As you may be aware it was my fiftieth birthday on April 15th and amongst other things I received a glazed Emile Henry tagine, a bit like this one:
I also ordered a couple of fine cookery books, one of Lebanese cookery and also the very excellent The Food Of Morocco by Paula Wolfert
The tagine had its first run out last Saturday night with a recipe for beef which I’ve already blogged but this week’s recipe was chosen by Carolyn on Thursday prior to her doing the weekend shop so from page 302 we were to have chicken with fennel, preserved lemons and olives. this is how it looked in the book:
The recipe was fairly basic, the only ingredient we struggled to get was green aniseed so I used star anise instead but I used the last of the bought preserved lemons from the fridge, C got fennel and green olives so along with 3 chicken quarters, an onion, garlic and ginger with a little parley we were ready to go. Interestingly, the recipe suggested soaking the chicken pieces in salted water for a couple of hours in advance, which I did and then after patting them dry I fried them skin side down in the base of the tagine until the skin turned golden. Out they came and in went the onion and garlic followed by the ginger, preserved lemon rind, saffron, star anise, 80ml of water and finally the chicken. on went the lid and it simmered for about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, I turned the chicken pieces over, added the sliced fennel and olives and this time placed it in the oven already heated to 170 degrees C.
Here is how it looked when I took it out of the oven and removed the lid:
The chicken pieces here are upside down and here is is on the plate served with bulgur wheat:
This was a quite simple tagine dish to make but it didn’t lack for taste and flavour. The fennel and star anise imparted a subtle flavour of aniseed and the chicken was cooked to perfection. Moroccan food is still my best cuisine at the moment and with a whole new book to work through I’ve got a feeling it’s going to stay #1 for some time to come!
For my birthday I received ‘Gok Cooks Chinese’ which is a Chinese cook book by Gok Wan. If you don’t know who Gok Wan is he does a lot of TV programmes in the UK about making women look good naked and re-vamping their wardrobes in a camp sort of way so I was a bit surprised to see him bringing out a cook book. My all round opinion of Gok took a bit of a boos recently when he displayed his very human side in a reality TV show called Hotel. I’d leafed through his book and read the introduction where he declared his dad ran his own Chinese restaurant so again, my preconception that he was using nothing more than his Chinese heritage as a means to sell a ghost-written cook book was completely unfounded. In fact I quite like Gok and last night I cooked up his Spicy Sichuan Chicken which was a real winner. The sauce was fairly basic made up of Chinese cooking wine, cornflour, light and dark soy sauce, spring onions, chillies, peanuts and sesame oil including some for marinating but the addition of Sichuan peppercorns leant it a heat and taste that really took it to the next level. Gok spells it Sichuan bit the jar says Szechuan so I don’t know which is right only Gok admits he never learned to speak Chinese.
Served with rice with the help of chopsticks and a decent bottle of Chablis overall this was in the bracket of pretty tasty!
Nonya Chicken And Lime Curry
Another fib, it’s actually from the Singapore and Malaysia chapter of my Essential Asian Cookbook. Very tasty this but could have used a couple more chillies (the recipe said 6, we only had 2).
Firstly I made a paste out of garlic, chilli, an onion, lemongrass, galangal and turmeric; fried it, chucked in some skinless chicken and then coconut milk to simmer with a couple of halved limes, lime leaves an coriander. Served on a bed of rice.
This time it’s Curried Rice Noodles with Chicken; a Thai dish (I know, not, of course, Chinese) made with a traditional Thai red curry paste – as this was a mid-week meal I used a ready made paste.
Quite quick and easy to cook; heat some oil in a wok, add the curry paste and stir fry the chicken in the oil and paste in batches for a couple of minutes each. Then return all the chicken to the wok with chopped red chilli, fish sauce and lime juice; stir and simmer for a minute. Add bean sprouts and pre-cooked rice vermicelli; toss well. For a garnish I fried some chopped onion and garlic until brown and crisp and sprinkled on the top with coriander and chopped pea-nuts. Very nice!
Well not strictly Chinese but two recipes from Ken Hom’s Hot Wok book: Thai Style Chicken and rice with Chinese sausage. Friday night’s evening meal.