Up Its Ass Beer Chicken

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

I will keep this post short as I am flying home TODAY and I still have some bits and bobs to pack. The wedding is next Saturday so I don't think I will be able to post anything next week. Thank you for all your comments in advance. I will be back! So, here is my last post of the month - beer in the butt chicken.

Uncle A. and Aunt B. gave me this wonderful recipe together with their yummy bah kut teh recipe. I added paprika and cayenne pepper as I wanted something spicy. Rubbing the chicken with beer made the skin very crispy somehow and roasting the chicken with a can of beer up its butt made the meat very tender and moist.



beer chicken4



Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Chicken – about 1.6kg
  • 1 can Beer (any)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tbs Paprika
  • Lemon Juice

Directions:

  • Mix together 1/2 cup beer, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika.
  • Rub chicken with the seasoned beer. Leave for at least 30 mins.

    beer chicken

  • Preheat oven to 220°C.
  • Stuff the remaining can beer up the chicken’s ass.
  • beer chicken2
  • Pour the beer used to rub the chicken in the roasting pan. Place chicken standing on roasting pan (beer can as support).
  • Place roasting pan on the bottommost rack. Roast for 15 mins at 220°C.
  • Reduce heat to 150°C and roast for another 1 hour 15 min(Normally about 45 mins per kg).
  • beer chicken3
  • Cover the chicken and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

For gravy:

  • Squeeze a bit of lemon juice to pan juices. (The amount depends on how sour you want the sauce to be, I would suggest adding about a quarter of a lemon's juice first and taste.)
  • Adjust taste (for more beer taste and to reduce saltiness) using remaining beer in can.
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Barrafina, London [Restaurant Review]

Monday, 16 March 2009

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

We continued our Spanish food extravaganza by visiting Barrafina, another restaurant recommended by my friends. We arrived at 5.50pm on a Friday evening and it was already full and bustling with activity. Just to clarify, Barrafina is strictly a bar with only stools (about 20 in total) around a counter, there were no tables.

barrafina

Fresh seafood were displayed upon a bed of ice, next to a grill top where the cooks prepared the seafood and tortillas in front of the customers while inside was the kitchen. Along one side of the wall, we queued up behind another two couples.

barrafina seafood counter

barrafina sausages

While waiting, the waitress said it would take probably 15 minutes until we get a seat (a very conservative estimate as it turned out) and we could order food and drinks in the mean time. It was still quite early so we only ordered some drinks (red Rioja for the PigPig, a half pint of Cruzcampo for me). After a while though, the smell of good food had my stomach acids sloshing around. The guy waiting behind us ordered potato croquettes which looked and smelled so amazing. There were also huge trays of the croquettes ready made in the fridge so we figured it must be popular and duly ordered some.

barrafina ham croquetas
Ham croquettes in the fridge.

It turned out to be as good as it looked/smelled – deep fried to a beautiful golden colour, wonderfully light potato exterior with a creamy cheesy filling with generous portions of Spanish ham.

barrafina ham croquetas 2
Ham croquettes

barrafina ham croquetas 3
Creamy and tasty ham croquettes

Anyway, that was a good beginning but it took a full 45 minutes from the time we started queuing before we actually got our seats. A friendly waiter (all are of Spanish origin) explained the specials of the day (sadly, the suckling pig was sold out. The people beside me looked really happy eating it though. We were quite jealous). We decided to quickly order three dishes since we were so hungry by the time.

barrafina suckling pig
Our neighbour digging into the last suckling pig.

First up was one of the day’s specials, Grilled razor clams which were fresh, delicious and very sweet.

barrafina razor clam
Razor clams

Soon was the Grilled prawns with garlic and chilli (Gambas de ajillo on the menu), also fresh, delicious and very sweet. Basically, the seafood was fresh and simply cooked, which is how I believe good seafood should be.

barrafina Gambas al Ajillo
Grilled prawns with garlic and chilli

Last of the three initial dishes was the Classic tortilla. The tortilla looked plain from the outside, but uncooked egg yolk spills out from the middle upon cutting it. Amazing to look at, but even better to eat.

barrafina tortilla classic
Classic tortilla

barrafina tortilla
Classic tortilla

Well, no surprise that it wasn’t enough. We ordered another three dishes to follow. One of the waiter’s recommendations was Morcilla with piquillo peppers, morcilla being Spanish black pudding, something we also ordered in El Faro a week ago. This version was much more beautifully presented, with a bed of sliced peppers and topped with a fried quail’s egg. The morcilla itself was amazingly tasty, more in keeping with chorizo and not really having the liver taste I normally associate with black puddings.

barrafina Morcilla with Piquillo Peppers
Morcilla with piquillo peppers

After that was Chickpeas, spinach and bacon; a dish we wouldn’t normally order but it had seemed very popular with other people. The bacon was crispy and had all the salt the dish needed. I would have preferred more spinach and less chickpeas as it was our token vegetable dish.

barrafina Chickpeas, Spinach and Bacon
Chickpeas, spinach and bacon

Last dish of the day was Tuna tartar. I think this was meant to resemble the classical French dish, beef tartar – raw chunks of fresh red tuna meat mixed with a variety of herbs, sesame seeds and drizzled with sesame oil. A puree of avocado came with it which was nice and soothing to the tongue. I would highly recommend this dish to anybody who goes to this restaurant, although it seems more Japanese than Spanish in nature.

barrafina Tuna Tartar
Tuna tartar

We were quite full by this time so only one dessert this time – Chocolate tart. Very rich, moist (almost juicy in nature) and chocolatey, but the pastry wasn’t very nice, being quite thin and flaky. It was probably just overwhelmed by the chocolateness.

barrafina Chocolate Tart
Chocolate tart

Overall, the bill came up to about £35 per person, including service charge, two beers and two glasses of red wine (I recommend ignoring the cheaper Rioja, its rubbish, the £6/glasss Urbinas is pretty good but we didn’t try the £10/glass Rioja).

Food - 7.0
Service - 7.5
Atmosphere - 8.0
Value - 6.0


The food was of high quality, cooked in a fairly simple manner but very deliciously seasoned to taste. I would say that the food here in Barrafina was of better taste and quality compared to El Faro. However, its not just the food, the atmosphere in Barrafina is nicer, more interesting, more fun. We got to have a chat with the waiter serving us, and we noticed that there is no time limit on how long you can have your seat, as long as you can tolerate the evil glares from hungry people.

However, you might have noticed the text additions besides the normal scoring; that’s because this eating place certainly has a few drawbacks, mainly the waiting time at the queue and un-party-friendly seating arrangements. The latter is partly due to them having a sister restaurant, Fino, where one can have a proper table to sit at.


Barrafina
54 Frith Street,
London,
W1D 4SL
Tel: +44(0)207 813 8016
Official website





Barrafina on Urbanspoon
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The Crackle Bread - did not crackle...

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Tiger bread is my current favourite type of bread. It has a crusty and slightly sweet exterior but soft and fluffy on the inside. When I saw Chuck's amazing looking crackle bread , I thought I'd give it a try!

The tiger-like pattern on the bread is actually produced by spreading a rice paste onto the surface before baking. The rice paste dries and cracks while baking producing the crackle effect. But mine did not crack. A little maybe, I would say they are fine lines rather than deep wrinkles.

According to Chuck, it might be because I put on a little too much rice paste on the surface. Thinking back...hmm....yes perhaps I was a tad too greedy. But the bowl of sweetened rice flour paste smelled so yummy! There was so much of it I was so tempted to soak the whole dough in the paste.

Nonetheless, the crust still tasted great, it was crunchy and has a slight sweetness to it. The addition of croissants made the bread very flavourful. I used strong stone ground wholemeal bread flour instead of Chuck's stone ground whole wheat flour, I wonder if they are the same. I added a cup of nuts to one of the bread and the wild boar and Jade seemed to enjoy that more. The wild boar suggested adding raisins next time.

crackle bread2

Overall, this recipe is a keeper and I will definitely make this again with the addition of nuts and raisins. And I will be less greedy with the rice topping the next time.

crackle bread


Ingredients:
Recipe by Chuck

Day before:

  • 1 cup Bread Flour
  • 1/2 cup Strong Stone Ground Wholemeal Bread Flour
  • 3/4 cup Warm Water
  • 1/4 tsp Instant Yeast

Day of:

  • 2 cups Bread Flour
  • 3/4 cup Strong Stone Ground Wholemeal Bread Flour
  • 2 cup Croissants - processed
  • 1 1/4 cup Lukewarm Water
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Instant Yeast
  • 1 tbs Olive oil

Coating:

  • 1/3 cup Warm Water
  • 1 tbs Sugar
  • 1/2 cup White Rice Flour
  • 4 tsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast

Optional:

  • 1/2 cup Mixed Nuts - roasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Toasted Almond Flakes.

Directions:

  • The day before, combine all 'Day Before' ingredients, mix, cover with clingfilm and allow to sit in room temperature for about 12-18 hrs. I refrigerated the mixture for about 16 hrs and the amount actually doubled or was it just my imagination.
  • After 12-18 hrs, pour the mixture into a large bowl.
  • Add the 1 1/4 cups of lukewarm water and mix till a paste is formed.
  • Mix in wholemeal bread flour and processed croissants until well combined.
  • Add salt and instant yeast.
  • Once everything is well mixed start to add the bread flour in. About 1/2 cup at a time. I used a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to do the job. Knead for about 8-10 mins.
  • In a large clean bowl, add olive oil.
  • Place dough in the bowl, toss to coat all sides of dough.
  • Allow to rest for 1-1 1/2 hrs until doubled.
  • After the dough has doubled, place dough on a flat surface and cut into 2 equal parts.
  • Roll each dough into a ball and place both dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. For 1 of the dough, I mixed in 1 cup of nuts.
  • Allow to rise for 1 hr.
  • After rolling out the dough, start making the coating by combining all 'Coating' ingredients in a small bowl, mix till smooth, cover with clingfilm and allow to rest.
  • Before baking, spread coating paste on the surface of the dough.
  • Bake at 190°C for about 35-40 mins.
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
crackle bread3
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Crispy Baked Panko Minced Pork Patties

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Thank you all for your lovely wedding wishes! Our big day is on the 28th March 2009! We are so excited and looking forward to it. We will be heading home to Malaysia soon as the wedding reception will be held there, so bear with me during this period as I won't be posting as frequently.

So, my diet plan continues and here is another healthy yet very tasty recipe. We loved the addition of silken tofu as it made the patties very moist and tender.

Crispy Panko Minced Pork Patties


Ingredients:
For minced pork patties:

  • 500g Extra Lean Minced Pork
  • 1 packet (349g) Silken Tofu (Firm)
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tbs Panko
Seasonings:

  • 2 tbs Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbs Honey
  • 1 tbs Mirin
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbs Chili Oil Flakes - oil drained, use only chili flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper


For crispy panko coating:
  • 1 Egg - lightly beaten
  • About 2-3 cups Panko
  • Fry Light Sunflower Oil Spray

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together minced meat and seasonings, breaking up lumps of meat.
  • Add silken tofu and mix until well combined.
  • Mix in 1 egg and 2 tbs panko.
  • Leave aside for at least 30 mins.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Place beaten egg in a plate.
  • Spread 1 cup of panko on a plate.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil.
  • One by one, dip pork patties in beaten egg then transfer to the plate with panko and coat thoroughly. Pour more panko on plate if not enough. Handle pork patties with care as the minced pork and tofu mixture is very soft.
  • Arrange pork patties on baking tray.
  • Spray the patties with oil spray.
  • Bake at 200°C for 20 mins.
  • Switch oven to broil, broil until crust is browned (about 5-10 mins).
  • Flip patties over and continue broiling until browned. Keep an eye out closely as they will burn within seconds!
  • Serve with your favourite sauces i.e. sweet Thai chili sauce, Lingham's chili sauce, tonkatsu sauce...

Here, I would like to thank Danielle at So Many Cookbooks for the friends award.

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated."

It also says : "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."


friendsaward_-_deepaskitchen

I would like to pass this on to a few other wonderful blogs that I enjoy reading:
5 Star foodie
Big Boys Oven
Food For Tots
Girl Japan
Lisa is Cooking
My Tasty Treasures
Noble Pig
Not Quite Nigella

Also, I would like to thank Rita of Pink Bites who gave me the adorable blog award and I would like to pass this on to a few other blogs that I adore:


Adorableblogcopy12


Choos & Chews
Healthy Indulgences
Luckytastebuds
Noobcook

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Spicy Sausage Soup

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

I'm suppose to be on a diet as the big day is just round the corner. I've been cooking relatively healthy meals and this is one of it. I had this soup on its own without any additional carbs. The only unhealthy ingredient would be the sausages, so I would suggest using turkey sausage or any low fat sausages you can find. I read somewhere that spicy food increases your metabolic rate and helps lose weight faster, so I added some cayenne pepper. Fact or myth I'm not sure, but I love spicy food, so I am more than happy to make all my food spicy. This is a very simple and tasty soup, a perfect weekday recipe!

spicy sausage soup


Ingredients: serves 2

  • 1 Sweet Pointed red Pepper
  • 1 tbs + more Olive Oil
  • 3 Sausages (about 200g) - meat removed from casing
  • 1 medium Onion - diced
  • 1 Carrot - chopped
  • 1 Celery Stalk - diced
  • half a bulb of garlic - peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1 can Canned Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock (low sodium)
  • 1 tbs Brown Sugar
  • 2 Dried Bay Leaves
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Directions:

  • Switch oven to broil mode.
  • Coat red pepper with a bit of olive oil and broil until skin on both sides is charred.
  • roasted red pepper
  • Leave to cool, peel skin and coarsely chop the pepper.
  • Pour 1 tbs of olive oil in a heated pan.
  • Add sausages meat. Slowly break up meat and fry until browned.
  • Add onions, fry until translucent and soft.
  • Mix in carrot and celery.
  • When carrots are soft, add garlic and fry until fragrant.
  • Stir in other ingredients including the chopped pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 30 mins.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove bay leaves and serve!
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El Faro, London [Restaurant Review]

Friday, 6 March 2009

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

From the beginning, let me make it clear – we love Spanish food. In Spain, we had a really good time just wandering into local tapas bars and ordering random items off the menus, which were usually in Spanish and quite undecipherable to us. For the uninitiated, tapas are small little dishes of food, traditionally provided by the
bodegas (bars) to cover the top of beer glasses to stop flies from attacking their precious beer. It originated from the Andalucia province in Spain, and in Sevilla some bodegas will still provide some tapas free of charge when you order a beer, great for the hungry (and thirsty and slightly light on money) traveller.

We have heard good reviews of El Faro from our friends before, with one friend claiming that all the tapas there were excellent and recommended it highly. Indeed, the website proclaims itself “
the best Spanish restaurant in the city”. Since our knowledge and experience of Spanish food in London is pretty much just La Tasca (nothing special, try to avoid) and Café Espana (can be excellent, but quality varies unpredictably from week to week), we were quite eager to find new places to get our fix

The outside appearance of El Faro wasn’t particularly impressive, a red-bricked building with minimal decorations. Interior wise, it was simplistic and predominantly in black and cream tones and had an overall quite sophisticated tone. There were a lot of large patio windows and I’m sure dining here with the summer sunshine by the docks would be really nice. There was a rather lonely leg of ham behind the very tidy bar.

Anyway on to the food – we ordered a variety of tapas and some paella to share. The tapas all came after approximately 30 minutes fairly quickly in succession. In the meantime I was hungry but only had my little glass of beer to sip. I didn’t notice other tables being offered bread so I assumed it was normal for them not to provide it. Still, I was particularly hoping to continue the Spanish tradition of eating bread while dipping it in olive oil – delicious! At any rate, my friend had ordered “Toasted rustic bread topped with organic chopped tomatoes and olive oil”, otherwise known as
Pan a la Catalana, a personal favourite of his. It wasn’t anything very special, just bread with tomato and olive oil.


Toasted rustic bread topped with organic chopped tomatoes and olive oil
Toasted rustic bread topped with organic chopped tomatoes and olive oil

Everyone loved the “Fried squid cooked Andalucian style with romesco sauce”, essentially fried baby calamari. Tasty, not over-cooked or salted, fresh squid, but nothing else to say really.



Fresh squid cooked Andalusian style with romesco sauce
Fried squid cooked Andalucian style with romesco sauce

Of more interest was the pulpo a la gallega – boiled octopus served on a bed of boiled potatoes with paprika powder and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over it. I remember having this before in a little bodega in Barcelona by the docks; in the two hours or so we stayed there, the barman must have cut up and served half a dozen whole octopi to hungry customers. Anyway, it was good, but more would have been nice.


Galician octopus marinated in sweet paprika and extra virgin olive oil served on a bed of potatoes
Galician octopus marinated in sweet paprika and extra virgin olive oil served on a bed of potatoes

I couldn’t resist ordering their “Home made foie terrine with apricot chutney”, served with “Toasted hazelnut and raisin bread”. The terrine was lovely – dense, rich, smooth – a joy to eat with the equally delicious bread. The beans on the side were a bit odd though, we kind of just ignored it.


Home-made foie terrine with apricot chutney
Home made foie terrine with apricot chutney


toasted hazelnuts and raisin bread
Toasted hazelnut and raisin bread

One of the specials of the day was “Suckling pig terrine” and we were glad we chose it. It was moist, juicy and deliciously porky in flavour. The rockets on the side also had the richest balsamic vinegar I ever had.


suckling pig terrine
Suckling pig terrine

If you ever go, make sure you order the “Pork belly confit cubes with honey and thyme”, one of the restaurant’s specialities. Somewhat similar to Chinese style roast pork, the high quality meat was professionally cooked into a tender morsel with enough fat in it to enjoy without making one feel sick (or guilty).


Pork belly confit cubes with honey and thyme
Pork belly confit cubes with honey and thyme

The black pudding was quite nice and unlike English style, it had rice in it. Possibly the rice helped dull the taste that some might not particularly enjoy. In this case it was quite mild.


black pudding
Black Pudding

L
astly, another of the house specialities, “fried potatoes and eggs accompanied by Iberico ham”. Instead of the ham, one can choose other alternatives such as black pudding. Essentially, it was skinny chips with a sunny side egg and slices of ham on it. The waiter then broke the egg and mixed it all up. Although it sounds a bit odd, the combination was really amazing.


Fried potatoes and eggs accompained by Iberico ham
Fried potatoes and eggs accompanied by Iberico ham

After all that, I was still fairly hungry (the portions are depressingly small) and eager for the paella to turn up. Eventually, a HUGE traditional paella pan appeared, loaded with generous portions of mussels, prawns, fish and octopus. Firstly, while the quality of the mussels were very good, the prawns were mediocre but to me, the quality of prawns available here is just not the same as back home in Malaysia (bigger, sweeter, tastier, fresher). Anyway, the paella was good and tasty, but possibly a bit on the salty side. Just a side note; we didn’t order any mains, but I heard the suckling pig is to die for so if any of you go, try to order that. I think it needs to be pre-ordered or something too.


A Spanish classic - Paella Rice cooked with prawns, squid, mussels and vegetables
Paella Rice cooked with prawns, squid, mussels and vegetables

We were pretty full after that, so we only ordered two desserts to share among us five. We ended up choosing “Home made chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and a base of coffee and rum” and “Santiago cake served with caramel-coated almonds and home made milk liquor”. The chocolate brownie was very good, felt like a flourless variety but I had no way of verifying this.


Home made chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream and a base of coffee and rum toffee
Home made chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and a base of coffee and rum

The Santiago cake was essentially an almond tart, originating from Galicia. Very tasty but possibly a little overboard on the sweet side. The milk liquor was a bit of a mystery, we ended up pouring it over the tart but I felt it was too watery to be used for this purpose. It was quite strong as well, one of the party members who had a low alcohol tolerance was very giggly for the next couple of hours.


Santiago cake served with caramel-coated almonds and home-made milk liquor
Santiago cake served with caramel-coated almonds and home made milk liquor

The bill came up to just under £160 for the five of us, averaging £32 each. This was including a mere glass of wine, half pint beer and a cappuccino – not a whole lot extra in terms of drinks. Overall, service was very good and prompt and the restaurant had a nice buzzing atmosphere. In summary, the food was top notch, very high quality, excellently cooked and presented and was a good example of fine contemporary Spanish dining. Definitely pay a visit if you got the money to spend, but if you got even more money and want to eat even better tapas, take a trip to Spain (especially Sevilla or Barcelona) and eat in the local
bodegas there.

Food - 6.0
Service - 6.0
Atmosphere - 6.0
Value - 6.0


El Faro
3 Turnberry Quay,
London,
E14 9RD
Tel: +44(0)20 7987 5511
Official website





El Faro on Urbanspoon
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Quinoa with Chorizo & Peas

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I finally had my first taste of quinoa! I came across countless quinoa recipes for the past few months and after seeing Kevin's quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and Rita's quinoa, asparagus and shitake salad, I thought it is time to give this superfood a try.

It has a mild nutty flavour and a slight bite to the grains when you eat it. Quinoa is gluten free and has all the essential proteins. It is very heatlhy and versatile, I can foresee countless quinoa recipes appearing here in the near future!


quinoa chorizo


Ingredients: serves 2 as mains

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup Chicken Stock (low-sodium)
  • 100g Chorizo - sliced
  • 1 large Onion - sliced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - pressed
  • 150g Mushrooms - sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup Frozen Green Peas
  • 1/2 Lemon's Juice
Seasonings:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Black Pepper

Directions:

  • Place quinoa and stock in a pot. Leave to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Fry sliced chorizo in a heated pan until browned and oil is released.
  • Mix in onions and fry until translucent and soft.
  • Add garlic cloves and fry until fragrant.
  • Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice to deglaze pan.
  • Add mushrooms and green peas. Leave to cook.
  • When mushrooms are soft and peas are warmed through, mix in quinoa.
  • Add seasonings to taste.
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Blogger Aid Cookbook - Linguine in Spicy Tahini Sauce

Monday, 2 March 2009

linguine tahini

I am sure most of you have heard about the Blogger Aid Cookbook event that is organised by Val from More Than Burnt Toast, Ivy from Kopiaste and Giz from Equal Opportunity Kitchen. The goal of this event is to bring together food bloggers from all around the world to alleviate world hunger. This project involves the making of a cookbook which will be on sale through amazon.com in November/ December this year and all the profit from sales will go directly to The World Food Programme (WFP), the UN food aid agency.

You can contribute by submitting one original recipe that you have not published before, non-bloggers are also welcome. The deadline is 31st March 2009. More details can be found here. I urge you all to join me in this good cause as every little helps!


bloggeraid


So, here is my contribution – Linguine in Spicy Tahini Sauce. I have a love for linguine as most of you should know by now. It is my ultimate comfort food. I decided to submit this because it is relatively simple to prepare, healthy and satisfying.

linguine tahini 2



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