What a Year

hk skyline

2013 was a big year for me. Last night, as I flipped back the pages in my mind before the clock strikes twelve, some memories formed into paintings of joy and laughter while others displayed a sense of melancholy.  It was the year where I decide to make a drastic change in my life with a precious opportunity which I am actually not quite prepared for.

Leaving home to work in a foreign country for the first time, the move to Hong Kong itself was already an experience. Besides getting to know the ways of living in this new city, my taste buds are also being challenged to recipes, flavors and textures that I am not accustomed to.

While the new may be interesting, it is often the familiar that kept me settled.  I’m so glad that my tiny kitchen is now stocked with extra virgin olive oil, Italian canned tomatoes, balsamic and my favorite spices.

Here’s a simple recipe to share. Happy New Year my friends!

Drumsticks Baked with Balsamic Vinegar

baked chicken with balsamic

Drumsticks

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Crushed black pepper

Dried rosemary (fresh ones are too costly over here)

Sea salt

Paprika

Lemon juice

Marinate drumsticks with all other ingredients overnight. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 45 minutes or until it looks good to the eye. Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over before serving with your favorite greens or baked vegetables.

Chicken Salad with mango avocado dressing

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This sweet and creamy dressing was created when Thai mangoes are in season. I thought it will work well with chicken.

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Here are the ingredients for the dressing.

mangoes

avocado

yogurt

olive oil

lemon juice

salt

pepper

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Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Feel free to adjust the amount of ingredients to your liking.

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For this recipe, I am using:

chicken breast

carrots

celery

parsley

rosemary (1 sprig)

salt

pepper

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Marinate chicken breast with salt and pepper. I am so used to steaming chicken and carrots with a sprig of rosemary that it has become my second nature. I love how the scent of the herb can infuse into the food like magic. The celery was kept raw to have a crunch in the overall texture of this dish. And the last step is to coat all ingredients evenly with the dressing and serve.

Oh yes, not forgetting a glass of white and perhaps some crusty bread plus more olive oil.

I hope you will like this recipe.

Rosemary Chicken

rosemary chicken

This is one of those moments where I know that I can take cooking as a hobby for life.

It is amazing to discover how a few simple ingredients can work together with temperature and time to create magic

and produce wonderful flavor and texture least expected.

This is an impromptu recipe when my mom came over to stay for an enjoyable two weeks

left me with some frozen chicken pieces in the fridge.

I am glad I have made it right.

Chicken pieces (fresh ones are even better)

Lots of paprika

Lots of fresh rosemary

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Lemon

Season the chicken pieces with all ingredients except lemon.

Bake at a temperature of 200C for 45 minutes.

It works even when I start from a cold oven.

Squeeze over some lemon juice and serve while it is still hot and crispy.

STEAM CHICKEN SALAD

steam chicken salad 1

Quite often, I like to steam all ingredients to make a complete dish to get a balance in my diet. This recipe is one of my all-time favorite. You can boil the vegetables but I prefer to cut them into bite size and steam it to retain their full flavor and they cook fast in this way.

Chicken breast

Carrots

Potatoes

One Shallot, finely chopped

A sprig of rosemary

Whole grain mustard

Mayonnaise

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Sea salt

White pepper

Black pepper

steam chicken salad 2

Season chicken breast with salt and white pepper and steam them whole with rosemary. Cut into bite size when cooked. Cut potatoes and carrots and steam till tender. For the dressing, combine shallots, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil. Mix well then coat chicken, potatoes and carrots evenly. You can serve it immediately or leave it in the fridge for an hour.

AGLIO OLIO WITH DUCK LIVER

aglio olio w duck liver

I’ve always wanted to do a more daring pasta dish. Although this recipe works for me, it may not be for the fainthearted. And I think sesame oil is just the right ingredient to blend the flavors together. 

Duck liver

Fresh duck liver, cut to bite size

Minced garlic

White wine

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Olive oil

Sesame oil (must have)

Heat up olive oil in a pan and fry the minced garlic till it starts to brown. Put in duck liver follow by salt and pepper. Fry liver till almost tender and add a tablespoon of white wine follow by a glug of sesame oil. It is important not to overcook the liver or it will become hard.

Aglio olio

Your favorite pasta

Fresh chili

Shallots

Garlic

Cherry tomatoes (optional)

White wine

Fresh basil

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Put pasta into a pot of boiling salt water and cook to al dente. While pasta is cooking, chop up shallots, garlic, chili and fry in olive oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes follow by salt and pepper. When garlic starts to brown, pour in a glug of white wine follow by some pasta water. Add chopped fresh basil. When pasta is ready, toss it directly in the pan to soak up the sauce.

Serve pasta with liver and grated parmigiano if desired.

BAKED YOGURT CHICKEN

This is a recipe that was missing in action for quite a while but never been forgotten. Last weekend, I decided to take a break from Italian cooking and prepare this dish for a friend who came over for lunch.

Ingredients

Chicken pieces

Shallots

Garlic

Cumin

Young ginger

Plain yogurt

Paprika

Turmeric powder

Black pepper

Sea salt

Olive oil

Wash chicken, pad dry and put into a plastic bag. Blend all other ingredients and mix it thoroughly with yogurt. Marinate chicken with mixture. Tie up plastic bag and leave overnight in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 428F/220C. Bake chicken for 25 minutes and turn to grill for another 10 minutes.

This meal goes well with plain stem rice and perhaps a glass of ice lemongrass drink.

DEEPAVALI LUNCH

There are not many happy moments in my life and that makes them too precious to be forgotten. Hence I decided to start a new category “happy moments” to collect them from now on and share my joy.

Today is Deepavali and it happens to be my first post for this category.

One of the best decisions I have made over the past two years is to move from my old apartment to this new home surrounded by lovely neighbors and nice scenery. Since I shifted in, Deepavali has been a happy moment each year when my Indian neighbor Mr. Raju will bring over mouthwatering lunch to celebrate the occasion. 

Happy Deepavali!