Chicken Drumsticks with an Apricot Ginger Glaze

apricot ginger glazed chicken

I just hosted one of my last dinner parties in our apartment. Ian and I are moving at the end of the month to a brighter space (and a better kitchen) and soon our apartment will be a maze of boxes and deconstructed Ikea furniture. I wanted to get in one last dinner, one that really felt felt like a family meal of sorts, that was made for my actual family and those that have come to feel like family. This simultaneously meant ease and quantity and these chicken drumsticks with an apricot ginger glaze filled those requirements precisely. The glaze for the chicken has only 4 ingredients and the drumsticks themselves could easily be wings, breasts, thighs, or a combination thereof. It’s a very classic sweet and sour combination that appeals to almost everyone (and in fact, I bet you could use this as a glaze for baked tofu if you wanted to). The scallions and fresh basil aren’t 100% essential to the recipe, but there’s something about the brightness of the greenery that brings the other flavours into full fruition. I served these chicken drumsticks with a huge new potato salad dressed with a dill and Greek yogurt dressing, capers, and cornichons and a colourful side of roasted sweet peppers and onions, a very tasty tasty addition to the meal from my friend Jessica. All of this food was accompanied by a viewing of Japan versus Cameroon in the Women’s World Cup and pretty little raspberry gin cocktails that quickly whisked us all into weekend mode.

chicken drumsticks with an apricot ginger glaze:

1 cup of apricot jam

2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

A generous grating of fresh ginger, to taste

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

1 bunch of scallions, minced

1/2 cup of basil leaves, cut in a fine chiffonade

1 kg chicken drumsticks

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Blitz together the apricot jam, rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger, and soy sauce in a food processor or blender. Set aside.

3. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet or large baking dish, I usually line either with foil to help with cleanup afterwards.  Season the chicken generously with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper before baking in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Take the chicken out of the oven and brush with the apricot and ginger glaze. Bake for another 20 minutes and and then place under the broiler for 5 minutes to  let the glaze caramelize and thicken before serving.

5. Once the chicken is out of the oven sprinkle the entire contents of the baking tray with minced scallions and fresh basil. Serve family style so that everyone can help themselves alongside a big potato salad and a massive pile of grilled vegetables. Perfect summer meal!

As we’ve been packing up our things I’ve had the pleasure of finding things long packed up in boxes, like mix CDs that Ian and I made each other 10 years ago. Anyway, I had forgotten about this song; chosen by me for Ian because of its hopefulness when we were in a very long distance relationship. I’m pretty sure I had this song on a CD that I listened to on my DiscMan at the gym, a funny testament of its ability to uplift.

The Delays – Long Time Coming

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

picture of steaming chicken noodle soup

Depression is a sour and familiar thing. I have been on steady decline this past winter, practically running straight down a mountainside before I finally broke down a few weeks ago. Depression is, as I said, familiar to me. I have spent my whole life oscillating back and forth between the two extremes and every emotion between them; I still consider depression the short straw in this game. I’m in a state right now where I feel like a magnet repelling everyone and everything, the closer you get to me the more sad and alone I feel. I’m in its tearful grip as I write this, not in good faith that I’ll feel better soon but with the knowledge that I’ve survived before and the pendulum always swings.

And so, I make soup. I make a stock that I cook for hours, its golden smell turning my apartment into a warm cocoon. I chop up all of the vegetables slowly and precisely, adding them one at a time, listening to the hiss of the stock as it hits the pan; method is the opposite of madness in this scenario. I was able to use the ample leftover chicken meat and bones from this recipe to make the stock and bulk of the finished soup. In the past I’ve kept chicken bones in the freezer for stock, you can poach 2 chicken breasts in the stock for shredding. I fall into something like The Nothing from Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (what an astute metaphor on his behalf) when I think of anything except this very second, so it is helpful to have something as simple as chicken noodle soup as a project to keep my mind here in the present.

chicken stock:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Chicken bones, you can accumulate these gradually in your freezer or use the bones from a whole roasted bird

Carrot, celery, leek, and onion ends and scraps, leftover roasted shallots if you have them on hand

A couple of garlic cloves, smashed

2 bay leaves

6 whole peppercorns

Sprigs of fresh thyme and parsley

12 cups of water

1. In a very large stock pot brown the chicken bones in the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the vegetables scraps, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, fresh thyme and parsley, and water.

2. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, halfway covered, for anywhere between 2-6 hours. Strain through a fine sieve and allow to cool. Skim the fat off the top of the stock and strain once more. Proceed to chicken noodle soup recipe or date and freeze for future use.

easy chicken noodle soup:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small white or yellow onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 stalks of celery, sliced into thin half moons

3 carrots, peeled and diced

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

6 cups chicken stock

1 1/2-2 cups shredded chicken

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped

Juice of half a lemon

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1 cup egg noodles or broken spaghetti, cooked separately

1. Cook the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil over medium heat until just beginning to soften.

2. Add the chicken stock, shredded chicken, bay leaves, and thyme. Simmer for 20 minutes before adding the parsley, lemon juice, black pepper, and noodles. Simmer for 5 more minutes, remove the bay leaves and serve while still piping hot.

I’ve been listening to lots of Cat Power and Mazzy Star, too. Music is integral to keeping you anchored when you feel anything but.

The Microphones – The Pull

Chicken Salad with Shredded Beets and Artichokes and the 100th Post

pink chicken salad, beets

This entry marks two special occasions: my 100th post on musicwithdinner and the first article I have ever had published in an international magazine. When I first started writing musicwithdinner it was partly an attempt to ground myself in my new environment. I had just moved with my then boyfriend and now husband from London, Ontario to Vancouver, BC which meant a new city, new people, a new climate, and a new culinary landscape to explore. I was also without a job for much of the first year away from home, writing in a blog was something that involved the routine and discipline I felt were missing from my life during this period. I have grown to love this little part of the internet that I can call home; for someone who is overjoyed to talk about food during most of their waking hours, and to even further enjoy writing about it as an extension of that passion, this blog has served as something of a sanctuary for all of my meandering thoughts and emotions tied to making food. The music follows easily and obviously, I doubt I have made many meals in the past 20 years that haven’t involved its close ties to the enjoyable task of making food for myself and those I love. I was very recently fortunate enough to be published in Culture magazine’s Summer 2014 issue where I wrote about the cheese tourism scene in and around Vancouver. Many specialty food shops and book stores sell this magazine, a quarterly publication on everything fromage related that will satisfy even the most serious of turophiles.

Culture magazine summer 2014 issue Vancouver

But onto a happy 100th blog post recipe that will leave you feeling energized and as though you’ve just done something spectacularly healthy and wonderful for your body. This salad is very, very loosely based on the Mala salad served at the Barakat restaurant in London, Ontario which is described on their website as “Fattoush salad with chicken shawarma on the top and your choice of garlic
sauce or cabbage.” This salad is something that I will always miss about London, getting an order to go and eating it on a bench in Victoria Park. This Pink Chicken Salad contains only shades of a true Mala salad but I love to eat it on its own merit. If I am feeling extraordinarily organized on my weekend I will poach or roast chicken to leave as leftovers for the week, but you can always just cook it up as you need it and let it cool slightly before tearing up for the salad. After many experimental versions of this recipe I have settled on the following ingredients as my favourite combination of textures and flavours. Feel free to omit and add as you like; the following would definitely not be amiss in any salad I would eat: hot pickled peppers, tiny sour cornichons, sundried tomatoes in oil, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pita bread broken into small pieces, very thinly sliced red cabbage, extra lemon juice, sliced fennel half moons, roasted sweet peppers, slivered almonds, arugula, etc., etc. The dressing is taken from an amazing dressing recipe on allrecipes.com that I have adapted only slightly from the original (incidentally, it makes a velvety vegetable dip when mixed with enough Greek yogurt to make it a hummus-like consistency.) Make this salad in a large shallow bowl, taking your time to uniformly chop your ingredients and create your salad. It is a meal in and of itself, but I last served it with cheeses, bread and crackers, fresh vegetables, olives, risotto balls, and antipasto as a celebratory supper.

pink chicken salad:

4 cups of spinach, torn

4 cups of romaine lettuce, torn

1/2 cup of Italian parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade

1 can of artichokes, drained and rinsed

1 carrot, grated

1 beet, left raw and grated

1/2 cucumber, left whole or peeled in stripes and sliced into thin half moons

1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 cold chicken breasts, leftover roasted or poached and shredded

3 Tbsp. roasted pepitas

Combine all of the ingredients, beginning with the greens and the fresh herbs, in a large shallow bowl. Toss lightly with tongs to combine.

1/2 cup of tahini

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger

3 cloves of garlic

Blitz together all of the dressing ingredients in a blender until totally smooth. Add the desired amount to the salad and toss again to coat evenly before serving immediately.

celebratory cheese etc.

This meal was marked by happiness that was bright as yellow, bright as this lovely Innocence Mission song. Almost 10 years ago, when my husband and I lived on opposite sides of the continent, I put this song on a mixed CD for him because it made me feel hopeful for the moment and for the future. I had entirely forgotten about it until it came on randomly while I was cooking that night, it still makes me feel giddily bright and excited about what’s ahead for me.

The Innocence Mission – Bright as Yellow

Greek Salad with Lemon Chicken

Greek Salad with Lemon Chicken

Great big salads full of contrasting textures, flavours, and colours will always be one of my favourite choices for dinner. After a long day spent chatting with customers and being generally very extroverted I find a half an hour spent carefully preparing a salad and all of its components both calming and re-energizing. I can preoccupy myself with something as tediously minute as slicing a cucumber at uniform lengths or quartering cherry tomatoes and eventually I begin to feel back in my own body again. I’m not suggesting everyone take this long to make a salad at the end of the day, but for me it’s therapeutic. I like to make this salad on a big platter rather than a bowl, as you can layer the ingredients and display them beautifully in an organic presentation. You could make this vegetarian and omit the chicken; you could also add Kalamata olives (with or without pits), large rustic croutons made of day old bread, sundried tomatoes packed in oil, capers, or thick curls of Parmesan cheese.

greek salad with lemon chicken:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. salt

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

 

1/2 of a red onion, sliced into the thinnest half moons you can manage

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

 

4 cups of green lettuce (I like romaine or iceberg), torn into bite sized pieces

4 cups of spinach, sliced into thin ribbons

1 cup of sliced tomatoes, I often use cherry or grape tomatoes outside of season but any flavourful kind of tomato will be delicious

1 cup of sliced cucumbers, with the skin left unpeeled if possible

1 green pepper, sliced thinly

2/3 cup of crumbled feta

 

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/3 cup of olive oil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

1. For the chicken: place chicken in a shallow baking dish and cover with remaining marinade ingredients. Allow to marinade for 10 minutes or up to several hours. Bake at 360 degrees for 40 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

2. Combine the onion and the lemon juice in a separate bowl, allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.

3. Layer the lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red onion, and feta on a large platter.

4. Slice each chicken breast into several pieces and arrange on top of the salad. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad and chicken. Allow people to help themselves.

These past 2 weeks have been so happy for me; my mom and my sister have finally moved here from London, Ontario and are starting a very brave and new beginning in Vancouver. The vast majority of their things were shipped across the country in boxes and this included all cooking and dining essentials, resulting in their presence for dinner almost every night. It feels so amazing to have dinner with my family, something I haven’t been able to do in almost 4 years. My sister has been picking the music some nights while I make dinner and this Koop song has been a favourite, it reminds me of a trip hop version of the “To Catch a Thief” score – beautiful and romantic, while slightly dark and creepy.

Koop – Jellyfishes

Simple Greek(ish) Chicken and Vegetables with a Minty Feta Sauce

I call this simple because you can make all of it on one baking sheet (plus  a blender for the sauce), there is minimal and completely imprecise chopping involved, and there is no marinating beforehand (although you certainly could if you are feeling particularly organized the day before.) This recipe is adapted from a chicken kebab recipe found in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, an extremely practical and pretty cookbook that I received from my cousin Emily at last year’s not-so-secret Santa family gift exchange. Being what seems eternally without a grill and momentarily out of kebab skewers I left the chicken thigh pieces whole and only roughly chopped up the vegetables. The neighbourhood produce stand was selling tiny sweet peppers for a great price, they look stunning left whole and roasted with the red onions and zucchini, but you could very easily use cut up regular sized sweet peppers, eggplant, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, or broccoli. The minty feta sauce can be assembled in less than five minutes and tastes divine smothered all over the chicken and vegetables. If you have leftovers try the sauce in a pita with falafel, over lamb, as a crudité dip, in a tomato sandwich – it even makes a unique and delicious salad dressing when thinned with some extra red wine vinegar. For nights when you don’t feel like leaving the house due to hockey riots I cannot recommend simplicity and good taste strongly enough, both assets this recipe carries in spades.

simple greek(ish) chicken and vegetables:

4-6 chicken thighs, bone-in with skin

1 zucchini, cut haphazardly into manageable chunks

1 red onion, cut the same as the zucchini

1 large bunch of miniature sweet peppers

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and cover a large baking sheet with with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the vegetables all at once and stir to coat with the dressing. Using your hands, scoop the vegetables onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Using the remaining oil and vinegar mixture dredge each chicken thigh before nestling in amongst the vibrant vegetables. Drizzle any leftover dressing over the whole baking sheet.

3. Bake uncovered for about half an hour, give or take a few minutes depending on the size of the chicken thighs. Fifteen minutes into the cooking time make sure to flip the vegetables so they don’t get burned on one side. After a half an hour turn your oven to broil and allow everything to crisp up for about five minutes (be careful here, always keep an eye on the chicken and vegetables as they will brown quickly.) Serve with a minty feta sauce.

minty feta sauce:

1 single serving container of plain yogurt, full or low fat is fine

3 oz. mild feta, I used cow’s milk

1 cup of fresh mint

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1. Put everything in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy.

I listen to Richard Hawley a lot when I’m by myself or when it’s late at night (like right now at 4:00 AM), I couldn’t tell you precisely how his music enriches time spent alone but it does in a way that makes you feel cemented to your immediate state of mind, like the outside world stops existing momentarily. I love to dreamily cook and listen to the album “Late Night Final”, I can make myself a cup of tea afterwards and sit on my balcony in the sort-of sun and read some PG Wodehouse. As I said, it’s incredibly late as I finish this entry but Hawley’s music makes me feel well-insulated instead of abnormal when I need to get things accomplished at odd hours of the night. His music is an effortless combination of  sad, simple, and romantic; this is from my favourite album but I honestly think that they’re all equal in sincerity and beauty.

Richard Hawley – Can You Hear the Rain, Love?

Thai-Style (sort of) Chicken Noodle Soup

I will be the first to admit that this particular soup and its ingredients are not strictly Thai-influenced; I call this soup “Thai-Style” from the original recipe, which was was more of a Thai soup that happened to have chicken and noodles (rice noodles, in fact.) I have since produced many versions of the original, eventually evolving to the version shown here. This is a superb remedy for colds and stuffy sinuses, the ginger, garlic, and hot chile paste always result in cleared airways and the steaming broth feels heavenly on a sore throat. I poached the chicken before adding it to the soup because I find that there is little opportunity for the stock to get cloudy if the chicken has been cooked prior to being added to the soup. I like to pile cilantro and chopped scallions as a garnish, but I realize there’s quite a divide between lovers and haters of cilantro so feel free to leave that part out.

THAI-STYLE (SORT OF) CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP:

2 cups of cooked chicken meat, I poached two full chicken breasts with the bone and then flaked it with a fork once the meat had cooled

2 Tbsp. canola oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 inches of fresh ginger root, minced

1 stalk of lemongrass, split down the middle and bruised with a heavy knife

1 lime rind, zested

The juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp. garlic-chile paste

1 Tbsp. cumin powder

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. ground coriander

2 stalks of celery, sliced into half moons

2 large carrots, sliced into half moons

5 cups of chicken stock

100 g of thin egg noodles

2 cups of spinach

2 scallions, minced

1/2 cup of cilantro, cut loosely with scissors

1. Heat the canola over medium heat for 2 minutes before adding the garlic, bruised lemongrass stalk, and ginger. Sauté for 30 seconds before adding the carrots and celery, cooking for another moment longer. Add the spices and heat through for 1 minute before adding the stock, lime juice and rind, and hot chile paste.

2. Bring the soup to a rolling boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes at which point the chicken and noodles should be added. Cook for 1 minute and add the spinach, making sure to stir and allow for the spinach to wilt into the soup.

3. Remove the lemongrass stalk before serving. Mound up the chopped scallions and cilantro to form a beautiful green garnish atop the soup; at this point I usually add some extra heat with some excess hot chile paste mixed into the soup (this isn’t necessary, I just love incredibly spicy food.)

The Field Mice are a band I wish I could see more than almost any other because they’re often such a sad band but will sometimes break out a really poppy or dancey song, they make me want to go to a concert and just sway by myself and feel introspective. Have you ever been to a concert by yourself? In some ways it’s my favourite way to see music because I always feel so free when I’m by myself in a large crowd. For now I can listen to them in my kitchen while I make soup and dance by myself. And to anyone who is reading this post: Happy Valentine’s Day! I will follow up with a post about the food I’m making tonight over the next couple of days, let’s just say it involves homemade ice cream, risotto, and a caramelized balsamic salad!

The Field Mice – It Isn’t Forever

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore reminds me of dinners at my grandma’s condominium when she would babysit my sister and I for the night. I remember this dish in particular because when I would ask what we were having for supper she would reply “parrots gizzards” completely deadpan. And you know, not knowing what “gizzards” were at a young age I believed her; it always tasted so good that I never gave the parrot part a second thought. But now, realizing my errors in bird identification, I absolutely love making this dish. It’s something that takes about 20 minutes of assembly and then you just leave it to simmer for about 40 minutes while you have a relaxing soak in the bathtub with a book.  Prepare some buttered spaghetti noodles, top with the chicken and the sauce, and dinner is ready. Really reassuringly simple food doesn’t come any easier than this.

Chicken Cacciatore:

 

4 skinless whole chicken legs, or 6 skinless chicken thighs

4 Tbsp. all-purpose flower

3 Tbsp.vegetable oil

1 medium sized onion, sliced into thin half-moons

2 cloves of garlic, minced finely

2 cups mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips

4 sundried tomatoes in oil, minced finely

1 bottle of Italian Passata OR a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1/2 cup of dry white wine OR chicken stock

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 lb. of spaghetti

1 Tbsp. salted butter

Parsley or rosemary (as a garnish)

1. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, making sure each piece is thoroughly covered. Heat the oil in a shallow skillet over medium-high heat; brown the chicken on both sides and then transfer to a plate.

2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and red peppers. Cook for five minutes while stirring frequently. Add the Passata, wine or chicken stock, and sundried tomatoes. Place the chicken back in the pan so it is covered with the sauce and allow to simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

3. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions in well-salted water. Toss with butter.

4. To serve place a small mound of pasta on the plate and then cover with a piece of chicken and large spoonful of the sauce. Garnish with parsley or fresh rosemary.

I made this on Friday night after a giant grocery shop; Friday night cooking is the best cooking because my boyfriend and I can just relax and spend some time together. We had a few beers and I cooked and he chatted with me about work. Birdy Nam Nam is a smooth background sound and this video is amazing to watch. I also think their name is entirely appropriate, Peter Sellers would definitely listen to this at The Party. In many ways Birdy Nam Nam reminds me of Dmitri from Paris but slightly less spastic and dance-y, their self-titled album is a warm and lush treat for your Friday-night ears.

Birdy Nam Nam – Abbesses