Braided Pesto Bread

Perfect with a glass of sauvignon blanc!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoonkosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce

Directions:

  1. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar until blended. Let stand in the bowl for about 5 minutes until the mixture appears foamy.

  2. Add the milk (at room temperature), olive oil, and salt to the yeast and mix until just combined. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mix after each addition until combined into a homogeneous mass.
  3. Scrape the raggedy dough from the edge of the mixer bowl. Knead for 5 to 8 minutes. The dough will be less sticky and become smooth on the surface. It will clear the sides of the bowl.
  4. Cover dough with a large kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot in the kitchen. Allow to rise for 1 hour until it has almost doubled in size. The dough should be smooth and puffy-looking.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C and prepare egg wash by whisking the egg and water in small bowl and set aside.
  6. When the dough has risen, lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto it and divide it into 3 equal pieces.
  7. Lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll one piece of dough into a rough 8-inch square. It should be about 1/8 inch in thickness.
  8. Spread pesto on the dough, leave a 1/2-inch border uncovered. Use a pastry brush to brush a small amount of the egg wash over the exposed edge.
  9. Lift up the pesto-covered edge and roll it up, as tightly as possible. Pinch the seam closed with your fingertips. Gently roll the tube back and forth until it spreads lengthwise to about 10 inches long.
  10. Line up 3 rolled tubes on a sheet of parchment, positioning the thin ends toward you. With a very sharp, long knife, make a lengthwise slash through each, cutting a deep slit halfway down the depth of the tube; make sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
  11. Braid the tubes together, crossing one of the outer tubes gently over the middle one. Then cross the other outer tube up and over the new middle one. Repeat, working your way down to the end. Half of the tube should be braided. Then turn the parchment paper around and braid the other side, from the center point to the end, so that the entire loaf is braided. Tuck under ends if desired.
  12. Let the bread rise for another 30 minutes before baking.
  13. When the loaves have risen, uncover and brush well with the egg wash.
  14. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.  Bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, turn the pan 180° from its original position every 15min to ensure even baking, bake until the bread is brown and crusty.

 

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Lemon Butter Sauteed Clams

Woohooo It’s starting to feel a lot like spring!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m so ready for the change in season! Awaken your taste buds with this lemony dish after winter’s heavy meals.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lb littleneck clams, scrubbed and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, mined
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat up a skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add the butter and saute the garlic until slightly browned.
  3. Add the clams into the skillet, and quickly toss around.
  4. Add the wine and cayenne pepper. Cover the skillet and let cook for 1 minute, or until the clams are all open.
  5. Add the lemon juice and parsley, stir to combine well. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Bourbon-Maple Glazed Pork Belly

The more you weigh the harder you are to kidnap. Stay safe… Eat pork belly!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh pork belly
  • 2½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-5 whole allspice cloves/ anises

Sauce:

  • ¼ cup real maple syrup
  • 100ml bourbon whiskey
  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven. Sauté onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and spices until fragrant.
  3. Add in stock and cook for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Place pork belly in the Dutch oven, bake for 2½ hours, until tender.
  5. Drain away sauce; chill the pork overnight to improve the texture of the meat.
  6. When ready, tip the ketchup, soy sauce, maple syrup and bourbon into a small pan. Set over a high heat and bubble for 5 mins until thick and syrupy. Pour over the chunks of pork and toss to coat. Roast for 15-20 mins more until sticky.
  7. Serve with risotto!

 

Mushroom Garlic Butter Chicken Bake

Winter is here! Dark days of winter make me want to pull on my heaviest sweater and stay in bed all day. That’s where these simple, casserole recipes come in handy. Baked to perfection in a single pan – a hearty casserole always satisfies your hunger and warms you from the inside out.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 bowl sliced mushrooms

Creamy Parmesan Garlic Sauce:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup bacon
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Season chicken with generous amount of salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sear chicken on both sides, for about 3-5 minutes each side, until golden all over. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  3. Fry bacon in the remaining oil, add in mushroom and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, or until just beginning to soften. Transfer to the same plate as the chicken
  4. To make the sauce, melt butter, add in garlic and cook until tender. Whisk in chicken broth, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, pepper and salt.
  5. Put chicken and mushrooms back to the sauce, brush chicken with butter and sprinkle with extra salt and pepper, bake for 30-40 minutes.

Fluffiest Overnight French Toast

As the year ends, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what you have accomplished and look ahead to your new goals.

Cooking, hoarding recipes, photographing food and, of course, eating, have been my lifelong passions. Two years ago, I started the page << Miss Amateur Chef >>, this has changed my life and taken my obsession with food to a whole new level. The kitchen has always been my place of solace; working in the kitchen, testing recipes bring not only joy but beautiful memories. This little project of mine allowed me to properly document my favorite recipes- which I believe can now live on forever =)

Let’s start the new year with a scrumptious breakfast! This French toast is a real crowd pleaser, it comes out best when you work with thick slices of loaf bread and allow them to soak in the mixture overnight. “Preparation is the key to success”- this applies to cooking and everything else in life. May all our preparation in 2017 make us FIERCE and UNSTOPPABLE in 2018!!!

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Beat together egg, milk, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.
  2. Soak slices of bread in mixture overnight, until saturated.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat, cook bread slices on both sides until golden.
  4. Serve hot with maple syrup and berries.

 

Braised Short Rib with Sautéed Vegetables

So this is Christmas…

We all have a holiday tradition or recipe that we hold so dear and near to our hearts, don’t we? One that we keep making the same way for years and never get bored with. Boeuf bourguignon is one of such dishes for me. Hearty and so packed full of flavour. It is a must in our house in the winter months.

This Christmas I am trying to make an elevated version of beef stew based on Gordon Ramsay’s recipe with a few modifications: cutting down the amount of red wine and adding in extra tomatoes cause I like a little more acidity in the sauce. The vegetables are sautéed instead of adding to the stew at the very beginning so to avoid a soggy texture.

p.s. This is my first time working with pearl onions and they are truly god-sent!

 

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Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 3 thick-cut meaty beef short ribs
  • Minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250ml bottle red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 100g pancetta lardons
  • 6-8 small chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and halved
  • 6-8 pearl onions
  • Carrots (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes cut in wedges

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

  2. Season the short ribs thoroughly, then panfry in the dutch oven for 10–15 minutes to brown well on all sides.

  3. Add the minced garlic, pushing it to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato purée and heat for a minute or two to cook it out. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits at the bottom. Put in tomato wedges.
  4. Bring everything to the boil and cook for 10–15 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half, then add stock to nearly cover the ribs. Bring to the boil again, basting the ribs with the juices.
  5. Put the dutch oven in the preheated oven for 3–4 hours, until the meat is tender and falling away from the bone.
  6. About 10 minutes before the short ribs are ready to come out, peel the pearl onions and boil them for 5 minutes.
  7. At the same time, panfry the pancetta for 2–3 minutes until crisp and golden. Add the mushrooms and carrots, cook for 4–5 minutes until tender. Drain off any excess fat.
  8. When the short ribs are ready, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.  Spoon off any excess fat from the beef cooking liquid.
  9. Serve the short ribs topped with the hot pancetta and mushrooms and the sauce poured around.


 

Gingerbread men

Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, perfectly spiced =) No holiday cookie platter would be complete without our beloved gingerbread men!


Ingredients (yield 12 pcs):

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add golden syrup, egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.
  3. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired.

 

Lu Rou Fan- Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice

Lu Rou Fan滷肉飯 (Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice)

Caution: The following recipe is not for the faint of heart!!

Okay, just think of it as Chinese Bolognese meat sauce! Although pork belly is the cut where bacon originates, and is known to be heavy in fat, you’ll find that the Lu Ro, despite flaunting thick layers of fat, is surprisingly not as greasy as you might have imagined. In fact, since the pork is cooked under low heat for an extended amount of time, the amount of fat is somewhat mitigated.

Braising has always been one of my favorite ways to cook meat; it is the best sort of kitchen alchemy- transforming tough cuts of meat into something completely flavorful and tender, and you know what… braised meat tastes even better the next day!


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb skin-on pork belly, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 piece of medium size rock sugar
  • a couple of shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 1/4 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled (optional)

For the spices (wrap everything in the spice packet):

  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • cumin seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 slices fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degree C.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over low heat, add in the sugar. Add the minced shallots when the sugar starts to melt. Turn up the heat to medium high and stir-fry the shallots for a minute.
  3. Add the mushroom pieces and chopped pork belly; stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Pour in the blanched pork, rice wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and water. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add the spices (which should be wrapped in cloth), along with the peeled hardboiled eggs.
  5. Transfer everything to the oven and cook for around 1½ hours.
  6. Once the meat is fall-apart tender, remove the spice packet. Transfer Dutch oven to the stove, cook under medium high heat to thicken the sauce, stir occasionally, for about 5-minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Serve over steamed white rice!

 

Mushroom and Chicken Braided Bread

“Good things come to those who bake.”

Sometimes, all you need to do is bake, and that very act will bring you instant peace and happiness. Whether you’re baking a loaf of brioche or whipping up some quick banana bread for breakfast, the joy that fresh, warm bread brings to the table is unlike any other.

Came across this ultra easy pizza dough recipe, calling for only two ingredients- greek yogurt and self-rising flour, on allrecipes.com the other day.  Instead of ordinary pizza, I used it for a more fancy-looking braided bread and I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out!

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Ingredients

Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Filling

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 bowl of chicken cubes (marinated to taste with salt and pepper)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 260 degree C.
  2. Mix flour and Greek yogurt together in a bowl; transfer to a work surface floured with self-rising flour. Knead dough, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from being too sticky, for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, about 3 mins. Stir in chicken cubes and mushroom. Cook for 5 more minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat.
  4. Unroll pizza dough on parchment sheet. Starting at center out, roll dough into 15 x10 -inch rectangle with a rolling pin. Sprinkle cheese over center third of dough. Spoon onion-chicken mixture evenly over cheese.
  5. Make cuts 1 inch apart on both long sides of dough to within 1/2 inch of filling. Alternately cross strips diagonally over filling; turn ends under and press to seal. Brush egg white over top.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes and then cut crosswise into slices and serve!

 

Taiwanese Beef Noodles made with Dutch oven

My go-to recipe for a hearty meal full of braised tender beef, vegetables and plenty of carbssss!

Sluuuurp~


Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds meaty beef short ribs
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 3 slices of peeled fresh ginger, smashed
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts smashed with flat side of a large knife and green parts chopped
  • 1.5 cup Chinese rice wine
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • 1 fresh red chile
  • 3 tablespoons of Doubanjiang
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grinded pepper
  • 2-3 cubes of rock sugar
  • 10 ounces dried Chinese wheat noodles
  • Bok Choy for garnishing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
  2. Cut onions and tomatoes into wedges, scallions into sections.
  3. Chop short ribs into 3-inch cubes.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions, tomatoes, scallions and ginger slices and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned.
  5. Dry the beef cubes with paper towels. Toss into the Dutch oven, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.
  6. Add the soya sauce, water plus Chinese rice wine, just enough to almost cover the meat.
  7. Add the rock sugar, pepper and Doubanjiang , toss in red chili. Bring to a simmer.
  8. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 2.5 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  9. Serve with noodles and bok choy!