken stock
  • 80 grams creme fraiche (or fresh cream)
  • 40 grams walnuts, toasted
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange (see above)

Sour Cream Pastry

  • 200 grams unsalted butter, chilled
  • 250 grams plain flour
  • 125 ml sour cream

Glaze

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tablespoon milk
  • good pinch salt

To make the sour cream pastry

  1. To make the sour cream pastry, pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
    Roll the pastry to desired thickness and cut 2 circles, 1 for the base of the pie, at approximately 27cm , and 1 for the lid at approximately 21cm. Line a pie tin with the larger dough then rest both in the refrigerator.

For the pie

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C. To prepare the chicken, with a sharp knife, cut the tips off the wings. With the chicken breast up, make a small cut on each side in between the leg and the breast and dislocate each leg at the socket by bending them back. Then to break the back of the bird, hold the ‘parson’s nose’ end of the bird and apply pressure to snap the backbone. Twist the legs 180 degrees, so the breast of the chicken and the skin side of the legs are facing up. Separate the legs from the body of the chicken.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken (skin side up) and the marinade ingredients in a roasting pan and allow the mixture to marinate for at least 10 minutes (I let mine marinate for 30 minutes).
  3. Place the chicken in the preheated oven for around 40 to 45 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, debone the chicken.
  4. Increase the oven heat to 230 c.
  5. In a large frying pan, melt the butter, then gently fry the garlic, rosemary and then add the mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are soft and have reduced by half in size. You may need to add some extra virgin olive oil for frying. Season with salt. Add the flour to the pan and cook out for around 3 minutes, then pour in the hot chicken stock. Bring the mixture to the boil, then stir in the crème fraiche and reduce to a simmer. Cook the mixture for 15 minutes until it has thickened, check the seasoning
  6. Add the chicken and walnuts, lemon and orange zest, land allow to cool for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  7. To make the glaze, beat the egg yolk, milk and salt together.
  8. To assemble the pie, remove the pastry from the refrigerator, spoon the filling into the pie tin and cover with the pastry lid. Crimp the edges to seal and brush with the glaze. Take a sharp knife and score the top of the pie into a criss cross pattern.
  9. Place the pie back into the refrigerator and allow to rest for a further 10 minutes.
  10. Place the pie in the oven and allow to cook for 5 minutes at 230 c (fan forced), drop the temperature down to 220 c and allow the pie to cook until golden and cooked through. If the top is browning too much, cover with some foil until the dough is cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to rest while you make the jus.
  11. To make the jus, take the temperature down to 180 c and place the roasting pan back into the oven with 500 ml stock. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and strain into a sauce pan and cook until further reduced to a nice sticky glaze.

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Chicken Wings with Spicy Basque Ketchup

Chicken Wings with Spicy Basque Ketchup

This, my friends, is going to be a very short post. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed the lack of any online presence lately… and there’s certainly a reason for my silence. First, my parents are around for another few weeks – and family always takes priority so I am trying to squeeze in as much time as I can with them while they’re here. Then, there’s the new job which has been keeping me quite busy as I try to  to navigate my way around a whole new business. So something’s got to give –  and in this case – it’s catching up with friends, those I see in person as well as in cyberspace.   So this unfortunately means  there’s also less time now to visit my favourite blogs and I am sorely missing you all (and my RSS feed).

I’m hoping February should quiet down somewhat (but of course, you never know!) and things return to normal…  But I couldn’t let this week pass without sharing another recipe I made for our New Year’s Tapas Party.  If you love chicken wings, you’d be crazy not to try this recipe.  Everyone at the party went crazy for them. I had initially used only half the wings I had bought thinking I had too much food.  Half way through I had to bake the rest which was also promptly devoured.  So advice, when you’re making this – make lots!

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Pinchos Morunos

Pinchos Morunos

Today at work we chatted about our favourite pastimes as children. I mentioned that , to pass the time during summers, my siblings and cousins would meet at my grandmother’s place every day. We would swim, watch (music) videos, eat, sleep, fight, swim some more, eat some more and definitely fight some more. Almost like a day care for grandchildren.

Today, I am much more civilized. If I have any spare time I like to pour over the pages of cookbooks, food magazines and food blogs. I love stacking cookbooks by my beside pouring over them to get myself to sleep.

My husband was recently away for three weeks so I left all the cookbooks on his side of the bed. In an attempt to tidy up one Saturday morning, I covered the books with the bed cover. A friend came over and did a double take when she entered the room.

“Is that your husband?” She whispered. We both had a good laugh when she realized that I had accumulated enough cookbooks to make her think it was him under the sheets.

Equally as addictive is my love of food blogs. I have recently discovered many great food blogs like this one and there are many that I visit regularly. I find their stories, recipes and photography inspiring and definitely, they take up less space that the cookbooks! A few weeks ago I came across Peter’s swordfish souvlaki and I was reminded of a Spanish tapa called Pinchos Moruños. These moorish inspired Spanish  skewers are usually made from pork but the recipe is easily adaptable to chicken, lamb and yes, I think even swordfish! It’s so easy to make, just marinate a few hours (overnight is preferable) and grill. They are great served with lebanese bread and aioli (Spanish mayonnaise).

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