Posts Tagged ‘Martha Stewart’

© Dina AvilaJust a quick recipe post for you guys today. I realize I haven’t been as active as I used to be on Leek Soup and mostly it’s just because I’ve been pretty busy. As we know I have a second (night) job that I’m plotting and scheming (constantly) to relieve myself of.  And, (thank goodness!) my photography business is continuing to pick up and grow, slowly but surely.

The other thing is, well, I’m bored with my blog. Not with writing for it and not with shooting for it and for you. Heavens no! I’m just tired of looking at.

The good news is that the incredibly talented (and might I add, gorgeous) Kathleen Shannon of the blog Jeremy and Kathleen and now also of Braid is redesigning my blog for me. Hurray! If you don’t know who she is then check her out. She’s the woman behind my beautiful logo that you can see in action on my recently redesigned and revamped website. Check it out!

I just got a glimpse of Kathleen’s preliminary ideas and designs and it is beautiful. Soon, after a bit of collaborating and ideas exchanging (i.e. nitpicking on my part) you will all see her work in action. Yeah, I can’t wait either.

For now, it’s the same old Leek Soup.


Adam and I off to Central Oregon this morning.

© Dina Avila

Warm days to bike ride in, cold and cuddly nights. A bit of wine, a bit of scrabble, and likely a bit of Top Chef. We don’t have a TV, so whenever we find ourselves around one, well, we are of the TV generation, after all. Last time we went to Central Oregon we found ourselves watching back-to-back episodes of Top Chef into the wee hours.

Could be worse.


Cast Iron Chicken

The September issue of Martha Stewart provides the inspiration for the recipe. I tweaked it just a hair. You’ll find it’s easy and versatile. Perfect for a cool night when you just want to throw everything in a pot and go and watch some Top Chef.

What you’ll need~

About 2 lbs chicken thighs

Coarse sea salt

Olive Oil

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

About 1/2 a pound or more fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered as needed. We want them to be bite-sized.

A handful of shallot cloves, peeled and halved (you can use whole, smashed garlic cloves too)

1/2 cup Greek olives, or olives of your choice. I used unpitted, but it’s simply a matter of personal preference.

1 lemon, washed well and quartered

6 sprigs of thyme, or whatever fresh herb you have on hand

Dried tarragon, optional

1-teaspoon cornstarch

© Dina Avila

Preheat your oven to 450°

Season your chicken thighs with salt.

Warm olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, ovenproof cast iron skillet. I used my enameled Le Creuset with no problems.

Place chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down and cook until browned. About 5 minutes.

Using your tongs, flip the thighs and push to the side of the pan.

Pour in 1 cup of stock and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add potatoes and bring to a boil.

Add shallots, olives, lemon, fresh herbs and a generous sprinkling of tarragon and return to a boil.

Carefully transfer skillet to the oven.

Roast, stirring about half way through, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through. About 30 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove and stir in cornstarch and remaining stock.

Bring to a boil to allow the sauce to thicken.

Serve warm.

© Dina Avila



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I really need a butcher knife. Instead, I have a very old chef’s knife that has been sharpened to death and, although faithful, it is not a knife conducive to cutting hard and difficult foods like squash. I’m really glad Adam wasn’t around to witness me trying to hack acorn squashes in half.  Not surprisingly, I managed to not mangle two halves of said squash. The other two halves, well, not very photogenic. Yes, I know. Someone who cooks as much as I do should have a good knife. A really good knife. Maybe even two. I guess I’ve just been waiting for the right one. It has to feel right, maybe even perfect, in my hand. Mind you, I think about knives all the time. I’ve had Wusthof’s in the back of my mind for months now, but still am not sure. I suppose I should buy one before I have no hands to cook with. It might be time to hit Sur la Tables knife sale.

However, I forgave my knife its incompetency (it’s not the knifes fault, after all) when I took my first bite of this dish. I’m really not a fan of internet acronyms, but OMG. It stopped me in my tracks.  I found this recipe on Saveur who linked it from The Bitten Word who borrowed it from Martha Stewart. Taking their advice, I upped the amount of spices Martha used which metamorphosed this recipe from sort of a Moroccan dish to an intensely delicious Moroccan dish. This is the kind of meal you make when you plan on feeding friends. It is meant to be shared.

I changed a few items from the original recipe. Instead of golden raisins, which are hard to find not treated with sulfites, I used currants. I’m glad I did. The currants softly complemented the sweetness of the squash. I think the raisins may have offered too big of burst of sweet.  I replaced the ground beef with bison because, well, I love bison. I also added shaved fennel mostly because it seemed like a nice touch.

This dish is definitely adaptable. As I was cooking it, my mind danced with the possibilities. Toasted walnuts, quinoa, chopped apricots, cilantro, wild rice. Let your imagination run and cooking intuition take over.

That’s what it’s all about anyway, right?


Stuffed Moroccan Acorn Squash

What you’ll need~

2 medium acorn squash halved and bottoms shaved so they can sit flat in your dish

Olive oil

3/4-pounds ground bison

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Or to taste.

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Or to taste.

2+ teaspoons coarse salt

4 cloves minced garlic

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

3/4-cup bulgur

2 cups water

1/4 cups currants

1/4 chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Half of one fennel, shaved

Preheat oven to 400 and place squash cut side down in a large Pyrex or casserole dish.  Bake for about 30-45 minutes, until tender.

While your squash is baking, warm oil over medium heat in a heavy 4-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add ground bison, cinnamon, nutmeg and a teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until bison is browned and cooked through. Keep in mind that bison is naturally very lean and over cooks easily. You only need to cook it for about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked bison to a bowl. Be sure to let the juices drip through the spoon and remain in your pot.

Add onion and cook until it begins to soften and become translucent. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

Stir in bulgur and remaining salt.

Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat, and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove pot from stove and let sit covered for about 5 minutes.

Fluff bulgur with a fork and add bison, currants, parsley, shaved fennel and pine nuts.

Scrap out the cooked squash leaving about a 1/4 inch around the rims. Stir scraped out bits into the bulgur and spoon in to squash halves.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until tops are browned.

Serve warm and prepared to be wowed.

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