Tuesday, November 29, 2011

recipe: spaghetti with pesto and roasted chicken.

Cooking for 2 or 3 can sometimes leave me with lots of leftover ingredients. I especially get the problems with fresh herbs so I always get a 'should I or should I not' situation at the supermarket; wondering if the recipe could do without a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary. So the way I cook these days is to buy what I need for something I want to cook and if there are ingredients leftover, I'll come up with something which will help use up the remainders the next day.

After making the Crispy Chicken with Sweet Tomatoes, I was left with quite a bit of basil and cherry tomatoes. With that and seeing that I had 2 chicken thighs in the freezer, I decided to whip up a Spaghetti with Pesto and Roasted Chicken.

Ingredients (serves 2)
dried spaghetti (enough for 2)
extra virgin olive oil
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To make the pesto:
2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, picked and chopped
a small handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
½ clove of garlic, chopped
a handful of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

To make the roast chicken:
2 boneless chicken thighs
a bunch of cherry tomatoes, halved
a sprinklng of dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Note: a bit of judgement call would be required in the making of this recipe. I was using whatever leftovers I had so I don't have the exact measurements for everything I used. Feel free to add or reduce whatever you feel is best and taste as you go along. You should be in a good place if you keep to that rule.

  • To make the pesto, pound the basil and a little bit of salt in a mortar & pestle (or place in food processor). Once the basil has been pretty much smashed up with the salt, add the garlic and the pine nuts and continue pounding.
  • Remove after everything has been bashed up and well combined. Add the parmesan cheese and mix well.
  • Add the extra virgin olive oil and mix well with the basil until you get a smooth consistency that isn't too dry.
  • Season with salt and pepper or add more cheese according to your personal liking. Set aside

  • Making the roast chicken is super simple. Slice open the chicken thigh and remove all the unnecessary fat. The thinness will help it cook quicker.
  • Place the thighs, tomatoes and seasonings in a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a 190℃ oven for about 45 minutes or until cooked.
  • After the chicken is cooked, keep the flavourful juices and shred the meat. Set aside.

  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Drain the water after the pasta is cooked but reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
  • Mix the pasta with the pesto which was prepared earlier and toss well to ensure that the pasta is well coated. Add a little pasta water if you need help to loosen up the pesto so that it's easier to coat the pasta.
  • Assembly is easy. Place the pasta on a plate and top with the shredded chicken, tomatoes and its juices. Finish it off with more parmesan cheese if you like and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on the top.

Dinner (or lunch) is served!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

recipe: crispy chicken with sweet tomatoes.

Been a while since I posted a recipe. It's not that I haven't been doing much cooking. On the contrary, I've been doing a lot of it on weekdays so I can head out exploring on the weekends. I'm being a good girl. ANYWAYS, most of what I usually cook on the weekdays are familiar home favourites which I've grown up with; curry chicken, stir-fried vegs etc. Nothing exciting although always comforting because of the absence of mum's cooking. This week however, I decided to shake things up a little and head for the books for inspiration instead.

I found this recipe from Jamie Oliver's, Jamie's Dinners. I actually highly recommend this book because I find the recipes are easy to follow, aren't over complicated and are basically things that you would eat on a regular basis. Most importantly, THEY WORK! In fact, I'm almost inclined to do the 'Julie & Julia' thing and cook every recipe out of the book daily. Then again, I might cause some sort of a protest.

I admit, I was lazy so hence, the choice of this one pot wonder. Easy cooking, easy clean up. I probably should cook this way more. I did some variations of my own to the recipe and also changed it down to feed 2. It should be very easy to multiply the portions according to the number of people that you have to feed.

Ingredients (serves 2)
4 chicken drumsticks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved and 1 ripe plum tomato, quartered
1 whole bulb of garlic, broken up into cloves
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
zest of 1/4 lemon
2 medium sized potatoes, sliced
olive oil

  • Preheat your oven to 180℃.
  • Season the chicken well and place in a baking tray.
  • Add all the other ingredients to the tray and drizzle just enough to ensure that all the ingredients are well coated. Add more salt and pepper if you desire.
  • Toss all the ingredients in the tray to ensure all the seasoning gets well distributed. Arrange the pan so that the tomatoes land up underneath.
  • Place in oven for approximately 1.5 hours, bring the tomatoes to the top halfway through and cook until the chicken skin is crispy and meat falls off the bone.
  • Squeeze the garlic out of the skins before serving.

Instead of roasting the potatoes, you could serve the chicken with mash potatoes, cannellini beans or remove the meat from the bone, shred it and toss with spaghetti together with the tomatoes and its delicious roasting juices!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

paris bites: restaurant frenchie

Restaurant Frenchie
5-6, Rue du Nil
75002, Paris
Tel: +33 (01) 4039 9619
Website: http://www.frenchie-restaurant.com/

I had so many different experiences during my trip to Europe. Some I remember more for the awe of being in a fine establishment and some I remember for the delicious food. Frenchie was where the food spoke for itself and thrashed all expectations of what Paris had to offer.

It was no easy feat scoring a table at Frenchie. Over the course of a month and several phone calls in between, I finally had someone on the phone taking my reservation. I remember telling R after I got through, 'for all that trouble, this better be good!' I read a lot about Frenchie online and saw Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert dine there on No Reservations (that episode was tres useful for the trip by the way). And to be honest, my expectations were already high up there by the time I made my booking.

Monday, November 07, 2011

malaysian fix at chinta ria... mood for love

Chinta Ria... Mood For Love
Level 6 Shop 6009
Westfield Sydney
188 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 (02) 8072 8888
Website: http://www.chintamoodforlove.com/

Besides being away from the family and loved ones, one other thing that's difficult about living overseas is finding places that sell authentic food from home (other than cooking it myself of course). Unfortunately, I have yet to be proven wrong although I would say that some have come close enough to hitting the spot. Otherwise, I've had to settle for close substitutes from various types of cuisine.

Klang-born restauranteur, Simon Goh has seen success with Chinta Ria at Darling Harbour and in the past year opened up Sassy's Red at the busy Westfield food court. After reading about a couple of positive reviews on Goh's latest venture 'Mood For Love', I decided to drop in to have a taste of (hopefully!) some "home" flavours.

 Otak O Tak
Spanish Mackerel Mousse