Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chicken Pappardelle and Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Man oh man oh man - my pregnant friend just announced her weight on Facebook.

And I am, erm, not too far away from being the same weight as a woman carrying a 5 month old baby. That doesn't make me feel good at all. In fact, that makes me feel bad. And sad. And fat. (Hey, that rhymes)

Oh, and about that box of heart cookies I wrote about yesterday? We finished them. With the help of the husband, I demolished them after dinner. That was some serious sugar. Please don't judge us.

I don't see an end to this. I am making a sweet and salty chocolate cake this weekend.

Oh, and yes - back to why I logged on. My cooking attempt. Not too bad. Can't be good for the weighing machine considering the amount of cream that went it. But I like the crunch of the walnuts and the chicken was quite juicy!

Pappardelle chicken and creamy mushroom sauce

Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly The Complete Book of Modern Classics

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Serves 2

1 tbp olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 small red onion (80g), chopped finely

125g swiss brown mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/2 cup cream

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

10g butter

250g fettucine

1 1/2 cup coarsely shredded cooked chicken

1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh italian parsley

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

Heat oil in large frying pan and cook garlic and onion, until onion softens. Add mushroom and cook until just tender. Add cream and rosemary to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens slightly. Add butter and stir until butter melts.

Cook pasta until tender and drain.

Add hot cream sauce, chicken, nuts, parsley and half of the cheese to the hot pasta. Toss gently and serve, sprinkled with remaining cheese

Heart Cookies

Art has never been my forte. I bought a book to try to make better looking cakes and cookies. I flipped through it and got awfully inspired. I wanted to do so many things. I decided to start small. Don't be so ambitious, I thought. You need to start simple and build up from them. I read from my book that cookies are a great way to get started in pasty decoration. So I decided to start with Heart Cookies. I gathered my supplies. I waited for the right moment. But the right moment never came. I lost steam. My interest moved elsewhere.

And then I had butter cookies at Mad's place. It was delicious. I was inspired. Two days later, I made butter cookies too. And then remembered my plan to make Heart Cookies.

And one afternoon and a whole lot of mess later, I had my Heart Cookies. They were not gorgeous - but I think they are much better-looking than the things I generally make.

I won't do it again though (I think) - the thought of making royal icing, dyeing them, outlining and flooding the cookies and then decorating with sanding sugar is giving me the shudders.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

11 oz AP flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
6 oz butter unsalted
4 oz granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside.  Combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add flour mixture in 2 batches, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Beat until dough comes together - do not overmix.  Form dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Place better two pcs of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut cookies into desired shapes and transfer to freezer and chill at least 15 minutes.  Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicken Baked with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I'm sorry for the really long absence but between the old job, the trips to Hong Kong, Macau and Perth and the new job - I haven't felt in the mood at all. I still been trying the recipes in my cookbooks though - although I haven't really been good with taking photographs. I simply did not want to overwhelm myself with editing so many photographs! I guess that's a (wee) bit of a perfectionist streak in me (just a little bit - I am suddenly reminded of how I regaled friends with stories of how I became an underachiever - and oddly enough, very proudly at that). With my wee bit of perfectionist though - I take way too long with tasks and assignments without deadlines because I just need to get the tasks/assignments perfect - and every little tweak (seem to) count.

My new job has been pretty good - decent hours and lovely colleagues. I am now working around the conservation shophouses in the Tanjong Pagar area so the change of environment has been really refreshing. I love walking out to lunch amongst buildings that have got more than 20 years in them, and to coffee shops helmed by uncles who look like they don't belong anywhere else but there. I'm still a bit apprehensive about the work I am doing - I know I can do a good job of it, but I am impatient and can't wait to learn the ropes well enough - to stop being a newbie and someone who is able to speak with authority and confidence. That will take a while - probably 3 to 6 months and while I know I'd get there - I just feel stuck in the present.

Meanwhile, it has been really great without a blackberry in tow. Gone are the days where I bring work out of the office into the home - where the blackberry would sit and vibrate on our dining table and I'd run and check to see if there are work that came in - even in the wee hours of the morning. Blackberries are seriously the ball and chain of work - it is truly liberating to walk around town or go for dinner or even just be at home, and know that I have really left my work where it should be - at work.

OK - back to documenting my experiments. I think this chicken is not too bad (considering that I left out the salt - which would have made the dish much better) but Kevin doesn't like chicken cooked like this so I guess we are not trying it again! And because I couldn't bear to cook with any of the white wine in my collection - I made a substitution and dumped the yellowtail in (because no one will drink it otherwise!) Yes, I know what they say about cooking with wine that you will drink but hey, I refuse to pass on the bottle to an unsuspecting host.

Guinea Fowl baked with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Adapted form Delia Smith How to Cook

Serves 4

1 chicken
30 cloves garlic, unpeeled
10g butter
2 tsp olive oil
6 small sprigs rosemary leaves
1 1/2 tbps rosemary leaves, bruised and chopped
1 1/4 cups white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the chicken.

Melt the butter and oil in the pot and brown the chicken carefully on all sides.

Remove chicken from the pot and toss the garlic and rosemary sprigs into the pot. Replace the chicken and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Pour wine all around the chicken and let it gently come to a simmering point.

At this point, either seal with pot with huff paste*** and cover with lid or place a double sheet of foil over the pot before putting the lid on.

Place the pot in the oven and cook for 1 hour exactly.

Remove the lid and let the chicken continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the cooking juices and garlic cloves.

***Add 150 ml cold water to 2 cups of flour to make a dough. Place all around the rim of the pot.