Spring is just around the corner here, but the chill in the air refuses to move on. When reading the April issue of Food & Wine, I came across a perfect in between winter and spring kind of dish in the “What to Cook Next” section. Alexandra Guarnaschelli provided a dish with warm seasonings that was satisfying without being heavy. And, of course, provided an excuse for opening a nice bottle of red wine.
Spice-Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Red Wine
recipe from Food & Wine by Alexandra Guarnaschelli
- 9 skinless chicken thighs, fat removed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
In a large, deep skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. I used a large dutch oven since there was a lot going into this pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add half to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Pour off the fat in the skillet.
Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderately high heat for about 10 seconds, until fragrant (stay close, they become fragrant quickly). Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, crushed red pepper and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over moderately low heat for 5 minutes. Add the stock and the tomatoes with their juices and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken to the sauce along with any accumulated juices and simmer over low heat, turning a few times, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is flavorful, about 50 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and serve. We served ours over some brown rice. It certainly served as a delicious consolation that spring has yet to fully arrive.
All I have to say is, thank goodness for Yes Market that is on the first floor of my building. This little organic grocery store is a life saver when we are out of that one little ingredient we forgot to get, or are craving some dark chocolate at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night. This particular thank you is for the quick meal it provided for dinner with just a few ingredients; though I had a good amount of what I needed to make this dish, I lacked chicken, soba noodles, and shiitake mushrooms. Basically, I didn’t have the heart and soul of the meal and would have come up with saucy garlic ginger for dinner otherwise.
Spicy Soba Noodles (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 to 3 teaspoons chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 3 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 8 to 9 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles)
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
Stir the sauce ingredients together until the brown sugar is dissolved. Smitten used a specific Korean chili paste that alas, I nor Yes Market had. The chili sauce worked just fine. Set this aside.
Over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they are pale golden (about 4 minutes). Set aside.
Saute the ginger and garlic in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it is fragrant. Next add the chicken and the mushrooms and season with some salt and pepper. After about 6 minutes, add most of the scallions. Stir occasionally so that the chicken cooks evenly. Once the scallions are in the saute pan, turn the heat down to medium. Boil the soba noodles and edamame while the chicken is cooking. These will cook pretty quickly (4-5 mins or so). . Strain and add the noodles and edamame to the saute pan with the other ingredients. Add the sauce to the chicken and mushroom mixture and simmer for 1 minute. Add the noodles, edamame, and the sesame seeds to the pan.
Serve hot with the remaining scallions as garnish.
The other night Adam and I, along with a few friends, took part in Dining Out for Life in D.C. On this particular night, restaurants around the city agree to donate a portion of their proceeds (from 25% to a generous 110%) to the local agency supporting the fight against AIDS.
We chose do dine at a local restaurant, Posto. This is a place we’d normally visit for some delicious Italian food. Posto annually participates in Dining Out for Life and donates 100% of the proceeds from that night to Food & Friends, the local D.C. charity that benefits from this event. Food & Friends provides meals to families who are coping with AIDS, cancer, and other life threatening illnesses who cannot go to the supermarket or physically cannot make these meals themselves. What better excuse do you need to go out to eat and drink when that cash is also buying other people food! So find your city, gather some friends who enjoy eating and drinking, and dine out for life!
As spring draws ever nearer, I am making the most of the end-of-winter seasonal vegetables before they are gone!
Tonight I put together a pilaf using some red winter kale that resulted in a warm hearty dinner on a rainy San Francisco evening.
- 1/4 white onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. garlic, chopped
- 1 cup dry quinoa (I used Pereg Italian style Quinoa, which contains dried Italian vegetables)
- 1 large bunch of kale, chopped
- 1 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (mushrooms instead of, or in addition to, would be great too!)
- 1 lb. scallops
- 1 1/2-2 cups chicken or vegetable soup broth
- 1 handful pine nuts or walnuts
Saute the onions and garlic in a lightly oiled pan.
Add in quinoa with about 1 cup of chicken broth.
Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. The quinoa will absorb the chicken broth.
Next, add in the kale and sun-dried tomatoes with another 1/2 to 1 cups of chicken broth.
Cook the kale and veggies on medium heat approximately 4-5 minutes.
Then, add in the scallops and the pine nuts.
On this initial attempt at the recipe, I added in the scallops first, but realize this probably was a mistake. Scallops cook very quickly, in about 5 minutes! Add the scallops only after you have cooked the veggies for about five minutes. Once you have added your scallops to the quinoa-kale pilaf, cook approximately another 5-6 minutes, on medium heat.
Remove from heat and add salt and pepper and herbs to taste.
Torre also suggested that next time, we marinate the scallops in a little lemon and lime for about 1o minutes before cooking. That will bring an extra fresh flavor to the dish!
As the parenthetical portion of this post’s title suggests, there was a mini-sibling reunion this weekend on the West Coast! Michael and Becky came to San Francisco, for Becky’s interview at the Wright Institute (our fingers are crossed for Becky!). Meredith and Andy were the tireless drivers and joined for a fun weekend too.
On Saturday, while Michael and Becky explored the Berkeley area, Meredith and Andy joined us for a Mexican lunch in the Mission. Meredith ordered in Spanish! We learned that the only thing that beats a burrito is a super-burrito. We also watched a guy whose job title appeared to be “Official Onion Chopper,” and we decided that the sole requirement for the job had to be the inability to cry.
After we had wandered the alley, we picked up Torre and began to make our way home. On our way, we stumbled across a small gathering of food trucks, musicians, and people, sponsored by San Francisco’s Off the Grid food truck project. Of course, we had to stop.
I captured Meredith’s proud moment of her first food-truck ordering experience! Mmmm.After an afternoon of relaxing, playing games, and visiting, the six of us headed out for a special evening with two local celebrities: Uncle Pete and Aunt Meredith!
We enjoyed a casual Italian dinner in the neighborhood, replete with wine, appetizers, lots of bread and plenty of sharing stories! (Note to self: bring a better camera to these family gatherings.)
It was just delightful to have a family of 8 together for dinner. And it’s a special occasion when that many Forneys are assembled at one table!
Sunday started with a great home-cooked family brunch (Torre and Andy were the masters of the kitchen!) followed by a restful day of visiting, with a quick trip to the local Jewish deli as the major outing.
We were so glad to host the younger siblings and had a great time. Come back soon, please! 🙂
Happy March! Every time I flip my calendar to March, I’m reminded of the phrase we were taught in grade school: “March is in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Out of sheer curiosity, I did some searching to see if I could determine the origin of the phrase. The answers were as varied as the weather in March.
The Farmer’s Almanac explains that the phrase originates from more ancient times, when weather was unpredictable. I’ll rephrase: when weather was less predictable. Back then, because they did not have Doppler 5000s, many held the belief that there should be a balance in weather and life. So, if March began with bad weather – like a lion – then, according to lore, it would end with pleasant weather – like a lamb. The Farmer’s Almanac confirms, however, that this phrase is not a true weather predictor (surprise!). The phrase is still used today to reflect hope that better weather will be coming soon! Other sources claim the phrase is related to the stars and astrological signs, including the relative positions of the constellations Leo and Aries in the Spring in the Western sky as the month of March progresses. I’ll let the stargazers in the family weigh in on this interpretation.
“I would chuse March, for I would come in like a Lion…But you’d go out like a Lamb when you went to hanging.”
Regardless, there are many things to look forward to in March!
On March 13th, Daylight Savings Begins! We’ll spring ahead one hour and have lighter evenings.
On March 17th, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Erin Go Bragh and top o’ the mornin’!
On March 20th, Spring officially begins. Bring on the crocuses!