December in the kitchen – Marmalade chicken

December in the kitchen – Marmalade chicken

I was all ready to create a new recipe tonight but ran out of steam, does that ever happen to you? So, what to do? I poked around in the pantry and fridge to discover what could be used as a quick, easy, hassle free “dress up” for the chicken thighs I had planned to cook. I found a jar of ginger marmalade and some whole grain mustard; together with some soy sauce they would make a simple glaze for the chicken. Three ingredients (not counting the chicken), what could be easier?

You could use any kind of marmalade you have on hand…ginger, orange or lemon. You could also use chicken breasts or legs or wings, I just happened to have thighs which are favored by my family.

Marmalade baked chicken

  • 1/2 cup of marmalade
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of Dijon mustard, regular or whole grain
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 6-8 chicken bone-in thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat
marmalade baked chicken

marmalade baked chicken

  1. Melt the marmalade in a small saucepan or the microwave; mix with the mustard and soy sauce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  3. Line a baking pan with foil, place some racks on top (I used cookie cooling racks). The racks will keep the thighs out of the melting fat below.
  4. Pat the thighs dry with paper towels, place them skin side up on the racks in the baking pan. Brush the marmalade mix over the skin and exposed meat.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 ½ hour depending on the size of the thighs.

 This is a perfect dish for a busy weekday evening. Bake some sweet potatoes in the oven with the chicken, make a salad and dinner is ready with a minimum of fuss and hands-on time.

baked chicken

Marmalade chicken

I made a lentil and cauliflower couscous to go with the chicken, look for that recipe on another post.

You could save the juices to use in soup or another dish. Pour the juices in the bottom of the pan into a large heatproof container and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, skim off the fat and discard it.

Tip – I keep the cans from tomatoes or other canned goods for discarding fat. Place the fat in the can, put the can in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. Plastic yogurt containers also work.

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday to share with Angie from the Novice Gardener as well as Real Food Fridays hosted by Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen. This is the busy season for us all.


December in the kitchen – Pickle marinated chicken leg quarters

December in the kitchen – Pickle marinated chicken leg quarters

I have to admit it; I am still kicking myself over the loss of that pickling brine from the red beets. Do you remember, I poured the extra brine down the sink just as the deliciousness of it sunk in?! I cannot seem to get it out of my head. Would you say my brain is pickled? Maybe if you know me!

So, when we recently finished a jar of pickled asparagus, I didn’t make the same mistake. I saved it. Pickled asparagus is delicious with softly scrambled eggs and goat cheese, that’s how we finished off the jar last weekend. The big asparagus season comes in March and April here in California, but there have been some tiny thin ones in the store. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as it has been sprouting in my garden as well. I usually pass by the thin ones, preferring the larger and more flavorful stalks. But, asparagus pickle juice and fresh asparagus hmm; the combination caught my imagination.

Pickle brine

Pickle brine

“Bon appetite” had an article for pickle brine marinated fried chicken a few months ago. I don’t do a lot of frying but thought I could use that idea for some roast chicken thighs. The asparagus could roast at the same temperature, maybe some sweet potatoes as well. They would add a sweet note to the sharpness of vinegar.

I made a simple version of a blender mayonnaise to go with the chicken and asparagus.

I was very happy with the results.

Pickle brine marinated chicken thighs

  • 4 chicken leg quarters
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups of left over pickle brine (mine was asparagus brine, recipe below)
  • Olive oil
Pickle brined chicken leg quarters

Pickle brined chicken leg quarters

  1. Pat the chicken pieces dry and place in a large bowl. Add the pickle brine, it should cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F
  3. At the end of the brining, pat the chicken dry and put in a roasting pan, skin side up.
  4. Place into the preheated oven. You can add the sweet potatoes at this same time if you are baking them to go with the chicken.
  5. Roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until brown and juices run clear. You will put the asparagus into bake at the 1 hour mark.
  6. Trim and the asparagus, put into a baking pan in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and grated parmesan. Place in the oven for the last 15 minutes (if your asparagus is thicker, it could need 20 minutes).

Roast asparagus

Asparagus sauce – blender mayonnaise with pickled vegetables

Blender mayonnaise with pickles

Blender mayonnaise with pickles

  • 1 cup of salad oil, I used ½ cup canola and ½ cup olive
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon dry powdered mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of pickle brine
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped pickles (asparagus, green beans, golden beets, cucumber pickles). Same as were in the brine.
  1. Into the container of a blender put the egg, mustard, pickle brine, and ¼ cup of the oil.
  2. Cover the container and blend at low speed.
  3. Immediately uncover and add the remaining oil in a steady stream (try to do this in about seconds).
  4. Switch the blender to high for 5 seconds.
  5. Add the chopped pickles and blend until a smooth puree.
  6. Serve with the chicken and roast asparagus.
roast chicken quarters with asparagus and sweet potato

roast chicken quarters with asparagus and sweet potato

You could use brind from any kind of pickle although I’m not sure about sweet ones. Let me know if anyone tries it.

Brine from Pickled Asparagus with Tarragon and Garlic (from Saving the Season by Kevin West).

  • 1 1/2 cups white-wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked
  • 2 allspice berries, crushed
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • six 4 inch sprigs of tarragon
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  1. Bring all the ingredients to a boil, remove from the heat and steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Cool if using as a marinade.

If you are interested in the full pickle recipe, I can send it to you.

I’ll be taking this to Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen, Full Plate Thursday.

November in the kitchen – Polenta with Mushrooms and Easy Roast Chicken Breasts

November in the kitchen – Polenta with Mushrooms and Easy Roast Chicken Breasts

We are up on the North Coast for a few days and it feels like fall. The rain and cooler weather has given rise to lots of mushrooms. I wish I knew more about identifying them. I’m afraid I would poison us all if I were to pick and cook any! Last year, because of the terrible drought we’ve been having in California, there were hardly any. I wouldn’t eat this one but it sure is beautiful.

Northcoast mushroom

North coast mushroom probably a toadstool

What I will eat is these lovely porcini and chanterelles found in a local store. Now, what to do with them? There is some polenta in the pantry, and some dried porcini mushrooms, also a jar of Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub that I made last year. The market had some lovely boneless chicken breast with the skin still on (I think cooking them with the skin results in far more flavor, don’t you?). The menu was made!

Mushrooms - porcini and chanterelles

Porcini and Chanterelles

When I first read the recipe for “Fennel Spice Rub” in Michael Chiarello’s cookbook “Casual Cooking”, I knew I would love it. It has that wonderful combination of fennel, pepper, and cardamom. I added my favorite to the mix, cumin. I have used it with multiple recipes…chicken, turkey, and roast veggies. It has always resulted in a standout dish. It’s also easy to make and is a wonderful holiday gift. I have friends who specifically request it each year.

You will find the recipe for the rub at the end of this post.

Sunset at Seaside Beach

Sunset at Seaside Beach

After a lovely romp on the beach with the dogs, it was time to start preparing the meal.

Porcini Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms (serves 4)

  • 1 cup of polenta
  • 1 tablespoons of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, divided
  • ½ cup of finely grated parmesan
  • 3 cups of roughly sliced fresh mushrooms (I used one large porcini and a dozen chanterelles 
  1. Mix the polenta with the dried mushrooms.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water and the salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan. While whisking, slowly add the polenta mix to the water. Bring back to the boil, put the lid on slightly ajar, and turn the heat down to simmer.
  3. As the polenta starts to thicken, thoroughly stir the sides and bottom of the pan every 5 minutes. Cook for 35-40 minutes total.
  4. When done, stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and the Parmesan cheese. Add more salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.


Mushrooms browned in butter

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Add the sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and sauté until browned and cooked through. Don’t crowd the pan, as they will start to steam. You may need to do this in two batches.

While the polenta was cooking, I started the chicken.

Chicken breasts with Fennel Spice Rub

  • 4 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 tablespoons fennel spice rub (recipe below)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. If your skillet isn’t oven proof or won’t hold the 4 breasts without crowding, place a baking sheet or pan in the oven to heat.
  3. Rub each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of fennel spice rub.
  4. Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet until you see it shimmer
  5. Add the chicken breasts, skin side down. You may need to do this in two batches, don’t crowd the pan.
  6. Brown the skin side, then turn the chicken and brown the other side. Brown any additional breasts if you need to do this in batches. Remove the first breasts to a plate.
  7. When all are browned, put them in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Check for doneness. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
chicken breasts

Chicken breasts with fennel spice rub

Browned chicken breasts

Browned chicken breasts

All that was needed was a salad of arugula, simply dressed with lemon and olive oil.

Polenta with mushrooms and roast chicken breasts

Polenta with mushrooms and roast chicken breasts

What’s missing? Oh, yes, the wine! We have a new favorite, this Australian Shiraz.


Fennel Spice Rub

  • 1 cup fennel seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds (my addition)
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons white peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt


  1. Put the fennel seeds coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium heat. Watch carefully, tossing frequently so the seeds toast evenly.
  2. When light brown and fragrant, pour the seeds onto a plate to cool. They must be cool before grinding, or they will gum up the blades of your blender
  3. Pour the seeds into a blender and add the salt. Blend to a fine powder, shaking the blender container occasionally to redistribute the seeds.
  4. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.


This turned out so well that I will be taking it to the party on Friday to be with Angie and her friends at The Novice Gardener for Fiesta Friday #42. Come visit and sample all the great food.


Also posted at Full Plate Thursdays and Showcase Your Talent Thursday.