Roasted Mushroom Chicken Marsala

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the kitchen is so delightful...

I just love it when I haven't been to the store in days, I find a recipe that looks pretty good, and I actually have the ingredients in the house to make it!

Case in point - last night's Roasted Mushroom Chicken Marsala!

We haven't been to the store because we've had some fun snow and ice - with more freezing rain about to start any minute. With highs only hitting the teens, the roads have become packed ice and snow. Our latest round of Cold Rain and Snow [cue the Grateful Dead] is only supposed to last until about 5am, tomorrow - an inch of snow and a half-inch of ice down at our level... More than a couple of streets are closed because of fallen trees or stuck vehicles and with plenty of supplies, there's just no reason to venture out. Besides, kids are sliding down our hill using a kiddie pool as a sled - who wants to interrupt their fun?!?

The chicken dish was compliments of a recipe I found on Food and Wine. It's one of the few food magazines I still subscribe to. Why I subscribe to any at this point is a mystery - I have literally thousands of recipes filed that I haven't made yet. I don't really need any more...

Be that as it may... this came out pretty good.

Roasted Mushroom Chicken Marsala

adapted from Food and Wine magazine

  • 1 lb mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup shallots cut into thin rings
  • 2 chicken breasts sliced in half and pounded into cutlets
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Dry Marsala
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • S&P to taste

Heat oven to 425°F.

Toss the mushrooms, garlic and shallots in a 9x13 pan with 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Roast on the middle rack of the oven, tossing the mushrooms once or twice, until the mushrooms are softened with crisp, golden edges - 20 to 30 minutes.

Season the cutlets with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and then dredge the seasoned cutlets to coat them all over.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Once hot, sear the chicken in batches, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the seared cutlets to a plate and set aside.

Add the marsala wine, chicken stock and soy sauce to the pan, with the heat on medium-high, and reduce by half.

Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Once melted, place the chicken cutlets and roasted mushrooms back into the pan.

Heat for a couple of minutes to warm the chicken, then turn off the heat and serve.


Parsley Buttered Noodles and Green Beans finished off the plate. And dinner only took three pots and a roasting pan!

It was worth it.

And the leftovers became sandwiches for lunch, today.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto and Chicken

I took a chicken breast out of the freezer with no real idea of what I was going to make for dinner.

That's not entirely unusual - ofttimes I will have a plan when I hit the 'fridge. Other times, it's a gamble.

I never plan meals in advance because I really don't know on Sunday what I'll be in the mood for on Thursday. I know many people who do that - I'm just not one of them.

By the same token, I'm not always sure at 10am what I'm going to want at 6pm - more often than not, it depends on what's in the 'fridge and needs using up. Not wasting things is a great motivator - and when there are lots of spices and other things in the pantry, there can be endless possibilities.

All of that came to a screeching halt when Victor asks what I had planned for the chicken. My answer was nothing, and his reply was gnocchi.

I was no longer cooking! That means, no matter what, I'm going to enjoy dinner!

And enjoy, I did!

Light as a feather gnocchi with chunks of chicken in the last of last years pesto was perfection on a plate!

Ricotta Gnocchi

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup ricotta - drained
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Pinch S&P

Mix everything together with a light hand and refrigerate about an hour. Start with one cup of flour and add more, depending on how wet the dough is.

Remove from 'fridge and roll pieces of dough into a rope about a half-inch thick. Cut into pieces about an inch long.

Place into simmering salted water and lightly stir. When they rise to the surface, cook another 2 or so minutes.

Serve with your favorite sauce.

Victor sauteed the chicken and then added the pesto. When it was all cooked, he added the gnocchi and mixed it all together.

Dinner was served!

Tons of flavor and contrasting textures made for the perfect dish.



Japanese Chicken Meatball Salad

Japanese-Style Chicken Meatballs

It has definitely been a while since I put fingers to keyboard and wrote about something I made. It's not like we've stopped eating - a look at my waistline will prove that not to be the case. It's more that we really haven't been cooking significantly different foods from the 2, 576 posts and 1,259 other recipes already on the site. I mean, how many times can I cook and wax poetically about the same ol' things?!?

And then, the other day, my latest copy of Milk Street arrived. It's a fun magazine. I really do like Chris Kimball. He has an Alton Brown approach to cooking - the science and chemistry behind food - along with stories about where the food came from. Granted, sometimes the ingredient lists can get a bit kludge, but all-in-all, they're pretty good.

The latest issue had a recipe for a Japanese-Style Chicken Meatball that really sounded interesting. And, as luck would have it, I had the ingredients!

To make it even better, we just started watching a show on Prime called "James May - Our Man in Japan". It's a pretty fun travel show with May - an Englishman - travelling from north to south in Japan, doing things your basic traveler would never think - or be able - to do. It's fun and interesting.

So... Milk Street recipe, Japan travel show... Time to make some meatballs!

Naturally, I couldn't just serve them over rice. It's summer time. That means salads. About as un-traditional as one can get - but it really worked!

I also found a recipe for a "Japanese Restaurant-Style Salad Dressing", so off we went...

Japanese-Style Chicken Meatballs

adapted from Milk Street Magazine

  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, 1 smashed and peeled, 1 finely grated
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons finely grated, the remainder thinly sliced and bruised
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 scallions, minced, divided
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Ground black or white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for oiling your hands

Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray; set aside. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, combine the sake, mirin, soy sauce, smashed garlic and bruised ginger. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until reduced to ⅓ cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic and ginger; transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Rinse out and dry the skillet.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, the grated garlic, the grated ginger, ¼ cup scallions, the panko, egg white, sesame oil and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Using your hands or a silicone spatula, vigorously stir and knead the mixture until well combined and sticky. Using lightly oiled hands, divide the mixture into 16 portions (about 2 tablespoons each), form each into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly press each ball to slightly flatten it into a 1- to 1¼-inch round.

In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the neutral oil until shimmering. Place the meatballs in the skillet, reduce to medium and cook until lightly browned on the bottoms, about 4 minutes. Flip each meatball and add the sake-soy mixture; continue to cook, occasionally turning the meatballs and basting them with the sauce, until the centers reach 160°F and the exteriors are glazed, 5 to 7 minutes; reduce the heat to medium if the soy mixture is reducing too quickly.

Japanese Chicken Meatball Salad


And then the salad dressing... I really like making my own dressings. This one is going into the rotation.

Japanese Restaurant-Style Salad Dressing

adapted from All-Recipes

  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine minced onion, peanut oil, rice vinegar, water, ginger, celery, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well-pureed, about 30 seconds.

We went out and bought a Ninja blender, and the smoothie cup it came with is the perfect size for making a batch of dressing - and it really makes for a smooth finished product.

Hopefully, this will get me out of my rut and start cooking a few more new, fun things...

It could happen.....



Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

It's probably no surprise that we have more than a few cooking magazines delivered to our mailbox every month.

I do have an unwritten rule that I actually need to make things from the magazines now and again, otherwise the subscription doesn't get renewed... The last subscription to go was America's Test Kitchen. I liked the concept, but I really disliked them constantly taking a perfectly good recipe and "improving" it until it didn't even remotely resemble the original. Just too convoluted.

I mean... it's one thing to swap out ingredients that aren't readily available - provided you maintain the integrity of the dish. I do things like that all of the time. What I don't do is try and pass it off as a better version of something. Usually, it's just me using up things in the pantry.

Another thing I don't often do is follow a recipe exactly. And... there are always exceptions... Case in point:

Victor was reading the latest edition of Milk Street and came across a recipe for a Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings. Sounded intriguing...

And sounded really good.

Don't let the ingredient list scare you off. It's easy.

Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

adapted from Milk Street Magazine



  • 3 slices (5 ounces) hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
  • 1 1/2 ounces (without rind) pecorino Romano cheese, cut into rough ½-inch chunks, plus finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, to serve
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Soup Stock:

  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thirds or fourths
  • 2 medium celery stalks, cut into thirds or fourths


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


01 In a food processor, combine the bread and pecorino chunks; process until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the ricotta, egg yolks, nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper; process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

02 In a large Dutch oven, combine the broth, chicken thighs, onion, carrots and celery. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low, cover and simmer until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, about 45 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

03 Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a medium bowl; set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the vegetables from the broth. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper; set aside. Using 2 forks or your hands, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces; discard the skin and bones. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

04 Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. Have ready the flour in a pie plate or other shallow dish. Scoop the chilled ricotta mixture into 16 portions, each about a generous tablespoon, onto the prepared baking sheet. Using your hands, form the portions into balls, drop them into the flour and toss to coat. Shake off the excess and return the dumplings to the baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

05 Return the broth to a simmer over medium. Gently add the dumplings and return the broth to a simmer. Cover and cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a simmer (do not allow the broth to boil), for 10 minutes; the dumplings will rise to the surface and expand.

06 Using a slotted spoon, divide the dumplings among individual bowls. Let rest for about 5 minutes to allow the dumplings to firm up; they will slump slightly as they cool. Divide the shredded chicken among the bowls and sprinkle each portion with parsley. Ladle in the hot broth and sprinkle with grated pecorino.

This one was worth the price of the magazine!

The dumplings were melt-in-your-mouth tender. The broth was rich and flavorful. It was perfect for a rainy Spring dinner.

I can see this happening again...

Doro Wat

Chicken stewed in red pepper sauce

  • A 2½- to 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
  • 2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • ¼ cup niter kebbeh (recipe here)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • teaspoon finely chopped, scraped fresh ginger root
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, pulverized with a mortar and pestle or in a small bowl with the back of a spoon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated ·
  • ¼ cup berbere (page 56)
  • tablespoons paprika
  • ¼ cup dry white or red wine
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 hard:cooked eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub the pieces with lemon juice and salt. Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes \.

In an ungreased heavy 3- to 4-quart enameled casserole, cook the onions over moderate heat for 5 or 6 minutes, or until they are soft and dry. Shake the pan and stir the onions constantly to prevent them from burn­ ing; -if necessary, reduce the heat or lift the pan occasionally from the stove to let it cool for a few moments before returning it to the heat.

Stir in the niter kebbeh and, when it begins to splutter, add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom and nutmeg, stirring well after each ad­ dition. Add the berbere anci paprika, and stir o-yer low heat for 2 to 3 min­ utes. Then pour in the wine and water and, still stir.ring, bring to a boil over high heat. Cook briskly, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid in the pan has reduced to the consistency of heavy cream.

Pat the chicken dry and drop it into the simmering sauce, turning the pieces about with a spoon until they are coated on all sides. Reduce the heat to the lowest point, cover tightly and simmer for 15 minutes.

With the tines of a fork, pierce 1/4 inch deep holes over the entire surface of each egg. Then add the eggs and turn them gently about in the sauce. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more, or until the chicken is tender and the dark meat shows no resistance when pierced with the point of a small knife. Sprinkle the ew with pepper and taste for seasoning.

To serve, transfer the entire contents of the casserole to a deep heated platter or bowl. Doro wat is traditionally accompanied by either injera or spice bread ( Recipe Index), but may also be eaten with Arab-style flat bread or hot boiled rice. Yegomen kitfo (Recipe follows) or plain yoghurt or both may be presented wit1:,the wat from separate bowls.

Chicken Parm

Two-Burner Cooking

Life continues to move forward...

Our ballots were received in Pennsylvania, all of the paperwork for the home financing has been submitted - and there is a ton of paperwork - VA appraisal is in progress, and we'll know our official move-in date in 8 days.

Moving forward.

We're even getting more creative with our two burner stove.

I made a batch of chicken soup for lunches and then did a Skillet Chicken Parmesan with Rigatoni.

Chicken Parm

A simple fried chicken breast covered in Victor's homemade sauce, and then topped with cheese. I used the skillet lid to melt the cheese.

Last night, Victor made a simple pasta sauce with cherry tomatoes, garlic, Italian herbs, crushed red pepper, and cheese.

Basic, simple, and totally delicious!

We finally bought a cutting board because I got tired of using a paper plate to slice and dice on. And a can opener. We had packed knives and the kitchen shears - and a favorite wooden spoon - but forgot a few of the other basics.

One can never have too many cutting boards...

I do realize that living in two rooms as we are would be considered a luxury for many people, but it really is not easy when you're used to space, open doors, and a full kitchen. I really miss a full-sized refrigerator and all of our pots and pans!

But... good things come to those who wait.

We're waiting...


Corona Cooking

We're definitely not going hungry at our house. Last time I was grocery shopping in the real world was 2 weeks ago when I was at my favorite Trader Joe's. I did an online order from Wegmans through InstaCart and we received it this past Sunday. Today was a delivery from Atlantic Spice, and on Friday, we're expecting a delivery from Founding Farmers. I'm really looking forward to that.

The Wegmans/InstaCart delivery was interesting... Some decidedly different substitutions. My favorite was Flushable Fragrance-Free Dude Wipes im place of standard disinfecting wipes. We chose not to get them... I didn't even know they made such a thing! The wrong cereal pulled, bananas a bit too ripe, an odd substitution for grapefruit seltzer... but all-in-all, not horrible for having someone do your shopping for you and bring it to your home. It was definitely a lot more money, though... Ka-CHING!

The Atlantic Spice order was something I definitely needed but had put off because I thought we were going to be in the process of moving west, right about now. That's on hold for the foreseeable future, so an order was placed. I was able to get lentils, orzo, unsweetened coconut, and dehydrated soup and dehydrated stew mixes - along with a ton of other stuff. When the fresh veggies just aren't around, we can always make soups and stews.

We ain't going hungry.

To add to the fun, I made a loaf of sourdough bread, today... Wanting to conserve flour, and all, I kinda screwed up in my fermenting and rising... Where one is supposed to take out a portion and add flour and water - I just kept adding the flour and water, resulting in a dough that was a lot more acidic than it should be - which caused the gluten structure to collapse. I have a really great tasting loaf of bread, but it's definitely not what it could have been.

Great crusty crust and a tight crumb...

It may not be worthy of an artisan bakery, but it worked just fine for home use...

And on to dinner... We now have more bacon in our house than we've had in a really long time - with another pound arriving Friday. Time to start eating some of it!

I made a bean and bacon soup, yesterday that will be lunch for the next few days, and tonight, wrapped a couple of bacon slices around chicken breasts and green onions. Baked in the oven. Total simplicity. The potatoes were a gateau I had made a few days ago. Layers of potatoes, onions, and cheese baked in the oven. How could it be bad?!?

So... until we can freely grocery shop and sell the house and move west, we're going to hunker down, eat well, and do what we need to do to stay healthy. This ain't exactly what I planned to be doing at this stage of my life - but I'm not going to fight it.

Stay well and have some fun in the kitchen. Not everything is going to be an Instagram meal.

So what?!? Enjoy it, nonetheless!

Isolation Cooking

Grocery shopping has certainly changed...

Gone are those leisurely treks to the store, meandering up and down the aisles without a care in the world... Nowadays, it's closer to a Mad Max movie - trying to get in and out as quickly as possible, grabbing whatever is available. I was able to do a great shopping trip at Trader Joe's in Wayne - #632 for those in the know. Damn, I just love that store. But even with a list I forgot things I wanted - I really did just want to get it over with even though the crew had taken every precaution feasible to keep it a safe trip.

Shopping changes, ingredient availability changes, and our cooking style changes. I'm actually starting to pay attention to what's in the cupboard, knowing I'm not going to be heading to the store for at least another couple of weeks to replenish anything - longer if I can swing it. Where once upon a time I'd think nothing of opening up something to add to a dish, I'm looking at that item and thinking this meal can do without it - I can use it for something else, later. I still live in a world of excess and privilege - I'm just trying to pay a bit more attention to it.

Paying attention... what a concept...

Paying attention and having the ability to keep from getting into a culinary rut. This is where those of us who have worked in the service industry - restaurants and grocery stores and the like - are the lucky ones. We know how to make do with what we have.

I'm especially lucky because I've worked in mom and pop restaurants and bakeries, as well as 4 and 5 star hotels. I was a cook and a baker on an aircraft carrier. I've cooked with foie gras and truffles, and with dried soup mix and rice. And, if truth be told, I'm more of a dried soup mix and rice kinda guy... Yeah... I like wild, crazy, and unique foods, but simple foods with lots of flavor are where it's at.

Kinda like the chicken meatballs I made Thursday.

A simple chicken breast with two green onions, one stalk of celery, a clove of garlic, one egg, pinch of thyme, and a bit of salt and pepper tossed into the food processor made 16 meatballs. A splash of white wine, a bit of chicken broth, and a tablespoon of flour made the gravy.

White rice and frozen spinach finished the plate.

Simplicity and a ton of flavor.

Last night was Piadinas - an Italian flatbread. A few years ago I went on a flatbread kick, making flatbreads from all over the world. They're remarkably similar in their simple ingredients, but the piadina is made with baking powder - not yeast. From start to table in under 30 minutes.


Last night, I topped them with ground pork simmered in a bit of leftover pasta sauce and a bit of fennel and onion braised in white wine. Totally a clean out the 'fridge-type meal. Lots of flavor, simple ingredients. Made with things in the house. I didn't snap a picture of the meal, but you get the idea. Top it like a pizza - or a tortilla - or naan - or pita - or... whatever.


adapted from Milk Street

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup lard, room temperature


In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Process 5 seconds. Add the lard and process until combined, about 10 seconds. With the processor running, add the yogurt and then the water. Process until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 1 minute.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each into a ball, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your toppings.

Roll each dough ball into a 10-inch round. Poke the surfaces all over with a fork.

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium until a drop of water sizzles immediately, 4 to 6 minutes. One at a time, place a dough round in the skillet and cook until the bottom is charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip and cook for 30 seconds.

Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

You can eat simply and eat well at the same time.

Have some fun.





Aleppo Pepper Risotto

Risotto with Aleppo Pepper

For a spice that is so popular, I must say that trying to find Aleppo Pepper out here in the culinary wasteland of the Philadelphia suburbs is nigh-on impossible. Thank goodness for online shopping or our culinary staples would be reduced to white bread and black pepper.

Aleppo pepper is named for the city of Aleppo in Syria - a city that has been inhabited for upwards of 8,000 years. Longevity doesn't translate to peace, however. Because of continued war in the area, the spice now comes mostly from Turkey.

The pepper is mildly spicy compared to other crushed red peppers, and has a unique sweetness, as well. It's quite flavorful.

Aleppo Pepper Risotto

Risotto with Aleppo Pepper

  • 1 chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 cup arborio, carnaroli, vialone nano, or other risotto rice
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 heaping tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • S&P, to taste

Saute chicken in a combination of butter and olive oil until just starting to brown a bit. Add minced garlic and aleppo pepper. Saute until chicken is almost done.

Add 1 cup of rice and saute until the rice is translucent. Add 1 cup white wine and stir until most of it has been absorbed.

Heat the broth and add by half-cupfuls, stirring and waiting until it has been absorbed before adding the next. About halfway through, add the asparagus and green onions.

Continue cooking and stirring, adding broth by half-cupfulls, until rice is fully cooked.

Stir in the cheese and the butter. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

The combination of pepper, chicken, rice, and asparagus just seemed to work. Of course, I think cardboard would have worked with this. The flavors were exceptional.

The leftovers are going to be worked into a chicken soup.

More fun cooking!

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

My impulse buy at the produce store on Monday was a huge pattypan squash. I had never seen one that size, so I thought it would be fun to see what I could do with it.

While we did end up with a pretty good dinner, I don't think I'll be rushing out to get more of them - they're actually pretty dull and flavorless. The filling made up for it.

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

In doing a Chef Google search, I found that one of the better things to do with squash of this size is to stuff them. I also found that they should be pre-baked before stuffing, so I cut off the top, hollowed out the seeds, applied olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place it in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.

The filling was bacon, leeks, mushrooms, garlic, chicken, and a hot pepper. I cooked everything and when it cooled, mixed in some shredded cheese.

Into the squash and into the oven for another 30 minutes.

The filling was excellent - the squash was meh.

Stuffed Pattypan Squash


Taboun and Spiced Chicken

Taboun and Spiced Chicken

It seems that the more I learn, the less I know. I learn a bit of something and next thing I know, I need to learn a dozen more things to learn the how's and why's for the first thing to make sense - or to put something in perspective. The minutiae...

We were watching a Netflix show on street food and the host was in Amman, Jordan. One of the things he focused on was refugees bringing different foods to the table. Amman has welcomed literally millions of refugees from throughout the Middle East - Iraqi, Palestinian, Syrian to name but a few - and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Much of the street food reflects these different groups.

The show had a lot of different flatbreads being made. I know that different cultures have different versions of flatbreads - from injera to lavosh to focaccia or pizza - but I didn't know of the bazillion cooking techniques that can turn the basic ingredients into such different things. As a guy who has never been to the middle east, I kinda figured your basic pita was pretty universal. It is - and it isn't. From baking on a rounded dome, baking on stones, in an oven, on a flat stove... the same but different. For someone who loves to bake, it's fascinating to see.

The flatbread I made today is based on a taboun - but baked on a flat baking stone, not rounded stones - so, I guess it's really just a pita. Another thing I've learned over time is there is really no such thing as a single authentic recipe of anything. Every home has their own authentic version.

Taboun Flatbread

based on several internet recipes

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine the water, honey, and yeast. Let it stand for about 10 minutes until foamy.

Combine the flour and salt with the yeast and water mixture, and stir to form a soft dough.

Add the olive oil and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form it into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until it doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven as it heats.

Knead the dough briefly and divide it into 8 balls. Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover, and let stand for about 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten each ball of dough and roll it into a circle 1/8-inch thick and about 7-8 inches in diameter.

Place on baking stone and bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 6 minutes.


The final dish is based on a Palestinian dish called Msakhan - a sumac chicken with sautéed onions.

Za'atar Chicken with Grilled Vegetables


  • 2 tbsp Za'atar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 chicken breast, sliced
  • 3 cups mixed grilled vegetables
  • 2 large thick flatbreads (taboun, lavash, pita, or Syrian saj)


Combine the sumac with the lemon juice. Rub the mixture all over the chicken, then place in a baggie and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the grilled mixed vegetables and heat through. Add a splash of wine and simmer until wine is almost evaporated - but not quite. Transfer to a bowl with all the juices.

Wipe out the pan and place over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and when hot, lightly brown the chicken pieces.

Arrange the flatbreads in an overlapping layer in a large, lightly oiled shallow baking dish. Spoon over the roasted vegetables, then top with the chicken pieces and drizzle any pan juices on top. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

I made two individual dishes because I tend to really over-do it when making things like this. I'd have enough food to feed the neighborhood, if left to my own devices...

Taboun and Spiced Chicken

And then, because eating them out of the casserole was impractical, we just slid them out onto plates.

Taboun and Spiced Chicken

A really fun and flavorful dinner. There was chewy bread, there was bread that had sopped up the juices from the vegetables and the chicken. It was pull-apart eat-with-fingers and a bit of knife and fork. The perfect meal. And you could make this in no time with store-bought pitas.

One of these days we really need to travel the Mediterranean countries from Morocco to Turkey.

There's a lot of good food to be had.....

Thug Kitchen

Thugs and Ainsley

I'm sitting here with the Summer Cold From Hell.

Since I actually don't remember the last time I had a cold - it's been a few years, at least - I suppose I shouldn't complain, too much.

On the other hand, it really sucks. We missed out on a Phillies/Giants game, today, but since the Phillies beat my Giants 10-2, I suppose that wasn't such a bad thing...

Colds tend to dull the taste buds, so I was looking for something fairly bold and spicy - and I had two new sources - so I went with one from each.

The first was my Thug Kitchen Cookbook. It is a hoot - and it has some outstanding recipes! I started off with 5-Spice Fried Rice with Sweet Potatoes. I more or less followed the recipe, but they call for adding bitter greens in and I didn't have any, so I just ignored that part. I used Carolina Gold Rice Grits from Anson Mills for the short-grain rice.

5-Spice Fried Rice with Sweet Potatoes

adapted from Thug Kitchen

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced into small cubes
  • 2 tsp neutral oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp chili paste or sriracha
  • 4 cups cooked short grain rice
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed


Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the sweet potato and two tbsp of water and stir fry, stirring often, for about 5-8 minutes until the potato is tender and starting to brown. Add more water if the potato starts to stick.

Add the onion and carrot and continue to stir fry for another 3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the 5-spice powder and garlic and stir fry for 1-2 more minutes. Remove all vegetables from the pan, cover and set aside.

Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar and Sriracha in a small bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the cooked rice and stir fry until warm, approximately 5 minutes. Add the sauce mix and the vegetables, plus the peas to the rice and mix well.

Stir fry for another 1-3 minutes. Fold in green onions.

Next up was a Caribbean Chicken from Ainsley Harriott's Street Food. It's a show on Netflix where this guy travels around the world eating street food. A job I should have...

He used bone-in chicken breasts. I used a single boneless breast I cut into strips before marinating. I also adjusted the marinade ingredients - it's simply equal parts lime, rum, and soy sauce - and used demerara sugar in place of palm.

Rum-Drunk Barbecued Chicken

adapted from Ainsley Harriott's Street Food

  • 6 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) lime juice
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dark rum
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dark soy sauce
  • 1 small bunch thyme, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 tsp grated palm sugar


To make the marinade, place all the ingredients in a large airtight container and shake to combine well.

Using a sharp knife, make 2-3 deep incisions through the skin side of the chicken, to help the marinade permeate the flesh. Add the chicken to the marinade, stir to coat well, then cover and stand for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight if time permits.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium heat.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook, basting with the marinade and turning regularly, for 15 minutes or until just cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Thug Kitchen

Surprisingly good! There was definitely that rum flavor, but not overpowering. It really was balanced with the lime and the soy sauce.

And both the rice and the chicken had some heat. They balanced one another, as well.

I'm sure we'll be seeing more fun recipes from both as time goes on.