Game Day Quesadillas

Well hello there, remember me?

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I had a nasty case of strep throat last week which brought with it a high fever. The most energy I expended last week was getting from the bed to the couch and then back to the bed. Lucky the antibiotics kicked in in time for the weekend and I was back in business for the Super Bowl and ready to cheer on the Ravens to victory (woo hoo)!

And what better way to celebrate the Super Bowl than with my Game Day Quesadillas. I’ve been making these for years with a pinch of this and a dash of that. I’d love to tell you that before writing this post I took the time to actually measure out the ingredients, but I’d be lying to you and that just doesn’t seem right. Anyway, you seem like smart people so I’m sure that you can figure out what proportions taste good to you.

I always make these with chicken, but they could easily be vegetarian, beef or pork.

gameday

Game Day Quesadillas

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • Buttermilk
  • Garlic
  • 1 medium onion; sliced
  • 1 medium bell pepper; sliced
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pimento stuffed olives; roughly chopped
  • Pickled jalapeños; roughly chopped
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Shredded cheese of your choice (cheddar, Monterey jack, a blend, whatever)
  • Flour tortillas (or corn if you’re gluten free)
  • Sour Cream

Marinate chicken in buttermilk, beer and a whole bunch of crushed garlic cloves for several hours to overnight.

Preheat until to 475. Bake chicken thighs until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature and shred. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté peppers and onions until soft. Toss in to a bowl with all spices to your taste.

Add olives, jalapeños, and cooked chicken and toss checking again for seasoning.

Place one tortilla on a plate. Cover with a bit of the chicken mixture, the fresh cilantro to your taste and some of the cheese. Cover with another tortilla. Either bake in the oven or put in a dry non stick pan and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is slightly crisped.

Serve with sour cream

Yields A LOT! This is party food.

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U is for… USA; Puerto Rico’s in America!

Hola!

flags_pr

Flags of the US and Puerto Rico

OK I fully admit that I took some creative license with this one, but to be fair Puerto Rico is a territory of the US. Besides, how could a musical theater nerd like me pass up the opportunity to make a West Side Story reference!? “Nobody knows in America, Puerto Rico’s in America…”

The largest population of Puerto Rican immigrants in the US proper reside in New York and New Jersey and they’ve definitely had a significant influence on the culture which piqued my interest in wanting to cook Puerto Rican food.

I’m one of the few people I know who grew up in this area that has never been to Puerto Rico and I really want that to change soon! (Girls trip anyone?). It is by all accounts a beautiful island with fantastic weather and of course great food. I’m not generally “sit on the beach and relax” kind of gal, but I’ve been told that one of the coolest things about PR is that there’s also a lot of history to explore in Old San Juan which is right up my alley. Also, Ricky Martin… adorable!

This recipe took quite a bit of research and leg work. I’ve eaten nothing but fish and vegetarian meals for the last two weeks (Meat Break!) so I knew I wanted a meat based recipe and with this freezing weather we’re having, I also wanted something warm and comforting. I settled on Pollo Guisado, Puerto Rican braised chicken stew.

There were a decent amount of recipes on the internet, but most of them called for various kinds of pre packaged seasoning mixes, like Goya Sazon, which are filled with chemicals and other artificial crap and that’s just not how I cook. So I did a lot of research to try and replicate those flavors with natural ingredients. I think I succeeded for the most part, though as you’ll see in the review, next time I’ll have to kick the spices up even more.

Speaking of artificial crap, if you haven’t been reading this blog from the beginning you should just assume that my food is made with mostly organic ingredients and hormone/antibiotic free meat. I’m just too lazy these days to write all that.

PR Collage

Pollo Guisado

  • 1.5-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion; diced
  • 1 cubanelle pepper; diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic; crushed
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup pimento stuffed green olives; roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons capers; roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots; peeled and diced
  • 2-3 large potatoes; peeled and diced
  • 32oz low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 bottle of beer (I used a Corona because I saw it used in one of the recipes I looked up)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilanto leaves; torn

Heat olive oil in a medium dutch oven and brown chicken on both sides, about 3 minutes a side. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add the onions and peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, all of the spices and the olives and capers, stir. Then add the potatoes and carrots, vinegar, chicken and any accumulated juices. Cover with chicken broth making sure to submerge chicken.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for one hour.

Add beer and cilantro and continue cooking uncovered for half hour.

Serve over white rice with extra cilantro on top if so desired

Serves 4-6

7serving

FINAL VERDICT: B+

I had a super hard time grading this recipe because any flaws have to do with my ratios and not the flavors in the dish itself. It smelled great and I loved the combination of all of the spices, but it needed more of those flavors. It’s wonderful comfort food, especially on a cold day and I would definitely make this dish again however I am definitely going to up some of the ingredients. If you make this at home my advice is to double all of the spices and garlic and also the olives and capers, which is likely what I’ll do next time. I think with those tweaks this would be a grade A recipe.

8closeup

She is a pretty dish.

¡Buen provecho!

I is for… Iran. Mid East Peace in My Belly

Flag of Iran

I attended a private Jewish day school from nursery school through 6th grade. Every once in a while to celebrate things like Israeli Independence Day or other special occasions we’d have Israeli food. Well, everyone else would have Israeli food while I ate a sandwich.

Israeli food is very similar to other middle eastern cuisine and middle eastern food is maybe even more dangerous to me than Asian cuisine. Between the sesame and lentils, the pistachios and figs, the dates and walnuts; it is a food allergy mine field for me. So, other than a delicious serving of plain couscous I nibbled on the food from my lunch bag while my classmates savored their falafel and humus and halva.

Then last year I stumbled on an amazing Libyan recipe. It was a lamb, olive and carrot casserole (it’s actually the photo in my banner on the top of this blog). I can’t tell you how excited I was to find a middle eastern dish that I wouldn’t have to modify at all to make. I was even more excited that it turned out to be delicious. Still this is recipe was an exception and most middle eastern dishes are still impossible for me to eat.

Another exception is Tah Chin, a baked rice and chicken dish from Iran. I did try to find an Israeli recipe, mostly so I’d have a good story to tell, but didn’t find any that would be safe for me. The Tah Chin though, required no modifications and I’ve been really anxious to get to “I” and try it.

Tah Chin

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken; cooked and shredded (you can use leftover or store bought rotisserie if you’d like)
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • Salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 8-10 oz yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron (or saffron threads crushed and steeped in hot water)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons butter plus more for dotting

Rinse rice a few times until water runs clear. Cover with water by about an inch. Add salt. Bring to a boil uncovered then turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for 6-7 minutes. At this point the rice should be about half-cooked; soft on the outside, but still a bit hard on the inside.

Remove rice from heat and allow to cool a bit for easier handling.

Preheat oven to 350.

In separate bowl beat 3 egg yolks. Add rice, saffron and yogurt and mix thoroughly. You want enough yogurt that the rice begins to bind together, but not so much that the rice is wet.

I love how the saffron turns the rice such a beautiful color

Remove one-third of mixture and set aside. Stir raisins in to remaining two-thirds.

Cut a round of parchment paper and place at the bottom of a 4-6 quart dutch oven. Over medium heat melt butter. When butter is melted coat the sides of the pot as well (tip: use the leftover scraps of parchment paper to spread the butter). Reduce heat to low

Place the rice and raisin mixture in the pot, pressing down so it covers the bottom of the pot. Press the middle down in to a well and place the chicken on top.

Cover with remaining rice mixture and dot with butter. Cover with lid and leave on the stove top for 5 minutes. This will help the crust start to form.

Move covered dish to the oven and cook for an hour and a half.

Place an inverted plate on top of the pot and, using pot holders, flip the pot over allowing the Tah Chin to unmold on to the plate.

Unmolded perfectly

Slice like a cake to serve.

Serves 6-8

FINAL VERDICT: B

I really enjoyed this dish. It looks absolutely beautiful with the rich brown color on the outside and the vibrant yellow on the inside. The texture is also wonderful; crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

Dinner

I kept this recipe pretty basic, but I also saw some versions that called for the addition of sautéed onions with the kitchen and some that marinated the chicken in a yogurt sauce too. Next time I would definitely try one or both of those things to add more flavor, but overall this is a satisfying and comforting dish. This is also a dish that would be great if I was hosting people as the presentation is really dramatic.

BONUS RECIPE

I had some leftover yogurt and I’d recently heard about a savory Persian yogurt drink, Doogh, so I thought why not make a glass to enjoy with my Persian feast. I Googled for a recipe and used it to figure out the proportion of yogurt to seltzer and then just eyeballed the rest of it.

Doogh

  • 1 part yogurt
  • cumin to taste
  • dried mint to taste
  • honey to taste
  • 2 parts seltzer

Mix together yogurt, cumin, mint and honey. Top with seltzer. Stir. Serve Ice cold.

Make sure there’s plenty of room in your glass, the seltzer will fizz up when you stir it

This drink was delicious and so refreshing. Since I know this is supposed to be savory I went light on the honey and this was not at all sweet so it’s not for everyone, but for a savory gal like me it was perfect. As I said above, the Tah Chin would be a great dish to serve for a group and I’d love to serve a big pitcher of Doogh on the side. Maybe one of these days I’ll have to host a Persian party.

Yum Rhubarb!

For the last several weeks rhubarb has been back in full force at the Farmer’s Market. When you think of rhubarb you generally think of strawberries which is natural since strawberries and rhubarb are like the Khloe and Lamar of food-  just so darn good together! Rhubarb is, however, a vegetable and it works great in savory dishes too.

I found a recipe for braised chicken thighs with rhubarb over at chow.com. It looked great, but I decided to just use it as my inspiration and then heavily adapted it to my liking and it turned out great. I’d imagine this would work great with pork too so maybe next time I’ll give that a try.

Ideally this recipe would use shallots, but since I had a leek left over from my salmon soup I just used that. Other than that the only modification I’d make next time is to heavier on the black pepper for a little more zip.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Rhubarb

  • 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Cup dry red wine
  • I-2 Tablespoon of  honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1lb rhubarb, sliced in to about one inch pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper

Heat the oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear chicken thighs skin down until golden brown about 8 minutes, working in batches if necessary. Transfer the thighs to a plate.

Add the shallots, ginger, cinnamon and cloves, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the shallots soften, about 2-3 minutes.

Pour in the wine, juice, honey, and water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce the liquid by half.

Return the chicken pieces and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add raisins. Place the pot in the oven and cook for 40 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Remove from the oven, add the rhubarb pieces, cover, and return the pot to the oven until the rhubarb is fork tender, about 10 minutes more.

Remove chicken, discard skin and bones, shred meat and add back into sauce. 

Yields: 4-6 servings

Soul satisfying meal

ENJOY!

E is for… Ethiopia or Chicken Overboard

Tadiyass!

Ethiopian flag

On Monday, in preperation for my culinary journey to Ethiopia I visited  my butcher who told me had exactly 5 bone in skin on chicken thighs left. They weighed 1 3/4 pounds, but I figured that after cooking I would discard the skin and bones and probably end up with about 1.5 pounds, my desired amount, anyway so I took them all.

Last night I made my Dor W’at, Ethipoian chicken stew. I added the onions, butter, and spices just as the recipe I’d cobbled together instructed. When it came time to add the chicken, I unwrapped the butcher paper held it over the pot and plopped them in (with a minimum of splash) because space is at a premium in my kitchen and that is the easiest way to get things out of the way quickly. When I looked in the pot I noticed there were 4, not 5, chicken thighs, but I figured the butcher just counted wrong- no big.

Once the recipe was complete I was a little surprised by the ratio of sauce to chicken. Though I knew from my research that the consistency of the dish should be loose and soupy rather than thick and stew-like I was still a bit surprised, but it looked pretty and tasted yummy so I didn’t give it too much more thought and let the dish sit and cool on the stove top. Once the dish was cool I pack some for the next days lunch, put the lid on the pot, picked it up to move it to the fridge and what to my wondering eyes should appear behind the stove!? A big ol’ raw chicken thigh!

It must’ve fallen behind the pot when I dumped the chicken out of the butcher paper, duh! Argh, gross and wasteful! If you make this recipe try to make sure that all the chicken makes it in to the pot.

As I usually do with my international dishes, I found a few recipes on the internet and mixed them together to create a recipe that sounded best to me (though most of this one comes from Epicurious). I eliminated fenugreek from my recipe, though it seems to be an important spice in Ethiopian cooking it’s in the lentil family and I’m allergic to lentils, but otherwise I think this is  fairly authentic.

Doro W’at

  • 2 medium onions
  • Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, divided in half
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 – 2lbs bone in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Juice of 2 small limes
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled

Heat the onions and a pinch of salt over medium heat with a pinch of salt until onions begin to give off some liquid, approximately 5 minutes. Add half the butter and cook until onions have just begun to brown.

Add remaining butter, pepper, ground cloves, garlic, ginger, and berbere spice and cook about 10 minutes until the onions are nicely softened and coated with spices.

Add chicken thighs and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add wine. Bring back to a simmer and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Add lime juice and eggs and simmer gently for 5 minutes until eggs have heated through.

Remove chicken from pot. Remove and discard skin and bones and put meat back in sauce. Serve

Yields 4-6 servings

If this pot was see through you would see the raw chicken thigh lying behind it

FINAL VERDICT: A- 

Yum-eee! This recipe is so rich and flavorful and perfect for the drizzly overcast weather we’ve had her in New York this week. I would definitely call this a comfort dish and I will definitely make this again. I love spicy food so to me this dish had a nice kick, but wasn’t anywhere near my heat threshold. If you’re not a spicy fan you’ll find the kick more intense. 

There are very few things I’d change next time I make this, besides the whole, “get all the chicken in the pot,” thing. I used bone in, skin on thighs because they have more flavor however, I found there was a touch of oilyness to the sauce so next time I’ll remove the skin before adding the chicken to the pot. I’d also add more ginger, mostly because I love ginger and I’d like to make some Injera, Ethiopian bread, to go with this. 

So good on a rainy day

Melkam Megeb!