Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

dry ingredients

I used to hate chicken, but not too long ago I realized the true beauty of perfectly roasted, moist dark meat with an oven crisped skin. I think I got used to going out and having dry, dull, under seasoned, boneless, skinless chicken breast. I know there are reasons for eating white meat – and congrats to all of those out there who put up with it for the sake of health. But I can’t do it. It’s sooooo boring! So, I go for the dark meat only –  always bone-in, skin-on thighs. The best part of the bird.

I also love hearty, chunky, herbacious comdiments for any meat – chimichurri, gremolata, variations of persillade – so on and so forth. Lucky for this recipe, chicken just happens to lend itself very well to all of these.

It’s important to note that when added before cooking, the flavor of your condiment will mellow out pretty significantly in the cooking process. In this particular recipe, that’s exactly what you want.

Barely a Gremolata

  • 1/2 bunch parsley (preferably flat leaf)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3-4 medium sized garlic cloves
  • 3.5 Tablespoons capers
  • 1.5 Tablespoons chopped green olives, or prepared tapenade
  • 2 anchovy fillet, very small dice
  • 1 teaspoon chili flake
  • pinch of dried thyme (app. tiny palmful)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • splash of white wine
  • dried oregano, reserved
  • extra pinch dried red chili flakes, reserved
  • salt and pepper

Pulse all the items, except olive oil, reserved oregano, chili and the salt and pepper together in a food processor. Once all the ingredients have been coarsely chopped and fairly well mixed, (about 5 pulses) slowly add extra virgin olive oil and continue pulsing to blend. The consistency should be fairly coarse and oily, similar to a chimichurri or Italian salsa verde. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Next, pack a ceramic or glass baking dish with a well buttered bottom tightly with 4 skin-on chicken thighs and 3-4 quartered red potatoes. Be sure to very lightly salt and pepper both sides of the chicken, salt and pepper the potatoes. Lightly sprinkle everything with the reserved pinch of dried oregano and chili flakes. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Next, pour the contents of the food processor over the top of the chicken and potatoes, distributing evenly and making sure it covers everything. Let marinate for up to 2 hours.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Once marinated, add 5 or so small pats of room temperature butter directly on top of the potatoes and chicken, cover baking dish with tin foil and slide into a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

Check every 10 minutes or so and, using a baster or large spoon, redistribute the melted butter and juices that will accumulate on the bottom of the dish. After 20-25 minutes, remove the foil and replace the uncovered dish in the oven to start browning the skin.

Check their doneness with a meat thermometer, or just cut a small slit into one thigh to check. If using a thermometer, it should be around 165. The higher the temp, the dryer the meat will be.

While you’re waiting for your chicken to cook, make a quick salad that will compliment the flavors of the chicken.

Super Simple Dressing

  • Fresh lemon juice (use the lemons you just zested)
  • Olive oil
  • Whole grain brown mustard
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Use an basic ratio of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part mustard, 1/2 part lemon juice, adjusting to taste. Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste and whisk if mixing in a bowl or shake furiously if mixing in a jar or bottle (my preference).

(Note: If you’re not doing it already, save your small jars from jam and whatnot or your small glass bottles with a top from products like Strauss Family Creamery heavy cream. They make fantastic dressing bottles to mix and store. Also, places like Big Lots and 99cent stores are great. I got a package of picnic ketchup and mustard bottles for $1 and I use them all the time for homemade condiments of all kinds.)

Toss together a mix of torn lettuces, any mixed salad greens you have around. Thinly slice some carrots and radishes. Toss together with the greens and have ready to dress when chicken is done.

Plate the juicy chicken with the potatoes and a side salad and enjoy!

(oh, ps: Use any leftovers for a fantastic chicken sandwich! Mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, some greens and left over salad veggies for a crunch. Pull the chicken and skin right off the bone and mix it all up together. Serve between 2 slices of buttered, mayo-ed toasted bread and left over potatoes on the side.)

Gluten-Free (Flourless!) Salted Choloclate Peanut Butter Cookies!

If someone tells you “you get used to being gluten free” they’re either lying or they’re so hungry they’re delusional. Sure, it gets easier and you get used to learning how to eat – but you never really stop wanting that chewy, crunchy, crusty, crispy, doughy texture of true gluten filled products. Sandwiches, pizza, bagels, pasta; I want it all! There are some decent gluten free breads out there (Mariposa Bakery, I thank you) , but left untoasted, the majority of them are just so dry it’s not even worth it.

And dessert? Well that’s the worst! It didn’t matter to much until recently when I developed a sweet tooth. I always prefer ice cream to anything else, but if that’s not available I want something lovely, fresh, and beautiful to share with my other half. Too bad, forget about it. Summer berry tart? No way. Mmmm blackberry pie? I don’t think so. A cookie from one of those gorgeous new bakeries that keeps opening? They’re beautiful, but never ever, ever. Fairly often, here in the Bay Area, there will be a wacky cupcake shop or dessert bar that will offer gluten free options – but it’s usually grainy, chalky, pasty and just not worth it at all.

Finally, though – I think I figured it out!

donecookies

And, coming from one who is not a super baker – they’re so simple!

I use half almond butter/half peanut butter in this recipe, but it’s a fairly flexible recipe. You can use all almond butter, all peanut butter….heck — you can probably use half cashew and half macadamia nut butters if you really want. Or all of one. Or a mix. Get crazy if you want – just stick to nut butters, and keep the ratios the same.

Gluten-Free Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • handful of chocolate chips (app. 30 or so)
  • Super coarse sea salt or a lovely finishing salt for sprinkling (suggested: cypress black salt for great texture and it’s so pretty!)cypress salt

Mix it all (except salt and chocolate chips) togetherdough

Spoon small amounts onto a Silpat or waxpaper lined baking sheet, and sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of salt and press 2-3 chocolate chips into the center.editedcookies

Bake at 350 for approximately 10 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the center is just set, making sure to turn the tray half way through.

Tips

❧ You MUST let these guys cool well before taking them off the tray.

❧ I strongly recommend using a silpat for these cookies; because they are flourless,       they can tend to be a little delicate and any stickiness can tear them apart.

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to enjoy them! (Ice cream on top, anyone????)

 

 

 

Summer Berry Jam, Quick

blackberries

Mmmm! It’s summertime, and that means berries! Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, golden raspberries, blueberries – even plums and cherries are gettin’ their business done. So what does this mean? Either stains on your shirt from eating them while sitting in the  sun, juice lusciously dripping down – or jam!

finishedjars

Traditionally we think of jam as this long, outrageous process that our grandmothers  spent all of Sunday doing while darning their husbands socks and making fudge. The truth is, it doesn’t really have to be that way. You can do it with really minimal ingredients, no pectin and in about an hour.

You don’t have to properly can this (or “put it up” as they say) if you will use it within 3 weeks or so. Instead, just let the jam cool completely after boiling it, put it in a container (glass is best) and refrigerate it.

If you are canning it make sure to have your jars, lids and rings prepared and ready, and get your water bath going so it’s all ready when the jam is done; it will make the whole process move much more quickly.

For approximately 2 pints of jam, you will need:

  • 2.5 lbs of fruit (whatever mix or single variety you desire; first time, I recommend strawberry for greatest simplicity)
  • app. 3 cups of sugar, added 1/4 cup at a time, tasting along the way
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • jars, lids and bands (or some preferably glass holder, if not canning) to hold the finished product
  • a ladle
  • a spoon in the freezer (trust me, you’ll see why)

 

  1. Start by washing your fruit well and hulling you strawberries, stemming your grapes, etc.
  2. Any larger fruits (the size of a small strawberry) cut into quarters, smaller, cut into halves, anything as small as a blueberry or raspberry leave whole. Feel free to use a food processor for this, unless you are using grapes (it messes with the skin). Cut all grapes into halves and quarters.
  3. Plop the fruit into a heavy bottomed pot – preferably a dutch oven, or at least something short and stout – at turn the heat on medium-high. I like to smash the fruit immediately with a potato masher or fork, just a little bit, to help get the juices flowing.
  4. Once the fruit gets juicy and starts to heat, start adding the sugar and stir often to make sure the sugar and fruit doesn’t burn.  cookingjam
  5. Add the lemon once the fruit is nice and juicy and begins to boil, and still continue to stir often.
  6. Continue to stir, letting it boil and reduce for 15-20 minutes (some fruits take longer, some take less). To check to see when it’s done, you can do the spoon test:

Use the cold spoon that you have in the freezer and put a tiny dollop of jam on               the spoon and stick it back in the freezer for a minute until the jam cools a bit and then use your finger to wipe a stripe down the middle. If it doesn’t run, it’s good to go. Take it off the heat and get ready to can it up. If runs, continue to boil and reduce, and try the spoon test again in 5 minutes or so.

 Though I don’t strongly recommend it, if you do have any troubles with getting it thick and gooey enough, you can use:

  • cream of tartar
  • arrowroot
  • cornstarch

*note: if you use any of these, use very little and dissolve in water first (make a “slurry”), otherwise you will have lumps and it won’t do it’s job, it’ll just be a weird mess.

Once it’s thick to your liking, it’s ready to jar. If you’re not going to can it, let it cool and put it away in the fridge. If you are going to can it, make sure you have your water bath boiling, your jars, lids and rings hot. Fill the hot jars with the hot jam, wipe the rims clean with a paper towel, secure the lids and rings and get them in that water bath, lid side up, fully submerged.boilingjars

Once the water is back up to a serious rolling boil, process for 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the jar, remove, and leave to cool on a towel for 12 hours.

And you’re ready to enjoy! (I like mine on toast with peanut butter…mmmmmm…..)

toastandjam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Crescent Rolls: The Best Way To Clean Out Your Fridge

doneplated

Usually this would be offered to you with a recipe for the most beautiful crescent roll dough, especially with my new Kitchenaid in tow. However, I recently ended up with a tube of one of those pre-made pop-open crescent roll tubes – and a fridge full of food.

We all know homemade is better, but we also sometimes have to admit – those pop-open canister crescent rolls are mighty tasty (and so fun to open!). Definitely good enough on their own, they’re also awesome with some chicken, dipped in soup, or like a friend made – as a topping for savory meat pie.  But with a fridge full of cheese, meat, veggies and the tiniest bit of left over fruit – I figured, “how about stuffing them?”

And so, after tearing through the fridge, pulling out most of what was in there and staring at it, I put together the following fillings and combinations: (in no particular order)

1. rasberries (with a pinch of sugar on the dough)

2. salami, fresh mozzarella, a tiny dose of the best horseradish mustard around

3. roasted red beets, black pepper, and Cypress Grove fresh goat cheese

4. roasted potatoes and the remnants of some red pepper and eggplant spread

5. roasted mushrooms and Taleggio cheese (with the tiniest brush of truffle butter on the crust)

6. roasted broccoli and Beemster mild cheddar

7. fresh mozzarella and last night’s anchovy pizza sauce

8. roasted jalapenos and smoked gouda

Roasting all the veggies before putting them in the rolls really makes a difference; because the crescent rolls don’t cook for more than 7-ish minutes, any vegetables inside will stay mostly raw. Raw potatoes, raw jalapenos, raw beets (certainly no good)– the mushrooms and broccoli could work raw, but I recommend making them better by roasting.

You will need:

  • 1 canister pre-made crescent rolls
  • a few veggies from your fridge (anything you have laying around)
  • fresh berries (anything you have laying around)
  • a few tablespoons of a few different cheeses
  • a few slices of tasty meat: salami, prosciutto, ham
  • one egg

To roast the vegetables:

  1. pre-heat your oven to 425
  2. clean and dice each 1/2 beet, 1/2 potato (or anything you are using) very small; clean any cauliflower or broccoli into 4-5 tiny florets; quarter 3-4 mushrooms; half 1 jalapeno down the middle and pull as many seeds out as possible
  3. leaving out red beets, toss and coat all veggies together with olive oil, salt and pepper; toss beets with olive oil, salt and pepper separately to keep from bleeding onto the others
  4. spread veggies evenly onto a sheet tray and roast until slightly browned and cooked through
  5. if some veggies cook first, take them off of the sheet tray and begin cooling

Once the jalapeno is done, try to peel it as best as possible, get the seeds out and very finely chop it:

jalapenoschopped

Once each of the veggies are done, turn the oven down to 375.

While the oven cools, make sure you have all your fillings (berries are cleaned and raw) out and ready and have laid out your little triangles of dough like so:

unrolledunfilled

Now, you can go ahead and start putting the filling on top of the triangles, taking care not to be too generous, as it will squish out the sides as it bakes.

unrolledfilledbetter

Next, roll them up gently and set them aside for a quick second.

Separate one egg, discard the white and use a fork to lightly scramble the yolk.

Finishing Touches

Use a pastry brush to put a thin coat of egg yolk on both sides of each roll (unless you are using any flavored butter, in which case see below).

If using any butter, melt it gently just enough to be able to brush it on, but not enough for it to be hot, and brush it on in place of the egg wash.

Sprinkle the top of the berry roll with a pinch of sugar, and the beets/goat cheese with a pinch of black pepper, the mozzarella and pizza sauce with a pinch of crushed red pepper.

rolleduncooked

Place the rolls gently on a baking sheet (I recommend using a Silpat or parchment paper beneath for easy clean up if the cheese or anything else melts out) and get them in the oven, baking until golden brown.

donerollsunplated

Let cool to the bite and dive in!

Search through your own fridge and see what you can find to fill a few rolls – I guarantee you’ll find plenty of treats and combinations to play with!

halfeaten

 Have fun and enjoy!

Snacks! Veggie, Cheesy, Pickled, Salty. Snacks!

I love snacks! And I think most of us out there do, too. The great thing about a well designed snack is you can use it as an appetizer, amuse bouche, small plate etc. for guests or a dinner party. This is a great example of one of those eat-at-home-alone or dress-it-up-for-guests snacks.

Ricotta and Radish on Crackers

IMG_0068

I can’t stop eating it, no joke. This little bite makes me want to put ricotta on everything, and everything on top of ricotta. I’ve gone through pints of the mild, creamy cheese in the last week just in order to combine it with anything I can find hoping to make it as unbelievable as it is with cracker, radish, salt and pepper.

It’s crazy easy, but it will blow your mind – and the mind of anyone you share it with. All you need to have is a thin, crisp but sturdy cracker, fresh creamy ricotta, and some thinly sliced radishes and a little salt and pepper, too, of course.

Or, for a little extra pizazz, omit the salt and sub the fresh radishes for some delish pickled ones:

radishandricottagoodsize

Shameless plug coming…… (contact me at KitchenEclectic@gmail.com    for pickle orders)

It’s a tasty trick for left overs, too. Last night’s salad of spinach, walnut, and cucumbers last was out of this world on top of ricotta crackers this afternoon.

And don’t forget to try your hand at your own ricotta – takes no time at all. A few minutes of work, 2 hours of sitting around doing nothing. Courtesy of me: Homemade Ricotta.

What else can you top ricotta and crackers with? Salted carrots? Beets? Enjoy a snack and let me know!