Thursday, June 28, 2012

Instant Chicken Pie with Leftover Baguette

I called this "Instant Pie" as you do not need any pastry dough or mashed potatoes as the crust.  Instead, this pie makes use of leftover bread.  When you cook regularly, you will bound to have leftovers.  Instead of throwing away the leftovers, store them properly in food containers and you can transform them into another dish.  

Leftover baguette as pie crust

I was reading Wendy's mouth-watering Baked 3 Layer Beef Pie where she used sandwich bread as the layered pie crust.  This reminds me of a cooking show that I watched several years back, where leftover bread were cut into cubes, soaked in egg/milk/cream and baked into either a sweet or savory dish for brunch.  I remember I wanted to try that for weekend breakfast.  But as usual, I forget about it totally!  

I had extra chicken pie filling from my earlier chicken and leek pie, where I stored in freezer.  So preparing this pie is a breeze.  If you do not have ready filling, try pairing canned tuna fish, chopped onion/bell peppers and sweet cream corn.  Mix them together with a little mayonnaise and dash of pepper.  Add a slice of cheese on top before adding the bread.

Instant Chicken Pie (serves 1)

Chicken pie filling
3 slices of leftover baguette, cut into cubes
1 egg
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
Pinch of salt and pepper
Pinch of dried basil

1) Pour filling into a greased baking dish.
2) Mix the egg, cream, milk, salt, pepper, basil together.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread and let the bread fully absorb the liquid.
3) Place soaked bread on the filling and bake in preheated oven at 175C for about 20 minutes or till top is golden brown.

The inner part of the baked baguette taste somewhat like mashed potato while the top is crusty.  I would definitely be making this again when I have leftover baguette.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Tart

This is again one of my trial and error baking attempts.  

Last Sunday, I was doing a quick shopping at JCube, near Jurong East MRT (you can read more about JCube and its indoor ice-skating rink at Cuisine Paradise).  As usual, all my shopping end with making a trip to the basement supermarket.  Even if I don't buy anything, just feel good by looking at the fresh fruits and vegetables.  That's what I thought, just window-shopping.  But, did you notice that supermarkets always display their freshest fruits at the entrance to entice you to step in and buy?  I was hooked right at the entrance at Cold Storage!  Plump, fresh and juicy dark red cherries were on sale!  My little gal loves dark cherries (ok, that's an excuse for me to buy) and so I bought a kilo of these lovely cherries home.  These cherries are very sweet, juicy and full of flavour!

This tart has a few components:
 - the chocolate biscuit base
 - chocolate ganache
 - thin chocolate sponge
 - dairy whipped cream with cherry sauce 
 - fresh pitted cherries
 - chocolate shavings and drizzle

Chocolate Tart Base (8" round tart pan)
170g plain flour, 10g cocoa powder, 90g butter, 1 tbsp fine sugar, 1 egg yolk, 2 to 3 tbsp water

1) Using the rubbing-in method, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and butter.  Then add in the egg yolk and water to form a dough.  
2) Chill the dough in fridge briefly for easy handling.  Roll out the dough to fit the tart pan.  
3) Blind bake in preheated oven of 180C for about 15 minutes.  Remove baking paper/beans etc and bake again for about 20 minutes.  Remove and cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache
150g dark chocolate, 100g dairy cream 

Heat dairy cream till hot and pour over dark chocolate.  Stir till chocolate melts completely.
1) Can increase cream to 120g for a softer chocolate texture.
2) Can add 1 to 2 tbsp rum or liquor to the chocolate ganache.

Thin Chocolate Sponge (optional)
For me, the chocolate sponge serves two purposes.  One, to cut down on the whipped cream needed.  Two, to give a different texture to the tart.  If you are a cream-lover, the sponge is really optional.

Dairy Whipped Cream with Cherry Sauce
150g dairy whipping cream, 1 to 2 tbsp icing sugar, 1 tsp gelatin + 2 tbsp water (to melt the gelatin)
2 to 3 tbsp cooked cherries jam/sauce or juice from canned cherries

Whisk the cream and icing sugar till soft peak, add in dissolved gelatin and cherries jam.  Continue to whisk till firm.  Keep chill in fridge till ready to use.
I did not use cherry sauce/jam for the whipped cream.  I have about 3 tbsp rhubarb jam to be cleared, so I use that instead.

Fresh pitted cherries
You need to pit the cherries (i.e. remove the seeds) before placing them on the tart.  You can check online for how to pit a fresh cherry.  For me, it's a low cost method of using a wooden chopstick.  Remove the stem, aim at the point (where the stem was) and poke the chopstick through.  The seed will come out at the other end.  It seems difficult at the beginning.  Practice makes perfect!  Alternatively, buy canned dark cherries.  

To assemble:

1) Spread chocolate ganache on baked tart shell (reserved a little ganache for decoration)
2) Place chocolate sponge in the middle of the tart and press down gently
3) Spread whipped cream evenly on the tart.
4) Press the pitted cherries into the cream.
5) Decorate with chocolate shavings and drizzle ganache over the tart.

1) For stronger cherry flavour as well as better visual presentation, serve with chocolate cherry sauce glaze.
2) Chill the tart for a few hours or overnight in fridge, remove and rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  The tart tastes better after overnight in the fridge, than freshly baked and assembled ;)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ideas with Leftover Roasted Chicken

Way before the internet age, my mum already have good ideas to clear any leftover roasted duck or chicken.  If it's during the Chinese New Year period, any left over roast meat, duck, chicken will be combined and stir fried with Chinese leeks.  A simple, yet wonderful dish to go with rice.  Bones can be used for cooking porridge or stews.  Nothing is wasted.

I had some leftover roasted chicken breast meat from my Peri Peri Chicken, and leftover chicken wings from a gathering.  I do not like to reheat leftovers for another meal, but will usually re-cook them to make into another dish(es).

Leftover chicken breast is the most versatile.  Make them into sandwiches, add to porridge or pasta, or even to stir-fry.  I shredded the chicken breast for my one-dish meal, creamy pasta salad:

Creamy Pasta Salad (serves 3):

1 cup of uncooked pasta (I used spiral) - cooked in water and drained (see note 1)
Your choice of vegetables - I used bell peppers, cucumber, apple, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, fennel, spring onions and parsley
Optional: shredded chicken meat, hard-boiled eggs, bacon bits

Salad dressings - Mix together: 
4 heaped tbsp light sour cream
2 to 3 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice from 1 lemon
Dash of ground paprika
Salt/pepper to taste

Toss the dressings with the pasta and vegetables (except lettuce if using) till well combined.  Keep chill in fridge, at least 2 to 3 hours, for the flavours to combine.  

1) Do not overcook the pasta, as it will absorb moisture from the sauce and will soften further.
2) At the point of tossing the ingredients together with the sauce, taste the salad.  If it tastes just right, add a little more salt and a little more lemon juice.  After a few hours of sitting in the fridge, the flavours will be absorbed into the pasta and vegetables, making it just nice and delicious.

One-Pan Chicken Rice
Method is similar to making paella, but I cooked the rice separately in stock till about 3/4 cooked before adding it to the pan with other ingredients. This way, the rice will not be burnt at the bottom of the pan.  

Chicken Stew

This is a great dish to make when you need to clear your fridge.  Over here, I used zucchini, carrots, fennel, onions, tomatoes and black olives to prepare this stew.  At the end of cooking, add some cream to thicken the sauce.

Chicken Stew served with rice

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Peri Peri Chicken with Creamy Potato Bake

I have not been to any of the Nando's restaurants in Singapore, but I been to one in Melbourne recently.  There are so many Nando's restaurants in Melbourne city centre that I could not help but notice its presence.  Out of curiosity, I ordered a quarter chicken with chips and drink.  It was my first time trying the famous Peri Peri chicken.  The flame-grilled chicken was indeed delicious, though far too salty for me.  The chips were crispy outside and creamy inside, just as most chips served in Australia eateries.

So back from holiday, I decided to attempt this Peri Peri chicken.  The first step is to search for a recipe.  I read up many online recipes and come up with this trial and error version.

Marinating sauce:
4 to 5 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
Thumb-sized ginger
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp dried Peri Peri chili flakes mixed
2 tbsp meat seasoning (mixed spices)
1 tsp brown sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt to taste

Put all the sauce ingredients in a food processor, add a little water and blend into a paste.  Add about 3 tbsp olive oil and blend to combine.

Preparing my first Peri Peri Chicken dinner

To prepare the chicken:

1) Butterfly a whole chicken or use 4 chicken thighs.
2) Rub the Peri Peri marinates on the whole chicken and leave in fridge overnight.
3) Heat up a grill pan till very hot, add a little oil.  Brown the chicken on both sides for a few minutes each.
4) Cut some vegetables (I used bell peppers, fennel and cherry tomatoes).  Toss them with a little olive oil and salt.  Place them on a baking tray.
5) Place the partial-cooked chicken on the bed of vegetables.  Brush some marinates on the chicken.
6) Bake in preheated oven of 200C for about 30 minutes or till cooked.

On another day, I made Peri Peri chicken wings.  I did not grill the wings on a pan first, but just cooked them directly in the oven using grill mode (fans on) at 200C for about 20 minutes, turning them half-way into cooking.  The chicken meat seems more moist using this method (or maybe cos higher fats in chicken wings?)  But I have not grilled a whole chicken, so not sure if it will turn out as moist as the chicken wings. 

I prepared a creamy potato, leek and ham bake as a side-dish.  

To prepare:
1) Boil whole potatoes in water for about 15 minutes.  Remove, cool and cut the potatoes into 1 cm-thick slices.  
2) For the sauce, I saute the leek and ham in a sauce pot, add half a can of Campbell's mushroom soup, some water and bring to boil.  Add about 3 to 4 tbsp light sour cream.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  
3) Add the sliced potatoes into the sauce and toss to cover all potatoes.
4) Pour content into a greased baking dish.  Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
5) Bake in preheated oven of 175C for about 25 minutes or till the top turns golden brown.

And this serving is for me :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken and Leek Pie

I fell in love with pies during my recent trip to Australia.  Whether sweet or savory pies, the Aussie really makes them so yummy and flavourful.  The filling are moist and fresh, while the crust stays crumbly or flaky, depending on whether it's shortcrust pastry or puff pastry.   

And so with the leek that I brought back from Australia, I decided to make this Chicken and Leek Pie.  We have leeks all year round in Singapore, but more commonly are leeks from Malaysia and China (especially during the year end).  Those big round leeks from Australia are not so common and are relatively more expensive.  

jumbo leek!

Shortcrust pastry (makes 4 pies):
250g plain flour, 125g cold butter (I used salted butter), 1 egg yolk + 3 to 4 tbsp water

1) Rub butter into flour till it resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in egg yolk and water to form a dough.  Do not knead the dough.  Wrap in clingwrap and chill in fridge for about 30 minutes (I prepared the dough in the morning and rolled the dough in late afternoon).  
2) Roll out the dough thinly between 2 sheets of baking paper.  Trim the dough to fit into your pie mould or dish.  With the leftover dough, roll out again and cut out dough pieces for the top cover.

Chicken and Leek filling:
1 big chicken thigh (deboned, cut into chunks and marinated), 1/2 big leek (chopped), 1 carrot (chopped), 1 onion (chopped), 1 potato (cut into cubes), 1/2 can Campbell's cream of mushroom soup concentrate, 3 tbsp sour cream, soy sauce (to taste), 1 tsp dried mixed herbs.

1) Heat up a frying pan.  Stir fry the onions and chicken till fragrant.  Set aside.   
2) Cook the chopped carrots and leeks in the pot with a little oil.  Add the dried herbs, cover and cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes.  
3) Add potato to the pot and stir in the mushroom soup concentrate.  Add sufficient water to cover all the ingredients.  Cover and let it simmer.  
4) When the sauce has thickened slightly and the potato turns soft, add in the chicken/onion.  Let it cook for a few more minutes, add the sour cream and soy sauce to taste.  Thickens the sauce with a little cornstarch solution, if necessary.

To make the pie:
Spoon filling into unbaked pie shell and cover with another piece of pastry dough.  Pinch the top and bottom dough pieces at the edges to seal the pie.  Brush the pie with beaten egg.  Cut a small hole at the top of the pie.  Bake in preheated oven of 190C for about 40 minutes or til golden.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fong on Holiday

It was a good holiday and a temporary escape from the hot weather here.  Right after planning and celebrating my little girl and hubby birthdays, I was busy reading up on Lonely Planet, trip advisor for our rather impromptu holiday plan to Australia.  My hubby suggested going to Australia and within two weeks, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House were right in front of us!  

Here are some of the pictures taken during our trip:

Took a midnight flight from Singapore to Sydney.

Paranomic view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House

Our walk at Darling Harbour

Day 2 to Paddy Market (no available pics), Chinatown and catch Amei concert.

Catch 张惠妹 concert at Sydney Entertainment Centre

Day 3:  Book a one-day tour to the Blue Mountain.

A not-so-blue mountain due to bad weather

Took a domestic flight to Adelaide and started our self-drive to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road.

Our best accommodation so far, in a quiet town, Robe.  Spacious room with a superb lake view.

Lots of seagull (or rather hungry seagulls!) throughout our journey along the coastal drive

Stop by another quiet town, Portland.  

A man fishing in the freezing cold morning.  He wanted to give some fish to his neighbour, who had given him some onions earlier.  "You wanna some apples for exchange ^_^ "

Emu, a native bird to Australia

Our rented Hyundai for our road trip

The famous scenic spot along the Great Ocean Road

We finally reached Melbourne and to my favorite shopping place - Queen Victoria Market.  We choose to stay near the market for easy shopping (just behind our accommodation and a 3-mins walk).

We spent the whole morning shopping (I meant window-shopping) in the market

There's a wide selection of deli and takeaway food in the market.  Lots of interesting stuff to see and to eat

Melbourne city centre.  Easily accessible by the free city tram

Evening stroll along the Yarra River (Crown Casino).  Very quiet cos it's freezing cold!

Feeding a wallaby at the Philip Island

Shhh... somebody is sleeping

And what's travelling without yummy food?

Seafood dinner at the Blue Fish (Darling Harbour).  Must order:  fried calamari

Brunch at Sydney's Fish Market.  The fresh oyster is good.

Rhubarb and apple crumble pie (Darling Harbour).  oh... I fell in love with rhubarb!

The Aussie are really good with their pies.  Here is our beef pie with side salad (Blue Mountain)

Our best seafood dinner in Australia.  Seafood Platter at The Sail (Robe, Southern Ausralia).

Juicy flavourful steak with prawn sauce

Fish and prawn stew with rice

Rhubarb muffin with latte - late morning snack

Baked eggs with eggplant and spinach.  A good breakfast alternative to bacon and sausages

Ribeye steak with roasted vegetables

Gnocchi in tomato sauce

Things are rather expensive in Australia.  A meal in the restaurant (without wine) easily costs us from A$60 upwards.  A night accommodation (budget) costs around A$100 to A$130.  To balance our travel budget, we made our own sandwiches for breakfast and sometimes for lunch too.  Takeaway snacks from bakeries is a more affordable option than dining at a restaurant.  For instance, a shepherd pie costs A$7 for takeaway (at a small eatery at Queen Victoria Market), but costs A$12.50 for dine-in, served with a small portion of side salad.

Our DIY sandwiches:

Thai curry tuna filling with toasted foccasia, plus 3-in-1 cappuccino, served by Fong

A loaf of sandwich bread at Coles costs A$1.50 and covered two of our breakfasts and one lunch :)  We bought a tub of cream cheese, a block of pate and five small cans of tuna fish spread.  By the way, I love shopping at Coles.

Wanna try potato chips with cream cheese sandwich?

What a "fruitful trip" we had in Australia!  Ha... we love these Pink Lady Apples and we bought back a whole box!

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