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Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa :: Frozen Watermelon Martinis


Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Grilling with fruit is an easy and staple technique in the summertime – it gives fresh flavor to ordinary BBQ dishes and is a healthy compliment to whatever it is your grilling. This recipe is a Spicy Hawaiian Chicken with a grilled pineapple salsa, made of cilantro, jalapeno pepper and onion (if you prefer a less spicy dish, substitute a red bell pepper instead of the jalapeno). The BBQ sauce is spicy and sweet made with honey, garlic, hot sauce, ketchup and soy sauce (you can also make less spicy by adding more ketchup and soy and honey in place of the hot sauces). The dish is rounded out by a side of rice, perfect mixed in with the pineapple jalapeno salsa and grilled chicken. Top it off with a refreshing frozen watermelon martini (recipe following) – made with vodka, fresh juicy watermelon, crushed ice and some cosmopolitan martini mix…now that’s a sweet and savory dinner perfect for a summer night. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/4 c pineapple juice
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Country Sweet sauce
1 tbsp Chili Garlic sauce
1/2 tbsp Cholula hot pepper sauce
Fresh ground pepper
4 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless, preferably organic for plumper breasts)
Cooking spray
4 pineapple slices for grilling, then diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, chopped (or 1/2 red bell pepper)
2 cups cooked rice (white or yellow)

Combine the first seven ingredients to make the BBQ marinade and add the chicken breasts, storing in a Ziplock bag or covered baking dish, reserving some of the marinade for basting. Let marinate for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Prepare the rice per package instructions, keep warm and fluff with a fork when ready to serve.

To prep the grilled pineapple salsa, chop the jalapeno pepper, red onion and cilantro into a medium dice, mix together and set aside to add grilled pineapple for serving.

Heat the grill or grill pan over medium-high heat (spray the grates or pan with cooking spray just before grilling). Grill chicken breasts about 6-7 minutes per side, basting with the reserved marinade a few times on each side until the chicken gets a nice golden brown color and grill marks. Grill the pineapple slices about 1 minute until browned and chop into medium diced pieces. Mix pineapple chunks into the jalapeno, onion and cilantro mixture, and serve with the chicken and rice. Garnish with some extra cilantro leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Frozen Watermelon Martini

Frozen Watermelon Martini

Frozen Watermelon Martini

2 c watermelon, seeded, cut into chunks
1 tray ice cubes
4 shots vodka (less or more to taste!)
4 shots cosmopolitan martini mix (I used Master of Mixes Martini Gold)

In a blender, puree the watermelon into a thick consistency then add ice cubes, crushing to a medium fine mix. Add vodka and cosmopolitan martini mix and blend until thoroughly mixed. Add more vodka or some Cointreau orange liqueur, if desired, and pour into martini glasses. Garnish with a wedge of fresh watermelon.

Serves 4.

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Spring Fever! Spicing It up with Caribbean Flavors


Caribbean Chicken w/ Guava Pan Sauce, Caramelized Mangoes, Black Beans and Rice

Caribbean Chicken with Guava Pan Sauce, Caramelize Mangoes and Black Beans + Rice

Since I have lived in New York City, this has probably been the longest winter known to man. Last week on another cold, rainy, dismal day I started dreaming about going somewhere warm, sunny and tropical. Where the skies and sea are blue, the sand is white and the warm tropical air breezes through the palm trees and you don’t have a care in the world. I started having flashbacks of a trip I took to Jamaica a while back where the islanders greet you with a smile and the pace of life is laid back, jovial and carefree. One of the things I remember most about my experience there was the food and how delicious it was.

parsley and lemonsMango

They use unique fiery blends of spices (typically Jerk which is used as a rub on grilled meats) accompanied by an abundance of tropical fruits such as citrus, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, coconuts, papaya and guava. Caribbean cuisine is a unique blend of hot and cool, savory and sweet, and a refreshing burst of flavors reflecting the tropical climates in the region.

Lemon Infused Olive Oil with GarlicInstant Gourmet Caribbean Isles

I suddenly had a strong urge to cook a Caribbean dish and I wanted to try my new spice blend from Instant Gourmet, Caribbean Isles. This seasoning is a delicious blend of salt, bell peppers, garlic and onion, paprika and chili pepper and some additional spices – it really is great to use as a Jerk seasoning when you want some spicy flavor that isn’t too hot but very flavorful. You should try some of Instant Gourmet’s other spice blends too – they have an Original Spice blend, a Butter, Garlic and Parsley blend, a Spicy Coffee Steak blend, an Italian blend and a Southwestern Spice blend – all delicious and great on everything!

Guava Paste, Wine and Chicken BrothBlack Beans and Saffron Rice

I had some chicken breasts on hand and thought I would pair it with some black beans and saffron rice as a side dish. I also wanted to experiment with some of the tropical fruits from the region and incorporate them into my dish somehow so I decided to get a mango and some guava paste to caramelize and make a pan sauce for the chicken.

Lemon, Garlic, Parsley and Olive Oil MarinadeMarinating the Chicken

I also marinated the chicken in lemon juice, garlic and parsley and used an infused lemon oil in the saffron rice to give it a nice lemony zing to round out the tropical flavors in the dish.

Traditional Jerk Chicken is usually rubbed with a dry spice blend and then grilled over hot coals to give it a crunchy blackened flavor. I decided to saute the chicken instead and make a savory pan sauce with wine, broth and guava paste to drizzle over the chicken and the rice and caramelized the mangoes by sauteing them in brown butter, brown sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. The black beans were canned (Goya brand) but to make them more flavorful, I added some sautéed onions and garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and a dash of the Caribbean Isles seasoning.

The dish turned out to be a great combination of flavors – the sweetness of the caramelized mangoes complimented the spicy savory flavors of the chicken and black beans and the lemony saffron rice gave it a fresh kick of citrus to round out the dish. It was light, refreshing and a definite departure from this dreary, rainy, cold weather city I live in, a sliver of sunshine for my day – if even for a moment.

Caribbean Chicken with Guava Pan Sauce and Caramelized Mangoes with Black Beans and Saffron Rice

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus some lemon zest from 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Instant Gourmet Caribbean Isles Spice blend
4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp guava paste
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 large mango, halved, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
Salt and pepper
1 package of Goya Saffron Rice (Spanish style)
1 can Goya black beans
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 green onions, sliced fine

Whisk first 4 ingredients together to make the marinade in a large bowl. Add chicken breasts to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Caribbean Isles Spice blend on both sides. Cover chicken and chill for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally.

Saffron Rice

When chicken is done marinading, boil a pot of water and prepare the Saffron Rice per the box instructions and cook about 45 minutes until fluffy.

Browning Chicken

Remove chicken breasts from marinade, scraping excess off the chicken. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts to the skillet and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Wine, Broth and Guava Paste Pan SauceBraising Chicken in Pan Liquids

Add wine and broth to the skillet along with the guava paste and stir until paste is dissolved and blended to the liquids. Bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts to the wine/broth/guava mixture in the skillet and cover, reducing heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes (basting occasionally). Transfer chicken to a work surface and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a medium stovetop pan, saute some chopped onion and garlic in some canola oil until lightly browned. Add black beans (don’t drain), and 1 tbsp vinegar and a few shakes of the Instant Gourmet Caribbean Isles spice blend and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes and keep warm.

Caramelized Mangoes

Meanwhile, melt butter in another heavy medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Add mango slices, 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, a pinch of salt and stir. Saute until browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Caribbean Chicken, Black Beans and Rice

Boil juices in skillet until slightly thickened and sauce is reduced, about 3 minutes. Drizzle guava pan sauce over the chicken breasts and serve with caramelized mangoes, black beans and saffron rice. Garnish with chopped green onions, parsley and serve with a crisp white wine.

Serves 4.

Recipe inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe for Guava-Stuffed Chicken in Tastes of the World, 2008

Find out more about Instant Gourmet spices online at www.instantgourmetspices.com

Cooking with a Purpose: Tavern Direct + NCMEC


I recently was fortunate enough to meet Lou Bivona, Managing Partner of Tavern Direct and Founding Member of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/NY and sample some of his gourmet products to cook with. Tavern Direct has a fantastic line of flavorful, gourmet marinades, dipping and finishing sauces, 14-16 year barrel-aged balsamic vinegars infused with real fruit and herb oils all made with premium, all-natural ingredients bottled under the Tavern on the Green name. The best of all about this wonderful cooking line is that a portion of all their proceeds goes to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a charity committed to help millions of children through the sales of their products.

Tavern on the Green Oils & Marinades

Their product lineup includes Oils, Herbs ‘n More featuring Garlic with Rosemary Oil, Chili Pepper with Garlic Oil and Pepper with Lemon Oil. Their Marinade, Dipping and Finishing Sauce line includes Central Park Signature, Wasabi Wonder, Smokin’ Chipolte and Asian Lemon. The Marinade trio features Chandelier Chardonnay and Fire Grilled Garlic, Old Vine Cabernet and Fire Grilled Garlic and Toscana Garlic Parmesan. The Balsamic Vinegar line is premium and gorgeously flavored with options such as Citrus on the Green (infused with Orange, tangerine and lime), Blackberry and Ginger, Autumn Fig with Vanilla, and Summer Strawberry. Last but not least, they have a robust 1870 Steak Sauce as well as a sesame Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce, perfect for marinating steak, chicken and fish for stir-fries and grilling.

Tavern on the Green Garlic & Rosemary Oil
With so many gorgeous sauces and marinades to choose from, I had a hard time choosing which one to cook with first. I chose the Garlic with Rosemary Oil in their Oil, Herbs n’ More collection to make a fantastic, delicious meal of Pan Seared Pork Chops, Roasted Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan and Pecan Brown Basmati Rice with Garlic. With all the wonderful oils and vinegars and marinades in this line, I’ll be cooking up a storm and planning food and wine pairings and special recipes, and aim to share all my creations and cooking experiences with you throughout the year. Stay tuned for more!

For more great recipes and info about Tavern Direct, visit www.taverndirect.com.

To make a donation to NCMEC , visit their secure website.

**This was not a paid endorsement for Tavern Direct, NCMEC or Tavern on the Green.


Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 30 mins
Total Cook time: 1 hr
Cooking skill: Intermediate

Ingredients

4 large boneless pork chops (about 1 ½ inches thick)
Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
4 Garlic cloves, sliced
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh or dried rosemary leaves

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and adjust the oven rack to middle position.

Marinade pork chops in the Garlic with Rosemary Oil in a plastic freezer bag or baking dish and place in the refrigerator for up 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Once chops are done marinating, cut 2 slits about 2 inches apart into each chop, using a sharp knife. Insert sliced garlic cloves into slits and sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 tsp of salt. Place them in a roasting pan or baking sheet and let stand room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle chops with freshly ground pepper and rosemary and transfer baking sheet or roasting pan to oven. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the center of the chops registers 120-125 degrees (approximately 30-45 mins).

Heat 1 tablespoon of the Garlic with Rosemary oil in a 12 inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Place 2 chops in skillet and sear until well browned and crusty, 1 ½-3 minutes, lifting once halfway to redistribute the fat underneath each chop. (reduce heat if browned bits in pan bottom start to burn). Using tongs, turn chops and cook until well browned on second side, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer chops to a plate and repeat with remaining 2 chops, adding extra tablespoon oil if pan is dry.

Reduce heat to medium. Use tongs to stand 2 pork chops on their sides. Holding chops together with tongs, return to skillet and sear sides of chops until browned and meat thermometer in center of chops registers 140-145 degrees, about 1 ½ minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 chops. Let chops rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes until ready to serve. Sprinkle with some extra Rosemary if desired to garnish.

Pair the Pan-seared chops with Roasted Zucchini with Garlic & Parmesan and Pecan Brown Basmati Rice (recipes follow) and a light, crisp Chardonnay to top off the meal. Delicious!

Roasted Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 15 mins
Total Cook time: 30-45 mins
Cooking skill: Easy

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh or dried rosemary leaves

Preparation

Wash zucchini and cut in half length wise, chopping off ends, and cut in half again. Arrange zucchini in a glass baking pan and drizzle the Garlic with Rosemary oil over the zucchini. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and top the zucchini with the shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh or dried rosemary. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 mins until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

Pecan Brown Basmati Rice with Garlic

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 15 mins
Total Cook time: 1 hour
Cooking skill: Easy

Ingredients

1 cup long-grain brown rice
1-2 tablespoons Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup green onion, sliced thin (for garnish, optional)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Prepare brown rice in medium saucepan, following package instructions.

About 15 minutes before the rice is done, heat 1-2 tbsp of Garlic with Rosemary oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and begins to yellow, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and pecans; sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the garlic is tender and pecans are browned slightly, about 5 minutes.

Remove rice from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Spoon brown rice into a bowl; spoon the onions, garlic and pecans on top and toss lightly to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with some chopped green onion if desired.

Garlic Rosemary Pan-Seared Pork Chops, Parmesan Zucchini + Pecan Brown Basmati RIce

Mardi Gras Celebration: Crab Cakes w/ Spicy Remoulade Sauce


Hot and Spicy Crab Cakes for Fat Tuesday

New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world because of its rich history, diverse culture, quaint courtyards and wrought-iron balconies, jazz and blues on every corner and most of all the delicious spicy Cajun and Creole food this city is famous for. There is a difference between Cajun (French Louisiana settlers) and Creole (early French and Spanish settlers) and the food is slightly different in style although the ingredients used in dishes are similar – the “Holy Trinity” of green peppers, onions and celery, seafood (crawfish, shrimp, oysters), sausages, roux (flour cooked in fat as a thickening base for soups, stews and gumbos), hot sauce (Tabasco) and Cajun/Creole Spices made of cayenne, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, mustard powder, basil, thyme and cloves (here’s a great recipe to make your own or Tony Chacere’s is a great one that is pre-made).

Creole cuisine is slightly more refined and lighter in spices and seasonings than Cajun cuisine, based on classical French cooking technique. Creole food has influences from France, Spain, Africa, Germany and Italy and typical Creole dishes include Oysters Rockefeller, Baked Fish Creole, Shrimp Etoufee, Remoulade Sauce and Bananas Foster. Cajun food is considered more of a “peasant country food” and tends to have spicier, more pungent, heavier ingredients and one-pot dishes. Typical Cajun dishes include Gumbo and Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Crawfish Cornbread Dressing and Po-Boy Sandwiches.

Whether its Cajun or Creole, celebrate  Mardi Gras “Fat Tuesday” by cooking up some of these crunchy, golden Crab Cakes with a Spicy Remoulade Sauce and serve it with a Mixed Greens Salad of Endive, Escarole or Chicory, with a Creamy Shallot French Vinaigrette.

Crabcakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Crabcakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Crab Cakes

½ lb jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over (large chunks)
3 tbsp finely chopped red pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ c mayonnaise
1 egg
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Tabasco, several dashes (to taste)
Canola oil, for sautéing
Chives and Lemon wedges, for garnish

Combine crabmeat, red pepper, shallots and parsley in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine mayo and egg; season with cayenne and Tabasco. Gently stir in crab mixture and mix to combine. Stir in 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs to make the crab cakes hold together, and if necessary, add another 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs. Form into 4 crab cakes and coat with the Panko. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to fry.

Crab Cakes Ready to Cook

Crab Cakes Ready to Cook

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Frying Crabcakes

Frying Crabcakes in Hot Oil

Add in crab cakes and cook over medium-high heat until the crab cakes are lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Flip crab cakes over and continue cooking another 2 minutes on the other side, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake the crab cakes 10 minutes to cook through.

Crab Cakes on Parchment Paper

Crab Cakes on Parchment Paper

Spicy Remoulade Sauce

1 ½ c mayonnaise
3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
3 tbsp chopped cornichons (small sweet gherkins)
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp chopped chervil
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes Tabasco

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, capers, cornichons, chives, chervil, tarragon, mustard, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to overnight.

Place a dollop of Remoulade with garnishes of chopped chives and sliced lemons with the Crab Cakes. Serve with a crisp white wine and mixed greens (Endive, Escarole or Chicory) with a Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows).

Makes about 1 pint.

Mixed Greens with Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette

Beat 1 egg yolk with 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp minced shallots. Slowly, in a thin stream, add ¾ c vegetable oil and blend well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over mixed greens such as Endive, Escarole or Chicory.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipes originated from Chef Gail Katz and ICE

Check out Tabasco.com for more great Mardi Gras recipes (Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etoufee & King Cakes!)

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