Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Easy Garlic-Herb Mediterranean Chicken

The Recipe: So yeah. This chicken is easy to make. (It even tastes like it's grilled but is cooked, quick-quick, under the broiler.) And there's garlic, lots of garlic. And fresh herbs, parsley, mint, thyme and oregano. But isn't Easy Garlic-Herb Mediterranean Chicken a, y'know, mouthful? That's why here at home I call it "Med Chicken," a name as short and simple and enticing as this marinated Middle-eastern chicken tastes at the table. Make some hummus and enjoy!

The Conversation: A call for your best kitchen pantry ideas!

Easy Garlic-Herb Mediterranean Chicken aka Med Chicken ♥ KitchenParade.com

Do you have a pantry? A little pantry? A big pantry?? Or are you like me, living without a kitchen pantry, even a small one?

The funny thing is, when we redid our kitchen four years ago, we actually removed an inefficient pantry. After it was gone, I made room for a few cans of beans and tomatoes below a counter (awkward ...) and opened up a couple of shelves in the laundry area (small ...) for a few staples. But that was it.

And honestly? I didn't ONCE miss a pantry.

(Want to know more about our remodel? Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen Several are easy-easy things not requiring a contractor or a budget.)

Easy Garlic-Herb Mediterranean Chicken aka Med Chicken (marinating) ♥ KitchenParade.com

But you guess what's coming, right? I didn't once miss having a kitchen pantry – until, that is, we started planning for one in the new house! So now I am obsessed with pantry design and poke my head into every in-real-life and digital pantry whether tiny or enormous, whether messy and hyper-organized.

In fact, I've already started to stock groceries as if we already have a big pantry. Where in heavens do I put all this stuff, now, today, in our current pantry-less kitchen?!

Easy Garlic-Herb Mediterranean Chicken aka Med Chicken (ingredients) ♥ KitchenParade.com

So I'd love your pantry ideas! If your pantry really works for you, please share what makes it work so well – or maybe it doesn't work for you, that would be fascinating too! If you've seen something that really impressed you, share that too. I'm hungry for pantry patter!

Here's what I know about our situation in the new house.

We'll be 15 miles from the nearest grocery (a Walmart Supercenter) and 45 miles from my staple stores, Trader Joe's and the St. Louis-based grocery chain Schnucks and oh no! my favorite Sam's Club rotisserie chicken!
We'll be the same distance from restaurants. No more impromptu suppers out, no more supplementing supper with a little carryout.
When family and friends visit, they'll travel what country people call a "fur distance". Today's dinner guests may well become tomorrow's "dinner + bed 'n' breakfast" guests.

What I envision in the pantry of my dreams is one filled with a "personal grocery store" of our household staples, multiples of all our favorite ingredients, a real "cook's pantry" not a warehouse of processed food. Pantry-stable ingredients will be easy, I think, so long as everything can be seen, stored and managed to minimize shopping trips. The freezer will hold meat and the few frozen foods we use. In summer, we'll harvest fresh vegetables from the garden. An extra fridge will help too.

But that's as far as I've gotten. If you have suggestions, please do send them my way! You're welcome to leave a comment or send a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com, either one.


Easy Garlic-Herb Mediterranean Chicken aka Med Chicken ♥ KitchenParade.com

But now, Easy Garlic-Herb Mediterranean Chicken! (And yes, I can totally imagine making this from the pantry-that-lives-in-my-head.) Late last summer, this became my go-to dinner for family gatherings, it's a hit with kids and grown-ups alike. It "tastes" like grilled chicken but doesn't require standing over a hot grill on a hot summer night. That grilled flavor starts with the garlicky-herby marinade, then ends with the broiler where a little "burn" is put on the chicken. So good!

For these gatherings, I serve the chicken with easy, make-ahead summer food like the wonderful Greek Pasta Salad loaded with veggies and dressed with a creamy feta vinaigrette and other Middle-Eastern slash Mediterranean foods and when the tomatoes are good, a big Fattoush (Traditional Middle Eastern Salad).

But first, I cook a big pot of dried chickpeas, How to Cook Dried Chickpeas Especially for Hummus aka "Jerusalem Chickpeas" and then make a can's equivalent of cooked chickpeas for Roasted Eggplant “Hummus" (Eggplant & Chickpea Dip & Spread) and another for my Crazy-Smooth Crazy-Good Hummus.

The marinade makes great use of fresh herbs and hey, that makes this a good time to issue my annual admonition recommendation to plant at least a few herbs. Why? Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again! It's life-changing, a "green" pantry, if you will!

So the chicken's great for groups. But on the other hand, I also scale the recipe down for the three of us plus leftovers for lunch or chicken salad. Good news, the chicken makes excellent chicken salad!


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EASY GARLIC-HERB MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 9 – 24 hours
Serves 8 – 12

    MARINADE & CHICKEN
    (enough for 3 pounds chicken, easily scaled up or down)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Zest & juice (about 2 tablespoons) from a lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon sumac
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

    YOGURT SAUCE
    (enough for THREE POUNDS CHICKEN)
  • 3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (full-fat works too)
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • Zest & juice (about 2 tablespoons) from a lemon

    NOW, DRIZZLE & SPRINKLE WITH ABANDON!
    (don't skip these)
  • Cooked Chicken
  • Drizzle of lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Drizzle of Yogurt Sauce (serve remainder on the side)
  • Sprinkle of black pepper
  • Sprinkle of minced fresh parsley & mint
  • Sprinkle of sumac
  • Lemon wedges, garnish

MARINADE & CHICKEN Preferably 9 hours before serving, make the Marinade. (Don't have 9 hours? Allow at least 90 minutes before serving time.) In a mini food processor, process the garlic and salt until the garlic is finely minced. (If you like, set aside a teaspoon of garlic for the Yogurt Sauce!) Transfer the garlic to a large bowl and stir in the remaining marinade ingredients.

With a sharp knife, slice off any unsavory bits of skin or fat from the chicken thighs. If the thighs are large or to make the meat serve more people, cut the thighs in half. Drop thighs into marinade and really stir the chicken around so that all the outer surfaces are covered. Transfer to a refrigerator container or a gallon-size freezer bag.

Cover or seal and refrigerate to marinate the chicken for about 8 hours (the sweet spot) or 1 hour (on the low end, the marinade won't add as much flavor) or up to 24 hours (looots of flavor).

YOGURT SAUCE At least an hour before serving (and preferably 9 hours before), mix all the Sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

COOK CHICKEN Place an oven rack directly under the broiler. Set the oven on 500F/260C (broiler setting). Line a baking sheet with foil. Without crowding, arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer. Broil until cooked through, flipping once, and chicken appears "grilled" with slightly crispy edges. The actual time will vary, start with 5–10 minutes per side, then gauge from there.

SPRINKLE WITH ABANDON! Arrange chicken on a large platter. Drizzle with lemon juice and a little Yogurt Sauce, then sprinkle with black pepper, the fresh herbs and sumac. Serve and enjoy!

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS The marinade may be made the day before; just combine it with the chicken 8 hours before cooking. The Yogurt Sauce may also be made the day before.

ALANNA's TIPS For a crowd, I mix a big-big batch; a sheet pan holds about five pounds of chicken. This chicken is great party food, a real crowd pleaser! One evening, 3 pounds of chicken fed about 8 people. Bone-in chicken thighs also work but do allow time to remove the skins, they add so many calories and just aren't that appealing cooked this way. And, honestly, I prefer the boneless thighs. Hmm, it might be the first time I've said this! Rushed for time? Next time I make the Marinade, I'll use the big food processor to mince the garlic and salt together, then throw in the rest of the marinade ingredients, processing not too much, leaving pieces of the fresh herbs intact. Since it's been in contact with raw chicken, be sure to discard any extra Marinade left in the freezer bag or bowl.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving (assumes 8 servings; non-fat yogurt; absorption of 100% of marinade which is unlikely): 266 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 141mg Cholesterol; 373mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 36g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 6 & PointsPlus 6 & SmartPoints 5 CALORIE COUNTERS 1/3 serving = 100-calorie serving (13g protein).
Adapted from the New York Times, another Sunday win! Other cooks rave about this too!

Celebrating Summer!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Baked Chicken with Fresh Peaches Simple Grilled Salmon Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Easy Margarita Pie

The Recipe: Just in time for Cinco de Mayo (Friday!), Derby Day (Saturday!), Mother's Day or your next summer Mexican fling, a super-easy homemade Margarita Pie that tastes just like a very good margarita! Really, it does! That's thanks to a not-so "secret" ingredient found in every single kitchen.

Easy Margarita Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

Yep, I'm still in #PieDayFriday mode! On Father's Day, it'll be an entire year that I've made a pie every Friday. No surprise, I still love it! And I'm still learning!

And of course, I'm still getting rave reviews at the table, especially from my 91-year old father who l-o-v-e-s homemade pie. When I waken him on Friday mornings, I tease, "What day is today, Dad?" He grins, then answers with a voice still husky from sleep, "Pie Day!" (For the record, my dad totally knows what day it is every single day, not just Fridays. This Friday exchange has just become our little ritual. It's nice ...)

Still, odds were high that Dad and Jerry would like this Easy Margarita Pie: they're partial to creamy pies like Lemon Meringue Pie and Banana Cream Pie and Blueberry Cheesecake Pie.

Easy Margarita Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

What Makes an Easy Margarita Pie Taste Like a Margarita?

So the biggest surprise with Easy Margarita Pie is how much it tastes like a frosty margarita on your favorite summer patio! That's thanks to one very surprising "secret" ingredient. Can you guess?

Lime juice and orange juice, maybe? Sure, the fresh citrus gives the pie margarita fruitiness. But it's not the defining ingredient.
The tequila, maybe? Nope, not the tequila either.
The single key ingredient, one found in both the filling and the topping that makes Easy Margarita Pie taste like a margarita? Salt. Yes. Salt. Don't skip the salt!

Squeezing limes for Easy Margarita Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

Speaking of limes, arrrgh, it's so hard to estimate how many limes are needed to produce enough lime juice for a pie.

Experience says that here in the Midwest, anyway, a Persian lime (that's the only lime we see, except for the even less predictable and less findable key limes) yields about a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice. Every so often, one will yield as much as two tablespoons but more often, a lime will squeeze out as little as a half tablespoon. The lesson? Do buy extra limes, then get your squeeze on!

By the way, over the years, I've tried all kinds of citrus juicers, finally ending back where I started with my grandmother's oh-so-pretty green glass citrus reamer. Someday I'll write a post going through all those lemon devices, definite disappointments, all. But not Gramma's antique juicer!

First Prize Pies cookbook cover ♥ KitchenParade.com

Two Things To Like About Easy Margarita Pie

First, how the egg-based filling gets cooked. Usually, with this style of creamy pie, the filling is cooked on the stovetop. Translation: that involves the fussy process of tempering the eggs and cooking the filing to the perfect point where, later, once it's cooled, the filling will set up. Arrrgh, how often can one end up with soupy pie after mid-judging that perfect point? Make pie every week, you'll learn, it's all too often!

But here? The filling is quickly whisk-whisk-whisked in a bowl, no mixer required. Then it's turned into a graham cracker crust and slipped into the oven. So easy!

The "cook the pie filling in the crust in the oven" is a trademark technique of the pie recipes from First Prize Pies by Allison Kave, pastry chef and co-proprietor of the Brooklyn bar and bakery combo, Butter and Scotch.

Now don't cross your eyes about all that chef/restaurant business because First Prize Pies is the least chef-y and least restaurant-y pie cookbook out there right now. I know: I've poured over a LOT of pie cookbooks in the last year.

Despite its culinary pro + restaurant underpinnings, First Prize Pies is very home-cook friendly. In fact? I borrowed a dozen pie cookbooks from the library. First Prize Pies is the only one I decided to purchase.

Easy Margarita Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

Second, the topping is gorgeous whipped cream. Now, Easy Margarita Pie is no "diet" pie but here's one thing I've learned in the last year of baking a pie every week: a half cup of cream, whipped, is plenty ample when you spread it across the pie's center, leaving the filling exposed along the outer edge. And besides, don't you love that look?! I love a pie that hints at what's inside!

First Prize Pies recommends, wow, a whole cup and a half of cream. To my taste, that would totally overwhelm that gorgeous sweet 'n' sour margarita filling underneath, to say nothing of adding a kazillion unnecessary calories.

Easy Margarita Pie ♥ KitchenParade.com

You'll Like Easy Margarita Pie If ...

... you like key lime pie's distinctive puckery sour lime
... you take your margarita with a salted rim
... you need a crowd-pleasing dessert for minimal effort
... you favor simple, slightly rustic pies with familiar flavors and textures

Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!


EASY MARGARITA PIE

Hands-on time: 25 minutes (not including crust) over 2 hours
Time to table: about 4 hours
Makes 1 nine-inch shallow pie, serving 8

    FILLING
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt (don't skip!)
  • 1/2 cup (120g) fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup (60g) fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (45g) tequila

    TOPPING
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt (don't skip!)
  • Lime zest, for garnish, optional

Heat oven to 350F/180C.

FILLING In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, sour cream, zest and salt until fully combined. A splash at a time, whisk in the lime juice, orange juice and tequila. Pour Filling into prepared Crust.

BAKE Place the filled pie shell onto a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes; start checking at 25 minutes (and every 5 minutes afterward), the filling should be slightly jiggly in the center but should no longer "slosh". Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool at room temperature until, well, room temperature.

TOPPING Once the pie is cooled down, whip the cream, sour cream, sugar and salt until pillowy. Spread across the pie's center, leaving the outer edge revealed. Sprinkle with lime zest.

CHILL the pie for at least two hours, letting it set up completely, allowing time for the flavors to meld. Garnish with fresh lime zest, if using. (If you like, so long has the pie has been chilled, the whipped cream topping could be added just before serving.)

TO SERVE Cut slices with a slim knife. The pie would be really pretty with a few strawberries or blueberries or a thin slice of lime on the plate!

MAKE-AHEAD Do allow time to cool the pie down after it's out of the oven, also to chill the pie for a good two hours for it to fully set up. It's "best" eaten on the same day but the leftovers definitely taste good, they just don't look as pretty. Importantly, this is one of the few pies in my collection which can be made mid-afternoon, say, to serve for dinner. Mostly, homemade pies should be started early in the day, even the day before.

ALANNA's TIPS That's right, no need to get out the mixer for this pie! A whisk works just beautifully. I wondered how an already-baked graham cracker crust would turn out after being filled and spending another 30 minutes or so in the oven. At least with a homemade crust? No problem! In addition, I "think" but haven't tried – that you could put this filling into an unbaked graham cracker crust, then bake the pie. I've learned to welcome the assistance of a baking sheet when making pies. For blind-baking pastry crusts or getting golden color on the bottom of a pie that's baked a long while, I put the baking sheet into the oven while it heats up, then put the pie pan right onto the baking sheet. Here, however, the point of the baking sheet is to provide "sloshing space" (just in case the filling sloshes out a little as it moves toward the oven) and to help the pie bake more evenly. I love-love using the whisk attachment to make a small amount of whipped cream. I measure the cream right into the mixing cup that comes with the set, then whip away. So easy! Could you use a can of whipped cream? Yep! Even easier!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice: 397 Calories; 21g Tot Fat; 11g Sat Fat; 152mg Cholesterol; 325mg Sodium; 43g Carb; 1g Fiber; 32g Sugar; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 9 & PointsPlus 10 & SmartPoints 18 (yikes, maybe best cut a skinny slice!)
Adapted from a library copy of First Prize Pies by Allison Kave. My Disclosure Promise

More Creamy Pies

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Blueberry Cheesecake Pie Lemon Meringue Pie Banana Cream Pie

More Easy Cinco de Mayo Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda) Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas Chicken Nachos with Homemade Pickled Jalapeño Rings
Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Mexican Fruit Salad Mexican Mango Trifle
~ more Mexican recipes ~

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