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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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Eton Mess

Eton Mess

In my sophomore year of high school I met two girls who would soon become my best friends.  At first glance, it was an unlikely friendship.  One of them was a champion equestrienne who also made it to class president, and the other was a self described tomboy because she said she loved sports and rock music, except that everyone else thought she was a was a heartthrob.  And then there was me.  Truth be told, I felt very boring beside them – no hobby to keep me busy, I had no inclination to excel at school and had no string of admirers in the background.   But despite all this, somehow, we just clicked.  We’d take turns having sleep overs at each others houses, chatting until all hours of the morning about boyfriends (theirs) and heartbreaks (also theirs).  We also talked about what we were going to do and where we were going to be “ten years from now” (we all wanted to be lawyers) as we gorged on junk food until we felt sick.  We called ourselves PT&T, the first initials of our names.

One of the things we always agreed on was that we would make sure to go to the same University when we graduated.  Which, for one reason or another, never happened.  In fact, we all went to different schools and all took different courses. After University, I went to work for a bank, one of them continued her passion of horse jumping (and yes, eventually made it to the Olympics!), and the other one continued to break hearts and became a TV personality.

Despite the lack of contact, we were still always fiercely loyal and protective of each other.  I remember once when I started dating my now husband, he told me that the “P” of PT&T had told a friend of his that “he’d better make sure to treat Trissa well, otherwise, she would come looking for him”…. and, when it really mattered (like my wedding), we would still be there for each other (they were my bridesmaids).

Sadly, years have passed since I last saw them both.  Once in awhile, we text or email each other a birthday or Christmas greeting… but we’re all living on different continents and have gone on to do totally different things… as I said – it was an unlikely friendship.

But I’m still hopeful that one day we’ll have a PT&T reunion – and I know when we do – the conversation will pick up as if we were back in one of our houses, having another one of those sleepovers where there really is no sleeping – just lots of talking and making up for lost time… and of course, still gorging on the junk food.

The more I think about it – the more I realize that blogging is a little bit like an old friendship.  You may have noticed the long absence lately – and how rude of me to be gone for so long without a word or explanation.  But I know, you’ll forgive me and allow me to pick up where I left off.

Eton Mess

Eton Mess

Eton Mess

For the Eton Mess
The inspiration for this Eton Mess comes from a recent dinner at District Dining which is Chef Warren Turnbull’s rendition of this classic dessert.

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 250 ml cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 50 grams icing sugar
  • 250 grams strawberries, quartered
  • Raspberry Sorbet (recipe follows)
  • Edible Flowers
  • Fresh or frozen Raspberries (for topping)
  1. Preheat the oven to 140c (fan forced). Beat the egg whites together with the cream of tartar in a bowl until frothy and then gradually add the sugar until stiff peaks.
  2. Spread the egg whites on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks and then gradually add the icing sugar and vanilla seeds, making sure not to overwhip the cream.
  4. Add the strawberries to the cream and gently fold in.
  5. To assemble, crumble the cooled meringue over the strawberries and cream and top with some raspberry sorbet, edible flowers and fresh raspberries.

For the Raspberry Sorbet

    This recipe is done on the thermomix. Feel free to use your own recipe or store bought if necessary.

  • 75 grams caster sugar
  • 150 grams frozen raspberries
  • 1 egg white
  1. Place the sugar into the TM bowl and mill for 10 seconds on speed 9
  2. Add the raspberries followed by the 350 grams of ice and egg white. Slowly turn the speed dial to speed 10.
  3. Use the spatula to assist in the incorporation of the raspberries with the ice.

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How to make your own kogi dog

How to make your own kogi dog

I love Sydney.  I really do.  But I just wish we had decent food trucks roaming around the city.  I’ve been reading about how gourmet food trucks have taken over in cities like New York, L.A., and San Francisco and how they let their customers know their latest locations via twitter or facebook… and feel a twinge of envy.  All we have is Mr Whippy.

From dumplings in New York,  boeuf bourguignon in San Francisco, and chicken adobo in L.A., these trucks are changing the foodie landscape in major U.S. cities…. I am surprised they haven’t caught on in Sydney… yet.  Food trucks would be the perfect answer to the city’s  exorbitant cost of rent and real estate.

I first heard of Roy Choi, chef and owner of Kogi BBQ,  from an article in the Australian Gourmet Traveller.  Intrigued, I did a little more research – turns out he’s been around for sometime – earning a degree at the Culinary Institute of America and working  at Le Bernardin in New York.   However he is most known for his gourmet food truck serving Korean/Mexican fusion food such as kimchi quesadillas, Korean short ribs on tacos and of course, the famous Kogi Dog.

I was, to be honest, a little taken aback when I read the ingredient list for the kogi dog.  Kimchi?  Cabbage? Cheese? Sesame mayonnaise?  I decided it would “not work” and went on to other recipes.  Weeks went by…

I could not stop thinking about the kogi dog.

So I gave in… one Saturday morning and bought myself a jar of kimchi and took the plunge… and did not regret it one bit.

If you aren’t  lucky enough to live in L.A. and have access to one of the Kogi Travelling Food Trucks,  then do try making this at home.  A hot dog sandwich with an Asian inspired coleslaw and the spicy pickled flavour of the kimchi really does work.  So while I wait for Sydney to have its own food trucks serving gourmet food, I’ll help myself to another one of these kogi dogs!

Kogi Dog

Recipe from Food & Wine Magazine, Serves 8

  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 cup kimchi, drained and patted dry
  • 8 hot dog buns, split
  • 8 all beef hot dogs
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded romaine
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cilantro
  • sriracha sauce, for drizzling
  1. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, scallion and lime juice; season with salt and pepper. In a mortar, pound the sesame seeds until crushed and transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise and season with salt.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the kimchi and cook over high heat until browned all over, 3 minutes.
  3. Light a grill. Brush the insides of the buns with oil and grill over moderately high heat, cut side down, until crisp, 20 seconds. Turn and grill for 20 seconds longer. Spread the cut sides with the sesame mayonnaise.
  4. Grill the hot dogs over moderately high heat until nicely charred all over, 3 minutes. Tuck the hot dogs into the buns with the kimchi and cheddar. Top with the cabbage salad, romaine, onion and cilantro sprigs. Drizzle a little Sriracha on top and serve.

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Chocolate Carrot Cake Muffins

Chocolate Carrot Cake Muffins

When I was six my birthday fell on Easter Sunday.  I must tell you – this was probably the high point of my childhood.  I mean, how cool was that for MY birthday to fall on this day?  It was such a happy surprise and I wondered why I didn’t realize that this was the case for previous birthdays.  Easter egg hunt!  Birthday Cake!  Gifts! More Gifts! Party!!!

I spent most of the next year looking forward to my seventh birthday.  Dreaming about how to improve on that glorious birthday.  Could we get the Easter Bunny to make a surprise guest appearance?  What about a piñata in the shape of a rabbit?

My birthday bubble was shattered when I found out about a month before my seventh, that Easter Sunday wasn’t going to fall on my birthday (I know… I wasn’t thinking).  It was a rude awakening to discover that Easter Sunday changed every year.  No wonder I got weird looks When people asked me when my birthday was, I’d say “it’s the same day as Easter Sunday!”

Chocolate Carrot Cake

Chocolate Carrot Cake

(more…)

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Chocolate Biscotti

Chocolate Biscotti

A work colleague once asked me if I order in restaurants the same way that I order coffee.  I thought his comment was pretty funny, especially since the weekend before my husband had said I was a waiter’s worst nightmare.

“What do you mean?” I asked my husband.

“Well, you like to change everything in the dish.  You want to order the steamed fish but have them fry it instead, and have the sauce on the side instead of pouring it over the fish – and if it comes with potatoes, you want rice instead!”  He said.

Surely he was exaggerating!

But I did have to concede to my work colleague that being finicky with my coffee never earned me any brownie points with the baristas.  One day I’m having a cappuccino with one sugar then the next I’m having it with one and a half sugars.  Then I learned that you get more milk with a latte so I switched to that (with one sugar).  Then I went off coffee and started having chai lattes – then soy chai lattes, then I missed my coffees and got back on to the lattes – but I wanted a weak latte, one and a half sugars and chocolate sprinkles on top…. oh and extra creamy.

And then I switched to tea – but that’s a whole different story altogether!

(more…)

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Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

“Why can’t you help out more with the housework?”  I screamed at my husband early on Saturday.

I must have shocked him at six in the morning but I was tired and grumpy and the dogs were whimpering for a walk and I wanted him, for once, to take care of it.

“Where is this coming from?” he asked.  “I’m always walking the dogs, cooking and washing and YOU need to do your share!”  I told him.

Now, I know that arguing with your husband at six a.m. isn’t the best of ideas and no arguments get resolved so early in the morning, but I wouldn’t back down.  So back and forth we went about who was going to walk the dogs and why I thought he wasn’t “sharing the burden” (yes, those were my words) and how he thought I was crazy for bringing this up so early in the morning and after twenty minutes we never really got to any resolution.

Instead of dwelling on our fight, I decided to take my mind off things and bake this beautiful Braised Onion Pie which I saw from the cookbook of Gary Mehigan and George Colombaris called “Your Place or Mine”  The recipe is George’s take on his Mum’s Spanakopita, a Greek pie made with spinach and feta.  Instead of the spinach, George makes onions the star of this dish.  The dish is made with caramelized onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, ricotta and a beautiful crumbly Greek feta.

Onion Spanakopita

Onion Spanakopita

A word of caution, there is a lot of onions to go through with this dish.  I normally refrigerate my onions prior to slicing them which, at least for me, helps to prevent my crying while I slice them.  But on that morning, there were lots of tears.

It was worth it though.  I started cooking at 10:00 am and at 10:30 my husband took the dogs for a walk.  At 11:30 he came back and watered the plants…. at 12 noon he took the trash out.

Something was going on.  Could it be the smell of the sweet caramelized onions making him sorry?  Was he trying to make amends so he could have some lunch?

As we sat down for lunch I asked him why he was being so nice.

“I knew you were upset, I saw you crying and wanted to make it up to you.” he said.

Crying? Should I admit that it was the onions?

Or maybe wait for him to read this post… 🙂

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

Onion Spanakopita (Braised Onion Pie)

From Your Place or Mine? Gary Mehigan & George Calombaris

  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 400 grams firm ricotta cheese
  • 400 grams feta, crumbled
  • 18 sheets filo pastry
  • 200 ml butter
  • sea salt flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy based sauce pan. Add the onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, picked thyme sprigs and bay leaves and cook out for around 5 minutes over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and cook the mixture gently until the onions are caramelized, this will take around 45 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent the onions from catching the bottom of the pan and burning.
  2. Allow the onion mixture to cool and remove the bay leaves. Mix in the ricotta and crumbled feta.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 170c fan-forced.
  4. Cut the sheets of filo to fit a baking tray (I used a baking tray measuring 30cm by 24 cm) and lay the sheets on top of some greaseproof or baking paper and then cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying and cracking. Take one sheet of filo and butter the bottom of the tray. Spread a layer of the filo and brush some butter to cover and then layer another sheet of filo and brush some more butter to cover. Repeat this with six more sheets, brushing some butter each time.
  5. Place half of the onion mixture on the filo sheets and spread evenly. Next, cover with three more buttered sheets of filo and then the remaining onion mixture. Finally, place another seven sheets of buttered filo (make sure you butter the last sheet).
  6. Bake the pie in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes and serve warm. If you are making the pie in advance, you can reheat the pie in a 180c oven for 15 minutes.

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