Piri-Piri Chicken

Piri-Piri ChickenHot Chicken
Now that the weather has turned nice, I have been doing a lot of grilling. I mean I don’t think I have turned my oven on in at least two weeks. Well, at least not for dinner…

I have grilled ribs and burgers. I grilled some salmon a couple of different ways. And, of course, a whole lotta chicken. Chicken is the easy choice when your question to those who live under your roof about what sounds good for dinner gets no response. Just the sound of crickets. This happens nine times out of ten (which means we have what I want for dinner nine times out of ten). And, if they don’t like it, too bad. Ya should have spoken up when you had the chance!

I will say that their non-response gives me leeway to experiment a little. This can be a good thing when I am feeling like I am in a cuisine rut. It is how I found my latest obsession, Piri-Piri Chicken.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Piri-Piri Chicken hails from North Africa and is actually the invention of the Portuguese settlers who lived there. The piri-piri sauce is basically a hot sauce made from African Bird’s Eye Chiles. And it’s spicy y’all. You can buy it at specialty markets or online where there are a number of possibilities to choose from. You can also make your own but the challenge is finding the chiles. Bird’s eye chilies are hard to find fresh in the US. You can substitute other red chilies like Thai chiles, Fresno, New Mexico, or pequin—and they can also be difficult to find in markets. I’ve been asking our produce buyer to bring in Fresno chilies forever and he does, whenever he can find them, but it is sporadic at best. Now that we are heading into warmer weather we should see more in the markets so cross your fingers.

When I made my Piri-Piri Chicken, I made my own sauce but had to substitute with serrano chilies (since that was all I could find). While it tasted really good, it didn’t have that punch of heat I was looking for so I am going to try again. but this time I am going to do it with the Nando’s Peri Peri sauce that we carry in front of our meat counter.

Fair warning, you have to let the chicken marinate for a while so this is probably best done on a weekend. And, since the weather is going to stay beautiful, I would say you have your Saturday evening meal planned…

Piri-Piri Chicken 
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Gung Bo Chicken

Gung Bo ChickenChinese Legend
I like my Chinese food spicy, which is a good thing because most of the different regions of China come with their own brand of mouth-numbing heat. If I had to pick my favorite I’d probably go Sichuan over, say, Hunan or Cantonese. But, that’s mainly because it is what I have been exposed to the most. Plus you can never go wrong with a Sichuan Hot Pot.

I have written before about my personal challenges with Chinese cooking. It’s like I have a mental block when it comes to cooking with a wok. This is why, when I am craving Chinese food, I will generally leave it in the hands of the experts and order take-out. There have been a number of favorite establishments over the years that have helped me sooth my spicy cravings. And, there are a couple I frequent currently—but there is only one that remains head and shoulders above the rest.

Back in the dark ages, WAY before my husband and I started dating, our group of friends frequently dined at Emeryville’s Public Market. It was the perfect place for a large group to meet and eat because you could satisfy everyone’s appetite. You could get anything you wanted. Ginormous burritos? Yep. Afghani cuisine? Check. Noodle Bowls? Check. Hofbrau? Of course. Nine times out of ten, though, I found myself in the long line at The Crispy Fry for their Gung Bo Chicken, extra spicy. It was the perfect dish of spicy and saucy served over a huge mound of steamed rice. It was the ideal ending to a hard day of work or the best answer to a hard night of partying. And if the craving struck mid-week for lunch? You knew you had to get there early ‘cause the line started forming the minute the doors opened to the market.

When they remodeled the Public Market and the Crispy Fry ultimately closed, I was distraught. I have been searching for a replacement that is just as good ever since but have not had much luck. So, I have been forced to face my demons and try to do it myself. It’s been a process though I have had some success. This recipe for Gung Bo Chicken comes close but I am quickly coming to the conclusion that nothing could ever take the place of The Fry.

Gung Bo Chicken
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 3 to 4 servings
Read more…

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan ChickenIt’s The Sheet
I have been a little obsessed by sheet pan cooking lately. What is sheet pan cooking? you may ask. It’s basically a one-pot meal for the oven. Everything is cooked together on the sheet pan. Cuts down on time and dishes! The best part is the cooking everything on a sheet pan—it makes it easy to enjoy the roasted flavors of the fall.

To be fair, it can take a couple of times making a sheet pan recipe to get it exactly right. Sometimes the chicken you are using can release a little too much liquid and make everything a little soggy (though still tasty).

With a little online research, you can find an amazing number of recipes for sheet pan dinners. Or, if you really want to commit you can order this lovely cookbook Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven.  And, go nuts!

My most recent sheet pan discovery is this recipe for Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken. My husband went wild for it. It’s a perfect mid-week meal.

And, if I could offer one piece of advice, no matter what recipe you are making, line your sheet pan with heavy-duty foil before putting everything on it. You will thank yourself when you are too stuffed to clean up….

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Amy’s White Chicken Chili

Amy's White Chicken ChiliBack to Reality
It happens every time we go on vacation. Usually, the day before we are supposed to head home, my husband starts professing our need to eat better when we return to undo any of the caloric damage we have done while sipping Mai Tais and eating hula pie. Of course, this same conversation occurs after the holidays as well. It’s kind of a running theme. (But, I digress.)

Since returning from vacation, I have been trying hard to lighten up our meals–which has been more challenging than normal due to crazy sports schedules and the recent addition of braces for one of my sons. While he would love it, the last thing the dude wants to chew right now is a steak. Pasta is an obvious choice but my beloved and I are trying to cut back the carbs. Finding common ground ain’t easy. Plus, it’s still raining and grilling in the rain is not my idea of fun…

Last Friday I roasted two chickens ‘cause chicken is a good, lighter choice. (Full disclosure, I did make mashed potatoes for the boys. I may have had a bite.). Since my husband and daughter were away at a volleyball tournament, the boys and I were only able to get through one of the chickens which meant I needed to do something with the other. I chose to make this White Chicken Chili.

It’s surprisingly not bad for you! And, since April has been noticeably chilly, a nice and warming bowl after a day of work is a good thing. Bonus, using the pre-cooked chicken means it’s pretty easy to eat for the metal mouths….

Amy’s White Chicken Chili
Yields 6 to 8 servings

This is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight if you are starting with pre-cooked chicken.  I like to serve it up in individual bowls with a choice of toppings for everyone to choose from. Feel free to experiment with your own ideas. Read more…

The 2018 Fancy Food Show and Spicy Baked Chicken Wings

The 2018 Fancy Food Show and Spicy Baked Chicken WingsTrending
Monday was the Fancy Food show at the Moscone center. My body is still recovering from the walking, standing, and eating. While it is definitely a long day of walking booth to booth, talking to people in the industry, and sampling everything you could possibly speak of, it is also one of my most favorite annual traditions. I love getting a look at what’s hot when it comes to food.

As a rule, what’s trending at the show is usually a year or two behind what is happening in the restaurant world. For example, Korean food, in general, has been super-trendy and Kimchi specifically has been popular for its fantastic spicy flavor and also its health benefits as a fermented food. Without question, there were plenty of Korean-influenced products from hot sauces to Kimchi kits. But, plenty of other Asian flavors were represented as well. Matcha was very popular both on its own and as a flavoring for lattes, ice cream, chocolate, and other tasty dessert items. And, don’t be surprised to see a lot of Phillippino foods popping up at a store near you.

The Sriracha phenomenon is still going strong and the sauce had plenty of representation. One of my favorite products was a cross between a teriyaki sauce and Sriracha called, appropriately, Teriacha. Spicy sweet goodness! All I could think about was putting it on chicken wings. Good lord that would be tasty. Look for it on our shelves soon ‘cause I gotta have more of that stuff.

The popularity of jerky has not waned and in fact has grown to also include meat sticks. These are not your father’s Slim Jims. There are no nitrates or scary orange grease seeping out of them. The organic meats and well thought out ingredients make these new era meat sticks the perfect high protein snack to curb your hunger. And they’re kinda fun…also perfect for school lunches. Just sayin’…

As usual, there was plenty of sweet stuff. The chocolate was abundant and it was my humble duty to taste it all. Sometimes you gotta just take one for the team. Macaroons were everywhere as were grab-and-go filled crepes. There was even a cotton candy company called Sugar and Spun that was whipping up some out-of-this-world organic cotton candy. I was lucky to taste the strawberry shortcake flavor which is sprinkled with vanilla cookies and organic strawberries for an incredibly authentic fresh flavor. Other flavors included cookies and cream, Matcha Green Tea Latte (See? Told ya.), Habanero Pineapple and a whole bunch of other interesting flavors.

Not gonna lie, I expected there to be more bone broth. Don’t get me wrong there was plenty of bone broth just not as much as I thought there would be. My personal favorite was from Bonafide Provisions who had a great line of bone broths as well as what they call Drinkable Veggies which is a blend of whole vegetables and bone broth. So good! And a great grab and go way to get your veggies.

So those are the highlights for now. We are all still trying to process everything that we saw. It usually takes a few days to talk amongst ourselves and figure out what we need to bring in and put on the shelf. Keep an eye out for new and interesting items and since we don’t have that Teriacha sauce yet, I’m going to make a batch of these to tide me over.the flavor isn’t exactly the same but a girl’s gotta make do…

Spicy Baked Chicken Wings
Adapted from Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook by Tanya Holland
Yields about 20 wings

Her recipe is about perfect. The only thing I would do to improve it is to marinate the wings in buttermilk before baking. Read more…