Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Citrus Sage Chicken in the Philips Airfryer

Be ready to be bowled over by the fresh citrus flavors in this wonderful recipe!!
You will get an extremely moist tender chicken from the citrus marinade and has an earthy flavor from the sage. This is an extremely easy recipe and the best part is that it can be made on a grill, or seared in a skillet or cast iron pan which I love cooking on, or toss it in together with some cut citrus fruits to bake it off in an oven. This time around I have grilled it in my favorite kitchen appliance - that is the Philips Airfryer. It grills all kinds of meats perfectly giving a lovely charred taste from the outside and keeping it tender and moist from the inside, locking in all the flavors. I even love to grill my vegetables in the Airfryer which are done to perfection in just no time. It took me some time and after a few trial and error I think I can now confidently say that I have mastered the timing on my Airfryer to grill my meat and veggies to the perfect temperature that I would like them to be. 
If there are any leftovers, shred the chicken and use it in a wrap along with caramelized onions and grilled peppers.Its delicious. I always make an extra batch of the chicken and freeze it to use it for later to make wraps or grilled sandwiches.
You can use any cut of chicken you prefer- chicken thighs, breasts or drumsticks or all of them. I had boneless chicken lying in my freezer so that is what I have used for this recipe
The marinade is really simple to put together and is really quick and easy to make. Also you can double the citrus sage mixture and reserve half of it. Serve the reserved mixture as a sauce to spoon over the grilled chicken. If you have extra citrus peels and sage and are using a charcoal grill, toss them into the charcoal to flavor the smoke. I tossed a few inside the Airfryer and did have an distinct added citrusy flavor to the chicken.
Try it tonight and I can assure you it will soon become your favorite go-to recipe for a quick fix meal. 

Recipe adapted from the book "Good Housekeeping's Grill it!"
Prep: 25 minutes plus marinating         cooking time: 10-12 minutes 
Makes 8 servings 

2 large oranges 
2 large lemons 
1/4 cup fresh sage 
2 tbsp olive oil 
2 tsp salt 
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
7-8 pieces of boneless chickens breasts (you can also use a whole chicken cut into eighths)

Grate 1 tbsp peel and squeeze 4 tbsp juice from oranges. 
Do the same with the lemons In a large bowl with a wire whisk or fork combine orange and lemon juice, zest, sage, oil, salt and pepper. 
Add chicken turning to coat. 
Cover and refrigerate for 2 hrs, turning chicken pieces 3-4 times.
Preheat the Airfryer to 360F.
Place the chicken pieces into the basket of the Airfryer. 
Thinly slice an orange and place a few pieces on top of the chicken.
Heat the chicken at 360F for 8 minutes. 
Open the Airfryer basket and turn the chicken pieces over.
Bump up the temperature of the Airfryer to 390F and cook further for 4-5 minutes till no longer pink from inside.  You can also insert a meat thermometer to see that the internal temperature has reached 145 F.
Rest the chicken for 4-5 minutes before serving. 
Alternately you can also grill the chicken in an oven or a outdoor grill. 
Place the chicken on a hot grill for 20 minutes. Turn chicken over and grill for 10-12 minutes more till juices run clear when chicken is pierced with tip of knife.
Try this citrus, sage and olive oil blend as a simple seasoning for veal chops or pork as well as for chicken.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Strawberry Shortcake with Creme Chantilly: Celebrating Love

"Wine comes in at the mouth,  
And love comes in at the eye;
 That’s all we shall know for truth,  
Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth, 
I look at you, and I sigh."

                                       - (WB Yeats, A Drinking Song)
Its that time of year again when the whole world celebrates Love with Flowers, wine and chocolates. Valentine's Day is just around the corner and "love" is literally on display everywhere you go. 
Card? Chocolates? Flowers? A romantic dinner for two? An expensive gift? It actually can get quite crazy trying to think of the perfect git for your Valentine to show them how much you care for them. Or save yourself the trouble and bake this gorgeous cake for your sweetheart to add sweetness to your Valentine's Day. After all as they say," A way to a man's (or should I say your Valentine's) heart is through their stomach!!" Try out this simple shortcake, filled with layers of whipped cream and strawberries to make a great impression.
By the way, do you know the story about why Valentin's Day is celebrated? Well, long. long time ago there was a selfless priest called valentine who stood up to the Roman emperor Claudius II when he outlawed marriage in 278 AD as he decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. Valentine realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Valentine was beheaded for his insolence and before his execution he wrote a letter to his jailer's daughter, possible after falling in love with the young girl who visited him during his confinement, which was signed 'From your Valentine'. In 496 AD, February 14 was declared Valentine's day, dedicated to celebrating lovers. 
So here's Cheers to all of you celebrating your love and your loved ones. 

I will leave you here with these beautiful lines from Shakespeare's sonnets:
“Love is not love which alters it when alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wandering bark whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out, even to the edge of doom." (Sonnet 116)” 

Prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves 3-4
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter cut into chunks
2 large eggs
2 pints ripe strawberries
1/4 -1/2 cup sugar, more depending on desired sweetness
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the shortcake: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or by hand. 
Whisk the egg and add to the dry ingredients. 
Mix with a fork until the ingredients just stick together.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead lightly several times to form a ball. (dough will be grainy). 
Press into a heart shaped cake pan. 
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until barely golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
For the strawberries: Wash and slice the strawberries. Sprinkle the strawberries with sugar and toss to coat. Remove half the strawberries and mash them with a potato masher till they are soft and syrupy. Keep aside. Slice the rest of the strawberries horizontally.
For the whipped cream: Combine the whipped cream, powdered sugar, and the vanilla in a chilled bowl. Whip on medium high speed until soft peaks form.
To assemble : Cut the cake horizontally into half. Place one half of the sliced cake onto a serving platter. Spoon some of the mashed strawberry syrup on the cake to soak it completely. Top with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.
Carefully put the top layer of cake, cut side down over the strawberries. Spread the Chantilly cream to cover the top completely. Decorate it with sliced strawberries and extra swirls of cream.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Rum Sauce

Thick white slices of french bread soaked in a pool of dreamy white chocolate sauce, this White Chocolate Bread Pudding is truly the ambrosia of the Gods!! Incredibly rich and decadently indulgent, this dish is surely not for the faint-hearted. 
When I read the recipe for the first time I took a double take when I read through the ingredients list- 18 egg yolks!! Seriously? But believe me it works!! It really works!! 
The bread dipped in the rich chocolately creamy dense custard and topped with the rum chocolate sauce - It all comes together in a beautiful explosion of flavors which will have your taste buds begging for more and more and some more... 
Every month my son's school hosts a staff appreciation lunch. This month the theme was Mardi Gras with a Jambalaya Luncheon and for dessert they served the white chocolate bread pudding. Any parent volunteer who was keen to help out was mailed the recipe so that they would have consistency across all the dishes. This particular recipe mailed to me by one of the PTO members, I believe is attributed to the chef (known to one of the teachers in the school) from the restaurant Coosh's Bayou Rouge in Tallahassee, Florida. It is also featured in the Junior League, Texas Tables Cookbook.
I was a bit apprehensive before I set out to make the dish but seeing the fabulous response that it got at the luncheon (there were people coming back for seconds and also third helpings too and quite a few takeaway too!!) and I was constantly doling out the dessert at a neck breaking speed trying to keep up with the demand for people showing up for it. I think I must have gone through atleast 9-10 big dishes in one and a half hour I was there. I  can now understand what the contestants in the Masterchef show must be going through in their team challenges, cooking and keeping up with serving a huge crowd.
But what a pleasure it was!! it it was great to see the staff members thoroughly enjoying themselves. This is such a small way to show our appreciation compared to the great service that they our providing to the nation and the lasting contribution they make to our lives by handling our little brats in such a wonderful way!! Hats off to all of you!!

Ingredients for the pudding (Serves 8-10)
18 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
tsp nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream 
1 heaped cup  white chocolate chips 
1.5 inch slices of french bread 

Rum Sauce for White Chocolate Bread Pudding
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup rum

Place heavy cream in sauce pan, when it starts to simmer 
 add white chocolate chips
and continue to simmer until chocolate melts completely
 Keep aside till the mixture is very cool.
Cut the loaf of bread into approximately 1.5” slices and arrange as in the pic below.
 Place bread in pan, laying half of each slice on the other. 
If you haven't done so already, separate the egg yolks and egg whites. How pretty they look!!

Yes you will have a whole lot of egg shells and a lot of egg whites. I freeze my egg whites for later use.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and nutmeg

 till they are creamy.
Add cooled cream mixture into whisked mixture slowly, if cream mixture is still hot it will start to make scrambled eggs if you put it in too fast.
Pour this mixture over bread and place in refrigerator to set.

You can leave it overnight or do this in the morning and bake it at night in time for dinner.                           

 In the morning, bake covered for one hour at 350 degrees, then uncovered for 10 minutes. 
  Unless your oven runs hot and you might want to cut that back a bit. It could still be a little runny, so if it isn’t burning, let it cook a little longer.
Can also be made a day ahead. cover with foil and refrigerate. Reheat the covered pudding in 350 F oven for 30 minutes before serving. In my opinion the bread pudding tastes good as it is but if you want to add an extra kick to the dish serve with with the White chocolate Rum sauce. 
To make the sauce :- Mix all in sauce pan and simmer until a little thicker than heavy cream.
This is plenty for one or even two pans of pudding.
One can never have enough chocolates in their life time!!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Brownie butter cake

Craving a cake right now? Or do you feel like having a brownie? Or are like me and cannot  make up your mind and feel like having both cake and a brownie. What if I tell you that you can have the taste of both brownie and cake in the same bite? Can't believe it? It's true. You can actually get both of them in one bite. Its like hitting two birds with one stone!!
Close your eyes and now picture yourself sinking your teeth into the gooey-ishness of a brownie and tasting the rich vanilla dense butter cake all at once, you will start feeling as if you are in a dream cake heaven its so wonderfully delicious. Life can't get better than this- atleast for me.
Here is a wonderful recipe for a brownie butter cake which has a layer of both a brownie and cake in the same pan. The trick is that you bake the brownie first and while the brownie is baking, make your butter cake batter and pour it over the baking brownie and smoothen it quickly before popping it back into the oven. And voila your double treat is ready!! Sounds simple doesn't it?
Serves 8-10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 55 minutes
(Recipe adapted from Kevin Chai- I Love Butter Cake too)

To make the brownie:
5oz dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Egg
¼ cup all-purpose flour
To make the butter cake:
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
3 ½ Tbsp fresh milk
Grease and line a 8" baking pan.
Preheat oven to 350F.
To make brownie, melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Remove and leave to cool slightly. Stir in the brown sugar and whisk well until completely blended.
Add in egg, mix well to incorporate fully. 
Fold in the flour, mix gently until well combined. 
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove.
While your brownie is baking prepare the batter for the butter cake.
Beat butter with sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fold in sifted flour and baking powder, alternately add in fresh milk, mix to form batter.
Spread the butter cake batter over brownie.
Bake in the preheated oven at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the comes out clean.
Sit back and enjoy your double treat.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Khow-suey (Curried Chicken and Noodles in Coconut milk)

I wonder how many of you have heard of or tasted Khow Suey? Let me tell you, if you haven’t had a taste of this fabulous dish you are seriously missing out on some great flavors.
Khow suey is a Burmese dish made of chicken curry with coconut milk and noodles and served with a wide array of accompaniments. It is believed that this dish originated in Burma and came to East India with Indians who migrated during the World war II. 
I first had a taste of Khow-suey years back at a friends house and instantly fell in love with it. What I love about this dish is that it is essentially a no fuss, one pot meal, filled with tons of flavor. Warm and hearty, it is just what the doctor would order to warm your insides in this cold weather and guaranteed to blast your winter blues away in a jiffy. 
Served with an array of delicious garnishes like crispy fried noodles, crispy burnt garlic, red pepper flakes, boiled noodles, crushed peanuts, caramelized onions, slices of hard boiled eggs, chives and wedges of lemons on the sides add to the glamour quotient of the dish. The way to have it is to add in a little bit of all the garnishes, top it with the chicken coconut curry and then squeeze a bit of lemon and lap it all up. The whole dish comes together in an explosion of flavors
Though the ingredients are really simple,it does take a little time to get them all ready but the end result is so great it is well worth the effort. The ingredients are easily available in the Asian section of any supermarket. Some of you might find the smell of fish sauce a bit too strong but I feel it is an essential addition to the dish as it is what gives the dish an authentic taste. But if you are strongly averse to the smell and taste avoid it by all means.
It is also a fun dish to make for your family or when you have friends over where everyone can enjoy adding up the ingredients and adjusting the seasonings according to their preference.
Go ahead and try it out and fall in love with this dish just as I did.
Serves 5-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

To boil the Noodles
2 cups Noodles
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
For the Chicken Gravy
11/2  pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 small onions, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
½  tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt
 6 cups chicken broth
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
3 tbsp. fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
3 Tbsp Gram flour, soaked in 1/4 cup water for 10 minutes  (can be found in Indian market but can be omitted if not easily available)
1 cup fresh coriander, chopped
Dried red chilli flakes
Salt to taste
Lemon wedges
For the Garnish
4-5 hard boiled eggs, chopped
¼ cup chopped and fried garlic
2 cups boiled egg noodles
 ¼ cup fried onions
½ cup chopped coriander leaves
1 cup fried noodles
¼ cup crushed peanuts
¼ cup chives, chopped
Red pepper flakes
2 lemons cut into wedges
Boil the water as required for the noodles with salt and garlic. Add in the noodles and boil till al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. Keep aside.

Cut the chicken into 11/2 inch cubes.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the onion, ginger and garlic paste over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and paprika and continue to stir fry.
Add the chicken, fish sauce and salt. Stir fry the mixture for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken broth to the chicken and bring to a boil over moderate heat.
Add the gram flour liquid and cook for 20 minutes, stirring continuously.
The gravy will begin to thicken.
Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and cook for 10 minutes more stirring continuously.
Turn the heat off.

For each serving fill the soup bowls with ingredients in this order:
11/2 cup egg noodles
1 tbsp onion slices
Hard cooked egg slices
1 cup hot chicken curry
2 tbsp crispy noodles
Crispy fried garlic
Crushed peanuts
2 tsp fresh coriander
2 tsp green onions
Chilli flakes to taste
Lemon wedges to squeeze over all.

I would highly recommend using all the garnish ingredients.