Green Chile and Chicken Stew

One of my favorite part about going to farmer’s markets when I was living in Charlottesville was finding a large variety of vegetables that I don’t normally find in my sad New Haven grocery stores. Given my proclivity towards spicy foods and Mexican flavors, I had been looking for a recipe that would use a variety of peppers. I finally found this stew, which turned out to be a perfect dinner. And you can actually find these peppers throughout the year, so this should not be a dish that you can only make seasonally.

The only issue is that this recipe does take a fair bit of time (over an hour), so if you’re looking for a quick dinner on a weeknight, this is not the recipe for you. With the amount of time taken to roast, peel and seed some pretty spicy peppers, this is more of a weekend project. And remember to wear gloves when seeding some of these peppers, especially if you wear contact lenses! As someone who has made the mistake of taking off her lenses after chopping jalapenos earlier, I can say that sometimes even soap doesn’t take off that capsaicin :-/

Green Chile and Chicken Stew

Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, trimmed, stems and leaves separated
  • 2 large onions, chopped, divided
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 4 Italian frying peppers
  • 4 poblano or Hatch chiles
  • 3 jalapeño peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Steamed rice

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Combine chicken, cilantro stems, 1 onion, and next 6 ingredients in a large pot. Add water to cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer very gently until chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool slightly; shred into bite-size pieces. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; set aside.
  • Meanwhile, arrange tomatillos, peppers, and chiles in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until charred, 15-20 minutes. Green Chile and Chicken Stew
  • Transfer peppers and chiles to a a paper bag and let steam for 15 minutes, then peel and seed. Not sure how to peel roasted peppers? Click here
  • Combine peppers, chiles, and tomatillos in a food processor and purée, adding reserved broth from the chicken as necessary, until a coarse purée forms.
  • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add remaining 1 onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized in spots, about 15 minutes. Stir in tomatillo purée and remaining reserved broth; bring to a simmer.
  • Remove from heat and add chicken. Serve stew over rice and garnish with cilantro leaves

Munching my way through Portland

As someone who is skeptical of every new hipster food obsession that emerges (constantly eating gluten-free food even when you aren’t celiac? kale in everything?), I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect when I visited Portland in late December last year. I knew that there existed a high number of food trucks and some amazing wineries and breweries in and around this city, but other than that, would I be underwhelmed by hipster food trends in an otherwise hipster city? Thankfully not! I got more than my fair share of amazing food in this city over a few days, and also got to check out some of their famous breweries. So here’s my recommendations for some delicious (and definitely unique!) foods to check out the next time you’re there:

Screen Door

Serving Southern (particularly Cajun) and soul food, I was eager to visit this place and with an impressive 1,500 reviews on Yelp, I had my hopes up quite high for this one. Everyone recommended arriving there before they opened in order to not wait in a line for over an hour. We arrived half an hour before it opened, and we were still the 20th party standing in line! Thankfully, the restaurant is pretty spacious and we managed to get in the first cycle. Service was quick and we were not disappointed by their famous chicken & waffles and the bananas foster french toast. I preferred the french toast a lot more than the chicken and waffles, even though the latter is more popular – the bananas were perfectly caramelized, the rum paired perfectly with the bananas and it definitely convinced me to make one of my resolutions for this new year – which is learning how to flambé!

Chicken & Waffles @ Screen Door, Portland, OR.

Chicken & Waffles @ Screen Door, Portland, OR.

Bananas Foster French Toast @ Screen Door, Portland, OR

Bananas Foster French Toast @ Screen Door, Portland, OR

Mother’s Bistro and Bar

Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Mother’s has a warm, inviting feel that would be perfect for a lazy brunch or at their Velvet Lounge next to the bar, for some pre or post-dinner cocktails. We went there for a Sunday brunch and it was absolutely packed – though we were on the waiting list, it surprisingly did not take more than 20 minutes for us to get seated given how many other people were also waiting. Service was prompt and courteous and the food came out quickly and was quite delicious. I especially liked their breakfast nachos which contained roasted red potatoes sauteed with bacon, caramelized onions and a touch of sour cream, topped with melted cheddar cheese, green onions and some sour cream. Definitely a must-prepare the next time I’m hosting brunch. The peach compote on top of the crisp belgian waffle was also really fresh, and was the right balance of sweet and acidic.

Breakfast Tacos @ Mother's Bistro & Bar, Portland, OR.

Breakfast Tacos @ Mother’s Bistro & Bar, Portland, OR.

Crispy Belgian waffle with a peach compote and whipped cream @ Mother's Bistro & Bar

Crispy Belgian waffle with a peach compote and whipped cream @ Mother’s Bistro & Bar

Voodoo Doughnuts

Which indepedent donut seller makes $600,000 in revenue each year? Voodoo Donuts established a little over a decade ago, has shown that donuts can be just an empty canvas and can given whatever flavor that a baker chooses. With a rotating menu, some of their most famous donuts include their signature Voodoo Doll Doughnut, Captain my Captain doughnut (both of which I ate and was surprised by how amazing they tasted) and the Portland Creme donut (which I unfortunately did not taste!), also designated as Portland’s “Official City Doughnut” by a resolution introduced by Portland Mayor Tom Potter and passed by city commissioners the same night. Their Bacon Maple Doughnut was also pretty great with the sweetness of the maple syrup pairing excellently with the saltiness of the bacon, which also provided a nice crunch to the glaze on top of the doughnut.

The signature voodoo donut

The signature voodoo donut

Bacon Maple Doughnut

Bacon Maple Doughnut

I also tried the Mexican Hot Chocolate Doughnut which is a chocolate cake doughnut dusted in cinnamon sugar and cayenne pepper. It might have been good if I had tried it at some other shop on some other day, but after the above listed donuts, this one, as well as the Lemon Chiffon Doughnut, both tasted a bit underwhelming. The latter was a bit too sweet for my taste with lemon dust and three marshmallows melted on top of the donut.

Cap'n Crunch Doughnut

Captain my captain Doughnut

Food Carts

Given how many food carts exist throughout Portland, I immediately felt overwhelmed and didn’t quite know where to start. With hundreds of food carts concentrated throughout various hubs in Portland, there is probably no better place to grab a quick, cheap and delicious lunch. Some of the notable ones that stand out in my memory include The Frying Scotsman – I’m not even a huge fan of fish, but his fish and chips had light, crunchy batter that paired perfectly with a squeeze of lemon. Currently, their fried cod and chips is their main bestseller, with the other dishes in large demand being haddock and chips, halibut and chips. Sideshow, also located in downtown Portland, offered 5 beignets for $3 – I wasn’t too sure about how beignets from a cart would turn out, but they were fresh, warm, light and fluffy. They could have used a little more powdered sugar, but other than that I was quite pleased with their quality. The other famous item at Sideshow Eatery is their poutine – a Canadian dish consisting of fries doused with gravy and topped with a pile of cheese curds!

In case you’re looking for specific kinds of food carts, check out this map of food carts in Portland.

Beignets from a food cart? Check.

Beignets from a food cart? Check.

And in case this post made you hungry, here’s how to make some of these delicious goodies at home:

 

 

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

I’m not really sure why it took my roommate and me two years to make chicken gyros since he’s Greek and makes tzatziki sauce all the time (while zealously holding on to a secret family recipe for it). The tzatziki requires plain yogurt, since fat free versions tend to have more liquid, which doesn’t lead to the right consistency. These gyros are incredibly easy to make – the chicken requires an hour or two to be marinated, but as long as you remember to do that, the rest of the dish should be ready in no time.

Chicken gyro with tzatziki sauce

Chicken gyro with tzatziki sauce

 

Chicken Gyros – recipe adapted from Christina over @ Sweet Pea’s Kitchen;  Tzatziki Sauce recipe adapted from Ella Says Opa, with  inputs from Will Nomikos

INGREDIENTS
Tzatziki Sauce
  •  1 (16 oz.) container of plain yogurt
  • 1/3 -1/2 hothouse cucumber, shredded finely
  • 2-4 cloves garlic–depending how garlicky you like it, crushed
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, according to your taste
  • 3-5 tablespoons olive oil
Chicken Gyros
  • 1 1/2- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 pitas

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano. Transfer mixture to a large resealable bag and add the chicken. Refrigerate for about an hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat grill on medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade. Grill chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, or until meat thermometer inserted into the chicken read 160 degrees F. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.
  3. Wrap pitas in aluminium foil and place directly on oven rack and heat for 6-8 minutes.
  4. For Tzatziki sauce – Shred or grate the cucumber. Mix together the yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Add generous amount of black pepper, and salt, to taste.
  5. Divide chicken strips evenly among pitas; top each gyro with 1/4 cup tzatziki sauce, tomato slices, red onion slices, and 2 tablespoons feta. Wrap aluminium foil around gyro and serve immediately.

Chickpea Couscous with Lemon and Cilantro

My first time making couscous and I can safely say that it is here to stay as one of my regular lunches! Easily made, light and delicious, it’s the perfect packed lunch for me, ensuring that I don’t fall asleep at work after eating a heavy lunch. I used instant couscous this time, but I’m planning to also experiment with Israeli couscous since I’ve heard better things about it. This one is a classic summery dish, combining the taste and aroma of chicken with a whiff of citrus.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup instant couscous
  • 3/4 of a 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric (1/2 for the couscous and 1/2 while stir-frying the veggies)
  • 2 tsp Spanish paprika (1 for the couscous and 1 while stir-frying the veggies)
  • Cumin, as per your own taste (I used 1 tsp)
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 (Turkish) bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Pour the chicken broth in a pot and heat. Stir in the lemon zest, paprika, parsley, turmeric, a bay leaf and cumin. Once it starts boiling, remove the pan from heat and pour in the couscous and salt. Stir to evenly moisten the couscous.

2. Cover the pan and let it sit for 10 minutes. If the couscous hasn’t absorbed the water or still tastes crunchy after this time, cover and let it sit for a few more minutes.

3. In the meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add red onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Add the crushed garlic, coriander, chickpeas, olives, and lemon juice to the pan and stir to combine. Put some additional paprika, turmeric and cumin, to taste.

4. To serve, fluff couscous grains with a fork and mix the contents of the pan with the couscous. Top with some cilantro for garnish!

Chickpea citrus couscous garnished with some cilantro

So how do you like to eat your couscous? What are you favorite toppings?

Chicken Parmesan

My perfect go-to food for a rainy evening is something with curry/sauce and/or something with cheese. So this evening, I decided to combine both to make some chicken parmesan and serve it with sphagetti. It was pretty straightforward to cook, and it tasted delicious. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

Chicken

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 thin chicken cutlets/3 thick chicken cutlets
  • Salt, oregano and red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons dry Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese (feel free to use more of it, or to use normal, instead of part-skim mozzarella cheese)

Tomato Sauce

  • A jar of pasta sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small or medium red onion, chopped
  • A teaspoon of dried basil

Directions

Sauce:

1. Put some olive oil in the skillet and saute the onions and the garlic. When the onions have been caramelized, add the jar of pasta sauce. Mix in the dried basil and oregano and let it simmer for a few minutes. Do not leave the sauce on the heat for too long, otherwise it will get thickened, and we don’t want that until the sauce is actually on the chicken, in the oven.

Chicken:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Sprinkle the cutlets with the salt.

3. Lightly beat the egg whites in a medium bowl. Combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan in a bowl. Spread the flour in another bowl.

4.Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, dip both sides into the flour, shaking off excess. Dip each piece into the egg whites, shaking off excess, and then press both sides into the breading to coat.

5. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, 5-7 minutes.

Cooking the chicken before putting it in the oven

6. Transfer the chicken, in 1 layer, to the baking dish.

7. Spoon the sauce over the chicken then sprinkle with the cheese. Bake, covered loosely with a tent of foil, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. (depending on how thick or thin your chicken is, you might want to take it out or leave it in for 5 minutes more or less.

8. Cook sphagetti, as per directions. Serve the Chicken Parmesan over spaghetti and enjoy!

The chicken parmesan right out the oven

 

..and dinner’s ready!