Midweek dinner: Chinese chicken omelette

We’re coming out of a bout of gastro at our place (is it distasteful to mention that when I’m writing about food? If so, apologies); well, the bubaloo had it and the rest of us fasted in unrealised anticipation. At the same time, the heat wave is continuing, with no end forecast for over a week. When these factors come together on a busy Wednesday evening, finding something for dinner can be challenging. So I turned to an old favourite, Chinese chicken omelette with some wilted vegies on the side. It’s lovely with chicken but that can be replaced by prawns, mushrooms or whatever you feel like.

But first, a bit of reminiscence… When I was doing my phd, there was nothing I liked more than, after a long day in the library or on my computer, hitting the cheap little Asian restaurants in the city. This usually meant Vietnamese pho or today’s recipe. I could walk in, order, and it would be ready within 3 minutes. What more could a tired gal want?

When I finished my studies and had kids, going into the city for quick cheap meals seemed like too much effort; I moved universities and suburbs. So I learned how to make it myself; the pho is still a memory but the omelette gets whipped up from time to time. If you don’t like the idea of this, but like eggs, be adventurous and give it a go – you may be pleasantly surprised!

Chinese chicken omelette

Serves 2-3

You will need:
6 small or 4 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1.5 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
Sprinkle of pepper
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (left over BBQ chicken is ideal)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
Olive oil
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1.5 tbsp sesame oil

1 cup rice and 1.5 cups water: use together to cook rice using the absorption method (or use a rice cooker!).

1. Beat eggs until combined. Add pepper, soy sauce, most of the spring onions and most of the coriander, leaving a little for garnish. Using a fork, beat together well.
2. Place olive oil in frypan and heat. When it’s hot, pour in egg mix. As the edges become cooked, use a fork to draw the cooked edges toward the middle of the pan and swirl the uncooked egg mix to cover the base if the pan.
3. Sprinkle shredded chicken over the top. Repeat the process to draw the uncooked egg towards the middle until the egg is mostly cooked. When it reaches this point, use an egg flip to fold the omelette in half.
4. Use the egg flip to cut the omelette into parts (one per person), then put it on rice on a plate.
5. In a small bowl, combine sesame oil and oyster sauce. Spoon this over the omelette and garnish with extra coriander. The sauce is really great, so don’t omit it!

wilted vegies
In a heated frypan, add a small amount of olive oil. Add whatever vegetables you like: I used mushroom, rocket, crushed garlic, broccoli and coriander. Stir to cook. If it needs more moisture, add a few tbsp water. When vegies are nearly cooked, stir in 1 tbsp soy sauce and some pepper. Cook for 2 mins then serve.

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Sunday riches: feasting at Nigina Express

At the moment, I’m preparing a workshop to run with our PhD students on writing. I enjoy writing; that’s part of the reason why I decided to blog about my (culinary) life. Blogging is also a good way to work my writing out – kind of like a writing gym; each sentence is a set, each paragraph a circuit. But I think that writing isn’t just writing: there’s an art and a craft to it. Joanna Penn at the Creative Penn says that this is an important distinction: “Art is subjective, its beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder … but craft is objective. There is a right way and a wrong way to craft” (http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/09/05/art-craft-writing/). She further indicates that the craft is functional, while art is about beauty.

If we turn to the kitchen, these same notions apply. Some people cook in a way that is functional; for them, cooking is craft. I fall firmly into this camp; for me, cooking is a type of alchemy, bringing together different elements to make something functional. For other people, cooking is both craft and art. I don’t think cooking cannot incorporate craft, because it’s always functional: at the end of the day, you want it to be something that someone can eat and enjoy. But for this latter group of people, cooking is also art; it’s about creating something beautiful, pleasing to the senses (particularly sight, smell, and taste).

My friend, Regina, is one of these arty cooking people. She prepares beautiful menus, regardless of whether she is making things that are complicated or simple. Given her love for Nigella (Lawson), it’s unsurprising that her is known as ‘Nigina Express’ 😉

Yesterday afternoon, we were lucky enough to head over to Nigina Express for a bit of alfresco feasting (sounds much better than ‘scoffing myself in my friend’s backyard’!). While H paddled in the pool and the Bubaloo grooved to ‘Gangnam Style’ (and can now do the dance, thanks to lovely 10 year old D), I photographed the three family friendly courses: Pigs in Blankets, Chicken with Greek herb sauce, and flourless chocolate cake. The first two are courtesy of Nigella Lawson, and the third is out of Regina’s recipe book!

Pigs in blankets with mustard dipping sauce (they’re also good with tomato sauce)

You will need:

2 sheets defrosted puff pastry

1 egg

16 frankfurters

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Roll out the sheets of puff pastry to make it a bit thinner, to make one long side. Cut the rectangle into 1/4s, then cut each rectangle in half lengthwise, to give 8 small pastry strips.

2. Beat the egg in a small bowl and paint each pastry section with the egg wash. Sit a frankfurter horizontally on the side of one pastry strip and roll it up until it just seals. Do this with all frankfurters/pastry.

3. Cut each rolled frankfurter into 4 small pieces, squeezing the pastry around the sausage as you go. Place on a lined baking tray. Repeat with the other sheet of pastry.

4. Paint the franks in the egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Mustard dipping sauce: In a bowl, mix together 100g wholegrain mustard, 100g Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp sour cream.

YUM Yum yum…

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Chicken with Greek herb sauce

You will need:

12 chicken thighs

juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the chicken thighs (skin side up if they have skin on) in a roasting tin, then pour over the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Greek herb sauce: 500ml plain Greek yoghurt, 4 large/6 small spring onions, 1 green chilli (deseeded), 1 clove peeled garlic (crushed), 1/2 cucumber (finely diced), 3 tablespoons each of chopped fresh coriander, mint and/or dill, salt and pepper. Put all ingredients together in a bowl and mix to combine. Season to taste.

Serve with baked potatoes

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Flourless chocolate cake

This cake has the most gooey yummy centre; we can’t get enough! Ingredients are in italics.

1. Melt together 250g chocolate and 250g unsalted butter. Cool and set aside.

2. Whisk 6 egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

3. Whisk 6 egg yolks with 3/4 cup castor sugar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, then add the chocolate mixture. Fold in 1/2 cup almond meal, 3 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp egg white mixture. Fold in remaining egg white mixture.

4. Bake in a 23cm cake pan at 190C for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is cooked but still has a slight wobble.

At Nigina Express, this cake is served with persian fairy floss – H’s favourite! Try and stop after 1 piece!

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