Weekly Winner:  Moroccan Magic -All on one sheet pan!

I don’t mind complicated, time-consuming recipes. If I know that the end result is going to be a meal with wonderful, complex flavors and textures I will gladly tend to a dish for however long it takes.  Sometimes, cooking really is a labor of love and a definite time commitment.  Having said all that, if I can throw some meat in a marinade for a few hours and then dump an entire meal on a sheet pan and walk away for a while and come back and be blown away with the results — sign me up!!  That’s what happened last night when hubby and I were transported to Morocco after only investing about 20 minutes of active prep time in the kitchen.

Our magic carpet to Morocco was Curried Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower, Apricots and Olives compliments of Fine Cooking magazine.  This dish has a ton going on flavor-wise and is an absolute breeze to prepare.  The spices in the chicken give it a definite kick but the sweetness of the apricots and the briny punch of the olives brought the whole dish together.  As easy as it was to make — it’s even easier to clean up!    This will definitely find its way into heavy rotation here during the busy fall and winter months.  To be honest, the recipe does call for 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro to be sprinkled on the dish before serving, but seriously folks, you know me…. that is not happening!

Curried Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower, Apricots and Olives

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs total)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

4 tsp curry powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets

3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained

1 cup pitted green olives, halved or quartered if large

1 large lemon, cut into 4 wedges

Procedure:

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken thighs with 2 Tbsp of the oil, the vinegar, 2 tsp of the curry powder, 1/2 tsp of the paprika, the cinnamon, cayenne, and 3/4 tsp salt, tossing to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or up to overnight.

Position rack in the center of oven and preheat oven to 450F degrees.  Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment.  On the pan, combine the cauliflower with the remaining 2 Tbsp oil, 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 3/4 tsp salt, tossing to coat.  Add the apricots and olives and spread in a single layer.

Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, fold them back into their original shape, and place them on top of the cauliflower, spaced evenly apart. (Discard any remaining marinade). Roast, rotating the pan halfway through until the cauliflower browns and the chicken cooks through (165F), about 35 minutes.

Remove chicken from the pan and toss the cauliflower mixture with the pan drippings.  Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

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Weekly Winner:  Just a Dang Good Salad that Satisfies

I guess I’ll have to come to terms with the fact that not all blog titles can be alliteratively clever.  Try as I might I could not come up with one for this salad.  But this salad does not need any gimmicks or clever nicknames.  Its fabulous all on its own.  It is pretty, it tastes good and it is surprisingly filling!  This is not the type of salad that you have for lunch and then an hour later feel like you need a snack — this one stays with you.  And the leftovers keep for a few days due to the hearty arugula and the relatively small amount of tangy, lemony dressing.   It’s also a salad that moves well into fall — thanks to the roasted cauliflower, it doesn’t feel too “summery” as the days start to (thankfully) cool off a bit.

I’m always amazed by people who can create these types of salad recipes.  Every component in the salad is vital and the dish would not be as good if you were to take out even one of the ingredients.  There’s really not much more to say about this dish except make it…soon.

I got the recipe from Fine Cooking.  Seriously, don’t change a thing!

Roasted Cauliflower and Arugula Salad with Sumac Dressing

Serves 4 as main course

Ingredients:

1 large head cauliflower (about 2-1/4 lb) trimmed and cut into 1-inch florets

5 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 tsp sumac

1 14.5 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

5 oz (5 cups) baby arugula

3 oz crumbled feta (1/2 cup)

1/3 cup dried currants

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Procedure:

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Toss the cauliflower with 2 Tbs. of the oil, the cumin, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper on the baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Roast until browned on the edges, stirring once halfway through cooking, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, sumac, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3 Tbs. oil. Add the cauliflower, chickpeas, arugula, feta, currants, and pine nuts and toss to combine.



Weekly Winner:  Terrifically Tangy Thai Turkey

I realize that the words “tangy” and “turkey” are probably best not used together.  It’s generally not a good thing, but stick with me here and you’ll understand.

First off I thought this would be a neat riff on one of my all time favorites, Dan Dan Noodles — only with rice. After all, Dan Dan has the pickled cucumber side and this has a fresh tomato salad on top.  Both have ground turkey and well…. OK so apparently that’s the end of the similarities there.  They are both excellent and while Dan Dan has always been a go-to dish for me, it now has serious competition!  This dish was far better and more complex tasting than its formal name would imply: One Pot Thai Turkey and Rice.  Yawn!  Then again, it actually got me to try the recipe so that’s saying something.  And trust me, you should try this recipe.

The turkey and rice mixture is very comforting and rich, thanks to the coconut milk that you cook the rice in.  The tomato salad topping is incredibly acidic and zesty and pungent thanks to the fish sauce and the large amount of lime juice.  Together, well…. its heaven.  Its one of those combinations that just beg you to over-eat.  Just one more bite.  Well… just a bit more.  You get the idea.

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart Living.  You will definitely want to make this soon, when the tomatoes are at their absolute peak.

One-Pot Thai Turkey and Rice

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 7 shallots, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 long sweet red peppers, thinly sliced (1/3 cup)
  • Coarse salt
  • 16 small tomatoes, cut into wedges (4 cups)
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, torn if large Not in my kitchen, just saying!

Procedure:

  1. Combine lime juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce, and brown sugar in a bowl; stir until sugar is dissolved, then stir in 1/2 cup shallots.

  2. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high. Add turkey, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1 3/4 cups shallots. Cook, stirring to break up turkey, until browned, about 9 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan.

  3. Add coconut milk, red peppers, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a simmer (do not let boil); cover. Lower heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

  4. Toss tomatoes and herbs with dressing in a large bowl; season with salt. Serve over rice, spooning dressing from bottom of bowl over top.

Weekly Winner:  Great Gobs of Garlicky Goodness

I have learned that when you introduce chicken, yogurt and garlic to a dinner party, wonderful things are bound to happen.  Chicken Tikka Masala, one of my favorites, starts with these three and when two of the three eventually find their way into a sauce for the third? Well that’s pure dinner magic.

I realize marinating chicken in yogurt is not new, but I still tend to be amazed at the results.  You just can’t beat it for tender, juicy, succulent chicken.  That’s just what happened when I decided to try out this recipe for Garlic-Curry Chicken Thighs with Yogurt Sauce which was delivered to my email inbox via Epicurious.

This is one of those meals that basically, once you get it marinating, your done.  It cooks itself without any fussing, turning or basting.  Just throw it in the oven and enjoy the garlicky-chickeny aroma which will waft through your house.

And yes, a final note to my mother, sister and whoever else may be concerned over the lack of vegetables on the plate.  There was a dinner salad that did not make it in the photo.

Garlic-Curry Chicken Thighs With Yogurt Sauce

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 head of garlic (about 12 cloves), peeled and finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp curry powder

2 cups plain Greek yogurt, divided

2-1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided

12 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Procedure:

  1. Mix garlic, curry powder, 1 cup yogurt, 2 tsp salt, and 1/4 cup water in a large bowl.  Working in batches, add chicken thighs and turn to coat, using your hands to rub marinade under skin of each thigh.  Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and chill at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
  2. Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 425F.  Transfer marinated chicken, skin side up, to a 13×9″ baking dish.  Roast chicken until skin is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165F, about 35 minutes.  If chicken skin starts to burn, move pan to a lower rack to finish cooking.
  3. Transfer chicken to a  serving platter, reserving the pan juices.  Whisk lemon juice, 1/4 cup pan juices, remaining 1 cup yogurt, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl.  If sauce is too thick, add more pan juices.  Serve sauce alongside chicken.

Weekly Winner: Easy-Breezy, Boozy, Beautiful Beef Bolognese


Ah, Beef Bolognese.  What more needs to be said? Without a doubt, it is one of my favorite labor-intensive, slow-cooked comfort foods.  Generally it is not for a weeknight dinner.  Until now.  Until one of my all time favorites, Ina Garten, came up with this Weeknight Bolognese.  I have to admit that I was skeptical.  I knew coming from Ina, that the pasta would be good. Beef, wine, pasta, cheese — how could any of this be bad?  But would it stand up to a true Bolognese??  There was only one way to find out.

First of all a word of warning:  You’d better be a fan of red wine if you try this dish!  It borders on downright boozy!  Because the sauce cooks rather quickly, the wine never really has a chance to cook out.  But don’t get me wrong — I liked it!  It was a great, complex, deep sauce without all the fuss and day-long  commitment.

Seriously, I think I’ve spent more time writing this post than I did making the dish!  So without further ado, here’s the recipe which comes from Food Network Magazine.  One note about the picture — you may notice two different types of pasta.  Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you decide to clean out the pantry and consolidate.  Don’t judge.  It worked.

Weeknight Bolognese

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra to cook the pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Procedure:
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.