Friday, March 25, 2011

Couscous Black Bean Salad

I don't know, should you call a salad "cute"?
A co-worker gave me this recipe over 20 years ago, and I have loved it ever since.  She called it "M&M" salad because of all the bright colors looked like the original colors in a bag of candies... red, yellow, orange, green and 2 colors of brown.  Back before there were blue M&M's....

This salad is easy, it's colorful and it's good for you... what else do you need?
You could also serve this as a side dish, with nothing more than a green salad and some grilled skewers of meat.

Serves about 6-8
1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 lemon, juiced
2 cans 14 oz each, black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
8-9 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Boil the water in a small saucepan, add lemon juice and the couscous.  Turn off the heat and cover, letting the couscous steam and absorb the liquid.  It's okay if the couscous looks 'dry' because you'll be adding some dressing later on that will soak into the grains, making it taste terrific. Remove the lid and fluff it up with a fork. Let cool a bit while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Drain and rinse the two cans of black beans.

Chop the bell peppers  into a uniform 1/4" to 1/2" dice.  Slice green onions and mince the parsley. Set aside.

In a large serving bowl, make the dressing in the bottom of the bowl.  Add the oil, red wine vinegar, cumin and salt and pepper.  Whisk together the dressing then and add the drained and rinsed black beans.  Top with the warm couscous and toss together.  Add the chopped bell peppers, parsley and green onions. Serve warm, room temperatures or cold.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reese's Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I'm sitting here writing and noticing that I have powdered sugar on my toes... yep, my toes!  How says you?  Keep reading...

I'm not the most perfect baker, I think that baking just has too many precise rules.  I like things...well, a bit more flexible and free flowing, shall I say? Anyways, this recipe combination was inspired by watching a program for Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes on "Cookin' with the Neely's", but that didn't really speak to me.  The frosting looked awesome though, so I kept thinking about it. I saw a blog once where all they did was bake things INTO cupcakes.  I like that... so I kept going with it.

So I googled recipes for Chocolate cupcakes, I know I could of used a mix, but that so seems like cheating, and has yucky manufactured things you can't pronounce in it anyways.  This recipe was called Mom's Best Chocolate Cupcakes, jeez, how could I not make that one?  Weird thing is, there are no eggs in it. I thought it was very weird and I double, I mean triple, checked to make sure.  Sure enough- no eggs!  The cupcakes were moist, good, and easy, and OH, can I say it?  Vegan friendly, just in case you have some rabid Vegans floating about your house.

Back to that powder sugar on my toe, well, I did the right thing and sifted my powdered sugar before adding to the frosting.  Sometimes I don't and it always makes me so mad to have those lumps in the frosting!  I sifted it onto a flexible plastic cutting board and carefully added to my stand mixer, just like I saw Alton Brown do on TV.  Silly thing is, I didn't expect the plastic to buckle and then flip back into place throwing powdered sugar everywhere.  All over my sweater, my jeans, my face, my feet and my floor.  I just love to be sticky... don't you?

Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients:
Makes about 18 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider
1 bag Reese's Peanut Butter Cups- Miniature Size (about 42)

Preheat oven at 350. Mix together all dry ingredients, then the water, oil and extract, then add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until uniformly moistened.  This batter was a bit more liquid than most batters, but it cooks up nice and moist! Line your muffin tin with papers and fill each one about 1/4 full, add an unwrapped miniature Reese's Peanut Butter cup into each tin. 
Add more batter to cover, filling each to about 2/3 - 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool completely... and I mean completely, or your frosting is going to melt right off!

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
4 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and butter. Beat until well combined, then add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until well mixed. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and beat until well incorporated.

Using a pastry bag and a large star-shaped icing tip, frost the cupcakes!  If you don't have a pastry bag, or a tip, you could use the ole' Ziploc bag method and fill the bag with frosting, and cut a SMALL portion of the tip off, using that to squeeze the frosting onto the cupcakes in a cute little swirl. Top with a half a Reese's Peanut Butter cup, chopped peanuts, or chocolate sprinkles.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Chili Rubbed Steaks with Spinach-Cilantro Green Rice

Why does Friday night say STEAKS?  What a great way to celebrate having a couple of days off! I like to go out to a nice steakhouse, but I also know how fast the price of a dinner like that can all add up, so I prefer to buy nice steaks at the grocery store, or Costco, and grill them at home.  Even adding a nice $30 bottle of wine, the maximum you're looking at with the all steaks for this dinner is probably about $50, a far cry from the price in a restaurant!

It's no secret that I love Mexican flavors in my food, so I decided to incorporate this into our dinner tonight. A chili rub for the steaks is so easy, and the green rice is a different and interesting way to get your veggies and your starch into one intense flavorful dish.

(Lime is not pictured)

4 steaks
1 Tbsp garlic
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp fresh pepper

"Green" Rice ingredients:
2 cups white rice, long grain would be best
4 cups chicken stock
1 lime, juiced
6 oz bag of spinach
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch of cilantro
1 tsp granulated garlic
1-2 tsp salt

In a ziploc bag, add the steaks, olive oil and all the spices.  Once everything is in there, seal up the bag and "massage" the whole bag rubbing the spices equally into all sides of the steak.  I do it this way because I wanted to keep my hands clean...
Let it sit for about 30 minutes while you prep the rice and heat up the grill.

In a sieve, or colander, rinse your rice in cool water.  This helps to dissolve the starches that make your rice sticky and gummy and should allow your rice to be nice and fluffy when cooked. In a medium size covered saucepan, add about 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth, 2 cups of white rice and 1 tsp. granulated garlic.  Bring to a boil and immediately turn the burn to the lowest setting, cover your pot and set your timer for 20 minutes.  If you are using brown rice, you will need to cook it longer.  White rice will set off all the veggies better than brown, just saying!

While that cooks, in a food processor, add the bunch of green onions cut into 2" lengths, and the cilantro, roughly chopped.  This almost filled my food processor which is only a 6 cup, so I processed the mixture down and then added the spinach. 

Again, it completely filled my processor.  I added about 1/2 cup of chicken stock to get the whole mixture chopped and wet.  It was about 2 cups of pureed veggies when complete.  Set aside for the rice to finish cooking. 

When the rice is done, stir in the veggies, fluffing the mixture with a fork.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. You might need to re-heat a bit before serving, but it will probably be hot enough.

Grill your steaks to your liking and serve with the green rice. 

What else should I serve with this?:
  • Pictured above is a grilled portabello mushroom with cheese, onions and red pepper.  I bought this pre-made "on special" but it would be so easy to do yourself!
  • Spicy Coleslaw, use the recipe from my Simple Fish Taco & Coleslaw.
  • Southwest Edamame Salad would be great too.
What else would this work with?
  • Chicken!  Breasts or thighs would be great with a chili rub and the green rice.
  • Pork Chops would work beautifully too!
  • White fish, like Tilapia, would work, but might be easier to oven bake instead of grilling.
Steak Rub & Marinade Ingredients:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Cheese Polenta & Sauteed Kale

I grew up eating polenta... I just didn't know it. Having not an ounce of Italian blood, we called it Cornmeal mush.... hmmm, somehow not as appealing as polenta!  My Mom served it warm for breakfast, like a hot cereal, with grated cheddar cheese and bacon bits on top... oh yeah, and some melted butter!  Pretty fantastic, and even makes a great dinner too.  She usually made extra "mush" and added it to a loaf pan, refrigerating it until firm.  She'd slice it, and fry it up later with a dinner.  Same thing as all those Italian Mamas do. I really can't believe people buy this stuff already made, because it is so easy and cheap to make yourself! There is no right, or wrong, way to make polenta, it's as varied as the types of dishes that it's served in.  In it's simplest form, it's water and cornmeal, or made with broth, cream, butter and cornmeal, and many more combinations.

We liked this recipe, which I dreamed up tonight, because it was tangy (kale), creamy (polenta) and tender and savory (pork).  The kale is delicious with the combination, but any greens will work.  I just love kale so much, I can eat half a bunch on my own, luckily it's so good for you! For the polenta, almost any cheese would do, I like to use goat cheese, it's my favorite!

Serves about 4
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
1 tsp. granulated garlic powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced

1 cup cornmeal
4-5 cups of water, or stock, or combination of both
1/2 cup sliced green onions, white and green parts
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
2 Tbsp cream cheese

Sauteed Kale:
1 large bunch kale, cut into 1" pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In a Ziploc bag, add the pork tenderloin and all the spices,1 Tbsp. olive oil and lemon juice.  Massage the bag with the meat in it (keeps your hands clean), making sure that the tenderloin is well coated with the spices and liquid.  Let it sit for 30-60 minutes.

Heat oven to 375.
In a large fry pan, heat another 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat, remove the pork from the marinade letting the liquid drip off, and then add to the pan, turning to brown each side uniformly. 

Remove meat to a baking dish and put into the oven for about 25-30 minutes.  The pork tenderloin can easily get overcooked as it's so lean, so the internal temperature should be approx 140-145 and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing it. If you don't have an instant thermometer, you can give the meat a poke with your finger, if it feels firm, you are getting close.  You can always cut into it and check...

In a saucepan, add about 3 cups of stock, or water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium heat, gradually add the cornmeal, whisking constantly. Keep stirring to avoid lumps. You will notice right away that the cornmeal polenta is starting to thicken. 

Keep adding more liquid as needed, and keep cooking for about 15 minutes until it has a creamy consistency.  Add the cream cheese and stir completely until it is melted, add the Romano cheese and continue mixing  Add the green onions. At any time, if it seems too thick to you, add in more liquid and stir.  If your polenta is done before the rest of the meal, remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.  As a note, I added more liquid again before I served it as it continued to thicken. 

Cut up the Kale into 1" pieces.

Cook the kale in the same skillet you browned your tenderloin over medium high heat. If it needs more olive oil, you can add a bit more.  Add the juice of half a lemon (or less, if you don't like it too tangy), add red pepper flakes and salt.  Cook until the kale starts to soften, but still retains it's bright green color. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

To serve, place polenta on the plate adding the sauteed kale and slices of roasted tenderloin alongside.  Drizzle pan juices on top and serve. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quinoa, Cauliflower and Feta Salad

Yum, I just made up a totally amazing salad that is good for you! 

If you are not sure what Quinoa (keen-wa) is, please keep reading, this is something that you will want to try.  Quinoa is not actually a grain, but a seed from South America.  It is gluten free and easier to cook than rice.  It was highly prized by the Inca's, probably because it has a high protein content of 12-18%.  There isn't any starches out there with a protein content like that... nope, not potatoes, rice, corn, pasta, couscous... this is something you should add to your pantry. I bought a 4 lb. bag of this at Costco for about $9.99, but I am sure it can be found elsewhere sold in 'bulk' for less than that. I'm going to start substituting Quinoa for rice for some meals since it is so quick to cook!

This salad is easy and quick to make, and is fantastic for packing for your lunch, since it doesn't need refrigeration to stay stay safe and taste good. 

Serves about 6

1 1/2 cup quinoa seeds
3 cups water
1-2 cups cauliflower, "mini" florets, steamed or roasted
1 small bunch of green onions, sliced
3/4 cup bell pepper, small dice
1/4 cup parsley, minced
4 oz. feta, crumbled
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt & Pepper

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the quinoa.  I turned my pot down to medium heat and let it cook about 15 minutes.  I then turned off the heat, covered the pan and let it sit about 5 more minutes.

Make cauliflower florets.... you could roughly chop your cauliflower, but these look so much cuter!  Toss the cauliflower with olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, just until the cauliflower is cooked through and starting to get some brown edges. 
You could easily steam the small florets in the microwave for 3-4 minutes until they were cooked through by adding to a small glass bowl, adding 2-3 Tbsp. of water and covering with plastic wrap.  Careful, it will be HOT when you go to remove that plastic wrap!

Chop the bell pepper, I used about 1/4 of an orange, red and yellow bell pepper since that is what I had on hand.  Any kind of pepper would do, AND if you don't like peppers, you could substitute almost any other vegetable that you do like... broccoli, zucchini, sweet potato, etc, but keep in mind, you may have to steam or roast the vegetable to get it nice to eat in the salad.

Toss the veggies with the quinoa and add the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, parsley and the feta cheese to fully mix the salad.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, but you could also had fresh herbs or other spices like cumin or oregano.

I served this right away at lunch for two people on Sunday, took 3 cups to my neighbors and had enough left over for 2 lunch size portions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Apricot Oat Walnut Bars

I saw Giada make this on Food Network the other day and was instantly smitten by the idea of this recipe.  It sounds a bit healthy doesn't it....? Hmmmm, really, not so much- lots of butter, sugar, but oh so yum!   I was so intrigued because I could see so much that I could do with this recipe with variations using things I have on hand.  I've written some other ideas below. Here is the original recipe if you want to consult it.

Something about jam, it seems to be everywhere at my house.  First off, I love to make jam and so do all my sisters, which usually results in some sort of crazy jam swap.  I also seem to be a magnet for jam from other people... so I won't admit to how many open jams are in the back of my fridge at any one time.  I saw this recipe as a way to make an easy bar cookie and get rid of some JAM!  I usually have a bunch of different dried fruit in the pantry- cherries, cranberries, plums, and my favorite, apricot. Think of all the combination possibilities folks!!!

These cookies seem like they would be great 'travelers" so you can easily pack them and take them anywhere without too many crumbling issues.  I'm pretty confident they will freeze well too, and I will give it a try and get back to you.  Why is it you think that baked goods are "safe" from you if you freeze them?  Hey, I know from experience that frozen cookies are awesome.... but truly, maybe it would be better to actually save them for unexpected guests or to please your co-workers in the middle of the week.

Makes about 4-5 dozen bars

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 1/4 cups apricot jam or preserves
8 dried apricots, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)

1 3/4 cups flour
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Top Crust:
HALF the bottom crust (above)
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 flour
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper or foil. Spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil cooking spray and set aside.

Filling: In a small bowl, mix together the jam and the apricots. Set aside.
Crust: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Stir in the oats and walnuts.

Add the butter, egg and vanilla and stir until incorporated.
Using a fork or clean fingers, lightly press half of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the filling over the crust, but don't spread it too close to the end of the pan, or it will be impossible to remove it!  

With the remaining half of the crust mixture, add the flour and oats and mix well. Adding these will make it a bit more crumbly.  Cover the filling with the mixture and sprinkle the top with the Turbinado sugar to give it a nice crunch when it's done. Pat it down a bit so that all three layers are touching, but not too hard.

Bake until light golden, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 1 hour and then cut into bars.

What else would this work with?
  • Cherry jam and dried cherries, substituting sliced almonds for the walnuts, and almond extract for the vanilla.  I bet you could even use Strawberry jam with dried cherries and it would work, since Strawberry jam is way more available (and popular) than Cherry Jam!
  • Add flaked coconut for half of the walnuts and use a tropical kind of jam... something like Pineapple Jam with cut up dried Mangoes.... I am totally making this next!
  • Eat any variety of this dish HOT with ice cream or whip cream!
  • I think you could easily reduce the fat by substituting half the butter for applesauce. 
  • Apple Butter (Jam) with fresh finely chopped apples and more cinnamon might make an Apple Pie bar that was fantastic.
Have FUN and make it your own!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pork Chili Verde

This recipe is such a stand by for our family,  I wasn't sure I was even going to blog about it. Nevertheless, I bought a bunch of pork the other day on a "Buy one, Get one" sale and whoa... I suddenly had too much pork that I needed to use!   I actually made this two days in a row... yep, it's that good! Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the ingredients I used, or any of the steps.  I did have lots of fantastic leftovers, so I did get a picture of the finished dish (above) that just happened to be my lunch today. This is called Chili Verde, but it is not necessarily all "Verde" (green).  I will give you some ideas below for a true "green" Verde if you prefer. 

I used boneless pork country spareribs because that is what I had on hand.  You could use many other cuts of pork, a pork loin roast (cut into pieces) or even pork tenderloin successfully.  The boneless country spareribs have a bit of fat, which adds to the flavor, but you will want to trim off some of the excess pork fat, or skim the oil off at the end.

 I've shared this recipe with friends over the years, and it always seems to be a hit.  I'm going to give you the basic recipe, but I strongly encourage you to make adjustments as you feel fit.  I do this a bit differently every time I make it based on what I have around.

Makes approx 6 servings. 

3 lbs. boneless pork country style ribs, cut into 1 1/2"-2" pieces
Olive oil
3- 14oz cans of diced tomatoes, (with chilies, if you can find)
1 7oz. can of diced green chilies
     -Or- 2-3 Anaheim chillies, chopped & 1-2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1-2 med onions, chopped
1-2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup chicken, or beef, stock
2 Tsp. cumin
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cut your pork into large 1-2" pieces.  Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium high heat with some olive oil, and brown your pork in small batches.  If you overload your pan with too much pork at once, it releases a bunch of juices and you will not get any nice brown searing on the meat which adds to the flavor.  As the meat browns, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside while you finish the rest of the meat.  When complete, add the retained meat, and any accumulated juices, back to the pan.

Add the onions, and fresh chilies (if you are using) and saute until the onions start to turn translucent.  Add the garlic. Add the 3 cans of diced tomatoes (plus juices), canned chilies (if you are using), and also the cup of stock and the juice of 2 limes.   Add the cumin, some salt and pepper.  (You will adjust the seasoning again at the end). Bring back to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 1 1/2- 2 hours on low heat. 
Check on the Chili Verde occasionally to make sure there is enough liquids and it doesn't become dry.  It's okay to add a cup of water if needed.

The goal is for the meat to be nice and tender, and just ready to fall apart into nice shreds of pork.  Even if you cook this too long and the pork falls apart, it is still very good.

Serve on top of white, or brown, rice.

Crock pot!?!
Yes, you can easily do this in your crock pot, just brown your pork and then add all the rest of the ingredients on top and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  I will admit to NOT browning the pork before adding to the crock pot and having it turn out fine.  Browning adds a bit more flavor to the dish though.

True Verde?
Substitute canned tomatillo's for the tomatoes, or even green salsa!  You may want to reduce the amount of extra chilies that you add, but this isn't a too spicy dish as the canned chilies are mild. You will need to adjust your salt as the salsa is already highly seasoned.

What else can I do with this?
  • This recipe is great with beef stew meat also, and I have even used a combination of pork and beef successfully.
  • Use leftovers rolled into flour tortillas and topped with melted cheese for fantastic burritos.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Feta & Spinach Strata

It's not very often that you get inspired to cook from a Natural Sciences class, but as you can imagine the word "strata" comes up a bit when talking about geological formations and the levels of the atmosphere! It got me thinking...

Many people may not know what a Strata is, but it's a very easy and economical dish using things I know you have on hand.  Bread, eggs, milk... and other goodies.  It's a savory bread pudding if you will.  I'm sure that many of your mothers, or grandmothers, relied on variations of this dish to use the bits and pieces of leftover bread and to feed hungry families. This a great way to make ahead a dinner, and bake it when you get home from work, or make a great brunch dish the day before.

I'm not a Vegetarian, and I do like veggies a lot, but I will admit to love, love, loving meat.  That said, I've elected to make this a meatless dish, and would encourage you to incorporate one meatless dish each week.  The energy and resources that go into raising a pound of meat have a high cost to our environment in the use of fossil fuels and water usage.  If everyone would reduce the total amount of meat they eat by going 'meatless' one day each week, it would make a big difference. 

I will give you some other ideas and variations on Strata below, just know you can easily customize this to use what you have around the kitchen, and make a great meal that is perfect for breakfast or dinner.

12 slices of bread, preferably 8 white and 4 wheat
4 oz crumbled feta
1-2 cups mozzarella, grated
2 cups chopped spinach sauteed
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried mustard, or 2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1-2 tsp olive oil
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
seasoning salt

In an 8x8 pan, butter or spray the pan to make it easier to get the finished product out!

Chop your spinach and give it a quick saute over medium heat just to wilt it up and make it easy to layer in the steps below!

Cut the crusts off your bread, set aside and make them into breadcrumbs for your topping, or freeze for a later use.

Make one layer of the bread, top with sauteed spinach and grated mozzarella cheese. Salt and Pepper this layer.   

Add another layer of bread, then top with the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and the crumbled feta, add more salt and pepper.  Top with the last layer of bread.

Beat the eggs, Dijon mustard and the milk together, and slowly pour on top of the bread in the pan.  It should soak in around the edges and moisten the entire pan.  Cover with plastic and put into the fridge.  It is best to have it sit over night, but I think you might be able to get away with only an hour or two.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.  Add topping to the Strata, you could use just grated cheese, but I like to use the breadcrumbs and Parmesan moistened with a bit of olive oil and seasoned with some seasoning salt as I listed above.

Bake 45 minutes until golden and crispy.  Serve at once while hot, but it also good at room temperature or even cold!   
This photo is a portion of the HOT strata, but I wasn't happy you can see the layers very well, so I took another picture the next day of a COLD strata... which is the one shown above!

What else could I do with this recipe?
  • Make it a Mexican theme with drained pico de gallo and a Mexican blend of cheeses.  Add a sprinkle of chili powder and/or cumin to each layer.
  • Ham, Swiss and Mushrooms are a perfect combination.
  • Goat cheese and roasted red peppers, kalamata olives... oh yum!
  • Take a look in your fridge, I bet you have some great things that would be terrific. You got it, use it up!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chicken Marbella

I love the flavors of this dish, capers, olives, prunes - - - PRUNES???  Yep, they are awesome in this recipe and you need to keep an open mind to trying something new.  I'm sort of sounding like my mother now....

The best part about making this, is that you can do almost all of it ahead of time.  It would be a very easy dish to make for a dinner party, all you'd have to do is pop it in the oven and serve with rice (or quinoa, couscous, polenta, potatoes), some french bread, and a salad.  The chicken is tender and moist with a great sauce to soak up with bread, and rice.  The recipe below makes enough for 6 people if you use twelve chicken thighs, but it would also be so easy to reduce the recipe for a smaller group.  I will say that leftovers of Chicken Marbella are incredibly good cold, and would make a great lunch too.

I have adapted my recipe below from the iconic recipe from The Silver Palate. Since this cookbook was published first in 1982, it occurred to me that many of you have never heard of the cookbook, or the recipe, and therefore, it bears repeating to inspire cooks to try it out. When you 'google' Silver Palate... Chicken Marbella is the first recipe that auto fills for you... it is that iconic!
8-12 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
1 heaping Tbsp. chopped garlic
2-3 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/2- 1 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice
3 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper to taste 1-2 tsp brown sugar, per chicken piece 
1 cup white wine
Coarse ground sea salt
3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine chicken thighs, garlic, oregano, fresh ground pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle each chicken pieces with a small amount of brown sugar, as this helps to make them brown and caramelize.  Pour white wine around the chicken and bake.

Bake for about an hour, and though the original recipe calls for basting it frequently, I did not do that, and my chicken was great and the skin crispy.  

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauce boat.

To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.