Jamie’s Roast Chicken

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My boys love watching Jamie Oliver cooks on TV. That includes their Dad. I think it’s a great consolation to know that he is not the only one who makes it look like a tornado has just touched down in the kitchen every time he cooks. Even a celebrity chef shares the same traits.

I called Jamie the ‘messy’ cook and I think it makes my boys love him even more. How often do you get messy and good at the same time. I think for once, they felt like someone stood up for them, that being messy isn’t always a bad thing. Jamie Oliver, the messy cook who makes everything looks delicious.

They love how he uses his bare hands to crush up herbs, squeeze lemons, massage his meat and plate his food. Unpretentious, messy and fun. I have been watching him on and off on TV for a long time now but it was only not too long ago that I got passed his messy way of preparing food to start appreciating his culinary skills. He really makes cooking and plating looks like messy art, fun and inspirational.

I started following him after seeing him on TV, on how he raided American school canteen to bring healthier lunch to the kids. My boys were attending schools in America then and school lunch made up a big part of school. School hours were long, from 7 plus in the morning till 3 plus in the afternoon. They could pre-order lunch from school or pack their own food. My boys preferred the latter.

The school had a microwave in the canteen and the students were allowed to use it to heat up their lunch. The standard food served in school were fish fingers, chicken nuggets, cold sandwiches or some kind of biscuits, chips or crackers. My boys were known for their hot lunches. They were the Chinese dudes who made the canteen smell good (or bad). Their friends and teachers were always curious about the food they were eating (even more so if they used their chopsticks!), usually some rice with stir fried dishes we had the night before. They must thought my boys were weird to be eating such weird stuff for lunch.

My boys learned about eating REAL food. They learned that anything that comes in a box, tin, bag or bottle were usually not good for them. Food that sits on the supermarket shelves are food that has had something done to it to make it more convenient and ready to eat. Food engineers from the chemical industry are the ‘chefs’ for these food. If you take a closer look at the giant supermarts in the US, there were only a few aisles that sell fresh food or real food!

So I was excited to learned about Jamie’s attempt to reform school lunch programs, to help fight obesity and change eating habits. Such habits start from young and such knowledge needs to be taught to our children.

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So the first recipe I took from Jamie’s website was how to roast a chicken!

Not a great deal huh. But it was a breakthrough for someone whose cooking didn’t go beyond your typical Asian style of braising, stewing, steaming and stir frying. I was always worried that the roasted chicken will turn out either too dry or not cooked. It is so much easier to buy a ready cooked one!

The first time I cooked this was 2 Christmas ago and I have lost count of the number of times I have used this recipes. It is one of our favourite one pot meal these days. On days when I am too lazy to cook, I would season the chicken, throw in some hardy vegetables, dump everything into the oven and set it to Auto. I could bring the kids for a swim or go for a run and dinner will still be ready on time. It’s a life saver.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Jamie’s site.
 

Roast Chicken
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Total Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole chicken
  2. sea salt
  3. freshly ground black pepper
  4. 4 potatoes
  5. 1 large lemon
  6. 1 whole bulb garlic , broken into cloves
  7. 1 handful fresh thyme
  8. olive oil
  9. 1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 190ÂșC.
  2. Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes into small chunks, put them into the water with the whole lemon and the garlic cloves, and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier potatoes), then remove the lemon and garlic.
  5. While the lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times.
  6. Pat the chicken with kitchen paper and rub it all over with olive oil.
  7. Push the garlic cloves, the whole lemon, rosemary and the thyme into the cavity, then put the chicken into a roasting tray and cook in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes.
  8. Remove the chicken to a plate. Toss the potatoes in the tray with the juice and rosemary leaves. Shake the tray around, then make a gap in the centre of the potatoes and put the chicken back in.
  9. Cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are nice and golden. (You can tell the chicken is cooked when the thigh meat pulls easily away from the bone and the juices run clear.)
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
MalMal Our Inspiration http://4malmal.com/

 

 

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Bread Making

So my ingenious friends bought me a bread maker machine a few months back and I have been making really good use of it. My boys love the bread from the bread machine and they could easily finish a loaf within 2 days. I don’t really eat them because I am on a low gluten diet but the boys eat them for breakfast and they bring them to school for snacks.

Before this, I have been contemplating whether to get a bread maker but I was worried that it would be cumbersome to use and the bread wouldn’t turn out nice and I would end up with another white elephant in the kitchen.

I fret about what bread to buy. You know how being a mother (and aging) makes one conscious about what goes into her food. I read my food labels and I try to avoid food that contains ingredients that I can’t pronounce. You find plenty of those on the packaging of bread you get off-the-shelf.

The bread maker is one of my most frequently used kitchen appliances now and it’s good that I know exactly what goes into my bread. I wish someone told me earlier that every family who eats bread should own one, much like every family who eats rice should own a rice cooker!

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To make your bread, load the ingredients, choose the type of bread you want, choose the size of bread, choose colour of your bread and press Start.

3 hours later … Voila!

The recipe book that came with the machine was great but I find the bread a little too dry. Apart from flour and yeast, the recipe called for water and vegetable oil. I talked to a friend who is experienced in bread making and she recommended Brioche which is essentially a French pastry made in the same way as bread.

The recipe for Brioche uses milk and butter in replacement of water and vegetable oil and the final product turns out to be richer and lighter. I love it so much that I now use it as my basic recipe for different bread.

I throw in chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, oat, nuts or seeds to vary the flavour. All it takes is a couple of minutes to gather the ingredients, press a few buttons and the machine will do the magic!

Here’s my friend’s recipe for the Brioche.
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
70g butter
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1.5 teaspoon yeast
2 cups 2 tablespoon high protein flour

For families with kids who are lactose intolerant, you can use 1 cup of water and 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil in replacement of butter and milk and 1 egg instead of 2 eggs.

If you use a bread maker, do share with me your recipe!

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A French Baguette, An Incidental Bake

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There was much feasting this holiday season. We had family over for Christmas dinner and friends over to warm up our new place. I found myself spending more time in the kitchen than usual. Either that or I was frantically searching for new recipes.

A couple of girlfriends came with a bread machine the other day and I was thrilled. Yes, I am at that stage where receiving kitchen appliances excite me.

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After putting the kids to bed one night, I decided to check out my new toy.

I was glad that It didn’t come with a 100 page manual in 10 different languages. The recipe that came with it looked simple enough for a non baker to understand. According to the recipe, you just need to put all the ingredients in the stated order, press a few buttons and voila! A freshly baked bread will be waiting for you for breakfast the next morning. The simplicity got me even more excited. It had been a long day and I was deadbeat but I thought how difficult could it be to measure the handful of ingredients and dump them into the machine. I could do everything in a jiffy and surprise the kids with a freshly baked loaf for breakfast the next day.

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I took a quick glance at the recipe and picked out French bread as it required the least number of ingredients and could finish in just less than 2 hours! (I later realized I made a mistake, it would take more than 3 hours to complete)

I carefully measured everything, making sure they were added in the correct sequence. It took me less than 15 minutes. I happily texted my girlfriends and thanked them again for the wonderful gift. And left the machine running while I packed up the cardboard box that came with the machine.

It was then that I heard a rattling in the box. I took a closer look and found a small metal piece that looked like a part that should go into the bread pan. It turned out to be the kneading paddle! My heart sank. What was I thinking, trying to knead a dough without a kneading paddle?! There goes my first loaf of bread!

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The heating coil was already red hot by then and I swiftly transferred everything onto a mixing bowl. I was ready to throw everything into the trash but my friend who was still on the chat had some experience at making bread suggested that I should try hand kneading.

I took her advice and gave the mix a quick knead, much like an attempt to resuscitate. Thereafter, I left the dough in an oiled bowl and cling wrapped it. I wasn’t hopeful that what I had done would be enough to save the dough. I was quite sure I had ‘killed’ the yeast knowing how fussy yeast was. Too hot, it dies and too cold, it remains dormant.

A quick search for a French bread recipe on the Internet yield so many different recipes. Unfortunately my brain at 12 midnight wasn’t capable of finding the closest match for the recipe that I had used especially when I had to do unit conversion.

Surprisingly the dough that had been sitting in the bowl for the last hour had grown in size. Ideally it should have doubled but I wasn’t complaining, the dough was still ‘alive’!

Without much delay, I turned the dough onto my kitchen top and started rolling it out, like what I saw in the videos. I wasn’t sure but I thought some kneading shouldn’t hurt.

I divided the dough into 2 and rolled each out into rectangular shapes before folding in the sides and sealing up the edges. I made a few slashes on top like on most baguettes. The oven temperature was set to 190 degC and for the next 30 minutes, (the timing was a rough guess, an average bteween 20 to 40 minutes) I planted myself in front of the oven, anxious to see how the bread would turn out.

After what seem like a long while, the alarm finally went off and 2 loaves of good looking bread emerged. It was already 1am in the morning.

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The colour of the crust looked about right but it wasn’t crispy enough and the inside wasn’t as fluffy as those we like from Cedele. I was glad they were edible and didn’t taste like some rocks or stones. It was decent enough for my boys to gobble a whole loaf for breakfast the next morning.

And that was pretty much how I ended up making my first loaf of French baguette. An incidental hand knead loaf that I wasn’t even sure how to replicate! It was a mishmash of everything that I could gather on the Internet when my brain wasn’t functioning 100%.

IMG_4986Then again, I really shouldn’t be making bread the labour intensive way since now I have an all singing all dancing bread maker machine sitting in my kitchen!

 

Note : In case you are adventurous enough to give this a try using the labour intensive method, these are the ingredients I used

1. Water 260g
2. Salt 6g
3. Oil 9g
4. Sugar 12g
5. Bread Flour 400g
6. Yeast 5g

Good Luck!

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