Saturday, February 27, 2010

Roast Chicken with Crispy Bacon

So if you've been following me on Twitter, you would know that I was going to roast a chicken this weekend for the first time. Glad to report it is as easy as many food bloggers had made it out to be. My other half polished off at least half of the medium-sized bird. That was some mad roasting I tell ya!

After hearing great feedback about Jamie Oliver's roast chicken recipe, I decided to give it a try. Before I proceed with this recipe, I must tell you that adding the bacon to the roast, is a MUST. It really took the whole roast chicken to another level.  Loved, loved, loved it.

Serves 4
What you need:
2kg whole chicken - get the neck and feet removed and cavity emptied
salt and black pepper
1 large lemon
1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
Handful fresh thyme
Olive oil
8 rashers streaky bacon

1) Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Do this in the morning if possible, then cover the chicken and leave in the fridge until ready to start cooking it for lunch or dinner.

 Tip: Tuck the chicken wing tips behind the chicken before roasting

2) Pre-heat your oven to 190C. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil (to par-boil potatoes if roasting them with chicken). Cut the potatoes and put them in the water with the whole lemon and the garlic cloves. Cook for 12 minutes. Drain. While the lemon is still hot, stab it about 10 times all around with a sharp knife. Be careful.

3) Take the chicken out from the fridge, pat it with kitchen paper and rub it all over with olive oil. Push the garlic cloves, whole lemon and thyme into the cavity. Put the chicken into a roasting tray and cook for 45 minutes in the oven.

4) Remove tray from oven. Lay the bacon rashers over the chicken breast and cook for further 45 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove from oven, place a sheet of foil on chicken and let stand for 10 minutes.

5) Remove the lemon, garlic and thyme from the cavity. Remove the bacon from atop the chicken and crumble it over the potatoes.

Jamie's tip: Squeeze all the garlic flesh out of the skin, mush it up and smear it all over the chicken. This recipe was adopted from Jamie Oliver's cookbook entitled jamie's dinners - the essential family cookbook.

The chicken was really moist on the inside. Good stuff. Easy to make (especially for first timers) and very tasty.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quiche with Bacon and Cheese

So the first time I tried quiche, I was sitting in the hair salon for what seemed like days and one of the hair people must have noticed I was about to pass out and so kindly offered to order me something from a nearby cafe. I can't even remember WTH I was doing to my hair at that point. Anyway they handed me a menu and I ordered the quiche. Soon a take away food container arrived and I dug in hungrily. Wow! It was the blandest thing I had ever tasted. Seriously. I was like WTH is this?

Fast forward to years later, I no longer go to that hair salon - FYI. Oh and I now know that quiche in fact taste GREAT. I don't know what was the deal with the quiche from that cafe but a big fat boo to them for making me think quiche was bland.

I tried making quiche over the weekend and it turned out fine. What is quiche really? According to this website, 'quiche is egg custard with savory additions like bacon or cheese baked in an open pastry shell'. Well said.
That quite sums it up.

Anything with bacon, eggs, cream and pastry to me has just got to be worth trying to make (unless you operate a cafe near a hair salon). So I tried this recipe and it turned out fine. Of course I tweaked it a bit and 'cheated' like the sudden cheater that I am. Instead of making the pastry from scratch, I used ready-made frozen puff pastry.

What you need:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
5 or more slices of bacon ( I used back bacon), chopped
Grated cheese
5 eggs
400ml cream ( I used whipping cream)
100ml milk

Getting the Pastry Ready
The first thing you have to do is to pre-bake the pastry. This process is often known as blind baking. Why is it called that? Beats me. But this is what you have to do.

1) Pre-heat oven to 170C. Use the puff pastry sheet and place over your pie plate/pan/tin. Make sure it lines the base and sides of your pan. Trim any excess pastry at the top.

 2) Before popping into oven, place a sheet of baking paper onto the pan.

3) Place some cutlery to weigh down the paper. This is to prevent the pastry from rising while baking.

4) Blind bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove. Don't touch the cutlery as it will be HOT. Just remove the baking paper and cutlery all together. Brush the pastry base with some eggwhite and return to the oven for 5 minutes until dry. Remove and set aside.

Bacon + Onions

While the pastry is being baked blindly, heat the oil in a frypan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft (about 3 mins). Add bacon and cook for further 5 mins until crispy. Set aside to cool.


Once the bacon is cooling, crack the 5 eggs into a large mixing bowl and lightly whisk. add cream and milk and continue to whisk until well-combined. Season with a quarter tsp salt and some black pepper. Add a quarter tsp ground nutmeg (optional).

Making the Quiche
1) Once the pastry is baked, scatter the cooked bacon mixture over pastry base.

2) Followed by the grated cheese. I used about 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese.

3) Carefully pour the egg mixture over the bacon and cheese.

4) Return the quiche to the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden and set.

After removing from oven, allow the quiche to set for 15 mins to firm up. It can be served warm or at room temperature.

Random notes:
Don't fret if the filling looks a bit 'custard' like - it's suppose to look that way. Don't make a worried phone call to your sister asking her if it's suppose to be like that. Oh wait, that's just me.
A simple enough recipe to try, even for a novice cook who no longer goes hungry in a hair salon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Simple Bolognese Sauce

Before you read on, I must humbly warn my readers, that this post is essentially about 'cheating'. Rest assured, it's good 'cheating' though. It's the kind of 'cheating' which entails not making the sauce from scratch but using the pre-made type which comes in a bottle. I can feel some of you shaking your heads in disbelief, but yes this is the way I make bolognese....the 'cheating' way. So for all you cheaters reading this, this is how I do it.
Serves 2-3
What you need:
1 bottle Prego's Fresh Mushroom flavoured pasta sauce
1 medium sized onion sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic sliced thinly
250g minced beef
250g vermicelli* (pasta of choice)
1 tbsp olive oil

Seasoning the beef:
Season the uncooked beef in some black pepper and set aside.

Making the sauce:
1) Heat olive oil in a saucepan and saute onions and garlic till fragrant.
2) Add minced beef and fry evenly till meat is cooked and no longer pink.
3) Empty the Prego's Fresh Mushroom flavoured sauce contents into the saucepan and stir. Add some water into the empty bottle (about a quarter of the bottle) give it a swirl and add into saucepan.

4) Put the lid on, and allow to simmer for 15 mins.
5) Just before turning off heat, add a pinch of sugar and stir.
6) Serve the cooked vermicelli on a plate and add meat sauce over.

Yummy and super simple the cheating way.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Butter Orange Cake Recipe

Note: Temperature settings differ for every oven. For mine for example, a temp of 160C is best for this cake as my oven gets hot fast. Tweak the temperature according to your oven for best results:)

If you've never baked before and are looking for a simple enough recipe to try and not screw up...consider this recipe. It only calls for six ingredients, a mixing bowl, a mixer (hand-held or whatever) and a trip to the grocery store.

What you need:
250g (1 block) butter (taken out from fridge at least 30mins prior)
330g caster sugar
4 eggs (remove from fridge earlier)
2 tablespoon grated orange rind
225g self-raising flour
180ml orange juice

Before Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 160C. Grease the bottom and sides and line the bottom of a square cake tin with baking paper. (My square cake tin was about 24cm just FYI)

Step 1: Grate orange rind.  Then slice the oranges in half and squeeze the juice out of them.

Step 2: Get out your mixing bowl and mixer. Put the butter, sugar and orange rind in the bowl and beat until light and fluffy.

Step 3: Be sure the eggs are at room temp. Add in one by one and mix well. 

Step 4: Sift the flour. Then add flour in two batches (otherwise too much flour in mixing bowl at one go - not good - white flour all over). Add the orange juice in too.

Step 5: Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in oven for 1 hour.

Let cake stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning unto a rack.

Random Tip:
~When mixing, scrap down the batter from time to time from the sides of the bowl, using a spatula and continue mixing.
This cake is lovely when it's warm. So if you've refrigerated any slices, zap it for 20 seconds in the microwave and it'll be nice and soft. Aroma-wise...OMG.

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