Sunday, April 19, 2015

Roast Chicken, Herb and Asparagus Rice

"Mystery Box Madness : April 2015", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). We are given ten ingredients and are required to select at least three out of the ten, to make a dish using the recipes from any of IHCC featured chefs, past or present.

The ten ingredients for this month are : Scallops, Tarragon, Sour Cream, Walnuts, Capers, Asparagus, White Beans, Gruyere, Yeast and Rice.

My selection for this week's challenge : Rice, Asparagus and Tarragon

Found the perfect recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater. I was going thru the recipe and happy to note that there is rice, asparagus and quite a number of different herbs used, but there's no tarragon, and was thinking of adding it in. Upon reading the notes by Nigel Slater at the top of the recipe, he did mention that ".....I would probably swap the gentle aniseed charms of chervil for the more punchy notes of the tarragon. This time I added small leaves of sorrel because I happened to have some, but they should be considered a treat rather than being essential to the recipe".  I was smiling with glee, as this week's MBM is quite challenging, as I am unable to find recipes which uses at least three out of the ten ingredients together in a recipe, except for one more, Donna Hay's "Tarragon Chicken and Ham Pasties", but the recipe uses Gruyere, which I am unable to find and even if I can find it, it will be very expensive!

I made this for our weekend simple dinner and it was delicious. Recipe uses leftover roasted chicken, but since I do not have that, I roasted a whole piece of chicken breast meat, seasoned with olive oil, salt and lots of black pepper. Then I tear it into chunks and used it the recipe. When I was at the supermarket getting the tarragon and thymes, I've forgotten to get some parsley and mint. So I have omitted them. 

This is a really easy rice meal to prepare. Firstly cook the rice ; heat up some butter, stir-fry the bay leaves, and thyme leaves until fragrant, add in the basmati rice. Stir for a minute, add in water to cover, close the pot, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice is done. I cooked two cups of basmati rice using one cup of homemade chicken stock and the balance with water to make 3-1/4 cups of water/stock in total. After 20 minutes of cooking, turn off heat and leave rice undisturbed for 10-15 minutes. 

While the rice is cooking, prepare the asparagus. Cut up the asparagus to short lengths and steam for a few minutes just until tender, refresh in cold water immediately. I have however, microwave them on high for 2 minutes (easier, faster and less pots to wash!), and then refresh in cold water. Drain before use.

Fluff up rice and mix with the rest of the ingredients ; asparagus, chicken chunks and herbs. I've chopped the tarragon leaves and used about 2 tablespoons in total. Tarragon is quite strong in taste, so add accordingly to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Recipe uses lemon olive oil, which I do not have, but I do have olive oil infused with fig leaves, so I used that instead.

There's a yoghurt sauce in the recipe which is supposed to spoon over the rice pilau before serving, but I have omitted the yoghurt sauce.

This is a simple, easy, and delicious rice meal. I love the simplicity of preparing this meal. Any herbs can be added in. I will definitely make this again, and will make sure that I have some fresh corianders around, which I'm sure will add a more fragrant and wonderful taste to this rice meal. If you do not have any leftover roasted chicken, you can roast a large piece of chicken breast (like I did) or a few pieces of thigh meat, seasoned with salt and pepper, the day before, warm it in the oven for a short while before using it in the recipe.

Roast Chicken, Herb and Asparagus Rice
(adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries II", Nigel Slater)
250gm asparagus
120gm brown basmati rice (I use the regular white basmati)
30gm butter
2 bay leaves
whole black peppercorns (I omitted this)
leaves from a couple sprigs of thyme
250gm leftover roast chicken
4 spring onions
3 or 4 sprigs parsley
4 bushy sprigs mint leaves
4 o 5 leaves sorrel (optional)
a few sprigs of chervil (I used tarragon)
3 tablespoons lemon olive oil

Trim the asparagus and cut it into short lengths. Boil or steam for four or five minutes, till almost tender. Drain and cool quickly under running water. 
Wash the rice three times in cold water, moving the grains around in the water with your fingers. Warm the butter in a small-to-medium-sized saucepan, add the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme leaves and stir them around in the butter for a minute or two, until the fragrance wafts up. Drain the rice and tip it into the warm herbs. Cover with a couple of centimetres' depth of water and bring to the boil. Season with salt, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Leave to cook till the rice is tender but has some bite left in it, about fifteen minutes or so. Set aside with the lid on but the heat off.
Tear the chicken into large, jagged pieces and put them into a large mixing bowl. Trim and finely slice the spring onions. Chop the parsley and mint. If you are using sorrel, shred it finely. Pick the leaves from the chervil and add to the chicken with all the other herbs. Fluff the rice up with a fork. Tip the warm rice into the herbs and chicken, add the steamed asparagus and toss gently with the lemon oil. Correct the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. The mixture should be light, green and fresh.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week 
"Mystery Box Madness : April 2015".


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Limoncello Cupcakes : TWD

This week at Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD), the selected bake is Limoncello Cupcakes. Of course, one of the ingredient is Limoncello, a lemon liquor. Limoncello has been on my list of to do for quite a while (have seen some recipes using it), and it still is on my list (.... too many "to-dos" on the list!). I have not seen Limoncello in the liquor stores around my area. I have however seen vodka with lemon, but it really is not the same, as Limoncello is sweetened by a simple sugar syrup. So I have substitute the Limoncello in this cupcake recipe with lemon juice instead. It definitely is not the same, but it works out fine.

The cupcake batter is pretty easy and quick to put together. The dry ingredients are mixed in a small bowl, the wet ingredients are mixed in a larger bowl by following the instructions which goes in first, then the dry ingredients are combined into the wet ingredients. The batter is then divided in muffin cups. According to Dorie, we can add marmalade to the centre of the cupcakes, put a large spoonful of batter into each cupcake mould, drop a teaspoon of the marmalade into the center of the batter and cover with the remaining batter. Or we can skip the filling altogether. I have decided to omit the filling. Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes (mine was done at 23 minutes), until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. 

Prepare the simple sugar syrup while the cupcakes are in the oven. As soon as the cupcakes are done, brush them with the sugar syrup and let cool completely before frosting. I poked some holes over each cupcakes before brushing the syrup over.

The frosting is made by beating the confectioners' sugar and butter until the mixture comes together and lemon juice and limoncello are then added in, continue beating until smooth and fluffy. I have replaced the limoncello with milk. And the frosting is yummy! So lemony, not too sweet and it holds its shape really well. 

I made the full recipe and got 10 cupcakes instead of 12, maybe because I did not use any filling in the centre and made them as plain cupcakes. These cupcakes are really nice, moist, lemony, not too sweet and the frosting is just perfect for these cupcakes! I am not one who would usually frost my cupcakes, but I'm so glad I did for this!

To view the other bakers take on this cupcake, do stop by Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD), better still, get a copy of Baking Chez Moi, and join us!

and I'm sharing this post with :
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Financiers with Strawberry

I have some leftover egg whites when I made some ice cream last week, and remembered this recipe that uses only egg whites, Financiers, from Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. These financiers are topped with fresh strawberries, but I've used frozen strawberries instead.

Simple, easy and the batter takes only minutes to mix. Recipe makes 12 financiers which are baked in a 12-hole muffin pan. I have made only half a recipe, as the leftover egg whites are enough for half a recipe. And I've used a muffin pan with slightly smaller holes than the regular-sized muffins, and yield 8 financiers. I've reduced the icing sugar slightly, used only 100gm for half a recipe.

Bake the financiers until they are golden brown.

These financiers are really moist, tender and yummy. Makes the perfect tea-time treat.

Financiers with Strawberry
(adapted from "Bourke Street Bakery", Paul Allam & David McGuinness)
Ingredients :
150gm (5-1/2oz/1-1/2 cups) ground almonds
90gm (3-1/4oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
240gm (8-3/4oz) icing (confectioners') sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
280ml (9-3/4fl oz/about 8) egg whites
250gm (9oz) unsalted butter, melted
6 strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F/Gas 5). Lightly grease a standard 1/2 cup 12-hole muffin tin with butter.
Put the ground almonds, flour, icing sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg whites, a little at a time, whisking well after each addition. Pour in the melted butter and whisk through until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the holes in the prepared tin until they are almost full. Gently place a strawberry half into the top of each financier. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until they are golden and a skewer inserted into the centre  comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool and serve.

I am linking this post with "Best Recipes For Everyone event, "Fun With Almond April 2015" host by Fion of XuanHom's Mom Kitchen Dairy and co-host by Doreen of my little favourite DIY. 

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