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Chicken, and Spinach, and Pesto! Oh My!

Be Like Popeye: Eat Canned Spinach!?!Be Like Popeye: Eat Canned Spinach!?! by Somewhat Frank, used under CC license: BY-NC-SA


Unlike in the Popeye comics, spinach will not make one invincible. It is chock full of vitamins, helping those of us not made of ink get…well…as close as we can. And hey, it’s a tasty way of getting there…

Combined with pesto and lean meat, spinach provides for very nutrient-rich dishes. Although higher in fat content, pesto contains olive oil (no pun intended) and pine nuts, considered to be good fats. Lean meat adds protein to the mix…

Another thing I like about the recipes I’ve run into with chicken, pesto, and spinach as ingredients are that they are relatively easy to make…especially if you go the semi-homemade route with the pesto.

I prefer making fresh pesto, though, as I feel it is fairly easy. It also ensures I don’t get any the extra stuff that manufacturers might put into the jarred variety…

I also don’t take my spinach canned… 😉

The first recipe I’ll feature (under the jump) in this post is a chicken/spinach soup I found in Cooking Light Magazine. There are many things I like about this recipe: Not only is it relatively easy to make, it’s colorful and not hard on the waistline…

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From the Photo Archive: Bird is the Word

Herb-Roasted Chicken

The things I love about Mark Bittman’s simple roast chicken recipes are that they are relatively quick and easy, and they produce a nicely browned and juicy roasted chicken. While this batch was made with thyme, you can make these birds in a number of different ways (as illustrated in his recipe updated for How to Cook Everything’s 10th anniversary edition). I prefer to use the older recipe below since I do not own a cast iron skillet and I don’t want to test the lone skillet I have in the oven.

Simple Roast Chicken
from: How to Cook Everything (1998)

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole (3‐ to 4‐pound) chicken, trimmed of excess fat, then rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, or sage leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh herbs for garnish

Instuctions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500ºF.
  2. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Begin roasting. Mix together the olive oil, herb, salt, and pepper.
  3. After the chicken has roasted for about 20 minute, spoon some of the olive oil mixture over it; baste every few minutes. When the bird begins to brown, turn the heat down to 325ºF, baste again, and roast until an instant‐read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160º to 165ºF. Total roasting time will be under an hour.
  4. Before removing the chicken from the pan, tip the pan to let the juices from the bird’s cavity flow into the pan (if they are red, cook another 5 minutes). Remove the bird to a platter and let it rest for about 5 minutes. While it is resting, pour the pan juices into a clear measuring cup, and pour or spoon off as much of the fat as you can. Reheat the juice, carve the bird, garnish, and serve with the pan juices.

And so we get to the end…  A close look at the drumstick and thigh:

Herb-Roasted Chicken: Drum and Thigh

…nicely browned and ready to nom after a good rest…

East and Southeast…

A while ago, my brother and sister in law sent me some wonderful shots taken while they were visiting in Asia in April. The first group of shots were from a cooking class that the two of them took in Bali, where they made a number of dishes: banana fritters, steamed chicken in banana leaves, gado-gado, tofu and miso, and corn fritters.

My sister in law notes that Balinese cooking generally has a bit of a kick to it. Their secret ingredient… little red chilies! (as you’ll see see in some of the dishes in this set).

Pictured below is the dish least likely to contain those little red chilies :  Banana Fritters.

Banana Fritters

They were very sweet and the batter tasted almost like pancake batter,  according to my sister in-law. My brother noted that the bananas tasted like small plantains.  Next pictured, steamed chicken in banana leaves. You can definitely see the flecks of red in the dish.

Steamed Chicken in Banana Leaves

Next pictured: Gado-gado. For those of you unfamiliar with the dish, Gado-gado consists of blanched vegetables mixed in peanut sauce.

Gado-Gado

Next pictured: Tofu with miso. The chilies are a little harder to see, but they’re there…

Tofu with Miso

And last but not least (of the Bali group), corn fritters.

Corn Fritters

The final two shots were taken while my brother and sister in law were visiting Japan. First up,  some *real* ramen:

Ramen... Real Ramen

Not that über-salty, fried-noodle, plastic-wrapped stuff you find at your local grocer, for sure! OK, to be fair, that stuff was fine while I was a poor college student, but my tastes have grown up just a little.

…or have they? I digress.

Finally, some colorful bowls full of sashimi and rice. Looks like we might have some maguro…or maybe toro (tuna) and sake (salmon… not to be confused with the drink) topped by tamago (sweet egg)…

Sashimi Over Rice

All in all:  niiiiice presentation!

I’ll end this post with a little programming note:  Resolving to post at least once a week…more if I have time. Hoping I’m able to keep up with that once the semester starts. Sorry for taking such a long hiatus, all.

“Feel Better” in a Bowl…

I’m at home sick from work and class today with a very upset stomach. Times like these make me want to seek out some chicken soup… *any* chicken soup.

Right now, I have to go for the stuff in a can , but even Progresso doesn’t quite stand up to lugaw (a Filipino porridge cooked in meat broth) or even Dan’s matzoh ball soup… Even though there’s more food in that mazoh-ball soup than in the can of Progresso, the mazoh-ball soup’s soft chicken and veggies are *very* upset-tummy friendly.

Mazoh Ball Soup

For that matter, so are the matzoh balls…

Closeup on the Mazoh Balls

For now, I’m just going to have to keep dreaming, resting, and self-hydrating…


PS – Sorry, no written-out recipe for this one. Dan says he kind of does Rachael Ray-esque eyeballing when cooking it (as I see others just rolling their eyes).

3 pounds of baby carrots are used as well as some celery and onion (essentially a mirepoix). Chicken and dill round out the soup. The matzoh balls are created using the instructions on a packaged mix.

Feeling Chicken Tonight…

Popeye’s is my favorite fried chicken chain by far. Even though they’re well known for their spicy fried chicken (I’m not a fan of anything spicy), they don’t skimp on the flavor for their mild chicken either. If you can get your hands on a fresh-out-of-the oven biscuit (or close to fresh-out-of-the-oven), it’s also a blissful experience. Man… if fat and calories were no object!

This shot was taken at Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport a few weeks ago while I was having dinner during my layover:

Love that Chicken!

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Conference Food? Good Eats!

I just finished volunteering at an intellectual property symposium hosted locally. The days were long, but in exchange for my work, I got to sit in on many of the sessions. The organization that I was volunteering for also made sure I was fed at no extra cost to me. I essentially was participating in the same breakfasts and lunches provided to the participants, a perk which was a pleasant surprise (It also didn’t hurt that the venue hosting the symposium was run by Marriott; I ate pretty well 😉 ).

Chocolate Cake #1

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Adobong Manok (Chicken Adobo)

Conisdered in many respects to be the national dish of the Philippines, Adobo is the quintessential Filipino comfort food. It’s a simple dish consisting of something (often meat, but sometimes vegetables — sometimes both) cooked with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns. It differs from its counterpart in Latin American/Southwestern cooking in a few ways: Tomatoes and chilles are often not found in the Filipino version, and Filipino Adobo is more akin to a stew than a meat rub.

Adobong Manok/Chicken Adobo and Rice

The recipe I most often use is Corrine Domingo’s found on the Food Network:

4-5 lbs. chicken thighs
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. black peppercorns
3 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and marinate chicken for 1-3 hours. Bring to boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened, and chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

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