Orange and Ginger Chicken

This is the real deal–tender chicken coated with a rich-tasting orange glaze.  This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less, depending on your quantities.

4 boneless chicken breast halves  (If using the giant chicken breasts from the Big Box store, slice them into smaller pieces, as in *this* recipe)
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour
1/4 stick of butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
[OPT: 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions]

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; dust with flour.  Melt butter with oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; saute until brown, about three minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate.

Add ginger to skillet; stir 1 minute.  Add brown sugar and mustard and stir to blend into drippings.  Add orange juice and orange peel.  Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Return chicken, and any accumulated juices, to pan.  Simmer 3 minutes.  Turn chicken over and add green onions.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, about 3-5 minutes longer.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.  Transfer chicken and sauce to platter; serve with sticky rice.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice with Brats

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_1When you have lots of chard in your garden, or it’s on sale at the green grocer’s, it’s time to make this dish.  If you don’t add the brats and use water instead of the broth, it’s vegetarian, but we like to use Apple-Chicken sausage (we buy it at Costco) and add it to this dish.  The original recipe came from Mark Bittman, but I’ve made some modifications.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_5 Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_4 Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_3Ingredients
1 pound (or one large handful) chard, washed and trimmed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5-6 carrots, peeled, and either sliced, or roughly chopped
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper (this needs more than you think)
2/3 cup jasmine rice
2 cups chicken broth
Aidell’s Apple and Chicken Sausage, 5 links
juice of one lemon

Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Line up the stems (they look like pink celery) and slice them across the bunch, then cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Keep separate.

Put all but a tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic, shallot, carrots and chopped chard stems, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When chard/carrots are tender, add chard leaves, more salt and pepper, the rice, and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until water is absorbed (you may have to lower the heat). Add water if needed, until rice is cooked. The mixture will be moist, but not too soupy.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_6While those cook, place the sausage links into a non-stick pan, and over a low heat, cook until they are plump and slightly brown in places on the outside.

To finish the dish, add the juice of one lemon and a circle of olive oil, and if necessary, some more salt and pepper.  Slice the sausage/brats and pile on top of the rice/chard mixture. Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_2

Spicy African Peanut Soup with Ginger and Tomato

Peanut Soup_1I first found this recipe in the New York Times; one version was by Julia Moskin and the other by Mark Bittman.  I have made this several times and combined/changed things up to suit me.  I like it because it begins with eggplant, and I always use the Japanese kind (so I can skip the salting step).  It’s a good stew to serve over some rice, on a day when you just need something flavorful and hearty for dinner.

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
2 medium-size Japanese eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup good quality oil, peanut oil (if you have it)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
1 onion, chopped
⅓ cup tomato paste
½ pound skinless, boneless chicken (about 2 thighs or breasts) cut into chunks
1 small (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably roasted
4 cups vegetable stock or water
½ cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 medium-size zucchini, 6 to 8 ounces, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/2 -inch thick
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
2-3 cups coarsely chopped greens, such as spinach or chard
⅓ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish

Cooked rice, for serving

Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)


In a colander, toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes [I skip this step if using Japanese eggplant]. Rinse, drain well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne; set aside.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft, and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, until just starting to turn color. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots and chicken to a large bowl, leaving oil in pot (may need to add some more). Raise heat to nearly high and add eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with shallots/chicken.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger and jalapeño and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Peanut Soup Add diced tomatoes, stock or water, eggplant, chicken, shallots and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add one or two ladlefuls of hot soup, and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back into soup.

Reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is done. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, chopped cilantro, greens; stir until greens are wilted. Let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary. Serve in bowls with rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts, if desired.

Note: Can omit chicken and add 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, if desired.  Can also add 1-2 thickly sliced sweet potato (as shown in the image above).

Peanut Soup_2

Sweet and Savory Chicken

Sweet and Savory Chicken

This is a modification of the recipe “Sweet and Spicy Chicken” published on the New York Times website, which I found one day while perusing the videos from Melissa Clark.  She makes me believe I can cook anything.  Since I am of a certain age, I crave more layering of flavors and textures and this fits the bill.

SS Chicken_1

SS Chicken_2

SS Chicken_5

We served it to two young adult guests one night and one cleaned her plate and the other one pushed most of it around.  When you bite into those lemons, it’s a jolt, that’s for sure, but I loved the surprise of all the flavors together.

1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

About 4 lbs. of bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts–about 8-10 pieces total.  (Hers call for one 4-lb. chicken cut up, but we thought all this good flavor was wasted on the bony chicken backs and wings.  We also liked the dark chicken parts better than the white, although both were moist and delicious.)

3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4  cup sliced dates
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, mint or parsley, for garnish (we used cilantro)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts, for garnish


Preparation (to be done the afternoon before, if possible)
Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain. Reserve slices.

In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat.

SS Chicken_7We stuffed ours into two plastic zipper bags (yes, I ripped the bay leaf in half), set it in a bigger container and left it in the fridge overnight.  (She says you could let it marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but then the marinade won’t really have time to work its magic.)

The next day, heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings (remove the pieces as they are done cooking). When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir; if the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes longer.  When you have about 3 minutes to go, add in the scallions/green onions to roast along with the vegetables, just to take that rawness off of them. (A change from her recipe)

SS Chicken_9Spoon carrots over chicken and top with cilantro (or parsley or mint), scallions and pistachio nuts.  This is even better the next day.  I served it with Rice Pilaf, and served up some homemade cookies, and gelato from the grocers for dessert.

SS Chicken_10

Mediterranean Chicken

This dish hails originally from Martha and I pretty much make it like she says, but don’t worry so much about the proportions.  If I think it needs more tomatoes, I add a few.  Likewise with the olives.  This goes together quickly and is good for a crowd.  Once I served it to over 50 people, and they all liked it (although I did see a few olives left on plates–guess they didn’t like those).

Cook’s Note: Like I’ve said before, I think the chicken breasts these days are beyond one person’s serving size, so I “fillet” them into thirds by slicing them on the diagonal, with the blade closer to horizontal than vertical.

This is the yield from two chicken breasts.  While the recipe originally called for 4 chicken breasts, I find that by filleting the chicken and leaving the amounts of the vegetable mixture the same, this will feed four nicely.

2 cups grape tomatoes (1 pint)  *I like to cut some of mine in half, the long-way. I have used Roma tomatoes cut into large thumb-sized chunks and that works just fine too.  Different flavor, though.*
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and drained *The ones from the grocery store are bigger than the ones from Trader Joe’s, so use 20-25 of the Trader Joe’s olives.*
3 Tablespoons drained capers
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (although Martha calls for chicken breasts with skin)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Toss tomatoes, olives, capers and 2 Tablespoons oil together in a medium bowl.

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over high hot until hot.  Add 1 Tablespoon oil and heat until hot, but not smoking.  Place chicken in skillet; cook until golden brown, then turn chicken over to sear the backside briefly.

Place chicken in oven-proof baker.  Add tomato mixture all around.  Roast until chicken is cooked through and tomatoes have softened, about 18 minutes.

Note: Martha says to use an oven-proof skillet, then you can just add the tomato mixture to the pan and pop that in the oven.  Now you have options.

Grilled Chicken Breasts in Spiced Yogurt

Sometimes I’ll got looking on the Epicurious website for quick recipes that are flavorful.  This is one of them, originally published in Gourmet magazine in August 2004.  I was trying to find another marinated chicken, one I’d made before, but couldn’t.  This one is just as good as the other that is now lost forever to the vagaries of the internet.  But it is quick: just whisk together the marinade, then while the chicken is marinating, stir up the yogurt-sauce topping and the mint “salad.”  Yep, I thought it was a strange name too–it’s really just a garnish for the chicken.  See the Memorial Day Barbecue post for how the whole thing looks with the sauce and the garnish on top.

Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 35 min

Yield: Makes 6 servings

2 cups plain yogurt (16 oz; preferably whole-milk–I used the thicker Greek yogurt and it was delicious)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
shake of cayenne pepper
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 lb total)
1 cup small fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced shallot


Whisk together 1 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt, and spices, then add chicken and turn until coated well. Marinate at room temperature 20 minutes.

While chicken is marinating, prepare grill for cooking. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate.

While grill is heating, whisk together remaining 1 cup yogurt and 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice and salt to taste.  (I was like, yeah–how do I know how this is supposed to taste like?  But I just added some salt, and tasted it, then added some more.  You really can figure it out–it’s a balance.)

Grill chicken (discard marinade), covered only if using gas grill, on lightly oiled grill rack, turning over occasionally, until just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a platter.

Toss together mint, shallot, and remaining tablespoon oil in a small bowl. Drizzle chicken with yogurt sauce and top with mint “salad.”  Toppings are shown to the left.

Cooks’ note:
If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, chicken can be cooked in a hot lightly oiled well-seasoned large ridged grill pan over moderate heat.

Chicken Roulades with Mustard Sauce

I opened the Williams-Sonoma Cookbook again, as it was my husband’s birthday.  As I mentioned before, the celebrations of lots of noise and gifts and crazy fun have ebbed, and have been replaced with a quieter dinner on fine china.  This is a direct result of our nest emptying out.  While I miss (always) the happy parties with lots going on, I think this new tradition works well for us as well–challenging me as a cook to find new recipes.

This is a simple rolled-up chicken breast with a twist: no cheese and ham on the inside.  Instead chopped basil and salt and pepper provide the flavor, augmented by a yogurt mustard sauce.  Sometimes I think I’d like to write a recipe like it happens in my house. . . you know, when it says to pound the chicken fillets to a 3/8 thickness and you think you didn’t yet buy the food mallet, and should you try the one in the garage that you use to pound the paint cans closed?  Instead you rummage through the gadget drawer and find the potato ricer–it’s the right shape and the right heft and it pounds the breasts into fillets nicely.  Or when you go outside to snip the chives from the front flowerbed and you find the 15-year old patch has been weeded to within an inch of its life by the last set of garden workers, but (thankfully) you still find enough to use?  That’s how it happens over here.

8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt, divided (I used Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 Tbls. Dijon mustard, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (I used a little more)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, each about 6 oz each
salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I use Contadina Italian)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Pound the chicken breast to 3/8-inch thickness.  I like to lay down two pieces of wax paper, lay the chicken breast on that, then cover with a layer of plastic wrap.  Pound, kind of mashing it this way and that, until it’s uniformly thinner.  Slide your hand in between the two sheets of wax paper, and flip the chicken and its plastic wrap over, peel off the wax paper and replace on the first piece, then repeat with other three breasts.  At the end, you’ll have 4 chicken flattened chicken breasts on their own piece of plastic wrap.

With the divided mustard and yogurt:
1) combine 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1 Tbs. mustard in one bowl, and add in the chopped chives.  This is the sauce. Set aside to come to room temperature while you keep working.
2) combine 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1/2 Tbs. mustard in another small bowl.  This is the coating.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease a baking sheet, then cover with a piece of parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment paper, try to use a non-stick sheet.  If you don’t have that, prepare to scrub your pan at the end.)

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs and the grated cheese. Place the yogurt/mustard coating in another small dish.

Sprinkle about 1 Tbls. (or less) chopped basil lengthwise down the pounded chicken breast; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Fold in the short ends of the breast about 1/2-inch.  Starting at a long side, roll up the breast, enclosing the basil.  Repeat with remaining breasts.

The recipe says to roll each chicken breast in the yogurt/mustard coating, then roll it in the crumb/cheese coating and place it on the prepared baking sheet.  I found more success in placing the rolled chicken on a plate, smoothing some sauce on it, then sprinkling the crumb mixture over this, all the while making sure the thing didn’t unroll or slip out of my hands.  I then placed it on the prepared sheet.  (The baked rolls are above.)

Drizzle the rolls with the melted butter, then bake until the coating is golden brown and the chicken shows no sign of pink when cut in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve hot, with a dollop of the sauce on the side.

This was also good four days later, when we had it for leftovers after a weekend away and I didn’t want to cook.

Orange and Ginger Chicken

Who knows how I happened on this recipe, but given the fact that we live in the area where naval oranges are in abundance, it only made sense for me to find something to do with them besides squeeze them for orange juice. I like this recipe because it makes a lot, quickly, and it’s always a hit.  I’ve modified the originally published recipe with some of my own quirks–isn’t that how we all do things?

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
All-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel

*Note: I store my ginger root in the freezer, a trick taught to me by Susan Jones, an old friend.  When I need some, I peel/scrape off the skin using a paring knife, then grate the frozen ginger using the fine-hole section of my box grater to get the amount I need.  It’s shown above with the peeled garlic, ready for mincing or putting through a garlic press (I do that interchangeably).

Since I believe that the chicken breasts these days have gotten out of hand, size-wise, I always “fillet” them by cutting them horizontally into thirds, as shown.

Lay out the pieces on a double-layer of wax paper.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; dust with flour.

Turn over and repeat on other side, shaking off excess flour before transferring to pan. Melt butter with oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add chicken; sauté until brown, about 3 minutes per side. (They’ll cook some more in the next step, so no worries if the chicken is a little pink in some parts.  I like to use my non-stick skillets for this step.

Transfer chicken to a stove-top lidded casserole pan, or other pan with sides. Add ginger to the original skillet; stir 1 minute. Add brown sugar and mustard and stir to blend into drippings. Add orange juice and orange peel. Cook until all the bits and little pieces have released from the skillet into the sauce and it is slightly thick, about 3 minutes.  Pour over the chicken in other pan and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon.  Keep spooning it over chicken while it thickens up (anywhere from 6-10 minutes—don’t overcook chicken). Season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken and sauce to platter.

Originally published in Bon Appetit Magazine; this recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

*Yes, you can just use one skillet, if it has a lid and steeper sides.  Transfer the browned chicken to a plate, then add back to the cooked sauce and cook as above.