,,One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends. ,,
-Laurie Colwin

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Singapore noodles or Sweet and spicy curried chicken with noodles

According to Wikipedia - ,,Singapore style noodles is a dish of stir-fried rice vermicelli seasoned with curry powder, bean sprouts, soy sauce, and sliced chillies or peppers. It is served as a vegetarian dish or can be accompanied by small slices of chicken, beef, and/or shrimp,,.
Knowing that I always have some basics like egg noodles laying around, I decided to make a very simple version for you to enjoy for a lunch or dinner.
My version of Singapore Noodles is made with chicken and the vegetables are only marinated, they are not cooked. If you prefer replace the chicken with pork, duck or tiger prawns. This is a very good recipe to get rid of leftovers and to use the bits of vegetables from the fridge.
If you are looking for extra flavor and texture add one fry beaten egg in a tablespoon of sesame oil and mix with the chicken.
Ingredients you need for 4 portions:
- 300 g rice noodles- or I use egg noodles
- 500 g slice in strips of chicken fillet
- 2 tablespoons curry powder – I used masala powder
- 4 large champignon mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 100 ml chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
- 8 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- fresh chili –optional
For the salad:
- 100 g bean sprouts
- 1 big red bell pepper, sliced in julienne
- 50 g -full hand of coriander
- 100 g zucchini sliced in julienne
- 2 medium carrots slice in julienne
- 2 green onions sliced in julienne
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- juice from one lime
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Marinate the chicken slices for an hour with ½ soy sauce and curry powder.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add noodles and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until noodles are tender but firm. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
Heat the sesame oil in large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir fry 3 to 5 minutes until browned and cooked through.
If you are using cooked chicken then you need to cut it up and cook it for about 5 minutes.
Add the rest of soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, chicken stock, ginger and toss to mix well.
When the chicken is done add the mushrooms. Once is bubbling slightly turn the heat down. Add salt, pepper and fresh chili slices to taste.
For the salad:
In a bowl, combine all vegetables and ½ of coriander with sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I chose and I recommend to don’t cook the vegetables, to get all the benefit from fresh vegetables.
Add noodles to the chicken mixture and stir everything together. Serve hot with the vegetables salad on top. This was surprisingly tasty and a great way to get rid of leftovers.

Enjoy. Pin It Now!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Duck confit

I was unable to resist the temptations when recently I was asked why I don’t post my recipes for duck confit.
This is the way I made this classic French confit recipe, another one of those gourmet French specialties, where legs of duck are slowly cooked in its own fat until tender, then stored in the same fat.
The French word confit means “preserved” or "preserving" a variety of meats like-goose, duck, pork, deer or ….horse if you wish. In the same way they do with pork meat in Romania. When I was serving in the army, my parents used to send me a package every month -during the winter times - with jars filled with meat covered in fat.
I cure the duck legs over night with salt and I cook them very slowly covered in a lot of duck fat and some more spices. After it has been prepared, you can eat it right away or store in the refrigerator covered in its fat for up to two months.
It is actually one of the oldest method to preserve food because once cooked it can stay fresh for a long time protected under the fat.
Making duck confit is not complicated even though it takes a bit of time-about 2 days.
With my mix of spices this recipe deviates from the classic one, but is one of the best confit we ever tasted.
Confit of Duck for 10 people:
10 duck legs
20 garlic cloves
3 kg of duck fat
500 g coarse salt
3 chilies, sliced
4 sticks of cinnamon
3-4 star anises
10 juniper berries
3 bay leaves
20 allspice seeds
20 black pepper corn
1 pot of fresh thyme
Peels from 3 oranges
Into a big tray sprinkles the legs with the salt evenly over all sides, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Wash the legs to remove the excess salt and pat dry on kitchen towels. Place the legs in a casserole or a tray, putting the legs skin side up. Add the garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, chilies, thyme, star anise, orange peels, juniper berries, allspice, bay leaves, black pepper, and enough fat to cover the legs and place the pan in the oven. Cook uncovered, until the meat is very tender and has shrink away from the bone, around 2 hours.
Let the legs cool slightly in the fat. To store, move the legs to a container covered in its fat and refrigerate for op to two months. The fat will contract as it cools, so once it is set, ladle a little more fat into the containers to seal the legs completely, and then cover.
The fat can be reused several times until it becomes too salty.
Here is some different way I serve this French specialty. I use some of the fat when I heat the confit, but I also use it to cook vegetables or potatoes or for other dishes to give a delicious aroma from the duck and spices.
Here I served with mash potatoes, grilled oranges and a carrots-Cointreau-orange sauce.
Here is served with braised red cabbage and Madeira red wine sauce.
Here I reheated duck legs covered with hoisin sauce and I served them with rice and
cucumber-coriander salad.
For a starter I served the shredded meat from the duck legs into a filo pastry basket, with red onion marmalade and
cucumber ribbons salad.
Or make nice spring rolls with the meat from the confit with julienne vegetables and
serve with soy, chili ginger sauce.
Here is my beef confit were I used same recipe, but with beef entrecote and I served with smashed new potato, greens beans and mushroom cream sauce.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Carvings

With Halloween just around the corner everybody post recipes with pumpkins. I thought I have to share too my recipe for the Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Pie and some pictures of my Pumpkin carvings that I made with my family and friends. Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene is high in fiber and provides large amounts of vitamin C and potassium. The small orange pumpkins are a little sweeter and have a better flavor for pumpkin recipes than the large orange varieties. Just cut off the top and bottom and scoop out the seeds. Then, I cut the pumpkin in wedges and remove the peeling. Cut the strips into chunks. Simmer or bake until tender to make the  pumpkin puree if you have recipes that use ready make puree. 
Curried Pumpkin Soup with coriander oil and ham focaccia.
For 10 portions you need.
2 kilos pumpkins or butternut squash cut into 5 cm chunks
5 tablespoon olive oil
5 celery sticks,
3 large onions, sliced
5 garlic cloves,
1 tablespoon curry powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 liters chicken stock
500 ml double cream
Coriander oil for garnish
In a large heavy pot fry the onion, celery and garlic over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the curry powder and a large pinch of salt and pepper and stir well.
Add the pumpkins, chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir well, reduce the heat to moderate, add cream and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
In a food processor or with a hand blender puree the soup until smooth. Adjust seasonings. Serve the soup into shallow bowls and garnish with the coriander oil and coriander leaves. To make coriander oil I blend in a food processor some fresh coriander with extra virgin olive oil, one clove of garlic and seasoning.
I serve the soup with Focaccia (recipe here) sandwich made with garlic butter, ham, tomato and cedar cheese.
Pumpkin Pie with almond crumble
For the Shortcut Pastry
300 g all-purpose flour
200 g unsalted butter, soft
125 g of sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoons of backing powder
Pinch of salt,
1-2 tablespoons of iced water
For the filling:
1 small pumpkin or ready bake 750 gr
3 large eggs
600 g sweet condensed milk (cooked in can)
5 g sea salt
5 g ground cinnamon
5 g ground ginger
3 g grated nutmeg
Almond Crumb Topping
140 g almonds flakes
80 g brown sugar
30 g all-purpose flour
50 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Sift the flour into a mixer bowl or food processor add the soft butter, sugar, backing powder, salt, egg, water and mix in slow speed until pastry forms a ball. If the mixture seems dry, add more water to hold the dough together. Wrap the pastry and place in refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll out and then press it into 30 cm greased pie dish, trim off the excess dough and bake for 15 minutes at 180C until golden brown color.
Meanwhile, cut the pumpkin in wedges, remove the seeds, place the pumpkin wedges in a tray and bake for 1 hour or until the pumpkin is tender. Scrape the pulp from the shell and purée it with a fork or in a blender. Measure 750 g of the purée and set it aside.
Reserve any additional pumpkin for another use.
In a large mixing bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the purée, condensed milk and the remaining ingredients and stir to blend. Pour the mixture over the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Combine the almonds and the sugar in a food processor, pulsing to chop the almonds well. Add the flour, butter and almond mixture into a large bowl and rub between your fingers to make large, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 160 C. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly. Return the pie to the oven and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Enjoy again.
One of the most fun and creative Halloween traditions is Pumpkin Carving.

Celebrating Halloween with a pumpkin carving party it's a great way to spend time with friends, children’s and family.Carving a pumpkin is really quite simple and quite satisfying to do. Here are some pictures of how we did some of the carving in 2008 with my family and friends.
This Kiss one it was mine.
This one with the nails was my wife's and my daughter's.
This was mine also and the others were made by friends.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Pilau, Pilaf, Risotto, Paella or Jambalaya

I cooked a Jambalaya for some friends, who commented that it was a lot like paella, and some thought is like pilaf, but I know risotto is very similar… so I started to get for you the story of Jambalaya origin. Pilau, Pilaf, Risotto, Paella or Jambalaya- is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth and depending on the local cuisine, it may also contain a variety of meat and vegetables. Fried rice in Asian cuisines is similar dish who take the cue from pilaf.
All this recipes start with a similar process. The grain is sautéed in oil, fat or butter to brown it slightly. To fully cook the dish, wine and stocks are added, which add different flavor to the dish. Depending on recipe and region, the grains are different from long grain rice to risotto and this make the dish to have different consistency. A variety of vegetables, seafood, poultry or meat may be added too, so it can be a whole and filling meal or a side dish.
This rice based dish -called ‘’pilau’’ originated from the Persian Empire, always begins by first browning the rice in butter or oil before cooking it in stock.
In India they're highly spiced it with masala, chili and coriander.
In Greek cuisine, ‘’piláfi’’ is soft rice that has been boiled in a meat stock then finished with lemon juice and melted butter.
In East Europe, ‘’pilaf’’ is made with chicken or sausages and finished with a bunch of fresh herbs. Left over meats and vegetables are use very often as well.
In Italian cuisine ’’risottos’’ are made using short-grain rice, where stock is being added gradually while the rice is stirred constantly. The cooking technique leads the rice to release its starch, giving the finished dish a creamy texture and of course adding Italian flavors to it like parmesan, mascarpone, sundried tomato …etc.
In Spain ‘’paella’’ (a wide, shallow pan with looped handles) famous rice dish is a free-style combination of meat, seafood and vegetables. The key ingredients include saffron and olive oil.
If you mix into any of these dishes some dry apricots, cumin, almonds and fresh chopped coriander, you have a Malaysian pilaf.
Exploration of the “New World” brought the dish to the America. Each culture has created its own version of pilafs.
It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not available. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron and the Jambalaya was born. Additions at the end of cooking in all of these dishes can include a bit of butter or cream.
Here are some samples of this dishes that I made. Please feel free to explore more and add your favorite flavor to it.
Risotto with wild mushrooms.
Jambalaya with bbq beaver and coleslaw salad.  
Safron risotto with salmon and grill lime.
Black ink risotto with tiger praws. 
You must work with the correct quantity of liquid in all of these recipes.
I work on the basis of one part of rice for two and half the quantity of stock.
Here is one of my recipe for shellfish risotto (or jambalaya or pilaf, or whatever you want to call it)
Ingredients for 4-6 people:
2 white medium onions, chopped
1 liter fish broth or stock
250 g mussels, steamed open
500 g mixed fresh seafood, shrimps, scallops and calamari
400 g can crush tomatoes
100 ml olive oil
400 g Arborio rice
100 ml dry white wine
4 teaspoons butter
100 g shaved parmesan cheese
bunch of chopped parsley or basil for garnish
salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy braising pan, add a spoon of butter and chopped white onions and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and sauté, stirring continuously, for about a minute. Add the white wine and stir until it evaporates.
Low the heat and begin ladling the fish stock over the rice. Add the can of crushed tomatoes. Cook the rice and add some more ladles of fish stock only when the previous one has been absorbed. Repeat till rice is almost cooked.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the seafood. Be careful not to add the seafood too early as the heat of the rice will cook it in just a few moments. Prawns and scallops need only to turn opaque to be cooked and the mussels only need warming. Finish by adjusting the salt and pepper and add a knob of butter and parmesan cheese. I use the mussels in the top of risotto for a finishing touch.
Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and parmesan and serve immediately.
Enjoy! Pin It Now!

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