Spicy Chicken Tostadas with Avocado Crema

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For more then the first half of my life I was told that avocados were bad for me. They were full of unhealthy fat and were to be avoided at all costs. I was overjoyed to learn in the last ten years that avocados are only fine to eat; they are in fact filled with many health benefits!

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I have always been obsessed with any foods Mexican. Tacos, enchiladas, huevos Rancheros, the list goes on. I don’t know if it is the cheese, the excuse to slather guacamole over something, or just the combination of all of those yummy Latin flavors together, but if I were placing an order for my last meal, Mexican food is definitely high up the list.

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My new obsession is these Spicy Chicken Tostadas. I fall into the category of people genetically inclined to like cilantro but for those who aren’t, the Crema is just as delicious with basil.

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Spicy Chicken Tostadas with Avocado Crema

Avocado Crema
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chicken Tostadas
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 3/4 pounds total)
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup tomato puree
1 finely chopped chipotle chili pepper (canned in adobo sauce), plus 1 tablespoon of the sauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
One 15-ounce can organic refried beans
6 corn tortillas
1/2 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 lime cut into wedges

Place the chicken breasts in a large skillet. Add the chicken stock and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer partially covered for 25-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the liquid and allow to cool. Shred the chicken with a fork or your hands and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering add the onions and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, the tomato puree, the chipotle pepper with juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and raise the heat to high. Sauté the chicken, stirring frequently until the sauce has evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place 1 tablespoon of oil in another skillet. When the oil is shimmering add the refried beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated.

Line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil over medium heat in a saucepan large enough to hold a tortilla. When the oil is hot, fry the tortillas one at a time, turning once or twice with tongs until golden brown and crispy, about 1 1/2 minutes per tortilla.

Drain the tortillas on the paper towel lined plate or baking sheet.

To assemble the tostadas: Spread a layer of beans on each tortilla, spoon on a mound of the shredded chicken mixture, put the lettuce and cabbage on top, sprinkle with the shredded cheese, and finally, end with a generous dollop of the avocado crema on top. Serve with lime wedges.

Spanish Tortilla with Spinach and Manchego Cheese

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Sometimes we just don’t have time to go to the market. Five o’clock rolls around and we open our refrigerator in a panic. Our old standby is often a Spanish tortilla. Guaranteed you will have the ingredients to whip up this easy dinner in no time. In this recipe we use spinach but you can just as easily use mushrooms, zucchini, or broccoli. This Spanish omelet is a great way to take familiar ingredients and turn them into something exotic and international. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal served with warm corn tortillas and guacamole, or for entertaining, cut into wedges and offered as tapas with a selection of Mediterranean olives.

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4 servings as a main course, 6 servings  as a side
1¼ cups peeled and diced Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 or 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large eggs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 medium white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (1 1/4 cups)
1 packed cup of baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese

Line a plate with paper towels.Place the potatoes in a medium microwave-safe bowl with a lid, and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Cover the bowl and microwave on high for 3½ minutes. Remove the bowl (it will be hot) and shake to loosen the potatoes. Return the bowl to the microwave and cook until tender, about 3½ minutes more. Set aside.If you don’t want to use a microwave, place the potatoes in a small saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and cook partially covered for 5 to 7 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove from the heat, drain well, and return to the dry saucepan. Set aside. (You need only 2 tablespoons of butter in total if using this non-microwave method.)

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, the parsley, and thyme; whisk to blend.

Place a medium ovenproof, nonstick skillet with a broiler-safe handle over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter. When it melts and starts to sizzle, add the potatoes in a single flat layer and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Flip the potatoes with a spatula and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the potatoes with a slotted spoon to the paper-towel lined plate, leaving the remaining butter in the skillet.

Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and turn the oven on to broil.

Add the onion to the butter and saute over medium heat until golden brown and tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the spinach and saute for an additional 2 minutes, until wilted. Return the potatoes to the pan and pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Stir quickly to mix all the ingredients together. Cook undisturbed until the edges begin to set, 4 to 5 minutes.

Run a rubber or silicone spatular around the rim of the pan to loosen the sides. Sprinkle the top of the tortilla with the cheese and place the pan under broiler until the cheese is lightly browned, about 2 1/2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Slide the tortilla onto a platter, browned side up. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then slice into wedges and serve.

Citrus Roasted Chicken with Grand Marnier

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According to a recent study chicken recipes are Googled more often than any other recipe in New York State. Yet we’ve found that exciting ones are hard to come by, and if you’ve been waiting to throw a dinner party until you have the perfect one, our Citrus-Roasted Chicken is for you. It’s a stunner and crowd pleaser and comes out of the oven picture perfect every time. Yet this dish doesn’t require spending hours at the stove.

And as for taste, the zestiness of the honey tangerines, the tanginess of the grainy mustard, and the citrusy sweetness of the Grand Marnier add up to a lovely depth of flavor.

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4 servings
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh honey tangerine (Murcott orange) juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons Grand Manier (or other orange liqueur)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium red onion, cut lengthwise, then cut into thin half-moon slices
7 or 8 springs fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 or 9 pieces chicken (breasts, thighs, and legs; about 4 pounds)
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, washed, thinly sliced and seeded
1 honey tangerine (Murcott orange), washed, thinly sliced, and seeded.

For the marinade, in a small mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the oil, the lemon and tangerine juices, the wine, mustard, Grand Marnier, brown sugar, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion, 2 of the thyme sprigs, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.Place the chicken in a large plastic bag. Pour in the marinade, seal, and turn to coat completely. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, ideally 1 hour before cooking if you have marinated it overnight. Set racks in the middle and upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.Place a colander over a large mixing bowl and drain the chicken, reserving the marinade along with the onion and thyme. Remove the chicken and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Pour the marinade, onion, and thyme into a rimmed baking sheet.In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half the chicken pieces skin side down (do not crowd them) and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, undisturbed, until a dark golden crust forms. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place on the baking sheet, skin side up, on top of the marinade.Wipe the skillet clean. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and repeat with the remaining chicken. Transfer the chicken to the baking sheet, reserving the oil in the skillet. Turn off the heat and let the skillet cool for 1 minute.

Add the garlic to the oil in the skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook the garlic for 3 minutes, flipping it halfway through until the garlic is lightly browned on both sides. Transfer the garlic to the baking sheet with the chicken.

Arrange the lemon and tangerine slices around and under the chicken. Lay 3 sprigs of thyme on top and season with salt and pepper. Bake on the middle rack for 25 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F on an
instant-read thermometer and the juices run clear.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and raise the temperature to broil. Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving platter, leaving the marinade, citrus, onion, and garlic on the sheet. Broil on the upper rack for 4 to 5 minutes, until
the citrus slices caramelize. Remove the sheet from the oven and arrange the citrus, garlic, and onion under, on, and around the chicken. Garnish with a few sprigs of thyme.

Pour the liquid from the baking sheet into a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce reduces by a third, 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve the chicken warm with the sauce passed separately.