Teriyaki chicken (Surf Cook)









Here’s a wonderful guest post from my friend Jeanette, the fabulous Surf cook, creatrice of gorgeous fish recipes that always evoke the scent of sea air & the sound of the waves rolling onto the beach and thus enchanted on a regular basis force me to change whatever dinner plans I had. (I am just a tad envious of her endless supply of fresh seafood – I soo wish I could have a regular fish box delivered to our door, too.) Apart from that she’s a great fountain of food knowledge from all over the world, having extensively traveled and tasted herself through countless authentic cuisines as this Teriyaki chicken proves again. Thank you very much, Jeanette, for this and much much more. I am especially happy about the advice further down and am sending this directly to my husband: can we have this for supper on Friday, please? Continue reading

Chicken fricassee – Hühnerfrikassee

chicken fricassée - Hühnerfrikassée

I am working on a recipe index… and tidying up some loose ends. Boy, all of those take some time and I got lost dreaming of a new place or a change. This initiated a minor spring clean: the kitchen got a spruce paint job (white over splatters, project The-parents-are-coming-soon) and I had a good tidy in the storage room reappointing a lot of things to the charity shop: don’t think I’ll ever wear the Girbaud suit thing with cut-outs again (stretchy material, though). Invigorating.

Hühnerfrikassee is one of my favourite meals since I was a child: the sauce is a little lemony and ever so often you hit a tangy tasting brined caper. I love (loooove) capers and their numbers tend to decrease every time I am passing my pan, so beware, if you find me in the vicinity of your stove acting totally innocent – probably whistling – while you wonder about the severely diminished caper-count. I did it, spoon at the ready, to my mother’s fricassee every time her back was turned. Sorry, Mama.

In Germany, chicken fricassee is classically served with white asparagus tips when the new & tender white asparagus is in season (now) or otherwise, sliced white champignons could be added to the aromatic sauce. I love the pure dish equally to an asparagus studded version and have some bright green peas as a side to contrast the pale creamy white.

On a weekend or if you have the time it is definitely worth it making the fricassee from scratch using a tasty long, free & happy-lived boiling chicken. The meat stays wonderfully juicy and you’ll have a great chicken broth as a bonus. For instant gratification and a really fast dinner (we are talking maximum 10-15 minutes including the time it takes to cook the rice) use leftover meat from a roasted chicken and start the recipe with the roux. For smaller portions, I think a poached chicken breast (use the same recipe for the poaching liquid) works well, too. Although, why not make a whole batch and freeze the surplus portions for a rainy day?



Chicken fricassee

for 6-8 people as a main, depending on the voracity of their appetite

1 chicken (preferably a boiling hen)
2 tablespoons butter (30g)
1 onion
root vegetables for soup (ask for ‘Suppengrün’): 1 large carrot, a piece celery root (1 thick slice or ¼ small root), 1 leek, 1 parsley root, 1 yellow turnip, 1 branch parsley & lovage => dice all, leave herbs whole
lemon peel or a thick slice of lemon (organic)
a few black pepper corns
½ – ¾ litre = 500-750ml or a 1½ pint (US) water

30g butter
1 shallot, minced
2 heaped tablespoons (30g) flour
½ litre (500ml or a pint) of the reserved stock, don’t fret if it is a little less or top up
white wine (dry, a small glass)
small capers in brine (to taste)
90ml or 6 tablespoons cream
lemon juice
salt & white pepper
(optional: 1 egg yolk)
optional: sliced white champignons de Paris or tender white asparagus tips

Dry the chicken, season with salt and pepper. Heat a braising pan, small Dutch oven or a heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat and fry the chicken until only lightly coloured and not browned on all sides. Toss the diced soup vegetables a little in the butter without browning, then add the aromatics (herbs, lemon peel, pepper) & finally pour in the water. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for about 1½ hours, turning the chicken from time to time. Leave to cool and take the meat of the bones and tear it into bite sized pieces: either wait until you are able to touch the chicken or leave for a few hours or overnight until needed, then tear the meat of accordingly. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and reserve.

Make a light roux with shallot: melt the butter, sweat the shallot until translucent, sprinkle with flour and leave to roast (not brown!) for a moment, add the liquid in small instalments. To avoid a lumpy sauce add only a little broth at a time, whisking constantly until the mass is smooth again, add more broth and whisk again until smooth again, repeat with increasing amounts of liquid, stirring constantly. Pour in a good lug or a small glass of white wine and continue to cook a few minutes more to allow the roux to thicken the sauce slightly. Add the chicken meat, capers (to taste, I like a lot, some people prefer less), cream and season with lemon juice, salt & pepper. My grandmother used an egg yolk to enrich & thicken the sauce a little more. Traditionally slices of snow-white champignons or equally tender white asparagus tips are added to the chicken fricassee (mushrooms sautéed in butter without taking colour, thin asparagus tips cooked for 4-5 minutes in salted water with a pinch of sugar added), a vision in pale cream flecked with dark green capers. We eat this with white basmati rice and cooked green peas.


für 6-8 Personen

1 gutes Suppenhuhn
2 EL Butter
1 Zwiebel
Suppengrün oder –gemüse: 1 große Möhre, 1 große Scheibe oder ¼ Knolle Sellerieknolle, 1 Stange Lauch, 1 Petersilienwurzel, 1 gelbe Rübe, 1 Zweig Petersilie & Liebstöckel => Gemüse würfeln, Kräuter ganz lassen
Zitronenschale oder dicke Scheibe einer ganzen Zitrone Bio, versteht sich)
einige schwarze Pfefferkörner
½ – ¾ Liter Wasser

30g Butter
1 Schalotte, fein gewürfelt
2 gehäufte EL (30g) Mehl
½ Liter Hühnerbrühe (wenn es nicht reicht, macht nichts oder einfach mit ein wenig Wasser aufstocken)
trockener Weißwein (ca. ein kleines Glas)
kleine Kapern in Lake (nach Geschmack)
90ml oder 6 EL Sahne
Salz & weißer Pfeffer
(optional: 1 Eigelb zum legieren der Sauce)
optional: weiße Champignons in Scheiben geschnitten oder weiße Spargelspitzen

Huhn abtrocknen, salzen und pfeffern und in einem Schmortopf (mit Deckel) in Butter bei mäßiger Hitze von allen Seiten leicht anbraten bis das Huhn Farbe annimmt, aber nicht bräunt. Das klein geschnittene Suppengemüse hinzugeben und ebenfalls in der Butter anschwitzen, dann die Kräutern, Zitronenschale & Pfefferkörner hinzugeben, anschließend mit Wasser begießen. Den Deckel auflegen und ca. 1 ½ Stunden köcheln lasse, das Huhn von Zeit zu Zeit wenden. Huhn abkühlen lassen, dann das Fleisch von den Knochen pflücken und in kleine Stücke zerteilen: entweder direkt nach dem Kochen, ein paar Stunden oder einen Tag später. Für eine schnelle Version kann man auch Reste von einem gebratenen Hühnchen verwenden – solange es nicht zu trocken ist. Die Brühe durch ein feines Sieb seihen und für die Sauce verwahren.


Für die Sauce eine Mehlschwitze mit der Schalotte herstellen: die Butter schmelzen und die Schalottenwürfel darin glasig werden lassen (nicht bräunen), dann das Mehl hinzugeben und anschwitzen. Die Flüssigkeit zuerst in geringer Menge hinzugeben, mit einem Schneebesen oder Holzlöffel rühren bis wieder eine glatte Masse entsteht, immer wieder unter ständigem Rühren etwas (später mehr) Flüssigkeit hinzu gießen bis schlussendlich eine glatte Sauce ohne Klümpchen entsteht. Einen guten Schuß (oder ein kleines Glas) Weißwein hineingeben und wenige Minuten weiter kochen lassen bis die Sauce durch die Roux dicklich geworden ist. Hühnerfleisch, Kapern (nach Geschmack: ich liebe Kapern, also nehme ich ein kleines Gläschen), Sahne einrühren und das Frikassée mit Zitronensaft, Salz & Pfeffer abschmecken. Meine Oma hat ihr Hühnerfrikassée noch mit einem Eigelb legiert (einrühren und nicht mehr zu heiß werden lassen), traditionell werden auch noch entweder in Scheiben geschnittene weiße Champignons (in Butter geschwenkt) oder zarte weiße gekochte Spargelspitzen hinzugefügt: eine Symphony in creme mit kleinen olivfarbenen Kapern. Wir essen dies meist ohne Pilze oder Spargel, aber mit weißem Basmatireis und grünen Erbsen.

Turkey meatballs with soy-ginger glaze & griddled pak choi












These scrumptious savoury morsels (my husband pops them like bonbons) are perfect on their own, but to drizzle them with the sticky soy-ginger glaze comes somewhat close to gilding the lily – though only in a good way. They effortlessly make their way to the top of our what-shall-we-have-tomorrow-questionnaire. Every time.

Ground turkey is not really a common sight in German butchers or supermarkets (in fact: never), you have to get chopping yourself and frankly, I prefer the coarser texture to the fine grind. You’ll see what is in the mince as well, to make a virtue out of necessity… Mix in a few bread crumbs to insure those delicate meatballs will stay balls meaning keep their shape & stick together while being browned all over. Drizzled with the treacly ginger syrup and serve with fragrant white rice and a huge plate of this (highly addictive) smoky griddled pak choi or bok choy.


Turkey meatballs with soy-ginger glaze & griddled pak choi


Turkey meatballs with a soy-ginger glaze & griddled pak choi

30 little balls serve 4 or if you invite my husband: just 2. You have been warned.

The Meatballs are adapted with a few minor changes (chopped turkey, breadcrumbs) from New York Times (featuring Canal House Cooking, vol. 3) via the Smitten Kitchen.

½ cup (90g) dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
½ cup (120ml) water
½ cup (120ml) soy sauce
½ cup (120ml) mirin
¼ cup chopped ginger; I used less (half): a big walnut sized piece
1 teaspoon ground coriander
a few black pepper corns (4-8)

1lb (454g) turkey breast
4-6 spring onions (scallions)
a handful of coriander (cilantro)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
black pepper, add some chilli flakes for extra spice
about 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
sunflower oil or other vegetable oil

Bok choy / Pak choi:
8 medium pak choi
(any) oil
hoisin sauce
sriracha sauce (medium hot)
soy sauce or salt & pepper


Start with the sauce: dissolve the sugar in the water over medium-high heat, add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander, pepper corns and turn the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally and simmer until reduced by half to a runny syrup or thick glaze (not as thick as treacle). Takes about ½ hour. Strain if you like, I rather like the ginger in it and do not bother with an extra step.
Meatballs: Finely chop the turkey (to a coarse mince), as well as the spring onions & coriander. Mix together with an egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, freshly ground black pepper and bread crumbs to a rather loose & light mixture. Form with moistened hands into little cherry-sized meatballs, they are going to be quite soft and need to be gingerly treated.

Heat a generous splash of oil in a frying pan (skillet) over medium-high heat and slowly fry the first batch of turkey meatballs until browned and cooked (ca. 8 minutes). Keep them warm on a preheated plate or in a low oven while you prepare the rest. Drizzle with the soy-ginger glaze before serving.

Pak choi: While the meatballs are frying, heat a cast-iron griddle or plancha (alternatively use a large frying pan) over high heat. Halve the small cabbages lengthwise (the halves are kept together by the stalks), brush the cut sides with a little oil and place onto the searing hot griddle. Turn over after a few minutes and sear the other side until they are soft, browned in parts and exude a nice barbecue smell. Place on a warmed platter, drizzle with thin strands of hoisin & sriracha sauce (both handily available in squeeze bottles). Season with soy or salt & black pepper and serve together with the glazed meatballs and fragrant Thai or Jasmin rice.

Griddled pak choi


Putenhackbällchen mit Ingwer-Sojaglasur & gegrilltem Pak choi

Ergibt ca. 30 kleine Frikadellen. Das reicht für 4 Personen, falls mein Mann vorbei kommt: nur für zwei.

Das Rezept für die Putenhackbällchen wurde mit einigen Änderungen adaptiert vom Rezept in der New York Times (Canal House Cooking, vol. 3) via Smitten Kitchen.

90g oder ½ Tasse dunkler Mascobado Zucker
120ml Wasser
120ml Sojasauce
120ml Mirin
ein Stück Ingwer (von der Größe einer Walnuß), gehackt (die Hälfte einer ¼ Tasse gehackter Ingwer)
1 TL gemahlener Koriander
4-8 ganze schwarze Pfefferkörner (nach gewünschter Schärfe)

450g Putenbrust (Putenschnitzel)
4-6 Frühlingszwiebeln
a Handvoll Koriander
1 großes Ei
2 EL Sesamöl
2 EL Sojasauce
schwarzer Pfeffer, eventuell auch Chiliflocken
ca. 2 EL Paniermehl

Bok choy / Pak choi:
8 mittlere pak choi
Hoisin Sauce
Sriracha Sauce (mittelscharf; grüner Deckel)
Sojasauce oder Salz & Pfeffer


Zuerst die Sauce vorbereiten: In einer kleinen Kasserolle den dunkelbraunen (unraffinierten) Zucker im Wasser bei mittlerer Hitze auflösen. Sojasauce, Mirin, Ingwer, Koriander und Pfefferkörner hinzugeben und bei verringerter Hitze um die Hälfte zu einem (dünneren) Sirup einkochen. Das dauert ungefähr eine halbe Stunde. Anschließend kann man die Glasur durch ein Sieb geben, ich mag die Ingwerstückchen in der Sauce und verzichte auf diesen Schritt.

Für die Hackbällchen das Putenfleisch fein hacken, ebenso wie die Frühlingszwiebeln und den Koriander. Alles zusammen mit dem Ei, Sesamöl, Sojasauce, frisch gemahlenem schwarzen Pfeffer (wer es schärfer möchte gibt noch Chiliflocken oder Cayenne hinzu) und dem Paniermehl zu einer weichen Masse verrühren. Mit angefeuchteten Händen kleine Bällchen (kirschgroß) formen. Einen guten Schuß Öl in einer Pfanne erhitzen (mittlere Hitze) und die vorsichtig die sehr weichen Putenbällchen portionsweise rundherum braten bis sie durch und gebräunt sind. Auf einem vorgewärmten Teller oder im Backofen bei niedriger Temperatur warm halten. Vor dem Servieren mit der Glasur beträufeln, den Rest in einem Kännchen separat dazu reichen.

Für den Pak choi eine Grillplatte oder schwere Pfanne stark erhitzen. Den chinesischen Kohl längs halbieren (die Hälften werden von den Stämmchen zusammengehalten) und die Schnittflächen mit ein wenig Öl bepinseln. Auf die heiße Fläche legen und einige Minuten grillen, wenden und braten bis der Pak choi weich, an einigen Stellen bräunlich geworden ist und wunderbaren Grillgeruch angenommen hat. Die Hälften auf eine Platte legen und mit einem dünnen Zickzackmuster aus Hoisinsauce & Srirachasauce verzieren (praktischerweise gibt es beide in den handlichen Plastikfläschchen). Entweder mit Sojasauce oder Salz & Pfeffer würzen und mit weißem Duftreis zu den glasierten Hackbällchen servieren.


Sonoma chicken salad

Sonoma chicken salad by the james kitchen
Sonoma chicken salad, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.


And what to do with all the chicken leftovers? If you haven’t got any, you might want to cook an extra chicken (or grill some breasts) just for this chicken salad. I do not know anything about the origin of the name, several other recipes by this moniker use grapes which is quite logic since Sonoma is of course the beautiful wine country in California. Anyway, we used to buy the salad at Trader Joe’s (Whole Foods has a different version though for me the honey is a bit much) when we used to live in the Bay Area and the name stuck.

Sweet cranberries and pecans add a taste of the States, savoury celery brings crunch and the admittedly rich but tart & fruity dressing unites all of these flavours. Great with a few raw vegetables on the side to pick at, it unfolds its potential as prime picnic fare. Especially, when served with soft, dark malted bread and all the California sights at your doorstep to choose for lovely picnic spots (not that I ever took food into the big National Parks, the idea of wild bears ripping the roof of the car like the lid of a tin of sardines freaked me out quite a bit…).

Since we are about 5681.515 miles away right now we had to come up with our own recipe for this salad to transport us back to the balmy weather (Sunnyvale, says it all, I think), the toasted-wood smell of Redwood trees & the crescendo of strong waves crashing onto the beach at Half Moon Bay and our favourite, less crowded spot at Montara. As I said, this is great picnic fare and if you are in the area, here are a few suggestions for hikes & great scenic drives.

If you are further away (something like 5681.515 miles but who is counting), pack your hamper, crank up the underfloor heating and unfold your blanket. That this salad goes very well with a lovely white wine from Sonoma goes without saying.


Sonoma chicken salad
serves 6
The measurements are a little on the vague side here since most of the ingredients are to your own preferences and it is best to find your own mix: if you prefer pecans to cranberries, add more of those and fewer of these. My advice is though to go for roughly the same quantities with a little more chicken and celery.

Cold leftover chicken or cold grilled chicken breasts (around 450g or 1 lb)
2 handfuls dried cranberries, unsweetened
pineapple juice
3-4 celery ribs, diced
2-3 handfuls whole pecans
½ cup (ca. 120ml) mayonnaise (add less or more to taste or substitute a part by sour cream or yoghurt, if you want to make it a little less rich)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
salt & pepper

Macerate the cranberries in pineapple juice for about 20 to 30 minutes until they have plumped up a little. Keep the juice for the dressing. Pick over the carcass of your leftover chicken or chop the grilled breasts into bite-sized pieces. Add them to a bowl along with the cranberries, celery and pecans. Make the dressing by combining mayonnaise, cider vinegar (see if you need a little less or more depending on the kind of mayonnaise you are using, the sauce should have a tart apple-y taste), some of the reserved pineapple juice, poppy seeds and season with salt & pepper. You want to have quite a runny dressing for the chicken and other ingredients will suck up quite a lot of liquid while the salad rests. Mix with the chicken & co. and let the salad rest for about 1 to 2 hours for the flavours to meld & mingle. Adjust the seasoning and add some more pineapple juice if necessary. There is of course a lot of tasting required while the salad rests, naturally.


Auf deutsch: Sonoma Hühnchensalat
für 6 Personen, lecker für ein Picknick im Freien oder auch im Wohnzimmer.
Die Mengen der Zutaten variieren, man kann die Mischung nach eigenem Geschmack gestalten, so z.B. wenn man lieber Pekannüsse als Cranberries mag, nimmt man davon mehr und vom anderen weniger. Ich versuche ungefähr nach Augenmaß gleiche Mengen zu nehmen, aber ein wenig mehr Huhn und Bleichsellerie hinzuzugeben.

Kaltes Hühnchen oder gegrillte Hühnchenbrust (ca. 450g)
2 Handvoll getrocknete Cranberries, ungesüßt wenn möglich
3-4 Stangen Bleichsellerie, in Würfel geschnitten
2-3 Handvoll ganze Pekannüsse
½ Tasse (120ml) gute Mayonnaise (weniger oder mehr nach Geschmack, man kann auch einen Teil durch saure Sahne oder Yoghurt ersetzen um das Dressing etwas weniger reichhaltig zu machen, ich würde keine light-Produkte verwenden)
1 EL Apfelessig
2 EL Mohnsamen
Salz & Pfeffer

Die getrockneten Cranberries für ca. 20 bis 30 Minuten in Ananassaft einweichen, den Saft aufbewahren. Hühnerfleisch von der Karkasse ablösen falls Sie etwas vom Brathähnchen oder Suppenhuhn übrighaben oder die gegrillte Hünchenbrust in mundgerechte Stückchen schneiden und zusammen mit dem Bleichsellerie, den Cranberries und den Pekannüssen in eine Schüssel geben. Aus der Mayonnaise, dem Essig (mehr oder weniger Essig hinzugeben je nachdem was für eine Mayonnaise verwendet wird, das Dressing sollte schon etwas Apfelgeschmack und Säure haben), etwas von dem Ananassaft, dem Mohn sowie Salz & Pfeffer eine relativ flüssige Salatsauce herstellen, da die Zutaten einige Flüssigkeit aufsaugen werden. Die Sauce mit Huhn & Co. mischen und für ca. 1-2 Stunden ruhen lassen, damit sich die verschiedenen Geschmäcker miteinander verbinden können. Dann abschmecken und wenn erforderlich noch etwas mehr Ananassaft hinzugeben. Natürlich ist es absolut notwendig, daß der Salat während der Ruhezeit regelmäßig probiert wird – dies nur falls Sie jemand fragt.


Sunday supper: Za’atar roast chicken, kale salad & Piri Piri sauce

Piri Piri sauce by the james kitchen
Piri Piri sauce, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.


Two weekends ago we had a very nice and simple Sunday supper: Roast chicken with Za’atar, the fragrant Middle Eastern spice blend which combines woodsy thyme, tart sumac & nutty sesame seeds (Za’atar is very easy to find nowadays or to make your own, recipe here), sweet potatoes, a spicy Piri Piri sauce (listen, I do not claim this to be the authentic recipe, this is more ‘a sort of Piri Piri’ sauce) and to round it all of with a kale salad in a creamy-garlicky Caesar dressing with crisp Panko on top. We liked the curly kale salad that much (I did mention the dressing, did I?) that we build last Sunday’s supper around it as well and I am happy to report that it is good company to Macella Hazan & April Bloomfield’s gorgeous Veal shank with white wine & shallots (this is a video), too.

We Germans know or eat curly kale (Grünkohl) mostly as a hot dish, cooked with potatoes and smoked or cured meats & sausages or in particular area of Northern Germany it comes with a Barley sausage called Pinkel which is almost vegetarian and tastes much better than it looks. Some plates heaving with the works illustrate accurately what people commonly associate with German food but done right (and in smaller portions) Grünkohl is a fantastic dish and can be every bit as elegant and refined & veerrry tasty on top. Note to self: Better make it soon then.

Anyway, eating raw curly kale (Grünkohl) or black Tuscan kale (Lacinato kale, Cavolo nero, Palmkohl) might still pose as quite a discovery or novelty, I think, but even if you are a little timid and dub it as a bit too healthy & fibrous for you, let me assure you, slathering it in a Caesar dressing certainly makes up for that. See it as an initiation drug. The massaging (weird, I know, though effective) takes care of the hard fibres and softens both kale and hands.

Recipes in German: see next post / Rezepte auf Deutsch: siehe hier.

Sunday supper:
Za’atar roast chicken with sweet potato wedges, Piri Piri sauce & garlicky kale ‘Caesar’ salad

Za’atar Roast Chicken:
1 whole chicken (around 1.5kg or 3lbs, free-range or organic)
2-3 teaspoons Za’atar
salt & pepper
olive oil

Take your chicken about 1 hour to 30 minutes before you want to cook it out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400° F).

Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle generously with the Za’atar spice blend. Place in the oven and roast for about 1 hour until the juices run clear (cut into the space between the legs & body). Serve whole & carve or cut into pieces.

Shortcut Piri Piri sauce:
adapted from Food & Wine Januar 2013; shortcut: I substituted the spicy Harissa paste instead of chopping various chiles

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red (bell) pepper, finely chopped (if you want it even faster, buy fire-roasted peppers in oil and blend)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup (60ml) water
2 tablespoons (or to taste) spicy Harissa
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the pepper, onion & garlic and cook over low heat for about 12-15 minutes until they are soft. Stir from time to time. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and blend into a puree. Season, adjust the spicyness to your taste and decant into a bowl or glass. Leave for one hour for the flavours to meld.

Sweet potato wedges:

1 sweet potato per person
olive oil

Wash the sweet potatoes and cut it (skin on) into wedges, toss with olive oil and season with salt. Place onto a preheated baking sheet and roast in the oven (200°C or 400° F) along the chicken for about 30-40 minutes depending on the thickness of your wedges. Stir a couple of times.

Garlicky kale salad with parmesan & panko:

This wonderful kale salad has curly kale cut into ribbons, squeezed = massaged & tossed in a lovely Caesar(-ish) dressing with roasted garlic and is finally sprinkled with parmesan and crunchy panko breadcrumbs. The recipe can be found on Tori Avey’s blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

chicken tagine with preserved lemons & green olives

There is a myriad of recipes for chicken with preserved lemons & olives, even the recipe leaflet for the Cherry red tagine dish that I got from my husband delivers one, naturally. Claudia Roden (well known to the British, Americans might be more familiar with Paula Wolfert as an authority on Moroccan cuisine) has several variations in her different books, which are wonderfully evocative just to read and imagine cooking yourself through the pages. My copies are festooned with post-its to mark future projects and this one was amongst the first things I had prepared when my friend Anke came for a visit. Alone ingredients like saffron, ginger, coriander and preserved lemons are enough to convince me to make this, especially when I get to make the salted lemons myself and have a jar of these pretty preserves stocked in my larder.I changed the recipe a little bit and cut the chicken beforehand into pieces since I find it easier to serve it this way (also: dividing a chicken that is doused in sauce at the table rarely leaves me without accidents and I hate to finish an evening by treating stains in clothes and tablecloths) and everyone can choose their own favourites. Just a little more onion thickens the sauce a tad, I find, and why not used a whole preserved lemon instead of just the peel: the preserved flesh acts as a seasoning that brings lemony saltiness to the dish (keep this in mind and watch how much salt you are adding before) and intensifies the lemon factor. Also, I hate to throw these things away.If you are planning to cook this, preserve the lemons first (see next recipe) since they need a month to mature or see if you can find them at a Middle Eastern grocer, although I think better supermarkets might even stock them nowadays. For impatient cooks, Gourmet magazine had devised an express version which boils the lemons as a short-cut to speed up the process and shrink the waiting time to just five days.For a Moroccan feast, start with a spread of mezze (or kemia as the small appetizer dishes are called in Morocco) to pick at: any freshly baked flatbread, a plate of hummus, the (Turkish) walnut & pomegranate paste muhammara, small salads and vegetable dishes (lots of recipes to come in the future), olives and and and. Serve the chicken in a tagine or pretty bowl with bread, couscous, larger bulgur wheat pearls (or rice if you prefer) and some green vegetables on the side.

Chicken tagine with preserved lemon & green olives
4-6 portions, adapted from Claudia Roden’s Tamarind & Saffron

1 free-range or organic chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces (legs, thighs & halved breasts with bones)
olive oil
1-2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt & pepper
bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped
bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
about 300ml (1/2 pint) water
1 whole preserved lemon (which is what I use) or the peel of 1-1½ preserved lemons cut into small pieces
75g (3oz) or more green olives (Roden soaks them 2 times in water, I don’t)

Arrange the chicken pieces along with the onion, garlic, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, salt & pepper, coriander and parsley in a tagine or a small cast-iron pan or dutch oven. Add the water to nearly cover the chicken but not entirely. Simmer with a closed lid for about 20-25 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over from time to time. Remove the cover, include the lemon and green olives in the sauce, cook for another 15-20 minutes without lid. The chicken should be tender and nearly fall of the bone and the sauce reduced to a fairly liquid herby-lemony concoction, adjust the seasoning and serve with bread, bulgur wheat, couscous or rice and a generous helping of green vegetables.

Chicken chile verde

Chicken chile verde by the james kitchen
Chicken chile verde, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

Not the prettiest of pictures I admit and I am happy to have a very good reason to cook this again very soon – just for the picture, you know, but this is such a tasty dish that it would be a shame to wait since it will be a good thing to use up turkey leftovers, too. I might be wrong but there might be a time in the near future where plenty of those will be available and this you do not want to miss out on.

When we lived in California we used to buy a chicken chile verde from Trader Joe’s and loved it so much that back here – where no TJ’s exists – we needed to make our own and after a few trials & fiddles we had our own chicken chile verde: it is even better, fresher and dead easy to make. It is best to cook the whole amount even if you are just two people, freeze the rest and you’ll have more ready to go when you need a quick fix.

I buy the whole chicken (to make sure it is not so much tempered with, at least free-range, long-lived, traceable and so on, no Frankenbird), roast it one day and use the leftovers for salads, chicken Fricassée (with loooots of capers for me)… and surely this chicken chile verde. If you start from the beginning then either roast a chicken along side something else (if you have the oven on already, might just squeeze a chicken in) or cook one  in this sort of mexicanized court bouillon (recipe below).

Not be too missionary & evangelical about it but I really recommend a whole chicken with bones & dark meat from free-range, long-lived birds (that is the healthy part with all the omega 3 & 6) for a proper chicken taste and succulent meat as opposed to the rather reduced one-dimensional taste of only breast meat. If you are squeamish about a whole bird use chicken pieces by all means, although there is a lot of flavour coming from the carcass and little tasty bits & pieces of meat that you are missing out on. Like the Oyster or Pfaffenschnittchen (the best piece for the priest…), in French it is adequately called Sot-l’y-laisse – “A foul who leaves this behind”.

Chicken chile verde
for about 6 portions

1 cold roast chicken or 1 cooked chicken (see below) or leftovers from the previous roast chicken dinner, picked and torn into not too little pieces
1 large tin / can (790g or 28 oz) of tomatillos (about 12)
3 cooked or broiled garlic cloves (I use the ones from my roast chicken or the cooked chicken)
1 small tin (220g or 110g drained weight) of sliced Poblano peppers, reserve a few and chop
2 jalapeño chiles, seeds removed, chopped
1 bunch of coriander / cilantro, roughly chopped
salt & pepper
olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
½ l (2 cups) good chicken stock (or use some of the chicken cooking liquid, check for saltiness though)
1-2 whole cloves (Nelken)
1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt & pepper
green Tabasco (if you need more spice)

Either roast a chicken (rubbed in olive oil, stuffed with two bay leaves & at least three garlic cloves – though why so stingy, they are the best to eat with the chicken – and seasoned with salt, pepper & dried thyme) in the oven at 200°C or 400° F for about 1 hour and leave to cool OR make the chicken one day for dinner and use the leftovers for this OR get a cold rotisserie chicken. Pick the meat of the bones and tear into bite-sized shreds (as for Fricassée).

Place the drained tomatillos, soft garlic cloves, most of the sliced Poblano peppers, jalapeños & coriander in a blender or food processor and chop with quick pulses to a chunky purée. Sweat the chopped onions in a little olive oil until translucent, add the chopped garlic cloves and stir for a scant minute to cook these, too. Add the chicken pieces, the tomatillo sauce, chicken stock, cloves and dried oregano. Let the whole thing cook on a low flame for a while (minimum 10 minutes or much longer until you need it) – this is mainly to get the flavours to mingle and to reduce the liquid in the sauce to a nice saucy consistency. Season with salt & freshly ground pepper and if you like green Tabasco.

Serve with rice and I think green vegetables of your choice, we have snow peas or broccoli or something along those lines with it.

Cooked chicken for chicken chile verde:

1 whole chicken
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, quartered (no need to peel)
1-2 celery stalks, halved
a few coriander stalks (use the leaves for something else)
one or two or a few parsley stalks
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
10 (1 teaspoon) whole black peppercorns
1 small dried chili (peperoncino, piquin etc.)
1 tablespoon salt

If you have a large stock pot leave the chicken whole otherwise cut it into quarters and put it along with the other ingredients into the pot. Cover with water and bring over high heat to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook it for about one hour. Remove the chicken from the bouillon and leave to cool. Take of all the meat when it is cool enough to handle and shred into bite-sized bits.

quick tom yum soup

quick tom yum soup by the james kitchen
quick tom yum soup, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

Last week at a party we were talking about this quick tom yum soup and I am fulfilling my promise to write about it (Hi Francisca and Sabrina!). I do not claim this to be the original recipe of the hot & sour soup from Laos and Thailand but we use the readily available tom yum paste to make a super fast & furiously invigorating dinner when we are in desperate need for some fast, tasty and healthy sustenance and really can not be bothered to cook much (can’t eat pizza everyday).

The fragrant, lemony sour and fresh but spicy tasting paste is made from Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, chili peppers & oil comes in a jar and is a super stand-by in the fridge. All other ingredients might be on hand at home already, stocked in the freezer or quickly picked up, then chopped and briefly cooked in the spicy & sour broth within a few minutes, it could be even varied according to preference: vegetarian for one, mussels for another one, chicken for the next. Just make the base and let everyone add what they want.

So treat this recipe more like a blueprint and use what you have got or fancy – just pick and mix: edamame beans, green beans, peas, bok choi, choy sum, napa cabbage (Chinakohl), savoy cabbage (Wirsing), bean sprouts, sweet corn, carrots, mangetouts / snap or snow peas (Kaiserschoten), champignons (button mushrooms), dried shiitake, rice noodles, soba noodles, instant noodles, rice, brown rice, filled noodles, tortellini, vegetable dumplings, cooked chicken, prawns, fish, mussels, clams, scallops, calamari, tofu…. As I said: there are endless possibilities.

Quick tom yum soup
Ingredients for one, multiply & vary according to your stocks

½ l (2 cups) water
1 teaspoon organic vegetable stock powder or ¼ little cube
3 teaspoons Tom Yum paste
about 30-40g brown rice noodles or any other noodles, rice, dumplings
cooked chicken or prawns or vegetable dumplings (fresh or frozen)
10 mangetouts, snow or snap peas (Kaiserschoten), cut into stamp sized pieces
2 brown champignons (button mushrooms), sliced
4 stems of choy sum or bok choi, rougly choppped
2 spring onions, chopped
a few coriander leaves

Gather, wash, chop & prep or precook your ingredients.

Pour cooking water into a small saucepan, add stock powder and tom yum paste, the prepared vegetables & noodles and other ingredients like cooked chicken or mussels or what you might want to add. Cook for a few minutes, mainly to heat everything through and the vegetable still keep a little crunch. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and eat.

Apple, walnut & sausage stuffing

This is a great stuffing for a festive bird: the Thanksgiving/Christmas turkey, a Martinsgans (Saint Martins goose) or a duck. It’s apple, celery, pork and walnut combination is a winner. I have added garlic, bacon and some sage, which is an ingredient in (good) British sausages and if you are not able to get them you might be missing something. This appeared on our table the first time we had our own British-German Christmas turkey together with red cabbage, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts and all the other trimmings.

Maybe you are American and will think this is an old hat or you might say, why is this American, never heard of this before what is going on about. Or, why should I make this with my British/German/French/insert country here bird/dish, do you think they will understand/balance each other? Well, in any case, and I am repeating myself here: this is a great stuffing. We cooked the rest of it in a separate dish along side the bird and it was even better, if I am allowed to say this.

If you are having a goose I would add some Artemisia vulgaris or mugwort (german: Beifuss), a herb which is traditionally used to counterbalance the richness & fatness of the goose. Look it up and you’ll find the most amazing names for this common European herb: felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, old Uncle Henry, sailor’s tobacco, naughty man, old man or St. John’s plant.

American stuffing for Thanksgiving & Christmas
adapted from Delia Smith’s Christmas

55g (½ stick) butter
2-3 medium yellow onions, finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped finely (optional)
4 sticks celery, cut into 1cm (½ inch) dice
450g (1lb) pork sausages (or sausage meat), cut into 1cm (½ inch) pieces
4 slices of thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into small cubes
1 clove garlic, chopped finely (optional)
175g (6 oz) rustic white bread without crust and cut into 1cm (½ inch) chunks
2 apples, chopped into chunks (1cm or ½ inch), add lemon juice to prevent browning
125g (1 cup) chopped walnut kernels
2 teaspoons dried thyme
a little dried sage (optional if you are using British sausages)
zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon ground mace
salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion dice until translucent, add the celery, sausage pieces and bacon and fry while stirring until they are golden brown. If you are using garlic, add it now and sauté only a little more so that the garlic does not burn and turn bitter. Meanwhile mix the bread cubes, apples chunks and walnuts in a large bowl. Add the onion-celery-sausage fry-up and season with thyme, the optional sage, lemon zest, mace, salt & pepper.

Use it to stuff your bird, you might have more than enough either to stuff the cavity or place the rest in an oven-proof dish and bake in the oven until golden brown. The baking time depends on the size of your dish and the amount of stuffing you have. If you are baking the whole amount in a shallow ceramic dish, I would estimate the time for about 30-40 minutes in a 180°C (350° F) oven.