Kitchen Workout 3
My humble kitchen has had a massive workout in the past couple of months. Boss M hosted a dinner event and I stupidly generously volunteered to cook for the party, not before asking how many were attending. It turned to out to be 50. Easy peasy, I thought. I’ll just cook in portions and put it all together, no biggie. Well it took me 4 trips to the market and no less than 12 hours in the kitchen (1 trial lunch included) to get 2 dishes put together. It was Indian-themed and so I put together a mixed vegetable masala and cauliflower Kashmiri. I prepped, cooked and stirred all together 4 cauliflowers, 12 zucchini, 2 cabbages, 12 tomatoes, 10 carrots, 8 onions, 4 garlic bulbs, 500g string beans and 1kg frozen peas. Never again, I repeat, never again.
After that tiresome week, I vowed not to cook for at least a month, but seriously, who am I kidding right? I-Hua organised a chicken-themed dinner so I came up with a Chinese-styled chicken salad dish. I named it “Qin Shi Huang salad” as opposed to Caesar salad. It had Emperor chicken (hence needed to be named after an emperor), shredded over blanched asparagus and broccolini, scattered with wood ear fungus and goji berries.
It’s very simple to make. I cheat by buying a packet of Seah’s Emperor Herbal Chicken mix.
Follow the instructions and throw in a handful of dried fungus and goji into the bag before sealing. Steam over low heat for at least 2 hours (I used a size 12 chook). In the meantime, lightly blanch 2 bunches of broccolini and asparagus and arrange on a plate. Once the chicken is cooked, shred it and pile over the vegetables. Julienne the wood ear fungus and toss over the mix, together with the goji berries. Drizzle over the juices from the steamed chicken and voila, it’s done.
I also contributed dessert that evening, black forest cupcakes. The recipe is from Milady who made these lovelies for Pan’s birthday party and I fell head over heels in love with them. I am a huge huge fan of black forest cake. The combination of sour cherries, sweet whipped cream and chocolate sponge makes my tummy rumble, but alas, putting together an elaborate black forest cake is beyond my current kitchen skills. One day, I will bake Gary’s Black Forest cake from MasterChef. One day.
So, back to the cupcakes:
I start by making the cherry jam. You can use store-bought cherry jam if time permits, but I do prefer a personal touch.
150g canned or bottled Morello cherries
50g of the cherry water
2 tablespoons sugar (or more if you have a sweet sweet tooth)
- Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and squish the cherries with the back of a spoon.
- Bring everything to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently.
- Stop once the water is reduced to about 10% and gets syrupy.
- Set aside to cool.
280g castor sugar
200g plain flour, sifted
40g cocoa, sifted
80g butter, softened
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
- Pre-heat over at 180 degrees C.
- Place flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt and butter into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Beat the eggs and whisk in the milk. Slowly pour this into the processor while it’s running and process until smooth.
- Spoon in cupcake cases (I use a small muffin tray). Fill each case to ¾ full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- Allow to cool.
To assemble it all together:
- Whisk 150ml cream until soft peaks are achieved.
- Cut out a cube of cake and spoon in some cherry jam.
- Top with a dollop of whipped cream.
- Replace the cube of cake and press it in gently.
- Top with a small amount of whipped cream.
- Place a cherry on the top of the whipped cream.
Enjoy its prettiness and devour in 1 mouthful.
I-Hua’s chicken party was a huge gut-busting success. There was heaps of food and surprisingly, no one got too chickened-out. I-Hua and Aaron put together Hainanese Chicken Rice, Ayam Sioh (Peranakan tamarind chicken), Gapi chicken stirfry, Crispy buttermilk fried chicken and a simple onion omelette. Winston made his Dad’s awesome grilled chicken wings (I simply can’t get enough of this!) and Fakebooo made his tasty tender Ayam Pongteh. Michelle contributed a zebra cake which was full of alternating buttery and chocolatey goodness. She also gifted us with homemade Kaya! Thanks for everyone’s delicious food and especially to I-Hua and Aaron for inviting and hosting this marvellous pakkeh party!