Coq au vin (French braised chicken in red wine)

August 18, 2012

coq au vin

On Wednesday, 15th of August, was Julia Child’s 100th birthday. Even though it’s a hot summer’s day, I thought I’d pay Julia an honour by cooking something as warming as coq au vin. I didn’t actually used a rooster for this dish, i used a chicken. I should probably called it poule au vin since it’d be more appropriate, oh well. Same difference.

Chicken soaked in red wine and then braised in the same liquid until the meat is tenderized with a sauce thickened with some beurre manié is simply quite delicious. I cheated a bit by skipping a few steps like not flambeing the chicken with cognac, not using pearl onions and not cooking the vegetables each at a time. It still worked out pretty well.

Mushrooms. I want to share that I find shitake mushrooms or any mushrooms of the dried variety works better than fresh ones for this dish. You see, fresh mushrooms have a lot of liquid that you must get rid off by cooking for a long time. And mushrooms when not cooked properly is an acquire taste. You have to love it so much to not mind the rotting wood flavour/aroma, which is something you’ll get from soggy mushrooms. So do yourselves a favour and use dried mushrooms, re-hydrate and let the liquid be part of your stock too.

My kitchen was hot from making coq au vin but every sweat drop was worth it. This is my sort of semi-cheat version.

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Les Satay Brothers

July 2, 2012

 Today, I was pleasantly surprised to find Les Satay Brothers at the Atwater Market. They were serving up some of my Malaysian hometown local favourites such as satay ayam, mee rebus and kueh salat (also called kueh seri muka) along side other national comfort foods like papaya salad, steamed buns and banh mi types of sandwiches. The keyword here is Southeast Asia.

The line was long at their stall so I didn’t have much time to chat up one of the brothers manning the counter but I had enough time to ask if he was Malaysian.

“I’m Singaporean”, he said. “You’re Malaysian?”.

I nodded.

And in that split second of solidarity, there was an unspoken understanding between us: He will need to up-the-ante on my chicken satay’s peanut sauce. “We made the sauce extra spicy for you”, he reminded me when I went to collect my order. read more …

Late in the game, momofuku me

May 31, 2012

I didn’t get what ‘momofuku‘ meant. I mean, I knew about a restaurant in New York called Momofuku by David Chang. Their pork shoulder Bo Ssam definitely caught a lot of attention. How it became a word used as a food application was what I didn’t get. People were using it as an adjective, “The pork buns are momofuku-ed”, as a verb, “Momofuku-ing my pork tenderloins” and a noun, “I had Momofuku chicken wings the other night”.

What the fuku is a momofuku?

It’s like a word that when applied to edibles automatically gets a stamp of deliciousness soldered to it. It’s almost a guarantee that it will be tasty and good. So mysterious and intriguing and elusive. At least that was how I perceived it. What you will find on Google are about David Chang’s food empire and cookbook, a bunch of recipes from food blogs recipes from David Chang, Elvis Costello’s album of the same name and Momofuku Ando, the creator of our beloved instant ramen. All of which are ‘tasty’ in its own right. But there is more.

Patterns. I looked for patterns by looking at accompanying words. Kimchi butter. Egg noodles. Oysters. Pickled cucumbers. Rice cakes. Lots of porky goodness. Lots of simple, high quality ingredients with a twang of Korean influences in terms of condiments, food preservation and heart.

Here’s a “Never-go-hungry-again” Ginger Scallion Sauce adapted from Momofuku cookbook but with my own twist. Items in italics are my adaptation.

In David Chang’s cook book it said to mix all the ingredients together and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before use. I felt it was rather bland even after the letting the flavour meld for the stipulated time. SO, I decided to heat the oil through before combining it with the rest.

Mix all the ingredients together except the oil. Mix thoroughly in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the oil on the stove until hot but not smokey and pour the oil into the chopped scallion and ginger mixture and stir. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before using. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Don’t use sparing, use as necessary as it’s delicious in boiled egg noodles, pasta, with steamed fish, boiled chicken, rice, and even as a condiment to go with oyster. Seriously.

By making this sauce, you are on track to the momofuku trail.  I am a bit late to game but I believe good eats will always prevail at any time.

Beef Stew in Chocolate and Red Wine

March 25, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been almost three months since I updated this blog. However, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been cooking. Everyone has to eat, right? March has been an unpredictable month, it felt like summer came for an unexpected visit and now she has gone back to get the rest of her camper so spring can settle in proper. It’s chilly now and the days are good for a snuggle again. This beef stew really hit the spot for us as it’s the perfect accompaniment to snuggling just don’t spill. Served with some luscious garlic mash potatoes, it’s comfort food in a bowl.

Yesterday before dinner, I found a disc of unused Choc Sol’s Aztec Drinking Chocolate and thought it would be a great to use as part of seasoning for the stew. I took a nibble off the disc and it had a nice spiciness to it on top of the bittersweet Mayan cacao. And a certain red wine in my pantry would be the perfect pairing to this chocolate and thus this beef stew was born.

I also have a dirty secret about this beef stew ~ and I will only tell you about it at the very end.

Before you start:
Cooking time for this stew is 1.5 hours | Dark chocolate can be used as a replacement | Beef stock/chicken stock can be used in place of water | If buying whole chunk of meat, use a beef chuck cross rib cut for best results

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The Festive Five Spiced and Orange Roasted Duck

December 30, 2011

For Christmas eve, we roasted duck for dinner at the in-laws’ place. I thought a different fowl for a change would be nice, instead of the usual turkey. In all honesty, I am not really very fond of turkey. There is the thing with the size of it and getting stuck eating turkey for 2 weeks and then there is the gameyness to it that I can’t appreciate. Duck is delicious, on the other hand.

I bought a 2.5kg frozen Brome Lake duck and it was plenty to feed 4 to 6 people easily with three side dishes and a Scottish Meat Pie (for another post for another day!) that were served that night. Duck is more festive, in my opinion. If you can find goose, even better! This recipe incorporates macerated orange zest, five spice powder and garlic; and it works for any bird you intend to roast.I also stuffed the bird with some good quality pork sausage stuffing. Basically, I just cut open the sausage casing and just pull out the meat into a bowl. For lightness, I have also added some breadcrumbs and some chopped herbs for extra flavour.  I went a step further by coating the duck with a mixture of honey, corn syrup, balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar and red wine for a shiny finish. I wanted to give the duck a nice flavour on the skin and to achieve that glorious dark shellac when it comes out of the oven.

Don’t be afraid of duck. It’s anatomy is no different from a chicken or a turkey for that matter. If you have roasted chicken or turkey, you can do this. It’s really not an intimidating bird to roast at all. In fact, the bird is self-basting because of the high fat content that lives under its skin.

Now, carving it on the other hand was a bitch. But that’s another story for later. This is a recipe for roasting a duck, making it pretty and making a sauce out of the drippings on the pan.

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