Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

12265847_779290548826_2173721953493967764_oPumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs
in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Sage Apple Chicken Meatballs
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 cup Sage, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia Onion, minced
1/2 Granny Smith Onion, skinned & minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground
1 Egg
Olive Oil for cooking

Spinach Vermouth Sauce
6 cups Baby Spinach
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Sliced
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
1/4 cup Vermouth
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 tsp Oregano
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  • Prepare the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  • Form into 1 1/2″ balls.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the balls to the oil, but do not over crowd them.
  • Let the balls cook a minute and then roll them to a raw side. Repeat until all sides are cooked. Let cook an additional minute so that they cook through. Remove to a plate and repeat until all meatballs are completed.
  • Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • Prepare the Sauce: Using the skillet that was used to cook the meatballs, deglaze with the Vermouth, and add the Butter.
  • Add the Onions and Apples, and cook till tender.
  • Add the Oregano and Crushed Red Pepper.
  • Toss in the Spinach until it wilts.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Add the Gnocchi and Meatballs and toss well.
  • Plate and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi.
This dish was inspired by a recipe that I found through a cooking club, but I decided to improve upon it and make it in my own way.

Advertisements

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with Quinoa

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with QuinoaShrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with Quinoa

Ingredients
1 lb jumbo Shrimp, peeled, de-veined
4 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups Quinoa
2 cups Andouille Sausage, sliced
1 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Green Bell Peppers, chopped
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Yellow Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Celery, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Bay Leaf
2 tsp Thyme, fresh, chopped (if dried 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp Oregano, fresh, chopped (if dried 1/2 tsp)
1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, Ground
Tabasco Sauce to taste

Directions:

  • In a large dutch oven, melt the butter and brown the Andouille Sausage.
  • Add the Bell Pepper, Yellow Onion, and Celery, and saute until it is soft.
  • Add the Garlic and stir for another minute or so.
  • Add all Herbs, Shrimp, and Chicken Stock and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the Quinoa and cook, covered for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add Tabasco Sauce to taste–some like it hotter than others.

Makes 4-6 servings

NOTES: Jambalaya is a traditional dish from Louisiana made from rice and akin to Paella. I thought it would be fun to try this dish with Quinoa instead since I’m not a big fan of Rice. I must say I was quite pleased with the result.

You can add Chicken to this recipe, as most Jambalaya recipes do include chicken. It would be cooked at the same time as the Andouille. Some Jambalaya, especially that near New Orleans is known as “Creole” vs. “Cajun”. The only big difference I’ve been able to note, other than mild spice variations, is the use of Tomatoes in the Creole version. I chose to go with the Cajun style, lacking the tomatoes since it is the Cajuns that are my familial cousins.

Campfire Chicken Pouches

Dedicated to the men formerly of BSA Troops 354 and 747 of the Yellow River District in the Atlanta Area Council.

Campfire Chicken Pouches

Ingredients
2 Chicken Thighs, bone-in, skinless
2 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
1 small Yellow Onion, diced (Vidalia ideally)
1 1/2 dozen Table Mushrooms, quartered
1 yellow Bell Pepper, diced
6 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Corn on the Cob, cut in half
4 Sprigs of Rosemary
4 Tbsp Butter, divided in sixteen pieces
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
1/2 tsp Coriander Seed, ground
1/4 tsp Fennel Seed, crushed
1/4 tsp dried Oregano, crushed
Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Prepare Coals or Preheat Oven to 350F. If you have the luxury to be camping and cooking over a fire, you’ll want to create an area of charred wood–like a bed of coals. You could also use charcoal in a grill. You should know that on open fires, it is difficult to gauge the temperature–so be vigilant and have tongs ready to move your goods.
  • Cut four pieces of Aluminum Foil AT LEAST 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet. I recommend getting the extra-wide Aluminum Foil and cutting 4 squares.
  • Season the Chicken pieces with Salt and Pepper.
  • On two of the sheets of Aluminum foil, place on each: one Thigh, one Breast, one half of the Corn.
  • Mix the Mushrooms, Peppers, Butter, and Spices together and divide among the two Squares, keeping everything in the center in a mound.
  • Put a Sprig of Rosemary in each.
  • For each pouch, carefully pull two sides together and fold the seam together. Then fold and roll each side remaining. I recommend then placing in a second piece of Aluminum foil and repeating – helps prevent spillage and tares.
  • Roast for about an hour, making sure to heat evenly. If using an oven, place the Pouches on a baking sheet.

Makes 2 pouches (2 servings)

NOTES: So this takes me back to when I was a Boy Scout in troops 354 and 747 in Conyers. We used to make some variation of this on a camping trip–usually with skin-on chicken and a bag of mixed veggies. Sometimes we would add fresh veggies and potatoes, and rarely any herbs or spices outside of Seasoned Salt. This is my version with real Spices, fresh Rosemary, and Mushrooms instead of Potatoes. The vegetables you choose to use are up to you, and limited only by how many they fit inside a pouch. If you use Potatoes, I would suggest adding more salt and pepper.

It is memories of the times like camping that really stand out to me. Looking back, most of my friends from my later troop are very distant now–probably because we’ve moved on geographically, but also because they’re much more conservative than I am–me being gay probably doesn’t help as a result. Regardless, I dedicate this to those folks.

Blackened Chicken with Grilled Fruit

Blackened Chicken with Grilled Fruit

Ingredients:
3 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, butterfly cut
3 Tbsp Butter, melted
1/2 – 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Blackened Seasoning
2 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Coriander Seed
3/4 Tbsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper ground
1/2 Tsp White Pepper ground
1/2 tsp Thyme dried
1/2 tsp Oregano dried
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds dried

Grilled Fruit
1 Papaya, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1 Pineapple, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1-2 Mangoes, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper ground
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

  • Prepare the Fruit and place on Skewers.
  • Brush with Olive Oil.
  • Sprinkle with Salt, Pepper, and Cinnamon.
  • Place on a hot grill or in the Broiler for 5 minutes per side. Set to the side, or cook while you prepare the Chicken.
  • Put all of the Ingredients of the Blackened Spice Rub in a Mortar and rub with the Pestle to mix well and open up some of the spices and herbs. Place to the side.
  • Begin heating a cast-iron skillet on high with the Olive Oil. You do not need to use all of it, just enough to coat the skillet. You do not want a puddle of oil.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the melted Butter, and then coat with the Spice Rub on all sides.
  • Place in the Skillet, and cook both sides. They will blacken because of the Butter and herbs. Each side should be about 5 minutes. Because the Chicken was butterfly cut, it will cook all the way through.
  • Plate the Chicken and cover with the Grilled Fruit (on or off the skewers, your choice).

Makes 3 Servings.

NOTES: Blackening is a technique of cooking often associated with Cajun cooking. I have read some places that attribute it however to a modern chef named Paul Prudhomme (who specializes in Cajun cooking). Whether an old technique, or a modern one, it extremely flavorful. I recommend playing with the amounts of spices–some like it hot, some don’t like it as hot–but Blackened is intended to be Spicy. If you are wanting to cheat, pick up some Hot Shot instead of the various types of Peppercorns, but do not skimp on the flavors. A lot of folks seem to want to avoid using Butter in the recipe–it is essential for true Blackened food, as the milk solids are part of the Blackening process. If you want a spicy chicken on the grill with the rub, great, but it’s not truly Blackened… just spicy ;-).  

Also, just a note, this Blackened Spice Rub can be used on Fish (it’s original intention), as well as other forms of protein.

Italian Green Salad

Ingredients:
8 cups Mesclun Greens
1 cup fresh Basil, leaves only
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Kirby Cucumber, sliced
12-16 large Green Olives (stuffed is a plus)
1 small Red Onion, chopped
2-4 oz Prosciutto
2 Tbsp fresh Oregano
4-6 bocconcini Mozzarella, quartered
1/2 cup Pistachios, shelled
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette

Directions:

  • Prepare all items as listed above. For the Prosciutto, tear the slices into bite-size pieces. For the Onion, you can be artistic and thinly slice the pieces so that they are long and thin.
  • Mix all the ingredients together, except the Vinaigrette. I recommend mixing 2/3 of everything together, and then using the final 1/3 of the ingredients to decorate the top and make it look nice. This also ensure that when you toss the salad, everything does not end up on the bottom.
  • Serve in a large bowl with the Vinaigrette on the side.

Makes: 4 Servings.

NOTES: They say a good salad is a sign of a good chef. I dunno if I qualify or not, but here is my ideal salad. It is light and fresh, and you can tweak it to your guests tastes and needs. I find this salad is bright and cheerful and full of colors–and tastes like Spring. For the Olives, I recommend getting some stuffed with Garlic or Anchovies–adds a depth of flavor. If you are going to stuff them yourself, do it a few days a head of time, and let them soak in the brine.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone e Crema – Chicken Scaloppine

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Rosemary
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
4 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
1/8 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Heavy Cream

  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Add the Garlic, Herbs, Lemon Juice and White Wine to the Skillet and de-glaze. (watch as it may flame up…not bad, just be careful!).
  • Add the Heavy Cream and Butter and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Lemon, Wine and Cream sauce

NOTES: An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto; no Heavy Cream.
Chicken Francaise – similar with breaded Chicken and Lemon slices, no Heavy Cream.
Chicken Picatta – similar with caper lemon sauce; no Heavy Cream.

Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle – Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions

Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle

Ingredients:
6-8 links of Sweet Italian Sausage
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced in strips
1-2 Peperoncini or Banana Peppers, sliced in strips
1 Yellow Onion, cut in wedges
2 cups Plum Tomatoes, diced
4-6 cloves Garlic, sliced
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Basil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
Parmesan, shaved for garnish.

Directions:

  • Poke the Sausage with a fork one or two times.
  • Place the Sausage in a skillet on medium heat with the Water, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Only flip the Sausage once or twice. You are basically poaching the Sausage, but by the time it is cooked, the water will have evaporated.
  • Remove the Sausage to a broiling pan, and place in the Broiler.
  • De-glaze the Skillet with the White Wine.
  • Add the Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes and Herbs to the Skillet.
  • Heat through, stirring often so that nothing sticks or browns; about 5 minutes.
  • Check on the Sausage, and flip so that both sides get broiled.
  • Continue heating the Onions and Peppers for about 2-3 more minutes. If the skillet is small, and thus the mixture very deep, you should cover and let the steam help cook the Onions and Peppers.
  • Plate the Onions and Peppers on a platter, and then arrange the Sausage on top. Serve the Parmesan on the side.

Makes 6-8 Sausages

NOTES: This dish is great by itself or divided into Hoagies. You can use Salsiccia Piccante (Spicy Italian Sausage) if you prefer. Additionally, you may choose to top with Mozzarella, though I think the crunchy nutty flavor of the Parmesan can’t be beat. You can also do the Sausages on the Grill. If you do this, you can cook the Peppers and Onions in the Skillet starting with the adding of the Wine.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone – Chicken Francaise

Chicken Francaise

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Tbsp Butter
3 clove Garlic, thinly sliced vertically
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Corn Starch
Juice of 2 Lemons
1 Lemon, thinly sliced horizontally
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine

Directions:

  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs and dried Herbs.
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Remove the Oil, and wipe it clean.
  • Heat the Butter on-low medium heat
  • In a small bowl combine Broth and Corn Starch, whipping until there are no lumps.
  • Add the Garlic, Wine, Broth, Lemon Juice, and Lemon Slices to the pan.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn about 5 mins.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Lemon Slices and Wine Sauce and garnish with the Parsley

NOTES: I have tried to find a definitive answer as to whether or not this dish is French or Italian–since one usually sees it in Italian restaurants in America.  No one including the infamous Wikipedia seem to agree.  I would guess is that it is an Italian-American dish that is influenced by the French style of cooking with Wine and Butter.

An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto.
Chicken Piccata – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Capers.
Chicken Scaloppine – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Cream-based lemon sauce.

Niçoise Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 medium Shallot, minced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped fine
2 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped fine
1 tsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
1 tsp Capers
1 Anchovy filet
1 Egg
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
3/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground

Directions:

  • Using a Mortar and Pestle, crush the Anchovy, Capers, and Shallots with the Herbs.
  • Wisk in the Egg and Dijon Mustard.
  • Add the Vinegar and Lemon Juice, and mix well.
  • Whisk in the Olive Oil.
  • When the Olive Oil is finished, taste, and add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Makes about 1 cup.

Chimichurri

Dedicated to my friend Anahi G. who educated me about Salmuera

Chimichurri-Marinated Skirt Steak and Chicken,
Grilled with Onions and Chimicurri Sauce on the side

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Oregano
8 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup warm Water
1 1/2 Tbsp Salt
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 wedge of Lemon
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a bowl, whisk the Salt and warm water together to dissolve. In Spanish, this is called salmuera which acts like a brine.
  • Combine the Herbs, Garlic, Cumin, Crushed Red Pepper into a Food Processor and pules a couple times.
  • Squeeze in the Juice from the wedge of Lemon, and drizzle in the Salmuera and Red Wine Vinegar, pulsing.
  • Remove to a bowl, and stir in the Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper.

NOTES: This is a very simple Argentinian marinade and sauce. The first time I ever had it was in Jackson Heights, NY at one of their many tasty Argentine places. It should be chunky and not a paste like an Adobo or Pesto. Some Recipes will include Onion and sweet Red Peppers. I prefer to keep those out. If you are able, instead of the American variety of Crushed Red Pepper, try to get Aji Molido also known as Aji Triturado–a more authentic Argentine variety of Crushed Red Pepper. You can vary the amounts of spice and garlic based on your tastes. This marinade is great on Steaks and Chicken, but can also be used with Fish. Serve it as a sauce on the side of Steak or drizzled over Roasted Potatoes as well–you can’t go wrong!

Trying to find an etymology for the word has proved interesting.   Various sources say it was either created by an English soldier or butcher named Jimmy Curry or Jimmy McCurry, who created the sauce–and folks unable to say his name morphed it into chimichurri.  It seems far-fetched to me.  Similarly, one origins story says that it was introduced about the time England was trying to invade Argentina, and captured soldiers would ask for a sauce with their meat “Give me a curry” that somehow morphed into chimichurri by natives trying to mimic them.  It just seems strange to me that there would be any English involvement in the creation of this dish–but hey, I wasn’t there.

Cornish Hens with Shallot-Sage-Raspberry Stuffing and Raspberry Sherry Sauce

Cornish Hen with Shallot-Sage-Raspberry Stuffing and and a Raspberry Sherry Sauce

Ingredients:
2 Cornish Hens, giblets removed, patted dry
6 slices Whole Wheat Bread
1/2 cup Raspberries
1 Shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 Tbsp fresh Sage, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh Thyme, crushed
2 tsp fresh Oregano, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 Egg
1/6 cup Chicken Broth
1/6 cup Sherry
1/6 cup Berry Juice
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Raspberry Sherry Sauce (below)

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 400F
  • In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients except the Raspberry Sauce and Olive Oil; and mush together.
  • Wash the Hens, and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Stuff half of the dressing into each Hen.
  • Using cooking twine, Truss-up the Hens.
  • In a heavy skillet, on high heat, add the Olive Oil and brown each side of the Hens(about 2-4 minutes).
  • Place in a baking dish, and drizzle any Oil from the pan over the Hens.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, covered.
  • Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Prepare the Raspberry Sherry Sauce.
  • Plate and pour the Raspberry Sherry Sauce over each Hen.

NOTES: This recipe was an inspiration from The Legend of the Seeker, where in an episode one of the characters requests this dish! I couldn’t help but figure out a way to make it myself.

Raspberry Sherry Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Sherry
1/2 cup Berry Juice
1 Shallot, diced
1 tsp Cornstarch
2 cups Raspberries
1 tsp fresh Ginger, diced
1 tsp fresh Sage, diced
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a Sauce Pan, combine the Butter, Shallot, Ginger, and a pinch of Salt, cooking until the shallot is translucent.
  • In a cup, whisk together the Cornstarch and Berry Juice.
  • Add all ingredients to the Sauce Pan, stirring on medium heat.
  • Crush the berries with your spoon as they cook.
  • Reduce to 1 cup of liquid, stirring often.

NOTES: Though this sauce is perfect for the Cornish hens, you can serve it with other meats like Duck or Quail. Some folks prefer to strain the sauce before serving using a sieve to remove the Berry seeds. I like the berry seeds, myself, but it is completely at your discretion.

Pollo alla Romana – Roman-Style Chicken

Pollo alla Romana

Ingredients:
6-8 fillets of Chicken Breasts, thin sliced, boneless, skinless
1 Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped
6 slices Prosciutto, chopped
2 Plum Tomatoes, diced
1 head of Roasted Garlic
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp fresh Basil
1 Tbsp fresh Oregano
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
1 Tbsp Capers
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Romano Cheese, grated

Directions:

  • Do all necessary roasting ahead of time.
  • In a large skillet, brown the Chicken Fillets in the Olive Oil.
  • Remove the Fillets to the side.
  • Add the Peppers and Prosciutto, and cook until the Prosciutto starts to crisp, about 4 minutes.
  • Squeeze the Garlic into a Mortar and Pestle, and grind.
  • Add Garlic, Tomatoes, Chicken Stock, Wine, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to the skillet.
  • Heat for 10 minutes, and then add the Chicken Fillets back to the skillet.
  • Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, stir in the Capers and Parsley.
  • Garnish with grated Romano Cheese.

Serves 3-4 people (portion 2 fillets per person)

NOTES: So it was a long weekend, and my partner volunteered to cook. He loves chicken, so he started looking online for a chicken recipe. I should mention he is not a good cook–toast and oatmeal he does well, but not much more than that. So he found a recipe for Roman-Style Chicken by Giada DiLaurentis. I had a feeling he would not end up cooking, and by the time we got back from the store, it dawned on him how much work would be involved. So it was saved for another night. I don’t like to do other people’s recipes, so I compare them to similar recipes and then make my own version with my own variations. This is my version of Roman-Style Chicken that resulted from my research and comparisons. I decided to add some different herbage, deepen the flavors with roasted peppers and garlic, as well as adding Romano cheese over the top. This is a light summery Italian meal, and it does not need a side of pasta!

Oven-Roasted Tomato Parmesan

Oven-Roasted Tomato Parmesan

Ingredients:
4 Plum Tomatoes, halved vertically
2 Tbsp Bread Crumbs
3 Tbsp Parmesan, shredded
1 tsp Parsley, dried
1/2 tsp Oregano, dried
1 tsp Basil, dried
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  • Place the Tomatoes cut-side up on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and crimp the Aluminum foil to act as an edge around the tomatoes. Prick the Tomatoes with a fork several times.
  • In a bowl, combine all other ingredients, and mix well.
  • Use your hands or a spoon, and divide the topping on each of the Tomatoes
  • Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Lower heat to 250°F, and roast for another 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

NOTES: I love roasted tomatoes. This is a quick and easy way to make them, that you can start before you start cooking, and let cook till you’re ready to serve. It is also very hard to mess up, unless you spill one onto the floor! You can try to grill them as well. To do that, you will cut them, rub with olive oil, and grill. Then place on an aluminum-lined grate, and cover with the topping.

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco – Chicken and Artichoke Fettuccine

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
2 cups Marinated Artichoke Hearts, quartered
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Red Onion, diced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Pinot Grigio or White Wine
1 Tbsp Basil, chopped fine
1/2 Tbsp Oregano, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
2-4 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb Fettuccine (fresh if possible)
Water for boiling
1 tsp Capers for Garnish

Directions:

  • Strain the Oil from the Artichokes into a bowl containing the Chicken. Set the Artichokes to the side, but marinade the Chicken for 1 hour.
  • When ready to cook, begin heating a pot of water on high heat for the Pasta.
  • In a large skillet, combine 1 Tbsp of the Olive Oil with the Onions and Salt, and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Chicken (with the Oil) and sauté until the Chicken begins to brown.
  • Add the White Wine, careful as it may flare up. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes and cook for another 2-5 minutes until heated through.
  • Add the Pasta to the water when it is boiling. Watch if you are using fresh Fettuccine as it cooks quicker than dried.
  • Strain the Pasta and toss with the Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, Herbs and the remaining Olive Oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the Chicken Artichoke Mixture, and toss well.

Makes about 4-6 Servings.

NOTES: So I had to come up with dinner at the last minute, and searched the cupboard and fridge for ingredients – the result was this dish. It is similar to Chicken Vino Bianco from Olive Garden (which I admit I did not know existed until I was trying to search for similar dishes to come up with a name for what I made), except that I add vegetables, do not use the large amount of Butter, nor did I batter the Chicken. Thus we find a healthier, lighter, dish that is still full of flavor.

Arrabbiata Sauce – Fra Diavolo Sauce

Ingredients:
4-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
2 tsp Oregano, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cups Tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a Saucepan with the Garlic, Parsley and Oregano on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the Onion and sauté until near translucent, stirring continually.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Discard the Bay Leaf before serving.

Makes 3 1/2 cups.

NOTES: The best pasta to use for this is Penne Rigate because it absorbs the sauce well. Arrabbiata is a red sauce that is spiced with Crushed Red Pepper flakes meaning roughly “Angry Sauce” though I’ve been told it has the connotation of “Pissed-Off Sauce”. It is often called Fra Diavolo meaning “Brother of the Devil” in America, though when so called, a protein like Seafood or Chicken is added.

I grew up with Arrabbiata Sauce as my main pasta sauce but it was called Marinara and it was spicy. In reality we were eating Arrabbiata Sauce instead and just didn’t know the name difference. My Italian side of the family is from the Molise region of Italy, in the town of Campobasso.

Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki

Ingredients:
5-6 lb bone-in Leg of Lamb
6-8 cloves Garlic, minced
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced in half horizontally
2 Tbsp Lemon Zest, divided
2 Tbsp Oregano, divided
2 Tbsp Rosemary, divided
2 Tbsp Mint, divided
2 Tbsp Salt, divided
1 Tbsp Black Pepper, divided
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tbsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup dry Red Wine
1 cup Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • Combine the minced Garlic, half of the Lemon Zest, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, Salt, and Black Pepper, the Crushed Red Pepper, Red Wine, and Lemon Juice in a large container for a marinade. The container should be able to hold the leg of lamb, and be sealed. I advocate using a seal-able bag.
  • Place the Lamb in the container with the marinade and refrigerate for 6-12 hours.
  • After marinating, remove the Lamb to a roasting pan, and pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Taking a large paring knife, cut slits in the meat about 1/2″ wide, and 1″ deep.
  • Insert the Garlic slivers into the slits.
  • Taking the remaining Herbs and Seasoning, rub the Lamb. If you need more, feel free to add more.
  • Take the Dijon Mustard and lightly spread along the Lamb over the rub. Try to avoid clumps.
  • Drizzle the Olive Oil over the top.
  • Place in the oven, and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 325°F and roast for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until desired doneness.
  • Rare is about 25 minute with an internal temperature of 135°F
  • Medium-rare is about 30 minutes with an internal temperature of 140°F
  • Medium is about 35 minutes with an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Remember to put the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the leg, and not touching the bone.

Serve with Tzatziki or Mint Jelly

NOTES: This recipe pulls on Greek flavors from my neighborhood Astoria. For me, lamb says Spring, Easter, and Passover. Traditionally, Lamb (קרבן פסח)would have been sacrificed on the first night of Passover in remembrance of the lambs blood that was painted on the door posts of the Hebrew homes in Egypt, signifying to the Angel of the Lord to passover that house and spare the first born son. The use of a shank-bone on the Seder plate is reminiscent of this sacrifice, and in some places, Lamb is eaten as the primary meat in the Seder meal.

In the Christian tradition, which I am much more familiar with, the symbol of the lamb has been drawn from Passover and applied to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb which allows death to passover all those washed in the blood of his sacrifice. You will see a lot of symbolism around Easter time in both the Western and Eastern Churches of the Paschal Lamb, often carrying a banner and sitting on a broken sarcophagus.

Jan Van Eyck painting “Ghent Altarpiece”, finished 1432

Whether celebrating Passover or Easter or just a group of friends coming for a visit, lamb is a great festive choice of food, and probably my favorite meat.

Wheat Pizza Crust

Wheat Pizza with Pepperoni and Mushrooms

Ingredients:
1 cup Warm Water
1 dash Granulated Sugar
1 packet Active Dry Yeast
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Honey
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2-1 cup Cornmeal
Directions:

  • In a large bowl pour the Dry Yeast onto the Warm Water with the Sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. It should be frothy, and if it is not frothy, then your Yeast is too old-start over.
  • Using your hands, add the remaining ingredients except the Cornmeal, mixing well. You can use a bread hook with a stand mixer if you prefer. To prevent sticking to your hands, dip them occasionally in ice cold water while you mix.
  • Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes until it is stretchy.
  • Let stand, covered with a moist cloth for about 30 minutes.
  • Prepare a pan for cooking: Lightly grease and cover in corn meal. I prefer using a pizza stone, so it just needs to be dusted with Corn meal.
  • Preheat Oven to 425°F.
  • Divide the dough in two. You can either make 2 pizzas or freeze one for later.
  • Work the portioned dough into a disk with your hands, until the dough is about 8″-10″ in diameter.
  • Place on the cooking surface and stretch to the desired diameter.
  • Poke dough with a fork all over.
  • Bake at 425° F for 10 minutes.
  • Top with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Makes 2 medium pies or 1 large pie.

NOTES: Pizza is a Neapolitan dish in origin. In those dishes, olive oil and herbs were usually added to the flatbread and baked. Pizza is found all over the world with tons of variations, most using a red or white sauce with cheese and toppings. My favorite pizza toppings are a red sauce with fresh basil, mozzarella, pancetta, and pepperocini.

In high school I traveled to Russia with other students, and our host families took us to a Sports club that boasted the best pizza in Yaroslavl–having a chef from Italy. I had realized there may be some communication differences in what the food toppings were. Everyone was ordering ‘pepperoni’ except the Russians…who looked disgusted by the idea. So I followed their lead on ordering and got “Salami” instead. Well I did the right thing. The other Americans got Pepperocini peppers, while I got Pepperoni!

Pollo Pesto al Forno – Pesto Chicken Bake

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 cups Pesto
4 Plum Tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350° F
  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet.
  • Spread the Pesto sauce over both sides of the Chicken, coating it completely.
  • Place Chicken in a baking dish, and cover with a layer of Tomato Slices followed by the shredded Mozzarella.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begun to brown.

NOTES: The first time I ever had this, my mother had used Shake ‘n’ Bake. Though I prefer to use herbed bread crumbs, this is a quick option that also does not require the use of eggs.

Salsa Cruda – Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo
Ingredients:Vegan
3-4 medium sized Tomatoes (I prefer Roma or Plum), diced finely
2 Jalapeño Peppers, de-seeded, de-ribed, minced
1 Serrano Pepper, de-seeded, de-ribed, minced
1 medium White Onion, diced finely
2 cloves minced Garlic
1/2 tsp fresh Oregano, de-stemmed
1/4 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped fine
juice of 1 Lime
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Combine all Ingredients and mix well.
  • Let chill for at 1/2 an hour before serving.

NOTES: Salsa Cruda, Pico de Gallo, Salsa Mexicana, Salsa Fresca, and Salsa Picada all refer to the same uncooked sauce consisting of Tomatoes, Onions, and Jalapenos. Pico de Gallo means “beak of the rooster” and probably refers to the bit size kernels of rooster feed, although some same it references the time of the day to make the sauce, while other people say it references the shape of a rooster’s beak. Finally, some think that Pico de Gallo references a certain cocky machismo needed to eat hot sauces. The world may never know why it is called what it is.


Suggested Uses:

Serve with tortilla chips, use as a marinade, or use as a topping on grilled foods.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone e Capperi – Chicken Piccata

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Rosemary
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
4 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Capers
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
1/8 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Corn Starch

Directions:

  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Add the Garlic, Herbs, Lemon Juice and White Wine to the Skillet and de-glaze. (watch as it may flame up…not bad, just be careful!).
  • Add the Capers and Butter and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl combine broth and Corn Starch, whipping until there are no lumps. Then Add to the Skillet.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Caper-Lemon Wine Sauce.

NOTES: An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto.
Chicken Francaise – similar with breaded Chicken and Lemon slices, no Capers.
Chicken Scaloppine – similar with Cream-based lemon sauce.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Marsala con Prosciutto e Funghi – Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
4 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Marsala Wine
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Corn Starch
4 oz Prosciutto, chopped up

Directions:

  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Add the Garlic, Herbs, and Marsala Wine to the Skillet and de-glaze.
  • Add the Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Butter and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl combine broth and Corn Starch, whipping until there are no lumps. Then Add to the Skillet.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Mushroom/Marsala Sauce.

NOTES: An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Piccata – similar with White Wine with Capers, no Prosciutto or Mushrooms.
Chicken Francaise – similar with breaded Chicken and Lemon slices, no Prosciutto or Mushrooms.
Chicken Scaloppine – similar with Cream-based lemon sauce, no Prosciutto or Mushrooms.

Village Greek Salad

Ingredients:Vegetarian
1 small Cucumber, sliced in coins
2 small Tomatoes, sliced in wedges
1 small Onion, sliced in wedges
1 Bell Pepper, de-seeded, sliced in bite size pieces
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives
1 Tbsp Capers
1/2 tsp Oregano, dried
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup Feta Cheese, cubed
1/4 cup Olive Oil

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions, and Olives.
  • Cover in Capers, Oregano, and Pepper.
  • Top with Feta Cheese
  • Drizzle the Olive Oil over the salad.

Variations:
Add sliced Grilled Chicken or Gyro Meat to the top.