Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Grilled Lime and Coriander Chicken Thighs

At the moment, if I had to choose my favourite herb, and I can only choose one, it would be fresh coriander (or cilantro, for my State side readers). I just adore it's grassy freshness. It's utterly delicious. But funny thing, when I was little, I hated it for some reasons. I guess our palate changes with time.

I felt like something light and fresh for lunch today and I prepared this quick and tasty little dish. It doesn't take long time to marinate; otherwise, the acid from the lime juice will start to cook the chicken. Two hours maximum, I reckon. I prepped this in the morning after gym. I got on with regular house chores and by the time I finished, the chickens are ready for the hot grill.

The chicken would go nicely with crunchy salad on the side and flatbread, or perhaps nutty brown rice. But I wanted something heartier, so I opted with Nigella Lawson's Mock Mash from Nigellissima. No potatoes are harmed in the making of this mash. Instead, it's made of semolina. It takes minutes to prepare and definitely takes a lot less effort than making the real mash potatoes.

Grilled Lime and Coriander Chicken Thighs
Serves 2

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced or grated
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon olive oil, regular not extra virgin
Salt and white pepper to taste

A small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients (minus the fresh coriander) together and give it a good mix. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for a couple of hours or so in the fridge.

Take out the chicken and let it come back to almost room temperature before grilling. In the meantime, heat up the grill.

Grill the chicken for around 8 minutes per side or until cooked. Cooking time varies depending on the size of your chicken thighs. Serve with vessel of your choice, and top with chopped fresh coriander and more limes to squeeze over.  

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Chicken Thighs in Cream Sauce with Paprika and Mushrooms

I know, I know, I haven't posted in ages and I ran out of excuses... But I want to thank all the readers for the continuous support to this blog; and to new subscribers to my YouTube channel, a very warm welcome. 

I cooked this meal the other night, it was oh-so-good, it'd be very selfish of me not to share it with all of you.  This is the sort of cooking that's relaxing (especially with a glass of wine in hand), not at all demanding and with ingredients you might already have on hand.

I've mentioned this many times before; but I use chicken thighs here because I think they have more flavour compare to breast meat, and they are more economical. So, it's a win-win in my book. But of course, if you prefer white meat, do what pleases you. 

The thighs here are skinless, but I keep the bone-in because I think it adds to the flavour, and also I like to nibble on the bones. Anybody else? Just me? 

Moving on... If there's one cooking task, I don't really enjoy, it is searing. But it is important. The caramelisation builds the flavour and it gives beautiful colour too, to the chicken. Otherwise, the chicken looks kinda dull. So, please don't skip this part.

I hope you give this a go and have a delicious day everyone! Until next time....

Chicken Thighs in Cream Sauce with Paprika and Mushrooms
Serves 4

8 chicken thighs (bone-in/boneless, skinless)
Olive oil, regular not extra-virgin
2 medium sized onions. thickly sliced into half moons
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon caster sugar
300 ml double cream
250 gr white/brown mushrooms, sliced
A small handful of flat-leaf parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat a pan that comes with a lid with a little olive oil. Season the chicken thighs all over with salt and black pepper. Sear the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. If your pan, isn't big enough, you should do this in batches. Otherwise the chicken will just braise and you won't get the beautiful caramelised colour. Set the chicken aside on a platter.

Using the same pan, saute the onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook for few minutes, scraping the delicious brown bits from the chicken, until the onions are translucent and lightly browned.

Add the garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, sugar and give everything a stir.  Pour in the double cream and put the chicken (and all the juices that's been accumulated on the plate) back in the pan. Stir, put the lid on and let it simmer for fifteen minutes. Time to top up your glass, I say.

On another pan, heat up some butter and cook the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. I cook the mushrooms separately, so they get a beautiful colour. Vanity.

Then add the mushrooms to the chicken, along with a handful of roughly chopped flat-leat parsley. Stir and taste to adjust the seasonings.

I serve this with a side of brown rice and edamame beans, and more vino. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Earl Grey Traybake

Greed is often a great source of inspiration. For example, this afternoon when I not only want a cup of tea to sip during my afternoon of Netflix and chill, but also want to be able to eat eat too; I then came up with this Earl Grey traybake idea. I love Earl Grey with its bergamot orange aroma. It is my everyday, anytime tea, but if it not your cup of tea, I don't see why you can't use other kind if you want to.

I adore cakes made with ground almonds. I love its nutty flavour and tender, crumbly texture. Also, not that I have celiac disease or lactose intolerant, but this traybake is gluten-free and dairy-free!  

Earl Grey Traybake
Makes 16 slices

150 ml olive oil, regular not extra-virgin
250 gr caster sugar
3 eggs
2 bags of Earl Grey tea
150 gr ground almonds
50 gr semolina
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F and grease and line a 20 cm square baking tin with baking parchment.

Using a pestle and mortar, or in a mini food processor, crush 50 gr of the sugar with the tea leaves leaves until a fine powder texture forms.

For ease I use a freestanding mixer, but do use a hand mixer or even you can do this by hand if you want to. But anyway, in a bowl of a freestanding mixer, add the tea mix with the rest of the sugar, olive oil, vanilla and the eggs. Mix with a paddle attachment until you have an aerated, thickened cream.

In a separate bowl, measure and combine the ground almonds, semolina and baking powder. Slowly tip in the dry ingredients to the wet.

Add the zest of an orange and stir with a spatula. Pour the batter to the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the sides are set and a cake tester (I always use a stick of spaghetti) come up clean. 

Let the cake cool for slightly before slicing and dust with a little powder sugar is you wish.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

I am a pasta addict, yes I will admit to that. There are several pasta dishes I make so many times and never tired of... and one of them is Bucatini all'Amatriciana. 

This is a classic pasta dish named after the town of Amatrice, somewhere east of Rome. It is very simple to make with only a handful of ingredients, and minutes to prepare. But what I love is, even though the sauce doesn't take hours to simmer, it still manages to deliver gutsy flavours. Thanks to the salty pancetta, red pepper flakes, garlic and pecorino.

Of course, you may use spaghetti or other pasta shapes that please you, but sticking with tradition I use bucatini which looks like thick spaghetti but with a hollow centre. 

Next time you want something quick and easy, do give this a go. 

Bucatini all'Amatriciana
Recipe by Michael Toa

500gr dried bucatini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
150 gr diced pancetta
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 small red onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated
1 can (400gr) chopped tomatoes
150 ml white wine
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Pecorino cheese, freshly grated

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet that can take all the pasta later over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, stirring every now and then. Add red pepper flakes, onion and garlic; cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and fill the can halfway with water and add that too; along with the white wine and caster sugar. The caster sugar balances the tanginess from the tomatoes. Bring everything to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook just before the al dente stage for about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add drained pasta to the skillet and toss vigorously to ensure everything is coated nicely. Add a little of the pasta water if the sauce looks too dry). Stir in grated pecorino, as much as you wish; serve on a bowl and enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016


I hope that it's still acceptable to wish you all a very happy new year! It's a tad late I know, but better late than never, right? :)

It's still only the 12th day of the new year, but I feel so much have been happening already. A great news to share with all of you readers, I got a promotion! I am very pleased and grateful with this opportunity to continue learning and doing what I love most that is, to cook and bake. 

I realise that I have not been posting much lately, and that is not because I have not been cooking or eating (no way!). If you are a follower of my Instagram account (@michael_toa), you know that is not the case. I've been posting more updates of what's been going on there, so if you're interested, do follow me around. 

It's still really busy at work at the moment especially with Cayman Cookout happening in a couple days time. No, I'm not freaking out. A little nervous, but the good kind. Honestly, I look forward to it...

I'm having a lovely and relaxing day off today; and I've just been to see the film Joy which I thought is just excellent. It really inspires me to do more and to never give up. A great film to kick off the new year.

But like all other new years, I don't make resolutions because I don't keep them and I don't want to set myself up for failures. I do have plans and few things in the works which will be unveiled hopefully soon, so please be patient guys :) And of course, a big thank you to everyone for the support all these years. It means a lot.

So, here's to a wonderful 2016!

Michael x