Turkish Chicken, Roasted Squash, and Citrus Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing

I always like to try to pair sides with mains that are complementary, but sometimes I hit on a combination completely by accident and it is amazing.  This meal is now officially  part of my meal rotation because these three things together made the perfect harmony and were all easy and budget friendly to prepare.  I try to make my own dressing whenever possible, its easy and preservative free, plus it just tastes better.

The inspiration for this meal came from the fact that I need to finish a blog post that goes with the leftover chicken for this meal, and also because Hubby brought home a mystery squash from work.  Yes, I said it, mystery squash.  A coworker of his had some rather gorgeous winter squash grow out of her compost and wasn’t sure what variety it was.  It was a lovely deep yellow with green stripes.  I originally thought it was delicata, a variety of winter squash with edible skin, but after cutting into it I knew the skin was not edible.  As it turns out, it was a tasty variety of spaghetti squash.  Super yummy.

Turkish chicken is a recipe that I use from one of my favourite books, Simple by Diana Henry. 20170109_200442It’s got some heat, a ton of flavour, and is just as the title of the book suggests:  Simple to prepare.  I often change it up with different spices, but I wanted to give you the original version just as it is.  I use the leftovers from this for a variety of meals which you will see in future posts.  She pairs it with a parsley salad that I didn’t really care for but can appreciate.  Instead, I chose a tangy salad with a bit of sweetness to stand up to the warmth of the spice and the buttery-ness of the squash.  My family dragged their chicken through the salad dressing to intesify the lemon and add some sweetness to the chicken and the result was divine.  Sometimes they are the best tasters.  They occasionally do things with my culinary masterpieces that horrify me… like add ketchup to goat cheese fritata (I’m crying inside thinking about it), but sometimes they are geniuses.

You Will Need:

For the Chicken

  • 1/3 cup olive oil (don’t use extra virgin here, it will smoke a lot during the cooking process)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Aleppo pepper or a tsp of cayenne (I reduced this to half a tsp of cayenne because I have tiny humans to feed and they cry when I burn their mouths)
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed (I used minced garlic in oil here to save some time)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • lemon wedges to serve

For the Spaghetti Squash (or any winter variety that you prefer)

  • 1 large spaghetti squash – sliced in half vertically with the seeds removed.
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar, not packed
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • salt and pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 romaine heart, washed and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of feta, crumbled
  • 1 cup of cucumber, sliced
  • 2 clementine oranges, peeled and segmented

For the Dressing

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp honey

Preparation:

The chicken needs to be marinated.  The longer the better, but anywhere from 30min to 8 hours will get you a ton of flavour.  For the marinade whisk the first 7 ingredients of the chicken in a bowl and pour into a large zippered freezer bag.  Toss in the chicken and mix it around until it’s evenly covered and put in the fridge.  Turn at least once while marinating.

20180922_183223_HDR.jpg

Preheat the oven to 400F and place the squash cut side up on a sheet pan.  I used a ceramic pan here, if you are using a traditional pan you may want to cover it with foil first.  Brush the squash with melted butter, sprinkle brown sugar evenly and season with salt and pepper.  Don’t worry, this doesn’t make the squash overly sweet, I don’t like candied squash, it’s just enough to highlight flavour and work with the other components of the meal.

20180922_185913.jpg

Bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes until the squash is tender.  I baste them with the butter halfway through and I always try to arrange it so that these are ready a few min before the chicken.  They will benefit from some resting time and be easier to remove from the skin.

20180922_185338

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan or a heavy pan on medium high heat. Pull the chicken out and shake to remove excess marinade (otherwise you will end up with a very smokey kitchen) and place on pan.  Make sure to open up the thighs so they’re butterflied, otherwise you end up with burnt outsides and raw insides.  Cook until beautifully seared and flip.  About 4-6 min per side.  If you start these 20 min into the squash cooking time you will have enough time to rest them for 10 min before serving.

20180922_185536

While the chicken is resting toss the ingredients of the salad together.  In a small empty jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake vigorously until combined.  Pour about 1/4 cup on the salad and toss until evenly coated.  I put the remaining dressing on the table to flavor the meal if desired.  (I accidentally spilled the remainder on my plate the first time I made this and it went well with everything!).

20180922_190308

 

 

 

Advertisements

Cherry Clafoutis

 

20170704_121119By Corinne

What is clafoutis? It’s traditionally a French dessert (but I love it for breakfast!). I don’t even know how to properly describe it- it’s somewhat like a custardy dense cake that’s full of delicious fruit. In any case, it whips together so quickly that you can have it ready to go by the time your oven is preheated.

Clafoutis is one of those magical dishes that can work for either breakfast or dessert. If you want to finish it with some powdered sugar, or even some whipped cream, or ice cream to make it dessert then go for it! I tend to make it for breakfast, and because I am impatient and hungry I’ve almost always eaten it hot right out of the oven, though traditionally it’s served room temperature or chilled.

Speaking of tradish, if you want to not pit your cherries, that’s actually the traditional way to make a cherry clafoutis. I’ve done it both ways, apparently leaving the pits in is supposed to impart a subtle almond flavour, but I’ve never noticed a difference and prefer to pit my cherries even though it’s a little more prep. Totally up to you!

Serves: 4 for breakfast, 8 for dessert

Time: prep/preheat 10 min(400F), bake 25-35 min depending on baking dish used.

You will need:

  • generous 2 cups of cherries, pitted or not as you wish 🙂
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly, plus more to butter dish
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum or amaretto

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9-10 inch glass pie plate, or stoneware pie plate (what I used in the pictures) or a cast iron skillet. Baking time will depend on what dish you use- and whether it’s nine or ten inches. I find using a glass pie plate only takes 25 min, while using my stoneware pie plate takes 35 min.

Pit your cherries if you wish, and put them in the buttered dish.

Melt butter in microwave and set aside. For the rest of the instructions you can either whisk by hand or use a mixer, I do either depending on how I’m feeling that day :). Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add the butter, whisking until it’s incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Finally, add the tbsp of spiced rum. The batter should be very smooth.

Pour the batter over the cherries and pop into the oven. Check at 25 min. Give the pan a little jiggle, if your clafoutis wobbles give it some more time. When it’s finished it should be slightly browned and almost set in the middle. By almost set, I mean when you give the pan a shake there should only be a little wobble in the very middle. If you find it’s browning too much on top, throw a piece of tinfoil lightly over the top until it’s finished.

Serve room temperature or chilled, or hot out of the oven if you just can’t wait 🙂

Pasta with Shrimp (or without!) in Tomato White Wine Sauce

By Corinne

If you live in Thunder Bay and haven’t tried Big Lake Pasta you should track some down at your earliest convenience. This pasta dish could probably be made with any pasta, but the Saffron Campanelle really did give it an extra something special.

Speaking of special, you may have noticed a real lack of fish and seafood posts from me on this blog. That’s because when I make them, it’s only as something special for my husband or company that I really love as I have a fairly severe allergy to them. Full disclosure, I was told that the shrimp were really good, but I didn’t (and can’t) actually taste them myself. I have the feeling that three of these large prawns would have been a fine serving, but since it’s a special treat, hubby got all six. Obviously this isn’t vegetarian if you use shrimp, but I ate it without and didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Serves: 4 (though you would need more shrimp for 4 people, there is enough pasta and sauce for 4)

Time: about 1 hour including simmering time for sauce

You will need:

  • 1 medium/large onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 dried chili pepper or about 1/2-1tsp of chili flakes
  • 2 cups of white wine (preferably dry, preferably Chardonnay)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped for garnish
  • wedges of fresh lemon
  • 350g fresh pasta, preferably Big Lake Saffron Campanelle

For the shrimps – I used tiger prawns and serving size will depend on the size of your shrimp!

I used this amount of butter/spice mixture for 6 large tiger prawns (probably 2 servings)

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp minced flat leaf parsley

In a large pot over medium heat, add about 2 tbsp olive or canola oil. Add the onion to this and stir around for about 10 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chili pepper and stir for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add 2 cups of white wine, slowly at first to scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Then add the can of tomatoes and paprika. Allow to simmer for about 45min to 1hr. Taste after simmering for a while, and add salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce is simmering, prep the butter mixture for the shrimp. Rinse and clean shrimp if necessary and slide onto bamboo skewers. Baste with butter sauce before putting on BBQ, and if you have enough, one more time when you flip them over.

The shrimp will take less than 10 minutes on the bbq, so when you are ready to put your pasta in the boiling water that would be the time to put them on.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs (parsley or basil) and squeeze a wedge of lemon over just before serving.

 

 

Easiest Scalloped Potatoes

img_4672-1

By Corinne

I love scalloped potatoes, but sort of hate making white sauce for them. While this recipe uses heavy cream, making white sauce uses copious amounts of butter, flour and milk or cream, so I feel like it more or less evens out in terms of fat/calories and being easy and even more delicious means doing it this way wins for me.

These are seriously so easy that there’s no need to save them for a special occasion 🙂 Plus, the sauce thickens to creamy deliciousness without adding flour, so they happen to be happily gluten free.

Cooking time will depend a bit on whether you are using a deeper square shaped 2 quart dish or a shallower rectangular shaped dish. 
You will need:

  • 4-5 medium/large potatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • paprika
  • fresh ground pepper
  • about 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (250mL) heavy cream
  • about 1/2 tbsp butter

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Rub butter on a 2 quart baking dish. Finely mince about half of a large red onion, about 1/2 a cup and set aside. Grate about 2 cups of shredded cheese and set aside. Use a mandolin to slice potatoes very thin. I usually leave the skin on as because I hate peeling potatoes and like the skin anyway. This is pretty much the only reason I have a mandolin, and it’s TOTALLY worth it, even though I don’t do scalloped potatoes very often.

Layer two layers of potatoes into dish. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, paprika, about 2 tbsp of minced red onion and a light sprinkle of shredded cheese. Continue layering potatoes, stopping every 2 layers to repeat onion, pepper and paprika. On the final layer, top generously with shredded cheddar cheese.

Drizzle 1 cup of heavy cream over potatoes, cover dish with foil, and bake in a 350F oven until potatoes are tender, 60-80 minutes depending on the size of your dish and the thickness of your potatoes. Broil to finish for a few minutes if a more crispy bubbly top is desired.

Simplest Tomato Sauce

By Corinne

I had read about this tomato sauce with butter and onion over at Smitten Kitchen  some time ago, but two things stopped me from making it despite her rave reviews. Firstly, it seemed well… too simple. Secondly, it called for San Marzano tomatoes – which are difficult to find here (I’ve only regularly seen them at Maltese) and expensive. The ones I picked up weren’t even the most pricy brand, and they were still $5.49 for the can!

I had two questions I hoped to answer. Firstly, was this sauce really worth raving about? (spoiler alert- yes) and secondly, are these San Marzano tomatoes really worth the $5.49?

img_3281

Upon opening the cans, the San Marzano’s are noticeably brighter and the juice from the can is much thicker.

After 35 minutes

After 45 minutes

You can see the onion is more broken down in the regular plum tomato sauce, perhaps because it’s more watery?

Upon tasting.

If you taste the Primo sauce FIRST you are like, hmmm, this sauce is pretty good considering what’s in it!

And then when you taste the sauce with the San Marzano’s you have silky, bright, simple tomato sauce perfection! It was the clear winner, even in a blind taste test for my husband- who isn’t known for his ability to distinguish subtleties in flavours.

I wouldn’t make this sauce all the time, I think it really shines when you want your pasta to be the star of the show, it’s perfect with garlic scape gnocchi or homemade ravioli. While I’m sure it would be good with a clove of garlic or a glug of red wine thrown in there, the beauty of this sauce really is the simplicity.

Time: 45 min

Serves: 3-4

You will need:

  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • possibly a pinch of salt if your finished sauce needs it- mine didn’t

Add tomatoes to pot, halve the onion and put it cut side down into the tomatoes. Add the 5 tbsp of unsalted butter. Let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pan with your spoon. When finished, remove and discard onion halves.

Use with your favourite pasta.

* note – you might think with 5 tbsp of butter that this sauce might end up greasy, but it’s smooth and rich and doesn’t have a greasy texture at all.