Four Cheese Mac & Cheese 🧀

I’m a big fan of classic comfort food and what’s more comforting than Four Cheese Mac and Cheese? 🧀 This recipe features sharp cheddar, goat cheese, Parmesan and asiago cheeses, but you can sub with your favorite cheeses — cream cheese is great in place of goat cheese, gruyere or gouda are wonderfully nutty, mozzarella is also good but sometimes a bit bland — experiment with your favorite varieties. This dish is creamy, indulgent and perfect for a weeknight dinner. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup of AP flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic or garlic powder — 2 tsps if using fresh and make sure it’s finely minced 
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded – I prefer sharp cheddar but you can use any strength you like 
  • 1 + 2 tablespoons cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1 cup of goat cheese — I like to use garlic and herb flavored but plain is fine. You can also sub cream cheese
  • 1 quart of whole milk (or 4-5 cups) — it’s important that you use whole milk for this. If you only have skim milk, then the sauce might be a bit thin so you’ll need a thicker roux
  • 1-2 lbs of your favorite pasta shape

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add big pinch of salt (this will season the noodles)
  • Add the pasta and boil until al dente (about 6-7 minutes) — give it a taste and it should still be firm but a soft chew. Don’t worry if you think it’s underdone since it will cook again in the oven
  • In a large saucepan or pot over a medium flame, add the butter and melt
  • Once the butter is melted, add the flour and start to stir until the butter and flour become one homegenous almost paste-like mixture
  • Cook for at least 5-6 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds so it doesn’t burn, then add your salt and pepper
Bechamel Sauce
  • While whisking, slowly add the milk — make sure the roux is completely incorporated and a smooth white sauce (also known as a bechamel) will form. This is one of the 5 mother sauces in classic French cooking. Once we add cheese it becomes a Mornay sauce
Season, season, season
  • Once the sauce has come together, add the nutmeg, dried mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic and bring to a simmer
  • Once the sauce is continuously simmering, add the Parmesan or Romano cheese and stir well
Add all the cheeses!
  • Once the Parmesan is incorporated, start adding the rest of the cheeses a handful at a time and stirring to incorporate each time — don’t add a new handful until the precious one has melted into the sauce
Bechamel becomes Mornay sauce!
  • Once the last of the cheese has been melted into the sauce, let it cook for another few minutes as it settles then turn the heat off
Add the pasta
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir so every noodle is coated in cheesy goodness— resist the urge to eat the whole pot! 😉 
Cheesy goodness!
  • Add the cheese noodles to a greased 13×9 dish and flatten with your stirring spoon
Ready to Bake!
  • Mix the remaining Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle all over the top of the mac and cheese dish
  • Bake at 375 for at 25-30 minutes or until the crust gets golden brown

Enjoy with a simple green salad for a delicious midweek dinner or as a side. Yum!

Tip: want to make this dish healthier? Add some broccoli or spinach to the cheesy noodle mixture. Mmm 😋

Four Cheese Mac & Cheese

Fall Harvest Chicken Pot Pie

For our next episode of Cooking Under Quarantine, we’ll be making another wondering Fall dish — chicken pot pie! This is one of my personal favorites, and this version features festive fall flavors and is wonderful for the cooler weather. The filling is made with roasted root vegetables and tender chicken, with a homemade crust. This dish comes together very easily and is very versatile and adaptable to what you have in your pantry and fridge. So follow along with Chef Jon, and let us know how yours turns out!

Cooking Under Quarantine – Fall Harvest Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 medium parsnips
  • 2-3 medium carrots
  • 2 sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon of sugar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • ​4 cups of chicken stock — can also sub vegetable stock
  • Dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon
  • Poultry seasoning, 2-3 tablespoons — or combo of dried sage and dried thyme
  • Turmeric, 1-2 tablespoons
  • 2 sticks of butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs — can use chicken on the bone as well, but will need to cook longer
  • 1 large Spanish or yellow onion
  • Garlic, 6-7 cloves
  • Olive oil

Equipment:

  • Parchment paper
  • 2 baking sheets
  • 1 large skillet or pot
  • Food processor (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Season the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 25-30 minutes
  3. Chop the carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes into chunks — don’t worry if they’re not all the exact same size. That’s what makes this dish rustic, and they’re also going to be covered with our crust.
  4. Toss the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary and spread on a parchment lined sheet pan, and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour
  5. Meanwhile, let’s make the crust — this is a super simple crust, but you can also feel free to use a store-bought pie crust or puff pastry
  6. For the crust: add 2 cups of flour, sugar, butter/margarine, turmeric, half of the poultry seasoning, and 1 teaspoon of salt into the bowl of a food processor. Don’t have a food processor? Feel free to use a hand mixer, pastry cutter, or even 2 forms — just try to resist the urge to use your hands since we want the butter/margarine and the dough to stay cold
  7. Pulse the ingredients together, then start to pour the ice water (ice included) through the feeder (or add a bit at a time if not using food processor) until the dough starts to crawl up the side of the bowl and becomes a loose ball of dough
  8. Empty the dough out onto a floured board or counter and gently form into a ball —resist the urge to knead!
  9. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but up to overnight
  10. While the dough is chilling, sauté chop up the onions and garlic, and start to sauce the onion on medium heat with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  11. Once the onions are golden brown, add the garlic and rest of the poultry seasoning and a bit more olive oil
  12. Make a roux in same pan by adding a couple of tablespoons of flour — don’t worry about the onions clumping up. They will loosen up when we add the liquid later on
  13. Let the roux cook until it’s nicely browned but not burnt, then add the chicken (or veggie) stock
  14. Lower the heat to simmer and once the sauce has thickened, add the wine
  15. Let the sauce thicken again until it’s about the consistency of gravy, then add the chicken and roasted veggies
  16. Turn off the heat and  mix well — you want the chicken and veggies to all be coated with the sauce and for all of the ingredients to become one
  17. Take your crust out of the fridge, and roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thickness or until it’s as big as the pan you’ll be using (I usually use a rectangular pyrex)
  18. Fill your pot pie pan with the chicken-veggie mixture until it’s full but not overflowing because the crust will expand a bit
  19. Layer the crust over the mixture and tuck it into the sides — don’t worry about it being perfect. It will patch itself up a bit in the oven
  20. Make sure to cut a few of slits in top crust to allow for steam to escape or your pie may explode (really!)
  21. Bake at 375 for 45min to 1 hour, or until crust is golden brown and crispy

​Serve hot (if making later freeze or refrigerate the pot pie after putting on the top crust on and bake at same temp for an additional 15 min). Enjoy!

Cooking Under Quarantine — Moroccan Chicken Tagine

For our next episode of Cooking Under Quarantine, we’ll be making one of my favorite Fall dishes — Moroccan Chicken Tagine. While my version of this classic Moroccan dish isn’t actually cooked inside of a tagine pot, but it echoes a lot of the flavors that I love when I ordering tagines at Moroccan restaurants — a little bit sweet, salty, sour, savory and the protein is always fall apart tender. It’s very comforting as the weather turns colder, and is also great to make in the slow cooker! So follow along with Chef Jon, and let us know how yours turns out.

Cooking Under Quarantine, Moroccan Chicken Tagine!

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces or 1-2 lb package of boneless chicken thighs
  • 5-6 carrots chopped into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of pitted green olives
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • Spices: smoked paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, Ras al Hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2-3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 preserved lemons, chopped — Can buy preserved lemons at most specialty food stores, but can also substitute 2-3 regular lemons, juices and zest grated
  • Parsley or Cilantro (optional)
  1. Blend the spices and any other spices you like and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil — enough to form into a rub and coat the chicken on all sides with it, Let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes in the spice rub
  2. Sauté chicken in olive oil in a hot Dutch oven or deep pot on both sides until browned but not fully cooked through
  3. Remove chicken and set aside. You’ll come back to it later
  4. In same pot add garlic and onions and cook until starting to brown (approx 5 min)
  5. Add carrots and keep cooking
  6. If you have extra, season the veggies with more of the spice rub and heat until fragrant
  7. Add preserved lemon and olives to the pot
  8. Add broth and lemon juice to veggie pan to deglaze the pan, and make sure to scrape bottom of the pot for flavor bits — add just enough broth so that the liquid covers the ingredients
  9. Add aprocots to the pot and make sure to give everything a good mix!
  10. Add the chicken back in and stir all together — taste the liquid and adjust seasonings to your taste. Maybe add more lemon, salt, etc
  11. Heat on medium high for 5-10 minutes until the liquid begins to simmer, then cover and lower heat to medium low and simmer for about 45 min – 1 hour
  12. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and/or parsley then spoon over couscous or serve in a bowl with sides of your choosing.

I love to serve this dish with some lemon couscous, herb roasted tomatoes and some crusty bread to mop up all the delicious sauce. It’s always a big hit and perfect for leftovers!

Summer Wedding Celebration!

My family is celebrating my brother’s upcoming marriage with a small, outdoor wedding. But, I wanted to share the recipes for what we’ll be eating with you, so that you can recreate those flavors at home! So follow along with Chef Jon in the video above (or on YouTube HERE) or by following the recipe below, as we make Pistachio-Coconut Crusted Salmon with an Arugula-Pistachio Pesto and Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad. Perfect for a summer celebration!

Pistachio-Coconut Crusted Salmon 

Ingredients

  • Salmon fillets, skin on
  • Garlic, 3-4 cloves
  • 1/2 cup of shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard — can substitute mayo if desired
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper
  • 2 lemons, halved and grilled cut side down (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. While the oven is preheating, let’s make the crust — in the bowl of a food processor, add the pistachios, garlic, coconut, 1 tsp of salt and pepper
  3. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture comes together and is similar in texture and size to sand — you can do this without a food processor by putting mixture into a plastic bag and taking your aggression out on it with a rolling pin!
  4. Pat the salmon dry with a towel, and then season with the remaining salt, and transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper — you can use tin foil, but parchment paper will make sure the salmon won’t stick. Plus, makes for super easy cleanup!
  5. Using a brush or a spoon, spread the dijon all over the flesh of the salmon — this is the glue the helps the crust stick
  6. Using your hands, cover the mustard-covered salmon with the crust mixture. Make sure to cover the fish evenly, so it will cook evenly, and cover it all over — we don’t want any parts uncovered
  7. Once the fish is covered, pour some olive oil over the top to help with browning the crust
  8. Bake the fish for 10-12 minutes then remove from oven and let the fish cool for at least 5 minutes
  9. Garnish with the Arugula-Pistachio pesto, grilled lemons and serve with Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad. Yum!

Arugula-Pistachio Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups of arugula or baby arugula
  • 1 cup of pistachios — you can substitute walnuts if you’ve used up all your pistachios on the fish
  • 1-2 tsps of lemon zest
  • 1-2 tbsps of lemon juice
  • Garlic, 4-5 cloves
  • 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Pecorino Romano or an aged, hard cheese
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor (or mortar and pestle) add all of the ingredients except for the oil
  2. Pulse the mixture continuously while adding olive oil until it turns into a loose paste. I like mine a little coarse and chunky, but you can choose your own thickness
  3. If you find it too thick, add more olive oil or a bit more lemon juice. Make sure to taste it!
  4. Empty mixture into a bowl and let it sit at least 10-15 minutes before using — this pesto is also great as a pasta sauce. Just mix the cold or room temperature pesto into hot pasta. So good!

Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad 

Ingredients

  • Corn, 4-5 ears
  • Cherry tomatoes, 1 pint, cut in half
  • Red onion, 1 medium or 1/2 large onion, diced
  • Avocados, 2 — make sure that your avocados are ripe, but not mushy, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup of champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 2 tsps of dried mint
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat your grill or grill-pan to medium heat — you want it hot, but not smoking
  2. While the grill is getting hot, clean your corn by removing both the husk and silk strands — you want corn to grill contact to happen
  3. Place the corn on the grill (and some lemon halves which make a great garnish) — don’t worry about turning the corn too too often since you want some of that char and grill color on the corn. You should probably give it a nudge every 3-5 minutes — it will only take about 10-15 minutes total to cook
  4. While the corn is grilling, dice your onion and chop the tomatoes in half and place in a large bowl big enough for mixing
  5. Once your corn has come off the grill and cooled for a few min, cut off the end of the corn so you have a straight edge, and balance the corn on its straight end
  6. Using a sharp, chef’s knife, starting at the top of the ear, cut of the corn kernels by cutting straight down, and rotate the corn once you get to the bottom and repeat until you’ve cut all of the corn off the cob. Repeat for all of the ears or corn. Add the corn to the tomatoes and onions
  7. Cut your avocados by running a sharp knife along the outside, around the pit until you’ve gone all the way around. Use your hands to twist the 2 halves apart
  8. Take your knife and thwack it into the avocado pit so it sticks into it, then twist to detach the pit from the avocado
  9. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado meat and chop into 1/2 inch pieces
  10. Drizzle the avocado pieces in lemon juice to keep them bright green before you mix into the corn salad mixture.
  11. For the dressing: mix honey, champagne vinegar, olive oil, dijon, salt, pepper, cilantro and mint in a bowl and mix vigorously until the dressing is one homogeneous mixture — I like to use a mason jar.
  12. Pour the dressing over the corn-tomato mixture (reserving some dressing if needed later) and add the avocados
  13. Gently toss everything together until all of the ingredients have a little bit of dressing on them, and make sure to be delicate with the avocado so it doesn’t get mushed
  14. Garnish with more chopped cilantro, and erve with your favorite fish or chicken dish on a beautiful summer day — like for a wedding celebration perhaps. Bon appetit!

Let’s Talk Tuna — Tuna Pasta Puttanesca

While everything is going on, even a quick run to the grocery store has become a great feat. So, it seems like a great time to use up those items in your pantry. Something that I almost always have in my cabinet? Canned tuna.

Now, I too love a great tuna sandwich, but tuna salad gets boring after a while, amirite? Enter “Tuna Pasta Puttanesca” — this hearty, comforting pasta dish pulls double duty as not only a delicious dinner, but also uses up ingredients you might not have even remembered you had! Tomatoes, olives, capers, and our star ingredient, TUNA, make this easy meal a crowd pleaser and it’s packed with protein so will feed about 4 or 2-3 very hungry people!

Tuna Pasta Puttanesca

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of pasta (traditionally made with Spaghetti, but you can use any pasta)
  • 28oz can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite jar of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic or 3-4 cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tin of anchovies in oil
  • 1 small jar of capers, halfway drained
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of olives — your favorite kind
  • 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of tuna fish
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Put a pot of water (at least 6-8 cups) on medium-high heat to start heating up.
  2. In a flat sauté pan (with at least a 1/2 inch lip), add some olive oil and put over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer.
  3. Add the anchovies 1-2 at a time to the oil, so they start to “melt.”
  4. Once the anchovies start breaking down, add the garlic and use the back of your spoon to spread out.
  5. Once the garlic starts to brown, add all the herbs and red pepper flakes until you begin to smell the aroma of the herbs coming off the pan.
  6. Add the tomato paste and break up with your spoon.
  7. After 3-4 minutes, add the capers and olives, including half of the caper brine.
  8. Let this cook for a few minutes until there is only a little bit of liquid left, and it is mostly solid and mixed in with the tomatoes.
  9. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and give this a big stir to blend everything.
  10.  Once this mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.
  11.  In the meantime, your water should have come to a boil — make sure it’s a rolling boil!
  12.  Add a big handful of salt to the water — this step is needed to not only season the pasta but also help the sauce come together later from the starch that comes off the pasta.
  13.  Add the pasta to the water and give it a swirl.
  14.  Add the tuna to the tomato mixture and mix it into the sauce.
  15.  Cook pasta for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often to separate strands/pieces.
  16.  Once pasta is al dente (still has a slight bite), add it directly to the saucepan along with a little bit of pasta water (make sure you reserve some more pasta water for later), and bring the heat to medium/medium-high.
  17.  Toss pasta in the sauce and heat through for a few minutes so the flavors can come together.
  18.  Serve yourself a big bowl of Tuna Pasta Puttanesca — you did it! Yum!

Cooking Under Quarantine

For the last couple of years, I’ve been heavily focused on my catering company, J2Food. While the current public health crisis is going on, there are less parties and events happening, but people have still got to eat, right?!? And since we’re all stuck inside, why don’t we cook together? Enter in our new cooking series — “Cooking Under Quarantine.” Each episode will feature delicious and easy-to-make recipes that you can make at home with accessible ingredients. Perfect for chefs of all levels!

For our first episode, we’re cooking up a classic chicken dish to celebrate Shabbat (Friday night). This delicious Chicken Marsala is an easy, one pot dish that comes together in under an hour! So, it’s also great for a weeknight dinner that you want to make a little more special. This recipe is also great for veal cutlets or even tofu or a meaty fish to make it vegetarian.

Have ideas for future recipes you’d like to see? Email us at jonsmoveablefeasts@gmail.com or info@jsquaredfood.com.

Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours! Now, let’s get cooking! Follow along with the video below, or check out the recipe here.

Herb Roasted Asparagus

We could all use a little more green in our lives, right? But eating a salad can sometimes be a bit boring. Something I can never get tired of though–roasted vegetables. It’s amazing what a little heat and seasoning can do to ordinary veggies to make them spectacular.

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a heavy meat dish, to complete a weeknight meal, or even to be the star of the dish. Try it topped with a poached egg and hollandaise for a healthier take on traditional eggs benedict. Yum! This recipe for Herb Roasted Asparagus is so easy and comes together in no time at all. Plus, asparagus just seems so elegant and impressive–no one needs to know how easy it was to make!

Ingredients

  • Asparagus, 1-2 bunches
  • Lemon
  • Herbs de Provence (can find in Trader Joe’s for a great deal)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees
  2. On a sheet pan, place a piece of parchment paper — while not necessary to cook, parchment paper prevents sticking and also makes for easy cleanup
  3. Cut or break off ends of asparagus spears — if using your hands, the fibrous ends will break off naturally. You won’t want to eat these since they’re very woody and tough, but they’re excellent for soups
  4. Toss the asparagus with enough olive oil to coat, a big pinch of salt, pepper and herbs de Provence — Remember to season aggressively!fullsizeoutput_4ba8
  5. Using a microplane or part of a box grater, add the zest of 1 lemon to the asparagusfullsizeoutput_4ba7
  6. Squeeze the juice from half of that lemon onto the asparagus as well 
  7. Roast the asparagus in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they’re tender and slightly crisp
  8. Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, and a squeeze of lemon

 

YBuMvyd3RIyxNiRBK31BwQLRG_DSC07063

Creamy Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that sounds super fancy–and it definitely tastes luxurious!–but is actually far easier to make at home than most people think. In fact, it doesn’t even need cream or milk to make it creamy. You just need to buy the right kind of rice and give it a little love and attention and you’ll be whipping up some restaurant worthy risotto in no time. Flavor it with your favorite mix-ins like roasted asparagus, caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash or more. Bon appetito!

Ingredients

  • Arborio rice, 2 cups — you must use arborio rice for this dish. Arborio rice has a super high starch content and this is what makes your risotto creamy and delicious!
  • Garlic, 5-6 cloves chopped
  • White wine, 1 cup
  • Chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to keep it vegetarian/dairy), 4 cups — if you wanted to do a super rich and earthy mushroom risotto, you could make some mushroom broth by rehydrating dried porcini mushrooms for a truly luxurious risotto dish!
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan (or nondairy substitute such as nutritional yeast), optional but always worth it
  • 1 cup of Herb Roasted Asparagus (or your favorite mix-in)

Directions

  1. Heat the stock in a saucepan and add any flavorings you’d like to it such as herbs, lemon juice, spices etc.
  2. Sauté garlic in olive oil until fragrant and slightly brown. Season with salt and pepper
  3. Add rice and toss to coat. Sauté the rice so it gets nice and toasty. This will give it a wonderful and deep flavor later on
  4. Add about a cup of white wine of your choice — you can also use champagne, sparkling wine etc. Just make sure it’s something you like. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it! The flavor will just concentrate as it’s cooking
  5. Stir the rice, and once it’s absorbed the wine, start adding about a cup of broth to the rice and stir it around
  6. Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, it needs to be stirred. As it cooks and gets stirred, it will start to release its starches which creates the creaminess that is characteristic of risotto
  7. After about 18 minutes, you will have added several cups of liquid and the ride should be creamy and have expanded. Give it a quick taste for seasoning and to make sure the rice is al dente (should have a little bit of chew left)
  8. Now would be the time to add anything to the risotto like some roasted asparagus, maple roasted butternut squash if you wanted to go sweet, or anything you like
  9. Turn off the heat and add some nutritional yeast (if meat meal) to give it some umami or a cup of grated Parmesan cheese if a dairy meal and stir.
  10. Serve while still warm. To reheat, heat risotto into a saucepan with a 1/4 cup of water and stir until steamy and ready to inhale

YBuMvyd3RIyxNiRBK31BwQLRG_DSC07061

Chicken Marsala with Mushroom Sauce

So I’ve recently started offering small group cooking classes through my catering company, J2Food, and the theme for the first session was all about love. It was a few days before Valentine’s Day, and it was a couples-themed class, It’s a Date! And what can be more romantic than cooking for your loved one? Or, even better, cooking together. So as I was considering what we should make for the meal, I thought we should have all foods that not only taste delicious but also look amazing and can be made by any amateur chef (and easy to clean to boot!).

Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite dishes to make for guests and even crowds. It sounds and tastes very complex, but is actually very simple to make and very impressive in its presentation and flavors. It’s a recipe that I teach all of my cousins when they go to college so that they have at least one quality trick up their sleeve to throw down. This dish is also great for a quick weeknight meal. Serve it over some herbed egg noodles, with creamy garlic mashed potatoes or even with a fresh arugula salad. Enjoy and let me know how yours turns out!


Ingredients

  • Chicken breasts, boneless – while I often opt for the more forgiving chicken thighs, it’s very traditional to use chicken breast in this recipe for texture and size
  • Mushrooms, halved – I like Cremini (mini portobellos), but button mushrooms or any variety are good to use. Sometimes I like to use a mix of mushrooms…you can never have too many
  • Bottle of Marsala wine – I would definitely use real Marsala wine (usually found in the dessert wine section near the Madeira or sherry). Resist the urge to use Marsala cooking wine found in the grocery store since those are loaded with salt and MSG.
  • Chicken stock
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried herbs – whatever your favorite flavors are (we used rosemary, thyme, and oregano)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Garlic, 8-10 cloves chopped
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Pound the chicken breasts out to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Doesn’t need to be super thin since these are getting twice-cooked
  2. Add enough olive oil to a heavy-bottomed sauté pan to coat and start to heat on medium
  3. Mix a heavy pinch of dried herbs, salt and pepper into about 1.5 cups of flour — you may need more later on, so don’t be skimpy now
  4. Dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour mixture one by one to coat then add to the hot pan — How hot should the pan be? You should hear a small sizzle or see some small bubbles form around the edge of the chicken 
  5. Cook the chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes per side so they both get a slight crisp and are golden to golden brown on each side
  6. Reserve partially cooked chicken for later to finish cooking
  7. In the same pan, add a heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic
  8. After the garlic has started to brown, add the mushrooms — it’s important that mushrooms have room to cook or they’ll steam instead of sautéing so don’t overcrowd the pan
  9. One the mushrooms have cooked, add a few spoonfuls of the flour mixture to the pan and stir to coat the mushrooms and so that all of the flour gets to cook off some
  10. After a couple of minutes, deglaze the pan with about half the bottle of Marsala — the pan should start to sizzle rapidly and this is the time for you to use your spatula/spoon to scrape up the good, crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. This is pure flavor…Yum!!!
  11. Add about 1 cup of chicken stock to the pan, and also season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce mixture come up to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook for a couple of minutes to get rid some of the sharpness from the wine and stock
  12. At this point, the floury mushrooms acted as our roux, and the sauce should be starting to thicken. Add the chicken back into the sauce and submerge.
  13. Cover the pan with a lid of tight aluminum foil and cook for another 20 minutes on simmer or medium-low heat. The chicken will get nice and tender and the sauce will thicken some more
  14. Once done, serve on a big platter with some risotto, egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Bon appetit!

LRG_DSC07062

LRG_DSC07065

Recipe: Morroccan Chicken Tagine

The other day, someone who I had met at a food festival asked me for the recipe for this Moroccan Chicken. They had eaten it at an event I had catered in Philadelphia a couple of months ago though my catering company, J2Food, and loved it. I don’t always give out some of my more secret recipes, but since she was so nice, I decided to write it up and post it here for all of you 🙂 This Moroccan Chicken dish isn’t actually cooked inside of a “tagine” pot, but it echoes a lot of the flavors that I love when I ordering tagines at Moroccan restaurants — a little bit sweet, salty, sour, savory and the protein is always fall apart tender. It’s very comforting in this winter weather, and is also great to make in the slow cooker! Let me know how yours turns out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion
  • 5-6 carrots chopped into chunks
  • 2-3 medium onions chopped roughly
  • 1 cup of pitted green olives
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • Spices: smoked paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, coriander
  • Saffron, 2-3 threads
  • 3-4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup lemon juicephoto-nov-20-6-45-21-pm
  • 2 preserved lemons, chopped — can substitute 2-3 regular lemons, juices and zest grated. Can buy preserved lemons at most specialty food stores
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro (optional)

Cooking Directions:

  1. Blend the spices and any other spices you like into a rub and divide in halfphoto-nov-20-5-52-19-pmphoto-nov-20-5-54-06-pm
  2. Mix one half of the rub with olive oil to form a loose paste and Coat the chicken on all sides with itphoto-nov-20-6-17-19-pm
  3. Sauté chicken in olive oil in a hot Dutch oven or deep pot on both sides until browned but not fully cooked throughphoto-nov-20-6-40-23-pm
  4. Remove chicken and set aside. You’ll come back to it
  5. In same pot add garlic and onions and cook until starting to brownphoto-nov-20-6-40-05-pm
  6. Add carrots and onions and keep cooking
  7. Add more of the same spice mixture to the pot with the vegetables and heat until fragrantphoto-nov-20-6-40-39-pm
  8. Add preserved lemon, lemon juice, saffron, (zest) and cook for a couple of minutesphoto-nov-20-6-45-06-pm
  9. Add broth and make sure to scrape bottom of the pot for flavor bits — add just enough broth so that the liquid covers the ingredientsphoto-nov-20-6-45-51-pm
  10. Add olives to the pot and make sure to give everything a good mix!photo-nov-20-6-56-01-pmphoto-nov-20-6-47-16-pm
  11. Add the chicken back in and stir all together — taste the liquid and adjust seasonings to your taste. Maybe add more lemon, salt etcphoto-nov-20-6-47-16-pm
  12. Heat on medium high for 5-10 minutes, then cover and lower heat to medium low and simmer for about 45 min – 1 hour
  13. Add parsley and simmer for another 5 minutes on high uncovered photo-nov-20-7-52-16-pm
  14. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro then spoon over couscous or serve in a bowl with sides of your choosing

I served this dish with some braised collard greens, herb roasted tomatoes and some crusty bread to mop up the sauce. It was a big hit!

photo-nov-20-8-02-21-pm