My Mr The Chef : Chicken Money Bag

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I am truly a lucky woman. I married a man who can seriously cook some delicious food! Although he’s really busy, he still takes time to cook something once in a while, which I am super thankful for! If you’ve followed me for a while now, you would have seen some of his creations : Hainanese chicken riceroasted beef ribshomemade bacon and polenta chips!

Ready to be served

I’m  not sure if you remember seeing this dish on Masterchef last year, but this was a dish by the ever so talented – Maggie Beer! The Mr wanted to make it the moment he saw it and boy am I glad he did. It was absolutely delicious! Tedious to prep, but all the hard work definitely paid off! Just imagine golden crispy chicken skin (like yum!) and the meat is just succulent and full of flavour on the inside! Together with the tomato chutney, it’s just the perfect pair!

Skinning the chicken

The trickiest part of the dish is probably skinning the whole chicken and keeping the skin whole, making sure there are no holes! The Mr did such a good job! He got it out in one go! Don’t think I would be able to do it. haha

So here’s the recipe from Maggie Beer! Give it a try, the hard work is definitely worth every delicious bite!

Chicken Money Bag with Preserved Lemon and Tomato Chutney (Recipe closely adapted from Maggie Beer, Serves 3)

For the chicken :

50g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

2 tbs olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

225g white button mushrooms, sliced

1 tbs lemon thyme leaves, chopped

1/3 cup white wine (I didn’t have Verjuice)

1.8kg whole chicken

100g chicken fat, finely chopped

1 1/2 tbs preserved lemon rind, chopped

1 1/4 tbs tarragon, chopped

15g sea salt flakes

1 egg

For the Preserved Lemon & Tomato Chutney : 

1 1/2 tbs Olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped

1/4 cup white wine (Use Verjuice if you have it!)

800g tomato, roughly chopped

100g preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped

110ml Red wine vinegar

90g caster sugar

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.

2) Place a heavy based pan over medium-high heat, add butter and heat until it has turned nutty brown. Add olive oil, shallots and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add thyme, toss to combine, and season with salt.

3) Deglaze the pan with white wine and cook until it is sticky and reduced. Place mushroom mixture in a large bowl, and set aside to cool.

4) Skin chicken and place in a bowl. Remove chicken marylands, roughly chop leg and thigh meat, then pulse in a food processor to a coarse paste. Add chicken fat and pulse to combine. Remove breasts and cut into two centimeters dice.

Prepping the chicken and mushroom mixture

5) Finely chop mushroom mixture, then add the preserved lemon rind and tarragon to cooled mushroom mixture and mix until well combined. Add chicken leg mixture, diced chicken breast, sea salt flakes and egg to the bowl and slap the mixture against the side of the bowl until combined.

Prepping the ingredients

Chicken mixture

6) Cut chicken skin into three even triangular shaped pieces.

7) Over a 6cm springform baking tin, place a sheet of cling wrap, then spread skin over. 

Making the money bags

8) Add chicken mixture, bring each end of the skin together to create a pouch, then place in the fridge for ten minutes to allow the skin to set.

Adding the chicken mixture

Bringing the skin together to create a pouch

9) Invert baking tins onto a baking tray and carefully lift tins to remove. The skin should remain neatly tucked underneath, holding the parcel together as it cooks.

All ready to be baked!

10) Place baking tray into oven, and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. If you have a meat thermometer, check to see that the internal temperature has reached 62 degrees celcius.

Baked till golden brown

11) Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

12) For the chutney : Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for five minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and rosemary, and cook for two minutes.

13) Deglaze the pan with white wine then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until the mixture is reduced to about two cups and a chutney-like consistency. Remove from heat, and place into a bowl to cool. Season to taste with salt.

14) To serve : Slice the chicken money bags and serve on the tomato chutney. Enjoy! (:

chicken money bag sliced

Enjoy the coming weekend everyone! (: Hope this has inspired you to cook something special for your loved ones this weekend! Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Till the next post, xx

Lemony Blessings

I always considered our lives very blessed. We always get what we want and we have constant love, care and support from our family. What more can we ask for? But God is amazing. I came home one day after work and found a few bright yellow round things in our garden. My first thought was : someone has been throwing tennis balls into our backyard? haha But when I got a closer look, they were lemons that fell off our neighbour’s lemon tree! (: The winds and rain were so strong, the lemons flew into our backyard! What blessings! Showers of blessings indeed!

So what do you do when you suddenly have a whole bunch of lemons? Make lemon meringue cupcakes filled with luciuus and tangy lemon curd, of course! It’s been a cupcake I have been wanting to make for the longest time. Ever since the first Junior Masterchef when Isabella made her beautiful cupcakes for the Mystery Box challenge! So I decided to make the curd a day before, and wake up early on a Saturday morning to make these gorgeous small cakes.

I started bright and early, so much so that I could try two cake recipes! I was drawn to the recipe on Gourmet Traveller (September 2011 Issue) that was from the Rockpool Bar & Grill. So I couldn’t resist making them. I just had to make both cakes. They were very different. Not just in the type of ingredients used, the way it’s made and also the texture. The cakes using Isabella’s recipe turned out soft and fluffy. But the ones from the Rockpool’s recipe turned out slightly denser and gooey-er (see above). I really couldn’t choose between the two! Both were delicious!

What I really like about Isabella’s recipe is that she didn’t use butter in her cupcakes, so you could practically whip it up really quickly! You don’t have to wait for the butter to soften, which is definitely a plus! And I would like to say that it is healthier. MAYBE. haha But well, regardless. They were both delicious! Just depends on what texture you like more. So I’m going to share both recipes, and you can decide which you like more! (:

*Note : I used the same lemon curd and Italian meringue for both cupcakes and the recipes below are more than enough for all the 24 cupcakes made (12 from each cupcake recipe). 

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Lemon Curd (adapted from Gourmet Traveller – Rockpool Bar & Grill)

5 eggs

155ml lemon juice

1 tbs lemon zest

180g caster sugar

150g butter

*Cupcake 1 (adapted from Gourmet Traveller – Rockpool Bar & Grill)

155g caster sugar

155g butter

155g self-raising flour

1 tbs lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla paste

75ml milk

Italian Meringue (adapted from Gourmet Traveller – Rockpool Bar & Grill)

200g caster sugar

80ml water

140g egg whites

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Steps :

1) For the lemon curd : Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then strain them through a sieve. In a heavy-based saucepan, add the butter, lemon juice, sugar and zest. Stir until the butter is melted and sugar is fully dissolved. Add a little of the lemon mixture to the eggs to warm it up, then gradually add it back into the saucepan, stirring continuously.

2) Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring continuously and scraping the base of the saucepan until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. This will take about 8 minutes and make sure the mixture doesnt boil or else it will curdle. Allow the mixture to cool completely, before covering it and put it in the fridge until it is chilled. (At least an hour, but I prefer to make it a day before, and let it chill overnight). This is enough for the 24 cupcakes I made, and leftovers could be kept in an airtight container in a fridge, up to 2 weeks.

3) For cupcakes* : Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius, and line a 12-cupcake tray with liners. In a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for a couple of minutes, before adding the sugar. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until the mixture is smooth. Add the lemon zest and vanilla paste and mix it for another 2 minutes. On low speed, add the flour and milk (alternately) until just combined. Careful not to overbeat the mixture. Divide the mixture evenly into the cupcake liners and smooth the top out. Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Turn them out onto a wire rack and allow them to cool completely. (For Isabella’s recipe, please see below)

4) For the Italian meringue : Combine the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and sitr the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high, and allow the sugar mixture to reach a soft-boil stage, without stirring (about 121 degrees celcius on a candy thermometer).

5) In a mixer, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tar tar until soft peaks form. On medium speed, slowly and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the whipped egg whites. Continue to whisk the mixture on medium speed until the mixing bowl feels cool, and the egg whites are thick and glossy. Fill a pipping bag and use immediately.

6) To assemble : Cut a whole in the middle of the cupcakes, big enough to fill 2 tsp of lemon curd. Fill a pipping back with the lemon curd and gently fill the holes up. Pipe the Italian meringue onto each cupcake, making sure you cover the curd completely. Using a kitchen blowtorch, carefully brown the meringue before serving.

*Cupcake 2 (adapted from Junior Masterchef – Isabella’s Recipe)

1 cup thickened cream

3/4 cup caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1 tbs lemon zest

Steps : 

1) For cupcakes* : Place cream, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the flour (1/2 cup at a time) and zest and continue to whisk until thick and smooth. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners and bake for 15-18 minutes. Turn over on a wire rack and allow it to cool completely before filling them up with the lemon curd and topping with the Italian meringue (recipe and steps as stated above).

ENJOY!

Beef Onion and Guinness Pies

Have you been watching Masterchef Australia? Cause I have! I’ve been watching religiously. hehe And loving it! Friday’s Masterclass is the day I will never miss and even if I do, I will catch up on it online. It is during this time when I get inspired and motivated to try making completely new things. I love the fact that they post their recipes on the masterchef australia website too! Makes it so much easier when trying new dishes!

The Friday that we saw Gary made his beef onion & guinness pie, the mr immediately asked me to make it for dinner the next day! I was very hesistant to make pastry from scratch cos the first time I made a pie/tart base, it failed miserably! So I had a back-up plan, if the pie case failed, I would mash potatoes and turn it into a cottage pie instead! So with a back-up plan in mind, I went all out! So much so I invited friends who were in Melbourne for a visit over for dinner! Haha. I wasn’t too sure what got into my head.

Thank goodness the pie was a big hit! The pastry was buttery and flaky. We could just have it on it’s own (and we did for the left over pastry haha)! I couldn’t really believe how easy it was to make it and I had alot of fun rolling it out and cutting it to fit the baking tin as well! hehe And the best way to have the pie? With a whole heap of tomato sauce of course! YUMMY!

This is definitely a pastry I can see myself making very very often in the future for either sweet or savoury dishes!

And the beef. Where can I begin? It melts in your mouth. Pity I couldn’t cook it for slightly longer cause I already made my guests wait for 1 hour (lucky thing I had Running Man on so they were entertained! hehe) and so I just really needed to get it in the pastry cases, baked and served!

Remember my back-up plan? I had to use it anyway because I had so much beef left, it was a great way to serve them – with creamy parmesan mash! To complete the meal, I made a bowl of salad and viola! (: Was a perfect night with good company!

Beef Onion and Guinness Pies (Adapted from Masterchef Australia)

Filling

3 kg chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces

150ml olive oil

6 onions, sliced

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

5 dried bay leaves

4 tbs plain flour

salt and freshly ground black pepper, for season

2 carrots, cut into large chunks

600ml Guinness

1.5 litres beef stock

1 egg, beaten

Tomato sauce, to serve

Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry

200g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

250g plain flour, extra for dusting

pinch of salt

1/2 cup sour cream

Steps : 

1) Season the beef generously with salt and black pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan with 100ml of olive oil on high heat, and cook the beef in a few batches until all sides are well browned.  Add the carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes until golden. Set aside.

2) In a large pot, add the rest of the 50ml of olive oil and heat over low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring continuously. This will take around 40 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the bay leaves and cook until a slightly darker brown, without burning it. Add the flour and stir till there is no visible flour left.

3) Add the beef and carrots into the pot and pour 1/2 of the Guinness into the pan to de-glaze, scraping all the brown bits on the bottom. Pour that and the remaining Guinness into the pot. Add the beef stock and make sure there is enough liquid to cover all the beef. Bring it to a boil.

4) Partially cover the pot with the lid and lower the heat to low. Allow that to simmer fir at least 2 1/2 hours or until tender. Set aside and allow it to cool until the pastry is ready. This could also be made in advance and kept in a fridge for up to 3 days.

5) To make the pastry : In an electric mixer, blend the butter and flour and a pinch of salt until the mixture resembles large bread crumbs. Slowly add the sour cream and mix until it comes together to form a dough. Shape it into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

6) Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius. Grease 12 holes in a cupcake baking tin with butter (or 6 in a muffin tin). Roll out the pastry to 3-5mm, using a little extra flour for dusting. Cut out 12 rounds about 4 cm bigger than the cupcake holes and another 12 rounds that are about 2 cm larger for the lids.

7) Place a pie base in each hole, then press in lightly with your fingers. Make sure there is about 1 cm left above the mould. Fill each hole with some beef mixture and top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling. Brush each pastry top with the beaten egg, and cut a small hole in the center of each pie for steam to escape.

8) Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Turn out and serve with tomato sauce.

ENJOY! (:

PS : I made much more than the 12 pies needed, so like I mentioned before, I topped the leftover beef filling with a creamy parmesan mash. You could easily make another batch of pastry and make more pies! (: Or just cut the recipe into half! 

Chocolate Gluttony Brownies

Chocolate.

The ultimate stress reliever food! (: I will never turn down chocolate. White, milk, dark. With fruits, nuts or plain. GIVE ME ALL! It doesn’t help that Lindt cafe opened in Melbourne last year. haha. A whole range of different quality chocolates within easy reach! Chocolate becomes essential especially when there are assignments and when you get writer’s block. and what did I do? I baked! To me, baking is therapeutic. When I’m stressed, two things comes in mind. Baking and chocolate. Nothing would be more perfect than baking brownies!

A while back, Masterclass had the most sinful and gooey brownie. Baby and I just couldn’t not give it a try. I’m so glad I did though. Cause the recipe is definitely a keeper! The best thing is you can add as many things as you want in it, and it will still turn out yummy! It’s a pity I didn’t have pecans or peanuts as I think it will just bring it to whole other level of delicious. But here is always next time, cause more assignments are due in 3 weeks!

so here’s the recipe I used adapted from Gary Mehigan (Masterclass)

Ingredients :

250g melted butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
90g good quality (Dutch) cocoa powder
1 cup plain flour, sifted
½ tsp baking powder, sifted
5 eggs
1 block of Lindt White Chocolate with Almonds
1 cup chopped dark chocolate

6 big marshmallows

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 165°C. Line 2 x 20cm square baking tins or one larger slice tin with baking paper.

2) Add butter and sugar to an electric mixer and mix on medium speed, sprinkle in cocoa powder and mix until combined and has a gooey consistency.

3) Add eggs one at a time, allowing each one to mix through before adding the next.

After adding 1 egg yolk

Last and final addition

All ready to add the flour

4) Rain in flour and baking powder with electric mixer on low speed, beating until well combined.

5) Stir through the chocolates until combined.

6) Pour equal amounts into the tins and smooth over the surface with a palette knife. Place the marshmallows on top of the batter and push it in just a little.

7) Bake for about 40 minutes until firm at the edges but still a little soft in the middle.

8) Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Alternatively you can make this ahead of time and store in the fridge.

GOOEY and filled with chocolatey goodness! (:

I’m pretty sure you will enjoy it! heh The middle is definitely my favourite bits!

Chocolate Ganache, Cream and Strawberry Tart

my very first time making a tart. As you can see, it’s staying in the mold cause any attempt of taking it out, it crumbles into a million and one pieces! *sigh* ah wells. just have to pluck up the courage to try it again. SOON. haha we shall see! (:

I found the largest and reddest strawberry from Queen Victoria Market, and just knew I had to try marking these tarts, although the original recipe calls for raspberry. hehe. they were as huge as my palm!!!

how gorgeous do they look! (: I bet if you saw them, you wouldn’t be able to resist either!!! hehe

I used the recipe from Masterchef, and besides the tart being too crumbly (which I’m pretty sure it’s because I didn’t let it set in the fridge long enough haha) it was YUMMY! The chocolate ganache was the saviour of the dish to be honest. haha but I’m not too surprised, chocolate always saves everything! Especially when I’m stressed. haha

so here’s the recipe! (: Hope you will be more successful than me!

(Adapted from Masterchef)

Ingredients :

240g plain flour
160g butter
Pinch of salt
300ml thickened cream
1 tbs caster sugar
1 punnet strawberries

160ml cream
40g butter
180g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Steps :

Step 1: Place the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend
until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1-2 teaspoons cold water and
blend again until the dough just comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured
board or clean bench and form dough into a disc, enclose in cling film and
refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Step 2: Roll pastry out to 3-5mm thick, then use to line four 10cm loose- bottomed tart tins. Prick the base with a fork, then place back in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

Step 3: To make the ganache, place the cream and butter in a pan and stir over medium heat until butter has melted. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl, pour over the warm cream, then stir until the chocolate has melted.

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the pastry case with baking paper and
pastry beads or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 7-10 minutes, then remove baking
paper and beads and bake for another 5-10 minutes until just golden. Press down
any bubbles that have risen up and allow to cool. Remove from tart cases and
place on a serving plate or clean board.

Step 5: Meanwhile, whip thickened cream with sugar until soft peaks. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed.

Step 6: Pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shells. Spread evenly with the
back of a spoon or palette knife. Place the strawberries on top of the tart and serve!

Bon Appetit!

Beef Stroganoff : Masterchef Recipe

Sorry for the lack of posts! Uni just started for me, and the amount of readings I have to do is unbelievable! Haven’t had much chance to cook or bake. But yes! I’m back!

Have you been catch Masterchef when it was on tv? I have! I caught as many episodes I could when I’m home and if I missed one, I would load it on the Masterchef website and watch it at my own free time! (: One dish that caught my eye and tummy was the beef stroganoff! the orangy creamy texture of the dish, topped on pasta, I think it’s a match-made in heaven.

so I got down to business. I didn’t have creme friache or the usual substitute of sour cream, so I “cleaverly” used thickened cream which wasn’t too good an idea, cause it became very starchy. But other than that, the flavours were really yummy and my baby really enjoyed it! (:

so here’s the recipe that is from this Masterchef series

Ingredients :

2 tbs sweet paprika
100g flour
500g piece beef eye fillet (from the tail end), sliced into strips
¼ cup olive oil
40g butter, plus extra to serve
200g Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 eschalots, finely diced
2 tbs tomato paste
½ cup brandy
1 cup beef stock
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 cup crème fraiche (or light sour cream)
2 tbs extra virgin oil, to serve
baby parsley, to garnish

Steps :

1. For the beef stroganoff, combine paprika, flour and 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a bowl. Toss beef in the mixture to coat.

2) Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat and sear the beef for 1-2 minutes or until browned. Remove and set aside.

3) Reduce heat to medium-high; add half the butter and remaining the olive oil. Cook the mushrooms until caramelised. Reduce the heat to medium, add remaining butter, eschalots and cook for a few minutes until softened.

4) Add the tomato paste, brandy, stock, Worcestershire sauce and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, stir in crème fraiche, reserved beef and juices, then season with salt and pepper.

5) Serve with either rice or pasta. DONE! (:

Gnocchi : Made From Scratch

Gnocchi. Little pillowy potato magic that when made and cooked properly would make you smile, and make your tummy very happy. (: Baby and I recently watched Masterchef Australia and saw Matt Moran’s dish of Gnocchi with burnt butter and sage and just couldn’t stop thinking about it. So we had to make it, and we had to make it for lunch today. hehe

Being ANZAC Day today, it was really difficult to get the ingredients we needed cause the supermarkets don’t open until 1pm. So we had to go to all the small marts to gather the ingredients and already that took a long while! There was a lot of prep work, and by the time we got lunch ready, it was already 230! But I think all the effort preparing the gnocchi was worth it! It was pretty yummy! hehe though we haven’t really had gnocchi at restaurants before, so there wasn’t a benchmark to compare it with! hehe But for a first attempt, it was pretty superbly yummy! hehe

so instead of the quail that Matt Moran had with his gnocchi, I made Nando’s roast chicken! (: It went pretty well! hehe although I’m very sure the quail would be better. But we had to substitute since we couldn’t get hold of the quail, plus, one quail would not be enough protein for the boys. haha

Here is the recipe adapted from Masterchef Australia, though to be honest, I made the gnocchi with “feel”. Didn’t follow the measurements, but use it as a guideline anyways! hehe (: ENJOY!

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