chicken · Dinner

Milanesa de pollo

This is a recipe that I picked up in Argentina. Before making this, I was of the opinion that chicken breast is kind of gross, often dry, and definitely boring. Then I realized: the secret to delicious chicken breast is to pound it flat and add lots of seasonings. Welcome to the best fried chicken tenders you have ever had.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of panko bread crumbs (I made my own (gluten free-) recipe below)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp quality salt
  • 1 TBS fresh oregano leaves, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/2 tsp white and black pepper freshly ground
  • Cayenne to taste (can also be left out for a kid friendly recipe)
  • 2-4 cups olive oil blend (depending on size of pan)

If you are making your panko bread crumbs, start on them first. The quality of bread is not important for panko, what sets them apart is their shape. They are little shreds, versus round tiny crumbs.

 

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Choose any old loaf of stale bread. White is traditional, but you can use any type of bread that sounds good. Either grate the bread or put it through the grater on the food processor. Line an ungreased baking sheet with the crumbs, and put in the oven at 300° F (150° C.) Bake for 6-8 minutes, flip, and bake for 5 more- or until they are dry. Take them out before they brown. They will be ready when they are completely dry- oven time will depend on how much moisture is still in the bread.

Cut your chicken breast so that it lies completely flat, and pound it to 1/4 inch. Either leave the breasts whole, or cut into smaller pieces or strips. While this dish is often served with mozzarella and marinara on top, I decided to bend the rules and make a caesar salad. (I heard zero complaints 🙂

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Try not to break the meat when you pound it, while still getting it as thin as possible.

Whip up the eggs in a medium bowl and add oregano, salt, ground peppers, chili (and cayenne if you’re using it.)

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Source your eggs locally if possible! 

Add your chicken breasts to the egg mixture.

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You can leave this to sit in the fridge for up to 8 hours- which really helps the prep if you are considering using this recipe at a dinner party. Otherwise, let it soak for up to 15 minutes, if you have the time. 

Pour some panko into a large bowl, add an eggy piece of chicken, and pour some more panko on top. Press the bread crumbs into the chicken as much as possible. Set it aside and repeat with the remaining chicken.

I used a cast iron to fry the chicken, but you can use whatever you’re most comfortable with. Heat 1/4 inch of oil to medium high- if a drop of water sizzles, then its ready. Add as many pieces will fit in one layer, without overloading the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the bottom is browned. Flip, and repeat on the other side. Remove and let sit on paper towels. If you are not serving right away, keep the chicken in the oven at 240°F (114°C.)

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If your chicken was truly 1/4 inch, this will be enough time to cook it through while still leaving it juicy. If it is thicker, check one of the pieces by breaking it open, and make sure its completely cooked inside.

How you serve this is up to you. Adding a stellar marinara, some fresh mozzarella, and giving it one minute under the broiler is delicious. You can also top it with a queso fresco, or even a mild feta. I chose to put it on top of a caesar salad, and double cast it as crouton and chicken all in one. It was divine.

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Looks like I added a little hot sauce to the mix.
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Pestos, sauces and spreads

Cilantro Pesto

I love pestos of all sorts, and cilantro is a nice surprise! It has a very fresh taste, and compliments tacos and burritos amazingly. If you are wanting a traditional pesto though, you can sub basil. Funny story about cilantro, (or coriander, depending on your location) sometimes I see people separate out the leaves from the stem! The most flavor is held in the stems of cilantro, so I always cut mine all up together because it saves time and tastes better!

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Ingredients:

2 Large bunches of cilantro

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup parmesan (sub cashews for vegans)

1 cup of nuts- I used almonds but pine nuts, walnuts and pecans work well

1-5 cloves of garlic to taste (5 will be spicy)

Dash of salt

Squirt of lemon juice, or white wine vinegar

Dash of cayenne (optional)

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The prep on this is pretty simple. If you used almonds, you can soak them overnight. Throw everything into the blender or the food processor. You can add more oil if your pesto is too dry, everyone likes it a little different. If your cilantro is bitter, you can add a 1/2 tsp of honey incrementally to taste.

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And voila! Cilantro Pesto!

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Served with marinated herb feta, tomatoes and seeded crackers
Dinner · Indian · Vegetables

Amy’s Napa Cabbage Curry

napa cabbage.jpgThis is a favourite dish in our household at basically at any occasion if we want something nourishing yet aromatic and fragrant. Paired with fluffy steamed jasmine rice, this dish is truly divine. The coconut curry truly blends with the rice and spices in a marriage of flavours ordained by the priests of food alchemy. The cabbage and tiny meat pieces add variety and texture, the roasted lemongrass saturates your mouth in a buttery dance, and the chilis are just enough to give you a kick without making you cry (except perhaps with tears of joy).

I usually use chicken cut into tiny pieces for this recipe and I always marinate the chicken beforehand with fish sauce, white pepper, salt, a little rice wine and a touch of soy sauce. Sometimes, I also add lime juice and oyster sauce, although I feel it is not so necessary. If you choose to use prawns, I recommend leaving the shells and heads on to add an amazing flavour to the curry. I personally love eating prawn heads, but trust me when I say prawn heads (often used to make prawn stock) is where all the flavour comes from!

Amy’s Napa Cabbage Curry

P1060298Ingredients

  • Chicken / prawns /meat substitute (marinated with rice wine, fish sauce, salt, pepper and dash of soy sauce)
  • Napa cabbage (cut side ways and chop into strips)
  • Lemongrass (cut into little bits)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • Lots of ginger
  • Lots of garlic
  • Cumin
  • Coriander seeds
  • Oil of choice
  • ½ cup coconut milk + ½ cup chicken stock (adjust depending on how much curry you want)
    Note: Please buy a Thai brand of coconut milk! I usually use Aroy-D. Tried Western ‘health’ brands and the taste is just not the same. 
  • Lime
  • Coriander (for garnishing)
  • Curry powder + touch of tumeric if you have it
  • 2 freshly cut bird’s eye chilli

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  1. Marinate the meat with the marinade sauce for a few hours / overnight.
  2. Dry-roast the cumin and coriander seeds till they pop.
  3. Put the onion and stir-fry till a bit limp with oil of choice (1-2 minutes)
  4. Put lemongrass and ginger, stir-fry till slightly brown- this releases the flavour in the lemongrass so it turns almost buttery to taste in the curry!
  5. Put chilli and garlic and stir-fry on medium heat 1-2 minutes till lightly brown.
  6. Put chicken and stir-fry lightly but not too much (about 50% seared is enough).
  7. Gradually put cabbage bit by bit and toss about till slightly wilted.
  8. Put coconut milk/ chicken stock mixture in gradually and let simmer gently; put curry powder and cayenne pepper if using.
  9. Garnish with coriander and squeeze lime juice on top.
  10. Serve with jasmine rice and slice of lime!

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BONUS! Tips for cooking rice on the stove top!
I usually cook my rice in a small pot. I used to cook rice in a rice cooker but I find that unless you have an expensive, reputable one (ie. Tiger or Zojiroshi), the rice tends to come out dry and sad (yes, rice can be sad! and failed rice is something that makes me cry). I always double the water to rice, and I add in some chicken stock and Himalayan pink salt.

First, put to boil and when water is boiling, decrease heat to half. Just when all the water is almost evaporated, cover with lid, turn off heat and let the rice sit and cook gently from the heat of the pot. This additional step is what I found helps to not only prevent burning, but also makes rice soft, yet not too soft!

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Dinner · Seafood · Vegetables

Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls: The Spring Edition

vietnamese rolls alone.pngHi! So here is my version of the Vietnamese Shrimp Roll a.k.a the Asian taco in our household. I changed things up a little to suit my tastes and the springtime weather. My version leaves a refreshing, herby taste in the month. Coupled with fresh shrimps, marinated garlic and fresh herbs, this dish is going to blow your mind in its simplicity and magic! It is really the combination of ingredients here built into a simple rice roll that makes for magical food alchemic goodness.

The trick to this recipe is to get your hands on freshly cut coriander, mint leaves and Thai basil. Also, to dip your shrimp roll into the sweet and sour sauce that just adds the perfect refreshing aftertaste.

For the shrimps, you do not need to use fresh shrimp, but it does help. Blanche the shrimp by putting the shrimp in boiling water for just about a minute with their shells on. Take out immediately when they turn pink. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp! You do not want your shrimp to toughen up. You can also use already cooked shrimp (I usually hate cooked frozen shrimp, but I make an exception for this recipe because it preserves the shrimp’s appearance better).

When I first did this recipe, I stir-fried it with the marinate but this does make  the shrimp shrivel up so it’s not so pretty. But it can be tastier. So I’d stick with blanching + marinating, so it’s like a shrimp salad.

P1060282.JPGAfter your shrimps are cooked, it’s time to slice them in half and devein them. Try not to skip this step as it helps the marinade to penetrate the pasty white shrimp meat better later. You will thank me!

After cooking the shrimp, marinate for 3-4 hours.

Assemble rest of items below in bowls, together with rice rolls and dipping sauce! I’ve included instructions for wrapping at the end of the post. 🙂

17797936_10154291922760286_1241067384_o.jpgMarinade for approximately 1 bag of shrimps: 

  • 1 shallot chopped into tiny pieces
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (my policy for garlic is the more the merrier, so adjust to your preferences), crushed and chopped
  • 1 small piece ginger, chopped
  • 2 bird’s eyed chilli, chopped and deseeded (unless you want to suffer death by Chilli, then feel free to leave the seeds in. Personally, I just deseed the main part and leave some seeds on my cutting board)
  • 2 tbs Fish sauce approximately
  • 1tbs rice wine vinegar

Assemble in bowls:

  • Lettuce shredded
  • Cilantro
  • Mint leaves
  • Basil (Thai basil has a slightly different taste that accompanies this dish well)
  • Beansprouts!
  • Rice vermicelli (soaked in water till limp then cut into roll length pieces).
  • Chopped nuts (I use cashews/walnuts, although traditionally peanuts are used)
    Optional:
  • Thinly sliced carrots
  • Thinly cut cucumbers

dipping sauce.jpgVietnamese dipping sauce (makes 500ml)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Same amount of hot water as sugar
  • 4-6 Chopped garlic
  • 2 Chopped bird eyed chilli (green or red)
  • 1tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 125ml fish sauce
  • 60ml Lime juice
  • Green onions/ coriander chopped into little bits

Mix warm water with sugar till dissolved, add other ingredients! This lasts about one week. You can freeze the remaining or you can do what I did, half the recipe and eat it three times in a row under the pretence of ‘recipe testing’ (actually not really a pretence. It was that good!).

Preparing Rice Rolls: Prepare a salad bowl of water next to the assembled ingredients. You are going to soak each rice roll in water for about 30 seconds till it is slightly soft to touch. When it is slightly translucent when put on your plate, it is ready to be wrapped! Don’t worry if it is too soft… it will dry up and become slightly sticky.

How to Wrap a Shrimp Roll

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Some wrapping tips:

  1. It doesn’t matter how many ingredients you have, but it’s essential to leave the ‘chunky’ bits like the rice noodles and beansprouts under or inside the lettuce to make it more compact.
  2. If you need the ends to stick, wet fingers and fold.
  3. After rolling sides, roll bottom then roll top as well, like a box.
  4. I like putting the marinade in with the shrimp. Those scallions are nom!Note: I haven’t found a way to dip it without spilling it. if anyone has tips on that, tell me! I know some people also cut their rolls in half after wrapping. I’m not sure how they prevent stuff spilling out there! Haha, tell me if you have any wrapping tips. I’m infamous for being a bad shish taouk/ taco wrapper, so this is not my strong suite.

Enjoy! Some people also enjoy it with a peanut sauce, but I personally like the freshness of this version. 🙂

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Still failing to eat shrimp rolls without things falling apart. One day, I will be able to apply the same skills to shrimp rolls as I have with art.
Beverages

Almond milk from scratch

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I love drinking dairy alternatives, but the ones I find in the store taste like plastic oil water. I just got confirmation from my roommate that this recipe is incredible.

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What you will need for this recipe:

A blender, a nut milk sack or cheesecloth, a bowl.

Ingredients include: 1 cup of almonds, a small handful of dates or 2 TBS honey, 1tsp vanilla, and a dash of salt.

It all starts the night before. Soaking nuts is such a wonderful habit to form, it makes the nutrients much more readily available.

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Here are the before and after soaking pictures of my dry, unsalted, raw almonds. They doubled in size!

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The next step is to take your ingredients outside and photograph them! Just kidding, its time for the blender. Add a quart of water (4 cups) with all the ingredients and blend it well. I often let it sit for a few minutes after, and blend it again.FullSizeRender-1.jpg

Pour the mixture into a nut milk sack or cheesecloth (folded many times) over a bowl, and wring it out.FullSizeRender-2.jpg

And voila! Delicious almond milk! The almond meal can be refrigerated and used in baking, recipes coming soon.

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You can also use other nuts for this recipe. Some of my favorites are hazelnut, brazil nut, and cashew nut, but go ahead and experiment. A friend once put blueberries in with her almond milk, and that was delicious as well.

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Bonus recipe: my daily smoothie! Combine 1 cup of whole milk plain yogurt (I like Strauss), 1 banana, two leaves of kale or two huge handfuls or spinach, 1 cup almond milk, 2 TBS raw hemp powder, 1 cup of frozen fruit, and blend! I drink it every morning, and my roommate often joins me.

 

Epilogue!

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This is Amy making almond milk. She testifies that Justine’s recipe is AMAZING.

Dinner

Meal Prep: Amy’s One-Pot-Fits-All Claypot Rice

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I often make this pot of rice during the weeks when I have to prepare dinner in advance for myself. It’s a good way to get rid of old ingredients in your fridge and avoid food waste. As such, a lot of this recipe is sort of amenable, depending on what you need to get rid of in your fridge. If you have old mushrooms, onions or vegetables you need to get rid of, give them a stir-fry and add them to the rice.

I love adding chilli powder, lime juice and lemongrass to add flavour. The cumin and coriander is also a must! I sometimes add cauliflower or enoki mushrooms for a variety of texture. I also love the little bits of taro that give it a more earthy tone. Although I cook it in a claypot, you can also cook it in a normal pot! That’s fine, too.

17902071_10154321323000286_1856996858_o (1).jpgAmy’s One-Pot-Fits-All Claypot Rice

Ingredients (makes 2-3 servings)

  • 1tbs Coriander
  • 1tbs Cumin
  • 1tbs Lemongrass
  • Lots of Garlic and ginger
  • 100g chicken chopped into little pieces, marinated with fish sauce, white pepper, salt, oyster sauce and rice wine
    Substitute with leftover pork, beef or meat of choice!
  • Lots of old mushrooms
  • Half an onion, chopped
  • ¾ Calrose Japanese rice + twice amount of water with 2ts chicken stock
  • Oil
  • Coriander and lime juice
  • Chilli powder
    I use a higher grade of chilli powder, which I actually would encourage you to try out. It’s worth the money. 🙂 
  • Lemon pepper
    I like Japanese Lemon Pepper with this array of flavours, but feel free to substitute this with whatever pepper of your choice.


Ingredients ‘on rotation’
:

  • Taro chopped into small pieces 
  • 3-4 chestnuts chopped
  • 2 Bird’s eye chilli deseeded and minced
  • Dry shiitake mushrooms, soaked and chopped up
  • Canned green peas
    Adds sweetness. I often use the liquid from green peas in the rice, to give it added sweetness.
  • Cauliflower
    I steam a few small heads cauliflower first while rice is cooking, then season with oyster sauce and cut it into small pieces.
  1. claypot.jpgDry roast coriander and cumin till they ‘pop’.
  2. Dry roast mushrooms in pan till slightly brown and put a bit of fish sauce. I find that dry-roasting mushrooms before putting oil brings out their flavour
  3. Put some oil and stir-fry ginger, garlic, lemongrass, onions, taro, chilli with the mushrooms and cumin for about 3 minutes till garlic is brown and onions are slightly limp.
  4. Meanwhile, cook rice in twice amount of water with 2tsp chicken stock and some salt
  5. Push mushroom mix aside in pan, stir-fry chicken lightly 1-2 minutes (not too much, just till slightly brown. You don’t want chicken to be too cooked and toughen). Mix everything and turn off heat.
  6. Add chestnuts and cover. Let cook by itself.
  7. Add mixture to rice and add a bit of lime juice to moisten.
  8. Season with chilli powder. Serve with coriander.

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If you are meal prepping for the week, adding more moisture to the rice prevents it from drying out in the fridge. As such, I often add a bit of leftover curry, soup, lime juice or green pea ‘juice’ to moisten the rice a bit more than usual. Dry rice is a no-no for me, so this is a good tip to know if you want your claypot rice to ‘age with grace’!

This is what I call an ‘anything goes’ recipe, so there is no way to really make mistakes with it. Feel free to experiment and play around with colours and flavours. 🙂

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Dinner · Seafood · Spanish

Brothy lobster rice

Today, I present to you a guest post by my dear friend Lidia 🙂 She is a Spanish neuroscientist student living in Singapore who has lived in China and France, and is now married to Cantonese man. As such, you can imagine that she has tasted a wide array of cuisines! This is a recipe that she grew up with that she has kindly agreed to share with us.

lobster 1.jpgA successful Lobster and Rice is something sublime. It possesses a depth and complexity of flavour; you taste the sea in the freshness of the seafood. First, you start with the piping hot rice, but just as you have barely chewed it, you have already tasted all the flavours within the broth which is infused with the mild yet fresh sweetness of the prawns. You swallow, wishing that it never finishes, gets cold, or soaks up all the soup. Then, you start with the lobster, feasting your eyes on its myriad textures and the vibrant colour of its shell. A little more rice and then… a bite upon the immaculate, white body. Irresistible. Finally, you find a last bit of juicy meat hidden in the head and you suck out the last bit of broth, infused with lobster essence.

This dish is something everyone should enjoy at least once in their lives, and it is definitely worth all the trials you will have to go through before achieving the perfect symphony of flavours and textures!

Brothy lobster rice

Ingredients (for 2):

  • 1 lobster
  • 200 gr bomb rice (this is a Spanish short-grained rice that is perfect for the brothy rice dishes as the grain gets very soft and soaks all the flavors from the broth)
  • 1 small onion
  • ½ roasted red pepper
  • 1 big pear tomato, grated
  • Pinch of Saffron
  • Generous pinch of Spanish paprika
  • ½ glass of brandy
  • Chopped parsley (about 1 branch?)
  • 1.5 L shrimp fumet
    ½ kg of shrimps, hake head and bones from 2L of water, olive oil and salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

PREPARATION

Start with the fumet. Boil water with the shrimps and the hake for 10 minutes. Then take out the head and bones from the hake, add some olive oil and salt and add to the blender. After mixing percolate the fumet and keep it warm at very low fire.

  1. Chop the onion, the pepper and the parsley very thin. Grate the tomato. Measure the rice and prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Cut the lobster’s head from the bottom, between the legs, with a thin lace.
  3. Put a generous amount of olive oil in the stewpot where you are going to cook the rice. Brown the lobster and take it out. In the same oil, poach the onion and the pepper, then add the saffron, the tomato and the parsley and toss it for 2 minutes, medium fire.
  4. While the saute is getting ready, cut the lobster. Cut the head in two parts, and separate the queue.
  5. Add then the brandy, let it reduce and add the rice, tossing it. Sprinkle the paprika, place the pieces of lobster and spill the hot fumet.
  6. Keep it at high fire for 10 minutes, then reduce the fire and cook it 8 more minutes.
  7. Remove from the fire and savour immediately!

This recipe is a gift to the senses. Unforgettable!

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