11 Jan 2013

Richly Flavoured Chicken Pot Pie



I saw those ramekin bowls and knew it was now time to tackle that challenging goal of cooking chicken pot pies. Let's see creme brulee otu of this for the moment, don't you think that torch burning thing is such an essential equipment for that venture?

I wanted my pot pie to be creamy with a depth of flavour that will leave its devour-er scraping bowl, licking knife, fork and lips. May I say that I think I have found that much sought recipe? I found it on a magazine cut out which I had kept some months ago (don't ask me which magazine. Oooookay ask me. Answer - I don't know - he he he). And from that basic recipe I tweak it here and there and made my own pot pie recipe.

While I baked I sang, "The king was in his counting room, counting all his money. And when the pie was opened the birds began to sing. Now wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?"

Please ask my king, more likely, my King Kong. He fought with his daughter over the one pot pie left and I can only say I was smiling quite smugly to myself.

Here it is my Richly Flavoured Chicken Pot Pie (the somewhat reddish tint is as a result of paprika powder and tomato paste)

RICHLY FLAVOURED CHICKEN POT PIE

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
500 gms, chicken thigh fillet, chopped
2 tsps full paprika
200 gms button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
420 gms can cream of mushroom condensed soup
2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsps sour cream
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk



1. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft. Add chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Add paprika, mushrooms and paste. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft. Stir in combined soup and sauce. Bring to boil. Stir in cream. If sauce seems to thick add in water or milk to thin it as you like it. Spoon evenly into four overproof dishes (11/2-cup capacity).



2. Cut pastry into square quarters. Place pastry squares on top of chicken mixture, allowing excess pastry to over-hang side of dishes. Brush with egg yolk.



3. Cook in hot over (200C) for about 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and crisp.

4. Stand pies for 5 minutes before serving.


My son enjoying his Chicken Pot Pie for lunch on a day sick off from school.


8 Jan 2013

Fresco Asian Shrimp Salad



I had a dream last night.

I dreamt of a salad with bright tangerine shrimps glistening with oil and salt. My mind had been inspired by my late night flipping through cooking magazines. Am I suffering from insomnia? I certainly hope not. I do find myself gazing longingly at my husband who sleeps the minute his head hits the pillow. He sometimes shudders into wakefulness by his own loud snoring. This always gets me into giggles. Even after almost fourteen years.

The taste of my imaginary shrimp salad was lingering in my mouth. It could no longer be held back, I had to go into the kitchen to whip out this fresh shrimp salad I have concocted in my head.

One word of advice, if you are living in Bangkok you must head on over to Tops Supermarket. At the fresh goods section they have a cold counter where the day's pre-boiled shrimps are packed with Thai seafood dipping sauce. Use these shrimps. They are sweet and full of flavour. I don't know how they boil them, could be with the addition of sugar and a bit of salt. It doesn't matter, does it? All I can say is that my children and I are like hungry wolves when we have these before us. The shrimps eaten just with the dipping sauce is heavenly.



Ingredients:
pre-boiled shrimps
Japanese cucumber, diced
Young green mangoes (a little sweet, a little sour), diced
Cherry tomatoes, sliced into halves
Cilantro leaves, minced roughly
Shallots, minced
Green bird's eye chillies, minced
Lime, only juice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sugar to taste
Drizzle of olive oil

I'm afraid nothing was measured, everything was just added into the bowl and delightfully stirred. Chill in the fridge for that fresh effect.

I enjoyed chomping on my salad today!

Sizzling Shrimp with Garlic (Gambas al Pil Pil)



My rendition of the Gambas al Pil Pil

The first time I had ever heard of this mouth watering dish was when my husband took the family to try out a quaint restaurant specialising in French & Mediterranean cuisine here in Bangkok called Crepes & Co. Crepes & Co had their first branch at Lang Suan soi 1. Now you can find them in Thong Lor, Hua Hin and even Shanghai. Go to their website to read more about this superb restaurant. Their crepes are to die for.  

Crepes & Co. in Thong Lor

We wanted a savoury starter while we waited for our crepes to be prepared. This dish came sizzling in the pan straight from the kitchen served with fresh warm pita bread. We took the first bite and love struck.

I was so excited over this dish that when my mom-in-law came to Bangkok from Denmark we took her here. But she was quite adamant about taking some salad instead of this fat infused dish due to health reasons. I persuaded her to give it one chance, one eensy weensy bite. And oh lordie, she was a goner. We soaked up the delicious oil sauce with the pita bread till the pan was glistening. 

How difficult could it be to recreate this dish at home, I thought? And so I did and it turned out fabulous but not as fabulous as when I tried the Williams-Sonoma recipe. Then it was incredibly fabulous. 

Gambas al Pil Pil (picture courtesy of Williams-Sonoma)

Let me share with you my adaptation of this recipe. Get your fresh warm crusty baguette ready because trust me, you'll be needing it.

You'll want to have plenty of bread on hand to capture the delicious pan juices from these garlicky crustaceans. This Basque tapa, called gambas al ajillo in other parts of Spain, is traditionally served at the table sizzlingpil pileandoin a little metal pan. Sherry or lemon juice is not always used, but either one adds a nice contrast to the richness of the oil and garlic. You can easily substitute squid, cut into rings 1/2 inch wide, or sea or bay scallops for the shrimp. 
I just realised I forgot to add in the flat-leaf parsley. Hmm.

Gambas al-i-pebre, a variation with garlic and hot red pepper from the Albufera region of Valencia, has a more substantial sauce of rich fish stock thickened with fried bread, ground almonds and pine nuts. It is quite filling and is thus usually served as a main course. This same peppery variation was originally made with eel.

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp of chicken cube (powdered form)
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. dry sherry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp, lemon juice and sherry, stir well, and sauté until the shrimp turn pink and are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

*The chicken stock powder is my own addition. I added it in right after the shrimps. 
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Spain & Portugal, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 2000).