Lo Mai Gai (Sticky Chicken Rice)

The sticky rice parcels are always my favourite dish when I go and eat Dim Sum.

Technically these should be wrapped in lotus leaves, but I have been betrayed by every single Asian market I visited in the city. Parchment paper works fine, but you lose some of the aromas.

The packets, once cooked, can be cooled down and frozen. Then grabbed from the freezer and thrown back into the steamer for a week-night meal with zero brain power involved.

Yields 6 packets, could be stretched easily to 8.

Ingredients

4 cups sweet rice (glutinous rice)
2-3 Chinese sausages halved then sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Vegetable oil
For the Chicken :
3 skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 tea spoon corn starch
2 tea spoon oyster sauce
1/2 tea spoon Mirin
2 tea spoon dark soy sauce
1/2 tea spoon fresh ground pepper
2 pinches of salt

Rice seasoning :
1 tea spoon mirin
2 tea spoon toasted sesame oil
2 tea spoon oyster sauce
2 tea spoon dark soy sauce
couple of pinches of dried mushrooms
2 shallots, chopped

ingredients

***

1. Cover the rice with water and allow to soak a minimum of 4 hours, preferable overnight.
soak

2. Combine the ingredients for the chicken marinade in a bowl.
marinade

3. Remove any gristle from the chicken thighs and cut into thin strips.
chicken1

4. Toss with the marinade, cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
marinade2

5. In a small bowl, combine the liquid ingredients for the rice seasoning.
sauce

6. In a different bowl, put the dried mushrooms.
mushrooms

7. And cover with hot water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes
mushrooms2

8. Drain and chop the mushrooms.
mushrooms3

9. Drain the rice. Take your time and remove as much water as possible.
drain

10. Add the seasoning mix and stir to coat the rice.
season

11. Throw in the shallots and mushrooms.
combine

12. Stir to distribute.
combine2

13. In a skillet, warm the oil and add the garlic.
stuffing1

14. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring all the while, until some caramelization starts.
stuffing2

15. Add the Chinese sausages.
stuffing3

16. As soon as the chicken is barely cooked through, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
stuffing4

17. Get ready to assemble! Scoop 1/2 a cup of the rice in the middle of a parchment paper sheet, closer to the bottom.
assemble1

18. Spoon some of the chicken and sausage mixture over the rice.
assemble2

19. Scoop another 1/2 cup of rice on top.
assemble3

20. Fold the bottom over the rice, then both sides in snugly (fold the edges of the right and left sides if the paper is too wide). Stand the packet straight and shake the rice to the bottom to make sure everything is compact. Fold the top part over (folding the edges if too long). Secure with kitchen twine. Repeat as needed until you run out of rice and/or stuffing.
fold

21. Put the packets in the basket of a steamer for 90 minutes. If you have bamboo steamers, go ahead and use those. Check on the water every 30 minutes to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
steamer

22. Once the time is up the rice should have plumped up nicely.
steamed

23. Cut open to reveal the delicious content. Because I stuff them on their sides one part of the packet ends up having more sauce/caramelization. If using stacked bamboo steamers, this would not be an issue.
open

24. The rice should pull away to reveal the stuffing.
open+stuffing

25. Any portions you don’t plan to eat right away can be put on a cooling rack and chilled.
cooling-tray

26. Then wrapped in plastic wrap and put into a freezer bag for future eating.
freeze

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Sausage and Fennel Seeds Pasta

This a delicious pasta dish that makes for a difference on a tomato sauce based dish. Packed with flavours and reheats well.

Ingredients:
1 box of rotinis
1 portion of sausage mix
2 sweet yunnan peppers
2 table spoon fennel seeds
1 cup vermouth
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 table spoon dried oregano
1 package of frozen spinach
Parmesan, to taste
Olive oil
ingredients

***

1. In a mortar and pestle, combine the yunnan peppers and the fennel seeds.
spices

2. Crush until the peppers are broken apart and the seeds start breaking up. Set aside.
spices2

3. In a large skillet, heat some of the olive oil. Add the pork and break any large clumps. Get your pasta started.
sausage1

4. When all of the pork is getting colour, add the fennel seeds and peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, you want the meat to caramelize.
sausage2

5. Pour the vermouth and lemon juice over the meat. Add the lemon zest. Cook down until the liquid reduces by half.
liquids

6. Add the dried oregano and spinach. Cover so the spinach thaws faster.
spinash

7. Your pasta should be ready so drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Stir the thawed spinach in with the meat.
cooked

8. Stir in the cooked pasta. If it looks dry add some of the cooking water. Grate parmesan on top to taste.
pasta

9. Serve with more grated parmesan
serve2

Pearl Couscous with Dried Fruits and Nuts

This makes for good lunches because it keeps for a while, a nice side dish, or an interesting offering in a potluck. Most importantly it’s easy and quick to get together.

Adapted from Foodiecrush.

Ingredients:
2 cups pearl couscous
1 cup dried apricot
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios (roasted, unsalted)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (roasted, unsalted)

For the dressing:
1 french shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
2 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tea spoon dijon mustard
2 tea spoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
ingredients

***

1. Combine the dressing ingredients.
dressing

2. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and set aside.
smooth-dressing

3. Cook the pearl couscous (like pasta) until done but it still has a bit of texture. Drain and coat with the dressing,
add-dressing

4. Cut the dried apricots into smaller pieces. Add the cranberries. I aim for roughly 1 1/2 cup of dried fruits total.
dried-fruits

5. Add the fruits to the couscous.
add-fruits

6. Add the pistachios and pumpkin seeds.
nuts

7. Mix well to combine and transfer to a serving bowl. This can be eaten cold or warm.
serve

Maple Pecan Pie Squares

This makes a fantastic dessert to share in potlucks and gatherings.

Ingredients
For the crust
1 cup unsalted butter, to room temperature (2 sticks)
2/3 cup sugar
2 2/3 cup flour
1/4 tea spoon salt

For the filling
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 table spoon milk (or cream)
2 cups halved pecans

ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Use a paper towel to spread on any missed spots and remove the excess.
foil

2. In a mixer or food processor, cream together the sugar and butter.
crust1

3. Add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed.
crust2

4. You want to have pea-sized chunks of butter. crust3

5. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and press down into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
crust4

6. While the crust is baking, combine the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar and milk into a sauce pot. Allow to simmer for 1 minute.
filling1

7. Stir in the pecans.
filling2

8. Remove the crust from the oven. it should barely be starting to get golden.
crust-cooked

9. Pour the hot filling unto the hot crust and spread the pecan as evenly as possible. Return to the oven for 12-18 minutes. It’s best not to overcook, the filling will thicken and set as it cools.
pour

10. Allow to cool fully.
cook

11. remove from the dish using the aluminum foil sling. Discard the foil.
remove

12. Cut into small squares and eat.
cut

Mechoui Lamb

This makes for succulent, spice-crusted lamb that falls off the bone. Makes the whole house smell delicious too.

Ingredients
1 leg of lamb
70g butter
3 cloves of garlic
2 tea spoon cumin
1 tea spoon paprika
3 tea spoon coriander
1/4 tea spoon salt
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat oven to 425F
Grind the spices and combine with the butter.
butter1

2. Crush the garlic and add to the butter. Mix until smooth and incorporated.
butter2

3. With a small sharp knife, make little incisions into the lamb all over, making little pockets.
meat1

4. Rub the butter mixture all over, making sure some goes into those pockets. Place on a grill in a roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
meat2

5. Put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Baste the meat and lower the oven to 315F. Cook for an other hour, hour and a half, basting every 30 minutes. The roast is done when the meat pulls easily from the bone (or starts to fall apart, if you have a boneless roast).
meat3

6. Slice and serve.
serve

Chickpea and sweet potato curry

An easy, tasty and lazy weeknight meal. Warm and spicy and filling.

Ingredients
2 small onions (or 1 larger one), diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
an inch (or so) of ginger, grated
1 table spoon curry mix of your choice, ground
1 can chickpeas
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup diced tomatoes
basmati rice, to serve
1 table spoon peanut oil
ingredients

***

1. In a thick bottomed saucepan warm the oil. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring often, until translucent.
onions

2. Add the garlic, the ginger, and the curry spices. Cook the aromatics with the onions until fragrant.
aromates

3. Rinse the chickpeas and add to the pot. Peel the sweet potato and cut roughly into cubes. Add it to the pot as well.
veggies1

4. Add the coconut milk and the water.
Mix well and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potato cubes are tender.
liquids

5. Stir in the frozen peas.
peas

6. And the tomatoes.
Once the peas and tomatoes are heated through the curry is ready.
tomatoes

7. Serve with the basmati rice.
serve

Lazy Jambalaya

Wholly inaccurate, but easy enough on a weekday. A satisfying one-pot meal with plenty of leftovers for lunches. Leftover portions freeze rather well, so that is always a bonus.

Ingredients :
3 Italian sausage (spicy)
1 onion, chopped
3 celery branches, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 table spoon cajun spices
1 table spoon paprika
1 lb shrimp
olive oil
ingredients

1. In a large enamel faitout or dutch oven, warm about a table spoon of the oil. Remove the casing from the sausages and add to the pot.
sausage1

2. Break apart into clumps as it cooks.
sausage2

3. Once the meat is almost fully cooked, add the onion, bell pepper and celery.
veggies

4. Stir in and cook for a  minute or two then add the frozen peas.
peas

5. Give the peas a mine to start thawing then add the tomatoes and garlic.
tomatoes

6. Add the rice. Stir it in, to coat the rice.
rice

7. Add the chicken broth, paprika and cajun spices.
stock

8. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes (to get the rice started)
cook1

9. Add the shrimps, still frozen, in a single layer on top.
shrimp

10.  Cover and return to heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the shrimps are nicely pink.
shrimp2

11. Allow to stand for a few minutes (the liquid will be absorbed). Portion out and enjoy!
serve