Monthly Archives: April 2013

Honey, Lime & Curry Chicken Stir Fry

a1 Honey, Lime & Curry Chicken Stir Fry

You’ve probably noticed (in my play-by-play photos) that I used my Baccarat 28-cm Hard Anodised Stir Fry pan a lot. It’s a pity that it doesn’t come with a lid. But I’ve managed to find a $10 multi-fit glass lid from Woolworths that worked like a charm.

Besides a non-stick stir fry pan, I have a carbon-steel wok (which I seasoned myself) that makes my stir fry tastes a-ma-zing! It heats up over my gas stove in no time, and you can literally see the smoke oozing out. That’s what you want when you make stir frys, a lot heat because the breath of wok is what make a stir fry taste like Chinese restaurant style (to some extent). However, it is said you have to treat a seasoned wok as if like a baby. Obviously this is an exaggeration as looking after a baby requires more work!

But in the context of maintaining your pots and pans, it requires a little more TLC than just wash-and-tuck-it-away.  To keep a “non-stick” surface of a carbon-steel wok, you have to oil the surface of the wok, heat it up so that the “pores” are open to absorb the oil. Cool it and repeat these steps for a couple of time for the purpose of maintenance. At the end of the process, your wok should look black and shining, like the “Mad Men” hair overdosed with Brylcreem. That’s a well-seasons wok, you see.

a5Honey, Lime & Curry Chicken Stir Fry

To give my well-used Baccarat pan a rest, I decided to take my carbon-steel wok out for a spin again.  I was in the mood of trying of a new stir fry recipe with a little tweaking of my own.  I often make stir frys with the usual Asian sauces such as oyster sauce, kecap manis and soy sauce. Well, this stir fry has none of these. This recipe is friendly to people who don’t own too many sauces because the “sauce” in the recipe consists of just honey and lime juice. For the seasonings department, all you need is an all-purpose curry powder you already have in your pantry.

A balance of spicy and savoury coupled with something tangy, fresh and sweet to balance to heat… has the recipe spoken to you yet?

Honey, Lime & Curry Chicken Stir Fry

4 Servings with rice

What you’ll need:-

  • 500g (1 pound) chicken breasts, chunky diced
  • 1 tsp + a pinch of salt (1 tsp to marinate the chicken, a pinch to stir fry the veggies)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from 1 lime (about 2 tbsps) – please note juice from half a lime to marinate the chicken; the remaining is for the sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder, adjust to taste (I used Clive of India – Hot Madras Curry Powder and I prefer it to be a little spicy)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 200g (0.4 pound) snow peas, “deveined” and cut across into half
  • 1 red capsicum (red bell pepper), deseeded & sliced
  • 4 short stalks of celery, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), sliced diagonally

a13 Honey, Lime & Curry Chicken Stir Fry

Method:

Marinate the chicken: Combine chicken, juice from half a lime, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tbsp curry powder (adjust to taste) and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Then prep the vegetables: snow peas, capsicum, celery and spring onion.

Make the sauce: Mix together 1 tbsp of honey and juice from the remaining half a lime in a small bowl.

Heat a wok (or a pan) over high heat with some oil.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown on the outside and well done on the inside (please drain the marinate before you cook them to minimise oil splatter).  Depending on the size of your pan, you will need to do this in batches. I did it over 3 batches. Once the chicken pieces are done, set them aside on a plate. Clean the pan to remove any charred bits.

Put the same pan back and add some cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add all the vegetables except for the spring onion (scallion) with a pinch of salt. Cooking the vegetables until slightly tender. Then toss in the chicken pieces together with the juices on the plate and honey-lime mixture. Do a taste test to see if additional salt is required. Just before finish cooking, add in the spring onion  and more black pepper (optional) and toss with the ingredients for a few seconds. Serve immediately with rice.

Note – to make 4 servings of rice, you need to cook 2 cups of uncooked rice.

a2 Honey, Lime & Curry Chicken Stir Fry

   

Making Tomato Passata At Home

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Italian food has gained a reputation being fresh, tasty and homemade with an emphasis on family style.

I know an Italian family here in Orange who, I must say has been really generous to me. They have been showering me with fresh produce from their garden and sweet treats such as homemade crostoli and cannoli.  But today, I’m not going to talk about the famous Italian desserts. Instead, I’d like to share with you one of the important ingredients in the Italian kitchens – passata.

When I first featured passata on my blog, I have some of you asking me what passata is. I’ve explained to you in words with some links, but now I can do better – by showing you how it was made.

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Just so you know, there’s no exact measurement to make passata for this post. Mrs C used a stockpot full of roma tomatoes from her garden, which yielded 6 x 500g bottles of passata. The tomatoes used to make passata have to be the fleshy type (i.e less seeds) like roma and oxheart tomatoes. She also explained to me that those that were harvested in late summer/early autumn will contain more seeds than the ones that were harvested in mid-summer.

What you’ll need:-

  • Roma/Oxheart tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Basil *optional*
  • Other equipment: 1 pillow case, 1 single old bed sheet (or quilt cover), passata machine*, sterilised bottles, funnel, a pot that is big enough to contain the bottles

* The passata machine on this blog is a mechanical version which is rich with family history but you can get the electric ones online or via eBay.

The Process & Mrs C Timeline as a guide:

9:00am: Fill the tomatoes into a pillow case. Then boil the tomatoes to loosen the skin in a large stockpot. Since we are talking about a large quantity here, the estimated duration is about 1 hour.

Drain the water. Place the pillow case filled tomatoes in a colander, sit them over the stockpot and set aside. This will allow the acid (the yellow liquid) to drain from the tomatoes which will result in a sweeter passata.

3:00pm: With the tomatoes are still in the pillow case and they were being cool over a period of time, squeeze the tomatoes gently to drain any excess acid.

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{That’s how the acid looked like}

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{That’s how the tomatoes looked after boiling, draining and ready to be passed through the passata machine}

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Gradually remove the tomatoes from the pillow case and put them through the passata machine. Do the same with all the tomatoes.  Tip: for the last batch of the tomatoes, you may find there are insufficient tomatoes to push through the machine. What you can do is take some of the tomato scraps (on the end of the machine) and put it back to funnel of the machine. This way you can ensure the all the fresh tomatoes will go through.

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Salt the passata to taste. It’s better to under salt in this step as you can always add more later when using it in dishes.

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Bottling: Ladle the passata through a funnel into a bottle. As an option, you can add a basil leaf half way through filling up the bottle. Repeat this step with all the passata.

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Bottles of passata were then being sterilised by boiling them in a pot. Arrange the bottles in a large stockpot, making sure each bottle was cushioned by wrapping a bed linen around each bottle. This is to ensure the bottles do not knock against each other when the water has reached the boiling point. To give you an idea how long this would take, it took about an hour to reach the boiling point over high heat, then turn the flame to simmer and boil for 2 hours. Allow the bottles to cool in a pot overnight before storing them in the pantry.

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This may seem like a lot of hard work and time for just a couple of bottles of passata. After all, a store bought passata is inexpensive. The cheapest I have seen was $1.50 for a 500g (17 oz) bottle in Harris Farm Markets. On the surface, you are better off buying from the supermarket. But if you look within the process of making food from scratch, it is about creating food memories with your next generation, quoting from Mrs C.  The batch she made above was for me to share with you on the blog. Usually at the peak of tomato harvest, passata making was an even bigger production than the above which often times, involved family members. What better reason to have a family get together than creating food memories together that will be passed down to generations!

Thanks Mrs C for inviting me to your kitchen and share your knowledge with me. :)

   

Nespresso Napoli Bitter Mocktail

Nespresso Napoli Bitter Cocktail a4

Two months ago, I became the proud owner of a Delonghi Nespresso “U” Coffee Machine. So in a typical fashion of the owner of a brand new coffee machine, I have been trialling different capsules (varying in different strength and decaf ones) in search of finding The One.

When it comes to coffee capsules, I often found myself drawn to the highest strength, counting Ristretto as my favourite. Having said that, I also enjoy exploring other different varieties, getting to know what different notes (based on the descriptions online) taste like.

Since my first batch of capsules were all from the existing line, I was looking forward to trying the limited edition capsules called Trieste and Napoli, naming after the two cities in Italy, Trieste and Naples, in homage to Italy’s diverse coffee culture. Between the two new capsules, I really, really like the Napoli capsules. And I’m afraid to say, it’s more than Ristretto.

To describe the Napoli, it is “bold and assertive thanks to its syrupy body. This blend of Arabicas from South America, Africa and Asia with a hint of Robusta releases fine smoky notes. Its aromatic woodiness is lightly scented with nuances of dry black tea leaf.” (extract from the Nespresso website). As for a layman’s description, the feedback I got from a friend was that it reminded him of the espresso he had when he was in Rome.

The intensity of Napoli is 11 (the strongest one at the moment) and just to give you an idea, Ristretto has the intensity rating of 10. Oh yeah, you can totally see that I’m serial strong coffee drinker ha! Not far behind, Trieste has the intensity rating of 9. (Don’t I sound like a sportscaster? *wink*)

In contrast to the bold and smoky elements of the Napoli capsules, Trieste, on the other hand, has “a delicate blend of Arabica beans from South America and East Africa and offers a round texture, with fragrant chocolate and fresh hazelnut notes with a refreshingly fruity touch” (extract from the Nespresso website).

Besides having them as caffé latte, I also love to serve as cold drinks. Besides making ice coffee, you can try adding sparking mineral water or if you want a even fancier version, why not try the mocktail below! (Shaken not stirred ha!)

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Nespresso Napoli Bitter Cocktail

(Original recipe is from here)

What you’ll need:-

  • Ice cubes
  • 1 x 100ml (3 oz) Sanbitter*
  • 10ml vanilla syrup
  • 2 capsules Nespresso Napoli
  • Equipment: cocktail shaker

*Sanbitter: An Italian soda that is drank before meal (aperitif). As the name suggests, it is a bitter but non-alcoholic. To describe the taste, it is bitter (although not medicinal bitter) with sweet note at the end.

Recipe above is kindly provided by Nespresso.

Nespresso Napoli Bitter Cocktail a13

Method:-

Fill glass with ice cubes and Sanbitters. Add all other ingredients in the shaker, including two espresso shots (80ml) of Nespresso Napoli and shake to combine. Pour over Sanbitters and ice cubes in glass.

Nespresso Napoli Bitter Cocktail a5

For more information about the new limited edition capsules, please visit here.

Please note this is not a sponsored post. The ingredients for the drink above were provided to me for editorial consideration. The Delonghi Nespresso “U” Coffee Machine and all opinions are my own. ;)

   

Guest Post: 4 Ingredients’ Lemon Chicken (A kid friendly recipe)

guest post -thingsforboys

I am excited to be sharing the 4 Ingredients’ Lemon Chicken recipe on ThingsForBoys as part of Abby’s  “Cooking The Books” series. The series is about testing out recipes from our previously untouched cookbooks. Oh oh…I have too many unused cookbooks and it wasn’t easy to select just one recipe. ;)

The lemon chicken turned out to be amazing and it only required 4 ingredients that most people already have in their kitchens! Slightly crispy and tangy exterior… coupled with your choice of green salad, well, you have a winner on your dinner table! To find out more, please check out ThingsForBoys for the full recipe and say hello to the lovely Abby for me. :)