Friday, 21 June 2013

Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

A Malaysian friend came to visit us in Paris a few days ago (we miss you by the way, hun!), and she strongly suggested I try and prepare a Malaysian dish. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the main ingredients for the particular recipe she gave me. But resourceful me did some internet research and found another one. Its blend of spices is, let me tell you, fabulous! In the original recipe, 20 dried chillies were used, though, which might be a tad too spicy-hot for our Western taste buds, so I tuned it down to 4. It’s still a spicy experience but not one that'll leave you gasping for air, water or simply merciful death. For the chicken, you can use any part of the beast, to your convenience. Personnally, I’m not too keen on chicken thighs so I only used chicken breasts. 

What you need: 
  • 4-6 chicken breasts, diced (you can use thighs as well) 
  • 4 dried chillies, soaked 
  • 2 red onions 
  • 5 cloves of garlic 
  • 40 g of ginger 
  • 25 g of galangal 
  • 5 lemongrass 
  • 2-3 star anise 
  • 4 cloves 
  • 1 cinnamon, whole 
  • 3 cardamom 
  • 1 can of tomato soup 
  • 400 ml of coconut milk 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Some peas and carrots, optional 
How to proceed: 
  • Rub the diced chicken with turmeric and salt, then set aside for 30 minutes. 
  • In the meantime, mix the roughly chopped red onions, the ginger, galangal and lemongrass in your food processor. Add the chillies and garlic and mix some more until you get a smooth paste. 
  • Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a wok or pan and deep-fry the chicken pieces until they're golden in colour. Set them aside. 
  • Sauté the spices in the hot oil (cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom) until fragrant. 
  • Add the paste and bring the heat up until the paste bubbles nicely, then lower the heat. 
  • Simmer till the paste is thoroughly cooked and fragrant. 
  • Add the tomato soup, coconut milk and chicken pieces. 
  • Bring up the heat for a quick boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens. 
  • Add peas and carrots. 
  • Season with salt to taste. 
Serve with rice. YOu shall see—it's simply and truly De.Li.Cious! Open a bottle of rich red wine to accompany the dish—its taste will even be richer. Bon appétit!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Rotweingugelhupf (Austrian Red Wine Cake)

No wonder my belly has been growing out of proportion, slowly but surely, ever since I’ve passed my 40th birthday. It’s all my mom’s fault. Back when I left Austria, she gave me a little book with Austrian cake recipes. And they all just sound so delicious that I have to try them out, one by one. As Austrian sweets and cakes go, that means an explosion of calories as we tend to use quite a lot of sugar and quite a lot of butter. If you want to start a diet, pass your way—do not read, let alone try this recipe! Do not even look at the photo because that action alone will make you grow fat… 

What you need: 
  • 250 g of butter 
  • 300 g of sugar 
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar 
  • 1 sachet of baking powder 
  • 3 eggs 
  • ¼ l of red wine 
  • 380 g of flour 
  • 150 g of grated walnuts 
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon 
  • 150 g of chocolate 
How to proceed: 
  • Make sure the butter is not too hard by leaving it in a warm place overnight. 
  • Sift flour and baking powder. 
  • Melt the chocolate (I didn’t melt it entirely because I wanted to have some whole chocolate chunks in my cake). 
  • Beat the egg whites until very stiff. 
  • Beat butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and egg yolks until fluffy. 
  • Add half of the red wine, then the flour and baking powder as well as the grated walnuts. 
  • Add the teaspoon of cinnamon and the melted chocolate. 
  • Add the rest of the red wine. 
  • Mix thoroughly. 
  • Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. 
  • Butter a Bundt cake pan, dust it with flour. 
  • Pour the dough in. 
  • Bake at medium heat (200°C) for 80 minutes or until knife comes out clean. 
Serve the cake covered with icing sugar. It will be fluffy yet rich (thanks to the chocolate and butter), with a discreet taste of cinnamon (we add only a teaspoon so the taste is there but not overwhelmingly so) and a light aftertaste of red wine. Simply delicious, this cake will be eaten in no time by your guests or, if you’re as sweet-toothed as I am, by yourself! Bon appétit!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Oven-baked Stuffed Veggies


You can prepare stuffed food in a thousand ways, I guess, using as many ingredients as you can imagine. In the end, all depends on your skill and patience (I had marvellous stuffed courgette flowers once in Greece and, being the opposite of patient, would never DREAM of preparing those; and I’d rather not recommend stuffed peas either, not even to the secret Dalai Lamas amongst you out there). Most readers will probably read the recipe and think—or even say—that I’m a complete dunce for writing about stuffed vegetables when, in fact, all of the veggies I’m going to use are fruits. Yes, for those who ignore it, tomatoes, Bell peppers and zucchini are NOT veggies but fruits. If you don’t believe me, go check out the corresponding Wikipedia articles or ask your nearest botanist. Well, I do know that fact but let’s, for the convenience and brevity of this post, not quibble—it does get rather annoying to write “stuffed vegetables that are in fact fruits” all the time. Allow me two or three last side-remarks. First, I prefer to use green Bell peppers because the yellow and red ones are too sweet for my taste. They’re perfect for other recipes but not exactly for this one. Second thing, many recipes would use uncooked rice for the stuffing because it is supposed to cook in the veggies. I prefer to cook my rice, thank you very much, because mine never ever gets properly cooked in the process. Delish stuffed veggies with hard rice in them is not my idea of a perfect dinner. Oh, and last but not least, I have to warn you that these are not stuffed veggie veggies. I use meat. And now in media res… 

What you need: 
  • 4 big green Bell peppers 
  • 4 round zucchini (not the longish ones) 
  • 4 big tomatoes 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 500 g of minced pork 
  • Parsley, chopped 
  • A glass of rice, cooked 
  • Salt, Pepper 
  • Paprika 
  • Breadcrumbs 
  • Grated cheese 
  • Worcestershire Sauce (1 spoonful) 
  • 1 egg (optional) 
  • Olive oil 
How to proceed: 
  • Cook your rice as indicated on the package. 
  • Cut the upper part of your veggies (where the stem is). Don’t throw these parts, keep them. 
  • With a spoon, delicately scrape out the zucchini and tomatoes. 
  • Chop the cut out parts and put them in a huge bowl. 
  • Cut out the seeds of the Bell peppers (these you can throw away). 
  • Drizzle some olive oil in a big oven-proof dish. 
  • Place the empty veggies in that dish. 
  • Add the minced pork, chopped parsley and onion, the cooked rice, some bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika, the grated cheese and the spoonful of Worcestershire Sauce to the cut veggie parts. 
  • Preheat your oven, 200°C, 10 minutes. 
  • Mix the stuffing with your hands or a spoon. 
  • You can add an egg if you want; I prefer to prepare my stuffing without. 
  • Stuff your veggies. 
  • Put the upper part that you’ve cut away earlier on top of each vegetable. 
  • Drizzle some more olive oil over the veggies. 
  • Now place the dish in the oven and bake for approx. 1 h at 180-200°C. 
This is a simply delicious, light dinner for 4-6 persons with a healthy appetite. Or you only eat so much and warm over the rest the next day (there’s only two of us at home, so we had three scrumptious dinners). Of course, I prepared much too much stuffing but I simple deep-froze the rest so next time I’ll only have to buy the veggies to treat myself to another fine meal. And don’t worry about there being no sauce: the veggies give off quite a lot of juices while baking so the resulting meal is absolutely not dry. 
Bon appétit.

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