Friday, May 12, 2017

Chicken with Barberries, Yogurt and Orange Peel

This is an Iranian recipe from the cookbook, World on a Plate by Mina Holland.  We used the book for one of our Books for Cooks meetings.  For the most part we didn't particularly like the book.  I made this dish and made a number of adaptations.  We all thought it was very good.  It was supposed to be served with chelow rice which seemed too complicated and I substituted some naan that I bought at Whole Foods.

Holland said the barbarries can be purchased at Middle Eastern grocers, however Madison doesn't have any Middle Eastern grocery stores.  I ordered mine from Amazon.  

1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup olive or sunflower oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
sea salt
2# boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Penzey's pepper
2 large oranges
1-2 large pinches of saffron
1/4 - 1/3 cup of dried barberries, rehydrated
1/4 cup of sliced toasted almond to garnish (optional)  actually I forgot to add the nuts

Strain the yogurt through a strainer lined with a paper towel for several hours so that it is very thick.
Peel the oranges with a potato peeler, taking care not include any of the white pith.  Cut the peel into matchstick strips.  In a small pan of boiling water, simmer the strips for 3 minutes.  Drain the strips and set aside.  Retain the water.  I used some of this water to rehydrate the barbarries for 10 minutes; longer is OK too.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions with a pinch of salt until golden 10-15 minutes.  Set aside.  Next brown the chicken.  Combine the onions and chicken; use some of the orange flavored water, cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is tender.  It will take about 20 minutes.
Crumble the saffron and soak it in 1/4 cup of the orange water or plain water for 10 minutes.
Next add the saffron water, orange peel, and barberries to the chicken and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.  Test for seasoning.  Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.  Keep the sauce on a low heat and add the thickened yogurt.  Whisk into the sauce.  Return the chicken to the pan; warm through.  Place on a platter; pour the sauce over the chicken; garnish with the almonds.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

This is a recipe that I found on the New York Times cooking website and have adapted somewhat.  In this case it is not a healthier dish than the original but it is delicious and easy!

2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 cup full fat ricotta cheese
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 pound cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pinch cayenne (these are both optional--I actually forgot them)
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used Hook's white cheddar)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used 2 different whole wheat pastas and it came out fine)
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Use 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 inch square baking pan.  In a blender, puree ricotta cheese, cream cheese, 1/2 and 1/2, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, and pepper.  In a large bowl, combine all but 1/4 cup of the grated cheese, the liquid mixture and uncooked pasta.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for a few hours.

When ready to eat, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake covered pasta for 30 minutes.  Uncover and top with a mixture of reserved cheese, bread crumbs and butter.  Bake for an additional 30 minutes.  At this point it should be brown and bubbly.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

I'm sure you could use other cheeses in this dish.  A few of the reviewers of the original recipe suggested Velveeta which I would not use, but I think any flavorful natural cheese would be fine.

Adapted from NY, recipe by Julia Moskin

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cranberry and Apple Baked Oatmeal

This is a recipe I adapted from a PBS food blog Fresh Tastes by Adrianna Adarme.  My husband loved it and thought it made a great breakfast.

  • Apple Mixture: 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Note:  I substituted 1-1/4 tsp. Oatmeal Spice from Just Spices (
  • Oatmeal: 
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds + a handful more for the top 
  • 1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups milk or almond milk (I used a combination of both)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (frozen is fine too)


  1. To make the apple mixture: In a small skillet, set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until apples have softened. Set aside. 
  2. To make the oatmeal: Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Set aside. 
  3. In a medium bowl, add the oats, slivered almonds, syrup, salt and baking powder. Whisk together the liquid ingredients.
  4. To the prepared baking dish, add the apples and the cranberries. Pour the oat mixture on top and then add the liquid ingredients. Stir slightly and then top with the extra almonds. Transfer to the oven to bake for 40 minutes--it may take longer, until the edges are set and lightly golden brown.