Braised Tunisian Chicken Thighs

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This is an easy recipe for braised chicken thighs with Tunisian flavors, courtesy of Los Angeles, California chefs, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo for Plated.com.

I made this dish for a second time with a variation to original recipe. I used skin-on, bone-in thighs and chicken drumsticks instead of skinless chicken thighs. Why? Well, you will get a better sear and slightly deeper flavor with the skin still. Using skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs will also increase the cooking time and always be sure to check that your chicken is for completely cooked at the proper temperature by using a meat thermometer.

This dish is best served with couscous or steamed white rice.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
For Spice Mix 1:
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

For Spice Mix 2:
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh Thai chile, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded,minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzanos, crushed by hand

Directions:
To make Spice Mix 1:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, paprika, caraway, coriander, and cumin. Stir everything together and set aside.

To make Spice Mix 2:In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, chile powders, coriander, caraway, and cinnamon. Stir everything together and set aside.

To marinate the chicken:Rinse the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels, and arrange the pieces on a large plate. In a small bowl, combine Spice Mix 1, the garlic, Thai chile, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Coat the chicken with this mixture, rubbing it in thoroughly. Allow the chicken to marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

To cook:
Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Season the chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan with high sides and a tight fitting lid. When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and sear on the first side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the pieces and sear on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and Spice Mix 2 to the same pan in which you seared the chicken. Sauté until the onion is very soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.

Add the reserved chicken to the simmering tomatoes, nestling the pieces into the sauce. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Braise until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

To serve:

Taste the braising liquid and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Divide the chicken and sauce evenly between two warmed, shallow bowls and serve.

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Oatmeal, Anyone?

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Did you know that heart disease is the number cause of death for both men and women in the United States?

One ways to combat the disease is choosing to eat a heart healthy diet that significantly reduces your risk of heart disease while at the same time maintaining a healthy heart.

Increasing key nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber and potassium, key nutritional elements that are know to control elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure is the first thing you can do, because they can do the body good.

Try incorporating them into your daily diets by trying one of these sweet or savory oatmeal stir-in combinations below. Combine cooked old fashioned oats or overnight oats that have been prepared using a one to one ration of raw oats and your choice of milk or any other dairy substitute like almond milk or coconut milk. And let us know which one is your favorite. We would love to hear from you!

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Combine cooked old-fashioned oats or overnight oats that have been prepared using a one-to-one ratio of raw oats and your choice of milk or any other dairy substitute like almond or coconut milk.

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Thank you so much!

 

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Quail in Rose Petal Sauce

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In   Laura Esquivel’s Novel,  Like Water for Chocolate, the reader is introduced to this recipe in Chapter 3, where the love sick character Tita, who is a cook, prepared an elaborate dish with a rose, a token of love, given to her secretly by her lover Pedro. She calls the dish “quail in rose petal sauce”. At the dinner table, the meal receives an ecstatic response from Tita’s family members, especially Pedro, who always compliments Tita’s cooking. However, a more curious affect is observed in Gertrudis, her younger sister, not long after eating the dish, who begins “to feel an intense heat pulsing through her limbs.” It appears that the meal serves as a powerful aphrodisiac for Gertrudis, arousing in her an insatiable desire. This turbulent emotion pulses through Gertrudis and on to Pedro. Tita herself goes through a sort of out-of-body experience. Throughout the dinner, Tita and Pedro stare at each other, entranced.

Dripping with rose-scented sweat, Gertrudis goes to the wooden shower stall in the backyard to cool off. Her body gives off so much heat that the wooden walls of the shower stall burst into flames—and so do her clothes.Running outside, the naked Gertudis is suddenly swooped up by one of Pancho Villa’s men, who charges into her backyard on horseback.

“Without slowing his gallop, so as not to waste a moment, he leaned over, put his arm around her waist, and lifted her onto the horse in front of him, face to face, and carried her away.”

The escape of Gertrudis serves as a foil to Tita’s stifled passion. The intensity of the former’s reaction to the meal serves to communicate the potency of the passion that the latter possesses but is unable to express directly. With her primary form of expression limited to food, Tita takes the illicit token of love from Pedro and returns the gift, transforming it into a meal filled with lust. The manner in which Gertrudis is affected by the food and later swept away on a galloping horse is clearly fantastical, and the vivid imagery like the the pink sweat and powerful aroma only exemplifies the novel’s magical realism.

To  be carried away so gallantly,  in a moment of passion………..is magic!

And with that being said, this would be the perfect dish to make for someone you love, especially for a romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy!

Updated February 2, 2018

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 quail (or 6 doves or 2 Cornish Hens)
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry sherry
6 peeled chestnuts (boiled, roasted, or canned)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup red prickly pear fruit puree
(or substitute raspberries, red plums or pink dragonfruit)
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 teaspoons rosewater
Petals of 6 fresh, organic red roses, for garnish
Pepita seeds, for garnish

Directions:
Heat the serving platter in an oven set to low. Rinse the quail and pat dry. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and lightly brown the birds on all sides. Add sherry and salt and pepper to the quail. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn the quail, cover, and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the quail when done to your liking and place on a heated platter.

Combine the remaining ingredients with pan juices, transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small pan and simmer 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, and/or honey. Pour the sauce over the quail on the heated platter.  Sprinkle with the rose petals and pepitas, for garnish, and serve hot.

Cook’s Notes:
The original recipe for this dish calls for rose petals, but you don’t want to use petals from conventional flower shop roses—those are treated with fungicides. Still, if you have some organically grown roses in your backyard, or know where to buy them, feel free to use them to garnish the finished dish.

If you cannot find any rose petals, 3 bags of  Tazo Passion Hibiscus Tea is a great alternative to use as well.

You can find rosewater at local Middle Eastern stores.

The original recipe calls for cactus. In this version red prickly pear fruit puree or juice is used and can be found at most health food stores—or substitute frozen raspberries or even use 2 large red plums that have been pitted and skinned, for the red prickly pear.

Another  substitution for the prickly pear would be  dragon fruit , which is closer in terms of the flavor given that both are cactus fruits.While you may not initially equate “cactus” with “edible,” the dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is indeed borne on a cactus. When the fruit is cut open, the flesh is revealed to be either snow-white or magenta pink and peppered with tiny, edible black seeds throughout — quite a contrast to the exterior.The flesh is mildly sweet, some say comparable to a melon. A source of calcium, fiber and vitamin C, the dragon fruit is widely cultivated throughout much of the tropics, particularly in Asia. Its popularity in tropical Asia combined with the dragon reference may lead us to believe it originated in Asia, but the fact is no one seems to agree on where it came from. We do however know it is in the cactus family (Cactaceae), and therefore almost sure to be of New World origin.

If you have a dove hunter in the family, try this with dove instead of quail. In fact, doves may be an even more romantic choice, if you don’t mind picking a little birdshot from your teeth. Cornish hens also work well, as a substitute for the protein in this dish.

 

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Thank you so much!

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