Monday, March 25, 2013

Animal Cakes

The Brave Astronaut Clan is staying put for Easter this year (although LBA will have some Nana time this week - he's off for the entire week)

There is an excellent chance that we will have lamb for dinner (no ham for the Brave Astronaut - although Mom's Ham and Turkey Pie was always welcome)

At a previous point in my life, I used to enjoy lamb cake for dessert on Easter.  I knew someone who had a lamb mold and she would make a lamb cake, usually a yellow cake, frosted in white icing.  It was pretty yummy.  I was intrigued when seeing this post on BuzzFeed, with "amazing and crazy animal cakes.  The lamb cake I used to enjoy was nowhere as intricate as this one.  I will point out these recipes come from the Devil Goddess of the Kitchen, of whom I am not a big fan - so I will likely not be pressing anyone to make these for me.

Happy Easter!

Lamb Cake Recipe
Serves 8 to 10
You will need an eight-cup-capacity 3-D lamb cake pan from Nordic Ware. 

  • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for molds 
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for molds 
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 large whole egg plus 1 large egg yolk 
  • 3/4 cup warm water 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup seedless blackberry or raspberry jam 
  • 2 recipes Swiss Meringue Buttercream (white chocolate variation, recipe below) 
  • Gel-paste food coloring in brown and yellow 
  • 1 pound white chocolate, chopped 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter both halves of an 8-cup lamb-shaped cake mold. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. 
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add whole egg, yolk, the water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until smooth.
  3. Divide batter between halves of molds. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer molds to wire racks to cool 30 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely. 
  4. With a serrated knife, trim flat side of each half. Trim excess from edges, if necessary. Cover flat side of 1 cake with jam. Turn halves upright; stick together.
  5. Tint 1/2 cup buttercream brown. Tint remaining buttercream pale yellow to match color of white chocolate. Spread a thin layer of pale yellow buttercream over cake to form a crumb coat. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes. Spread a second layer of buttercream over cake, smoothing around head with an offset spatula. 
  6. Melt white chocolate, stirring, in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Turn off heat; let cool slightly. Spread one-quarter of the chocolate over back of a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate until just starting to set, about 15 minutes. Holding a bench scraper at a 45-degree angle, scrape chocolate into 1/2-inch-wide curls. (If chocolate breaks, let it stand to warm slightly. If chocolate is too soft, refrigerate until just starting to set.) As you work, transfer curls to a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate curls until firm. Repeat with remaining chocolate. Store at room temperature in an airtight container, between layers of parchment, up to 3 days.
  7. Cover frosted cake, except for head, with chocolate curls. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip, such as #2, with brown buttercream; pipe eyes and mouth. Cake can be refrigerated up to 2 days; let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Artichoke-Lemon Dip

I am a fan of artichokes (though I like mine raw, with a mayonnaise dipping sauce), lemons, and when you put them together in a dip?  Well step aside, I'm coming in with some pita chips.  Recipe from Simply Recipes.

Artichoke Lemon Dip
by Simply Recipes

Creamy artichoke dip made with artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, lemon, parsley, garlic, and cream cheese.
Prep time: 10 minutes

  • 1 14-ounce (400 g) can of artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1/4 cup (25 g), packed, grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp lemon juice 

  1. Put the drained artichoke hearts, parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest, garlic, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse a few times until a paste forms. You should still be able to make out bits of parsley and lemon, so don't over-process it. 
  2. Place the cream cheese in a medium sized bowl. Add the artichoke parsley mixture and the lemon juice. Stir until well blended. Add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Garnish with a few fresh leaves of parsley or ribbons of lemon zest. 

Yield: Makes about 2 cups of dip.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 5: Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon Zest

Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon Zest
Serves 2
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes

  • 4-5 Brussels sprouts 
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • 5 ounces orecchiette 
  • 1 large egg, room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella 
  • Kosher salt 

Set a pot of salted water on to boil. (It should be salty enough that it tastes like the ocean.)

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat, add Brussels sprouts and a little salt, and sauté until bright green, fragrant and tender, 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Whisk egg and mozzarella in medium bowl to blend; gradually whisk in a spoonful of pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta to Brussels sprouts in skillet and stir to heat. Remove skillet from heat. First make sure the skillet isn't so hot that it will scramble the eggs, then pour egg mixture over pasta and stir until sauce is just creamy and eggs are no longer raw, about 2 minutes. (Return skillet to very low heat if egg mixture is runny; do not overcook or eggs will scramble.) Add some of remaining pasta cooking liquid to pasta if needed to moisten.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 4: Baked Eggs with Spinach, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions

Baked Eggs with Spinach, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions
Serves 2
ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

Note: You will need 1-cup ramekins to make this recipe (as pictured above), but if you don't have them you could probably use a ceramic coffee cup.

  • 3 slices of bacon 
  • 3-4 cups spinach 
  • Sourdough loaf, toasted 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1/3 cup of caramelized onions 
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels. Pour off drippings from skillet; reserve drippings. Add spinach to pan, sprinkle with salt, and toss over medium heat, 2 minutes. Transfer to strainer set over bowl to drain. Brush two 1-cup ramekins with drippings. Crumble bacon. Slice off two slices of sourdough loaf about 1" thick. Trim them to place them in the bottom of the ramekins. Divide spinach and caramelized onions among ramekins, then sprinkle bacon over, dividing equally. With back of spoon, shape well in center of each ramekin. Gently crack 1 egg into well in each ramekin, keeping yolk intact. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place ramekins on a baking sheet for easy handling, then put into the oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 16-18 minutes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 3: Bacon and Brussels Sprout “Pizzas”

Bacon and Brussels Sprout “Pizzas”
Serves 2
ACTIVE TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise 
  • 4 slices of bacon cut into 1/2" pieces 
  • 1 loaf of sourdough bread 
  • 4 Brussels sprouts, halved and sliced thinly crosswise 
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella 
  • Kosher salt

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 45 minutes. (You don't necessarily have to go that long. You can crank up the heat and stir more often. But the longer / lower the heat, the more flavor they will develop.)

Slice off four pieces of bread about 1" thick. Set bread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with most of the cheese (reserving some cheese to sprinkle on top later). Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in a separate small medium-sized skillet over medium heat until it's crisp and looks flavorful — about 7 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel and pour off all but 1 tablespoon grease. Sauté Brussels sprouts in bacon grease — as they're cooking, season them with a little salt. Cook until they are bright green and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pile caramelized onions, bacon and Brussels sprouts onto the cheese on the bread, then top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle on a little salt and bake 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 2: Mixed Greens with Shredded Chicken, Peaches, Tomatoes, and Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

Day 2:  Mixed Greens with Shredded Chicken, Peaches, Tomatoes, and Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

Serves 2
ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes

  • Chicken
    • 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and legs
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • Salad 
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
    • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt 
    • 1 5-ounce package mixed greens 
    • 4-6 grape tomatoes, sliced in half 
    • 1 large peach, halved, pitted, sliced 
    • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 

Preheat oven to 475°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12" cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking the thighs skin side down, occasionally flipping the legs to brown all the sides. Occasionally rearrange the legs and thighs and rotate the pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13 more minutes, rotating the legs half way through. Flip the thighs and rotate the legs; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Whisk first 2 ingredients and a little (1 teaspoon) water in small bowl to blend. Add more water by teaspoonfuls if dressing is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place greens in large bowl. Add half of dressing and toss to coat.

Divide greens among plates. Scatter chicken, sliced tomatoes and peach slices over both servings. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dinner for the Week Ahead

Several weeks ago, I saw this post on BuzzFeed, which offered 5 perfect meals for $10 each.  Viola! Dinner for the entire week!  Breaking with tradition (and because it gets five posts instead of the traditional one), I will post each recipe from the post individually.  Today, is the intro and the first recipe, Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika with Sauteed Spinach and Greek Yogurt. All of which sound delicious.

Tuesday: Mixed Greens with Shredded Chicken, Peaches, Tomatoes, and Lemon-Yogurt Dressing
Wednesday: Bacon and Brussels Sprout “Pizzas”
Thursday: Baked Eggs with Spinach, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions
Friday: Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon Zest

Here are five dinners, each serving two people, that you can make for under $50 from a single grocery list. A few notes:
  1. The first thing you're going to do is break down a whole raw chicken. You'll roast the breasts on Day 1 and then you'll roast the legs and thighs on Day 2. Buying the chicken whole helps keep costs down and is generally a good thing to know how to do. Use our video (below) and a sharp knife and you'll be all set. 
  2. The salad on Day 3 might benefit from leftover chickpeas (Day 1) if you have them, and you can use something other than a peach if that's not in season in your neck of the woods.
  3. On Day 3 you'll be asked to caramelize onions. This is one of those, "throw them on the burner right when you get home from work and let them sit there for 45 minutes as you unwind" kind of things. You can rush it, and the recipe will show you how. But caramelizing a big batch of onions to use in multiple meals throughout the week is a great work-week cooking hack. 
  4. Store your sourdough loaf at room temperature — it's okay if it's not super fresh by Day 3 and 4, because you'll be toasting it by then.
Here's the Grocery List:
  • Fresh Produce 
    • large yellow onion, $.81 
    • grape tomatoes, 1 pint, $2.99 
    • mixed greens, 1 5-ounce package, $3.99 
    • bagged spinach, 1 9-oz bag, $2.99 
    • 9 Brussels sprouts, $3.99 
    • 2 lemons, $1 
    • 1 peach, $.61 
    • head of garlic, $.61 
  • Meat/Poultry 
    • 1 whole chicken, $9.16 
    • bacon, 1 lb, $2.99 
  • Dairy 
    • 1 6-oz bag of shredded mozarella, $3.50 
    • 1 6-oz container of Greek yogurt, $1.79 
    • ½ dozen eggs, $1.19 
  • Dried/Canned/Spices 
    • 1 16 oz package of orecchiette or shell pasta, $1.79 
    • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas), $.80 
    • 1 oz. paprika, $2.69 
    • 1 oz. cumin, $2.99 
    • loaf of sourdough bread, $2.99 
  • Oils/Vinegars 
    • 1 24-oz bottle vegetable oil, $2.99 
  • Pssst: We’re assuming you have: 
    • kosher salt
    • fresh ground black pepper 
    • olive oil 
TOTAL: 50.37*
*based on prices at a Key Food grocery store in NYC's East Village

Day 1: Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika with Sauteed Spinach and Greek Yogurt
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 2
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes

  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced and divided into two piles 
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅓ cup Greek yogurt 
  • 2 bone-in chicken breast halves 
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans 
  • 14 (or so) grape tomatoes 
  • 6 packed cups of spinach (use about ¾ of your 9-oz bag) 
  • Kosher salt
  • A hunk of sourdough bread 
Preheat oven to 450°. Measure and set out all of your ingredients. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, half the garlic (one of the minced cloves), paprika, and cumin in medium bowl (you want the bowl to be big-ish because you will add stuff to it later). Pour 1 teaspoon of that spiced oil mixture into a small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside to use as a sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans and tomatoes to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

When the chicken has been in the oven about 15 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add spinach and sauté until just beginning to wilt (about 3 minutes). Push the spinach to one side, add a little more olive oil and then add garlic. Stir together garlic and spinach and season with salt. Transfer chicken and spinach to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Previously on The West Wing"

I am a huge fan of the West Wing, the NBC series.  This year for Christmas, LBA got a Kindle Fire (he really wanted a Nintendo DS, but Mrs. BA and I opted for the Kindle, with the hopes that he would read more than play - which for the most part he has).  The Kindle Fire came with a free month of Amazon Prime, with which I spent most of that month rewatching the entire series of episodes on Prime for free.  I got almost through the entire series, save a few episodes in season 7.

Then of course, after I purchased the last few episodes I didn't get to see, the show is now available for free on Netflix Streaming.  So I'm slowly making my way through it . . . again.  The release on Netflix also prompted two posts, both on BuzzFeed, the first with "18 Things the West Wing Got Wrong" and the other with a list of the "10 Best West Wing Episodes."

18 Things the West Wing Got Wrong
  1. In the pilot episode - one of the Christian fundamentalists states the First of the Ten Commandments is "Honor Thy Father" - Toby responds that it is actually the Third Commandment - however it's actually the Fifth Commandment - although in Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism is it the 4th commandment.
  2. In one episode Josh mentions that Schubert was crazy - although he was never diagnosed with any mental illness.  Robert Schumann, however, spent many of his later years in and out of asylums.
  3. In a scene in the Oval Office with Admiral Fitzwallace and the President, they have a discussion about the Presidential Seal (in the rug).  Fitzwallace points out that in most cases the eagle faces the olive branch, yet in times of war the eagle faces the arrows. In actuality, the seal was redesigned in 1945 to point to its right and the olive branch. Prior to that, the eagle pointed to its left, and the arrows. The reason for the change was that in heraldry, left pointing items were considered dishonorable.
  4. The President has a conversation with Toby in which he declares, "You know what I just found out recently?  To be called bourbon it has to come from Kentucky, otherwise it's called sour mash."  Although, the only geographic qualification is that bourbon is made in the United States, not any specific state. There are 8 non-geographic criteria for something to qualify as bourbon, including recipe ratios, the barrel, and aging.
  5. When the MS story takes center stage (in Season 3), there is a chess set shown in Oliver Babish's office.  The chess set is set up incorrectly. The lower right corner square should be a light square, not a dark one. Also, the kings and queens are reversed.
  6. In the Thanksgiving episode, The Indians in the Lobby, where President Bartlet calls the Butterball Hotline, they need to quickly produce the zip code for Fargo, North Dakota, saying it is 50504. That is not one of the 14 zip codes for Fargo, North Dakota.
  7. Toby makes a reference to a quote, "There's an old Roman expression, when the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." The quote is not from the Romans but from Irish novelist Oscar Wilde in his 1893 book "An Ideal Husband."
  8. In the episode where Bartlet plays chess with several of the staff (at the same time), Toby makes his opening move in a game with the President, who declares, "Ah, the Evans Gambit." President Bartlet would not be able to recognize The Evans Gambit after just one move. It would require three moves to recognize The Evans Gambit.
  9. In the episode where one of the subplots revolves around Donna's desire to gain recognition for her high school English teacher - resulting in the President calling to talk with her on the phone - and he asks her about Beowulf and the language in which she taught it - "Beowulf" was written in Old English in the 8th century. The language wouldn't evolve to the form now known as Middle English for another 300 years.
  10.  Leo and Josh have a conversation where Leo remarks about the millions of dollars spent by the United States to invent a pen for the astronauts, while the Russians just used a pencil.  Actually, the astronauts used a pencil, too. The Fisher Space Pen was developed privately with no funds from the US government.
  11. In the episode involving President Bartlet's reelection, Josh comments that it is raining in Oregon.  Don't worry about it. Oregon passed Ballot Measure 60 in 1998. Since then, Oregonians have been voting exclusively with mail-in ballots.
  12. When Toby and Will Bailey are working on Bartlet's Second Inaugural Address, Toby says that "there's an incredible history to second inaugurals, 'fear itself, Lincoln . . .' " - FDR used the line "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" in his first inaugural address, not his second.
  13. In "Angel Maintenance," where Air Force One develops a problem, Josh remarks about the fuel used on Air Force One and it's fuel to octane ratio. Water doesn't mix with jet fuel. Water contamination is a serious problem for jet fuel. Also, jet fuel does not have an octane rating. Octane ratings are only used for internal combustion engines.
  14. Intern Ryan Pierce mentions that he is a descendant of President Franklin Pierce.  Not possible,  Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, never had a son live past 11 years old.
  15. In Season 7, several of the characters turn on the TV to see a news story about a woman being sentenced to death for adultery in Turkey. Adultery is not a crime in Turkey. Turkey has also outlawed the death penalty (except in times of war).
  16. In the plot arc about the failure at the International Space Station, in actuality a Russian Soyuz TMA spaceship is always docked to the International Space Station. It is capable of carrying three men and reentering the atmosphere.
  17. In another episode, C.J. works behind the scenes to try and secure a resolution in the United Nations Security Council, from Germany.  However, Germany is not a member of the UN security council.
  18. In the final episode, Abbey Bartlet mentions that it is going to be so cold, who decided that January was the best time to hold an outdoor ceremony?  The President replies wistfully, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin . . .  but the drafters of the Constitution that President Bartlet mentions, originally chose March 4th for Inauguration Day. It was changed to January 20th by the 22nd Amendment which was ratified January 23, 1933.
BuzzFeed's Top Twenty West Wing Episodes (and my own):
  1. Two Cathedrals 
  2. In Excelsis Deo (not one of my favorite Christmas-themed episodes)
  3. Game On (the debate episode with Republican Robert Ritchie / James Brolin)
  4. Celestial Navigation (where Josh narrates the episode - Corcoran Gallery of Art cameo!)
  5. Posse Comitatus (in which they take down Sharif)
  6. In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Parts I and II (also on my list, I like them for the flashbacks and the filling in of the backstory.)
  7. Let Bartlet Be Bartlet (also one of my favorites - "This is more important than reelection, I want to speak now!")
  8. Shutdown (as a government employee currently living in the shadow of sequester - this is also on my list)
  9. Take This Sabbath Day
  10. Pilot (also on my list)
Their next ten:  "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" (Season 1, Episode 21); "In This White House" (Season 2, Episode 4); "Shibboleth" (Season 2, Episode 8) - one of my favorites; "Noël" (Season 2, Episode 10) - possibly my most favorite episode; "Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail" (Season 2, Episode 16); "The Stackhouse Filibuster" (Season 2, Episode 17); "Bartlet for America" (Season 3, Episode 9); "Twenty Five" (Season 4, Episode 23) - not on my list, the set of episodes dealing with Zoey's kidnapping does not do it for me; "2162 Votes" (Season 6, Episode 22) - I love this episode for the moment when Josh tells a surprised Leo they have picked him to be the VP nominee; "Tomorrow" (Season 7, Episode 22) - it's of course the last episode, but it was very well done and the right way for the show to go out.

My Other Favorite Episodes:
  1. The Midterms - "In this building when the President stands, nobody sits!" (when the President dresses down the "Dr. Laura" character with the biblical quotations)
  2. He Shall From Time to Time - "You got a best friend?  Is he smarter than you?  Would you trust him with your life?  That's your Chief of Staff."
  3. Lord John Marbury - "I thought you were the butler!" (the episodes with Marbury are some of the funniest).
  4. Election Day (Parts 1 and 2) - finally, Josh and Donna.
  5. The Supremes (Glenn Close for Chief Justice!)
  6. Gaza (although it features the death of Percy Fitzwallace and the near death of Donna, it's a very powerful episode)
  7. 20 Hours in America (Parts I and II) - Josh, Toby, and Donna get stuck in Indiana but come up with an idea for tax deductible college tuition.
  8. Manchester (Parts I and II) - again, a favorite for the flashbacks that fill in some backstory.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore

So it appears that we are finally going to get some appreciable snow here in Brave Astronaut Land.  Can we please just make sure that it's enough so no one has to go anywhere?  OK, thanks,

Here's a "stick to your ribs" recipe that will help with the cold and snow.  My mother used to make "chicken cacciatore" but it was basically just chicken pieces braised and cooked in spaghetti sauce.  But it was good stuff.

Chicken Cacciatore
(from Simply Recipes)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

This recipe calls for added wine, which is traditional. It does add to the flavor. If you have a dietary restriction that prohibits wine, just omit.

  • One 4 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces, trimmed of excess fat (or 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of chicken thighs, bone in, skin on)
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced root to tip, about 1 1/2 cups 
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded, sliced into 1/4-inch wide slices
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 1/3 cup white or red wine 
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups peeled and chopped, firm ripe tomatoes, with their juices, or 1 28 ounce can of plum tomatoes in their juice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped) 

  1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season the chicken pieces on all sides with salt. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Working in batches so that you don't crowd the pan, place the chicken pieces skin side down in the pan. Cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes, then turn over and lightly brown the other side. Remove chicken to a bowl, set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat. If you have less than 2 Tbsp of fat in the pan, add more olive oil until you have about that much oil coating the pan.
  2. Add the sliced onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms to the pan. Increase the heat to medium high. Cook until the onions are translucent, and the mushrooms have given up most of their moisture, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and cook a minute more.
  3. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes. Stir in the pepper, thyme, oregano, and about a teaspoon of salt. Test and taste to adjust. Simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes. Place the chicken pieces on top of the tomatoes and onions, skin side up. Lower the heat and cover the skillet with the lid slightly ajar.
  4. Cook the chicken on a low simmer, turning and basting from time to time. Cook until the thighs are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. 
Yield: Serves 4-6.