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Moroccan Chicken Thighs

I’ve been making this dish for several years and I never get tired of it. The combination of the sweet sauce, warm spices and salty olives is addictive. It’s fast to make and leftovers are just as good the next day. If you don’t devour it all… which I usually do.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut to bite size pieces
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup quartered dried apricots figs (about 2 ounces)
  • ¼ cup chopped green olives
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons dry Marsala or Madeira
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. To finish sprinkle with a little more cilantro.

Serve over a bed of couscous.

Serves 4.

Spotlight Montréal: L’Express (Chicken with Mustard Sauce)

L’Express

location: 3927 rue St-Denis, Montréal, QC

Any restaurant that begins a meal with cornichons, dijon mustard & bread is made for me. L’Express is a well-known Parisian-style bistro and needs no introductions for lucky Montréalers. It’s been nearly a year since I stumbled upon this gem. If you aren’t looking for it… you will stroll right by without noticing the only marking of its location: its name spelled subtly in white tiles on the sidewalk.

I’ve dined here on every trip to Montréal… and I will be back for round 3 this summer. My first experience was a gorgeous lobster risotto. This last trip I chose a chicken with mustard sauce. I could go on for quite sometime about the perfect sauce… rich and creamy with the perfect amount of lemon. However, I was equally impressed with the preparation of the vegetables: a melee of haricots verts, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and French black olives.

L’Express… I miss you. You are hands down my favorite place to enjoy a meal in Montréal. I love that your plates lack fancy garnishes and are full of only beautifully classic and simple French food. I will see you soon.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Coat an oven safe skillet with a little olive oil and place over med/hi heat until hot.
Add chicken skin side down and cook for 3 minutes per side (ending with skin side up). Place skillet in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside to keep warm.

Drain most of the chicken fat from the skillet. Add the butter, shallot and garlic. Season with salt & pepper and saute until translucent.

Add wine or broth to skillet, deglaze by scraping particles that cling to bottom.

Combine flour and 1/2 cup cream, stirring until smooth; add to skillet. Stir in mustard. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Serve chicken with sauce.

Chicken, Shrimp & Chorizo Paella

This was my first time to make real Paella. My dad started making Paella last year and for Christmas I gave him a proper Paella pan, golden saffron and 2 Spanish chorizo links. It was the real deal gift. Then the Paella pan I ordered arrived and it was barely big enough to stir the rice. Oh well – it was still a creative gift for someone who really wants underwear and socks.

A few weeks ago I lucked into the estate sale of my dreams! I scored French crêpe pans, French copper, and ebelskiver pan (thrilled about this find) and a huge Paella pan made in Italy. I passed the pan on to my dad and he invited me up to make Paella last weekend. We didn’t go all out with mussels and seafood – but this Paella was delicious and the true Spanish Chorizo (can be found at Central Market) was incredible and just oozed of orange paprika.

If you don’t have a paella pan – use a nonstick skillet or a wok!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into pieces (skin on) and marinated in spice mixture (see below)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped OR 1 can 14 ounce whole tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 cups Spanish rice, short to medium grain, like Valencia
  • 1 generous pinch saffron threads
  • 4 1/2 cups warm stock or water
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
  • Lemon wedges

Spice Mix for chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken; marinate for 1 hour, covered.

DIRECTIONS

Marinate the chicken for 1 hour and remove from refrigerator.

Heat the oil in a paella pan or wide skillet. Brown the chicken on all sides, when nearly cooked through, add the chorizo links and brown.

Remove the chicken and sausage from the pan. Cut the sausages into slices and set aside. Drain out excess oil but don’t clean the pan.

Sauté the garlic, onion, tomatoes and bell peppers. Cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the rice, stirring to coat the grains.

Add the stock and saffron and simmer for 15-20 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks and absorbs evenly. Do not cover or constantly stir like risotto.

Add the shrimp and the reserved chicken and sausage. Simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes.

Scatter the peas on top and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to rest off the heat for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with lemon wedges.

 

Pistachio Crusted Chicken with Feta

The pistachio crusted chicken at Sevan, a local Dallas BYOB Mediterranean restaurant, is a favorite in my dining crowd. There are many delicious entrées on the menu… but this is ALWAYS ordered. I gladly accepted the request to recreate this dish mainly so I can order a different entrée and know I won’t be deprived of my old standby favorite.

I have been visiting this family run restaurant for years and they consistently turn out wonderful food. If hummus is your thing – Sevan makes super creamy hummus with just the right amount of garlic and lemon. My suggestion and another “always order” is the Muhammara. An addictive spread of roasted red bell pepper, walnuts and pomegranate molasses will keep my seat at Sevan a permanent one.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 cup chopped pistachios
  • 3/4 cup dry plain bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ounces crumbled French Feta cheese
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste (small can)
  • 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sugar (depending on the sweetness of the canned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

To make the sauce:

In a medium saucepan, sauté garlic and onion in oil until translucent.

Add tomato paste, tomatoes, water, wine, sugar, oregano and basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes over medium low heat.

 

For the Chicken:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three bowls: one containing flour to coat chicken breast, another containing the beaten egg, and the third containing chopped pistachios, breadcrumbs and oregano. Season all 3 with salt & pepper.

 

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Add feta cheese, 2 teaspoons chopped pistachios and 1/2 clove minced garlic to one side of the flattened chicken breast. Fold over and secure with toothpicks to keep filling inside.

Coat breast in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip chicken in egg mixture and then into the pistachio mixture. Set aside and finish breading the remaining chicken.

Heat olive oil in oven safe skillet over medium heat and sear chicken for approximately 3-4 minutes on one side and then flip over. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with tomato sauce and garnish with feta.

 

Spotlight Montréal: Meat Market (Chicken Sandwich with Harissa Mayo)

Spotlight Montréal: Meat Market

website: http://www.meatmarketfood.com/

I had just returned from Québec City and was on the hunt for a seat outside, a glass of wine and a wifi connection. It had been several days with no internet and I was having withdrawals (and I had a TON of photos I needed to go through).

The Meat Market fit the bill with a decent wine selection and a perfect table for me on the sidewalk. The sweet potato fries I spied on another diners table didn’t hurt either.

I decided on the “East Meats West” sandwich as it was a flavor combination I’d never considered: Grilled chicken marinated in cinnamon & orange with harissa mayonnaise. I was so impressed with the combination it sent me on a 2 day hunt for harissa in Dallas. I finally found it at World Foods but Central Market now has it back in stock.

Harissa is a North African hot red sauce or paste. Main ingredients are chili peppers (often smoked or dried), garlic, coriander, caraway, or cumin, and usually olive oil.

The heat in harissa is not a painful heat…. it’s quite addictive. When I recreated this recipe I had a few friends over for a chilly evening on the patio. On the first bite my good friend Rhonda said “At first I thought oooh it’s spicy… and I want more”. It’s good stuff.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • ciabatta bread or rolls
  • 1/4 head red cabbage – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper

For the marinade:

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

For the harissa mayo:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp. harissa paste
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

In a large plastic bag combine marinade ingredients (cinnamon, coriander. orange juice, orange zest, garlic & olive oil). Add chicken and marinade in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. When ready to grill, remove from marinade and salt & pepper chicken. Grill or bake until cooked through and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into pieces for sandwich.

In a medium skillet add cabbage and vinegar and cook on medium until cabbage is wilted but still has a small bite to it. Salt & pepper to taste.

For mayo: combine mayo, harissa and lemon juice. Set aside until ready to assemble sandwich.

To assemble sandwich spread mayo on both sides. Add a layer of cabbage on the bottom and top with the chicken breasts.

Serves 4