Taiwanese Chicken Bites

Taiwanese chicken 7

We had this chicken for the first time at an outstanding restaurant in Huatulco.  Only about 7 tables, most of them on the sidewalk, and yet they had the most amazing fusion of flavours.  The owners spent a fair bit of time traveling around Asia, and this is reflected in their food.  If you get a chance to try out “Mercader”, then go.  Until we go back, I will just have to make this at home!

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Globetrotting tonight ….. served with Korean Fried Cauliflower (KFC) and loved it!

 

Ingredients
Chicken
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

Marinade
1 medium head of garlic
1/2-inch ginger
3 green onions, white and 1-inch of the green part, minced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sweet potato starch
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Taiwanese chicken 1

Just the aroma of this marinade will have you salivating!

Coating

1 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
2-3 cups sweet potato starch (I had to ask one of our daughters to buy this from an Asian market in Vancouver and bring it home for me!)

To fry
3-4 cups peanut, rice bran or avocado oil

To serve
Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh Thai basil
salt and white pepper to taste

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Have everything ready to go before starting to fry the chicken.

 

Directions
1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks and place in large bowl. Make the marinade by mincing or forcing the garlic through a press into a small bowl. Add the minced green onions, soy sauce, Mirin, 5-spice, white pepper, sweet potato starch and cayenne pepper, stir to form a paste and then scrape into the bowl with the chicken. Mix to coat all the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

2. Once the chicken is done marinating, place the eggs in medium sized bowl with the 1/2 cup of water. Beat together with a fork. Place the sweet potato starch in another medium sized bowl. Heat the frying oil in a sauté pan or wok until it reaches 350˚F. Using chopsticks or tongs, dip the chicken first in the watery egg mixture then in the starch and fry the chicken pieces without crowding them too much for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan, I usually fry about 6-8 pieces at a time in the wok and 8 – 10 pieces in my 10” sauté pan.  Side note, I don’t recommend using a deep fryer that re-uses the oil.  The sweet potato starch is so fine that it doesn’t filter easily.

3. Once fried, place the chicken on a wire rack or a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Immediately toss with generous amounts of salt and white pepper to taste. Once you’ve fried all the chicken, fry the Thai basil leaves for 30 seconds or until they darken and then serve with the chicken.

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Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

Sun dried tomato pasta 4

Tender chicken, barely cooked spinach, crunchy bacon and tangy parmesan … this pasta dish has it all,   It’s a meal in a dish.

It seems like many years ago I just L O V E D a recipe like this at a local restaurant, creamy yet intensely flavoured and tasty chicken bits.  It took a while, but I finally found this one from RecipeTin Eats, and it is perfect!

Ingredients

  • 300g / 10 oz fettuccine
  • 30g / 2 tbsp butter , separated
  • 2 chicken breasts , cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (sub more chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock / broth
  • 1 1/4 cups (315ml) cream , thickened / heavy 
  • 3/4 cup (75g) parmesan , finely shredded
  • 70g / 2.5oz baby spinach
  • 100 g / 3oz sun dried tomato strips

SERVING:

  • 120g / 4oz bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • More parmesan
  • Parsley , for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for time per packet minus 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of pasta cooking water. Then drain pasta.

CHICKEN:

  • Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Melt half the butter in a large skillet over hig heat.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side until deep golden.
  • Remove chicken onto plate, rest for a few minutes then shred with 2 forks.

ALFREDO SAUCE:

  • Turn down heat to medium high. In the same skillet, add remaining butter and garlic.
  • Cook garlic for 30 seconds until golden, then add wine.
  • Simmer rapidly, stirring to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once mostly evaporated, add chicken broth, cream, parmesan and sun dried tomato.
  • Simmer on medium for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring leisurely, until it reduces and thickens.
Sun dried tomato pasta 1

The most important aspect of this sauce is letting it thicken enough to be rich and glistening.

ESSENTIAL TOSSING:

  • Add spinach, chicken and cooked pasta.
  • Toss for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on the stove, until sauce thickens and coats the pasta strands – Use pasta cooking water if needed if it gets too thick.
  • Serve immediately with parmesan, crumbled bacon and parsley (if desired).
Sun dried tomato pasta 2

Fresh herbs really pop with colour and freshness in this dish, I added some fresh basil out of the garden and it was a perfect touch.

Halibut Veracruzana

halibut veracruzana

This is one of those recipes that is more a guideline.  Inspired by the flavours of fish we’ve had served in the style of Veracruz in Mexico, this is so easy to prepare at home, and if you have a good source of fish, give it a try!

You will need:

  • enough fish to feed your family (I’ve used halibut here but any white fish will work)
  • green olives
  • fresh tomatoes
  • black olives
  • capers
  • roasted red peppers
  • fresh red peppers
  • your best olive oil
  • lemon
  • sea salt & pepper

Generously butter a baking dish (extra points for using a pretty one that you can also serve this dish in!)

Lay in your fish, cut in serving size.

Chop the olives, peppers and fresh tomato, and then cover your fish with all the toppings.  Again, be generous with seasoning – liberally sprinkling salt and pepper over it all.  Then – squeeze a whole lemon and drizzle olive oil over the top.

Roast at 375 just until fish flakes nicely.  This will entirely depend on the thickness of your fish, so watch it carefully and check after 10 minutes.

Serve over rice, with a bright, crunchy salad on the side.  Add crusty bread to soak up those juicy drippings and you’ve got a quick easy dinner good enough for company.

Tossed Salad

BBQ Beef Brisket Slow Cooker Style

If you have the time then a beef brisket should be cooked in a smoker, low and ever so slow ….. 10 hours minimum. If, however, that doesn’t work for you, and for lots of us at times it just doesn’t. Try this … perhaps not as authentic, but absolutely delicious.

Combine in slow cooker:
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 chipotles in adobo sauce – finely chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Rub the brisket with:
1/4 cup paprika
1 tbsp chile powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 5 lb beef brisket – cut in half width wise.

Place rubbed brisket onto sauce in slow cooker and allow to cook on low for 10 hours.

If you have the time, and ability – allow beef to rest out of the liquid, then grill quickly on each side to get a bit of crunchy texture. Slice and return to sauce in slow cooker.

Serve on fresh buns with some nice crunchy cole slaw on top.

Crab Cakes with Horseradish Aioli

Crab cakes are one of our favourite appetizers to get when eating out …. this is an easy to create appetizer at home, or make slightly larger – serve with a great big tossed salad – amazing bread, and you have a complete meal.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions (green and white bits)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Blend well together, and gently stir in:
1 pound lump crabmeat (take care to pick through it to make sure it is shell free)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

In separate bowl combine:
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
Sprinkle of salt and pepper

1 pound of crab meat should make about 16 small cakes (appetizer size) or 8 larger cakes.

Form crab meat mixture into balls, and press each ball into the panko crumbs to coat.

Set aside in fridge to allow them to set up.

The crab cakes can be done to this stage, and kept in fridge until the next day.

Heat fry pan, and add 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp vegetable oil. When foam has subsided, add crab cakes and heat through for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping gently. Do not crowd the pan, fry in batches if necessary.

Horseradish Aioli

1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp smoked garlic powder (or roasted garlic)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blend all ingredients well, and allow to sit in the fridge so that the flavours develop.

Serve crab cakes with aioli, sprinkled with a few cilantro sprigs.

Braised Lamb Shanks

On a fall day the aroma of lamb shanks fills our home with warmth and goodness – a perfect Sunday dinner for the family….

Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised Lamb Shanks

4 lamb shanks
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cup red wine (seriously – you must use a wine you would be happy to drink!!)
1 28 oz can tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Mix flour with salt and pepper,
Dredge lamb shanks in flour mixture
Heat oil in large, heavy bottomed ovenproof pot – medium high heat
Add lamb shanks and brown on all sides – set aside when done
Turn down to medium heat and add onions, celery and garlic. Saute until soft and translucent
Add wine to pan and stir up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (little flavour packets!)
Add tomatoes, carrots, beef stock, tomato paste, bay leaves and herbs. Stir well
Return browned lamb shanks to pot, covering them with the liquid
Braise – covered – in a 325 oven for at least 2 1/2 hours – maybe 3, turning the shanks half way. You can tell the shanks are done when the meat is about to fall off the bone.

Remove meat and herbs from pot – set aside – use an immersion blender to puree the of the sauce into a smooth gravy.

Set lamb shanks into a serving dish – pour gravy over and garnish with fresh parsley.

Tabouli Salad

This tabouli salad is made with quinoa, so a complete meal for a vegetarian option, or serve alongside a grilled chicken breast …. or tonight’s choice – chicken wings with a Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce …. yumminess.

Tabouli Salad

1 cup quinoa – rinse well
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn in rustic pieces
1 small bunch kale, very finely chopped (remove stem)
1/2 English cucumber, cut into fine quarters
1 cup finely chopped assorted colored sweet peppers
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (pickling instructions below)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp orange zest and 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

Pickling red onions: Thinly slice red onions and pour boiling water over for 10 seconds – drain off, and cover with fresh squeezed lime juice and a sprinkle of kosher salt. They turn such a great color.

Tabouli
Place the rinsed quinoa in a medium sauce pain, ccover with 1 3/4 cup cold water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and cook until water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 18-20 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and let it cool.

In a large bowl toss all prepared vegetables and the cooled quinoa.

Dressing
Combine zest and fruit juices, drizzle oil slowly in to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss with prepared Tabouli Salad and taste …season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach