Sauteed Chicken with cherry tomatoes , olives , Feta and Mint


Whenever I want to eat like I am in the Mediterrean , I chose recipes like this one from Cook’s Illustrated. This has all the elements I look for in a dish , simple ,elegant, healthy and colorful , hence very appetizing. I simply serve some fresh whole grain bread or Orzo with this and dinner is done.

Serves 4

1/2 cup unbleached All purpose flour

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts , tenderloins removed and breasts trimmed.

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tbs olive oil , plus 2 more tsp , if needed

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 pt cherry tomatoes , halved

1/2 cup Kalamata olives , pitted

1-2 tbs water (if needed)

2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup shredded mint or basil leaves

Place flour in shallow dish. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Working with one chicken breast at a time , dredge in flour, shaking off excess.

Heat 2 tbs of oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until well browned on one side 6 to 8 minutes.

Flip the chicken over , reduce the heat to medium low , and continue to cook until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 -165* on an instant read thermometer , 6 -8 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a serving platter , tent loosely with foil ,allow to rest.

Add 2 tsps of oil and garlic to skillet and cook over medium high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and olives, scraping up any browned bits ( if necessary , add enough of the water to help loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan ). Cook until the tomatoes are just softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in any accumulated chicken juices and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Off the heat , stir in remaining 2 tbs olive oil and pour tomatoes over chicken , sprinkle with Feta and mint. Serve.

Melting Moments


I have always loved the name of these delightful ,melt in your mouth cookies.  There are many versions of this delicious cookie , but ,I kid you not , this is the best. The cookies have a slight crunch from quick cook oatmeal and then rolled in dessidicated coconut, if that is not enough the cookies are sandwiched with a refreshing orange cream, optional ,ofcourse.

Makes 15

Cookies

7 oz unsalted butter , at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup superfine sugar

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup custard powder or cornstarch

2 tbs quick cook oatmeal

2 tbs dessidicated coconut

Filling

2 tbs unsalted butter , at room temperature

3 Heaping tbs powdered sugar

1 tsp orange zest

2 tsp orange juice

Cookies

Preheat oven to 350*F

Beat butter and sugar till creamy, stir in vanilla.  Fold in flour ,baking powder , salt ,oatmeal and custard powder, just until incorporated. Roll dough into 30 walnut sized balls and roll in coconut. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, pressing down gently with a fork.Bake for approximately 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

FILLING

Beat all ingredients until creamy. Sandwich  cookies with this cream. Serve

Spiced Chicken Thighs in Tomato broth with Olives and chickpeas


I love this Moroccan inspired Tagine style    recipe because it is an all in one meal, just serve with a simple salad and some pita bread.

The recipe uses chicken thighs as they are flavorful and remain juicy even with longer cooking.

Serves 2

Source Cuisine

COMBINE

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne

pinch salt

 

4 chicken thighs

1/2 cup diced onion

1 tbs fresh minced ginger

1 tbs minced garlic

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tsp tomato paste

1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup Kalamata olives , pitted and halved

1 tbs honey

1 lemon , cut into wedges

1 bay leaf

Chopped fresh parsley

salt to taste

Combine spices and salt in a dish , then rub over chicken thighs; let stand 5 minutes. Heat oil in a skillet over medium, add chicken, skin side down , and saute until browned on both sides, 10 minutes total. Remove chicken and pour off all but 1 tbs drippings.

Add onion and saute 3 minutes, stir in the ginger ,garlic ,red pepper flakes and cinnamon stick ; cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Deglaze with wine and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Simmer until liquid evaporates.

Add tomatoes, broth , chickpeas, olives , honey ,lemon and bay leaf; stir to combine. Arrange chicken on top, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is reduced, 20 to 25 minutes.

Finish with parsley and salt just before serving.

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Penne with pistachios , Asparagus and cream


For years Mary Ann Esposito  has been inspiring us with her Italian creations. There is really no greater convience food than pasta to me, it is the ultimate pantry staple, seriously. Here Mary Ann has combined this dish with fresh asparagus , but I have used fresh or frozen artichokes too, feel free to substitute pistachios for pine nuts or any nut of your choice.

Serves 4

1/3 cup pistachio nuts , toasted

1 lb thin asparagus , cut into thirds, sauted in 1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 large clove garlic , peeled and halved lenthwise

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 lb penne pasta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano -Reggiano

Saute garlic in butter in a saute pan over medium heat, when the edges start to brown , remove and discard garlic.

Add the Asparagus and pepper. Increase heat to high and pour in the wine , stirring for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium.

Pour the half and half and cream over Asparagus mixture and simmer about 2 minutes. season with salt; Keep warm while boiling the pasta.

Prepare penne according to package directions; drain and return to the pot. Combine Asparagus sauce with pasta, stirring over low heat. Add cheese, stirring until it melts; transfer to a platter.

Garnish with pistachio nuts and serve immediately.

Eggless Fruit and nut spice cake


Years ago I found this recipe in a magazine submitted by a reader. I was  entitled grandma’s applesauce cake, since then I have renamed it my favorite eggless fruit and nut spice cake for good reason. This is great served on its own or  dusted with powdered sugar with a little whipped cream and fresh berries on the side , my great indulgence!!!

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground mace

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tbs cornstarch

3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple sauce

1 stick (1/2 cup ) unsalted butter , melted. ( if vegan use soy margarine or canola oil)

Preheat oven to 325*F. Butter and line with parchment a 9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by by 2 3/4 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl whisk together flour , sugar , baking soda , salt , spices , cornstarch and cocoa powder , combine well. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Pour into prepared pan and bake about 1 hour till done. Cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, invert to continue coolin. Dust with powdered sugar idf desired.

Stir fried shrimp with crispy basil


Crispy Basil turns your dish from ordinary to professional looking. It is a very simple process but requires bone dry basil for deep frying or you will have a kitchen splattered with oil. This recipe calls for spicy Thai rec curry paste , home made or store bought, I use Mae Ploy brand , it is consistently great.

Source Gourmet

Serves 4

FOR CRISPY BASIL

Several cups peanut oil for deep frying

1 cup firmly packed Thai basil leaves , washed , spun dry and patted very dry

2 tbs peanut oil

1 lb large shrimp , shelled , leaving tail and first shell section intact and deveined

1 small onion , halved lengthwise and sliced thin5 tsp Thai red curry paste

1 red bell pepper , cut into thin strips

1 medium vine ripened tomato , seeded and chopped

2 tbs Asian fish sauce

1 1/2 tsp palm sugar or firmly packed light brown sugar

Make crispy basil

In a large saucepan at least 4 inches deep heat 1 inch oil over moderately high heat to 350*F. Working in small batches, briefly fry small handfuls of basil until translucent  and crisp , 5 to 15 seconds. Transfer basil with a slotted spoon as fried to paper towels to drain.

Heat a wok over high heat until hot and add 2 tsp oil. Heat oil ,swirling to coat wok, until it begins to smoke and stir fry shrimp until pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp with slotted spoon to a bowl.

Add remaining 4 tsp oil to wok and heat until hot but not smoking.Add onion and curry paste and stir fry for 1 1/2 minutes. Add bell pepper and stirfry until almost tender 2 to 3 minutes. Add shrimp and tomato and stir fry 1 minute. Add fish sauce and sugar and stir fry 30 seconds , or until combined well.

Remove wok or skillet from heat and add one third crispy basil to shrimp mixture , tossing to combine well. Transfer mixture to a platter and garnish with remaining crispy basil.

Eggless Fudge Nut Drops


I often sing the praises of one of my favorite teachers Carole Walter, but it cannot be helped, she really comes up with the best tasting ,precise recipes. These flourless cookies are very candy like . They are rich with chocolate and nuts. These cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature , refridgerated or frozen.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

one 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 oz unsweetened chocolate , chopped

2 oz bittersweet chocolate , chopped

1 tbs unsalted butter, slightly firm

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup finely chopped sweetened flake coconut

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

3/4 cup unskinned , sliced almonds , toasted

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.

In a medium , heavy bottomed saucepan , combine the condensed milk and chocolates. Cook over low heat , stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat, add butter and whisk until smooth and shiny. Blend in vanilla and almond extracts. Stir in coconut, almonds and walnuts.

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until the tops are just set, but still soft to the touch. Remove from over and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes before loosening with a thin , metal spatula. Transfer to cooling racks.

Store in an airtight container.