Samuel Adams Winter Lager Roasted Chicken with Orange, Fennel, and Chili

Nothing says comfort food like roast chicken, and although we are finally crawling out of the depths of winter (it felt like this one lasted forever), comfort is still what I’m after. I’ve seen lots of recipes for roast chicken with wine, but I’m more of a beer girl myself so I wanted to experiment with a beer roasted chicken (similar to beer-can chicken, but classier!).

One good thing about winter is the variety of seasonal brews available, often with a slightly spicy character. I used Samuel Adams Winter Lager, which is a hoppy, bock-style beer with notes of orange, cinnamon, and ginger, although any slightly hoppy beer with citrus flavours could be used. (Samuel Adams is available in Canada at the LCBO or The Beer Store in Ontario, BCLDB in British Columbia or Liquor Depot in Alberta. I only wish I’d been able to find this Samuel Adams beer!). To compliment the beer, I smeared a flavoured butter of orange zest, fennel seeds, and chili flakes under the the skin of the chicken, stuffed the cavity with orange and a clove of garlic, and basted it with beer while it roasted. The pan juices, full of flavoured butter and slightly reduced caramelized beer, were turned into a delicious, drunken gravy with a little extra beer and a squeeze of orange juice.

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Grilled Butterflied Chicken

Grilled Butterflied Chicken | Korena in the KitchenButterflied chicken, aka spatchcocked chicken (which is much more fun to say), is one of the items on my list that can now be checked off. Butterflying/spatchcocking (see? more fun 😉 ) a chicken simply means cutting out the backbone so that the chicken lies flat, and as such, it cooks faster and more evenly. Last week we had a run of gorgeous early summer weather (shorts, t-shirts, and SPF 30 kind of weather – it was glorious) so I fired up the barbeque to celebrate and cooked my spatchcocked chicken on the grill.

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{Chickpea-less} Chicken, Potato, and Chickpea Curry

Chicken, Potato, and Chickpea CurryDon’t you hate it when you are in the middle of making something delicious and you reach into the pantry to grab that one last (rather important) ingredient, only to discover that you are, in fact, out of chickpeas for your chicken, potato, and chickpea curry? Yeah, I hate it when that happens. (Also, I’m terrible at mis-en-place.)

Luckily, this curry is still plenty good chickpea-less, although they are kind of my favorite part. I love them and could eat then straight out of the can. Nate, on the other hand, actually preferred this dish without chickpeas, and thinks that it should be made with either potato or chickpeas but not both. However this is my blog so I’m going to suggest that you make it with both – chickpeas in particular.

Just pretend there are chickpeas in there too…

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One for You, One for Me

Last weekend I made two chicken, leek and mushroom pies: one for me and Nate, and one to give to some good friends who just recently had a sweet baby boy (I also made them some Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies). They appreciated it very much, but so did I – because, while I obviously love to cook and bake, what I really love is sharing what I’ve made with people and seeing them enjoy it (or in this case, hearing about it). It’s pretty fulfilling to create something that makes other people happy, be it a piece of art, some words on a page, or a slice of chicken pie and a peanut butter cookie.

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Roast Chicken with Black Bean Gravy

When I was a kid, roast chicken and gravy was my family’s favorite comfort food (I think it’s safe to say it still is) and it was always up to me to make the gravy. I don’t know how or where he got the idea, but on one occasion my Dad convinced me to put a handful of cured, salted Chinese black beans in the gravy. This was another case of a strange flavour combination working out much better than expected, because surprisingly, the gravy didn’t taste like Chinese take-out – it tasted like delicious chicken gravy with a good dose of salty umani flavour thanks to the black beans. After that successful case, almost any kind of gravy was subject to the addition of black beans, including Christmas turkey gravy (although my Mum was somewhat less enthusiastic about this than my Dad and I)….

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Filipino Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo is a Filipino dish that I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. I worked with a girl who would bring chicken adobo leftovers for lunch and then rave about how it was her favorite thing ever, so naturally my interest was piqued. I did a few internet searches and discovered that adobo just means vinegary sauce (hence “chipotles in adobo” is essentially smoked jalapenos in vinegar), and that there are as many versions of chicken adobo as there are people making it (which is to say, a lot!). The main ingredients in Filipino adobo are soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black pepper corns, bay leaves, and sometimes coconut milk, and the meat can be either chicken or pork or both.

I found an awesome-sounding chicken adobo recipe and sort of had it in mind to make one of these days, when the other day I was browsing through the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated and lo-and-behold, there was a chicken adobo recipe! Cook’s Illustrated does some pretty serious recipe testing so I was quite sure this one would be good – and it is. Tangy and salty but not too much of either, it also has coconut milk in the sauce – which doesn’t make it taste coconutty, but rather cuts the sourness of the sauce and gives it some nice body. One of the drawbacks to most of the recipes I looked at was that they required a long marinating time, whereas this one can be done in an hour, including marinating, and manages to taste dang good. And it only requires basic pantry items. Make this for dinner – you will thank yourself!

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Adapted from the March/April 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Serves 2 and can easily be doubled.

In a ziplock bag or bowl, combine:

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and/or drumsticks

3 scant tbsp soy sauce

Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove the chicken from the soy sauce, let the excess drip off, and place the chicken, skin side down, in a cold 8″ skillet (non-stick is recommended!). Reserve the soy sauce in a bowl.

Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the chicken skin is browned and the fat under the skin has rendered out, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the reserved soy sauce with:

1/2 a can of coconut milk

6 tbsp apple cider vinegar

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or 1/2 tsp ground and 1/2 tsp whole pepper corns)

2-3 bay leaves

When the chicken has browned, remove it to a plate and pour the fat out of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and pour in the soy-coconut-vinegar mixture.

Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

Turn the chicken over and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 175˚F on a thermometer.

Put the chicken on a plate and cover it lightly with foil. Skim any fat out of the sauce left in the pan and remove the bay leaves. Return the sauce to medium-high heat and simmer to thicken if needed – or you can add a few tablespoons of water if it is too thick already (in my case!).

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with steamed rice.

(10 points if you can figure out what colour shirt I was wearing when I took the first photo in this post!)

Grilled Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Dip

When Nate said he was going to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, I suddenly got the urge to make hot wings. I was hoping that I could tie this in with my cookbook resolution, but wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t find a recipe for plain old hot wings in any of my cookbooks. So to the internet I went! This is a twist on the basic hot wing sauce – butter, vinegar, and hot sauce – spiced up with a little chipotle (because I can’t seem to make anything without adding chipotle, but you could use any kind of hot chili sauce) and poured over grilled chicken wings. The grilling part was Nate’s idea, and it was a good one; however the thing about barbequing in February is that it gets dark early, and then you find yourself wearing your camping headlamp and feeling like a dork while turning your chicken wings. And because it’s dark, it’s hard to tell when things are getting a bit charred. But charred or not, these were really tasty and I can’t wait to make them again – but maybe I’ll wait for better daylight ;).

Grilled Hot Wings

Hot wing sauce adapted from

Place 3 lbs of chicken wings (drumettes and wingettes separated) in a large bowl and season very generously with:

black pepper


garlic powder

cayenne or other hot chili powder

Toss the wings around with your hands so they are all evenly seasoned.

Preheat the barbeque, then arrange the seasoned wings on a lightly greased grill over low heat. Put the lid down and let them cook 10-15 minutes, until lightly brown on one side. Turn them over and grill for another 10-15 minutes with the lid down, until they are evenly browned and cooked through, moving them around a bit to avoid hot spots and burning. The wings need a little more babysitting during the second half of cooking, as they can go from golden brown to charred pretty quickly.

Losing the light (the camping headlamp didn’t quite cut it for photos!)

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tbsp butter, then stir in:

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp hot sauce (I used 1/3 cup Cholula hot sauce and 2 tbsp chipotle purĂ©e – use whatever kind of hot sauce(s) you prefer)

1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

When the wings are cooked, place them in a bowl, pour the sauce over them, and toss to coat. Serve with Blue Cheese Dip (below), cut-up veggies such as celery and carrots (optional), and lots of napkins (definitely not optional!).

Blue Cheese Dip

In a small bowl, combine:

1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/4 tsp garlic powder

dash of paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, to let the flavours meld a bit. Serve with the hot wings.

Pasta Shells with Chicken, Bocconcini, and Cherry Tomatoes

It’s been a long, busy week, and I’m kind of uninspired in the kitchen right now, so it seems that now is a good time to share this pasta dish that I made several months ago. The recipe comes from my trusted friend Martha’s Everyday Food magazine, which I was fortunate enough to have been gifted a subscription to a few years back. This is my kind of pasta: chicken, cheese, fresh vegetables, and a light sauce. It’s SUPER easy to throw together – you barely even need to use measurements, just a handful of this and a handful of that – and you can make it even easier by using left-over chicken. Aside from cooking the chicken, this is a one pot meal: you boil the pasta, drain it, and then toss everything right into the pot with the pasta along with some parmesan, butter, and a splash of the pasta cooking water. Really good, really simple, and now I want it for dinner!

One thing to note – because the tomatoes are just mixed in with the hot pasta and cooking water, they don’t actually get cooked. Nate is not a huge fan of raw tomatoes (neither am I actually, but I don’t mind them here) so next time I will give the tomatoes a quick sautĂ© in a hot pan with some butter or olive oil before adding them to the pasta.

Pasta Shells with Chicken, Bocconcini and Cherry Tomatoes

Adapted from Martha Stewart; serves 2 (with leftovers)

Season 6 – 8 chicken breast cutlets (depending on size) with salt and pepper, and cook on both sides under a preheated broiler or on a grill until cooked through. Cut into bit-sized pieces, cover to keep warm, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, assemble the other ingredients:

a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes (about 6 or 7), cut in quarters

several spears of asparagus, cut into one inch pieces

2 oz of bocconcini – about 2 large balls cut into 1/4″ dice, or a handful of tiny pearl or cherry bocconcini

a few handfuls of freshly grated parmesan

a small palmful of chopped parsley

1 soup bowl full of medium/large pasta shells – pasta tends to double in volume when cooked, so start with half the amount (raw) that you want to end up with (cooked) (or about 4 oz raw pasta, if you won’t want to eyeball it)

When the water boils, chuck in the pasta. When it is *just* al dente, toss in the asparagus and cook for about 30 seconds. Drain the pasta/asparagus in a colander, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Working quickly so you don’t lose any residual heat, toss everything but the bocconcini in the pot along with:

about a tablespoon of butter

salt and pepper

Stir to combine, adding the reserved pasta water a little at a time until you have a light sauce coating the pasta (you probably won’t need all the water). Stir in the bocconcini. Serve with more grated parmesan on top.

Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps

Nate and I have recently sworn off sugar and starchy refined carbs six days a week, with a cheat day on Saturday (you certainly would not guess this based on the amount of sugary, cakey recipes that I’ve been posting lately, but that’s precisely why we’re doing this!). It hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be; it just means reinventing some recipes, mostly by adding more vegetables. Fajitas are an easy one – you replace the tortilla with a leaf of lettuce, and it’s just as good, plus you get another serving of vegetables in the meal. This recipe would also be good with beef or pork, cut into thin strips, and obviously, whatever toppings you want. You could even put the filling into a wheat or corn tortilla – but lettuce is a little more adventurous (and messier!!) 😉 I really like this method of broiling the peppers and onions – it gives the filling a nice charbroiled taste.

And for anyone who is wondering, I’m waiting to see if I can get some good photos from the wedding before I post about the wedding cake. It’s coming, I promise!…

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Eating Out in San Francisco, Part I: Lunch at the Zuni Café

My recent trip to Pacific Grove/Monterey, California, to visit my aunt and uncle contained horrific travel (delayed flights resulting in missed connections in both directions, leading to one miserable overnight in the San Francisco airport on the trip down and another 8 hour “layover” in the same airport on the way home. Plus the airline lost my luggage. A word of advice: don’t fly United!) and amazing restaurants. The day after I arrived, we drove up to San Francisco for a day of shopping (I needed a dress for the wedding I’m making the cake for ;)) and eating: we had lunch reservations at the Zuni CafĂ©, and dinner reservations at Millenium Restaurant. Both were highly anticipated, and I was pretty excited.The Zuni CafĂ© is an award winning restaurant that has been around since the late 1970s (in a slightly different incarnation than it is now, involving a Weber grill and espresso machine that also doubled as an element to scramble eggs on?!) and as such is pretty well-known (at least in the San Francisco food scene, of which I am not a part!). In addition to their focus on seasonal ingredients from sustainable sources, and one of the things the restaurant is known for is their wood-burning brick oven, which is smack-dab in the middle of their open kitchen. They bake their own bread in that oven, and they also do a whole roast chicken, served on top of a bread salad, which has a reputation for being awesome, which is why we ordered it. But I’m getting ahead of myself….

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