Thursday, 29 May 2008

Kung Pau chicken (宫保鸡丁)

Along with hot and sour soup, Kung Pao chicken or Gong Bao chicken (宫保鸡丁) is another famous Sichuan dish that has travelled widely. It is a lovely medley of succulent chicken, golden peanuts, and bright red chillies. The sauce has a light sweet-and-sour base that is veiled with heat and spiciness from the dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns, which gives that tingly and numbing sensation to the tongue and lips. Although some restaurants choose to omit the Sichuan pepper, perhaps to cater to non-Chinese taste and to cut down on the heat factor, this dish just does not taste the same without it. A cautious sniff of an open packet will give you a good idea of what to expect in the dish! Both dried chillies and Sichuan pepper can be found in most Oriental food shops in the dried goods and herbs section.

Szechuan peppercorn and dried chillies

I used chicken thighs, which is my preferred meat for stir frying. It is much more juicy and tender compared to breast meat that can dry out easily, although chicken breast is still fine if marinated and cooked properly. Other options are beef, pork , or prawns. some restaurants use cashew nuts instead of peanuts for a grander version of this dish, but peanuts are more traditional (and less expensive!). I have omitted peanuts from this dish as AP does not eat nuts.

Kung pao chicken


Ingredients (serves 4):
6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts, cut into cubes.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
6 stalks of spring onions, cut into 1 inch sections
Oil of cooking
10-15 dried red chillies, cut in half and remove most of the seeds
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
50g roasted unsalted peanuts

For the marinade:
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp water

For the sauce:
4 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (or use balsamic vinegar)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp corn flour mixed with 1 tbsp water

Method:
1. Place the chicken cubes in a small bowl and mix in the marinade ingredients. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes to 2 hours.
2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Heat a wok or large heavy based pan and add 2 tbsp of oil. Over medium-high heat, stir fry the dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns briefly until they are crisp and the oil is spicy and fragrant.
4. Add the chicken and stir fry until the cubes have separated but not cooked through. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and continue to stir fry for a few minutes until the meat is cooked through. (Test one of the larger pieces to make sure).
5. Add the sauce to the wok and mix well. When the sauce starts to thicken, add the peanuts. Dish out onto a serving plate, top with some chopped spring onions if desired, and serve.

Variations: You can adjust the amount of dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns to your taste. I think the next time I make this I will have to increase the amounts of both because it wasn't hot enough for us and I had to add some chilli oil! If you really can't get hold of dried chillies or Sichuan peppercorn, try using 1 tsp dried chilli flakes or chilli powder, and/or 1 tsp chilli oil. The taste will be different but you will still get some heat and chilli flavour.

This (slightly adapted) recipe is from Fuschia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking". I am submitting this to the Bookmarked Recipes event run by Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. If you have some bookmarked recipes in your web browser, cookbooks or even something scribbled on the back of an envelope, there's still plenty of time before the round up on Monday.

bookmarkedrecipes.jpg

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Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Stuffed mushrooms

Both AP and I adore all kinds of mushrooms and we love any excuse to have mushrooms in our meals. When we had friends round for dinner a few days ago, I made stuffed mushrooms for starters. They are really simple. Just assemble the ingredients, place everything on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. No fuss. More time to mingle and less time in the kitchen. I have previously made this for lunch, with two stuffed mushrooms each and a bigger portion of salad; the meaty mushrooms are pretty filling.

You can either use Portobello mushrooms or large white field mushrooms. Many types of cheese can be used to stuff the mushrooms, depending on what you prefer or what is in the fridge. Mozzarella, various types of cheddar and even Brie can be used. I added some Panko breadcrumbs on top for that slight crunch although it is entirely optional. The mushrooms were served on a bed of salad leaves for some greens in the diet and to dress the dish up a little. The main course that followed was chicken and chorizo pasta, all washed down with a very mellow and softly rounded 2000 Chianti, a gift from another friend.

Stuffed mushrooms 1

Ingredients (serves 4):

4 large flat mushrooms
150g grated cheese (I used a nutty Double Gloucester, a form of cheddar)
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Wipe or peel the mushrooms as necessary, Place them on a lightly greased baking tray and drizzle with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Fill the open cups of the mushrooms with cheese. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs.
3. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, until the cheese is all melted and the breadcrumbs are golden. Serve immediately.

Stuffed mushrooms 2

This recipe has been submitted to the Monthly Mingle blog event started by Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey? This month's event, Appetizers & Hors'Doeuvres, is hosted by Mansi Desai. There is still time to get your entry in before 9th of June.

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Sunday, 25 May 2008

Chicken and chorizo pasta

After having a run of Japanese food, Chinese dishes, steak and pies for the past week or two, we felt like having pasta for a change. A couple of friends came round for dinner last night and the pasta was pretty handy to serve up as the sauce could be prepared slightly ahead of time and then reheated with freshly cooked pasta just before serving.

I've only tried chorizo in the past year and it has become one of my favourite cooking sausages. It has intense flavours that really adds a punch to dishes. Plenty of paprika oil is rendered from chorizo as they cook which infuses the other ingredients and reduces the need for oil, salt and other seasoning.

Chicken and chorizo pasta


Ingredients (serves 4):

Pasta of your choice, for 4 people (I used penne)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green or red pepper, deseeded and diced
2 chicken breasts, sliced
100g chorizo, sliced
1 glass of red wine
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
Basil leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
2. Heat some olive oil in a heavy based pan and add the chorizo sausages and chicken. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until the paprika oil is rendered from the chorizo and chicken is just cooked. Set aside.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the same pan with the chorizo oil. Cook until the onion is softened and then add the peppers for a few more minutes.
4. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan and add the red wine. Cook until the red wine is reduced and then add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste, mix well and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
5. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the chicken and chorizo mix. Stir to combine. Scatter over basil leaves (torn up if large) just before serving.

This is my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights. There's still plenty of time for you to join in before the weekly Friday deadline.

prestopasta

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Thursday, 22 May 2008

Garlic roasted green beans and farewell to an old camera

After the spate of Japanese recipes that I've been posting for the last few entries, it's time for a change. I found this recipe for garlic roasted green beans written ages ago. If you love garlic like we do in this house, this one is definitely for you. If not, you can reduce the amount of garlic for just a tinge of flavour (although you're missing out!)

Garlic roasted green beans


Ingredients (serves 2-3 as a side dish):

250g green beans, topped & tailed
2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Top and tail the green beans (you can also cut them in half or left whole). Place in a shallow baking dish with the garlic. Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice, season well with salt and pepper and toss to mix.

2. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 15-18 minutes, until the green beans are tender and the ends of the beans are slightly shrivelled.

This was one of the last photos I took with my trusty old point-and-shoot camera, a Canon Powershot A75. It died on me when I was in Boston almost a month ago. I was doing some sightseeing (walking the Freedom Trail) on a glorious day and as I was taking some photos outside the Old South Meeting House, some homeless black guy ran into me (while I was standing to one side on the pavement) and knocked my camera to the ground. It landed lens side down (of course... ) and was pretty much dead. The lens was scratched, with some pretty impressive dents, and was actually bent, as you can see in the photos below. It was knocked out of place such that the lens would not retract at all and with the mechanism jammed, the camera would not turn back on and I spent the rest of the trip pretty sad and camera-less.

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While the DSLR has taken my photography hobby to a new level, I still appreciate the mobility and flexibility of a good compact point-and-shoot digicam. All photos taken prior to March 2008 were taken with my old Canon and it has served me well over the years. I will be looking for another compact digicam soon, once I stop feeling so poor!

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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Another bento update

A few more 'normal' bento for this update (at least that what AP's colleagues call them, "normal lunches" heh).

This was my lunch: a ham and cucumber sandwich in wholemeal bread, blueberries, mango jelly cup and cherry tomatoes. AP's lunch had the same sandwich and tomatoes, but he got a clementine instead of blueberries.

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AP's lunch on Friday was an egg and potato salad with a sprig of basil, cherry tomatoes, blueberries and leftovers of the hijiki and edamame nimono.

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Today's lunch was back to the frozen onigiri that I made a while ago. Meatballs were store bought and edamame was frozen too. All warmed up in the microwave and put together this morning. Top tier: Meatballs, blueberries and strawberry, with salad leaves underneath. Bottom tier: Onigiri with furikake sprinkles and edamame. The silicon cupcake moulds are one of the best bento accesories I've bought. They are so useful for fitting into whatever odd shaped space that's available.

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Saturday, 17 May 2008

Hijiki nimono (simmered hijiki seaweed with edamame)

We had a vegetarian friend round for dinner two nights ago with some pretty challenging dietary requests. Other than the normal vegetarian restrictions, she also does not eat mushrooms, aubergine or courgettes... which cut out many vegetarian dishes in my repertoire! In the end, I cooked a vegetarian yaki udon (like in this recipe, except with sliced red and yellow peppers, red onion and mange tout/snow peas instead of beef), vegetarian tofu and leek gyoza (from a frozen pack) and a hijiki nimono side dish. A bottle of Australian Chardonnay and a dark chocolate torte dessert rounded it all off.

Nimono is a type of Japanese food in which ingredients such as fish, meat, seaweed and/or vegetables are simmered in a seasoned broth. The broth may be flavoured with dashi, miso, mirin, sake, soy sauce, salt, ginger or other condiments. I made a hijiki seaweed nimono with carrots and edamame (soy beans). Hijiki is a type of seaweed with high fibre content. They can be found in Oriental shops alongside the larger sheets of wakame seaweed. Edamame (soy beans) is also high in fibre and protein and can now be bought in many supermarkets, such as from Bird's Eye in the frozen section (alongside frozen peas). This dish can be served warm or cold, depending on the season. Any extra will keep well in the fridge for a few days, with the ingredients soaking up even more flavour from the stock.

Hijiki nimono (simmered hijiki seaweed with edamame)
(This photo has been submitted to the SnackShots #4: Salad blog event held by Michelle of Greedy Gourmet.)

Ingredients (serves 4-5 as a side dish or starter):

20g dried hijiki seaweed
50g edamame (frozen is fine)
1 small carrot, thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks
100ml dashi stock (I used vegetable stock)
1 tbsp mirin
4 tsp sake (or dry white wine)
4 tsp light soy sauce
4 tsp sugar

Method:

1. Soak the dried hijiki seaweed in cold water for about 30 minutes. The seaweed will expand about 5 times in volume so find an appropriate sized bowl. Drain well and set aside.

Hijiki seaweed

2. Heat some oil in a pan and cook the carrots and edamame over medium heat for a minute. Then add the hijiki and pour over stock, sake, light soy sauce and sugar. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the liquid is reduced and mostly absorbed (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Serve hot or cold.

Osteo+Logo

I am submitting this recipe to the Beautiful Bones blog event run by Food Blogga, to help raise awareness of osteoporosis (a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break, affecting mostly women but not just the elderly). Hijiki seaweed contains about 14 times more calcium than milk, and is also rich in iron and fiber. Edamame, like most soy products is also rich in calcium. Many Asians are mildly lactose intolerant as diary is not traditionally part of the diet, so if you are not keen on milk, cheese and other diary products, try eating more seaweed, legumes, soy and green leafy vegetables to up your calcium intake. This blog event runs until 31st May so there is still time to submit your own calcium-rich recipe.

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Friday, 16 May 2008

Spring bursting forth

The run of glorious weather that we have been enjoying here in England meant that the plants have responded likewise with a growth spurt. Flowers seem to be blooming everywhere and the amatuer photographer in me could not resist bringing my camera out to enjoy the sunshine. This post is not food-related and I beg the indulgence of my dear readers to put up with my desire to share the beauty of my favourite season.

AP and I went to Wollaton Park last week and I finally got to see a bluebell wood for myself. A truly magical sight and one of the most beautiful things I have seen.

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Getting close to the wild deer at Wollaton Park
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There has been a persisten queue at every icecream van that I've seen these two weeks.
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We walked past this house and I caught a whiff of lovely scent. On closer inspection, I realised that it was rosemary with really pretty flowers. But I was also rather startled because...
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...look at the size of that rosemary bush!
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Back in our garden, we have bluebells running down the entire length of one side.
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The last of our tulips are in bloom. Other varieties have already shedded their petals.
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And the apple tree at the back of our garden is completely covered with delicate blossoms.
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I hope you've been enjoying the past two weeks as much as I have, wherever you are.

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Thursday, 15 May 2008

Inarizushi, cold soba and sandwich bento

We had roast pork on Sunday that that meant another leftover roast bento. Monday's lunch for us was roast pork, green beans, cherry tomatoes and cous cous. I could have cooked more potatoes for dinner and turned them into potato salad but I thought cous cous dressed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil would be healthier compared to the lashings of mayo.

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This was AP's lunch on Tuesday. Top tier: Cod fish cakes, edamame, piggy container with sweet chilli sauce (for fishcakes) and lion container with soy sauce (for inarizushi and onigiri). Bottom tier: Inarizushi, onigiri, cherry tomatoes and edamame. The cod fishcakes were store bought and heated up in the oven in the morning. I had some inari pouches in the freezer which I defrosted overnight and then stuffed with rice cooked in the morning.

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This was my lunch. Top tier: Cod fish cakes, edamame, cherry tomato and container of soy sauce. Bottom tier: Inarizushi, cherry tomatoes, edamame an container of Kewpie mayo (for fishcakes).

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Lunch just for myself yesterday, made in the morning. Teriyaki beef with green beans, cold soba noodles and spring onions on the top lid to be added to soba dipping sauce (packed in a separate airtight container). Recipe for the cold soba and dipping sauce is in a previous post.

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Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Cold soba

Cold soba is another dish that I love in the summer, or in this summer-like spring weather. Soba is a type of noodles made of buckwheat. They are normally light brown but can also come in green (with green tea added) or even pink (with ume/plum flavour). After being cooked in boiling water, the noodles are rinsed thoroughly in cold water to get rid of excess starch. The cold water also gives the noodles a springy texture and bite.

The dipping sauce for cold soba is a mix of dashi stock, light soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The proportions differ in various parts of Japan depending on how sweet the local cuisine tend to be, so feel free to vary the amount according to taste. Other ingredients such as spring onions, wasabi, sesame seeds, shredded nori (dried seasoned seaweed), chilli powder and other condiments are often added. I served mine with some chopped spring onions and a sprinkle of furikake mix (sesame, nori and bonito (dried tuna flakes)). Cold soba is often served with tempura prawns or vegetables, using the same dipping sauce. We had a chicken and mixed vegetables stir fry on the side for a balanced meal.

Cold soba

Ingredients (serves 2):

Two bundles of soba noodles
300ml dashi stock (or use ikan bilis, vegatable or chicken stock)
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2-3 tsp sugar
1-2 stalks of spring onions, finely chopped
Toasted sesame seeds/wasabi/shredded nori (optional)

Method:

1. Combine the dashi, light soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Leave to cool.
2. Cook the soba noodles according to packet instructions. When cooked, rinse the noodles with cold water until the water is clear. Swish the noodles with your fingers to get rid of excess starch and to cool the noodles down completely. Drain well.
3. Place the noodles in bowls and top with sesame seeds and shredded nori if using. Serve with a bowl of dipping sauce for each person. When eating, add the spring onions to the dipping sauce. Pick up a small bundle of soba, dip them into the sauce and enjoy the cool noodles with the savoury sauce.

(Tip: This dish can be suitable for vegetarians if you replace the dashi with vegetarian stock.)

This is my entry for Presto Pasta Nights this week, probably an entry with the least cooking!
prestopasta

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Sunday, 11 May 2008

Snack bento and furikake on rice

This was a snack bento that I made for a strange day when I was having a late lunch as well as very late dinner (both work-related socialising events). The strawberries (tiny and really red, the sweetest I've had so far this year) and blueberries with Greek yogurt was for mid-morning. Homemade banana bread in the top tier was for late-afternoon tea. I've had people asking whether the yogurt would spill or mess up my bag. The lids of this container are not air/watertight. But the silicon cup was wedged firmly with the berries around it, the container goes into a small drawstring bag (kinchaku) and I also carry the bento upright in my work bag. No accidents so far! The yogurt was very thick though; I wouldn't carry sauces or soups or anything too fluid in containers that are not watertight.

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Sticky rice with salmon furikake, vegetable gyoza, cocktail sausages and grilled asparagus.

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I bought this salmon and cod roe furikake at a Japanese store when I was in Boston a few weeks ago. Furikake are dried sprinkles frequently used on top of rice, soups and other savoury dishes and normally consists of sesame seeds, nori (seaweed), bonito flakes (dried tuna), and other dried ingredients. Other than coordinating the colours of the main food items, furikake (rice sprinkles) is another useful ingredient for adding a dash of colour to your bento. I like this sprinkling of pink, which adds some nice colour to the plain rice. If you have access to shops that sell them or plan to order some bento items online, consider experimenting with different types of furikake (for example, ume/plum, egg, salmon, wasabi) for different colours as well as flavours.

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Friday, 9 May 2008

Chilled Japanese tofu

It's been so warm this week that I've been craving summer food. Light, fresh, and especially chilled. Chilled Japanese tofu fits the bill completely and requires no cooking either. These can be served as starters or side dishes. We had ours yesterday with teriyaki salmon, stir fried asparagus and plain sticky rice.

AP, for some unfanthomable reason would not eat his tofu cold. So I had to separate the block of tofu into two portions and warm his tofu up in the microwave (on High for 45-60 seconds). I love chilled tofu for the cold factor (great on a warm summer's day) and also because the taste and flavour of soy beans seems to taste stronger when cold. AP said that's too purist a way of enjoying tofu for his taste, heh. So if you've not tried tofu on its own before (compared to in a stir fry), you might want to warm it up in the microwave, although I think everyone should try the 'purist version'!

Chilled tofu

Cut the film from the container, run a knife carefully along the edges of the tofu and invert the block onto a plate or small dish. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with 1 tsp of light soy sauce, a few drops of sesame oil and top with garnish of your choice. The most popular are spring onions and bonito flakes, but I have also seen versions that used fried shallots, diced century egg, or pork floss. I used a furikake mix (of sesame seeds, nori and bonito) and spring onions.

You need silken tofu for this dish. They come in a plastic container covered with film over the top, like this:



Silken tofu (Chinese, Japanese or Korean) are widely available at Oriental stores or supermarkets. Not to be confused with 'Mori-Nu Silken Tofu', which is a brand of tofu found in some Sainsbury or Tesco supermarkets. They come in soft, firm and extra firm (even though they all say 'Silken'!). I have not tried them myself and I don't know whether it would be soft or firm that you should use. The soft type seems almost liquid from the description so it might be firm that you need, but I am really not certain. Your best bet is to find one similar to the Unicurd brand picture above.


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Thursday, 8 May 2008

Tray baked salmon with green beans

I love one-dish meals especially on weekdays. Whether it's a stirfry, a casserole (in a slow cooker that I could put on in the morning) or a tray baked dish, it usually involves minimal time preparing or cooking and less washing up too.

It's gorgeous in the middle of spring with so many flowers in bloom, and it's also gorgeous in the supermarkets, grocers and farmers markets with the variety of spring vegetables and produce on offer. I've been binging on asparagus and new potatoes in particular, both of which are great for this tray baked salmon dish. This recipe (from Jamie's Dinners) called for dill but you can use any herbs that you have on hand, such as thyme or basil. And any seasonal spring or summer vegetables could be used, for example green beans, runner beans, podded peas, sugar snap peas and asparagus.

Tray baked salmon with green beans

(Serves 2)

2 skin-on salmon fillets
8-10 new potatoes, scrubbed
Salt and pepper
Large handful of green beans
Small handful of cherry tomatoes
20g butter
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest
Handful of thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 230C/gas 8. Cook the new potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes until just tender and nearly cooked, then add the green beans and cook for a further 4 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes and green beans and place in a large roasting dish, along with the cherry tomatoes. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and add the butter. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice and mix lightly, allowing the flavours to infuse with the heat.
3. Score the skin side of the salmon fillets lightly. Season with salt and pepper and place on top of the potatoes and veg skin side up. Scatter the herbs all over the dish and stuff remaining into the slits of the salmon fillets. Grate the lemon zest all over the dish and pop into the oven.
4. Cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. The skin should be just crisp but do not overcook the salmon. Dish out or serve the entire platter at the dining table and let everyone help themselves to a fillet each and some potatoes, tomatoes and green beans. Don't forget the juices at the bottom of the pan.

This post has been submitted to the Bookmarked Recipes event run by Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. If you have some bookmarked recipes in your web browser, cookbooks or even something scribbled on the back of an envelope, why not take the opportunity to try the recipe yourself and join the blog event? There's still plenty of time before the round up on Monday!

bookmarkedrecipes.jpg

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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Sundried tomato and coriander couscous bento

Hope everyone in the UK had a lovely bank holiday weekend. The weather was mostly gorgeous and we spent a lot of time outdoors, taking walks, pottering around the garden and just sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. I was taking a break from the internet and there were other errands to run, thus the lack of updates. But here are my last three bento:

Mushroom quiche, mixed leaf salad, blueberries and container of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
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Oats and poppy seeds bread rolls filled with honey roast ham and salad leaves, cherry tomatoes and a mango jelly.
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Sundried tomato and coriander cous cous, peri-peri chicken and green beans.
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The last bento was basically leftovers from dinner last night, which was roast chicken legs and cous cous with Mediterranean vegetables. I placed a couple of chicken breasts in with the chicken legs to marinate and cook, which were then kept aside to cool before being sliced and packed after dinner. And I just made two extra portions of cous cous. The green beans were steamed while washing up after dinner. They were tossed in a little extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.

To make sundried tomato and coriander cous cous:

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

120g cous cous
150ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (or hot water)
3-4 pieces of sundried tomatoes in olive oil (often sold in a jar), finely chopped
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil or butter (optional)

Method:

Pour boiling stock or water over the cous cous and cover with cling film. Leave for 5 minutes (doesn't matter if it is slightly longer). Remove cling film and fluff up the grains with a fork. Add the sundried tomatoes, coriander and a drizzle of extra virgin olive or a dab of butter. Stir well. The cous cous will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days. Double the amount to make more.

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Friday, 2 May 2008

Chinese roast chicken and coriander rice

As promised, here is my other favourite recipe for roast chicken legs, Chinese style. It was another simple case of combining all the ingredients and marinating in the fridge and then throwing the chicken legs in the oven when I got home. The leftover juices and excess marinate at the bottom of the roasting tray was not wasted either. Get yourself some chopped fresh coriander, mix cooked rice in the juices and you got yourself aromatic coriander rice. Perfect with some steamed or simple stir fried vegetables on the side.

Chinese roast chicken and coriander rice

Like many of my readers, I love oogling at beautiful food photos on food blogs and I try to post good photos of my cooking in here. Failed experiments are seldom seen in here, or any other food blogs that I read! In this case, I got caught up with something else going in in the house and left the chicken in the oven for too long... The result was slightly charred chicken... (what a waste of crispy skin). So if you're trying to recreate this, your chicken legs should be nice and golden and not black! I wasn't happy with this photo, to be honest, but I thought I would post it anyway because it's such a great tasting recipe, with a word of warning to watch the oven!

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 chicken legs (or drumsticks or thighs, skin on)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cm slice of ginger, minced
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp five spice powder (optional)
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients with the chicken legs and marinate for 2 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 180C/gas 5. Place the chicken legs on a roasting tray, pouring over the excess marinade, and cook in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.
3. Turn the chicken legs over and then roast for another 15-20 minutes (depending on their size). If you want to crisp up the skin further, place under a medium grill for a few minutes.

For the coriander rice, you need 2 portions of cooked rice and a large handful of chopped coriander. Place the roasting tray with leftover juices in the pan on the stove. Scope off excess oil if desired. Heat the marinade on medium heat and add the rice, stirring well to incorporate all the sticky goodness from the bottom of the tray, for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, add the chopped coriander, mix well and serve.

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Thursday, 1 May 2008

Honey and rosemary chicken legs

I seem to cook chicken legs in the oven quite frequently, but I do love roasting chicken legs. The meat stays juicy and tender and the skin goes crispy in the oven. I have two favourite methods, one 'Western' and one Chinese. I'll save the Chinese roast chicken recipe for the next post and share my recipe for honey and rosemary chicken legs in this one.

As Jamie Oliver would say, chicken and rosemary are pretty good buddies. The honey and lemon juice balances each other nicely and the garlic gives it a lovely intensity that is preserved in the gravy. This was what we had for dinner the other day - honey and rosemary chicken legs with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables drizzled with garlic and herb gravy
Honey rosemary chicken

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 chicken legs (or drumsticks or thighs, skin on)
1 tbsp honey
1 or 2 springs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients with the chicken legs and marinate for 4 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 180C/gas 5. Place the chicken legs on a roasting tray, pouring over the excess marinade, and cook in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.
3. Turn the pieces over and then roast for another 15 minutes. Spoon the hot honey glaze over chicken pieces and place under the grill for about 2 minutes to brown and crisp up the skin.

Serve with new or mashed potatoes and vegetables. Don't waste the juices at the bottom of the tray. Discard excess oil/fat and spoon the juices over the chicken legs when serving. If you want thicker gravy consistency, mix a tbsp of plain or corn flour (dissolved in 2 tbsp water) into the pan and simmer on the stove until it thickens.

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