Friday, December 6, 2013

Chicken Marbella, Lemon Barley Pilaf and Orange, Walnut, Spelt and Olive Oil Cake

The last week of November 2013, Executive Chef and Vancouver Sun columnist Karen Barnaby posted an article called, "Shedding Light on Hanukkah." With it she shared four recipes that would make a three course meal - Beet, Pear and Fennel Soup; Chicken Marabella; Lemon Barley Pilaf; and Orange, Walnut, Spelt and Olive Oil Cake.  With such a busy fall season, I have lost the habit of cooking and wanted to reignite my imagination.  Trying new recipes like these seemed the perfect choice - especially ones that ask me to step outside the box.  This recipe puts brown sugar on the chicken - something I would never do normally.  I decided that I would try the soup another day.

All but the pilaf can be prepared the night before which works great for my life. When trying a new menu like this, the first step is always to make a complete shopping list to avoid frustration. Then when you get home with the groceries, separate out the ingredients you will need for each dish. First I put the chicken in the marinade. Then I whipped up the cake, baked it and set it on a cooling rake. The next day the chicken and the pilaf baked together in the oven. All I had to do was add a vegetable or salad. The cake is dusted at the last minute with icing sugar and served with a mixture of Mediterranean Yogurt and honey.

The response to the chicken and cake was great. Barley Pilaf was a stretch for my family but it turned out to be a very tasty dish in my eyes.  I added some colour with carrot and red pepper, though.  The cake - as is any cake not made from white flour - is a bit denser and dryer. The Yogurt and Honey mix is the perfect addition. Another option would be Vanilla flavoured Mediterranean Yogurt.

Chicken Marbella
From The Silver Palate Cookbook (1982)
Serves 8



20             Large chicken thighs, bone in and skin on or off (I took the skin off)
6              Cloves garlic, minced
2 T           Dried oregano
1 tsp         Sea salt (I used regular salt)
½ C          Red Wine Vinegar
½ C          Extra-virgin olive oil
1 C           Pitted prunes
½ C          Pitted Spanish green olives (I used sliced instead of whole)
½ C          Pitted Kalamata olives (I used sliced instead of whole)
2 T           Drained capers
6              Bay leaves
¾ C          Brown sugar
1 C           White wine 

Place the chicken in a large, non-corrodible dish (or extra-large ZipLoc Bag). Whisk together the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Pour over the chicken and toss well. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight or up to two days (I don't know that I would leave it for 2 days. Overnight is my max from a safety standpoint.)

Heat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking dishes and spoon marinade mixture over it evenly. Tuck the prunes in between the chicken pieces so they won't burn. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. The chicken is done when it exudes a clear yellow liquid when pricked with a fork at the thickest point.

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a little of the pan juices and pass the remaining pan juices separately.



The pilaf without added vegetables
Lemon Barley Pilaf
This simple pilaf goes very nicely with the Chicken Marbella and can be baked in the oven at the same time. I looked at a few other recipes and like the addition of a little diced carrot and red pepper to give this colour. My additions are noted at end of the recipe.

4 T         Extra-virgin olive oil
3 C         Thinly sliced onion
2 C         Pearl barley
4 T         Lemon juice (1/4 cup)
4 C         Chicken broth
1 T         Sea salt (I used regular salt)
6            Sprigs fresh thyme
Grated zest of 1 lemon 
Freshly ground black pepper to taste 

My additions to add some colour - 
1            Large carrot, peeled or scraped and finely diced (cook with onions)
1/2         Large red pepper, finely diced (add last 10 minutes of baking)

In a large, ovenproof pot that has a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is golden brown.

Heat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Add the barley and stir to coat it with the onion. Add the lemon juice, chicken broth, thyme and salt. Bring to a boil and cover with the lid. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour until the barley is tender. Remove from the oven and stir in the lemon and pepper. Check and adjust the seasoning.
Note: Zest the lemon first, then squeeze it for juice. One and a half lemons will yield about 4 tbsp (60 mL) of juice.

Orange, Walnut, Spelt and Olive Oil Cake
A simple cake that benefits from being made the day before. Wrap tightly and let sit at room temperature. Makes 8-10 servings (Note - I assumed Spelt would be a gluten free option. Not so. It has a lower percentage of gluten, but definitely not for someone with a Celiac Disease.



4             Large eggs
1 1/2 C    Chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
2 C         Whole spelt flour
2 tsp        Baking powder
1/2 tsp     Sea salt (I used regular salt)
Finely grated zest from two oranges
1 C          Sugar
1/4 C       Brown sugar, packed
1/2 C       Fresh orange juice
1/2 C       Extra-virgin olive oil Icing sugar
1 1/2 C    Plain, Mediterranean style yogurt
2 T          Honey 

Submerge the eggs, straight from the fridge, in a bowl of hot tap water. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Heat the oven to 350F (175C). Spray a 10-inch (12.5 cm) springform pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and spray the paper.

Place the walnuts and 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the spelt flour in a food processor. Pulse until the walnuts are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the remaining flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest.With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until frothy. Slowly add the sugars and continue beating on high speed until thick, pale yellow, and doubled in volume, four to five minutes. Lower the speed and gradually add the flour mixture, then the orange juice and olive oil. Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping down the inside of the bowl. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until a tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack. Release the pan sides. Carefully invert the cake onto platter and remove the parchment paper. The cake may be made 1 day in advance. Wrap tightly and keep at room temperature. Sift icing sugar over the cake. Combine the yogurt and honey and serve on the side.

Note: Zest the oranges first, then squeeze them for juice. Two large oranges will yield ½ cup (125 mL) of juice.


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