Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday and Saturday Nights' Dinners

Yesterday I made Fennel and Squash Gratin from the Raley's 75th Anniversary cookbook. (For my east coast friends, Raley's/Bel Air is a chain of grocery stores here in Northern California.) This recipe consists of butternut squash, acorn squash, fennel bulb, onion, mascarpone cheese, and havarti cheese. The squash was microwaved ahead of time to minimize baking time, and the onion and fennel were sauteed until the onion was soft. Then everything was mixed together including the mascarpone and cubed havarti and put in a baking dish. After baking for about 30 minutes, it came out bubbling and lightly browned on top. I let it set for a little while before serving.

I have to admit that it was tasty, but it was pretty rich. There are different kinds of richness in foods, at least to me. Some kinds of richness I can enjoy more of, and other types I can only handle in small amounts. This squash dish was of the latter variety, unfortunately. I'd never had fennel bulb before and was nicely surprised by the way it tasted. The licorice smell was pretty strong coming off of it when I was chopping it up. You can find the recipe for the gratin on the Raley's website here. I have found many good recipes from Raley's on their website and in their free magazine, Something Extra. Check it out.

Last month, I wrote a post in which I mentioned making Curried Chicken and Vegetable Roast from a recipe I cut out of the November issue of Food & Wine magazine (I mistakenly attributed it to Eating Well magazine). The chicken had come out on the bland side, but the vegetable were okay. I decided to try making it again, but this time I made some changes to the recipe and to how I made it last time. (Sorry, the photo doesn't look super appetizing, but the food tasted really good.)

This time I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which the recipe originally called for. These worked much better than the cut up chicken I used last time. For the curry marinade/sauce stuff, I began like last time making half the recipe. However, this time, I used half the non-fat Greek yogurt, but I kept all of the spices at the original amounts called for--essentially doubling the spice I used last time. I also used fresh ginger this time instead of powdered ginger--this made a big difference to the taste. I also included the juice from half a lemon. I mixed it all up, tossed in the chicken, and stirred until all the pieces were well-coated. I then covered the bowl and let it sit for about 90 minutes.

Once again, I used carrots, onions, beets, and Brussel sprouts. I did not put in any squash since we just had squash yesterday. A little olive oil, salt & pepper, and a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary rounded out the vegetables. Everything went into a rectangular baking dish (the one I used was slightly smaller than a 9x13) and then set the chicken pieces on top. Everything roasted for about an hour. This time, the dish turned out sooooo good. Everything was cooked just right, and the chicken was very flavorful.

Here's the recipe for the yogurt marinade:

1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves minced
1 Tbs Madras curry powder (I used one from Williams-Sonoma, but you can get this at Cost Plus and even some regular grocery stores)
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to blend. Coat chicken pieces and allow them to sit for at least an hour before cooking.

This is really good, and if you don't like really hot-spicy curries, I recommend the Madras curry powder I got from Williams-Sonoma; it wasn't very spicy, just a really flavorful blend of spices.

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