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Tag: chicken

Sunday best

Out of all the days of the week, Sunday is the golden day. We take time off and enjoy a quality ‘déjeuner‘. Our kids love this family ritual, and I secure it by making sure to cook something memorable. I would like to imagine my children’s lives bookmarked by food memories, especially Sunday lunches. It’s a sacred moment in time where all the ingredients matter.

With so many recipes ideas flowing in my head, I always have a soft spot for Lyonnaise cooking. In a way, it’s the French equivalent to my other food love which is Shanghainese cooking. They both have a point in common where a lot of elements are ‘drunken‘ by wine and spirits. There is also a lot of sourness mixed with sweetness, refined and preserved meats. My identity is defined between these two food cultures where East meets West. It’s good to know where you stand.

I made a Xérès vinegar chicken à la Lyonnaise, a classic dish filled assertive with flavours. I love serving this with braised endives and red wild rice from Camargue – the tangy sauce is a big appetite opener and goes perfectly well with the slightly bitter taste of the endives.

Ingredients (for 6 people) :

6 large chicken legs
80 g butter
2 tbsp olive oil (for frying chicken)
3 shallots (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 garlic cloves
3 tbsp plain flour
2 large tomatoes (chopped)
6 bay leaves
300 ml white wine
150 ml Xérès vinegar
150 ml chicken stock
A handful of chopped chives
Salt and pepper

Chop shallots, onion and garlic cloves. Chop tomatoes to small squares. Set aside. Dissolve 1 cube of chicken stock in 150 ml warm water and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat olive oil and fry chicken legs till golden on both sides (approx 4 minutes on each sides). Set aside on a large plate.

In an oven-proof large cooking pot, melt butter and fry shallots, onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes on a medium heat, drizzle flour, mix well, and add chicken legs. Stir gently so the chicken gets coated. Add wine, vinegar and reduce for 4 minutes, still on a medium heat. Add chicken stock, season with salt and pepper. Add bay leaves and tomatoes. Cover and place in a preheated oven (210°C) for 25-30 minutes.

When ready, sprinkle with chopped chives and serve immediately. I serve this dish with braised endives and wild red organic rice from Camargue (bought at my local organic health store).

Braised endives:

3 endives/ chicory (leaves plucked and washed)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
A pinch of salt

In a large pot, melt butter until golden, add endives, stir, add salt and continue stirring for 3 minutes. Lower heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chicken and cashew nut stir-fry

Every now and then it is a bare necessity to have a bowl of comforting steamed white rice with a tasty Chinese stir-fried dish. This kind of food reminds me of strolls down memory lane in Hong Kong, where I would be tempted by every single local street restaurant where you can just go in and share a table with anyone. Whether it’s a curry, fried pork with black beans and bitter cucumbers or char sui (roast barbecued pork), it was always a satisfying meal.

At home, I get regular requests for this chicken and cashew nut stir-fry, especially from my hungry boys. It’s quick, tasty, easy and an all-time favourite. There’s a little French touch to this dish – it’s actually something I never ate in Hong Kong, but always in Chinese restaurants in Paris – it’s a typical westernized meal that somehow turned out to be timeless. I love cooking this dish with the background nutty scent of steaming white rice – it makes me feel like I am exactly where I belong.

My father taught me a great trick to make my stir-fries look ‘professional’ – he calls it the ‘glossing‘. Dilute 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 4 tbsp of lukewarm water, add this mixture to the stir-fry, on a high heat, right at the end. The sauce will thicken and give a perfect finishing gloss.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

4-5 chicken breasts (cut in 2 cm/ 1/2 inch approx)
2 red paprikas (sliced in small squares)
2 cloves garlic (sliced finely)
1 large yellow onion (sliced coarsely)
150 g unsalted cashew nuts
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato concentrate paste
1 tbsp oyster sauce
3-4 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 pinch chilli powder or 1 crunched dried chilli (optional)
1 tbsp cornstarch (with 4 tbsp lukewarm water to dilute)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Cut and slice chicken, paprikas, onion and garlic, set aside. In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on a high heat and throw in the chicken until browned, set aside. Add a bit of oil and fry cashew nuts until golden (about 3-4 minutes), set aside. Add a bit of oil, fry onions for 3 minutes, then add paprikas and garlic and continue frying for 3-4 more minutes. Always on a high heat, add tomato concentrate, oyster sauce, sugar, chilli and soya sauce, then return chicken and cashew nuts to the pan, constantly stirring for 4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Add sesame oil, stir. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with a bit of lukewarm water, just enough to dilute, and add to the pan – stir well.

Serve with freshly steamed white rice.

Couscous


Picture this – a little girl, straight off the plane from Hong Kong, dragged all the way to Montparnasse so her father can have a couscous royal. Yes, that was my earliest jet-lagged memory of coucous. One of France’s favourite dishes (and my father’s), the ‘couscous’ is certainly worth its fame. Having inherited the sunshine and warmth from North Africa, the couscous was originally a sacred dish prepared with the best maternal knowledge. Today it is a strong symbol of tradition and union. For me, the ‘couscous’ is a dream of a meal evoking Paris in the 60’s – Godard, Belmondo and black turtlenecks. There’s something very loving about this meal – it must be a combination of the golden semolina melting in the vegetable and meat stew, oozing comfort and joy. For that is what this dish is all about.

My kids always make a special request for couscous – I can’t imagine a healthier meal for them, filled with vegetables and wholesome semolina. As there is a lot of preparation required, I would advise you to cook this dish well in advance. You can improvise and have this meal vegetarian, or only with chicken. As you wish.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

For the couscous stew:
1 kg neck of lamb (collier d’agneau)
4 carrots
3 turnips
3 courgettes/ zucchini
1 large onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic
2 large tomatoes
2 tbsp ‘ras el hanout’ ground spice
2 tbsp tomato concentrate paste
1 tsp chili powder
450 grs chickpeas (I use canned)
Salt and pepper
Harissa (to serve for those who like it extra-spicy)

For the meatballs:
600 grs minced beef
2 cloves minced garlic
A large handful of parsley
1 egg

Various meat:
5 chicken thighs
1 lemon (sliced)
12 merguez sausages

100 ml olive oil
750 grs semolina (I use instant)
Boiling water
Large handful of dried golden sultana raisins (optional)

Slice onion and garlic. Cut/chop all the tomatoes, carrots, turnips and zucchini to mouthsized cubes. In a large deep skillet, pour 2 tbsp of olive oil and brown the lamb. Add onion and tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes. Add the ras-el hanout, salt, pepper and chilli powder, add enough water to cover the meat, and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the carrots and turnips and continue boiling for 30 minutes. Add zuchinni and chick peas and continue to boil on a low heat for 1 hour.

Prepare meatballs – mix one egg, minced garlic and chopped parsley with the minced meat. Mix well (I use latex gloves and mix with my hands) and shape little golf sized balls. Fry in batches in a large frying pan until browned and cooked, approx 8 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, fry the chicken thighs with the sliced lemon until browned and cooked. Set aside. Fry the merguez until cooked and set aside. Cover chicken, meatballs and merguez sausages with aluminium foil and reserve for later.

When you are getting ready to serve, warm chicken and meatballs for 10 minutes in the ‘couscous’ stew.

Place semolina in a large bowl and stir in the olive oil. Pour enough boiling water until all absorbed. With a fork, scrape and fluff up the semolina gently. Place heat-proof bowl/pot in a 120°C oven until you are ready to serve. You can also place the merguez in the oven to keep them warm.

Place merguez, chicken thighs and meatballs on a large serving plate. Pour couscous stew in a large serving bowl. Serve semolina on a deep-set plate (with raisins on top), with a large ladle of couscous stew, topped with the meat of your choice. For those who enjoy an extra spicy flavour, add half a tsp of Harissa in a ladle of soup/stew and mix well.

Moroccan orange salad

I would highly recommend to serve this ‘Moroccan orange salad’ as a refreshing dessert.

Ingredients:

3 oranges, peeled and sliced
4 tbsp orange blossom water
2 tbsp caster sugar
A dash of cinnamon
A few mint leaves, finely sliced and extra for decoration

Slice the oranges and place on a serving dish. Mix orange blossom water and sugar and pour over the oranges. Sprinkle a dash of ground cinnamon and mint. Place in the refrigerator so you can serve it chilled.

Bouchée à la Reine

I have always loved ‘bouchée à la Reine’ – this classic starter is exactly what I love about French cuisine – elegant and old-fashioned. I like to have it simply as a main course with a salad on the side. It’s the kind of food you would buy at the ‘traiteur’ (delicatessen) or served at your great-aunt’s house for a ‘Proustian’ lunch. My simplified version of this small puff pastry includes chicken, morel mushrooms, onions, white wine and a bechamel sauce. It looks so dressed up, with a little hat on top. I love making this meal on the week-ends, and as I do a lot of cooking, I buy ready-made pastry shells, available in most supermarkets. All you have to do is the filling, bechamel sauce, and heat up the shells. If you can’t find morel mushrooms, you can replace with any mushrooms of your choice whether they are fresh, canned or dried.

Ingredients

8 vol-au-vent pastry shells
3 chicken filets, diced
70 grs morel mushrooms, chopped (or any mushroom of your choice)
1 small onion, chopped
25 grs butter
10 ml white wine
Handful of chopped parsley

Sauce:

80 grs butter
70 grs flour
a pinch of thyme
1/2 cube chicken stock, crumbled
half a glass of wine (optional)
Coarse salt and pepper

In a pan, fry the onion in the butter until soft and golden, add the diced chicken and fry for 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry 4-5 minutes – add the white wine and let the sauce reduce for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven 150° celsius.

Prepare the bechamel sauce – melt the butter in a casserole, and gradually add the flour and the milk with a whisk on medium heat. Crumble in the cube of chicken stock. It should become thicker and thicker. By now you can add the half glass of wine – (this is optional). Lower the heat and stir firmly and quickly until desired thickness. Set aside.

Take out the pastry shells and heat for 8-10 minutes. Now you can mix the chicken with the bechamel sauce. Reheat slightly for 2 minutes on a low-heat. Fill generously each shell and place top ‘hat’ shell on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve either as a starter or as a main course with a salad on the side.

Chicken & Ham Pie

 

There’s something about pies that’s so old school, so cozy and most of all so delicious. I always envied kids in old movies having a wholesome pie served for dinner at the table. So now and then, I love baking a good old-fashioned pie and the kids love this one in particular.

Ingredients:

400 grams chicken breasts, cooked and cooled
200 grams chopped ham
200 grams frozen peas
80 grams butter
70 grams flour
1 bay leaf
a pinch of thyme
1 cube chicken stock
600 ml milk
half a glass of wine (optional)
Coarse salt and pepper

Pastry:
2x 230 grams sheets of puff pastry (I use Herta)

Cook the chicken breasts in the boiling salted water, add a pinch of dried thyme, pepper and a bay leaf. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Place aside and let the breasts cool, then slice them approx. 2 cm.

Chop the ham, and put the frozen peas in the left-over water of the chicken to thaw for a couple of minutes. Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat your oven 190°c.

For the bechamel pie sauce, melt the butter in a casserole, and gradually add the flour and the milk with a whisk on medium heat. Crumble in the cube of chicken stock. It should become thicker and thicker. By now you can add the half glass of wine – (this is optional). Lower the heat and stir firmly and quickly until desired thickness. Set aside and leave to cool in a bowl.

While all ingredients are cooling off, you can prepare the pastry. I love to make a home-made pastry, but when I don’t have the time, I am very satisfied with the ones I buy from the supermarket (in my case Herta). Line your pie dish with the first pastry sheet. Mix all the cooled ingredients for the pie filling together and spoon in the pie dish. Cover with your second pastry disc and seal together by pressing firmly on the side of the dish with your thumbs. Cut off excess pastry dough and re-roll to create 8 leaves to decorate the pie. You can use a knife and cut out leaf-shaped figures and using the tip of the knife, draw the lines of the leaf (see pic). Finally, brush the pie with the egg to give it a nice golden hue in the oven. One last thing, take a stick and prick the centre of your pie – so your pie won’t puff up from the middle.

Cook approx 20 minutes – it’s always good to check during the last five minutes – all ovens have different strength.

I usually serve this with a spinach and pine-nut salad or a Piedmontese salad (see recipes).

Makes 8 generous slices.

Tandoori Chicken

This recipe is one of my favourite ones because it’s so tasty and easy to make. I love going out to an Indian restaurant, however it is so rewarding & cozy to have this at home. The kids love it too!

8 skinned chicken legs
4 tbsp Lemon Juice
3 Garlic Clove
1 inch piece peeled and coarsely chopped Fresh Ginger
1 Green chilli
8 tablespoons Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
2 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp Garam masala
2 tsp Paprika
or
6 tsp of ready-made tandoori spice (available in most supermarkets)
2 tsp Salt
4 tbsp melted ghee/clarified butter (see recipe under clarified butter)
For garnishing:
Lemon Wedges
Raita (see recipe under raita)

Make a few light incisions in the skinned chicken legs using a knife.
Put the chicken in a ovenproof dish. In a large bowl, add lemon juice, garlic, ginger and green chilli. Combine to the paste the yogurt, ground cumin, garam masala, paprika or the tandoori spice, salt and the melted ghee.
Mix all the ingredients well until smooth, then add and cover the chicken legs (mix well so it’s well covered).
Let it marinate at room temperature for about 5 hours or overnight in the fridge. Make sure to take it out at least 2 hours before cooking so the chicken is at room temperature.
Place chicken in a pre-heated oven at 325 F/ 165 celsius.
Let it roast for 1 hour, turning twice so it’s evenly roasted. For the last 10 minutes or less, turn up the oven heat to 210 degrees to sizzle up the chicken. Take it out from the oven and grill it for a few minutes on a griddle to have the ‘charcoal grilled’ effect (optional).
Serve with lemon garnishing, pilau rice (see recipe under pilau rice) and raita.