Paper Baked Chicken

I’ve always wanted to experiment with paper baking. The difference between baking and grilling is that baking keeps the moisture and aromas better. This is especially true for dishes seasoned with wine. Anyone who thinks that bay leaves have mild flavours and tries baking with bay leaves wrapped inside will realise that this herb can give off a very strong and unpleasant smell if you manage to seal everything in during the baking process. Used in moderation, all seasonings and condiments attain peak performance when used for baking.

Here’s my paper baked chicken using breast meat which is notoriously dry.

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The first step is to prepare the marinate. I’ve got garlic, ginger, sweet sauce, black pepper, oyster sauce, cornstarch.

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The chicken is added. This is when I pour in some hua diao wine and let the marinate sit for an hour or so in the refrigerator.

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Ready for the oven. After marinating for an hour, the chicken cubes are placed on baking paper and folded. The wrapped chicken is allowed to bake for 30 minutes at about 220 deg C.

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Fresh from the oven and steaming hot. There was quite a bit of leakage, so layer of aluminium foil might have helped.

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I love the way the fragrance of the wine is kept. Even though it’s chicken breast, the meat was not dry. Perhaps it could have been even tastier if the cubes were cut smaller and some chilli oil to add some kick to it. Do try this at home. The kids will love it.

Quattro Formaggi Pizza

This is one pizza that beats any Pizza Hut hands down. Quattro Formaggi means Four Cheeses in Italian and to make it, you obviously need 4 cheeses. I’ve come across numerous combinations, but the cheese that is found in every recipe is blue cheese. The Italian version is called gonzonzola. I have with me, Danish blue cheese.

Danish blue cheese

Danish blue cheese

Blue cheese is unmistakable with its pungent, fermented smell. My maid once threw my blue cheese away because she thought it had spoiled. Anyway, like durians, you need to acquire a taste for blue cheese. Once you’ve acquired it, you’ll be hooked.

Next, let me introduce my other cheesy friends – the supporting characters. All of them are readily available at Cold Storage, but be forewarned that they are not your regular cheeses and are quite pricey. I don’t recommend that you use the cheaper types of cheese.

Dutch Gouda

mature Dutch Gouda

The older the gouda, the stronger the taste. Frankly, not really into Western food, this is my first encounter with gouda. I find it rather firm, smooth and has a nice, robust flavour second only to the blue cheese here.

provolone

provolone

Provolone is the only Italian cheese I have here. The taste is very mild and doesn’t seem add much to the overall flavour of the pizza. I probably won’t use this cheese the next time.

Danish mozzarella

Danish mozzarella

This is the second Danish cheese I have here. It’s very soft in texture and has a rich, creamy taste which makes it quite suited for this pizza.

pizza preparation

pizza preparation

Of course, it would be a rewarding experience to make the pizza dough myself, but a few days before this, my friend had tried to make a noodle dough herself. Instead of getting the dough done, she was done by the dough after 2 exhausting hours. Without much time to burn, I got a packet of pre-made pizza dough from the frozen food section.

Very simply, you’s just need to spread the 4 different types of cheese onto the dough. I then baked the cheesed dough for 10-15mins at 200 deg C.

quattro formagi

quattro formagi

And this is my very first quattro formaggi! The cheese overflowed the edges a little, but nobody was complaining because it smelled and tasted so good.

pizza slice

pizza slice

Do try this at home. Your kids are sure to love. I sure wish I could offer some to my friend who was done by the dough.

Spaghetti Ala Cartoccio

Ladies and gentlemen. My first and most ambitious attempt at spaghetti ala cartoccio. Actually, the dish is not as complicated as I thought. Let’s go through some of the ingredients.

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First, heat up a pot of water, add some salt and boil one packet of spaghetti until it’s a little bit harder than al dente. Drain the water and set it aside. Next, fry some garlic and onion in olive oil until they’re cooked and giving out a stinging aroma.

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Next, we put the tomatoes in a blender and turn them into pulp.

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Add in the fried onions, garlic and blend that with the tomato pulp.

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Pour the mixture into a skillet, add a couple of teaspoons full of salt, heat up and mix well. I’ve added a dash of rosemary for good measure. Once the mixture is bubbling, you can turn off the heat and set it aside.

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In a pot, add some water, port wine, bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add seafood – shrimp, cuttlefish, mussels and bring to a boil. Once the liquid starts boiling, turn off the heat. Don’t overcook.

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Put all your ingredients into a baking tray. Remember to pour your sauce as well as some of the liquid from boiling the seafood into the tray. Fold the foil to cover the entire tray. Bake for 25 mins at 220 deg C.

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This is what it looks after after baking. The aroma from the garlic and port wine was mouth-watering.

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My kid says that it’s almost indistinguishable from what he had at the restaurant. He was probably just flattering. I thought it could do with a bit more tomatoes. Anyway, it’s my first attempt. Will definitely be doing more of this in future.