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Chicken Stew with Chive Dumplings

3 Oct

There are times when you stumble across something and it makes you so happy and you feel like it is just meant to be. And then for reasons of the universe (in this case entirely weather related) you’re separate for what seems like an eternity. And then when you finally do reunite it is that much sweeter. I just described my relationship with chicken and dumplings. A late winter discovery. My complete inability to pull out  my dutch oven when it’s 25 degrees out. The result = our separation. But, now we’re…..reunited and it feels so good, reunited cause we understood, there’s one perfect fit…..Peaches & Herb…..anybody? anybody? Bueller? ……Awkward.

So ya, comfort food. I had some dental work done recently and chewing really isn’t my strong suit right now (neither is not complaining about said dental work, but what can ya do?). It was also 6 degrees on Sunday morning. yes, I said 6 degrees. Ridiculous! Not only is this warm, comforting and requires very little chewing, but it also makes your house smell heavenly.

Chicken and Chive Dumplings (from Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6 to 8 people

Ingredients:

Stew:

5 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (for me, this meant 16 thighs), seasoned generously with salt and pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp butter (yup, butter, real butter, i don’t cook with it often so savour this moment folks)

2 leeks, sliced** (see the notes at the bottom about slicing and rinsing leeks for this recipe)

1 large onion, diced

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry sherry (you can substitute brandy if you don’t have sherry)

4 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup whole milk (it’s important you don’t use skim or low-fat milk here )

1 tsp fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup frozen green peas

3 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Dumplings:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped

1 cup whole milk

3 tbsp reserved chicken fat (bear with me, you will get this during the cooking process for the stew – so don’t go asking your local food store for reserved chicken fat like a crazy person)

For the stew: Heat a dutch oven on the stove to medium-high heat. Pour in 2 tbsp of olive oil and place half of the chicken thighs in the pot, skin side down. Cook until skin has browned (about 5 to 7 minutes), then flip and brown the other side. Remove to a platter and repeat with the rest fo the chicken. Once you have removed the chicken from the pot remove all the skin and discard.

Drain the chicken fat into a heat-proof bowl (I say heat proof b/c there may have been a plastic tupperware and scalding chicken fat situation at one point – melted plastic does not a tasty dinner make). Return the dutch oven to the stove, still at medium-high heat and put the butter in the pot. Once the butter is melted add the onions and leeks. Saute until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the flour. Then whisk in the sherry, being sure to scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the milk and chicken broth and whisk so there are no lumps. Add the bay leaf and thyme and all the chicken (including any juices that have accumulated on the platter). Make sure all the chicken is nicely nestled in the pot, cover and let simmer for 1 hour.

During this time take a nap or something. Just don’t make the dumpling batter until right before you are about to use it. It doesn’t do it any good to sit around for an hour.

After the hour, remove the chicken to a platter (if you’re using the same one clean it – salmonella does not make you friends). Remove all the meat from the bone and return the meat to the pot, discard the bone. Add the peas and tarragon to the pot.

For the dumplings: Now you can make the dumpling batter. In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and chives. Add the milk to your reserved chicken fat and microwave until it is warm (30 to 45 seconds). Add the milk and chicken fat to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until entirely incorporated.

Return the stew to a simmer. Using a spoon, place golf ball size portions of the dumpling batter onto the top of the stew. Leave about a 1/4 of an inch between each dumpling. Place the lid on the dutch over and allow to simmer until the dumplings have doubled in size, about 15 minutes.

This isn’t exactly a weeknight wonder. It’s a tad time-consuming and it’s worth every single second!

Thanks to some good antibiotics and the miracle I like to call Advil, I think I am headed for more solid food, and thankfully, a wedding day that doesn’t involve a chipmunk cheek! Oh happy day!!!!!

***How to slice a leek. Cut off the green end and discard. Slice the leek lengthwise up the middle. Then slice the leek into crescent-shaped circles across the bottom. Now that you’re got the layers separated into small slices you need to rinse the leek. Leeks tend to have sand between their layers. It’s important before you use them to rinse them. Separate the layers and soak them in a bowl of water. This allows all the sand to fall to the bottom. Then drain the water and dry them in a tea towel.

Chicken and Sausage Bake

2 Oct

This may be one of my most requested recipes (behind lasagna of course, nothing can compete with carbs, cheese and wine – don’t even bother!). Promise you’ll still come back, even when I’ve given away all my good recipe secrets?

So lets all give a big hooray for one pot wonders!!!!!! If you’re someone who I have served this to when you came for dinner – I worked so much harder than the instructions I am about to give when I made this for you……I promise…..

Chicken and Sausage Bake

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or chicken legs with the thigh attached if you prefer dark meat

4 hot or mild Italian sausages

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp olive oil

5 grinds of black pepper

1 small bulb of fennel, sliced (to slice fennel, cut off the frawns (the finger looking things), slice the bulb into quarters and cut out the core, then slice into strips)

2 pints of cherry tomatoes (I find it extra fun to get the multicoloured ones – ya, those are the kind of things I find extra fun, great.)

2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

4 full sprigs of rosemary, still on the stalk.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, dijon, olive oil and black pepper and coat the chicken. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Turn the oven on to 375 degrees. In a baking dish (that will snuggly fit the chicken and sausage) toss the fennel, cherry tomatoes, chopped herbs and garlic. Add a glug of olive oil and toss until they are all well coated.

Place the marinated chicken on top of the bed of vegetables. Squeeze the sausages into the gaps between the chicken. Use your left over rosemary sprigs to tuck in between some of the chicken and sausage.

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until the chicken and sausage are cooked through.

To serve, toss the full rosemary sprigs in the garbage and remove the chicken and sausage to a large serving dish using tongs. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove the cherry tomatoes and fennel and spoon over the chicken and sausage.

The cherry tomatoes will have slightly burst making the most amazing sauce for the chicken and sausage!

I typically serve this over garlic mashed potatoes with a very simple arugula, lemon and parmesan salad on the side.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Piri Piri Chicken

6 Sep

I don’t have cable tv. I know. I’m crazy.

The result of not having cable tv is that whenever I am somewhere that has tv I am glued to it. I mainly watch the food channel. Not those reality or competition cooking shows. My thing are the good old-fashioned shows (not sure a tv show can be called old fashion, but you get the point) that feature regular recipes, chefs that write cook books that real people use, and no drama. It’s going to sound cheesy, but I find inspiration in these shows. Sometimes ingredient combination ideas lay foundation for delicious creations. Sometimes a certain kind of food is something I never knew how to cook or even considered. Other times it is just a down right amazing sounding recipe and I NEED to make it as is. This last scenario happened this past weekend.

Jamie Oliver – love him. He has some new show I didn’t know about (it may not even be new – I am so lame without cable). 30 minute meals. Amazing! Who doesn’t need a new tasty meal that only takes 30 minutes?

Last weekend was piri piri chicken. I immediately craved it. This recipe is superb! and very quick and easy.

Piri Piri Chicken (courtesy of Jamie Oliver)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (if you can’t get large ones just double up on small ones, I did this and just made a bit more sauce)

1 red pepper cut into large chunks

1 yellow pepper cut into large chunks

cilantro for garnish

Piri Piri Sauce:

1/2 a red onion

2 cloves of garlic

hot peppers (what I used was 1 habanero pepper, seeded, an inch of a mirasol pepper with the seeds – the result? it was spicy, but not too spicy, totally tolerable. Really use any kind of hot peppers you want)

1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

juice of a lemon

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (can anyone actually pronounce this?)

1/2 cup basil leaves

Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.

Take the chicken thighs and place them on a cutting board skin side down. Cut a slit on either side of the bone and two slit running across the bone (don’t cut all the way through). This is sort of butterflying your chicken, it will spread out evenly and flat in the pan and the bottom will soak up more of the sauce.

Heat a fry pan or griddle pan to medium high heat. Pour in a splash of olive oil. Place the chicken thighs skin side down and cook until browned and crispy (about 10 minutes). Flip over and cook for another 5 minutes.

While your chicken is cooking place all the ingredients for the sauce into a food processor and puree. Then add 2 tbsp of water and puree again. (the water will account for any steam lost in the oven).

Pour the sauce into a baking dish that will snugly fit the chicken. Place the chicken in the dish skin side up and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Discard any grease in the sauce pan. Turn the burner to high and toss in the peppers. Saute them until they are seared.

Scatter the peppers over the chicken and garnish with cilantro.

This dish was amazing! I brought it for lunch the next day and started eating it at 9:30 a.m.

Expect another recipe from this episode next. Sweet potato mash with feta and cilantro! I can’t be stopped!!!! Thank you Jamie!

oh ya, happy back to school. Make this on a school night. It’s fast and tasty!

Buffalo Chicken with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

17 Jun

I normally am all about cooking from scratch. I rarely use any prepared products. Today this isn’t true. Three words. Frank Red Hot. I am obsessed. It has ingredients I can’t pronounce. I don’t care.

I am going to redeem myself by trying to convince you this is a healthy alternative to going out for chicken wings. These aren’t fried. These aren’t chicken wings.

They will satisfy any chicken wing craving!

Buffalo Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

12 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 cup of Franks Red Hot, I like the extra hot kind, but original is good too if you don’t want an extra kick.

2 tbsp olive oil

Combine everything in a large bowl, make sure the chicken is entirely coated in Franks Red Hot. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour up to 2 hours.

BBQ on medium high heat until cooked through.

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

1/2 cup of sour cream (or yogurt if you’re watching your waist)

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

a dash of Franks Red Hot

5 grinds of black pepper

Combine everything in a bowl and mix. Allow at least 1/2 an hour in the fridge so that the flavours are able to “get acquainted”. This way it will taste nice and blue cheesy.

I actually crave these. I can eat about 6 in one sitting.

All photo credit goes to my sister Annie and her friend Kim. They also get credit for an awesome evening in a kitchen in cabbagetown.

Next time you crave chicken wings give these a shot at home. You won’t be disappointed.

Herb Marinated Chicken Kebabs

6 Jun

These are beautiful. If you want to wow your guests I suggest you carry these out to the deck to BBQ. Not only are they beautiful, they taste absolutely amazing!

zucchini ribbons look fancy, but actually aren’t that hard to make. I love doing this dish with both green and yellow zucchinis. Sadly when I was at the food store they only had green, so you aren’t really getting the full effect of how stunning these actually look. Sorry.

This is a very “fresh” tasting dinner (I credit the mint).

I was reading Smitten Kitchen the other day and she was talking about a new cookbook put out called On a Stick. Every single recipe in the entire book is on a stick. Genius! Pure Genius! I must purchase this book.

Without further ado, some food on a stick…..

Herb Marinated Chicken Kebabs (adapted from Jamie Oliver)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks for skewering

3/4 cup mint

3/4 cup cilantro (with the stems)

6 green onions, roughly chopped

the zest and juice of one lemon

1/2 cup olive oil

3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 green zucchini

1 yellow zucchini

Before I start – remember to always pre-soak your wooden skewers for at least 30 minutes. Otherwise they will burn. I always forget. I am trying to save you the same nuisance I go through every time. I hope you’re all smarter than I am and actually remember to do this!

In a food processor combine the mint, cilantro, green onions, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Process until the herbs are the consistency of pesto.

In a large bowl combine the chicken with the herb sauce and marinate for at least two hours in the refrigerator.

Using either a mandoline or a cheese slicer thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise so that you get long thin strips of zucchini.

Start with a zucchini strip and skewer it at the bottom, then place a piece of chicken on the skewer and fold the zucchini over the chicken and skewer it, repeat. You are essentially making an S shape with the zucchini and skewering chicken pieces in the curves. I like to alternate green and yellow. I would show you a photo of that but the stupid food store is behind the times!

BBQ on medium high heat until cooked through.

These taste as good as they look. Thank god!

Roasting a Chicken

8 May

Roast chicken is the most amazing comfort food. The added bonus is your house smells DELICIOUS!!!! It also helps that the outcome is gorgeous is that praise worthy kind of way.

Seriously, how perfect.

Although it does take some time, you are having glasses of chilled white, all the while doing nothing but sipping on it.

Sorry about the photo. I dig ice in my wine. I know, not classy. Watered down wine is my thing.

Anyways, back to the task at hand

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 3.5 to 4 lb whole chicken

1 tbsp salt

15 grinds of black pepper

olive oil

1/2 lemon

1/2 a head of garlic

a bunch of fresh thyme, on the stem

Heat your oven to 425 degrees.

If you have bought a chicken with innards, remove them and pitch ’em. Gross. (If I was making gravy I may sing a different tune – but we’re strictly talking roasted chicken here)

Place your chicken in a roasting pan on a rack. stuff the inside with the thyme, half a lemon and a 1/2 a head of garlic (i just slice a head in half and stick ‘er in there). Smother with olive oil salt and pepper and rub so that it is all incorporated.

Once you put your chicken in the oven turn it down to 400 degrees.

Roast for one hour and 20 minutes.Let rest for 10 minutes covered in foil on a carving board. As a disclaimer I am going to suggest that you put a thermometer into the thickest part of the breast until it’s almost, but not quite, touching the breast bone. Chicken is done at 160 degrees. I am not going to counsel you, b/c I don’t want anyone getting food poisoning, but I usually bring it out a slight bit below and let it rest covered in foil (as noted above) to bring it up to temp – I find this ensures juiciness.

If you’re not quite there yet temp-wise, just keep checking it every 10-15 minutes past the hour until it’s at your desired temp.

Regardless, always let it rest for 10 before carving into it. I do let it rest covered so I don’t lose heat.

I will admit, sometimes I use butter instead of olive oil. If I am using butter I use room temperature butter and smear it all over the chicken with salt and pepper. But I find olive oil gives you a crispier skin (sorry, according to my spell check crispier is not a word – fools!). Whatever floats your boat!

Really the only work here is stuffing and coating the chicken in olive oil, salt and pepper. After that its smooth sailing.

Sit back and let people tell you how great of a cook you are. Never reveal that you essentially did nothing.

Also, if you can get your hands on some cranberry sauce and mayo, you will have the BEST sandwich the next day for lunch!

Greek Chicken Skewers with Tzatziki and Greek Salad

1 May

If I had to choose one country’s food and eat nothing but that for the rest of my life it would be Greek food. I am obsessed with it. I think a lot of it has to do with tzatziki and then the combo of lemon, oregano, olive oil and feta.Feta actually = heaven.

My favourite way to eat Greek is a chicken gyro filled with greasy french fries, tomato, onion, chicken and loads and loads of tzatziki.I ate one yesterday and then went dress shopping = worst idea ever. No one looks pretty in dresses while in a giant food coma! I digress.

I can’t always be running out and eating these greasy beauties so I’ve come up with a compromise. I make my own Greek food at home (sadly no fries included).

Confession: I get very annoyed with Greek salad that includes lettuce, especially iceberg lettuce. This is just there for filler so the restaurant can sell you a bigger salad for less (including less nutrients).

Greek Chicken Skewers

serves 4

Ingredients:

8 skewers (if using wooden, soak them for 1/2 an hour first to keep them from burning)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch cubes

2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

the juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp white vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, grated or pressed with a garlic press

5 grinds of black pepper

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients with the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Skewer the chicken and BBQ on medium heat, turning, until chicken is cooked through.

Greek Salad

serves 4

Ingredients:

1 green pepper, diced into 1 inch pieces

1 red pepper, diced into 1 inch pieces

3 inches of a cucumber, halved and then sliced

1/2  red onion, thinly sliced

4 tomatoes, chopped into large bit sized pieces

2 tbsp chopped, fresh oregano (you can also used dried, just use 1/2 the amount)

a large handful of crumbled feta

The juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup black olives (optional – I  know there’s a lot of olive haters out there. weirdos)

In a large bowl combine everything. Serve.

Tzatziki

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of plain Greek yogurt

1 garlic clove, grated or pressed in a garlic press

3 inches of a cucumber, halved, seeded and finely diced

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1/2 – 1 hour. This gives the flavours some time to combine.

The chicken is made more amazing by dipping it into the tzatziki before taking a bite.

Feeling lazy? Just make the tzatziki and dip pita into it.

Go forth, slam ouzo and smash plates. “OOMPA!!!!!!!!”

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