Easter weekend feast! Posted by: | April 3, 2010
 

I’m still sore in my legs as I’m writing this. That’s because I spent most of my afternoon today grocery shopping and then cooking & baking for about 3hours. Since it’s such a beautiful Good Friday, I randomly decided to host a “Good Friday” dinner at my place, inviting 6 friends. Surprisingly, all of them RSVP-ed immediately. Thinking back, I’ve never really cooked for so many people in ages. I decided to go all out, making a 3 course meal from Starter, Main course to Dessert. I also decided to finally experiment the recipes in my Jamie Oliver “Jamie’s Dinners” cookbook. After 2 months owning this awesome book, all I’ve done is just flipping through and admiring the food photography. Time to turn those recipes into reality! Hence, today’s entire 3-course Dinner is à la Jamie Oliver :)

Here goes my frenzy afternoon of cooking:

5pm: I finally had finished unpacking all my groceries & ingredients for the dinner. I started baking the dessert first, so that I can use the oven for 1.5 hours later for my Main Dish.

Chocolate Clafoutis with Caramelized Oranges (adapted from “Jamie’s Dinners”)

This is an awesome dessert that is not too sweet or dry. It’s relatively simple to make and a real winner even after a very full meal. The moist, gooey texture of the cake with a hint of orange zest goes really easy down the throat after a savory meal. And the chocolate goes amazingly well with fresh oranges. I’m still drooling as I type this out! First, let’s look at the ingredients:

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 -8)

  • 5 big, seedless oranges (I was lucky that mine were seedless. Totally got them by luck. Didn’t have much to choose from)
  • About 100g of the best quality dark chocolate you can get (70% cocoa solids) – I settled with Cadsbury (see picture above). I know. Lame mass manufactured stuff. But I didn’t have much time to hunt for the finest dark chocolate.
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks (you can keep the egg whites for something else later, like meringues!)
  • 3/4 cup milk (you can use low-fat milk)
  • a small bunch of chopped white chocolate to sprinkle on the cake

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 400 deg F or 200 deg C.

2. Zest 3 of the oranges over a grater into a bowl. Don’t zest into the white parts of the skin as that is the bitter part. Then use a peeler to remove the outer peel and slice them into round slices about 5mm thick.

3. Break the dark chocolate into pieces, place in a bowl and melt over a small pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until fully melted and off the heat. The steaming water underneath will continue to keep the chocolate warm.

4. You can use a deep metal tin or earthenware dish/pan to bake the clafoutis. I used a deep earthenware pan which turned out great! Rub the inside of the  pan with a little butter. To make the batter, sift the flour into a big bowl, add the almonds, half the sugar, salt, eggs, yolks, orange zest & milk. Whisk up until smooth (about 2min with your egg mixer on low speed). Add the rest of the butter into the melting chocolate and stir until smooth with your spatula. Scrape all the melted chocolate and butter into the batter mix and pour into your pan.

5. Finely chop the white chocolate and sprinkle into the batter. Place the pan into the oven and bake from 16 to 20 minutes. When it is done, it will rise and is firm around the edges, but sticky and gooey in the middle. Don’t be surprised if it sinks a little in the middle. If you overcook it, the gooeyness will dry out and the cake becomes hard & dry.

6. While the cake is baking, bring the other half of your sugar to boil with 6tbsp of water on medium heat until golden caramel is formed. Remove from heat, add the juice from your remaining 2 oranges and stir. Pour the caramel over the orange slices and serve with your chocolate clafoutis. You can pour some orange caramel over the clafoutis as well for extra tanginess.

6pm: Dessert is now done and set to cool outside. I have exactly 2 hours left to prepare my main dish & starter. Which leaves me only half an hour to prepare the main dish, as it takes 1.5 hours to bake in the oven.

Tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes (adapted from “Jamie’s Dinners”)

This is an amazing dish to serve for dinner parties as it takes little on-hand time and gives you plenty of time to doll yourself up or clean the house while it’s baking in the oven for 1.5 hours. The long cooking time is surely worth it as the chicken becomes so tender & juicy from all the tomatoes, while still maintaining a crispy brown skin. Simply delicious!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

  • 4 chicken legs jointed with chicken thigh
  • sea salt and ground black bepper
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil (leaves picked, stalks finely chopped)
  • 2 big handfuls of red and yellow cherry tomaotes, halved
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, broken up into cloves
  • 2 big handfulls of baby/new potatoes.

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 180deg C or 350 deg F. Season your chicken pieces all over (if necessary, put them into a big bowl and mix with hands to coat every piece with pepper and salt. Put the chicken into a layer on the pan. Chuck or nestle your tomatoes into the chicken and try to push it underneath. Scatter the garlic cloves and basil on top with some olive oil. It will look somewhat like this:

2. Cut the baby potatoes into halves and chuck them into the chicken dish as well. It’s important to leave as much part of the chicken skin exposed as possible to let it brown and crisp up, while absorbing all the tomato broth from the bottom. Place in the oven for 1.5 hours. Halfway through you can take the dish out and push the tomatoes & potatoes further underneath the chicken.

3. Take the dish out when chicken skin is crisp and meat is tender. Squeeze the garlic out of its skins before serving. And this is the wonderful result of slow oven-baking: juicy & crispy chicken with tender / crispy skinned baby potatoes, lying in a bed of tasty chicken-tomato broth:

Fast forwarding to half an hour before the Chicken dish was ready, I was also preparing the Starter: French bean salad. A very quick and easy French salad, yet full of “twanginess” (Jamie Oliver’s favorite word) to wake up your tastebuds, thanks to the Djion mustard dressing. This starter was a real hit and in my friend’s words: “It complemented the chicken dish perfectly!”.

French Bean salad (adapted from “Jamie’s Dinners”)

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 packs or 4 handfuls of French beans, stalk ends removed
  • 2-3 teaspoons of French/Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers (optional, but I used it anyway for extra “twang” :P)

1. Boil a pot of water, then add your beans and cook for about 5 minutes.

2. While the beans are cooking, put the mustard and vinegar into a large bowl and stir well with a fork or spoon. While stirring, add the olive oil slowly spoon by spoon to make a smooth dressing. Season with sea salt and pepper, then add the shallot, capers and garlic.

3. Remove beans from the pot and toss into the bowl of dressing. While the beans are still hot, it will absorb more dressing, so toss around quickly. Once done, serve immediately while it’s still warm. You can have this as both a salad or a side dish.

8pm: My dinner is all done, and my friends have arrived with 2 bottles of french red wine and a baguette. What a brilliant idea from my friend to bring the bread as the soupy base of the Chicken main dish goes perfectly with the baguette! We finished everything on the table. What a wonderful, satisfying meal with great company and wine :) I would love to do this again! And guess what, the entire 3-course dinner for 6 didn’t cost me more than 50 dollars, and it was zillion times better than that weird restaurant we ate at yesterday in 313, which cost us double as much WITHOUT dessert :P

A lovely Good Friday holiday ! Nothing beats seeing those clean plates and satisfied faces on my friends after a meal that I made. What a rewarding feeling. I wish there were more holidays! Luckily the next one is not so far away: May Day!!! Can’t wait to hold my next dinner party then :) Now I gotta crawl into bed. I’m aching all over from all the standing in the kitchen!

 

5 Responses to “Easter weekend feast!”

  1. Quang says:

    Hi Chi Anh,
    All look so tasty and delicious! I will try to bake chicken drumsticks with tomatoes next week :)
    Happy Easter!

  2. Brownie Monster says:

    Hey Chi Chi,

    It was a wonderful dinner and thanks for inviting me and S once again.

    Let me throw in a little constructive criticism that may help you in the future. I stand by my earlier comments that I loved the French bean salad among all the dishes. It was tangy and balanced well with the mellower chicken dish.

    One tip: A way to enhance the taste of the chicken dish might be to add in a cup of liquid chicken broth before tossing it in the oven.

    As for the chocolate clafoutis, using a darker and richer chocolate would make it taste much more luxurious.

    It will be VERY interesting if we can take turns holding such dinners so we can enjoy the food and company and learn from each other at the same time!

    Cheers and Happy Cooking….

  3. Chi Anh says:

    To Brownie Monster, thanks for your tip :) See you for dinner at your place soon ;) Can’t wait to make those pretty cupcakes!

  4. [...] I even took a quick shower in between turning the chicken!). Now this dish is different from my Roast chicken with Cherry Tomatoes I made for Easter. It is a dry, crispy roast instead of the very juicy base of the latter. But for [...]

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