April – Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cherry Tomato Salad

April – Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cherry Tomato Salad

That’s a big mouth of a title!  But it belies the ease and absolute deliciousness of this dish. The tahini-marinated chicken thighs finish baking with a crisp coating  and the tomato salad is a preview of coming summer salads. I am finding very acceptable cherry tomatoes at the grocery store right now, even though summer tomatoes are months away. Even nicer, they are often of different types and colors, a good stand-in while we wait for that first amazing local vine ripened tomato.

Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cucumber Tomato salad

It’s been awhile since I have had a blog worthy recipe, but this is it folks. I am not sure where I originally found this recipe and apologize for not giving credit. It has been in my files for quite some time, at least a year.

We have been eating very simply lately and I don’t think the blogosphere needs another post for grilled chicken or clean out your refrigerator salad. But it does need this delicious and interesting marinade for chicken. I bet it would be wonderful on fish as well, maybe I’ll try that next time. But back to this one, I used chicken thighs, skin on. You could also use it with breasts or skin off thighs. Keep the bone in though, I think it really does make a flavor difference especially with an overnight marination.

I do recommend that you marinate the thighs overnight, which take a bit of planning. The deep rich taste will make it worthwhile. Use a good brand of tahini, the one I use was highly recommended. It was not in any of my local stores but I found it on Amazon. A good tahini sauce will make a big difference both to this recipe and others such as hummus.

Tahini Sauce – this is the brand I use. Recommended by Yotam Ottolenghi

I made a couple of small modifications from the original recipe. I substituted lime zest and juice for the lemon and used sliced red onion in the salad. Feel free to use lemons if they are handy. I had used up all my lemons making preserved lemons a few weeks ago and forgot to buy them at the market. The ones on my backyard tree are still green.

Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup of tahini
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated (I used a microplane)
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion (microplane again)
  • 6 chicken thighs, bone in

Method:

  1. Dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel. You could remove the skin if you want, I didn’t. Place them in a ziplock bag or bowl.
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients, pour 3/4 of the mix into the bag or bowl with the chicken. Scrunch everything together so the marinade coats each thigh, this is easy to do in a ziplock bag. Keep in the fridge overnight. When I thought about it, I turned the bag over to remix. Reserve the remaining tahini mixture separately in the fridge.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade but try and keep as much sauce on them as possible. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet or in a roasting pan, try to leave a little space between each thigh. Sprinkle them with a little coarse salt. Discard any leftover chicken marinade from the bag or bowl.
  5. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until brown and done, the time will depend on the size of your thighs.
  6. Let the thighs rest while you make the salad.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary
  2. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, different colors and types if possible
  3. 1/2 small red onion, sliced
  4. 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  5. 1 tablespoon mint, roughly chopped
  6. 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  7. 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  8. coarse salt to taste

Method:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and give them a toss.
  2. Serve with the chicken.

Drizzle the extra tahini sauce over the chicken when serving.

Tahini Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato Cucumber Salad

The thighs were tender but lightly crisp.

Tahini Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato Cucumber Salad

And the tomato salad could be a stand in for this summers coming tomato salads. In the bay area we often have to wait until August or September…a long way away. It wouldn’t hurt to add a chopped avocado if you happen to have one laying around, just saying.

Tahini Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato Cucumber Salad

This is a Fiesta Friday worthy recipe. It has been a few months since I joined the party and I think this is one the group will enjoy. This week is is Fiesta Friday #221.

What is Fiesta Friday? It is a gathering of bloggers with links to their posts, all hosted by Angie on her Fiesta Friday site. you can think click on any links that interest you. Angie usually have one or two co-hosts and this week it is Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Each week Angie and her co-host select four outstanding recipes or posts from the previous week’s group to feature. There are some amazing blogs out there!

Please stop by the party.

 

 

November – Raisin Cornbread Sausage Stuffing or Dressing

November – Raisin Cornbread Sausage Stuffing or Dressing

I briefly considered calling this Ma Barnes’ stuffing, the last remnant of a brief first marriage at the tender age of 21. The original recipe came from my ex mother-in-law. She was from Wisconsin and her stuffing had a definite midwestern, no-nonsense appeal.  In my own hands it has undergone many variations, especially once I moved to the west coast. But, you can still detect the bones of that first recipe in this one. Some of my adaptations have been more successful than others…chestnuts added (couldn’t really detect them), walnuts (nice crunch but not needed), artichoke hearts (that was an interesting year, kids weren’t crazy about them), Italian sausage (spicy, non-spicy, chicken – all delicious), no sausage (vegetarian version), olive oil instead of butter, currents instead of raisins, and lastly the addition of cornbread. I think you get the idea. I am going to give you the most current iteration, the one that finally stuck. However feel free to adapt it to match your families taste.

The addition of cornbread was what elevated this recipe to a new high. Ma Barnes used crumbled hamburger or hot dog rolls and poultry seasoning, I did the same for the first few years. It was good. But, magic happened the first time I added cornbread and herbs de Provence. It went from simply good to “Oh my!” and “Can I have thirds?”. Now I use about half  torn stale brioche or ciabatta bread and half cornbread. The cornbread gives additional texture and depth of flavor. In my family the holiday meals are all about the stuffing and/or dressing. I have to make enough to last for several days; it’s the first thing that they look for when they open the refrigerator the morning after Thanksgiving. This dressing is the heart of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner…forget the turkey.

I am using the terms stuffing and dressing interchangeably. But technically it is called stuffing if stuffed inside your turkey or other bird, and dressing if cooked outside the bird in a casserole. I started out cooking it only as a stuffing, but there was not enough copious leftovers. Now I either do both, or cook it entirely as a dressing. It is good both ways. And it is excellent reheated with a poached or fried egg on top, makes an excellent sandwich with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, and an over the top panini with cheese and turkey.

Speaking of turkey, this is the year I have discovered sous-vide. Stay tuned for sous vide turkey. But that is a discussion for another post, probably after Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas. Aren’t you impressed by all the bloggers who cook a full holiday dinner weeks before the actual event so they can write and photograph a holiday dinner? I sure am. I admit to being more of a ‘just in time’ blogger, or even ‘after the fact’ blogger. I will only be way ahead of the game for 2018!

If you are a regular reader, you might notice that this is not the first time you have seen this recipe. It was first posted it in January of 2015 under the heading of Friday Chicken. I think it would be difficult for you to find, and it deserves a post all of its own. Check out the link above to the Friday Chicken post if you have time. It is a great trick (borrowed from Richard Olney and Vincent Price) to stuff a chicken under the skin before roasting. I have done the same with a turkey, however the longer cooking time means that the skin can easily burn. You do get an extremely flavorful bird, but you have to watch it very carefully.

You can buy prepared cornbread from a bakery or grocery store (try not to use one that is very sweet). Or, you can make your own. This year I am using a recipe from the frugal hausfrau for Southern Skillet Cornbread. You will need about half a recipe for the stuffing; save the rest for serving with a bowl of chili or soup Yum! I am not going to reprint her recipe. You can follow the link to see Mollie’s post. I did change one thing, because I was going to use it in the dressing, I substituted 1/4 cup butter instead of the drippings or vegetable oil called for in her recipe. Wouldn’t bacon fat be wonderful? Oh my! But this doesn’t need it because you already have the sausage. I think it would be over kill.

Take a look at this cornbread…

Southern Skillet Cornbread from the frugal hausfrau

If short on time you can always use a boxed cornbread mix, they aren’t half bad. Your stuffing will still be delicious.

Raisin Cornbread Sausage Stuffing or Dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons of butter, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, either bulk or removed from casings
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 fresh brioche rolls or other soft bread, torn into pieces
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 small handfuls of golden raisins or currents
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of turkey or chicken stock if baked outside the bird

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the sausage, crumble it into small pieces as it browns.
  3. Add the onion, celery, Herbs de Provence, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  4. Stir and continue to sauté on medium heat until the onion and celery are softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into 3/4 inch pieces in a large bowl, you don’t want them too small.
  6. Add the raisins and mix.
  7. When cooked and while still warm, add the contents of the skillet to the large bowl and mix well. Taste for salt, you want it well seasoned.
  8. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 (or more) tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl. Ma Barnes would add as much as a full stick of butter at this point.
  9. Cover and bake immediately as per numbers 10 and 11 below, or set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and out of reach of the dogs. Once cool you can refrigerate it for a day. Keep your last minute stress level down and prepare it the day before the holiday.
  10. If using as a dressing: When ready to bake as a dressing (outside the bird), preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the stuffing in a shallow casserole dish and add the stock. You want the bread to be moist but not swimming. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot, about 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to 425 degrees F and crisp the top. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn although those charred crispy bits are my favorite.
  11. If using as a stuffing: When ready to cook your turkey, heat the stuffing in the microwave until very hot. Using clean rubber gloves, stuff the turkey inside both the body and neck cavity. Truss and bake immediately. The hot dressing ensures food safety, you will also find that your turkey will also need less time in the oven. Be sure to check the doneness frequently with an instant read thermometer.

Sausage, onions and celery with seasonings sauteed in butter

Cornbread, Brioche and Raisins combined in a large bowl

Ready to bake or stuff into turkey, wet ingredients added to the dry

Finished baked Dressing

Moist on the middle but crisp on the top, it was delicious.

I baked this in the afternoon to post, took some photos, and went out to dinner with a couple of friends. The dressing was left on the stove to cool.

This is what was left when I arrived home a few hours later…

Demolished

It wasn’t the dogs either.

Enough said, I don’t think you can have a better recommendation. I think I need to make a quadruple batch for the holiday meal.

I am co-hosting this week’s Fiesta Friday, #198. It’s always fun to have several stuffings/dressings to choose from and I think this one will be a hit. Come see all the delicious offerings at this week’s party by clicking on the FF link, it will take you to our host, Angie’s. My cohost this week is Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com. Her sausage gravy will go well with my offering.

October – Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

October – Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

This is one of the first dishes I served my husband when we were dating; he passed the adventurous eating test on my side to be invited for future dinners. And it must have done the trick for him because he kept coming back for more dates (and dinners).

I think it is worth going into your old recipe files occasionally. Who knows what forgotten memories and fun treasures you will turn up. I haven’t made chicken liver mushroom pate for years and am happy to be reacquainted with it. The recipe was forgotten until I started reading Martin Walker’s excellent detective series (Bruno, Chief of Police). I binge read the entire series while recovering from surgery. The books are placed in Bergerac in the Dordogne region of France. The food and wine of that region are a major part of the books; duck liver being front and center. I’ve only had foie gras once in my life, our French waiter had to strongly recommend it before I tried it accompanied by the traditional glass of sauterne But, its introduction was eye opening! What an amazingly delicious experience! I never would have guessed. This chicken liver and mushroom pate is my poor man’s substitute.  Foie gras (as well as being pricy), is illegal in California. The necessary force feeding of the geese being deemed cruel in our state. Please don’t put the two side-by-side, there will be no comparison with the “real thing”. But this chicken liver and mushroom pate can stand on its own.

Not everyone likes chicken livers but I adore them. This is really more of a smooth spread than an actual pate. It is perfect for serving with crisp bread, melba toast, or crackers as a before dinner snack or on a picnic. A glass of champagne goes beautifully, chardonnay would also be good and would match the creamy richness of the spread.

The original recipe was written in a small book (almost more accurately a pamphlet as there were only a dozen pages), published by the winery Paul Masson. The recipes in the book highlighted their wines, of course. It was published in 1968 but I came across it in the mid 70’s. I don’t remember exactly how I acquired it. The stamp on the front is a liquor store in Burlingame, CA and my first apartment when I moved to California from New York was in Burlingame. Maybe the store was handing them out to encourage wine sales. Burlingame is very near the airport and at the time I was waiting to see if my transfer request with United would go through, something that didn’t happen.

I passed this recipe to my mother, and it became a favorite of hers. Along the way we made some modifications. The original recipe called for dill and I just couldn’t see it with chicken livers! Not to mention I am not a big fan, although I like fennel. Taste is strange isn’t it? Anyway, I substituted herbs de Provence, one of my favorite blends. You could also use thyme, it would be a classic combination with the rosemary.

Paul Masson published 1968

Over the years there have been other adaptations and alterations. My recipe calls for a little less butter (hard to imagine!), less wine and the addition of a spot of brandy as well as the switch of herbs.

The pate freezes beautifully, I freeze portions in 4 oz wide mouth canning jars. It will keep at least 3 months in the freezer, maybe longer, with no loss of flavor. The recipe makes enough for 4 small jars. Glaze the surface with a slick of melted butter after you fill them. It will protect the pate from freezer burn. Simply remove a jar from the freezer a day before you want to serve it, defrost in the refrigerator overnight. This is a perfect snack to have on hand for guests; add some crisp bread, cheese, maybe some salad and wine. You have an instant mini meal.

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate (makes about 1 1/2 pints)

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 1/2 a stick for finishing
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. of chicken livers
  • 1/2 lb. of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced green onions plus some of the green tops
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 small or 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of herbs de Provence
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, I use Coleman’s
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of brandy
  • kosher or sea salt as needed

For finishing:

  • About 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat
  2. Add the chicken livers, mushrooms, onions, and salt; saute for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally
  3. Add the wine, garlic, mustard, herbs, rosemary, and brandy. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat.
  4. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until livers and mushrooms are tender.
  5. Uncover and continue to cook on higher heat until almost all of the liquid has disappeared.
  6. Whirl in a blender until almost smooth, add the 1/2 stick of butter and continue to blend until smooth.
  7. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  8. Pack in small crocks or canning jars, wipe the edges and coat the top with melted butter.
  9. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or more.

The pate is best served with crisp warm sourdough bread or large sesame crackers.

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Bon appetit!

I am taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #194 hosted by Angie. Please stop by to see all the goodies our friends have brought to the party and add your own link if you are a food blogger. The cohosts this week are Petra @ Food Eat Love and Vanitha @ Curry and Vanilla.

July – Three Pepper Quick Roast Chicken

July – Three Pepper Quick Roast Chicken

Three Pepper Chicken comes from a recipe typed by my mother on her old manual typewriter. I came across it while cleaning out some files, finding it was like discovering buried treasure. Mom had a cooking school in Florida back in the 70’s, but I don’t think this is from her classes. Judging from the folds, my mother must have mailed it to me. We shared a love of food and cooking. I don’t remember ever making it, which makes me sad. I missed an opportunity for the memories of a shared conversation about the recipe and the evening on which it might have been served. She would have wanted to hear all about the guests and the menu.

Three Pepper Chicken

This chicken was destined for our BBQ on a warm Friday night. It was too hot to spend time in the kitchen as we don’t have air conditioning. If your weather doesn’t cooperate, you could easily roast it in your oven. That’s how the recipe reads and my mom must have made it.

I combined her suggestion to spatchcock the chicken, cutting off the backbone and flattening it (see video),  with opening up the thighs for faster cooking. You can see more about this technique in my post about 45 minute roast chicken. The chicken does look a little pornographic but it immensely speeds the cooking time and ensures that the thighs are cooked at the same time as the breast meat. This method also has the advantage of letting you rub the three pepper seasoning into the thigh meat and the entire breast. The flavor is amazing!

Three Pepper Chicken

The three peppers are sweet paprika, black pepper, and Szechuan peppercorns. Only the additions of a little salt and olive oil are needed.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarsely and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, bruised and crushed slightly (I used a mortar and pestle but you could put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil – about 1 tablespoon

Method

  1. Preheat your BBQ or oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If making it in your BBQ, set it up for indirect heat (the central burners off or coals pushed to the side)
  2. Mix the paprika, black pepper, Szechuan peppercorns and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Coat the chicken, inside and out, with the spices. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. If cooking in the oven:
    • lightly oil a roasting pan just large enough for the chicken to lay flat, skin side up.
    • Press any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
    • Roast in the center of the oven for 30-45 minutes until juices run clear. The time will depend on the size of your chicken.
  5. If cooking on the BBQ:
    • Clean and lightly grease the grill.
    • Rub any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
    • Place the chicken skin side up over the area of your BBQ where there are no burners or coals.
    • Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
    • Turn the chicken skin side down and continue to cook for 20 minutes or longer until juices run clear. Timing will depend on the size of your chicken.
  6. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Three Pepper Chicken

The chicken had the most lovely color and flavor from the spices. She would have enjoyed hearing all about it.

 

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

It was in March of 2015 that I first posted about beer can chicken. If you don’t have a rotisserie on your grill, cooking over a beer can (or other metal container filled with liquid), allows you to roast a whole tasty and tender chicken (or two) in your grill. As I wrote in the earlier post, the method is controversial. It has naysayers claiming cooking over a beer can makes absolutely no difference to the flavor, not to mention any other merits. I beg to differ. In my experience, it has two advantages. First, you fill the container with a liquid to flavor the chicken from the inside. There is no reason to confine yourself to beer. I have used wine, juice of all kinds (apple is very nice in the fall), chicken broth with spices or herbs, and plain water with sliced lemons and/or oranges plus some crushed garlic. Let your imagination go crazy. What would suit your taste buds on that particular day? And second, the liquid and metal container heat up and cook the chicken from the inside. This shortens the cooking time and ensures your chicken is done all the way through, resulting in a more reliably and evenly roast chicken. It has much the same result as those metal pins you can put in roasted potatoes to speed up the process.

There is a problem with using a real beer can though, it tends to tip over if you are not careful. I used the real beer can method for several years before I found this…a handy beer can BBQ tray with attached metal containers. It solves the problem of a potential scalding from a tippy beer can. Not to mention the mess it can make. This one came from Williams Sonoma where they call it Two-in-One Vertical Chicken Roaster. Please note that this endorsement comes only from my own experience and was not solicited.

Vertical Roaster

You can either roast two chickens (leftover roasted chicken is welcome on hot days), or one,  the center of the tray has a holder for a metal cup as well.

If you are using a real beer can, place it on a roasting pan or other flat surface. And handle it very carefully.

The weather in Northern California has finally reached summer temperatures, a few days before the the official date. Perfect for starting up the BBQ and staying out of a hot kitchen or further heating the house.

I decided to give these chickens a middle eastern flavor and use pomegranate juice as the liquid, and added a rub of cumin, Marash Turkish chile, and salt mixed with  with olive oil on the outside of the chicken before roasting. I first read about Marash chile in a book My Pantry written by Alice Waters, it has since become a favorite. If you don’t have it, substitute espelette or another you have on hand.

Although you could season the chicken immediately before cooking, letting it marinate for a few hours in the fridge will heighten the taste and aroma. You could even leave it overnight.

Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken

Rub for two chickens:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin, toasted in a hot skillet
  • 1 teaspoon of Marash Turkish chile or another favorite chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Marash Turkish Chile

You will also need a liquid to put in the cups. See my comments above. Since this was a Middle Eastern themed dinner, I chose Pomegranate juice. Fill the cups 2/3 of the way to the top.

Chicken:

  • 1 – 2 organic chickens, free range if you can get them. Air chilled preferable.
  • Liquid or beer to fill cups

Slightly Off Kilter Chickens ready for the BBQ

Although these look tippy, they are held upright by the cups.

Method:

  1. Preheat your grill to between 350 and 400 degrees F (176 to 204 C). If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect heat.
  2. Fill the cups or can 2/3 with liquid, I used pomegranate juice. If using real beer cans, pour off some of the beer.
  3. If not done already, brush the chickens with marinade.
  4. Carefully place the chickens upright over the cans or cups, spreading out the legs.
  5. On a gas BBQ, turn off the center burner over which you will place the chickens.
  6. Place the tray with the chickens in the grill and cover the grill.
  7. Monitor the temperature throughout.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and check, the chickens will cook faster than you think. They may need another 10 minutes or more depending on the temperature of your grill and size of the chickens.

Finished Chicken

Crispy skinned chicken and tender meat is your result. Carve and serve.

Carved Beer Can Chicken