Friday, September 20, 2013

Home-made Chicken Stock

I've been cooking porridge at home, and to flavour it I've been using Maggi's concentrated chicken stock with no MSG. The problem here is, sometimes the supermarkets don't carry that particular variant often enough, and I end up hunting for it high and low. Some friends suggested why not make my own chicken stock at home, and at first I thought it would involve a lot of work (the lazy bone in me), but then I figured with the long weekend, maybe I'll give it a shot.

Googled some recipes and decided to go with Jamie Oliver's recipe for chicken stock.  What I did not anticipate was... my biggest pot, wasn't big enough :P We ended up splitting the recipe to two pots.

2 kg raw chicken carcasses, legs or wings chopped (I don't know what Jamie meant by "higher-welfare chicken", we bought 5 kampung chicken and 3 normal farm chicken, cos the stall ran out of kampung chicken)
½ head garlic, unpeeled and bashed
5 sticks celery, roughly chopped
2 medium leeks, roughly chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
5 sprigs of fresh parsley
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
5 whole black peppercorns (actually I used a handful)
6 litres cold water
Salt to taste

Clean the carcass and remove all that grim,blood, skin and veins. If you're squirmish, this recipe ain't for you, cos you really gotta get your hands dirty. Place the chicken carcasses, garlic, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns in a large, deep-bottomed pan. Add the cold water and bring to the boil, skim from time to time (cos all that blood and goo will float to the surface), then turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer gently for 3-4 hours, skimming as necessary, then pass the stock through a fine sieve. I would salt it a little to bring the flavour out, so it's really up to you.

Allow the stock to cool, then refrigerate. then divide it into small plastic containers (I used jars) at this point and freeze it. It will keep in the fridge for about 4 days and in the freezer for 2-3 months. The colour of the stock should be about amber in colour, like the sample below. Ours came up to something similar, a little lighter actually, but maybe it's because of the type of chicken as well. Never the less, it still taste pretty awesome.

Image from Reluctant Gourmet 

I had refrigerated one jar as I wanted to use it the next day to make porridge. When I took the refrigerated one out to cool to room temperature, there was a thin layer of oil on the surface, so simply take a spoon and gently skin the oil before using the stock.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Home-made Gyoza

It was a long weekend due to Malaysia Day, and I was feeling adventurous with food. I had some minced pork in the fridge and I wanted to make something out of it. So I mentioned to hubby about making gyoza, and he fully agreed. I went hunting for some gyoza wrappers from a nearby supermarket, and got to work.

The gyozas turned out pretty well actually. Hubby helped me pan fry them in batches, and the first batch of 10 had a slightly burnt bottom because the heat was a little too high, so after a few adjustments we kinda have the cooking method down to pat.

Home-made gyoza with pork fillings. Perfect with black vinegar!

Store bought gyoza wrappers (the pack I bought had 30 pieces).
Minced pork, about 400 grams.
Ginger, about thumb-size, peeled and grated.
Garlic, 2-3 cloves, chopped.
Chives, chopped finely.
1/2 tps salt
1/2 tps white pepper
1 tbps sesame oil (because I love sesame oil)

Note: Some recipes call for cabbage in the filling, but I opted to use chives instead cos I love the pungent aroma of chives.

For cooking:
Oil to coat the skillet
100ml water

In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients up and set aside. Set all the gyoza wrappers on a big plate and using a teaspoon, scoop one teaspoon of filling into the wrapper (too much and you'll have trouble sealing the wrapper). Dab a bit of water on the sides to seal the ends, folding pleats along the way. My first few tries to fold pleats didn't work out so well, but slowly I got the hang of it hahahah! They're still not as pretty as restaurant style ones, I'll practise more ;)

Once I got all the gyozas wrapped up, heat up the skillet with oil on medium heat. Place the gyozas in batches and brown the under side until it's golden. Once it's brown, pour the water into the skillet and close the lid, the water will sizzle and evaporate (will take a few minutes), cooking the top side of the gyoza. If you want you can drizzle a little bit more sesame oil on the gyoza. When the meat feels firm to the touch, the gyozas are done. Serve with some black vinegar (or you can add some chopped chilli into the vinegar for some spicy flavour).

Here's the recipe I tweaked from:

My next adventure with gyoza, I want to try to make my own gyoza/dumpling skin :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's September

Time is really zipping by for me this year, can you believe it's September already?!? Where did the time go?!?

Looking back, the year has been one which is full of new experiences and challenges. Last year I made a heavy decision to leave a company I've been with for the last 7 years (read about it here), a decision which came about after a painful and traumatic event. I told myself that I had to find clarity, to find way to get back up after taking such a huge fall.

The year 2013 is to be a time of healing for me, a time to reflect, and a time to just take every day as a new lease of life, with new possibilities. That much I told myself. I couldn't allow myself to sink any further, I had to get back up some how. And I did.

I'm glad I made the decision to take some time off before starting my new job earlier this year. And I'm glad I managed to find a new place with supportive people to be with every day. I'm also glad to have been able to put myself to a test, to a new challenge, to see just how far and how much I can actually achieve. And I have surprised myself, I really have. The road hasn't been easy, but I've managed so far, and with some pretty good results along the way to boot.

Over the last 8 months, I've been working on a project for the company, and it has recently been launched. There's still much to do and much to improve, but what has been completed so far, has also given the organization a new lease in life, and I'm glad to have had the chance to play such a big part in it. Check out the project here.