Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Souvlaki Wraps

Sorry for the less than perfect photo, we've been busy!
Hey folks! We've been going a little wrap crazy here at COBW! They are healthy, relatively easy-to-prepare and down right delicious.

One of our favorite recipes on Chop Onions, Boil Water is Chicken Souvlaki, so when we first decided to go down the wrap road, souvlaki was our first choice. Once everything is ready to go, the souvlaki takes only 12 minutes to cook in your broiler and you'll be sitting in front of a delicious, garlicky, Greek-inspired chicken souvlaki wrap just moments after that.

To translate souvlaki to wraps, we added some fresh vegetables, our now-famous hummus and some chili or hot sauce. The result is a flavor-packed, bread cylinder of goodness that we just can't stop making and eating here, and we're sure you'll love them as well.

We're big fans of Joseph's oat bran and wheat lavash wraps. They are healthy, packed with omega-3's and very low-calorie when compared with tortillas and other flatbreads. They're also tender so be gentle when rolling them!

We chose souvlaki as our first wrap recipe because it is our current favorite, but we've got more coming! We hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Souvlaki Wraps

Chicken souvlaki (recipe below)
Tzatziki sauce (recipe below)
Hummus (Click here for one of the World's best hummus recipes!)
Romain lettuce (shredded)
Tomato (cut into wedges)
Black olives (chopped)
Chili-Sauce and/or El Yucateco Carribean Hot Sauce
Lavash wraps, tortillas or your favorite flat bread

Chicken Souvlaki

3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice (there is NO substitute)
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
16 cloves garlic (chopped)
2.5 lbs boneless chicken breast (cut into 1-1/2" pieces)

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cucumber (peeled, seeded and grated/shredded)
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of plain, low-fat yogurt
2 Tbs lemon juice (there is NO substitute)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1/2 tsp dried dill

In a large bowl, mix together the lemon juice, oregano, olive oil, salt and garlic. Add the cubed chicken and toss together well. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. After the first 15 minutes, mix again to better distribute the marinade.

While the chicken marinates prepare the tzatziki sauce by combining the cucumber, Greek and plain yogurt, lemon juice, salt, garlic and dill in a medium-sized bowl and mixing it together well. Set aside.

Take the chicken and string it on skewers (you will need 4 to 6). Set your oven to "broil" and broil the chicken, moving and turning the skewers often to ensure even cooking and charring and to AVOID BURNING. Alternatively, and optimally, you can cook the meat over a charcoal fire. In either preparation, be sure the chicken is cooked through but not overcooked or it will begin to dry out!

When the chicken is done remove it from the skewers and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

To assemble the wrap:

Place a piece of aluminum foil on your working surface, place the lavash wrap over that.

On the side of the wrap close to you, place a generous amount of the lettuce then arrange a line of tomato wedges on that.

Distribute the chili sauce or hot sauce to your taste preference.

Place the chicken evenly in a line on the lettuce and tomatoes.

Top the chicken with a generous amount of tzatziki sauce and then some of the hummus. Finally, top with the chopped black olives.

Fold over the bottom of the lavash a little, then gently and carefully roll the wrap up.

Take the wrap and roll it up in the aluminum foil while tightening it a little more.

Twist the bottom of the aluminum foil to prevent leaking and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recipe: Michelle's Chicken, Black Bean & Corn Chili

Chili is one of those foods that people get passionate about. The definition of what chili is depends on wear you live and what you're used to. Chili comes in many varieties made with an ever-growing list of ingredients. There are chili purists and chili revolutionaries. I've seen recipes calling for all manner of unorthodox ingredients including one that requires coffee, beer and wasabi. In our home we tend to fall on the purist half of the chili spectrum. For me, something that is changed too much, reaches a point of departure from the essence of what it was, and becomes something entirely different altogether (did you get all that?). I'm sure a "chili" made with coffee, beer and wasabi might be a damn fine thing, but is it still chili? Not to me. I'm fine with different meats, beans and corn (which would bother a real chili purist), but when it comes to coffee, wasabi or something like potatoes? That's just not chili to me. THERE ARE NO POTATOES IN CHILI!

The recipe below is about as far as we go with a chili recipe in my home. Mrs. COBW came up with this recipe as a healthier alternative to a red meat chili. It has since become one of my personal favorites and is ensconced in our homes heavy rotation dinner list. It is hearty, chunky, flavorful and delicious. Coupled with her cornbread it spells COMFORT FOOD to me. This recipe is enhanced with the use of Bufalo Brand Chipotle Sauce (our house hot sauce) and I additionally turn up the heat in my bowl with a good dollop of Dr. Gonzo's Jalapenomash.

Mrs. COBW hopes you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Please don't add coffee, wasabi or potatoes to it, but if you do, call it something else because it is not chili!

Michelle's Chicken, Black Bean & Corn Chili

1 Tbs vegetable oil
1-2 lbs. boneless chicken breast (lightly pounded and cut in 1" cubes)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp freshly ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chipotle hot sauce* (Add more if you like it spicier)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can (15 ounces) black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup whole kernel corn
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken, garlic and onion; cook and stir 7 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Place a small nonstick skillet on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin and garlic powder; toast 30 seconds or until aromatic, stirring constantly do not burn (This part is a must do! Be sure to toast the spices). Stir this into the chicken mixture so that it coats all the pieces well.

Stir in all remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer at least 30 minutes.

If you find it is not as thick as you like it add some tomato paste to thicken, add small amounts at a time until desired thickness is achieved.

Place in bowls topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Serve with corn bread or corn muffins**.

*We use Bufalo Brand Chipotle Salsa which you can purchase inexpensively from our friends at

**Tip add 1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour creme to cornbread mix to make it nice and moist!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Linguini Portuguese

This is a recipe I've made for years in one incarnation or another. It is based on a dish originally prepared when I first left home way back in 20th century. At that time it was an informal concoction and all about speed and convenience. Basically I added cooked ground chourico to prepared spaghetti sauce and served it over pasta. I'm certain there was no innovation in that plenty of people have done it.

In the preparation below, you'll make your own sauce from canned tomatoes and you'll add both pimenta salgada (recipe) and banana peppers. The peppers offer some great flavor and and textural contrast. The pimento salgada also mean you don't have to add any additional salt to this dish. You can substitute other peppers for this dish, but try to stay in the same neighborhood as the ones specified.
If you're a fan of chourico, you're going to love this Portuguese-Italian fusion dish. If you're not a fan of chourico... ...WHY?

Linguini Portuguese

2-3 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 lbs. of chourico (ground)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
28 oz. can of ground tomatoes
12 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 medium bay leaves
Black pepper to taste
1 medium pimenta salgada (de-stemmed split in half and deseeded and placed in a bowl of cold water)
4 Tbs chopped parsley
Pickled sweet banana peppers (de-seeded, and sliced in rings)

In a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer add the onions and cook stirring often until they begin to turn translucent.

Add the ground chourico and cook stirring frequently until it breaks up.

Add the garlic and cook stirring frequently for about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic.

Add both cans of tomatoes and the bay leaves and stir until everything is well mixed. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce to a slow simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Test, add black pepper to taste (no salt), cover and simmer on low for an additional 20 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, boil water and prepare the pasta in the normal way.

While the pasta water is boiling, remove the pimenta salgada from the water and discard the water. Rince the pimenta salgada off a little and then slice in thin strips about 1-1/2" long.

Add the pimenta salgada strips to the sauce during the last ten minutes of simmering.

Finish cooking the pasta and drain.

Add the parsley to the sauce and stir in quickly.

Plate the pasta and top with a generous portion of the sauce. Add about 1/4 cup of the sliced banana peppers on top. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe: Spicy Breakfast Sausage Patties

Breakfast sausage patties: split and toast an English muffin, add a cooked egg on there and top it with a sausage patty (add a slice of cheese if you're a risk taker) and KAPOW: A really delicious breakfast sandwich.

I make these with ground turkey to keep them on the healthy side, but like all things made with ground turkey: ground pork is better! So, if fat and cholesterol are not big concerns for you, by all means go "oink" instead of "gobble" with this recipe. I also make a few months supply ahead of time and keep them in the freezer (separated with wax paper) until needed. They are usually needed every Saturday and Sunday morning for breakfast in my house!

Spicy Breakfast Sausage Patties

2 tsp dried sage
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like them spicier)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 pounds ground pork or ground turkey

Combine all the ingredients except the meat in a bowl and blend thoroughly.

Place the ground pork/turkey in a large bowl. Add the spice blend and cut it well into the mixture before thoroughly mixing it in with your hands.

When the mix is thoroughly blended form it in to patties by rolling it into balls and then flattening it out. When deciding on a size be sure to allow for shrinkage during cooking.

To cook, place a griddle or a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the patties flipping once until cooked through.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recipe: Thai Red Curry Shrimp Skewers

Looking for a quick recipe that you can prepare on your grill outside or on your broiler indoors? Something that will do well in a salad or nestled with a few grilled vegetables in a wrap? Thai Red Curry Shrimp Skewers are a healthy, easy-to-prepare and quick-cooking dish that are delicious, spicy and light. Be sure to make more that you think you need, they go quick!

Thai Red Curry Shrimp Skewers

1 lb. fresh medium-sized shrimp (shelled and deveined)
1 tsp white sugar
1 Tbs Thai red curry paste
1 Tbs coconut milk

Preheat your broiler.

Rinse the shrimp in cold water and blot dry. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle the sugar over them. Toss to distribute the sugar evenly over the shrimp. Allow to rest for 5 minutes then toss again.

Place the Thai red curry paste and the coconut milk in a small bowl and whisk until it is well-blended. You are looking for a loose and smooth paste. Add more coconut milk if necessary.

Pour the paste into the bowl with the shrimp and coat the shrimp evenly. Allow to rest for a few moments.

Thread the shrimp onto the skewers* and broil turning once (about 5 minutes per side). DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Allow the shrimp to cool a little and serve warm, (on a bed of cilantro and sliced green onions if you want to get fancy).

*Use two skewers per "skewer" so the shrimp is easier to turn in the broiler.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Recipe: Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri is a popular sauce in Argentina and Uruguay. It is as common a condiment on those countries' tables as ketchup is in the United States or soy sauce is in Japan.

My first experience with chimichurri came one evening while I was dining at El Gaucho a very popular Argentine steak house in Ornajstadt, Aruba. I've since been back a number of times. In fact my recipe for chimichurri is modeled on the one from El Gaucho and it is close if not dead on.

Chimichurri's ingredients are common, and its preparation is quick and easy. It also will keep in the fridge for quite awhile. It can be used on all meats and fish and is especially good when those meats are grilled, where it can serve as both a marinade and a condiment, (keep those portions separate when doing that). Chimichurri is also excellent when used for dressing steamed vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli as well as salads.

Try this versatile South American sauce and you won't be disappointed

Recipe: Chimichurri

1 large bunch of flat parsley
2-1/2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 pinch hot red pepper flakes
Coarse cracked black pepper
Kosher or sea salt

(Note: The ingredients can easily be adapted to personal tastes. Adjust the garlic and red pepper flakes to preference. The amount of vinegar can also be adjusted for the "brightness" of the sauce.)

Wash and drain the parsley.

Remove parsley leaves from stems, discard the stems and set leaves aside. You should have enough leaves to equal two cups, moderately packed in a measuring cup.

Place parsley, garlic, pepper flakes and vinegar in a food processor, or use a large mortar and pestle.
While adding the olive oil, chop contents in the food processor until parsley pieces are about 1/4" in size. The sauce should be thick and chunky and not pureed or smooth. Add remaining olive oil.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place in a covered contained for 2-4 hours before using, (store unused portion in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recipe: Lobster, Shrimp & Scallop Scampi Pizza

We had a pizza night last Friday night. Pizza night is usually scheduled to mark some event of note, most often it is to welcome foreign guests on their inaugural visits to Hancock Hall. This last pizza night was in honor of my friend Meg who hails from Los Angeles. Sure, I wrote that we welcome "foreign" guests and Meg is from the US, but I've been in Los Angeles at times and felt like I was on another planet, let alone another country! Anyway, pizza night is neither a complicated nor formal affair. A bunch of good friends piled around my homemade, rough-hewn-planked, cut-nail-fastened, Viking hall-style feast table drinking too much wine and beer and shouting over each other while pizza after pizza after pizza pops out of the oven. It's a whole lot of fun. I've got references if you don't believe me!

The pizza of course is important and includes regular things like cheese, chourico and roasted red pepper. Over the years we've also created some "house specials" including smoked bbq chicken with caramelized onions, Coney Island hot dog pizza, and summer squash with tomatoes and black pepper just to name a few. There have been some alcohol-fueled Frankenpizzas as well. Memorable only for their absurdity including one "works pizza" that probably had about 2 pounds of chourico and $50 of saffron on it. ALCOHOL-INDUCED-FAIL!
One of the most popular of our house special pizzas is a shrimp or seafood scampi pizza. Living in New England and specifically on Narragansett Bay has its benefits. We have access to some great fresh native seafood including cold water lobsters and small sweet bay scallops, both of which feature in the pizza recipe below. If you can't get lobster or bay scallops, you can substitute similar shellfish (langoustines, etc.). If you can, try to get fresh seafood as it certainly makes a big difference.

Before we move on to constructing the delicious Lobster, Shrimp and Scallop Scampi Pizza below, allow me to address four primary ingredients that all but guarantee your home made pizza is as good or better than the average shop. Get used to seeing these important "ingredients" because I am going to add them to every pizza recipe I offer. They are critical to your success.

Cornmeal: Cornmeal's tiny grains act like little ball bearings between flat surfaces. Spread cornmeal on the surface of what you build your pizza on and you'll be able to slide your masterpiece right off it and into your oven. Speaking of what you stretch your dough on, go get yourself a...

Pizza peel: Buy one, construct your pizza on it, use it to put your pizza in the oven, use it to take your pizza out of the oven. Seems like a small thing right? Try it! By the way, when you're using your peel to slide your pizza into your oven make sure your oven contains a...

Pizza Stone: Nothing is going to make your home pizza match or exceed the quality of the pizzeria bought stuff more than a pizza stone. Get a thick one and get a big one. I park mine right on the lowest rack of my oven and that is where it stays. It makes all the difference in the world and in no time you'll be pulling pizzas out of your oven that will make the thought of a store-bought pie a less-than-ideal option. The pizza stone is not going to work optimally though unless you...

Preheat your oven: Flat out, no joke, crank her up to 500°F and do that a full 45 minutes before you plan to sprinkle that peel with cornmeal, stretch that dough and then slide that pie onto that stone.

Lobster, Shrimp & Scallop Scampi Pizza

Enough pizza dough for two 14" to 16" pizzas

For the scampi:

2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs sweet butter (unsalted)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. raw shrimp (shelled and deveined)
1/2 lb. of raw bay scallops
1/2 lb. of cooked lobster (shelled and cut into bite-sized chunks)

Place a small sauce pan over a medium flame. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and sauté until the garlic softens. Be careful not to brown or burn the garlic or it will become bitter.
Add the red pepper flakes and stir for a few moments. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook until half-done (just beginning to whiten).
Remove from heat, add the lobster pieces and be sure to stir the mix until everything is well coated. Strain the scampi sauce into a bowl, DO NOT DISCARD THE SCAMPI SAUCE! Place the lobster, shrimp and scallops in the fridge until needed. Allow the scampi sauce to cool while you prepare the other ingredients and wait for the oven to come to temperature.

For the pizza sauce:

2 cups grape tomatoes
The reserved scampi sauce
2 pinches of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the grape tomatoes, scampi sauce and oregano in a food processor and chop until you have a moderately chunky sauce.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix it a little and adjust seasoning to your preference. Set aside while you prepare other ingredients and wait for the oven to come to temperature.

For the pizzas:

Cooking spray (Pam® or something similar)
1/4 cup parmigiano-reggianno cheese (grated)
Trader Joe's® Quattro Formaggio cheese blend (shredded parmesan, asiago, fontina and provolone)
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

Stretch a dough ball to a 16" to 18" disc and place it on your cornmealed peel. I'm not going to go into dough stretching here because it is a learned thing and there are a variety of methods, each with its proponents, each for good reason. Do a little research and practice a bit. Don't plan on a perfectly round pizza all the time!

Spray a thin layer of cooking spray over the stretched dough.

Spread half of the pizza sauce mixture evenly over the stretched dough (if it seems like you don't need half, that's okay, just use what you need).
Sprinkle a little of the basil and parsley evenly over the pizza (reserve most of the basil and parsley for when the pizza comes out of the oven).

Sprinkle half the parmigiano-reggiano evenly over the the pizza.

Distribute half the lobster, shrimp and bay scallops on the pizza (try to avoid putting too much in the center of the pizza).

Distribute half the shredded cheese blend over the pizza. It is important to remember to keep most of the cheese out of the middle of the pizza. As it melts it will tend to gather toward the middle anyway.

Place the pizza in the oven until it is slightly browned on the bottom and the cheese is bubbly (8 to 12 minutes). Remove, add additional basil and parsley to taste, drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, slice and serve.

Make a second pizza with the remaining ingredients.