Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mediterranean chicken

This recipe, which I've used successfully for years, is tasty enough to serve over white rice for company, and can be made more authentic by using thighs instead of breasts and serving over couscous. Earlier this week, I used chicken tenders, which cut the cooking time by more than half. I also used a spice I picked up in Old City Jerusalem, za'atar, instead of cumin, and it was even more delicious, if that's possible. If you don't have apricot halves, use prunes (also known as dried plums). And if you have an olive tapenade open, substitute 4 tablespoons of that for the dozen olives.

The photo of the za'atar pyramid was taken by Jim Richardson last summer in Israel.

Mediterranean Chicken Breasts
Serves 6

6 boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup dried apricots, plumped for 30 minutes and drained
1 1/2 cup dry white wine or unsalted chicken broth
12 brine cured, pitted green olives

Season chicken with salt, pepper and cumin. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, turning chicken over every 2 minutes. Remove chicken and place on plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Add garlic to skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Add apricots, wine, broth and olives to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer until sauce is thickened, about four minutes. Add chicken back to skillet and cook until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through, 20-30 minutes. Divide chicken breasts onto plates and spoon sauce over chicken.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

10 cheap French wines sans slideshow

Don't get me wrong: I love a good slideshow as much as the next person. But the emphasis, for me, is on the GOOD.

I can be captivated, amused and tantalized by food porn, those too-good-to-true photos that sell a dish or recipe or cookbooks. But a slideshow of bottles of wine and a lackluster dish or two the size of a postage stamp, just to get in some ads and more than a few plugs to enter sweepstakes? Food & Wine, you should treat your readers to better quality than that.

 For those of you who don't want to waste precious moments, here's Food & Wine's list, as a list without the slideshow, with links to the recipes:

2010 Mas Carlot Clairette de Bellegarde ($13)
Thanks to very old vines, the humble Clairette grape yields this pleasant white with silky stone-fruit flavors.

2009 Georges Duboeuf "Flower Label" Morgon ($13)
Juicy, fruit-forward and affordable, this cru Beaujolais from the superb 2009 vintage is a true bargain.

2010 Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($12)
Crisp and refreshing, with mouthwatering peach and strawberry tones.

2008 Château de Jau Côtes du Roussillon Villages ($14)
A sleek blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignane and Grenache.

2010 Château Guiot Costières de Nîmes ($11)
This zesty rosé, redolent of raspberries and flowers, is a steal.

2010 Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois Vin de France ($14)
A light, easy-drinking, berry-driven red that’s great with food.
Pairing: Eggplant Börek

2010 Le Jaja de Jau Sauvignon Blanc ($10)
Tart and refreshing, with lime and grapefruit flavors.

2009 Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes-du-Rhône ($12)
The rugged southern Rhône region of the Ardèche—famous for its spectacular river gorge—yielded this red loaded with notes of luscious raspberry.

2009 François Chidaine Sauvignon Touraine ($13)
Biodynamically farmed vines yielded this tangy, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc with a smooth texture and notes of herb.

2010 Little James’ Basket Press Vin de Pays d’Oc ($13)
This unusual, crisply delicious blend of lush, tropical Viognier and zesty Sauvignon Blanc comes at a compellingly low price.