grilled chicken with cucumber relish

That red sauce is  a little dollop of harissa that I cannot do without whenever I grill chicken. Plus a couple of twists of Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. The chicken is yummy and juicy, lightly spiced. I loved the cucumber relish with this; it was slightly spicy, crunchy, and fresh tasting. I high recommend it as an accompaniment with other grilled meats and sandwiches. In fact, I made it again the other night for a light supper as an accompaniment for a grilled-mozzarella-cheese-and-turkey-pastrami-basil-pesto sandwich! (What a mouthful. It was delicious too!) I couldn’t call this quick and easy since the chicken had to marinate overnight. But with a little planning ahead, it can be done, because this chicken cooks up quick and easy in the George Foreman grill. And on a hot summer night, the Foreman grill does not heat up an already hot, non-air conditioned, New York kitchen!

Grilled Chicken with Cucumber Relish (adapted from allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

For the relish:
1 cucumber – peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/8 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

For the chicken seasoning:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or substitute 2 skinless boneless chicken thighs for 2 chicken breasts)

Mixed greens to serve

DIRECTIONS:
1. Split the chicken breast in half horizontally. Cut the larger piece in half. In a small bowl, mix the cumin and chili powder with the olive oil. Rub the mixture onto the chicken, and place in a shallow dish. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Cook’s Note: Defrost the chicken in the refrigerator the night before. The next day, prep the chicken and refrigerate all day! Come home and do the grill…

2. In a medium bowl, prepare the relish by mixing together the cucumber, parsley, chopped onion, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
3. Prepare the grill for medium heat.
4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken 8 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. The chicken should register an internal temperature of 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.

Cook’s Note: I used the George Foreman grill, which requires no preparation. Grill the chicken pieces in the Foreman grill for 4-5 minutes for thighs, 3-4 minutes for breasts, or until they register an internal temperature of 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.

Serve chicken on a bed of mixed greens with cucumber relish and harissa on the side. Give a couple twists of Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning all over the plate.

gluten-free quick chicken piccata

This was quick and easy! I usually don’t play around with a new recipe but I thought I could make some swaps without changing the recipe too much. So I swapped hazelnut flour for the all-purpose to make it gluten-free. Any nut-flour you might have on hand will do. However, without the all-purpose flour, which is also a thickener, the sauce was thin; but I don’t mind a thin sauce. It was a tad sour, so I recommend reducing the lemon juice. After all, the capers have been soaked in brine and they add a salty sour flavor to the sauce. This recipe was originally for chicken breasts, but my son dislikes white meat so I made it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs for him. Other swaps: rice cooking wine for white wine, and cilantro for Italian flat leaf parsley. I am basically, and without apology,  a Chinese cook!

Gluten-Free Quick Chicken Piccata (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 25 Minutes
Servings: 6
 

INGREDIENTS:

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (originally 4 chicken breasts)
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup hazelnut flour for dredging (all-purpose flour in original)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/2 cup white wine (I used rice cooking wine)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I thought it was too sour, so reduce to 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (I used cilantro)

 DIRECTIONS:

1. Slice chicken breast horizontally in half. Place chicken between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/2-inch thick. Slice each “steak” in half.

2. Lightly season both sides of chicken with cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Dredge lightly in flour and shake off any excess.

Cook’s Note: The sauce for this recipe is salty, so season lightly! Omit the salt just to be cautious.

3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side for thighs, 3 minutes per side for breasts. Remove to a plate. Don’t wash out the pan.

4. Cook capers in remaining oil in the pan, smashing them lightly to release brine, until warmed though, about 30 seconds.

5. Pour wine into skillet. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced, about 2 minutes.

6. Stir lemon juice, water, and butter into the reduced wine mixture; cook and stir continuously to form a thin sauce, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir parsley through the sauce.

Cook’s Note: Since I used hazelnut flour, it doesn’t thicken the sauce like wheat flour does. If you wish to make the sauce thicker, add 1 tablespoon teaspoon all-purpose flour to the capers, then add the liquid.

7. Return chicken breasts to the pan cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. The chicken soaked up the sauce  when it was returned to the pan. Don’t turn them; they’ll look prettier. Serve with sauce spooned over the top.

cooking in a “new” old kitchen: coconut-ginger chicken

We moved. Uptown. To an apartment in a pre-war building with a unique shotgun layout.

The new kitchen is bigger. Three-dimensional, actually. I’m rusty at cooking in a kitchen that has three walls. By comparison, the Teeny Tiny Kitchen was a wall. Here, with the reorganization of the cupboards, I have to think–now, where did I put the…? As I figure out this new layout, I’ve started trying out new recipes again, like this one.

This recipe for coconut-ginger chicken came from this week’s New York Times Sunday magazine. The chicken came out too bland for my taste, even though I added a tablespoon of garlic to the original recipe. The veggie dishes I made up with what I had on hand–which wasn’t too hard to do, actually, if you abide by the basic rule of stir-fry. Prepare Everything For Cooking. That’s my mis en place by the way, in the small picture beneath the stir-fried vegetables on the left.

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Coconut-Ginger Chicken

  • In a large dry skillet over medium heat, toast ¼ cup unsweetened coconut, about 10 minutes until golden brown. Stir occasionally. Set aside in a small plate and do not clean the pan.

Cook’s note: I used flaked coconut but I wonder if shredded coconut with larger strips wouldn’t work as well. The flaked coconut actually came out quite well in appearance, a pale golden brown that adhered to the top of the chicken like bread crumbs.

  • Add ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk, ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put the chicken in the pan. When the liquid boils, lower heat to simmer; cover and cook chicken for 10-15 minutes or until tender and just cooked through. On an instant read thermometer, the temperature of the thickest part of the chicken should read 155˚F. Test the chicken after 10 minutes then cook for 3-5 additional minutes if not up to temperature.
  • Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm.
  • Turn heat to high and boil the mixture until it is reduced by half; it should be fairly thick. Lower heat and return the chicken to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with reserved toasted coconut and chopped fresh cilantro and scallion, if desired.

roast chicken with vegetables and quinoa pudding

Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Carrots

This was amazingly easy to make and so good for you! Another recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Light and Healthy cookbook, it is light, the chicken is juicy, and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Since I like food that snaps with spice, I found this dish to be rather bland. So. Fair warning to those whose palates are decidedly more adventuresome.

4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on, trimmed of extra fat
Salt and pepper
1 pound carrots (I used baby carrots)
10 ounces Brussels sprouts
1 butternut squash (about 2 cups), peeled, seeded, cubed
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 shallots, peeled and quartered (didn’t have any; left these out)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, if needed (or water)
Lemon wedges for serving (didn’t have any; used lemon pepper)

Seasoning I added:
Mrs. Dash Italian Medley seasoning, optional
Garlic powder, optional

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450˚F
2. Toss the Brussels sprouts, carrots, butternut squash, shallots, garlic, oil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a bowl. Spread the vegetables in a 13×9 inch baking dish and roast for 15 minutes.
3. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. [I sprinkled Mrs. Dash and garlic powder here.] Lay the chicken, skin side up, on a wire rack. Carefully place the wire rack over the dish of partially cooked vegetables (the rack may overhang the dish slightly). Roast until the chicken registers 160 to 165˚F on an instant-read thermometer, 30-35 minutes. Note: If after 30 minutes the chicken registers 155, I would take it out and move on to step 4. On resting, the chicken’s internal temperature will continue to rise.
4. Transfer the chicken to a platter then remove and discard the skin. Tent the chicken loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. If the vegetables are not yet tender, stir in the broth or water and continue to cook until they are tender, up to 15 minutes longer. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to the platter with the chicken. Serve with the lemon wedges, or, as I did, a dash of lemon pepper.

For dessert I made a Quinoa Pudding from a recipe I found on allrecipes.com . It can be either a dessert or breakfast, depending on how you feel about quinoa. Personally, I could eat it any time of day! Quinoa, which is originally from South America, is not a cereal grain as it is not a member of the grass family (Thanks, Wikipedia). The taste is slightly nutty and the texture pops in your mouth, a little slippery, with a mouth-feel that reminds me of caviar! I eat quinoa for breakfast (and dessert) with a spoonful of dried cranberries on top. You can put a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream to make it remind you of those decadent desserts you will forgo because you are on a diet.

Quinoa Pudding with Dried Cranberries

3/4 cup quinoa*
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
2 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sugar (I used a sugar substitute)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Rinse the quinoa. This is a step you shouldn’t ignore, as I did. I ended up with a cup of foam on top of the quinoa when it was cooking. Put the rinsed quinoa in a large saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
2. In a blender, add the milk, bananas,sugar or sugar substitute, and salt. Process until the bananas are puréed. Pour the milk mixture into the pot with the quinoa and mix.
3. Over medium heat, cook and stir until the quinoa mixture becomes thick and creamy, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Can be eaten hot, at room temperature, or cold.

*I buy quinoa in bulk at Whole Foods. If you’ve never tried it before, 3/4 cup isn’t an expensive investment.