Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole

I’m such an idiot. I’m having to throw away the 2.5 chicken breasts in this photo because I forgot to put the plate in the fridge after it cooled last night. Good bye lunch that I was looking forward to all morning.

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This was the best dish I’ve made in the slow cooker yet. It only took 2.5 hours on high and was oh so satisfying. I’ll be making it again very soon.

Slow-cooker mole chicken, courtesy of Martha Stewart

  • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed
  • 1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Season chicken thighs with salt and place in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. In a blender, puree tomatoes, onion, ancho and chipotle chiles, almonds, raisins, chocolate, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth. Add tomato mixture to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). Enjoy!

Recipe Testing Winner – Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken

I’ve been patiently waiting for this recipe to pop up on the Leite’s website. Today was the day! I first tested the recipe back in July and have since made it twice. It’s one of those dishes where even the skinniest person at the table will ask for seconds. And the leftovers make a fantastic chicken stock. In fact, I used it as the base in my Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup last week and in a Pasta Fagioli dish last night. Enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

Warm Chicken Salad with Green Beans and Chard

One of the things I love about being a Leite’s recipe tester is that I’m starting to see what styles and tastes I have in common with other testers. While I didn’t choose to try the Warm Chicken with Green Beans and Chard in this last testing round, I could tell by who wrote the comments that I would love it. So, armed with a box of cherry tomatoes, rainbow chard, and green beans from my CSA box, I embarked on a very quick journey towards deliciousness. I would highly recommend this for an easy, healthy, and flavorful weeknight meal.

Recipe Testing – Moroccan Roast Chicken

I made what was probably my favorite evaluation recipe so far on Monday night. It was a heavily spiced roast chicken with cauliflower, butternut squash, and red onion. What I loved most about the recipe was that you don’t put the vegetables in with the chicken until it’s nearly done. This was a great tip for me because mine are almost always too soft by the time the chicken is cooked. I’m confident this one will make the Leite’s website so stay tuned for the recipe. In the meantime, enjoy the photos. My friend Marion is in town from France and she is never more than a few feet away from her camera. Other goodies we have made together this week: Beet Salad with Feta, Orange, and Mint, a slight twist on my favorite cookies, and homemade lemonade from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook. The kitchen has been messy but we’ve had a blast!

Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing

Tonight I made an old standby recipe, Giada’s Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing. I had a bunch of basil leftover in the freezer and was happy to use it all up with a summery dish (especially on a night that does NOT feel like summer). I’ve made this chicken so many times that I don’t follow the recipe anymore but just add everything to taste.

Adapted from Giada’s Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing (my version below serves 2)

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoons fennel or anise seeds, coarsely crushed
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp rainbow peppercorns
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon (Reminder to zest before you juice!)

Dump 1/2 of the oil, 1/2 of the lemon juice, fennel seeds, some salt and ground pepper in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day, turning the chicken occasionally.

Meanwhile, blend the basil, garlic, lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, salt, and peppercorns in a blender until smooth. Gradually blend in the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Season the basil sauce, to taste, with more salt and pepper. You will want a lot of sauce so don’t be afraid to keep adding basil, lemon juice, and oil.

Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to plates. Drizzle the basil sauce over and serve.

Dessert? Honey lavender ice cream 🙂

Chicken Piccata

Knowing that we had leftover wild rice and salad fixings in the refrigerator, I decided to whip up an easy chicken recipe for dinner tonight. I turned to a classic favorite, the New Best Recipe cookbook, and found a traditional chicken piccata recipe that didn’t look too heavy. I picked up some Marin Sun Farms chicken breasts and went to work as soon as Alex headed home. The dish came together in less than 15 minutes and was a delightful surprise. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about chicken breasts! I rarely buy them because I much prefer roasting the entire bird for a more flavorful dinner (and then you get stock too) but I can easily see adding this into the monthly rotation.

Chicken Piccata (serves 4)

2 large lemons
6 boneless chicken breasts (5-6 ounces each), tenderloins removed, fat trimmed (I pounded mine with a meat tenderizer to get thinner cutlets)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup bleached all purpose flour
4 TB veggie oil
1 small shallot or garlic clove, minced
1 cup chicken broth
2 TB small capers, rinsed
3 TB butter, softened
2 TB fresh parsley leaves, minced

1) Heat oven to 200 degrees and put a heatproof serving plate on the lower rack.

2) Halve one lemon pole to pole. Trim the ends from one half and cut it crosswise into slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick; set aside. Juice the remaining half and whole lemon to obtain 1/4 cup lemon juice.

3) Sprinkle both sides of the cutlets with salt and pepper. Measure the flour into a shallow baking dish and coat each cutlet with flour and then shake off the excess.

4) Heat 2 TB oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Saute two cutlets until lightly browned on the first side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn and cut until the second side is lightly browned, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove the cutlets from the pan and place in the pre-heated plate in the oven to keep warm. Add 2 TB veggie oil to the skillet and brown the remaining cutlets.

5) Add the shallot/garlic to the empty skillet and return the skillet to medium heat. Saute until fragrant (about 10-30 seconds max). Add the broth and lemon slices and increase the heat to high. Scrape the brown bits with a wooden spoon and simmer until the liquid reduces to about 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and rinsed capers and simmer until the sauce reduces to 1/3 cup, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter until it melts and thickens the sauce. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Dinner parties

I can count the number of dinner parties we’ve hosted in Seattle on one hand. After having two girlfriends over for dinner last night, I now realize how much I have missed cooking for and with good friends. In San Francisco, it feels like we are constantly having people over for dinner and trying new recipes. This is something I hope to change in our few remaining months in Seattle.

I made one of my favorite chicken recipes (Braised Chicken with Almonds, Saffron, Lavender, and Almonds) that I found a few years ago on Leite’s Culinaria. It’s David Leite’s masterpiece of a website which includes how-tos, promotions on kitchen toys, a number of colorful recipes from chefs, restaurants, and cookbooks from around the world, and lots more. I probably try something on their website at least once a week.

The girls brought over some roasted brussel sprouts and a pumpkin cheesecake – YUM! I made a spinach salad and polenta to go with the chicken (it would also work over couscous, rice, or mashed potatoes). The original recipe comes from Deborah Krasner’s The Flavors of Olive Oil cookbook. It is relatively simple to prepare and is super flavorful. It’s also a nice way to use up some of the spices we got a little carried away with buying on our RTW trip. Oops.


Soup swap, round 2

Sharon and I swapped our second batch of soup last week. She made a peanut chicken stew with lots of veggies and I made butternut squash soup. My friend Mark (Thanksgiving Mark) introduced me to it several years ago and I make it frequently throughout the fall and winter – it’s one of my favorites and is very simple to make.

I just had Sharon’s stew for dinner and it was yummy. Who would have thought to add creamy peanut butter to a soup? Not me but I love it. I’d make it again and add some thai basil just to give it a twist.

Mark’s butternut squash recipe

  • Tart apple
  • Yellow onion
  • Decent sized butternut squash (you can use any sweet squash here)
  • Vegetable or chicken broth
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Optional: creme fraiche

Chop and saute the onions until translucent. Add the sliced and peeled apple. Add the peeled and diced butternut. Add enough broth to cover the butternut (don’t use too much) and simmer until the butternut is soft all the way through. Transfer the squash/apple/onion mixture (with a slotted spoon) to the food processor and puree using as little broth as possible. Transfer the pureed mixture to another pot and add the remaining broth until it is the desired consistency. Save the extra broth if you plan to refrigerate the soup and add it when you warm it up. Add spices as desired. Top w/ creme fraiche.

Pre-Giving in San Francisco

Last night we made our annual “pre-giving” dinner with Mark and Sarah. We’ve had some version of Thanksgiving (usually after the holiday as “second-giving”) together every year since Alex and I started dating in 2005. Mark’s stuffing and cranberry are absolutely divine and I look forward to this dinner all year long. Unfortunately, I have had a cold this weekend so my taste buds weren’t quite working, but I took extensive notes while watching Mark in the kitchen so that I can attempt to recreate some of the goodies in the weeks ahead. The rosemary dates are a new addition to the meal – I saw them on one of my favorite food blogs and couldn’t resist trying them. Here is the menu:

Rosemary Dates Wrapped in Bacon (hors’ d’oeuvres)

2 Medjool dates/person (I bought them pre-pitted at Whole Foods)
1 half slice of bacon for each date
a bunch of rosemary

Preheat the oven to 375. Stuff a few rosemary leaves into each date, then wrap with the halved bacon slices. You can close them with a toothpick. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bacon is browned and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

date(Photo courtesy of Bitchin’ Camero)

Cranberry sauce

1 bag cranberries
small bottle of tangerine juice
1 tangerine
white sugar
ground ginger
cinnamon
cloves

Rinse the bag of cranberries. Put in a pan with about ¼ to ½ cup tangerine juice. Bring to a boil (the cranberries will start popping) and then let simmer. Add about ½ tsp of tangerine zest and sugar until sweet enough to your liking (½ cup maybe). Once the sauce has the consistency of a jam, add about ¼ tsp of ground ginger, ½ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ cloves. This will keep in the fridge for a few days and works well as a spread for turkey and chicken sandwiches.

Stuffing

1 loaf Italian bread (Ciabatta)
6-7 slices pancetta
butter
olive oil
2 packages of mushrooms (chanterelle, crimini, and/or oysters work well)
chicken stock
dried thyme and sage
1-2 yellow onions

Cut the bread into cubes and dry in a 250-degree oven until they feel stale. Saute chopped pancetta with a little olive oil and remove from the pan once cooked. Add butter and olive oil to the pan and cook the chopped onions and mushrooms. Add the pork back into the pan and once cooked through, add to the stale bread. Mix in a bowl and add enough chicken stock to the mixture until the bread seems bloated but not soaked through. Add thyme and sage. Bake, covered at 350 for about 45 minutes. At the end, remove the cover and let the top roast to a golden brown.

Roasted Green Beans (our token veggie)
Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to trimmed green beans and roast in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until done.

Turkey
Mark smothered olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika on the 11.5 lb bird and sat her on a bed of chopped onion, celery, and carrot. He took the veggies out once carmelized and used in the gravy.

Gravy
Add some grease from the bird to the pan. Add flour to make a rue, cook until dark brown. Add veggies, some chicken broth, and brown bits from the turkey pan. Bring to a rolling boil (if adding turkey neck). Add thyme and sage, and salt and pepper. Strain to get the biggest bits out of the gravy.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

Filling:
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese

Put the filling into a prepared crust (Sarah made her own) and bake for about 55 minutes. The original recipe from Bon Appetit is here.

Our dessert has rotated between pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin creme brulee, and regular pumpkin pie throughout the years. This version of pumpkin pie with mascarpone cheese is especially decadent. I didn’t photograph any part of the meal because we ate everything too fast. Oops.

Thanks to Mark, Sarah, and Alex for yet another entertaining and delicious Thanksgiving meal together!

Sunchoke Soup

Tonight we made Joyce’s chicken with fingerling potatoes, carrots, and onions. I love the way the onions caramelize at the bottom of the pan. They are especially delicious when they have dried up. Yum! I had some sunchokes in my CSA box so I tried to replicate a soup I really liked at a veggie restaurant last fall. Using a Bon Appetit recipe as a guide, I gathered the following ingredients:

  • Large bowl of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1.5  pounds Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (I used 2% milk)
  • Ground white pepper
  • Shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted (I used pine nuts)
  • Pumpkin seed oil (optional)
  • Sautéed chanterelle mushrooms (optional garnish)

Mix water and vinegar in large bowl. Working with 1 Jerusalem artichoke at a time, peel and place in vinegar water to prevent discoloration. Set aside.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, leek, and garlic; sprinkle with salt and sauté until soft and translucent, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Drain artichokes; rinse well and drain again. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Add to onion mixture and sauté 5 minutes. Add broth, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until artichokes are very tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth. Return to pot. Rewarm soup, adding more broth if needed (mine was fine). Stir in cream and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Divide soup among bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds; top with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil and some sautéed mushrooms, if desired.

I’m curious to see if and when the “sunchoke effect” hits us tonight…