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.

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.

MIXED PAELLA

Sunday afternoon. I remember there are prawns, squid, chicken, mussel meat and a quarter piece of Spanish chorizo in my freezer. When I open my spice cupboard, the red color of paprika and yellow turmeric stands out shining among the rest. Turned to my paper bag and saw onion smiling at me. Then an idea starts to form in my head. I found red pepper, garlic, shallots, cloves and rice. The ingredients are almost complete except I am missing a bay leaf. I thought fresh basil from my corridor may be a good substitute.

Tune radio to my favorite Class95 and poured myself a glass of Merlot from Australia.

Aware that I don’t have the right pan to make this dish, I changed the cooking method a little. Heat up some olive oil over medium fire and fry the chorizo for one minute on both sides. With the same oil, seal the chicken and put it aside. Continue to brown some chopped garlic and put in the rest of the seafood. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste and fry for three minutes before adding a gulp of white wine. Put seafood aside and save the sauce for later use. Heat up new olive oil and fry chopped onion, shallot, garlic and a few cloves. When you smell aroma fills the air, put in washed rice follow by paprika, turmeric powder and the seafood sauce. Stir fry for a while and add in red pepper. Add hot water or chicken stock to cover rice. Lay all other ingredients on top and cover the lid over small fire for 15 minutes. Squeeze a quarter of a lemon and throw in some chopped basil before stirring. 

CHICKEN FILLET WITH PESTO SAUCE

 

I’m so glad to have explored making fresh pesto sauce (Click here for the recipe). Once you have it in your fridge, you can create any dish you can come up with. This time, I blend it with pan fried chicken fillet.

Chicken fillet, cut into bite size

Pesto paste

Cherry tomatoes

Olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

Prepare pesto paste by adding extra virgin olive oil to create a smooth sauce.

Here’s a tip when using stainless steel pan for frying. After heating up pan with olive oil, sprinkle some salt before putting in chicken fillet. This will help to avoid meat sticking onto pan while frying. Fry fillet for three minutes on each side and add black pepper.

Off heat and stir in pesto sauce. Garnish with chopped cherry tomatoes and serve immediately.