Fesenjan - Persian Chicken in Pomegranate-Walnut Sauce

Monday, 20 December 2010

Pomegranate molasses has been on my to-buy list for months. I finally found a shop that stocks this a few months ago and quickly grabbed a bottle. I thought I had quite a few recipes that involve pomegranate molasses bookmarked, but after going through and searching my list of bookmarked recipes, I couldn't find any. Well, I guess having nearly a thousand "favourites" in the list didn't help. Anyway, I googled and came across a rather interesting recipe that uses this thick sweet and sour fruit syrup.

Fesenjan chicken

Khoresht-e fesenjān (خورشت فسنجان), or simply fesenjān (فسنجان), is a Persian dish traditionally made with poultry (chicken or duck) stewed in a walnut and pomegranate sauce. I've never had this dish before, but the dark brown and thick gravy caught my attention.

Fesenjan sauce

I added cinnamon and some cardamom (yeap, more cardamom which I am currently obsessed with) as suggested. Used less pomegranate molasses as the wild boar is usually not too keen on sourish dishes. The final dish was very rich and tasty. The super thick sweet and sour gravy was very appetising, so good with rice. The wild boar thought it was a bit too sour, so you might want to stew the chicken in less pomegranate molasses and add more to taste later.

Fesenjan pomegranate
Ingredients:
Adapted from whats4eats
  • 1/4 cup butter or oil
  • 750 g chicken pieces
  • 1 large onion - thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 cup walnuts - finely ground in a food processor
  • 1 cup stock or water
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup or molasses
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pomegranate seeds (for garnishing)

Directions:
  • Heat up a pan. Pour in ground walnuts and toast until fragrant and darkens in colour. Remove from pan and leave aside for later use.
  • Heat the butter or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium flame. Add the chicken pieces a few at a time and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the onions to the pot and sauté until translucent.
  • Add garlic, cinnamon stick and cardamom, sauté until fragrant.
  • Stir in the toasted ground walnuts and stock or water and return the browned chicken pieces to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Stir in the pomegranate juice, sugar, honey, salt and pepper. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the chicken is tender, the sauce is somewhat thickened and the walnuts begin to give off their oil.
  • Adjust seasoning and serve with plain white rice.
Fesenjan
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Cardamom and Ginger Chicken with Cashews

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

It all started with a simple Indian cardamom chicken I made.

Then Heavenly Housewife from From Donuts to Delirium left a comment saying:

"Cardamom chicken is one of my signature dishes, but mine is a lot more complicated. I'd love to try this because it really does look amazing and I love ways to cut time and mess in the kitchen. Plus cardamom is my all time favorite spice flavour. Looks really amazing daaaaahling!
*kisses* HH"

Cardamom and Ginger Chicken with Cashews

Her "one of my signature dishes" got my attention. I told you I'm a sucker for statements like "the best", "my favourite", "the very best family favourite", "a family secret"...well, you get the idea. And so, without further ado, I went straight to her blog and searched for cardamom chicken, her "Hubby's favourite" recipe came up, and I made it very soon after.

It was very rich and tasty. The flavour was much more complex as compared to the simple cardamom chicken I made since so much more herbs and spices were involved. The cardamom flavour wasn't very strong so I would suggest adding more cardamom if you want a stronger cardamom taste.

Cardamom and Ginger Chicken with Cashews
Ingredients:
Adapted from From Donuts to Delirium
  • 8 chicken pieces, on the bone
Marinade:
  • 2 tbs of garam masala
  • 7 cardamom pods - black seeds removed and pounded into powder
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp of chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 150 g (5 oz) Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
Others:
  • 2 onions - finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 60 g(2 oz) cashews - toasted
  • 2 tbs of tomato paste
  • 2 tbs of olive oil

Directions:
  • Combine all ingredients for marinade. Mix into a paste. Cover the chicken pieces in the paste and let it sit overnight, covered and refrigerated.
  • The next day, fry onions and garlic in olive oil until softened.
  • Add chicken with any extra marinade, plus add just enough water to cover the chicken (I added about 3/4 cup).
  • Stir in tomato paste.
  • Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer until chicken is cooked.
  • Reduce the liquid to a desired consistency (I like the sauce to be nice and thick, personally).
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Finally, add cashews just before serving.
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MED.@Marché-Live, Renaissance Hotel

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Warning: we were invited to review this restaurant and the entire meal was paid for by the house. The following below is our independent view, but you have been warned.

It was many moons ago when I first stepped into Marche with the wild boar, and that was for our dating anniversary. We wanted somewhere romantic with fine food and so my mum suggested Marche as there weren't many fine food restaurants in the scene then. And partly because she has a membership card which entitles card holders to a 50% discount on the bill for two.

Located within the 5* Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, MED.@Marché-Live is a Mediterranean Restaurant with an elegant setting that features exotic Italian food.

Med Marche, Malaysia 01

If you can stand the heat and humidity of Malaysia, there's an al fresco terrace which overlooks...the KL traffic. The tall building is KL tower (a 421m high telecommunications and broadcasting tower).

Med Marche, Malaysia 07

Australian Chef Paul Lewis joined the culinary team as the Executive Sous Chef six months ago and has recently crafted a new menu for the restaurant featuring a variety entrees, soups, pizzas, home-made pasta, grilled and wood fired dishes and desserts. Before I go into the food, we started the night with Pisco sour - a South American cocktail containing pisco, lemon/ lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and bitters. This was made with Chilean pisco and it was actually more sweet than sour - very smooth and refreshing. A great start.

Med Marche, Malaysia 03

A variety of breads (bread sticks, ciabatta and olive bread) served with a deliciously smooth pine nut- aubergine dip and olive oil-balsamic dip. The olive-oil-balsamic dip has bits of roasted pistachio, which I thought was a nice twist.

Med Marche, Malaysia 13

Next up, a thin crust pesto pizza with semi-dried tomato and parmesan baked in the wood fired oven. Baked to my liking, the edges were crispy and the middle was soft and chewy. The bread had a charred taste, which I loved.

Med Marche, Malaysia 02

Med Marche, Malaysia 04

Brodetto - a traditional Italian soup made with seafood, garlic, tomato, saffron, tomato and white wine vinegar. The broth was tangy with strong seafoody flavours - very tasty, but unfortunately, the seafood was overcooked.

Med Marche, Malaysia 06

Tortellini stuffed with goats cheese, served with thyme, roast pumpkin and balsamic vinegar. The wild boar would hate this as the flavour of the goats cheese filling was pretty strong. Not a huge fan of this as the pasta dough was quite thick (normal for tortellini I guess to hold the filling), and it was quite dry.

Penne with wild mushrooms, truffle and chives. Mushrooms, truffle - YUM; penne - oily. Yes, they seemed like two separate elements that did not blend. I'm not sure penne was the right choice of pasta for this dish. Linguine, angel hair or fettuccine would have been a better choice IMO.

Med Marche, Malaysia 11

Papperdelle served with a ragout of beef shin, green pea and oven dried tomato and gremolata. Very tasty, but could use more of that gremolata to lighten up the dish.

Linguine with tiger prawn, scallop, garlic, chili, parsley and tomato. ooo chili? I certainly did not taste that. Overall tasty dish.

Med Marche, Malaysia 12

Gnocchi with braised lamb shank, anchovies, olives and pecorino. This was the highlight for me. The gnocchi was light and fluffy unlike the stodgy ones I had in most some restaurants. The sauce was extremely rich and flavourful with tender shredded lamb.

Med Marche, Malaysia 05

Chicken piccata with sauteed mushroom (and linguine I think) and asparagus. A pretty straightforward dish, tender, juicy chicken cutlets served with lemon butter sauce.

Ocean trout with basil pesto. An OK dish for me, nothing to rave or rant about.

Balsamic brushed lamb cutlets with caponata, polenta and jus. The best meat dish out of all IMHO. The lamb was really moist, juicy and tender. Well seasoned dish.

Med Marche, Malaysia 09

Wood fired Tuscan chicken served with garlic roast potato chips (dense texture which I love and very tasty, if it's not for the calories and the sake of sharing, I would have single-handedly ate every single wedge in view) and balsamic roasted vegetable (there's grapes!).

Grilled Florence steak served with garlic roast potato chips (the more the better) and Panzanella salad. Unlike the humongous bistecca alla fiorentina I had in Florence, the steak was rather tiny. It was grilled rare but the meat was disappointingly tough and dry.

Med Marche, Malaysia 10

Cannoli stuffed with ricotta cheese filling (I think). Beautifully presented, the pastry was light and crispy which went really well with the slightly sweet creamy filling.

Apple pudding. A bit dry, not a huge fan.

Med Marche, Malaysia 08

Overall, loved the intimate and cozy ambience. The pasta dishes in general were pretty good but the meat dishes were hit and miss for me.

Best bit: the wonderfully light and fluffy gnocchi.
Worst bit: the steak.

MED.@Marché-Live
Renaissance Kuala Lumpur hotel
2nd floor, west wing
Corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail & Jalan Ampang
Tel: +603 2162 2233
Business hours: 5pm till late
Close on Sundays and Public Holidays

PS. we've been asked by toptable to provide a list of top ten UK restaurants of 2010. Here's the feature page on the site that lists all the bloggers contributing.

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3 Meals in 30 mins

Monday, 6 December 2010

I made...

Roasted Chicken Breast in a Sun Dried Tomato Dressing with a side of potatoes, peppers and courgettes
IMG_8356

Flaky Cod Fillet in a creamy Mornay sauce with a side of potatoes, broccoli, carrots and parsnips
IMG_8355

Wild Pacific Pink Salmon in a creamy White Wine and Asparagus sauce with a side of potatoes, beans, carrots and peas
IMG_8361

All in 30 mins! Am I a pro cook or what.

hmm....

hmmmmm......

OK, you got me. All I did was poke a few holes, stuff the little pouches in the oven and plate.
IMG_8350

I do eat ready-made meals every now and then. The pictures on the packaging are always so droolworthy, it's hard to resist sometimes. Plus, they are so convenient. I had a few vouchers for the new Findus Fresher Taste range, so I thought I'd give them a try. They come in unique flavourlock pouches - vacuum-packed to remove air and extend the life of the food beyond other frozen, bagged equivalents. The see-through packaging also acts like a mini roasting bag, retaining more of the natural moisture and flavours of the dish from the moment it is frozen to the time it is served up on a plate.

IMG_8348

What I like about it? The vegetables and potatoes are in a separate pouch to serve with the main dish, this allows different cooking times and avoid overcooking. These pouches are ready to microwave (under 10 mins) or oven bake (30 mins) straight from the freezer. Extremely convenient, all you have to do is plate them nicely to impress your family. Tastewise, I loved the chicken breast. The sauce is really flavourful, well seasoned and the chicken breast is surprisingly tender. As for the fish dishes, they were slightly overcooked. I used a fan oven, so you could probably switch off the fan or bake it at a lower heat or bake it shorter than the suggested time.

What I don't like about it? The portion is too small. 2 packets just weren't enough for us, that's why I made 3! We are pigs afterall, huh!

These dishes have been developed for people who enjoy great tasting, premium quality food but don’t always have the ingredients, motivation or energy to cook it from scratch. Each meal is designed to be cooked straight from frozen, either in the microwave (approx 8 ½ minutes) or the oven (30 minutes).

The new Findus Fresher Taste range consists of four, luxury recipes developed by a team of expert chefs.
  • Roasted Chicken Breast in a Sun Dried Tomato Dressing with a side of potatoes, peppers and courgettes 354 calories per pack
  • Flaky Cod Fillet in a creamy Mornay sauce with a side of potatoes, broccoli, carrots and parsnips 402 calories per pack
  • Wild Pacific Pink Salmon in a creamy White Wine and Asparagus sauce with a side of potatoes, beans, carrots and peas 301 calories per pack
  • Tender Chicken Breast in a vintage cheddar and bacon sauce with a side of buttery broccoli, green beans and peas
The range launched in September 2010 and is available in major retailers including Tesco, ASDA, Morrison, Waitrose and Co-op at an MRSP of £3.99.

This is a sponsored post by Findus. All opinions are 100% mine.
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Apple Pie with Custard Pie Crust

Friday, 3 December 2010

Winter came early this year and it seems that almost the entire UK is covered by a blanket of snow. Glad that I'm back home in forever Summer Malaysia. I made this pie when the weather was still relatively warm and dry, during the Autumn leaf-fall season, in the UK. I can't believe it's been only 2 weeks and the UK is hit by heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures. Anyway, Autumn may be gone, but it's never too late for pies.

Apple Pie 1

The first apple I made was a disaster. I used store-bought shortcrust pastry and yet it still turned out bad. I didn't stew the apples and they were still crunchy and dry. For some weird reason or maybe I was scarred, that was the only apple pie I made. The wild boar then got a recipe from his mum telling me it's a recipe for a "damn good" apple pie and asked me to re-create it.
To be honest, I love eating pies but making pastries is just not my thing. I'm rarely successful with making pastries from scratch. I prefer baking cakes which only involves one element and the creaming method - much higher success rate, easy and yummy. So, the recipe has been safely tucked in my "to-cook (someday)" folder for the past couple of years. That "someday" came and I finally had a courage to make it. The pastry is rather interesting as it is made out of custard flour. I'm not sure what it does, probably the same function as adding cornstarch to pastries for a more tender texture.

apple pie crust

The pie crust was really tender and crumbly even without the addition of shortening. It also has a nice orangey yellow colour.

Apple Pie
Ingredients:
For filling:
  • 7 large cooking apples, weighing about 1 kg (2 lbs) - I used 3 golden delicious and 3 granny smith
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 3 tbs caster sugar (more, if apples are sour)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp cornflour + 1 tsp water
For pastry:
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup custard flour - I used Bird's custard powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 185 g (6 ozs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk - beaten
  • 3 tbs iced water
  • 1 egg white - beaten (for glazing)
  • 1 tbs caster sugar (for sprinkling on top of pie)
  • 2 tbs plum or apricot jam

Directions:
For filling:
  • Peel, core and cut apples into thin wedges. Wash and place in a wide-mouthed saucepan that is not too deep.
  • Add water and lemon rind and cook in covered pan till apple pieces are tender but still holding their shape.
  • If there is too much liquid, spoon out some before adding sugar, salt cinnamon, nutmeg and cornflour mixture, stirring contents of pan gently till it thickens.
  • Add butter just before removing pan from heat.
  • Cool before use.
For pastry:
  • Sift all the flours and salt into a bowl.
  • Blend in butter with a fork at first, then with finger tips, till mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add sugar and mix thoroughly. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredient, add beaten egg yolk and just enough iced water to make a firm dough. I did all these steps in a food processor.
  • Knead lightly, then chill in refrigerator for 45 mins.
  • Roll out on a lightly floured surface just a little more than half the pastry and line a 23 cm (9 inch) pie plate. Be sure to bring the pastry up the sides of pie plate.
  • Spread base of pastry with the jam.
  • Spread apple filling gently and evenly over jam.
  • Roll out remaining pastry, brush the edges of pie in pastry plate with water or milk, and cover with the rolled out pastry.
  • Flute the edges together or press the edges down with a fork.
  • Brush the top with lightly beaten egg-white, sprinkle top with sugar, bake at pre-heated 190˚C (375-400˚F) oven for 45 mins-1 hr or until crust is golden browned.

Note: the pastry dough can be quite hard to deal with and breaks easily, just patch up the cracks with dough from the edges, it doesn't have to be perfect.
Apple Pie 2
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