Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala isn’t usually found on any menus in Italy. If anything, you’ll find the more popular veal Marsala, but not chicken. However, with the cost of veal (not to mention the ethical reasons), chicken is the meat I prefer to use here in the U.S. It’s a meal you can partially prepare ahead of time, making it perfect for company. You can use any kinds of mushrooms, and for this post, I used baby portobello mushrooms. Sautè the mushrooms in some butter and olive oil, then remove to a plate. Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise and pat dry, then season with salt and pepper, and dust with a little flour. Brown the chicken breasts in the same saucepan you used for the mushrooms, adding a little more olive oil, then remove them to a plate before they’re thoroughly cooked through. You can do this step, and sautè the mushrooms ahead of time, then finish the recipe later.
Add the shallots to the pan with the heat turned off. The residual heat will cook them well enough in just a couple of minutes. Then add the chicken and mushrooms back into the pan, and pour in the Marsala wine. Let it cook for a minute or two, and add the chicken broth. It will take only a few minutes to cook completely through. Add the butter and swirl it around, then turn off the flame and add the lemon juice.

Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve.

Rice makes a nice accompaniment to soak up the juices, but so do noodles or polenta. Add a green vegetable and you’ve got a great meal for family or for company.

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Chicken Marsala
Author: Ciao Chow Linda
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms, or more if you like
  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil and 2 T. butter
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half and pounded flat
  • salt, pepper
  • flour to dust the chicken breasts
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced finely
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • juice of half a lemon
  • minced parsley
  1. Saute the mushrooms at high heat in the olive oil and butter.
  2. Remove to a platter.
  3. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and dust lightly with the flour.
  4. In a saucepan, place the 2 T. olive oil and when hot, add the chicken breasts.
  5. Make sure the pan is really hot or you won’t get a nice brown color, and you also don’t want to cook the breasts completely — just to brown them.
  6. Flip once and brown quickly on the other side.
  7. Remove the breasts to a plate and turn off the heat.
  8. Add the chopped shallots to the pan, without turning on the heat.
  9. The residual heat will cook the shallots in a couple of minutes.
  10. When the shallots are softened, add the chicken and the mushrooms back to the pan.
  11. Turn the heat to medium and pour in the Marsala wine and the chicken broth.
  12. Let everything cook and blend together for only about five minutes.
  13. If the sauce is too thick, add more broth or water.
  14. If not thick enough, add a bit of cornstarch (1 teaspoon), mixed with 2 tablespoons of water or chicken broth.
  15. Keep in mind, that the sauce will thicken a bit more when you add the butter.
  16. Just before serving, add the 2 tablespoons butter, lemon juice and sprinkle with minced parsley.


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Ukrainian Fried Pastries

These delectable and addictive pastries are from a cookbook called “Mamushka,” a compilation of recipes from the London-based Ukranian chef and cookbook author, Olia Hercules. Olia has been raising money to privately send supplies to civilian volunteers and the Ukrainian army, in their fight against the Russian invasion of their homeland, including her brother who is on the front lines. She was also among those who established the “Cook For Ukraine” initiative, where many businesses and individuals are raising money for the cause. You can follow her indefatiguable efforts on Instagram here.

In addition to donating money to various organizations helping to feed and shelter refugees from Ukraine, I hope to raise awareness by posting this recipe and sources where you can donate (see the end of the post). It’s the very least I can do when I feel helpless looking at the heartbreaking images coming from Ukraine. These pastries, “bергуни,” “verhuny” or “angel wing” pastries in English, are very similar to a pastry made all over Italy, especially at Carnevale, called “chiacchiere,” among other names. They bring back memories of my mother and my childhood too, and can’t imagine the pain of those children and women in Ukraine separated from their fathers and husbands due to the war, not knowing when or if they will ever be reunited.

Olia’s recipe calls for vodka, (we could all use a good swig right now), whereas most Italian recipes use grappa or an Italian liqueur. I followed Olia’s recipe and they were delicious.

The dough is very delicate but it rolls out easily enough on a board covered with flour. Make a slit in the center of the strips and twist one of the ends through the center.

Fry them in oil until lightly browned.

Drain them on paper towels then dust with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy. Olia’s recipe calls for serving with a dulce de leche or chocolate sauce but I prefer to eat them just with the sugar coating.

If you’re looking for places to donate, here are just a few reliable sources to check out:

World Central Kitchen – Chef Jose Andrès started this to help starving people around the world, and he’s now serving meals to Ukranian families fleeing their home and in Ukraine.

Direct Relief: – A Santa Barbara-based charity working directly with Ukraine’s ministry of health to provide medical aid.

Doctors Without Borders – As always, they are responding to medical and humanitarian needs.

Unicef – Providing life-saving support for Ukrainian children and families

Also, be on the lookout for local businesses and cooks in your area or online who are participating in the Cook For Ukraine movement, with proceeds going to help that country.

Ukrainian Fried Pastries (Verhuny”
Author: Ciao Chow Linda via Olia Hercules’ “Mamushka” cookbook
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 teaspoons (25 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz. 60 g) sour cream
  • 1 taablespoon vodka
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 5 black caardaamom pods, crushed and seeds extracted, then ground into a powder
  • dulce de leche or chocolate sauce, to serve (optional)
  1. Mix the flour and baking soda together, then rub in the butter with your fingertips until well combined.
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg, egg yolk, sugar, vinegar, sour cream, vodka, and salt, then mix well into a firm pastry dough.
  3. Flour your work surface really well and divide the dough into two pieces.
  4. Roll one piece of dough out as thinly as you can.
  5. Slice the dough into 1 1/2 inch strips and then diagonally across so that you end up with 20 diamonds.
  6. (My cuts were more random and I had more thaan 20 cookies)
  7. Make a slash in the center of each diamond and pull one of the ends through the slash.
  8. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
  9. Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saucepan until very hot.
  10. Drop the diamonds in carefully and fry them briefly until they float to the surface.
  11. Lift them out with a slotted spoon aand drain on paper towels
  12. Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the cardamom and sprinkle over the pastries.
  13. Dip into dulce de leche or chocolate sauce if desired.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Flounder with canned cherry tomatoes, olives and capers

I’m a big fan of canned cherry tomatoes, especially in the winter when fresh tomatoes are so tasteless. But I use them all year long too, in soups, sauces and other ways.  They might be hard to find where you live, and if that’s the case, there are plenty of sources online to buy them. They’re definitely worth seeking with their intense, jammy flavor. With the Lenten season upon us, this makes for an easy and delicious Friday meal. It’s packed with flavor from not only the tomatoes, but also from the olives and capers. And it takes minutes to prepare and cook. Place everything in a parchment-lined tin or rimmed cookie sheet for easy cleanup. Pour a little olive oil over the parchment, place the fish over the oil, then season with salt and pepper. Spread some of the tomatoes on top, and cut up some olives (I used green olives but you could just as well use purple Kalamata olives or cured black Sicilian olives too.) Spread the olives and capers all over the fish, then add some herbs. I used oregano that I dried from my plants last summer, plus some fresh parsley. Give everything another little sprinkle of olive oil and place in the oven for five to six minutes, depending on the thickness of your fis

You could use nearly any kind of fish filets for this recipe, from flounder, to sole, to snapper to branzino, If you use cod or a similarly thicker fish, you’ll need to keep it in the oven longer than six minutes. Use a wide spatula to transfer each filet to a serving platter, otherwise the pieces will break.

Serve with rice, pasta or quinoa to soak up all those healthy, delicious juices that come oozing out after it’s cooked.

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Flounder with canned cherry tomatoes, olives and capers
Author: Ciao Chow Linda
  • one pound flounder, sole, branzino or snapper filets
  • canned cherry tomatoes
  • green olives
  • capers
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • dried oregano
  • fresh parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper over a baking sheet and sprinkle a little olive oil over the paper.
  3. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay the fish over the olive oil and spread the cherry tomatoes, olives and capers on top, using as much or as little as you like.
  5. Sprinkle some dried oregano and fresh parsley over the fish and give everything another drizzle of olive oil.
  6. Bake for five to six minutes, or longer if your fish is thick.
  7. Serve with rice, noodles or quinoa.