comfort food

Bread baking journey & starters

Baking is a lot of fun, tasty and rewarding, started in my teenage years experimenting with my first buttery dough for mini-croissants. Hard work paid off in folding and rolling the dough delivering the first batch of mini-croissants.

Over the years I collected, tried and tested favourite baking recipes, but sadly lost that first pastry book. Next to books, through the Internet, I’ve found new resources to follow.

Always interested how others use, re-invent or share their new adaptations on classics, creative ideas or find new inspiration. Here I am sharing my go-to resources, tried and tested recipes, bloggers and favourite reads.

Bread baking

 

 

While my original recipe disappeared here’s a good Croissant recipe with a step-by-step guide, have a look at Izzy Hossack “How to make Croissants“. I really like the use of animated.

GIF feature delivering a hands-on look in her blog post, the moving frames draw immediate attention following her actions. Another choice is Classic Croissant article posted on Fine Cooking, which resembles very much the recipe I used for the very first time preparing the buttery dough.

Making the buttery dough gave me a buzz, but heaven knows what I did next with the Dutch recipe for soft buns. After proofing and rolling, the buns didn’t rise as it should have according to the recipe instructions. The end result after baking was disastrous, even a bit warm it was hard to chew.

Once cooled down the texture changed the buns into stones, two dozen of cobblestones bread even the dog couldn’t bite through. We had a big laugh and the mishap only made me more persistent to keep trying, learn more techniques and secrets to better eats.

The best is actually food talk; coffee chats, swapping of recipes, sharing potlucks and dinner stories :-). You will notice, food talk is a common thread running through al my conversations and postings.

The real bread making started seriously when we moved to Asia, once settled and fully adjusted we still were missing the taste of crusty European bread loaves.

Come to think of it, travelling brings forth a longing to comfort food, thinking of food can make you salivate and the craving sparks a quest to recreate that particular dish or flavour.

Depending on where we were living it meant going on the hunt to find the ingredients, sources or find substitutions which at times were even better than the original. The exchange of information brings a whole circle of communication around, joining into a new network of the circle of friends.

Bread baking journey & starters

Baking Equipment

Back to bread. By chance, we received a bread baking machine in Taiwan from friends who were leaving the island returning back home. At the time these baking machines were not widely available yet in The Netherlands.

A huge square box, but after our first bread bake trial it was a done deal. The bread machine is a keeper. The smell of fresh baked bread is so seducing it makes your mouth water and a good belly rumble. We grew up close to a bread bakery literally down the street in our hometown.

Until the bread baking machine sound whistled after the kneading and 2nd rise, signalling the baking phase entered. Precise from that moment slowly emanating the olfactory aromas of baked bread changing the house in a tiny bakery. The tempting smell literally draws the whole family into the kitchen anticipating for a fresh slice of fresh bread.

For more on my favourite power hub and tools read my “Kitchenaid 5 Quart Plus Series post.  For the heavy duty kneading cycles and baking with the  Panasonic Inverter microwave oven both did a fine job.

At present, I am using a Miele oven for artisan bread and volume, the bread baking machine mostly during the week since it only can produce one loaf per baking cycle. The Breville BBM300 still works like a charm but newer and far more advanced models are now on the market.

Lastly, a Magimix food processor 3200XL for all other pastries and food recipes. Along the way, I will mention other versatile suitable gadgets for certain tasks or just making it more fun.

If you are contemplating the purchase of a bread machine, I’ve listed a few sources for general information.

Making bread and pastries you can use wet fresh yeast or dry yeast in active dry yeast and instant yeast type forms. The purpose of yeast:

Rising the dough – yeast fermentation makes carbon dioxide, a gas responsible for stretching and expanding the dough like a balloon.

Dough development – other compounds formed during yeast fermentation make the flour stronger so it can capture and hold the carbon dioxide gas that the yeast produces.

Flavour, aroma and texture – yeast fermentation also provides these wonderful sensory and physical attributes that you expect from yeast-raised products.

You need yeast to make bread, but you can also make your own bread starters and use both for a sourdough bread. Our next topic coming up:

Bread baking journey & starters continued:

Miracle Loaf & bread starters

My bread baking journey started off, by collecting bread recipes on the internet for the baking machine as well as traditional oven baked artisan loaves. One thing led to another, thus the stocking of different types of flour began for the preparation of various bread. Even combining of various pre-mix flour jars (e.g. cheaper than buying pre-mix brands) for pancakes batters, waffles, muffins as well as bread to keep at hand.

Searching for premix recipes, I stumbled upon the famed low-calorie, high protein bread flour recipe here.

Hainan Chicken tutorial step-by-step

For making Hainan Chicken Rice recipe click on the link. Buy fresh pandan leaves at Chinese supermarkets or frozen packages, if none available you can substitute with spring onion or young leeks. To handle the leaves for stuffing and cooking, tie 3-4 leaves into a knot as shown in the image here below.

Hainan Chicken Tutorial step-by-step photo overview

Fresh pandan leaves, great fragrance and vibrant colour

For us a distinct Hainan Chicken Rice flavour is steeping the stock with Pandan leaves, it enhances unique fragrance. My home recipe for Singaporean style how to teach my kids to cook this dish. Like any great dish, every Singaporean cook has its very own recipe. Suggestions for Chinese stock methods and variations or Hainan Chicken Rice – food chat trivia, click on the links. Luckily we all share one big secret ingredient.

“Love” to eat, create and share.

Preparing chickens; stuffing set

Preparing chickens; have everything set up and ready.

Don’t forget to remove the chicken fat at the rear side of the chicken

chicken fat

Remove chicken fat and set aside for use in stock or making chilli paste.

Salt and rub all over the chicken, scrub as you can see it exfoliates and smooth the skin

Rub chicken skin clean

After a good rub, the skin will look glossy and clean

Season the chicken in and outside with pepper and salt

Season the chickens

Season the chickens

Stuff cavity with whole garlic cloves, ginger slices followed by the pandan knots. This will prevent the stuffing from falling out and locks everything in for great aroma development.

Stuff chicken with herbs in cavity

Stuff chicken with herbs in cavity

Tie up the chicken legs, so it is easier to lift and lower the chickens into the stock.

tie up the chicken

Tie up the chicken with the packaged food elastic or butcher’s twine.

Chicken prepared, marinating time will do its work blending the flavours.

Marinate chicken 6-8 hours or overnight

Transfer the chicken to a container and marinate the chicken in the fridge for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Prepare the aromatics for stock and rice

Fry the chicken fat add ginger, garlic, Chinese wine, light soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil. Fill the pan with 4 litres of water.

Recipe Hainan Chicken Rice; poaching stock

Preparing Chicken broth

Bring to a rolling boil first, lower the chickens submerged in the liquid and turn the heat down to a simmer. With only a soft bubble on the surface, this manner is poaching the chickens.

Recipe Hainan Chicken Rice - whole chickens in stock

Whole chickens submerged in stock

Let the chicken poach in the stock for approximately 35-40 minutes, taste and add seasoning if needed. Put a lid on and turn off the heat. Let the chickens cool down in the poaching liquid

Hainan Chicken rice - plump rice kernels full of flavor

Hainan Chicken Rice – plump rice kernels full of flavour

Method 1: Wash 6 cups of rice and cook in cooled poaching stock for a fragrant rice with a light aroma.

Method 2: Fry chicken fat in 2 tablespoons of oil together with the smashed garlic and ginger till its golden brown and fragrant. Add the rice, keep stirring coating all the rice kernels with a thin layer of chicken fat oil. Add the rice wine while it sizzles keeps mixing, as soon as you smell fragrance lifting up this signals to add the poaching liquid to cook the rice. At the end when you fluff up the rice remove the aromatics.

Method 3: Make a rice paste first, by pounding the chicken fat, ginger and garlic together with seasonings. Then fry the paste into 3-4 tablespoons of oil for 3-4 minutes releasing an aroma. Add the rice and mix to coat the rice. Pour the stock with pandan leaves to cook till the rice is ready.

Of all three methods, the rice paste will be fully absorbed producing an intensified flavour to the chicken rice.

Hainan Chicken Rice almost ready

Lift the chicken up from the pan with the opening down to pour the cavity empty.

If you leave the skin on rub the chicken with ½-1 tablespoon sesame oil for extra aroma and a nice gloss. Fluff the rice pan and remove all the aromatics from the rice.

How to cut and dress the plate

Cut the chicken in serving portions

How to cut the chicken into serving portions

Cut off the chicken legs and remove the stuffing.

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This way the cavity opened up more to take out the stuffing. Now remove off the chicken wings, cut away the backbone. And remove the chicken carcass by pulling it off the chicken meat.

Cut and remove the breasts

Cut and remove the breasts

Turn the breast, remove all the bones and cartilage, with the breasts up cut through the middle and slice it up in pieces.

Slice the breasts in portions

Cut each breast horizontally lengthwise, making it thinner and easier to cut equal portions,

Chop the legs with a cleaver through the bone or debone first. Remove and discard wing tip, chop in equal pieces.

Dress the plate

Dress the plate

With all the cutting done, scoop the rice onto the plate add the garnish.

If at a restaurant or shop, sometimes you will be asked which meat cut

Place a combination of sliced chicken breast or chopped chicken wing or juicy leg onto the plate

Add condiments

Add condiments; dark soy sauce, chilli hot-sour sauce (and minced ginger sauce).

Enjoy labour of love

Hainan Chicken Rice Plate – Let’s jiak! – Time to makan-lah :-).

As street food meal, a big bottle of ice-cold beer makes a great combination. In refined dining setting pairing with wine, I would opt for a Viognier. Why? It is a dry, medium-bodied with loads of fruit flavours. While enjoying have a look here at Singapore as your next stop.

What would you like to pair with this dish? Leave a comment of even better sent me a photo how you enjoy your meal. Cheers!!

  1. Chinese stock methods and variations
  2. Hainan Chicken Rice – food chat trivia

Piri Piri chicken, baked potatoes & zucchini

With all the rain last week, cold wind and gloomy faces outside, it sure is time for comfort food. Had 3 large chicken legs, cut into parts and rubbed with Piri Piri spice mix then set it aside to marinate. Half of the time when cooking I whiz up the dishes without thinking too much, even when I am experimenting I should write it down immediately not to forget even to photo record the little tweaks.

Cooking with a camera in the kitchen, nearly broke the damn thing because it almost slipped off the counter. Or had to throw away cooking attempts because it burned while being distracted with other devices not being cooking utensils. Ever since the smartphone arrived featuring 5 or higher megapixels camera, combined with options for HDR settings I have become a die-hard fan. Using mobile photography as long as I don’t forget to pick it up and make shots in between. It is also the main reason why I am searching for photo apps as an amateur to make better photography shots of ingredients, dishes and fun things.

A while back I wrote a post about new photo video app, referring to Everlapse an iPhone app with PC version, well Flipagram is a newer app free download for iPhone, Android and Windows version. I have started using this app and become a fan, am really pleased with the results. While the photo video story below has an intense glow, it’s not because I used a filter but they were made in the kitchen at dinner time with only kitchen lightening hence the slight distortion.

In the kitchen busy cooking, background music entered the kitchen from the living room playing fittingly “I just wanna make you smile”. Now you know how this little photo video story came together. You can find the recipe here under attached to this post.

Piri Piri chicken, baked potatoes mix and zucchini

 

Instead of regular chicken seasoning give it a try with a Piri Piri spice blend, choose a Portuguese, African or original South American mixes or make your own mix it’s worth the try. You will grab this more often and not only for chicken, very versatile uses with all kind of meats, shrimp and prawns. Share your dish and favourite cooking method with us, leave a comment and like us on Facebook Asianfoodtrail page.

Piri Piri spice blend it’s just a tiny bottle, little bag or packet but it carries a long and interesting story. A history of slavery and an origin far from what most people believe they know about this pepper, watch here for the upcoming post.

Southeast Asia food memory, apps & books

Sharing southeast Asia food memory, apps & books. I had taken photo’s between stages of cooking and edited with Picsart smartphone app. In the spur of the moment, I shared it with Google Communities and what better compliment to receive responses from fellow foodies and ‘locals’ :-).

Fish head curry

Sometimes you just need your butt kicked to get going, the intention of planning to do isn’t going to cut it but the action does. Chinese New Year was the opening to start downloading photo’s from my smartphone or better said upload them and start pecking on my keyboard to post images with information or other random food for thought. I had created a while ago Asianfoodtrail Google+ page and never finished the details to go live, but cooking home cooked comfort food just did the trick to get inspired with a mouth full of flavour to boost things up.

Over the years I have accumulated favourite recipes clippings taken from magazines and as an avid reader, collected old and new cookery hardcover or digital books. Saved on my smartphone or Kobo e-reader, have a look here at the affiliate ad below for gift ideas and/or inspiration to cook up a storm. Please be advised the following ad is an affiliate link promotion, read the full disclaimer & disclosure in the left sidebar or here.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Last week I stumbled on to a fresh market with local fish stalls in Leiden, The Netherlands. As a fish, nation devouring famous raw ‘herring’ nothing special, but big codfish heads definitely are far from being called speciality.

Too bad, but lucky for us asked the fish monger for the largest pieces with one dish only in my mind. Hoping to duplicate the flavour explosion I experienced in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia and at Muthu’s on Racecourse Road Singapore. You might have guessed the very well known “Fish head curry”. Surprised the family with this wonderful dish, a little south-east Asian feast on a Dutch winter’s dinner table. Visit Google+ Asianfoodtrail and share your favourite south-east asian comfort foods or other food memories. The gift of giving is sharing the good thing together.

Family favourite Thai fusion Spaghetti

Whats-for-dinner! The standard phrase coming home with the school bus in Taipei, our kids during their childhood years (14-12-8 and 6 yrs old). In random order but always the greeting came before they entered through the door, whether it was from school, sports or even now grown up and arriving from workplace or study.

Pack of hungry wolves if they brought friends along to play or finish homework, most of the time I had (healthy) snacks at hand but if I was late or not yet home they ransacked the fridge. During our years living in Taipei, I prepared this fusion dish with what I had on hand in the fridge and cupboard for a quick meal.

Which were chillies, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, black olives, spring onion, coriander, lemon grass, galangal, lemon juice and chicken thighs (for e.g. try Chinese Chicken Wings in a soy-chili marinade). Noodles and Pasta, onion, garlic, staple items with various Asian seasoning’s which included fish sauce among many other flavourings. I just started whipping up this dish, it became an instant hit becoming a regular summer or barbeque meal side dish over the years.

After our kids moved out for studies/work they called home for recipes; advice how-to instructions to prepare comfort food in their kitchens. Our kid’s cravings and questions are what initiated to write down recipes to share and celebrate good food with family, friends around the table. Writing down one recipe snowballed into more request even outside our inner-circle. From phone calls, e-mails, newsletters, social media came around combined with my geeky interest I landed here with a website blog, sharing my in- and outside kitchen adventures.

This is one of our family favourite Thai Fusion Spaghetti, a Ching recipe fusing our European background with Asian flavours. These home-cooked dishes have a blend of ordinary and exotic ingredients, colourful with a mix of spices, fresh herbs prepared and enjoyed together.

Start cooking put your teeth in it and share your comments. I have a food picture logged somewhere will add to the post, but please feel free to upload your result. Ching Thai Spaghetti recipe follows here below, enjoy!

Thai Noodle soup, Guay Tiew Gai

Update 19th January 2015 – New blog link 100 best Thai dishes to eat in Bangkok. Scroll down for post link information or click in our Favorite Links bar, to enter main website . 

In our company travelling with us are friends with love for good food visiting Thailand for the first time. Their very first Thai meal was at our home, followed by many more dinners enjoying wide range of flavors of southeast Asian dishes. Between drinks and meals we shared a lot about Thailand`s culture, food, sights and places.

Fresh herbs accompaniments for Noodle Soups

However even the best pictures, writings or talks will never be as a firsthand encounter being submerged in natural  habitat. Curious and excited they have taken a leap by joining us not taking the beaten track but following our trails along hawker stalls. ★Big Smile★ Sit with Thai, do as Thai and eat as Thai.

First food trail dish, popular hawker stall street food selling Thai Noodle soup ‘Guay Tiew Gai’ big bowl with flat-rice stick noodle in chicken broth with fragrant fresh herbs. Always accompanied with Thai traditional seasoning’s of fresh chillies in vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, dried chilli flakes, adding to your liking. As soon as I am back from travelling I will add my recipe to this post as it is a dish on our family favourite comfort food list.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup clear broth

Just stumbled upon Mark Wiens 100 Thai soups and dishes blog post featuring beautiful food images including a description with phonetic dish names and in Thai script (which is perfect, the danger of phonetic translations it isn’t always correct or clearly pronounced). Going through his list made me very happy seeing listings of my favorites dishes too, if far and away than looking will bring back fond memories of places and eateries. Even better it makes me plan to make a few dishes Mark has so perfectly delectable captured with his camera’s eye and love for food.