Sunday, May 15, 2016

If the Stranger can cook: One-pot Braised Chicken Stew (Inspired by Gennaro Contaldo)

Recently, I have been using cooking videos on YouTube to entertain Noah, hoping to inspire him to try new food, as he has become frustratingly picky during mealtimes in the last year or so. Fortunately, like father like son, he's just as fascinated with them as me, especially those flamboyant 'performances' from a certain hungry Italian named Gennaro Contaldo, who not only appears to be absolutely passionate about his cooking, but also makes it look extremely achievable.

I did my take on Gennaro's Italian Braised Chicken Stew, following his steps as much as I could with the ingredients, and it worked a treat (Noah ate A LOT). So here's exactly what I did:


GENNARO'S BRAISED CHICKEN STEW (MADE IN A NORMAL PERSON'S HOUSE)

Ingredients (serves 3-4):



  • 8 kampung chicken drumsticks, or a mix of drumsticks and thigh
  • 2-3 rashers of bacon or 40-50g of pancetta, sliced into small strips
  • handful of rosemary and thyme
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced
  • half a carrot, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 500g of tomato, diced (I used a mix of cherry and vine)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2-3 tablespoonfuls of tomato puree
  • 200ml of stock
All the diced vegetables, this is what your family is going to eat.

Cooking Procedure:

Season chicken generously with salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Sear the chicken and bacon/pancetta till there is a nice golden colour

Lay the rosemary and thyme on top and deglaze the pan with the glass of white wine

After the alcohol has evaporated, add in the rest of the vegetables

Dissolve tomato puree (amount can be adjusted based on your own preference) in the stock and stir it into the pot

After simmering for 45 minutes under low hear and a final swig of olive oil (taste and add salt/pepper if necessary), serve with some warm toasted bread

Some X-factors that might make a difference to your dish:

  1. Use kampung/free-range chicken. It's more tasty, more healthy and less oily. If you are afraid that the meat is too tough, use only drumsticks and thigh.
  2. The bacon/pancetta is optional, but having the odd bite of savoury smoked meat during your dinner is really pleasant.
  3. Make sure you brown the meat on a hot searing pan, do not skip this step!
  4. You can be creative with the vegetables, things like parsley, celery and even beans and peas will work.


Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Paris Mikki: Authentic French Pastry in the heart of Bangkok

For a long while, traveling into the heart of Bangkok on a Saturday morning with 2 little kids for a piece of cake sounded like a ridiculous proposition. Not anymore.

Just last Saturday, my wife and I woke up earlier than normal, prepared our kids, and left home for Asoke just for a piece of this:

The Philip 70, perfect for chocolate and hazelnut lovers
And this:

Lou Lou: A contemporary strawberry cheesecake
And of course, these:

The best croissants in town, according to BK's blind taste test, and also, my tongue. =P

Before Paris Mikki (not to be confused with a chain selling spectacles in Singapore/Malaysia), there was Let Them Eat Cake (which has closed permanently), which proved unique in Bangkok in their rendition of French-style cakes. However, there was always something missing at the latter, be it a lack of service, the cakes frequently appearing in front of me not cold enough, or some items feeling a little too complicated for my liking. Paris Mikki, on the other hand, feels old-school, down-to-earth and consistent, traits that I appreciate.

A brief chat with Carol, the owner of Paris Mikki, confirmed my many initial feelings about the patisserie. Carol is an alumni of the reputed Le Cordon Bleu Paris, both in bakery and cuisine. She trained and worked with the masters, so well that she managed to work in the best kitchens in Paris and stayed there for a decade, until it's finally time to come home. By completely immersing herself long-term into the charming Parisian culture, she has managed to bring a piece of it back to Bangkok, almost completely unaltered.

The dazzling array of pastry on display, I wish I could try them all

Throughout our discussion, Carol's friendliness and eagerness to share could not overshadow her aura of self-confidence. Unwilling to compromise on the consistency of her products, Carol does a huge bulk of the baking and does not believe in expanding her business on impulse before the kitchen is completely ready. She is convinced that her creations can hold their own even in Paris (backed by her French mentors who visited Paris Mikki and gave the thumbs up) and is already working towards opening a shop there in the future.

The elegant little shop is just a short walk into Sukhumvit Soi 19, the alley between Terminal 21 and Westin Grande

Paris Mikki's cakes are pricey no doubt, but they are certainly of the size and quality to convince me that they are worth every penny (especially after I paid SGD9.50++ for each piece of forgettable cake at Lady M in Singapore). Furthermore, unless you make your way to certain 5-star hotels, there is virtually no chance of you getting similar offerings anywhere else in Bangkok.

So, all this points to one conclusion:

Wah Lau Eh! Carol posing with my Stamp of Approval

Even though you might not see my sticker pasted on the shopfront anytime soon, please believe me that Paris Mikki has already won my ultimate stamp of approval.

Noah concurs!

PS. For the hopeless romantic who is interested to know why the bakery is named Paris Mikki, the next time you go to Paris, take a leisurely stroll along Ponts des Arts and you might find the answer, or maybe not.

PSS. Paris Mikki is also part of my 5 recommended eats within walking distance from Asoke BTS station.



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