Main Dishes

Toasted Almond Chicken

  • 6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves (I used 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts-but there are only 3 of us.)
  • 1/8 t. salt (what is this, like a pinch?)
  • 1/8 t. black pepper
  • 3 T. butter or margarine, divided (Since I only had 3 chicken breasts, I just used 1.5 T.)
  • 1.5 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T. orange marmalade
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard (please pass the Grey Poupon)
  • 1/8 t. crushed red pepper (I recommend a bit more, to taste though)
  • 1 (2.25 oz.) package of sliced almonds, toasted (I got lazy last night and didn’t even toast mine. It still rocked).

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4 in. thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin. I couldn’t find either of those things, so I used the plunger for my canning press.  NOT the plunger you’re thinking of. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Remember: kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Melt 1.5 T. of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half of the chicken (or all if you’re just doing 3 breasts). Cook 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. I think mine took closer to 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from skillet. Repeat with remaining butter and chicken (if making 6 breasts).

Reduce heat to medium.  Add cream and next 3 ingredients to skillet, stirring well.  I think I accidentally added 2 T. of Dijon last night and it was pretty awesome. Add chicken, (just nestle them back in the pan, resting in all that luscious sauce). Sprinkle with almonds. Cook 8 minutes or until sauce thickens.

This is EASY.  And fast.  If the chicken is thawed, it could be dinner in 30 min. The sweetness and light citrus of the marmalade blend perfectly with the tang of the mustard and the heat of the crushed red pepper. And then it all just melts into this rich, flavorful sauce.  It’s not the lightest thing you’ll ever eat, but it’s delicious.  I mean, there are browned chicken breasts swimming in cream and butter.  How wrong could it go?  Try it out the next time you’re staring blankly at a pack of chicken breasts wondering WTF you’re going to make for dinner. You’ll be surprised how good it is.

Recipe from Southern Living Easy Weeknight Favorites, 1998.

Italicized commets by The Fool.

Swiss Chard, Potato

and Chickpea Stew


  • 1 pound Swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves washed well and chopped (If you can, grow your own chard.  It’s easy and healthy to throw in everything. Except, like, cereal.  Also, I wash the stems and mince them like celery. Why waste it?)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (about 3), peeled and sliced 3/4-inch thick (I had some little red potatoes left from something else.  The look was different, but the taste was great.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used about 5)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked spanish paprika-but be gentle, a little goes a long way.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (I completely skipped)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (I used about 1 full teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I’m sure you all know this, but no more table salt.  Use kosher salt to cook.)
  • 2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (one 19-ounce can)
  • 3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock (I box of stock worked well)
  • 1 cup water (I used two cups of water and added some chicken bouillon, which made mine a bit soupier than the picture, but, so what?)
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges (I skipped and added 1/2 lb. of ground beef. Mostly because my family gets mutinous if there is no meat in dinner).

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard and cook for 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside. (Okay. I didn’t do this. Just add chard to the broth at the end and it will cook in a few minutes. Duh.)

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderate heat.  (I sauteed my ground beef first in this pan, along with the minced chard stems.) Add the potatoes and onion and saute, stirring frequently, until the potatoes start to brown (and the onion and chard stems are softening), about 5 min.  Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric (if using), cayenne and salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the cooked chard (I wouldn’t. It doesn’t need as much time as the potatoes, especially at a strong simmer.  Hold off until the last 5-6 minutes to add the chard leaves or they will be overcooked), chickpeas, broth and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Serve the stew garnished with the hard-cooked eggs.

This really is delicious. The smoky flavor of the paprika combined with the heat of the cayenne creates a rich, hearty broth for all of the veggies to bathe in. Think of this a little bit like Spanish Shepherd’s Pie. I even ended up throwing some left-over tortellini in mine.  The texture was great; creamy potatoes, a little chew from the ground beef and you even have some great leafy greens. With a thick piece of crusty bread, you’re all set.  So on the next rainy day when you need some quick and easy comfort food, give this one a shot.

Recipe by Quick From Scratch Vegetable Main Dishes or at the link found here: Swiss-Chard, Potato, and Chickpea Stew Recipe | Food & Wine

Picture by Melanie Acevedo.  Italicized comments by The Fool.



Gaucho

Cheesesteaks



  • 1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley (Sometimes I substitute basil here)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped (A serrano is nice, but hotter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 2 limes (This is a lot.  Start with one and then add to taste.)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (very thin slices here, or all you’ll taste is onion)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cut into small wedges (plums are great, but any meaty tomato is fine)
  • 2 pounds skirt steak, cut into lengths short enough to fit into a skillet (Rib-eye is best, flank steak is good too)
  • 4 sub-style sandwich rolls, split
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (LOVE goat cheese)


Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the parsley, garlic and jalapeño a few times, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add the red pepper flakes, lime juice, vinegar, 1 cup of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and process until combined. Taste at this point and adjust.  Use more lime if you want, more salt if you want, even more crushed red pepper if it isn’t spicy enough. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl and add the sliced red onion and tomato wedges. Save the remaining sauce for passing at the table.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Be generous. Seriously, most of this will fall off in the pan.  Season, season, season, baby. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and when the pan is hot, cook the steaks for 5 minutes per side for medium-rare (cook in batches if your pan isn’t large enough to hold them all). My favorite is to grill a nice rib-eye and then slice it down for the sandwiches.  Okay, I lie.  My real favorite is to make my husband grill the rib-eye and then we slice it down. Set the steaks aside on a cutting board to rest for at least 5 minutes before carving. This is important.  It’s like letting your wine breathe.  It’s not bullshit.  Let your meat rest and your wine breathe. Thinly slice the steaks across the grain and toss with the onion-tomato mixture.

Arrange the split rolls, cut side up, on a large baking sheet and spoon the steak mixture onto 1 side; scatter the goat cheese over the steak. Bake until the bread is toasty and the cheese is melted, about 7 minutes. Serve the sandwiches with the extra sauce on the side.  I find it helpful to hollow out the rolls a bit, making a space for all of the yumminess you just made.  Then at least you’ve got a shot of getting it to your mouth before it slips out the sides. Have lots of napkins handy for this one. But it’s worth it.  It’s easy, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner and, as Rachel says, delish.

Recipe from Everyday with Rachel Ray 2-3/06, menu planner insert.   Photo by Yunhee Kim.

Italicized comments by The Fool.


Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crisp Pancetta and Gremolata

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (2-3 good size)

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling

1 tsp. minced garlic (I use more, like 3 cloves, but I LOVE garlic)

2 cups fresh shelled peas (about 2 lb. unshelled) or frozen peas

1 cup lower-salt chicken broth or water (go with the broth)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 very thin slices pancetta (bacon works well, too)

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1-1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

12 medium all-natural “dry” sea scallops

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Open a bottle of good white wine.  I like Chardonnay.

Set aside 1 Tbs. of the shallots and put the rest in a 3-quart saucepan with 2 Tbs. of the oil and the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. This is a great time to pour a big glass of that chardonnay.

Add the peas and the broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low. Slowly, but assertively, sip chardonnay, confident in the amazing chef you are. Cover the pan and cook until the peas are tender, 5 to 8 minutes for fresh peas, 3 to 4 minutes for frozen.  Please, Jesus, don’t cook the peas until they look like they could join the army, you know what I mean, those little balls of dull olive drab that most of us grew up eating?  Peas should be bright and happy, promising a pop of sweetness in your mouth, not a mash of mush.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and purée to a smooth consistency, adding a little water if needed. You will not believe how beautiful this is, especially at springtime. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the purée to the saucepan, cover, and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm.  Congratulations!  That’s as hard as it gets.  Have some more wine.

Put the pancetta on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside in a warm spot.  This works for bacon too.  A few strips at 425 should be done in 20 min., if not sooner.  Keep an eye on it.  Seriously, you’re cooking here, you might need to look at something other than the bottom of your wineglass.  Lush.

In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and the reserved 1 Tbs. shallots and set aside.  Take a minute and inhale that lemon zest.  How great is that?

Pat the scallops dry (do not skip this or they won’t sear and you’ll be really pissed) and season them generously with salt and pepper. Heat the butter (and butter is essential, or again, they won’t sear and trust me, you’ll want to throw the crustless pucks across the room) and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Don’t be afraid of this.  The likelihood of you setting the kitchen on fire is low, and besides, aren’t fire departments, like, super efficient or something these days? Add the scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Resist the urge to play with them (they are not toys) or press on them (NO!) or move them around the pan like a flirty girl at a party.  They need to sear.  Did someone say party?  Why is my wine glass empty? Transfer to a plate.

Portion the warm pea purée among four large salad plates or between two dinner plates. We’re all friends here. Just go right for the dinner plates, especially if it is just you and Lord Tivo for the night. Arrange the scallops on the purée and crumble the pancetta on top. Be generous.  This is BACON. Sprinkle the gremolata over all and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

This recipe is so bad ass.  Seriously, it is delicious and easy, so beautiful and makes you feel like a rock star chef.

Calories (kcal): 290; Fat (kcal): 20; Fat Calories (g): 180; Saturated Fat (g): 5; Protein (g): 13; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 630; Cholesterol (mg): 30; Fiber (g): 4

Recipe by Annie Wayte, italicized comments by The Fool

Photo: Scott Phillips

From Fine Cooking 92, pp. back cover

March 12, 2008

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