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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Chicken Korma

My search for good Indian cuisine recipe continues even though I don't blog a lot these days. I have made a few dishes like chicken/prawn vindaloo, chicken tikka and chicken tiikka masala, etc. recipes that I have found from my cook books or on the net but sadly, none of it makes it to our list of 'Family favourites'. That is until I stumbled upon a video of an Indian lady showing us how to cook chicken korma - the dish that Pierre and Little One love. I checked her list of ingredients and it looked promisingly good. On top of that her instructions are also very clear.

From what I understand, korma is type of curry made up of yogurt, cream, or coconut milk and seed paste. It has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian version. This dish is a Mughlai cuisine of Northern India and Pakistan. And it is a very popular dish in Pakistani/Indian restaurants in Europe and even in Singapore.

This recipe is definitely a keeper and I truly encourages you to make this. Your guests will definitely rave about it and you won't regret it.

Sorry, there isn't any picture here as the photos that I took that night was really too ugly to be seen and posted here. I will take a good one when I make this again.

Chicken Korma
Ingredients
  • 75 g raw cashew nuts (soak in 150 ml of hot/boiling water for 30 minutes)
  • a pinch of saffron threads (crush it with your fingers and soak it in 3 tbsp of hot milk for 20 minutes)
  • 700 g chicken breast, cut into chunks or big cubes (remove skin and fats)
  • 125 g plain yogurt (if you have greek yogurt, it is best as it has less water in it.)
  • 1 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 150 ml single cream
  • some ghee or unsalted butter or vegetable oil
  • 5 pcs green cardamon pod, bruised it with your fingers
  • 5 cm cinnamon - break it into 2
  • 4 pcs cloves
  • 1 large onion (red or yellow), finely chopped
  • 1 pc green chilli (finely chopped), optional
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
Chicken Korma
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, mix yogurt (drained your plain yogurt in a muslin cloth to get rid of some water), gram flour, garlic and ginger paste together. In a ziplog bag, marinate the cubed chicken pieces with this mixture, making sure that every pieces is well coated. Leave it in the fridge for about 4 - 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Blend your cashew nuts with the soaked water and single cream until it is a puree.
  3. Heat up your wok or pot with some ghee or unsalted butter. I use vegetable oil.
  4. When wok is hot, stir fry the chopped onions together in cloves, cardamon and cinnamon for about 5 - 6 minutes (this is to remove the moisture in the onions).
  5. Stir in chilli powder and coriander powder until blend. Lower the fire.
  6. Add in the marinated chicken pieces. Turn up the heat to medium high and cook until the chicken pieces are opaque.
  7. Add salt and pour in 150 ml of warm water to cook the chicken. (Do not use cold water as it will impair the flavour and taste of dish.) Cover it and let it cook for about 15 minutes.
  8. Stir in the creamy cashew nut puree and let it simmer uncovered for about 6 minutes. Let it simmer longer if you prefer a thicker consistency.
  9. Add in the saffron milk. Reduce heat.
  10. Once the chicken is done, turn off the fire and stir in garam masala. The garam masala will enhance the flavour of this dish.
  11. Serve hot with saffron rice or plain rice.
Chicken Korma
The Verdict

Very aromatic, creamy and smacking good. The chicken pieces have fully absorbed the flavour of the spices so with each bite, one can smell and taste their aroma. The garam masala really brings out this dish to its full flavour. Hubby loves it and had second helping. He even had it for lunch the next day. The only complaint he has is that gravy isn't as thick as he likes it. But overall, he loves this dish. My picky Little One loves it too. It's the only Indian dish that she tucks in heartily without whining about it being too spicy or too aromatic for her.

You can spice up this dish by adding one finely chopped green chilli to it just before serving.

Notes

The yogurt tenderise the chicken. From what I understand it is best to use Greek yogurt as it has less water content. However if you have only normal plain yogurt, just drain it in a muslin cloth. I made mine using normal plain yogurt.

For the above, I didn't have single cream so I used whipping cream (the Internet says it's the same ... maybe not?). My gravy didn't thicken, so I added 1 tsp of cornstarch to thicken it but it had little effects (yes, I cheated a little). I will try coconut cream next time instead of whipping cream.

I'll also replace cashew nuts with candlenuts as candlenuts is cheaper.

Please do not cook this dish with chicken skin on it. The skin prevents the spices from penetrating into the meat.

Chicken Korma
5 comments on this post.

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Making home-made cheese is something that I have always wanted to do but haven't got the guts for it - fear of failure I guess and wasting milk. So when Daring Bakers' announced that we have to make Mascarpone Cheese as part of their February challenge issued by Deeba & Aparna, I was excited but at the same time a bit apprehensive about it. I mean, making cheese sounds so professional. Can I do it? Will I succeed? Pushing my doubts aside, I said to myself: I've lots of time left before the reveal date. Well, time flies when you are having fun... and before long, the dateline for Dbs' challenge was staring at my face. Cornered, I had no choice but to face my fear. Frankly, it's just so ridiculous that I get all so stressed up about it. It's just making cheese, for goodness sake! If it didn't turn out right, it's no big deal, just try again, right?. But I guess we all have our own weird phobia of failures. LOL!

Facing my fear I did. Although I did try to duck out of it when seeing in the recipe that we needed pasterized cream and not ultra pasteurization or UHT (ultra-high temperature treatment). A search on the net gave me conflicting informations. Some sites claim that it won't give you cheese (can't remember the reasons behind it anymore) while others say that as long as you are making soft cheese like mascarpone, it can be done. Since I have only UHT cream with 30% fat in my pantry, I decided to just use it following Ninja's philosophy: if we don't experiment with it, we'll never know!

At first I tried Vera's method cooking the cream on skillet but after like an eternity, still no sign of any bubbles - a cue for me to add lemon juice (I don't have a cooking thermometer, you see... *hint*hint* to whoever wants to get me a gift). So I decided to switch to bain-marie - nope, still no bubbles. Anyway I decided to just squeeze a few drops of juice in the cream to see if anything happens...what can I lose, right? And the cream had been cooking for quite long enough. Well, NOTHING was darn happening! Arrgggh! Stir, stir, stir... can't tell whether it is milk scum or is it really thickening, but something was sure coating my spatula. LOL! I was getting pretty desperate at this point. I mean how long can I cook this cream? I decided to ditch the bain-marie method, put it on direct low heat and a few more drops of lemon juice for the road. Blink! Blink! Like magic, it was thickening. (yes, for a minute there, I doubted my own eyes) Hurray! Did a happy cheese dance 'I'm so excited. Yeah yeah yeah!'

OK, now that I had it thickened... How do I know what's the right consistency? Did a little stove dance: burner, off burner, back to burner as I wasn't sure if it was thick enough. LOL! Anyway, after a while, I decided to stop the musical stove with my mascarpone and let it cool for 20 minutes. Miracle! It had thickened. As I had to leave for grocery shopping, I put it in the fridge to cool while it was kinda warm. Came back a few hours later and found a nice thick textured mascarpone. Did a finger dip - tasted fantastic! I didn't have any water dripping from the sieve like some other bloggers did. By the way, I didn't use cheese cloth for this - don't even know where to buy it here in France so I used the alternative: hub's good old cotton handkerchief. And yes, it's a freshly cleaned one if any of you were wondering. It works like a charm.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

(taken from Vera's Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)

Makes: 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

Ingredients
  • approx 500ml or 2 cups whipping pasteurized cream with 25% to 36% fat (I used UHT cream with 30% fat)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
Directions
  1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering.
  2. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet.
  3. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 87.7°C (90°F). If you do not have a cooking thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating.
  4. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles.
  5. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. The whipping cream will only just thickens, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover the back of your wooden spoon thickly.
  6. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. If you don't have cheesecloth, use a cotton kitchen towel or a cotton hankerchief.
  8. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time).
  9. Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours. (Vera's notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it'd been cooked enough, because of itscustard-like texture . Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.)
  10. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.
Home made Mascarpone CheeseHome made Mascarpone Cheese
The Verdict

I like the tastes of home-made mascarpone better than the one bought from the store. It's creamy and silkenly delicious. I don't really know how to describe but it just taste differently good.

Notes

If the above method doesn't work for you, cook the cream on direct very low heat. But be careful not to burn it or else you will get a burnt flavoured mascarpone cheese.

If you don't have any cheesecloth at home, you can also use cotton kitchen towel, a big handkerchief or any coarse cloth. You can also use those newborn cotton nappy cloth that we often us as diapers, light blanket or wipers etc.

Home made Mascarpone Cheese
4 comments on this post.

Poulet à la crème comme en Bresse (Creamy Chicken)

Canada is buzzing with excitment... an euphoria so different from the sombre mood that kicked off the Winter Olympic 2010 on 12 February, with the loss of life of a 21 year old Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run a few days earlier. For the first time in Canadian history, an olympic gold medal was won on home soil by Canadian mogul skier Alexandre Bilodeau. This is the 3rd Olympics held in Canada but the Canadians never won a gold in any of those Olympics. What a big celebration that must be for them!

We too, at BloggerAid, are buzzing with excitment of our own kind, cheering alongside all the athletes who have trained so vigorously and represent their respective countries. No, we aren't putting on our skiis or skates. Our sport is FOOD, so we'll be woking & whisking along with them in BloggerAid-CFF Culinary Olympics - an excellent idea by Val and Giz, the founders of BloggerAid :

« In many ways BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine (BACFF) members are also athletes. We represent over 60 international countries who have created and developed a communication and friendship that has brought our world a little closer together with a mission to raise awareness. What better way to come together than to create a Culinary Olympics where we can share our pride for our nations cuisine. »

Did we say FOOD? Now, you are talking to the right person. We, Singaporeans pride ourselves in knowing our food - it's sort of a National pride and past-time. Oh, an advice: never start a food conversation with a Singaporean. Go down that road if you dare but don't say I never warned you.:-) Cuisine of almost all cultures can be found on this tiny island called Singapore. Hence we earn ourselves the name 'Food Paradise'. Bon! Today, we aren't going to talk about Singapore but France - the country of LOVE and its haute cuisine - as it is the place that I call my home today.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn some interesting facts about the country I'm representing, like:

  • Pierre Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (1 Jan 1863 - 2 Sept 1937) founded the International Olympic Committee in 1894 and was considered as the father of the modern Olympic Games. He also created the official Olympic Rings & Flag, wrote the Olympic Motto, Oath and Creed.
  • The first Olympic Winter Games, originally known as "Winter Sports Week" (but was later officially recognized as "Olympic Winter Games" in 1926) was held in Chamonix, France in 1924. It was a great success attracting 10,004 paying spectators.

All these calories burning winter sports commands a good winter dish to energize us back in form like Cheese Fondue or the Poulet à la crème (creamy chicken) that I'm going to introduce to you today. This recipe is traditional of the Bresse region and is particularly simple to dish up - created by Eliza Blanc, a very talented cook famously known as la mère Blanc who cooked exclusively with only simple and fresh products found in Bresse. In 1929, She was awarded a Star by the Guide of Michelin. In 1930, she was bestowed 1st prize in le Touring Club de France's culinary competition. And in 1933, the Prince of Gastronomy, Curnonsky declared that la mère Blanc is the best cook in the world. She was also the grandmother of great French chef Georges Blanc.

Poulet à la crème comme en Bresse (Creamy Chicken)

(from Ma Cuisine Des Saisons by Georges Blanc)

Ingredients
  • 1.8 kg whole chicken (deboned & cut meat into medium sized pieces)
  • olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 to 3 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ litre (500 ml) thick cream or thick crème fraîche
  • 3 egg yolks (to mix with thick creme)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove
  • 1 small branch thym
  • ½ bay leaf
Poulet a la creme comme Bresse
Directions
  1. Put the chicken carcase in a pot with some water. Cover and let it brew. Keep some chicken stock aside.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces.
  3. Heat up some olive oil on a big pan or wok on high heat and lightly brown the chicken pieces.
  4. Add in the onion prick with a clove on it, thym and bay leaf.
  5. Add in a bit of butter or olive oil, stir in the plain flour. Mix, let it blend and cook for a minute or two.
  6. Add in some chicken stock, enough to cover the chicken pieces (half way) but not submerging it nor cover 3/4 of it.
  7. Stir and bring it to a boil. Stir to blend it together. Cover and cook under low heat for about 30 minutes.
  8. At the end of 30 minutes, take out the chicken pieces and put it aside - keep warm.
  9. Filter the sauce with sieve to filter out the herbs and spices n onions.
  10. Reheat the sauce, add in the thick cream already mixed with egg yolk. Stir to blend it. Cook it under low heat so that it doesn't boil.
  11. Adjust the consistence of the sauce according to your taste by diluting it with a bit more stock or thicken it with more cream.
  12. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and complete the seasoning with a light squeeze of lemon juice.
  13. Serve immediately hot with rice or pasta.
Poulet a la creme comme BressePoulet a la creme comme Bresse
The Verdict

This dish is very rich, creamy and deliciously aromatic. The chicken has to be top quality here, you'll taste the difference. I would highly recommend to add in morsels of mushrooms (morilles is my favorite with this dish).

Notes

Alternatively, you can simply chop up the chicken pieces with bones on it and cook as per above but just add water instead of chicken stock. If you use a good quality chicken for this recipe, you won't need any commercial chicken stock to make this dish taste good. I didn't take out the chicken and sieve to filter out the spices from the sauce.

Poulet a la creme comme Bresse

The members of BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine have published a cookbook BloggerAid CookBook where 100% of the proceeds target children and education through the World Food Programme called School Meals. The highly successful BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine Cookbook continues to be available through the Create Space e-store. The e-store is a direct connection of Amazon but the book cannot be found directly on the Amazon.com site. We have chosen to deal exclusively with Create Space where our children in the School Meals Programme will benefit the most! This professional cookbook makes an excellent gift for family and friends. So let's keep the momentum going. Tell your friends, who will tell 2 friends, who will tell another 2 friends...

BACFF
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Cod with creamy mint sauce

I have been wanting to try out some fish dishes for ages ... you see, I have never cooked any other fish in my life besides salmon - it's hard to go wrong cooking this fish. Pierre isn't willing to be the sacrificed guinea pig for my fish adventure ... he isn't, shall we say, a fish person. So when he finally agreed to it, I went out and got everything before he changed his mind. This is what we had for dinner last night:

Cabillaud à la menthe et crème fraîche

(taken from Papillotes - Sandra Mahut)

Preparation : 15 minutes
Cooking : 15 minutes
Makes : 4

Ingredients
  • 4 filet Cod-fish - 150 to 200 g
  • 8 stalks Fresh mint leaves - chopped
  • 30 cl crème épaisse
  • 1 Lime - grated (citron vert)
  • A pinch Mild chili (Piment doux)
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4 rectangular greased paper envelopes (papier sulfurisé) - 20x30 cm
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 210°C (410°F)
  2. Coat each greased paper envelopes with olive oil.
  3. Mix chopped mint leaves, lime zests and crème épaisse together. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and add a pinch of mild chilli.
  4. Place the filet in the envelope, spread some creamy mint sauce on it and lightly sprinkle it with olive oil, some lime zests and chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Carefully close the envelope and bake it for about 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with some small potatoes and a slice of lime. (I serve it with rice instead.)
Cod with creamy sauce ingredientsCod with creamy sauce
The Verdict

I didn't find this dish extraordinary. It was OK to my taste. Pierre seems to like it better. Both of us find that it didn't really have much of the mint-lime flavour in it. Perhaps I didn't put enough mint or lime zests in it. Pierre suggested adding some lime juice to the dish before baking.

Overall, I was rather disappointed. Maybe it's just me who didn't follow the recipe well. If any of you ever try this recipe, please let me know how yours turned out.

Now I just need to convince Pierre to be my guinea pig again in my fish adventure to cultiver my 'fishy fingers' ... hmm, what bait shall I use?:-p

Note

Crème fraîche can be made at home by adding a small amount of cultured buttermilk or sour cream to normal heavy cream, and allowing to stand for several hours at room temperature until the bacterial cultures act on the cream.

Cod with creamy mint sauce
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