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And yet another installment in Passover food: this was one of the main courses for the Passover holiday, and it turned out amazing! Easy to do, very tasty, and easy to digest – very important during Passover as the food tends to be very heavy.

And here I can link to Awesome Ashild‘s excellent, funny and useful blog¬†without guilt ūüôā

Ingredients

4 tbsp olive oil
6 Fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
4 chicken thighs and 6 chicken legs (or whatever fits in your baking pan)
4 tbsp brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, sliced in half lengthwise
salt and pepper to taste

Oil a large Pyrex with 2 tbsp oil. Layer half the fennel in the Pyrex. Layer the chicken pieces, skin downwards, on the fennel. Sprinkle the remaining olive oil, garlic and 3 tbsp brown sugar on the chicken. Cover with remaining fennel and cover with aluminium foil (if it sticks up above the Pyrex, don’t worry – fennel looses much of its volume in cooking). Bake for 2 hours at 200¬†¬įC in a preheated oven. Take out of the oven, move aside the fennel and turn over the chicken so that the skin is upwards. Baste the chicken with the liquid in the pan and sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp sugar, salt and pepper. Bake without covering an additional 30 minutes until browned. Eat, and don’t neglect the caramelized fennel in chicken stock, it’s excellent!

And it smells even better!

And it smells even better!

 

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My throat is killing me. Swallowing is mildly painful at best, shudderingly painful at worst.  But I’m somehow still hungry. We have schnitzels in the house, but the idea of eating something crunchy and deep-fried makes my body clench. On the other hand, I feel like crap, so this is not the time to take out the gourmet cookbook (I lost it ages ago anyway).

So I started with soup. (While my husband is very talented, soup is out of his league, unless it’s takeaway). I hit my first snag when I discovered I was out of my homemade frozen onion-carrot-celery mix. I hit my second when I discovered we had no frozen vegetable that could be helpful. I did get some hope when i discovered some raw chicken thighs. However, it would make pretty bland soup all alone. I continued searching and hit the jackpot: frozen fresh dill and  parsley,  and even a small bag of beef stock. Now we’re in business!

Clean out the freezer soup

Ingredients:

One chicken thigh and leg, raw
About two bunches dill
one bunch parsley
5 small carrots, peeled but not cut (you can skip peeling them.  Force of habit)
About 1/2 cup beef stock

Boil the chicken in a lot of water and skim the top until clear. Dump everything else in. Boil for 20 minutes (about). Taste. If not bland, sieve into a mug and drink. If bland, simmer more.
No picture, but trust me, it looks like clear broth  ūüôā

Microwave omelet

Break an egg into a small microwave safe dish. Add a splash of milk or water. Add a pinch salt. Mix with fork until yolk is blended. Cover with a plate or plastic lid (not plastic wrap). Cook in microwave on high for 30 seconds or until cooked.

image

It doesn’t look like much, but it’s quick and easy and i can swallow it. It even tastes pretty good! ūüėČ

Of course, the best option is to call your mother/neighbour/friend and ask them for soup, which is what I’m going to eat tomorrow – there’s nothing like your mother’s chicken soup ūüėÄ

Good health to all!

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Finally, the¬†holidays¬†are over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love inviting, and cooking, and visiting people I don’t see that often, and the excuse to be with extended family. But the problem of having three major holidays in one month is that by the end, you’re just dying for a bit of basic routine. And don’t even get me started on the how the kids act during two weeks at home.¬†Also, I tend to forget that I gave birth a few months ago, and still not sleeping more than 4 hours straight. My baby girl, who is sweet, strong and intelligent, absolutely¬†refuses¬†to take a bottle. My husband manages to feed her about 10 cc, but no one else can even get close. So the obvious solution of having my husband feed her during the night so I can actually sleep is out. I’m beginning to get an¬†attractive¬†zombie look, and when people see me the first thing they say is either, “Are you all right?” or “You look¬†exhausted”. Just boosts for my ego, every day ūüėē

Still, I enjoyed cooking. For Rosh Hashana the undoubted star was the lemon chicken with green rice. I usually don’t make this for Rosh Hashana as it is traditional to serve sweet foods (may you have a sweet year) but my husband asked for this, so I made it. Of course, he doesn’t touch the chicken. But he loves the rice ūüėČ This is a one pot meal, where rice loaded with fresh herbs is placed at the bottom of a sauteuse pan, chicken pieces are arranged on top, and covered with herbs and preserved lemons. This is all cooked until chicken is done. The results are fragrant and delicious.

I made preserved lemons once, but I use them only for this dish and it wasn’t worth it. So what I do now is use pseudo preserved lemons: Lemons sliced and de-seeded (but with the peel)¬†saut√©ed¬†in olive oil and salt until tender. This gives the preserved lemon taste without waiting for three weeks or buying special ingredients. You can also make extra¬†and¬†add to salads or sauces.

Chicken with green rice and preserved lemons

Based on the recipe from Derech HaOchel (Food’s Way)

“Preserved” Lemons

One lemon, sliced thinly with the peel, de-seeded
1-2 tbsp Olive oil
1-2 tsp of salt

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté lemon and salt on medium heat until lemon is wilted and tender. When tasting, lemon should be salty and mildly sour, with no bitterness. If bitter or extremely sour, add more salt and sauté another few minutes.

“Preserved” lemons

The dish

1 1/2 cups long grain rice (I use classic Persian rice)
1 onion
1/4 bunch each of parsley, coriander, spearmint (nana in hebrew) and dill
1 carrot
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper or to taste
1 cup water
3 chicken legs and thighs, without the skin (I use TevaOf, chickens without antibiotics and fed vegetarian food)
4 tbsp preserved lemon, diced or one “preserved” lemon, sliced
about 6 garlic cloves, minced.

Mince onion, carrot and herbs in a food processor.

Minced herbs

Put 3 tbsp aside. Mix the rest with rice, oil and salt and pepper. Place in a sauteuse, leveling the rice. Pour water on rice. On top arrange the chicken pieces in one layer.

Chicken on rice

Mix preserved lemons with remaining herbs and garlic. Cover the chicken pieces with preserved lemon mixture.

Before cooking

Cover and cook on a low fire for 1 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked.

The result – divine!

After cooking

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Lately we’ve had guests for at least one meal every weekend. So I’ve been making more chicken than usual. When we don’t have guests I rarely do it as my husband doesn’t like chicken. He likes chicken breast or schnitzel, but not chicken as is. Odd, isn’t it?

Anyway, as I’ve been doing more chicken lately leftovers are more of a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I like chicken. I just don’t like it the same way every day. On the other hand, making something new when I’ve got perfectly good chicken in the fridge is a bit pointless as well. So this time I made sauce with the chicken, and ate it over pasta. It turned out delectable.

I didn’t photograph it as my baby grew pretty insistent that she wanted to eat as well, so I didn’t have time to savour it properly, and even less time to photograph. But it’s still worth remembering.

The base for the sauce was the chicken gravy and tomatoes. As I’ve already mentioned, a delectable tomato sauce can be made pretty easily in the microwave.¬†Adding¬†the¬†chicken gravy to it made it richer and smoother. I removed fat from the gravy before using it, so it wasn’t too fat, either ūüôā¬†To top it off, I added chopped leftover chicken and chopped leftover grilled fennel, and some dried basil. ¬†The result was a rich sauce with a surprising depth of flavor¬†because¬†of the chicken and fennel.

Definitely something to remember.

Ingredients:

One quarter chicken, cooked
Chicken gravy
About 15 large cherry tomatoes, halved if large
About 1 1/2 chopped grilled fennels
Dried basil to taste
One portion pasta (or rice, couscous, burgul, whatever)

Put the tomatoes in a microwave safe dish. Cook on high for 3 minutes. If tomatoes remain whole, crush them until they pop (carefully! it sprays!) and cook on high for another minute. Add chicken gravy and chicken, fennel and basil. Cook on high for another two minutes. If using pasta, add to sauce and cook for another minute on high or until pasta is warm. Otherwise serve over rice or couscous (or whatever).

Bon Apetit!

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Obviously, if I’m reading Nora Roberts books at the rate of one a day, and taking care of all my kids in the summer vacation (G-d bless my husband, who takes part or all of¬†them¬†and arranges all kinds of projects. Otherwise I would already be nuts by now), I don’t have much time for cooking. But before all the kids were here, I had a hankering to do something special with leftover chicken. I wanted something with dough, as well. So I chose chicken pockets.

I admit, I debated with myself a bit on this one. On the one hand, I really felt like making something interesting and special with dough and chicken. On the other hand, time is limited, and the recipe stated that it took an hour. And¬†the¬†first time you make a recipe it always takes longer than you expect. In the end I went for it. ūüôā

I based on this recipe (Hebrew). The dough turned out delectable, and so easy to make. I completely changed the filling to fit my leftover chicken, and did the simplest filling I could think of to save time and effort. Also, I made only half the amount.

Leftover Chicken Pockets

Dough:

75 gr spelt flour (or all purpose)
75 gr all purpose flour
100 ml boiling water
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tbsp cornflour

Filling:

chicken from a quarter chicken, cooked and cubed
two handfuls olives, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 egg
Dried oregano to taste

Dipping sauce (optional):

2 tbsp rice vinegar
Dried chilli
Soy sauce to taste

 

To make the dough:

Sift the flour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with bread hooks, add the boiling water and mix on low. Add the oil and mix again. Add the cornflour and knead for 5 minutes. (See? Easy!) Put more cornflour on your workspace and make a fat sausage from the dough. Cut dough into 10 equal parts. Roll each part into a circle.

To make the filling:

Mix all the ingredients.

Putting it together:

Put one tbsp of filling in the center of each circle. With an egg brush, put water on the edge of half a circle. Fold the circle in half, using the water as “glue”.

Before frying

 

Fry each pocket for ~5 minutes on both sides or until brown. It is also possible to steam them for 7-8 minutes instead. Eat with dipping sauce of your choice (I ate without, it was good!).

5 pockets before eating

Bon Apetit!

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As usual, by the end of the week we’re left with a bit of this and a bit of that in the fridge. One of the things we had were grilled chicken breasts that had dried out a bit in the fridge. They were still soft enough to cut with a knife, but not pleasant to eat as is. So I decided to cook them in a sauce, and serve over pasta.

Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 small onion
1 tsp minced garlic
5-6 champignon mushrooms, sliced
About 1/2 cup cooked green beans
3 small cooked chicken breasts, sliced thinly so they absorb liquid efficiently
One cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
About 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, or to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp spelt flour or other flour, for thickening

(I told my husband that he was lucky I made apricot jam the day before, other we would have had apricots in the sauce as well ūüėČ )

Heat olive oil. Fry onion until translucent, add garlic and continue frying til fragrant. Add mushrooms, cook until browned. Add chicken, green beans, ginger, stock and soy sauce. Cook for 5-10 minutes on a low fire, so chicken absorbs some liquid. If there isn’t enough liquid, add water or white wine. Add flour and mix. Cook for 2-3 minutes more or until thickened. If not thick enough, add more flour. Serve over pasta.

My mom dropped by to pick something up and said the scent was overpowering, even outside the building, and said (hint, hint, wink, wink) that she wasn’t in a hurry and that my father was out of town for dinner. So we invited her for dinner as ¬†well ūüôā By the time I thought to photograph the excellent sauce, only this was left:

Umm… Mushroom Chicken Sauce?

ūüėÜ ūüėÜ ūüėÜ

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I wanted something quick and relatively healthy for dinner. I had leftover chicken breast and some vegetables that needed using up. So I decide on a salad with chicken cubes. However, I like salads of this type with thousand island dressing. I didn’t have any, and no patience to begin making real thousand island dressing . So I tried to find something similar enough to thousand island without, you know, bothering too much. I googled “quick thousand island recipe” and predictably, the first try was a recipe that indeed was quick, but needed a bunch of stuff I didn’t have or even know what they were¬†(query: does any one know what sweet pickle relish is? All the thousand island recipes I saw had it). And the more serious problem was, that at the end it specified “refrigerate for a few hours until sugar is dissolved”.

This is NOT quick.

In the end I found¬†¬†this recipe. ¬†The result was spectacular! (It came out a bit too much dressing, but really, I don’t mind ūüôā )

Salad: (serves 1)

1 grilled chicken breast, cubed
1 mini-cucumber, cubed
4 cherry tomatoes
half a grilled squash, cubed
1 large fresh mushroom, cubed
Anything else you have in mind ūüėČ

Mix everything together.

Pseudo Thousand Island dressing:

1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
squirt ketchup
splash balsamic vinegar
1 drop tabasco (or to taste)

Mix everything together. Taste and add tabasco/vinegar/ketchup if necessary. Pour over salad and serve.

Chicken salad with pseudo thousand island

Yum!

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Easy Tasty Chicken and Couscous

Some time ago, I planned to make chicken and chicken soup. For this purpose I bought chicken pieces. I didn’t make it in the end and I froze the chicken. Usually I freeze the wings and neck (for soup) separately from the rest, but this time I planned on chicken and soup next weekend. In the end I needed only wings and neck for chicken soup, and I was stuck. Everything was frozen together. I also needed to make meat and cake and a bunch of other stuff. What to do? My family, as you may have gathered, aren’t crazy about chicken. Schnitzels, yes. Soup, yes. Otherwise, no. I make chicken for myself for meals during the week or when we have guests that I know will like chicken. In this case the guests were my parents in law and my sister in law and family, and out of all these only my MIL and me like chicken. Also, I had no time to do anything fancy.

At this point inspiration struck as I remembered my mother’s “Spanish chicken”. I doubt it was Spanish. It was the only chicken my mother made on the stove top and it was great. However, I didn’t want stove top. I wanted minimum of fuss. So I came up with this chicken. It was a great success, my toddler ate some (!) because of the olives, my MIL ate some in spite of the olives, I brought some to a friend who’d recently given birth, and the rest I put in the freezer. Yesterday I took out the serving that was left and had it over instant couscous. It was amazing and I’m sooo going to make this again…

Ingredients:
1 onion, cubed (not minced, or small cubes. 2×2 cm about).
1 red pepper, cubed (same size)
50-100 gr tomato paste (I had an open box, otherwise I would use 100 gr)
about 1/2 cup sliced olives, or to taste
1 chicken, cut in pieces (I did without the wings and neck, but you can do with, of course)
about 1/2 cup white wine
water
dried oregano, basil, whatever you lioke.

Put onion and red pepper in deep dish. Arrange chicken on top. Cover with olives. Add wine to cover the bottom of the dish. Mix tomato paste with 1 cup water and pour over chicken. Sprinkle dried oregano and basil on top. Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 200 C for 1 hour or until juices run clear.

Yum!

Yum!

Couscous on FoodistaCouscous

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The last week was, on the one hand, very difficult. My husband was on reserve duty, so I had to take care of the kids – get them ready in the morning, bring them both to their daycare, work, pick them both up, play with them and put them in bed. In addition, there were all the arrangements for Rosh Hashana – planning, shopping and cooking. We invited both my parents and my husband’s parents for the first evening, and in the tradition of my family, I planned enough food for twice as much people. I very quickly got tired and I certainly wasn’t getting enough sleep.

On the other hand, the last week made me realize very strongly how much I have to be thankful for. I received help unstintingly from my parents (who came to help me with the kids in the afternoon) and my husband’s parents (both in shopping and help with the kids) and my sister-in-law (help with the kids). Even my brother dropped by (from out-of-town) to say hallo and play with the kids a bit. I overdid things a bit on Wednesday with trying to juggle my studies, an important meeting at work,shopping, playing with the kids, and cooking until 1:00 and I understandably felt bad on Thursday. Everyone offered to help¬† – with cooking, with the kids, with the doctor, you name it.

When my husband came back Thursday evening, seeing him feed the baby a bottle with one hand and cuddle the toddler with another – still in his uniform – my cup of happiness was full.

I am truly blessed.

*                **                **                **                *

The Rosh Hashana dinner also went well, with everyone having something they liked and everyone enjoying themselves. I also incorporated one of my resolutions: more vegetables. So in addition to the one cooked vegetable dish I always serve – in this case, green beans and peppers in soy sauce – I added a vegetable kugel of my mother’s and 3 salads: regular, cabbage and beetroot. Of course there was chicken soup, which I also make with a lot of vegetables because I don’t use soup powder. The main dishes were beef in wine and chicken in honey and ginger (which was a great hit). I also had rice and potatoes as side dishes.For dessert, I made a marble cake and an apple tart, and my father-in-law brought fruit.

As you can see, there was certainly enough food!

I stopped using soup powder when my toddler began eating table foods. I am not actually sure why, but we were told not to give the baby MSG until he was at least one year old. On the other hand, soups are highly recommended for babies. So… I tried to do without. I was surprised at how easy it was. The concept is simple: use a lot of vegetables, especially celery, onion and carrots. and most important – let it cook uncovered until it becomes concentrated enough to be tasty. A nice addition is some salt and/or various soup spices. Since I discovered how good it tastes without soup powder, I simply stopped using it altogether. (Even though I still use kneidl from a mix, and various ready foods that include MSG. However, our consumption of MSG has certainly plummeted.)

I also freeze any leftover stock I have and I add it if necessary instead of soup powder.

For onion soup powder it was a little more difficult. The chicken in honey and ginger called for 1 tbsp of onion soup powder. What to do? I browsed the Internet a bit and found the recommendation was onion flakes, garlic powder and salt and pepper. I accordingly went in search of onion flakes and garlic powder. What I discovered is that garlic powder looks and smells like white sand – not in the least appetizing. And the only onion flakes I found cost 20 NIS for an itty bitty box. Of onions.

So instead of that, I minced onion finely in the food processor. I removed everything but a few tablespoons and froze it for later. (I intended to add minced garlic, but I forgot). Then I added all the other ingredients of the sauce, using less honey than recommended because I always find it too sweet. I tasted before pouring over the chicken to make sure that it was sweet enough, I though it was sweet and just spicy enough. I found out that after cooking, the ginger mellows, so next time I’ll put a tad more ginger. However, it turned out great and was undoubtedly the surprise hit of the evening!

Ingredients:

1 chicken, cut into pieces, or other pieces as you like (I used 3 thighs and one white, we don’t eat chicken wings so much and I make soup with them)
2 tbsp mustard (I use Dijon)
3-4 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger (I will use more next time)
8 tbsp soy sauce
water if necessary

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Mix all sauce ingredients together. Taste and fix seasoning if necessary. Arrange chicken pieces in glass dish with high sides. Pour sauce over chicken, adding water if necessary so that all pieces are covered (or almost). Cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 50 minutes, turning the chicken in the sauce every 20 minutes so that the entire piece gets the taste of the sauce/ If you wish, remove the aluminium foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking so that the chicken is browned. (I didn’t do this because I removed the skin from the chicken and I was afraid it would get dry if I baked it without foil). Chicken is ready when you prick with a fork and juices aren’t pink (yellow or clear).

You can halve the liquid sauce ingredients and you will have something more similar to a gravy. Or you can thicken the sauce afterwords with a bit of flour if you like (I didn’t. I like lots of sauce so that the food keeps well on the Shabbat hot plate).

Bon Apetit! And may you all have a sweet and happy year, filled with blessings and nachat.

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Quick Lunch

Today I made lunch for my mom, my son and myself in less than half an hour. The menu: Spiced chicken breast, orzo, and green peas.

A few words about orzo: I was quite surprised to discover that orzo isn’t well known all over the world. Also known as “Israeli couscous”, it’s tasty, versatile, and best of all unbelievably quick to prepare, making it a great side dish for quick main dishes such as chicken breast, steak, fish etc.

Basic Orzo

Ingredients (2 servings)
1 cup orzo
1 cup boiling water
vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a non-stick pot (such as you would use for rice). Add orzo and mix until orzo is coated in oil. Add boiling water and salt. Mix. Lower fire to medium-low,  cover, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

I usually fry some onion (regular or green) in the oil before adding the orzo and proceed as in the recipe. Other great additions: any frozen vegetable such as peas or peas and carrots; cubed bell peppers; cubed tomatoes. If using frozen vegetables make sure that they are almost cooked before adding the orzo as the orzo only cooks around 5 minutes – not enough for large frozen vegetables such as broccoli.

Spiced Chicken Breast

Ingredients for 2-3 servings

3-6 boneless chicken breasts, pounded
dash balsamic vinegar
1 tsp flour
1/2 cup water + 1 tbsp water
2-3 tablespoons of sweet paprika
2-3 tablespoons curry
oil for frying

Heat the oil in a non stick pan. Place chicken breast in pan, sprinkle half the spices and immediately turn over and sprinkle spices on other side as well. fry until chicken is nearly cooked (3-5 minutes) or until spices look as if they’re going to burn, whichever comes first (depends on chicken breast thickness). Add 1/2 cup water and vinegar, and mix spices in. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix flour and 1 tbsp water in a separate cup, and add to sauce, mixing well. Sauce should thicken very quickly into a gravy. Remove from heat.

Note: Instead of the water+ balsamic vinegar, you can use white wine.

Frozen Peas in the Microwave

Place peas in a microwave safe dish with a lid (I use pyrex). Add some soy sauce ( about 1-2 tbsp, depending on the amount of peas) and some water (about the same amount as the soy sauce). Place in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. Mix, taste and put back in microwave if necessary, 1 minute at a time. For amounts, refer to the microwave directions on your frozen peas package.

With a bit of planning and juggling, you can make all these at once, and you have a quick and very tasty meal.

Bon Appetit!

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