In a small bowl, grind the saffron with the handle of a wooden spoon. Add 2 tablespoons of hot water, stir, and let it steep.
Season the room temperature chicken parts with salt. Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken skin side down. Turn and cook until each side is lightly golden. Cook it in batches if you have to so you don’t crowd the pan. Remove the chicken to a plate. Discard all but ¼ cup of oil/chicken fat from the pan.
Put ½ of the diced onion in the pan and cook for 10 minutes until translucent – don’t brown. Add salt, black pepper and the turmeric. Stir and then add the chicken parts and any drippings back to the pan. Coat the chicken with the onion-turmeric mix and leave it skin side up. Add 1 ½ cups of water and deglaze the pan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and gently simmer the chicken for 25 minutes.
The Pomegranate Sauce:
While the chicken is cooking – In a small pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the remaining half of the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon of turmeric, and stir for about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the tomato paste, about 1 minute. Add the pomegranate molasses, then stir in 1 ¼ cups pomegranate seeds. Save the rest for garnish.
Add the pomegranate sauce and the saffron water to the chicken, gently stir, and simmer uncovered over medium heat until the sauce reduces by about half and the chicken is tender, about 25 minutes. Every once in a while, spoon a little sauce over the chicken. If the sauce reduces too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low or low. Check for seasoning and add a little sugar if the pomegranate molasses is too sour. If your sauce is too sweet, balance it with a little lemon juice.
Here’s something a little different – a Dutch baby. I don’t know how it got its name but it’s basically a sort of airy pancake that’s served with various sweet or savory toppings. For sweets you can top it with powdered sugar, maple syrup, fresh fruit, apple sauce, etc. I made a mushroom Dutch baby based on a recipe that I got from the New York Times. I made some changes to the original replacing bacon, butter, thyme, and cheddar with pancetta, olive oil, oregano, and fontina as noted in the ingredient list below.
1 lb. sliced mushrooms (any kind you like)
¼ lb. sliced pancetta (or bacon)
1 chopped garlic clove
1 tbsp. oregano (or thyme)
3 large eggs
¾ cup flour
¾ cup whole milk
4 tbsp. olive oil divided (or butter)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
2 oz. grated fontina (or cheddar)
2 scallions thinly sliced
2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
Pre-heat the oven to 450o.
Sauté the pancetta in one tablespoon of oil. Add the mushrooms and oregano and cook for approx. 20 minutes adding the garlic for the last 5 minutes.
For the Dutch baby – In a blender add the eggs, flour, milk, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cornstarch, salt. (This is the basic Dutch baby batter recipe for the various toppings. You can use butter instead of oil.)
Remove the mushrooms from the pan. Wipe it out and add 1 tablespoon of oil while it’s still warm. Pour in the Dutch baby batter, place in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes until it’s lightly browned and puffy. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.
When done spread the melted cheese around the top, then add the mushrooms and sprinkle the scallions and parsley over it. Slice and serve.
Persimmons are an underutilized fruit. People see them in the market and are mystified. You can’t eat them like an apple or peel them like a banana so what do you do with them?
Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons
There are two types usually available, the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The Fuyu can be sliced and eaten as is, but the Hachiya needs to be soft and ripe or it’s much too astringent. Don’t buy Hachiya unless they’re very soft. And make sure you have a napkin handy.
Hachiya Persimmons – a little sloppy but good.
Broiled Fuyu Persimmons
Fuyus are good raw but this is a pretty simple recipe and when served it appears to be something special and elegant.
3 tbsp. Bourbon
3 tbsp. honey
3 Fuyu persimmons
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp. soft goat cheese
Turn on the broiler and mix together the Bourbon and honey in a small bowl.
Cut off the top, stem portion of the persimmon. Then cut the fruit into half inch slices. You may only get two slices. Put the sliced persimmons in a lightly oiled pan or oven proof dish and spoon half of the Bourbon-honey mix over them. Put them under the broiler on a middle rack. After 6 or 7 minutes, spoon the rest of the mix over them and broil for another 4 or 5 minutes.
Watch closely so the honey doesn’t char. If it does, just lift the char off the slices with a spoon. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Sprinkle the top with the walnuts, add a teaspoon of the goat cheese to each and serve at room temperature or cold.
Coquito is similar to eggnog but without the egg, it’s a Puerto Rican holiday drink that tastes like coconut candy. Family recipes vary a bit but this one is pretty standard. If you want to serve it to kids, replace the rum with whole milk and add some non-alcoholic rum extract.
1 can cream of coconut (15 ounce)
1 can evaporated milk (12 ounce)
1 can of coconut milk (13 ½ ounce)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounce)
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups white rum
Grated nutmeg for an optional garnish
Pour the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large saucepan. Heat on medium and stir until it well blended and starts to simmer. Remove from heat, and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Add in the rum and chill. Serve cold or on the rocks with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Here’s a simple lentil soup recipe. My doctor goes over my diet each time I see her for an annual physical. She inevitably tells me that I eat too much meat and not enough vegetables. Well, this should make her happy. And if you replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock it would be vegan. According to Medical News Today lentils really are pretty healthy.
This is adapted from a recipe created by Grant Melton that I found in Bon Appetit. It’s something like a sheet pan roast but with a couple of extra steps. The chicken retains its crisp skin and the vegetables cook in olive oil, brine, and chicken fat.
Peperoncini Chicken – Ingredients:
4 skin on, bone in chicken thighs
Salt and black pepper
4 tbsp. olive oil divided
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
10 peperoncini and ½ cup brine
2 finely grated garlic cloves
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ medium red onion thinly sliced
1 celery stalk thinly sliced
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 425o.
Season the room temperature chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan, Place chicken in the pan and cook for 13-15 minutes without turning.
In the meantime, toss the potatoes, peperoncini, garlic, oregano, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
Turn the chicken skin side up and arrange the potato mixture around it. Pour the peperoncini liquid around it and give the pan a shake to distribute it. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 40 minutes.
When it’s done transfer the chicken and peperoncini to a serving dish Place the pan with the potatoes on a burner – medium/high heat. Add the onion, celery, and parsley. Blend and cook for 5 minutes. Pour it over the chicken and potatoes and serve.
The last time I had fried green tomatoes in a restaurant was over two years ago in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They’re not too common in New York restaurants so we have to make our own. It’s really very simple recipe but the hard part is finding firm, unripe green tomatoes.
3 or 4 large unripe tomatoes cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
Put the flour in one dish, the beaten egg and milk in a bowl and the corn meal/breadcrumbs/Cajun seasoning, salt and black pepper in another dish.
Put a half inch of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. After patting them dry, dip each tomato slice first in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs, letting any excess coating drip off. Fry them in batches and don’t let them touch in the pan.
Cook until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes on each other side. Drain on paper towels and serve.
Season room temperature chicken with salt and black pepper and place it on an oiled, rimmed baking sheet.
In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, paprika, and oregano. Pour over chicken, tossing to coat.
Add tomatoes, poblano and bell pepper to baking sheet, spread vegetables around the chicken. ￼
Season vegetables lightly with salt and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Sprinkle Parmigiano all over the vegetables and some on the chicken.
Roast until chicken is golden, crisp and cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes. Stir the vegetables halfway through cooking but don’t disturb the chicken. Transfer chicken to plates. Stir vegetables around in pan. Stir in the parsley Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon vegetables over the chicken to serve.