Archive | April 2010

Oven fried chicken

Fried chicken is not well loved in Germany. There is only one KFC outlet in the whole of Bremen and it’s not within walking distance. Also, because their coleslaw disappoints, I lost my KFC craving some time ago but the desire to bite into a good piece of fried chicken lingers.

Flipping through an old Martha Stewart magazine, I came across a Southern Oven fried Chicken recipe. It intrigued me and I recalled reading somewhere that KFC original recipe chicken is also oven fried. So I searched for a recipe to use. The Martha Stewart one was eliminated because it requires a special flour called Wonda flour and also cornmeal, both of which I do not have in stock.

Finally, I created my own after reading through a couple of recipes and watching a video on youtube. The result was surprisingly impressive. The chicken was unbelievably tender and the coating was crisp. The Mister was all in praise despite the fact that chicken was his least favourite meat.

This has become a dinner regular because it’s so guilt free to eat, what with the lack of deep frying and removal of skin.

The recipe requires that you marinate the chicken overnight. I hope you are not reading this 2 hours before dinnertime.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole chicken legs
  • 1 cup of buttermilk*
  • 2-3 tablespoons of meat seasoning salt**
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • flour
  • breadcrumbs or biscuit crumbs***

* If you can’t find buttermilk, simply stir 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup of skimmed milk and let stand for 5 minutes before using.

**I used one called ‘Gyros & Fleisch Würzer’ from Ostmann (in Germany). If in Sg, try looking in the dried herb section in Cold Storage or NTUC.  McCormick should have a number of suitable mixes. The amount to be used is an estimate. Rule of thumb: Be generous with the seasoning. Then the chicken is well marinated and you wouldn’t have to season the egg, flour or crumbs.

*** Breadcrumbs work well, but biscuit crumbs give extra crispy. If you live in DE, use TUC crackers. In Sg, use ‘soda pia’ (my aunt’s secret to crispy pork chops. 😉 ) Make sure you crush them finely.

Method

  • Cut chicken leg into two parts. Remove skin and excess fat.
  • Mix mustard and meat seasoning salt into milk.
  • Cover chicken pieces with milk.
  • Leave overnight in fridge.
  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Crack the egg in a large bowl.
  • Place flour and biscuit crumbs on separate large plates
  • Remove chicken from milk
  • Dunk chicken in egg, then coat with flour
  • Dunk chicken once again in egg, then coat with biscuit crumbs. Ensure that the chicken piece is well covered in crumbs.
  • Grease an oven tray. Make sure the tray is well greased. Otherwise the skin would be found on the tray rather than the chicken. Place chicken pieces on tray and bake for 45-50 minutes until the skin is golden brown.
  • Flip the chicken pieces halfway through cooking.
  • Test a piece with a toothpick. It should enter the meat easily and when removed, is clean.

Notes:

  • The secret to the tenderness of the chicken lies in the marination in buttermilk.
  • According to the chef in the video, you could spray some oil on the chicken pieces so that the skin will be crispy. I don’t have cooking oil spray so what I did was to pat some oil onto the crumbs. During the cooking, I realised that because I greased the tray with sufficient oil, when I flipped the chicken pieces, the top sides would now also be oiled. So… 🙂
  • This recipe produces skin similar to KFC original recipe chicken, not the extra crispy. The extra crispy ones are deep fried.
  • I almost didn’t make it to cook the chicken the day after marination and was curious whether it would survive another day of marination. According to some responses, it would be a mess after a day. So the advice is to remove the chicken from the milk after a day if you have a sudden hot date and wouldn’t bake the chicken the day after.
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Okara (free form) Lasagna

Okara a la Italia reminded me of lasagna filling. I love melted cheese and lasagna is always a good excuse to pile on the cheese. Since the okara is already fully cooked (which means pretty dry), I decided to cook lasagna sheets  and assemble the lasagna on the plate instead. The resulting dish is worth a dinner’s try!

Ingredients

  • Lasagna sheets (I use 2 per one-person serving)
  • Gratin cheese, mozarella, gouda or emmental, grated or sliced
  • Okara a la Italia

Method

  • Boil lasagna sheets according to package instructions (usually about 8-10 minutes, depending on the kind of bite you prefer)
  • Reheat okara if it’s been cooled. You may want to add a little more seasoning, especially salt because the pasta is plain and depends on the filling for flavour.
  • Cut each lasagna sheet in half
  • Layer lasagna sheet and okara filling alternately
  • Top with cheese
  • Melt cheese using either a microwave (about 30 seconds using 600 watt) or the grill function of the oven (2 minutes or so)

Buon Appetito!

Okara a la Italia

Okara a la Italia - 01

I still can’t decide if I like okara. Although it is commonly used as a meat substitute in the vegetarian food industry, I can’t agree that the texture is similar to that of meat. It taste rather like grounded nuts but for sure, it’s substantial on the tongue. I suppose they are processed once again in order for them to acquire a different texture to be used to make patties, etc.

I intended the mixture of okara, vegetables and tomato paste to be a pasta sauce. However, the okara soaks up liquid. So when more water is added, you simply get wetter okara rather than a nice thick sauce. In line with the high(er) protein diet, this dish can be eaten on its own. After cooking, the okara tastes like very fine couscous. It’s a good I-feel-like-veggie-day meal.

Okara a la Italia topped with cheese

Top it off with a slice of cheese for an extra boost of calcium!

Ingredients

  • One eggplant
  • One zucchini
  • One bell pepper
  • One medium-sized onion
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • One can of peeled tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Paprika or Cayenne Pepper
  • Dried italian herb mix
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons Oil

*I have chosen the typical ratatouille vegetables which go well with tomato. You can add, replace or omit as you like.

Method

  • Mince garlic and onion. Cut up the other vegetables as you prefer.
  • Crush peeled tomatoes in a bowl.
  • Heat oil. Sautee garlic and onion for a couple of minutes.
  • Add chopped vegetables. Sautee for another few minutes.
  • Add okara. Mix well with vegetables.
  • Add crushed peeled tomatoes, tomato paste and water (if tomato paste is concentrated)
  • Cover pot and allow mixture to simmer for about half hour. Stir from time to time to avoid a burnt bottom.
  • Add salt, pepper, sugar and italian herb mix to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings

Liquid protein snack – Soya bean Milk

Organic soya beans are readily available in Bio Supermärkte or Reformhaus, if you are living in Germany.

I grew up on soya bean milk. A week doesn’t pass without a serving from the hawker centre. After feeling deprived for months, I finally decided to try and make some at home. It isn’t as difficult as some make it sound. In fact, I take less than an hour to grind, squeeze, cook and clean up.

Leading from my high(er) protein diet, soya bean milk is now used as an in-between meal ‘snack’. I’m not a vegan but I believe substituting soya based products for some meat is always a good idea because soya is fat free.

This is the recipe for 1.2 litres of soya bean milk, which is what I would finish within a week. It doesn’t keep longer than that so don’t make more unless other family members enjoy it too (The Mister makes a face.) It also doesn’t freeze well. I’ve thawed a bottle before. It separated but came together again after some vigorous stirring. Nonetheless, the texture is not that smooth.

Ingredients

1 cup (organic) soya beans
9 cups water
1 pandan (screwpine) leaf, optional
6-8 tablespoons raw sugar, to taste

Kitchen Equipment

Blender
Muslin bag
Sieve
Large pot

Method

  1. Soak the beans in water the night before. The beans will expand significantly and become brighter in colour. The one cup of beans becomes three cups by then.
  2. Blend one cup of beans with one cup of water. If you have a bigger blender, you could blend all at one go.

    The resulting mixture of blended soya beans with water

  3. Pour the mixture into a muslin bag and squeeze the milk into a large pot.
  4. Tie the pandan leaf into a knot and place it in the milk. The pandan leaf imparts a subtle sweet smell and masks the ‘beany’ flavour. It doesn’t otherwise change the flavour of the milk.

    If you can't find pandan leaves, don't use (artificial) pandan flavouring/paste/extract. That would then alter the flavour of the milk.

  5. Add the remaining 6 cups of water and bring to boil on medium heat.  The amount of water can be adjusted to how thick you like the milk to be. The 1:3 ratio gives the thickness I prefer. Now, here, patience will save you time and an unnecessary mess. Do not be tempted to use higher heat. The milk boils and foams like a science lab volcano when the boiling point is reached abruptly.
  6. Remove foam as the milk heats so that you can tell whether you need to lower the heat. Stir from time to time to prevent a layer from forming at the bottom of the pot.
  7. Allow milk to boil gently for 15 minutes.
  8. Sieve milk.
  9. Add sugar to taste.

Okara is the Japanese term for the leftover bean pulp

What to do with the leftover bean pulp? Ask google! There are plenty of recipes online, incorporating them into cookies, vegatable patties, etc. I’m thinking of using it to make the filling for a lasagna. I’ll report in the next recipe post!

My pseudo high protein low carb diet

I have been on a high(er) protein, low(er) carb diet for the longest time. But I threw all caution into the wind and binged on instant noodles and porridge during my first trimester. I’m not sure if my mil was all that amused that I simply had to eat instant mee goreng after a huge Christmas dinner. Anyhow, the comfort eating couldn’t be helped. I would probably have felt worse otherwise, being pretty much alone here and without Chinese food!

I also forgot that my required daily calorie intake is not 2000 but much lesser. I got to thinking one day about this average calorie intake and somehow can’t be convinced that if the Mister and I have a 30kg weight difference, both of us should be taking in 200 calories per day. So I googled around and found a number of websites with calorie intake calculators. I tried a few and after some averaging, my personal calorie intake per day should be around 1400 to 1500 calories. Since then, I’ve been rather successful in gauging how much I can eat to maintain the figure I like.

As I finished up the second trimester, I lost the need to comfort eat and became more conscious of what I should be putting into my mouth in order to maximise fetal growth and not anal growth. So I’m back on a pseudo (high protein low carb) diet! Although all I can think of is cakes, cakes and more cakes…

It’s been more than a decade since I finished a whole bowl of rice or noodles. I don’t find it difficult to part once again with these staples. Protein is after all what my little girl needs for growth. My beloved rice, spaghetti and bee hoon will be suitably converted to enhance an already big part of me because exercise is now for strengthening not for losing weight. Nonetheless, I don’t eliminate them completely from my main meals. I just eat half the portion. The amount of fruits I take each day also contributes anyway to the carb count as sugar. In cutting down the carb portion of lunch and dinner, there is then room for stress-relieving dark chocolate and fetal growth-spurting durian.

An article caught my attention while I was looking for information on going on a hplc diet during pregnancy. This report sortof justified my perculiar eating habits. It’s a research study done on pregnant mice and the researchers concluded that the female offspring of pregnant mice on a high protein low carb diet metabolise fat better. For sure, one should notice that a research has limited extrapolations on humans. Still, I choose to believe that similarities exist.

In an attempt to feed my perpetually hungry tummy with stuff that fit my particular diet, I have been spending time in the kitchen, preparing food in ‘bulk’. A friend has crowned me the ‘freezer queen’ because we discussed cooking for self once and I told her I usually cook a few portions at one go and freeze them. I would rather eat microwaved homecooked food than to grab a wurst or kebap, the only two available food choices within 100 metres. At least I can control the amount of fat I’m taking in.

My obssession with food persists…