In Which the Blogger Whips Up a Restaurant Classic…

Chicken Fingers

It’s a long-running thing in my family that at least one of us will end up ordering chicken fingers – either the regular kind or the Cajun-spiced kind – at TGIFriday’s.  Ironically, much as we do like the dish, we’ve never really served it at home.

Until recently, that is.

I had a bunch of parsley that needed using up and no one was really in the mood for chicken or potato-carrot soup at the moment.  So I decided to chop the parsley up fine and tossed it into a batch of tempura-style batter.  I sliced up a few chicken breast fillets, dipped them into the batter, deep-fried the lot till golden, and served it for dinner.

Needless to say that it all went down a treat: everyone likes fried chicken, more so if it’s as flavorful as these chicken fingers were, given the fresh taste of parsley balanced by salty Parmesan.  While these taste good on their own, though, I believe these go down a treat with honey mustard – so keep a dish or a bottle of this close at hand.

Parsley ‘n’ Parm Chicken Fingers

  • 6 chicken breast fillets, cut into largish strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon rock salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup iced water
  • oil for deep-frying

Sprinkle rock salt and pepper over the chicken strips.  Rub the seasonings well into the meat.  Leave to marinate for about an hour.

Whisk together the cornstarch, flour, Parmesan, parsley, water, and egg together to make a lumpy batter.  Heat the oil in a large wok or a deep saucepan.  Dip the chicken strips into the batter and fry until golden-brown on all sides.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Chicken + potato salad = WIN!

Serve the chicken fingers with honey mustard and mashed potatoes or a good potato salad.

One other thing…

Let’s help Japan!


In light of the recent tragedy that hit Japan, please do your part for the relief effort.  Philippine donations are currently being coursed through the Philippine Red Cross via SMS.  To text in your pledges, please click here for details.  Remember: every little bit counts as we help others.

In Which the Blogger Messes with a Magazine Recipe…

From the pages of BBC Good Food...

“So, what are you cooking for tonight?”

That’s the question our long-time (30 years and counting) help asks me every single Saturday because it’s my night to cook.  Of course, I end up answering her question with one of my own: “What’s in the fridge?”  Answer to said follow-up question usually determines what we end up having for dinner.

This weekend, I didn’t have to ask what was in the fridge.  I knew well enough that I still had a couple of skinned chicken breast fillets and a few Hungarian sausages in the freezer.  There was also a tub of sliced-up Hoc Siu ham and a number of other things.  I was, however, at a loss as to what to do with the lot.

Luckily, I was browsing through a back issue of BBC Good Food and spotted a recipe for French-style chicken with peas and bacon.  That sounded like a fairly good notion, only I didn’t have any Little Gem lettuce or creme fraiche in the kitchen.  Where there’s a will, of course, there’s always a way…

Looks nothing like the original, but tastes good.

The resulting dish looked nothing like the original (recipe for which can be found online here), but it tasted good and was certainly a change from most of our usual meals.  I can’t really use the original name for it, so I just refer to it as chicken and sausage fricassee and pretty much leave it alone at that.  Try it in your own kitchen; the rich sauce and tender, flavorful meats are bound to appeal to diners of all ages.

Chicken and Sausage Fricassee

  • 2 chicken breast fillets, cut into large cubes
  • 2 chicken thigh fillets, cut into large cubes
  • 1 Hungarian sausage or chorizo de Bilbao, sliced on the bias
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 300mL water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 5 large leaves Savoy/Chinese cabbage (wombok), cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 2 fatty slices ham, cut into slivers

In a large saucepan over medium heat, dry-fry the ham and sausage until the fat melts.  Remove the ham and sausage and saute the onion and garlic in the fat until softened and fragrant.  Add the chicken; cook until slightly browned.  Return the ham and sausage to the pan.  Pour in the water and add the bouillon cube.  Stir until the bouillon cube has dissolved.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cover.  Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Uncover the pan and add the cabbage and peas.  Cover and cook an additional four minutes.  Uncover, then add the milk and cream cheese, stirring till the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened.  Remove from the heat and serve with plain rice or mashed potatoes.

Serves 6.

This Month’s Chocolate Appreciation 101

A Floral Feast

 

Just in case you’ll be in the Quezon City area on March 26th, please feel free to join us for this month’s Chocolate Appreciation 101 at Heavenly Chocolates with the theme “A Floral Feast”.  Click the image above for more details.  😀
Aside from the usual single-origin hot chocolate sippers and Sachi Nama bites, I will also be letting participants sample milk-chocolate lavender shortbread and rose-infused Ecuador single-origin truffles. Admission is, again, absolutely free.

 

There are two sessions: one at 3PM and the other at 6PM and they both run for only about an hour. Let me know in the comments if you (and your friends) will be coming as slots are limited.

Hope to see y’all there. 🙂

In Which Old-School Shrimp Fritters Take Center Stage…

Anyone up for a shrimp fritter - or two?

One of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life is a large shrimp fritter referred to locally as okoy.  Well, shrimp fritter would actually be both a misnomer and an understatement as the best examples of this dish are huge patties or frittatas that are roughly about a half-foot in diameter, studded with shrimp on every visible surface.

Originally, these fritters were only made in fishing communities by the shores of Laguna Lake and hibe, tiny freshwater shrimps, were the only permissible seafood for them.  Over time, though, the popularity of these fritters spread to other parts of the country and the shrimps were augmented with the addition of sliced onions (both onion bulbs and spring onions), mung bean sprouts, and grated squash, resulting in a fritter similar to Japanese kakiage.  In some parts of the country, fresh dilis [anchovies] or dulong [goby fry] are used instead of shrimp.  Deplorably, even vegetarians have jumped onto the okoy bandwagon by replacing the seafood with either finely diced momengoshi tofu or – horrors! – shredded vegemeat.  (Eww!)

I wasn't kidding when I said the shrimp covered EVERY available surface...

There are also different methods by which okoy are cooked.  The most popular involves chucking the tiny shrimp (or anchovies) and any vegetables into a batter made with eggs and a combination of salt, pepper, wheat flour, and rice flour or cornstarch.  This method is normally used by home cooks preparing okoy as the main dish for a family meal.

Another, and this is one usually done by people who prepare okoy as a cocktail snack, calls for the making of a very thin batter which is poured into circles onto a very hot greased pan.  The shrimp – and only shrimp are used here – are simply sprinkled onto one side of the fritter, then turned over to crisp up.

 

Here's lunch!

While I sometimes grab an okoy from one of the snack stalls at the bus stop to munch on the ride home, I seriously prefer to have my fritter served up with a cup of rice, a small bowl of soup, and a small bowl of sinamak or sukang kinurat (chili and garlic-infused white vinegar) where I can add a welcome tang to each crispy, crunchy, savory bite.

In Which a Classic Side Dish is Given a Spin…

Salade Jaune

I’m a sucker for a really good potato salad.  So much, in fact, that if I know that there’s a fresh-made tub of the stuff in the fridge, I will immediately grab a plate and serve myself an ample – more than ample – helping of it.  We’re serious about potato salad at our house and we do it very well.

However, even a die-hard potato salad fan will end up experiencing palate fatigue at one point or another.  That said, I decided to give an old favorite a sharp-tasting tweak last Saturday.  This tweak involved adding whole-grain mustard and finely chopped parsley to the salad dressing as opposed to leaving it plain.  Flavor-wise, it adds sharpness and an herbaceous freshness to what would otherwise be a mild-tasting dish.  The addition of carrot chunks and green beans also added some crunch and sweetness.

The resulting salad is a bright yellow that’s perfect for perking up people in dismal weather.  (Which, oddly enough, I prefer over summer warmth!)  Hence, naturally, its name: Salade Jaune – Yellow Salad.

Salade Jaune

  • 1/4 kilo new potatoes, rinsed of dirt and halved
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 5 – 6 green beans, topped, tailed, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 2/3 cup whole-egg mayonnaise

In a bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the parsley with the mustard and mayonnaise.  Set aside.

Boil the potatoes and carrots till tender.  Add the green beans and cook for another two minutes.  Drain and toss with the dressing whilst still hot so that the vegetables can absorb the flavors.  Sprinkle the remaining parsley over and serve.

Serves 12 as a side.

Chicken fingers and potato salad for dinner!

This salad goes beautifully with my Parmesan-herb chicken fingers – the recipe for which I’ll post some other day.  😉