Archive | November, 2013

Chicken Marbella

25 Nov

Chicken MarbellaI figured by now everyone has their Thanksgiving dinners planned so I would not burden you with yet another holiday recipe. Here’s a good one for any company dinner. The recipe makes enough to serve quite a crowd but you can easily halve it and use two chickens  if you’re serving only eight or 10 people. It’s probably not worth the patchke to make it with just one chicken, so save this recipe for a special occasion.

I got this recipe many years ago from my dear friend Ann Wanetik, who served it at a buffet. I didn’t eat it at the time because I was busy chowing down on the rib roast she also served – I love rare beef, and my hubby doesn’t, so I hardly ever make it but I eat it whenever I can.

Even though other guests raved about the chicken, I didn’t make it for a long time because the ingredients are very weird – I mean really, green olives and prunes and capers and brown sugar? But it’s absolutely delicious, and every time I’ve served it I’ve gotten the same rave reviews Ann got.

Be aware that you need to start the preparation the night before, or at least early in the morning, so the chicken has time to marinate in the seasonings before you cook it.

I didn’t have an easy way to puree the garlic so I chopped it very fine, which seemed to work.

This dish goes very well with plain rice or couscous or a pilaf.

Ingredients:

4 chickens, 2½ pounds each, quartered
1 head garlic, pureed
¼ cup dried oregano
½ cup olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Place the chicken quarters in a deep pan or large freezer bag. Mix all the other ingredients except the brown sugar, white wine and parsley. Pour over the chicken, cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour the white wine over it all.

Bake for at least 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Test for doneness by pricking a thigh at its thickest part; juice will run clear, not pink. The chicken should be nicely browned.

Transfer the chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter and pour over a few spoonsful of the pan juices. Sprinkle with parsley. You may want to serve the remaining pan juices as a gravy.

Serves 16

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup — and some Tuesday Tips

19 Nov

Roasted butternut squash soupThe main Tuesday Tip is that if you don’t already have an immersion blender, put it at the top of your holiday gift list. They’re not all that expensive, and they are invaluable whenever you want to make any kind of pureed soup, like this one. When you’ve got everything cooked and ready to puree, you just stick the immersion blender right in the pot, even if the contents are still hot, and whiz away. In just a few minutes, your dish will be creamy smooth — no need to ladle the stuff out into a counter-top blender in batches.

Another Tuesday Tip is that you can save a lot of time and effort, and spend just a little more money, by buying your squash already peeled and cubed at Trader Joe or Costco.

And the third and final Tuesday Tip is that if you do peel and cube the squash yourself, here is the easiest way to do it:

Cut a thin slice off the squash at both ends. Cut the squash in half crosswise, between the thin part and the part where it starts to bulge out. Then cut the bottom half in two lengthwise; you’ll now have three pieces. Scoop out the seeds and pulp from the bottom pieces. Use a vegetable peeler to take the skin off in strips. Be sure to also peel off the thin green lines that lie just beneath the skin.

After you peel all three pieces, cut them into wedges or cubes for your recipe.

Here’s a very short video from Good Housekeeping that shows you how to do it.

This delicious soup recipe comes from Chef Paul Penney, also known as Aussie in the Kitchen. He used to do cooking demonstrations in the workplace for the health insurer provider that my employer used. It’s creamy without being high in fat, and the spices make it very flavorful but not hot.

Ingredients:

3 cups butternut squash, cut in ½-inch pieces
1 Tbs. fresh sage, chopped, or ½  tsp. dried
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. curry powder
2¾ cups vegetable broth
6 oz. light coconut milk
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro or parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Peel squash and cut into pieces (or buy cubed squash at Trader Joe or Costco — you’ll want about 1 lb. for this recipe). Put it into a bowl with the sage and the olive oil and toss until the squash is coated. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The squash should be nicely browned. Set aside.

Heat 2 Tbs. butter or margarine and 1 Tbs. vegetable broth in a medium soup pot. Saute the onion in the butter and broth over medium heat for about 6 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté another minute. Add the turmeric and curry powder and mix well.

Add the squash and the broth. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until the squash is tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Add the coconut milk and blend. Use an immersion blender if possible. If you don’t have one, blend in batches on low speed.

Thin with a little broth if necessary. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish with chopped cilantro or fresh parsley.

Serves 4 to 6

Black Bean and Corn Salad With Lime-Cumin Dressing

12 Nov

Black Bean and Corn SaladThe original recipe I adapted this from used beans only. I thought it looked nice — and tasted better too — with beans and corn.

This might seem like an odd time to be promoting a salad, rather than a warming cold-weather dish. But it’s the start of entertainment season, with Thanksgiving, Chanukah and soon enough Christmas and New Year upon us. This salad is a really good one for a potluck, brunch or party. It’s light on the dressing, and you can serve it with a single spoon rather than salad forks or tongs. And it’s quite attractive. If you want even more color, substitute some red or orange pepper for the celery. You can easily double it if you’re serving a crowd.

Ingredients:

1 cup thinly sliced celery
¾ cup vertically sliced red onion
1 (15-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (thaw if using frozen)
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. olive oil
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. salt

Directions:

Combine celery, onion, black beans and corn in a bowl and toss well. Combine the lime juice, sugar, oil and cumin in a small bowl, and whisk until blended. Pour over the bean mixture and toss to coat. Allow the salad to sit for at least a few hours in the refrigerator or at room temperature for the flavors to mingle.

Serves 4 to 6

Wheat Germ Spinach Tart

5 Nov

Wheat Germ Spinach TartA week or so ago I bought a pint of half & half for another recipe, but I used only half a cup. What to do with the rest? I searched my recipe files for “half & half” and … serendipity! I came up with this recipe, which not only uses the exact amount of half & half I had on hand, it also uses a quarter-pound of mushrooms, which I also had on hand. Of course I didn’t have any wheat germ or block cream cheese (I use whipped cream cheese on bagels) but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I was fated to make this recipe this week.

It’s a delicious tart, even if it is a bit of a bother to make. I’ve had the recipe for more than 35 years. I can tell if a recipe is really old if it’s in my card file box. That’s where I first started my recipe collection — which quickly outgrew the box! I clipped it from a newspaper, and the clipping is now very yellowed.

The recipe calls for regular, untoasted wheat germ in the filling. All I could find in Kroger was toasted — and who wants two jars of different types of wheat germ anyway? So I used toasted wheat germ in the filling and it was just fine.

Ingredients:

Wheat germ shell:
1 cup flour
¼ cup toasted wheat germ
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. marjoram
¼ cup (half a stick) butter
1 egg yolk (or entire egg if you prefer)
2-3 Tbs. water

Filling:
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach
1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1½ cups half & half
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
½ cup wheat germ (regular, not toasted)
½ tsp. tarragon
½ tsp. marjoram
1 onion, chopped
¼ lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs. butter

Directions:

Make wheat germ shell: Mix toasted wheat germ, salt, and marjoram and cut in butter. Stir in the egg yolk or egg and just enough water to get a crumbly mixture that holds together when pressed. Press into a 9-inch pie plate and flute the edges.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make filling: Thaw spinach and squeeze dry. Saute onion and mushrooms in butter. Beat softened cream cheese, gradually adding half & half. Stir in Parmesan cheese, eggs, spinach, wheat germ, tarragon and marjoram.  Add the sauteed onion and mushrooms. Turn into the wheat germ shell.

Bake 35-40 minutes until filling is set in the center. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6