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Corn Maque Choux


(serves up to 8)
Corn Maque Chaux is a New Orleans type of cream style corn with carries to this day a hint of century-old French and American Indian influences. It’s a delightful side dish which is simple yet immensely satisfying.  Corn Maque Chaux’s defining feature is its lightly cooked corn kernels which retains their sweetness and crispiness. This makes it go really well with roasted meats and steak. To accentuate the flavour of the fresh corn, mine is a light version without bacon or garlic.
 
Ingredients Corn Maque Choux
  1. Corn (4 ears)
  2. Capsicum (1)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Butter (30g)
  5. Chicken Stock cube (1)
  6. Cream (1/4 cup)
  7. Whiskey
  8. Paprika
  9. Tarragon
  10. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Start by shaving the corn kernels off the ears. Don’t cut that closely to the cob, and leave some sharp edges.
  2. When you are done, scrape the edges to release a sort of corn mush which will be used to thicken the gravy.
  3. Finely dice 1 onion and 1 capsicum (a.k.a. bell pepper?).
  4. Dissolve 1 chicken stock in 1/2 cup of hot water. Add the corn mush and 1/4 cup whiskey to the stock.
  5. Fry the onion bits with a large slab of butter on a low flame in a large pan till they becomes limp. Add the capsicum and continue the slow stir fry until the onion begins to brown.
  6. Add the stock, and corn kernels and continue to simmer. Next add 2t paprika, 2t thyme, 2t tarragon and a sprinkle of black pepper. Follow this up with 1/4 cup of cream.
  7. Continue to simmer until the liquid boils down to the consistency of a light gravy. The sauce will thicken on cooling. Serve your maque choux warm or cold.

Notes

  • I think Maque Chaux is pronounced Mark Chu, like an Chinese dude’s name.
  • Scrape with the blade perpendicular to the cob. Do not carve bits of the cob off by holding the blade at an angle.
  • Some people add little bits of crayfish or prawns to their maque chaux. Marinate the meat lightly in oil, pepper and salt and add it to the mix towards the end so it isn’t overcooked.
  • Leftover Maque Choux is very versatile and has many uses, as part of an omelette, as the topping of a ramen.    
 
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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Appetizers, French, Recipe

 

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No-Cream Boston Clam Chowder


(serves 6)
Boston Clam Chowder is a clam chowder of the white variety that is popular in the New England area. Its basic ingredients are pretty standard, but it is precisely the combination of clams, bacon, onions, potatoes that makes the Boston Clam Chowder such a favourite. Its perfect for cold weather, or just anytime you hunger for a hearty soup. Once you know the secret to thickenining a chowder properly, whipping up a batch is not all that difficult.

Clarification – just because there is no cream doesn’t mean this is a healthy recipe.

Ingredients

  1. Bottled Clams (2 x 250ml)
  2. Smoked Clams (1 flat tin)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Fennel (equivalent of 1 onion)
  5. Bacon (6 slices)
  6. Potato (2)
  7. Milk (1 cup)
  8. Butter (50g)
  9. Flour
  10. Sage
  11. Thyme
  12. Cognac  

Preparation 

  1. Julienne the onion and fennel into small bits. For this part you only need the fennel bulb, but you can save the leafy bits (some people call it the frond?) for garnishing.
  2. Cut the bacon into small squares; the bacon will be easier to handle if it is stacked and semi frozen.
  3. Peel and dice one potato into small bits that will disintegrate after some simmering. This will make the chowder thicker. Cut the second one into larger cubes that will remain intact.
  4. Fry the bacon bits in a pan on low heat to melt its fat. When the bacon is beginning to crisp nicely, add the onion and fennel and stir fry till they begin to caramelize. Turn up the heat and add the clams, including their brine.
  5. Pour everything into a soup pot. Add the potato and 2 cups of water. Set to a low simmer.
  6. Dry the pan with some kitchen towels and melt 50g of butter in it on a low flame. When the butter has melted, sprinkle in 2T of flour and stir fry till the flour begins to darken. Next, pour in 1 cup of milk very slowly, stirring vigourously the entire time to flatten lumps.
  7. After a while, you will end up with a thick white sauce. Add the tin of smoked clams to the sauce, including all the oil. Stir in some of the soup into the white sauce till it gets watery, then pour everything back into the soup pot.
  8. Add 1t thyme and 1t sage to the pot and simmer for 2 hours. You’ll need to stir occasionally to prevent bits from sticking to the bottom. Add hot water to bring the soup back to the right consistency as needed. At the end, a piece of bread should be able to stand (not just float) on the chowder. With 5 minutes to go, add 2T of brandy.
  9. Season only after the simmering is done. Taste first before adding salt. Depending on how salty the clam brine was, you may (or may not) need to add a pork / vegetable bullion cube. On the soup plate itself, garnish with black pepper and fennel leaves, plus some chopped parsley if you like.

Notes

  • Use only the bottled variety of clams. Any food canned with brine will acquire a metallic taste and thus clams in a can are a no,no. The smoked clams are in oil, so the ‘can rule’ doesn’t apply.
  • If you have the good fortune to be using fresh clams, all the better. Soak your clams in cold water to get them to extrude sand, and then quickly cook in boiling water for a minute. Use the boiling liquid in the soup as per the brine mentioned above but add the clams (after shelling) only at the very end – so the meat remains tender.
  • If you don’t want to use or can’t find fennel, substitute with celery.
  • The white sauce is an essential step so don’t think you can skip it. The flour will soak up the oil from the bacon and smoked clams. Otherwise, you may end up with droplets of oil floating on the surface.
  • How come some restaurant’s clam chowder is so much whitee? They use milk in step 5. 
 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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Maryland Muffin-tin Crab Cakes


(serves 5 =10 mini cakes)
My friend Reiko made me some Maryland Crab Cakes a few years back and that’s when I discovered this is one of the best ways to eat crab. I’ve been struggling ever since to come up with a crab cake that tastes better than hers. By jove, I think I have finally done it, by flavouring the crab meat with chinese wine in a pan-fry and mixing in a tad of curry spices. Do try it.    
 

Ingredients

  1. Crab Meat (450g)
  2. Dill Mayonnaise (1 cup)
  3. Bread (5 slices)
  4. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  5. Shallots (6)
  6. Egg (1)
  7. Vegetable Oil
  8. Basil
  9. Dillweed
  10. Chinese Wine (or Cognac)
  11. Woustershire Sauce
  12. Djoin Mustard
  13. Coriander Seed Powder
  14. Cumin

Pre-Preparation 

  1. You will first need to make some mayonnaise according to my Dill Mayonnaise recipe. You can do this just before the crab cakes, it doesn’t take long.
  2. You will also need to cut the crust off 5 slices of bread and leave them uncovered in the fridge for a few hours to dry it out.
  3. While fresh is best, in this case I think you can get away with using canned crab meat. If you plan to use fresh crab meat, you should boil or steam the crabs ahead of time, and then deshell them (450g of crab meat = 1 pound = 2 cups tightly packed = 3 cups loosely packed). Try to use bigger crabs as they have firmer meat and the crab meat will be in larger chunks.           

           Canned Crab Meat                           Bread Crumbs                                   Muffin Tin
               

Preparation 

  1. Peel and then halve the garlic and shallots. Use a food processor to mince them (together). Spread half of the minced mixture evenly onto the bottom of a large bowl and keep the other half for use later.
  2. Dice the dried bread into crouton sized pieces and then given them a two second pulse in the food proccessor to crumb them. Zoom in on the picture above to see the desired texture. Place the crumbs into the bowl with the garlic and shallots. Add 1T Dill weed, 1T of chopped basil and 1t salt and mix well.
  3. Brown the remaining minced garlic and shallot in a pan on low heat with 3T of vegetable oil. Next, add the crab meat and gently stir fry with the heat turned up. Do your best not to break up the chunks of crab meat.
  4. When the pan is sizzling hot, sprinkle on 1/4 cup of chinese wine (for cognac, see below). Gentrly stir fry again til the liquid has dried up and then turn the heat off. Season with 1t of white pepper.
  5. In a small bowl stir together 1 egg with 3T mayonnaise, 1T woustershire sauce, 1t mustard, 1t cumin and 1t coriander seed powder.
  6. Mix the crab meat into the bowl of bread crumbs. Next, spoon the egg mixture into the bowl, mix well to bind all the constituents. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 175oC (350oF).
  8. Brush the muffin tin with vegetable oil. Spoon in the raw crab cake, filling each hole to the brim before moving on to the next one. Press down firmly with a tea spoon to make sure the crab-bread mixture is compact. Next push the raw crab cake away from the rim of each hole to give the crab cakes a rounded top.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes depending on when your crab cakes reach a light golden brown. After you remove the muffin tin from the oven, allow it to cool for a bit so the crab cakes can firm up. The colour should continue to deepen.
  10. Serve with the rest of the mayonnaise and some mixed greens. 

Notes

  • What if you don’t have a food processor? You can mince the garlic and shallots manually easily enough. For the bread, toast lightly, dice and then smash in a zip lock with a meat mallet.
  • Cognac has a high alcoholic concentration. If you are using cognac instead of chinese wine, start off with 3T of the brandy in the measuring cup and top this up to the 1/4 cup mark with water.
  • Crab Cakes can also be served for breakfast, they go very well with fried or poached eggs. See =>
  • Instead of 10 mini-cakes, you can also form you crab cakes into 5 mini-hamburger sized patties. Just shape the cakes by hand and use a regular baking tray.
  • Don’t use butter or olive oil as they don’t cook well at high temperature.
 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in Appetizers, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Oven Baked BBQ Pork Ribs


(serves 1-2)
I came up with this method of BBQing pork ribs after I had to give up my BBQ stove and it seems every cloud has a silver lining after all. My BBQ ribs are better than ever and I don’t have to keep basting them while they cook. The trick is to cook the ribs as if you are braising them and then dry them out with a second round of baking. I use a hybrid technique with dry rub marination and wet sauce cooking and you know what that means: super succulent ribs that are full of flavour.  

Ingredients

  1. Pork Ribs (800g)
  2. BBQ Sauce (3/4 cup)
  3. Garlic (12 cloves = 1 bulb)
  4. Coriander Seed Powder
  5. Cumin
  6. Paprika
  7. Bourbon
  8. Oregano
  9. Brown Sugar

Preparation 

  1. Have the butcher cut your ribs into individual bone sections. You should end up with about 10 large pieces. Cooking the ribs individually gives more surface area for flavour to cling to and makes for tidier eating as well.
  2. Mix the following in a bowl: 2t brown sugar, 2t coriander seed powder, 1t cumin, 1t paprika, 1t oregano, 1t salt (each t = heaping teaspoon here except perhaps for the salt).
  3. Add your meat to the bowl and massage the mixed spices evenly into the meat. Wait half an hour.
  4. Preheat your over to 175oC (350oF).
  5. Stir together 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce, 3/4 cup water and 2T bourbon. Peel the garlic and add them as whole cloves to the sauce.
  6. Arrange your ribs in a pyrex dish such that the meat is only one layer high. Choose an appropriately sized baking dish such that there is no empty space left over, and if required slant the thinner ribs to make more room (refer to the picture). If you don’t do this, you will end up needing more sauce to cover your ribs.
  7. Pour your diluted BBQ sauce over the ribs. Cover the entire baking dish snugly with aluminium foil and place it in the oven.
  8. After 1 hour and 20 mins, remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes to dry up and scorch the outside of the ribs (and this is why the ribs must be only one layer high). After the uncovered bake, the sauce should have also dried down to the right thickness. Serve the ribs with the thickened BBQ sauce seperate in a small bowl.

Notes

  • Choose a BBQ sauce that is smoked since you won’t be using any charcoal. Other than that, it doesn’t really matter what brand you pick as a lot of flavour will be coming from the dry rub and meat itself.
  • About a quarter of the people tasting my ribs have remarked that it is to sweet. If you think you fall into this category, reduce the amount of sugar a bit in the dry rub.
  • This recipe is reasonably scalable, so you can do multiples of the quantities listed above. You’ll need to bake for longer as a larger batch will take longer to come to a boil. If it is really a large batch (see the tray to the right?) there might be a lot of BBQ sauce left when the ribs are cooked; remove the foil earlier and as a last resort reduce the sauce in a pot instead of in the oven.
  • You can also use a Dutch oven instead of foil, but it may be harder to find exact right size. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with foil.
  • BBQ pork ribs go well with coarse cut fries and cole slaw.
 
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Posted by on July 31, 2011 in A Kobi Original, Main Courses, Recipe

 

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Chicken Avocado Salad


(serves 6-8)
Chicken Salad is everyone’s favourite. It tastes even better if you make it with brined chicken and avocado. In this recipe, I’ve replaced some of the mayonnaise with a combination of chicken stock and cream cheese to give the salad more layers of flavour. Cumin is also used  to evoke a slight oriental undertone. You can serve it on its own, as a sandwich or as a side dish. You can’t get any more versatile than that.

note: this recipe assumes you have already poached chicken according to my brined chicken breast recipe.

Ingredients

  1. Poached Chicken Breasts (2 havles)
  2. Potatoes (2 large)
  3. Avocado(2)
  4. Leek (0.5 cup, chopped)
  5. Soft Cream Cheese (4T)
  6. Mayonnaise (3T)
  7. Cumin
  8. Chopped Parsley

Preparation 

  1. Peel your potatoes, cut them in half and then boil them for about 20 minutes. After the boiling is done and the potatoes have cooled, cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. In the meanwhile, cut your poached chicken breast also into 1/2 inch cubes. In a salad bowl, drench the chicken in half the concentrated stock left over from the dry poaching process.
  3. Slice the leek into rings and stir fry them in a pan with 3T of olive oil over a low flame till they break apart into limp rings. Turn the heat off and while the pan is still hot add 4T cream cheese (Philadelphia, tub version), 3T mayonnaise, 1/3 t of cumin and the other half of the concentrated chicken stock. Stir till everything in the pan is well mixed and allow to cool. This is your dressing.
  4. Cut around the seed of each avocado such that the avocado is halved but attached via the seed only. Twist to pull each avocado into two pieces. One half will still have the seed attached, bulging out. Repeat the same process with this half so the seed becomes attached to a quarter of the avocado, at which point you should be able to wriggle out the seed with your hands. With the flat end of the avocado pieces on the cutting board, slice away the hard skin. Next, cube your avacado to the same size as the chicken and potato.
  5. Add all the components to the chicken in the salad bowl, sprinkle on 1t white pepper and 1T parsley flakes. Gently fold the salad with a large spoon till the dressing covers every piece of the salad.
  6. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Notes

  • I’ve kept this chicken salad recipe simple. I urge you to experiment to get your own personal version. Apple, walnuts, raisins, pine nuts, boiled egg, raw red onion bits and ham are some things commonly found in chicken salad.
  • If you want a tasty chicken salad sandwich, skip the potatoes and put everything else between slices of bread. I sometimes also serve my chicken salad with pieces of toasted milk loaf as pictured.
  • You should use the riper avocados with black skin. The green-skinned ones can’t be eater raw. Leave the avocado to the last as avocado changes colour quickly if left exposed to the air.
  • No salt is needed as the chicken is brined and the stock is salty. If you chicken is left over from another source, you’ll need to make a 1/4 cup of stock using 1/4 of a chicken cube.
 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Appetizers, Poultry, Recipe, Salad

 

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