"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saffron Polenta with Golden Corn

This makes a great side dish for just about anything, but really matches nicely with the veal chops in the following post.  

2 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup medium-grain polenta
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

Heat chicken fat in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion; cover and cook 5 minutes (do not brown). Add broth, 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, and saffron; bring to boil. Whisk in polenta. Cook, whisking constantly, until polenta boils and starts to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover; simmer until polenta is cooked through and very thick, stirring with flat- bottom spoon, about 10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, blend corn kernels in processor until coarse puree forms; mix into polenta. Season with pepper.
DO AHEAD: can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Stir over low heat to rewarm.

Veal Chops with Sherry Gastrique and Roasted Peperonata

My favorite spot for chops when we go out is Bacco Ristorante and they serve theirs with a roasted peperonata as well. I normally don't do veal at home (Jeanne doesn't like the idea of serving baby cow).   But, this is a stellar preparation and for the Holidays, well, she'll have to let it slide.  For the record this also  works great if you substitute the veal with pork chops.

Sherry gastrique:
2 cups cream sherry
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
Veal chops:
6 1-to 1 1/4-inch-thick veal rib chops coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
All purpose flour
2 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil, divided
1/3 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Roasted Peperonata- see below

For sherry gastrique:
Boil all ingredients in large saucepan until reduced to generous 2/3 cup, about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: can be made 3 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.

For veal chops:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Sprinkle veal on each side with coarse salt, pepper, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon thyme; dust generously with flour. Heat 1 tablespoon chicken fat in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 chops. Sear until brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining veal chops.
Place chops in oven and roast until cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-rare (135°F). Transfer chops to plates. Reserve baking sheet.
Meanwhile, stir broth and cornstarch in small bowl to dissolve. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet. Add broth mixture, gastrique, and any juices from baking sheet to skillet. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil until sauce thickens to desired consistency.
Spoon gastrique over each chop. Serve with peperonata and remaining gastrique.


5 large bell peppers (preferably 3 red, 1 orange, and 1 green)
3 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 pinches of cayenne pepper coarse kosher salt

Char peppers directly over gas flame or in broiler. Enclose in plastic bag; steam 15 to 30 minutes. Peel, seed, and cut peppers into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Mix peppers, raisins, oil, garlic, capers, vinegar, thyme, paprika, and cayenne in large bowl. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Carrot-Apple Soup with Mint and Holiday Spices

I love how the mint that finishes this soup really adds another level of flavor.  This is a terrific addition to any Holiday dinner.

2 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds carrots, peeled, diced
3 3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup diced peeled fuji apple plus 1/2 cup finely diced (for garnish)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
4 1/2 tablespoons apple sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Coarse kosher salt and ground fresh black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh mint

Heat chicken fat in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic, cook another minute.  Add all carrots, broth, 3/4 cup apple, and ginger; bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat; simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in blender; return to pan. Mix in apple sauce and spices. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into warm bowls. Top with finely diced carrot, finely diced apple, and mint. Serve and Enjoy!

Forest Mushroom Latkes with Mushroom Salad and Chives

So were coming up on Hanukkah and I'm already thinking of what to do with the potato pancakes this year.  Since wild mushrooms are kind of an obsession of mine, this combination is an exciting one.  Enjoy!

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups chopped onions, divided
1 large egg
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Salad and chive cream:
1 cup nondairy sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3 1/2 tablespoons (or more) white wine vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small garlic cloves, pressed
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 cups (packed) baby greens

For latkes:
Combine porcini and boiling water in bowl. Soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Strain, pressing out all liquid. Chop porcini.
Blend potatoes and 1/2 cup onions in processor until finely ground and some liquid forms. Turn mixture out onto kitchen towel. Gather towel around and squeeze mixture very dry. Scrape into large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups onions and next 4 ingredients. Stir until batter becomes moist. Add porcini.
Pour enough oil into heavy large skillet to coat bottom; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop potato mixture into skillet by scant 1/4 cupfuls. Flatten into 2 1/2-inch rounds. Cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to large baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 400°F oven until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

For salad and chive cream:
Stir nondairy sour cream, chives, and 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl to blend.
Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and all mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons vinegar; toss. Season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
Overlap latkes on plates. Mound greens alongside; top with mushrooms. Serve with chive cream and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Oct. 26th - Nov. 1st

Chicken and White Bean Cassoulet
French baguette

Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Pico de Gallo
Jicama, Carrot and Apple Slaw

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
Baby Romaine Salad with a Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash, Bolognese

Pasole with Chips and Salsa

Eggplant Parmesan
Chopped Italian Salad with fresh Basil and Mozzarella

BBQ Dinner at CAYA

Curried Lentil Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
1 cup French green lentils
4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 green onions, thinly sliced 1
lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.
Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. Divide soup among warm bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges. Serve and Enjoy!

DO AHEAD: soup can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.

Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon

By cooking the fish as an entire fillet in this preparation you'll ensure that the fish stays flaky and moist. The crushed caraway seeds in the glaze adds a really nice note to the classic honey and mustard combination, which really complements the full flavor of the salmon.

1 1/2 pound salmon fillet with skin (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mild honey
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed

Preheat broiler. Line rack of a broiler pan with foil and lightly coat with oil.
Pat salmon dry and put, skin side down, on pan. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then stir together with mustard, honey, vinegar, caraway seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Spread mustard mixture evenly on top of salmon, then broil 5 to 6 inches from heat until just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer salmon to a platter with 2 large spatulas.  Serve with brown rice or wild rice and Enjoy!

Creamy Sausage and Mushroom Penne

Makes 4-6 servings

1 pound dried penne
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound packaged sliced mushrooms
1 garlic clove, forced through a garlic press
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella, divided

Cook penne in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta and transfer to a flameproof 3-quart baking dish.
Preheat broiler.
Meanwhile, cook sausage in 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces, until no longer pink. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl, leaving fat in skillet.
Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet along with mushrooms and garlic, then cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, about 3 minutes.
Return sausage to skillet along with cream, reserved 1/2 cup cooking water, a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and boil over high heat, stirring once or twice, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Pour over pasta, then stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and salt to taste. Spread evenly in baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella.
Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat until golden brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Serve with a green salad and Enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Virgin Margaritas

Olé, these work great with or without tequila.  Without a doubt these are a favorite amongst the kids as the adults enjoy the "high test" version.  I don't do the salted rim, but if you enjoy yours that way, go for it.  Enjoy!

Makes 8-10

(1) 1/2 gallon Limeade
Juice of one Orange
Juice of half a lemon
Glasses with lots of ice
Lime wheels for garnish

In a pitcher mix all ingredients.  Garnish glasses with lime wheels, pour over ice and serve.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Oct. 19th - Oct. 25th

Cuban Roasted Leg of Pork
Mashed Plantains
Dirty Rice with Black Beans

Roast Beef with Horseradish-Mustard Crust
Braised Wild Mushrooms and Shallots
Steamed Asparagus
Roasted Carrots with Ginger and Brown Sugar

Thai Red Curry Chicken with Rice Noodles
Braised Bok Choy with Garlic and Toasted Sesame Seeds

Pasole with Shredded Chicken
Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Grilled Salmon with Dill Butter
Spaghetti Squash with Tomato-Basil Marinara

"Leftover Night"

Steak and Martini Night

Blueberry- Maple Pie

If your a fan of blueberries, they're one of my favorites, this is a show stopper! The maple syrup in the recipe adds a terrific accent.  You can easily substitute a pre-made crust to save time and the results are equally as delicious.

For crust
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
7 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling
4 cups fresh blueberries (about 23 ounces)
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Make crust:
Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add shortening and butter. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in enough ice water by tablespoonfuls to form moist clumps. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other. Flatten into disks; wrap each in plastic and chill 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

Make filling:
Place baking sheet on bottom of oven and position rack in center; preheat to 375°F. Combine blueberries, syrup, flour, tapioca and juice in bowl; toss to blend. Let stand 15 minutes.Roll out larger dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Pour filling into crust. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Arrange over filling. Seal crusts at edge of dish. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch; fold under and crimp edge decoratively. Using small knife, cut several slits in top crust.
Bake pie until juices bubble thickly and crust is golden, about 1 hour. Cool pie on rack. Serve at room temperature.

Watermelon Salsa

I love this one to jazz up fish or chicken, even pork.  It's especially good when the friut and tomatoes are at there best.  Use it with fish tacos for smiles around the table.  Enjoy!

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 cups chopped seeded watermelon
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chilies, add more, with the seeds, to taste if you like it hotter, I do!

In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients; toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Weekly Menu Oct. 12th - Oct. 18th

Shredded Chicken Tacos with Watermelon Salsa
Spicy Black Beans
Virgin Margaritas

Barbecue Pulled Pork
Roasted Corn Sauté

Vegetarian Chili

Turkey Meatloaf with Wild Mushroom Gravy
Green Beans

Grilled Salmon with Sweet Onion Marmalade
Spaghetti Squash with Peas and Parmesan

Red Lentil Vegetable Stew
Basmati Rice with Green Onions

"Steak & Martini Night"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A new experience for me - Paiche

Well, I went off menu tonight, deciding since I didn't have a late night at the office to make fish.  I call Jeanne and asked her to stop by the market and pick up a pound and a half of whatever caught her eye, bring it home and I'd throw something together.  Little did I know how adventurous she would be.  

  • Stopping at Whole Foods, she picked up a beautiful piece of Paiche.  It's a fish I had never cooked before and the only time I've heard of it or seen one for that matter was when watching Jeremy Wade on the TV program, River Monsters wrestle one out of the brown swirling muck.  I was totally pumped to give it a try (cook it that is, I'll leave the wrestling to Wade).

    So, according to Wikipedia, "The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche is a species of bonytongue native to the Amazon River in Brazil. It is the largest freshwater fish of South America."  It is considered by many to be an Amazonian superfood packed with protein and Omega-3's, low in fat and without antibiotics or mercury.  The meat tastes like a cross between Chilean sea bass, black cod or a mild swordfish. 

    To prepare the Paiche, I decided to pan sear it with lime and cilantro and serve it on a bed of spaghetti squash accompanied with a jicama, carrot, and apple slaw.  

  • For the Paiche, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.  Then seasoned the fish on both sides with coriander, garlic and onion powder, chili powder, salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  I heated a sauté pan over high heat, added 2 Tbsp olive oil and let it start to smoke.  Carefully seared the fish skin side up (filet was skinless).  After a minute or two gently press fish down into pan to insure a really nice sear.  Let it go for 3-4 minutes until deep golden brown.  Turn the fish, squeeze the juice of one lime and half a lemon over fish and put pan into hot oven.  Let cook until fish is medium, I cooked it about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and rub fish with a tablespoon of soft butter, let rest for 5-10 minutes before portioning onto plates.

    For the slaw- Shred jicama, radish, and carrot in food processor.  Shred one apple (I used a sweet tango, could sub honey crisp or pink lady), add to jicama mixture.  In a small bowl combine some minced shallot, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, capers, sugar, salt and black pepper.  Drizzle olive oil into mixture and make vinaigrette.  Add to jicama mixture and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Sunday, October 6, 2013

    Weekly Menu Oct. 6th - Oct. 11th

    This week is clean out the freezer week.  It's a replay of last week's hits.

    "E's sleepover"
    Girls- Spaghetti and Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
    Me- Med-rare Bone-in NY Strip, Caramelized onions and peppers, salad

    Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herbs
    Braised Leeks
    Caramelized Carrots with Ginger Glaze

    Turkey Burritos with Salsa Fresco
    Black Beans with Roasted Jalapeños and Cilantro

    Eggplant Lasagna

    Oven Roasted Pork with Garlic
    Asparagus with Shallots

    Curried Lentils with Vegetables
    Basmati Rice

    Dinner out with Friends

    Sautéed Frisée with Lemon and Maple

    Normally, I'll add Frisée to a salad.  I really like its curly leaves for texture and it's slightly bitter flavor with a peppery note as a counterpoint to the other greens and most dressings.  But, like its cousin escarole (milder) , it’s also great for cooking.

    3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1/2 cup coarse Panko bread crumbs
    3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    3/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
    1 (1-pound) head frisée, torn
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup

    Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook bread crumbs until crisp and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest and a pinch of salt.
    Wipe out skillet, then add anchovy paste and remaining 2 Tbsp oil and cook 15 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high and sauté half of frisée until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add remaining frisée and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Off heat, stir in juice, syrup, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
    Serve topped with bread crumbs and Enjoy!

    Kale with Dijon and Bacon

    I'm in love with this super green.  It great for you and the slightly bitter notes add so much to so many dishes.  The sharp mustard adds a great depth to a classic combination of bacon and greens.

    3 pounds kale, stems and center ribs discarded
    5 bacon slices, chopped
    1 bunch scallions, chopped
    2 tablespoons grainy mustard

    Cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water) until just tender, 10 to 13 minutes, then drain.
    Cook bacon in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan, then cook scallions until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in kale and mustard and cook over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 10 minutes. Serve topped with bacon and Enjoy!

    Shallot Jam

    This jam can be served with so many things.  I recently paired it with grilled Salmon that I seasoned with Old Bay.  The sweet of the shallots played nicely with the cayenne in the seasoning.  This goes great with turkey and chicken breast.  It also plays nicely with a grilled steak.  Play around with it, but be careful, it is addicting.

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    4 large shallots, thinly sliced
    3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/3 cup light brown sugar
    kosher salt

    In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook until thick and jam-like, 5 minutes. Season with salt.

    Carrot Fennel Soup

    As the leaves are starting to change and the evenings are turning cold, this fantastic soup is just what the doctor ordered. The flavors that are released by caramelizing the carrots and fennel are rich,nutty, and sweet. Make the day before, hold the oil drizzle to right before service, and let the flavors intensify.

    2 medium fennel bulbs with fronds
    1 pound carrots, quartered lengthwise
    1 medium onion, quartered
    1 garlic clove
    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
    2 1/2 cups water
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds

    Equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder

    Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lowest position.
    Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1 tablespoon and reserve. Discard stalks and remaining fronds. Slice bulbs 1/4 inch thick and toss with carrots, onion, garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a 4-sided sheet pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
    Blend half of vegetables in a blender with broth until very smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Repeat with remaining vegetables and water. Thin to desired consistency with extra water and simmer 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
    Meanwhile, finely grind fennel seeds in grinder and stir into remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Serve soup drizzled with fennel oil and sprinkled with reserved fronds.  Enjoy!

    Indian Braised Chicken with Fried Onions

    I found this recipe in Gourmet when they were highlighting Indian cuisine. It is adapted from Nimmy Paul, Kerala, India

    The chicken is fabulous with many warm, bright, and  exotic flavors.  Serve over basmati rice and you'll feel a million miles from home.
    The recipe calls for curry leaves which can be found at any Indian grocery store.  I realize that here in the metro-Detroit area we are fortunate that there are so many ethnic backgrounds and it's fairly easy to locate the ingredients of those cultures.   If you don't have access to or don't want to hunt them down, most commonly used substitutes are basil leaves, bay leaves and kaffir lime leaves. For dried curry leaves substitute, also try dried basil leaves or kaffir lime leaves.  Although there is really no substitute for curry leaves these can provide a pretty close effect.

    2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs with bone, skin discarded
    4 medium shallots, quartered
    5 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
    2 sprigs fresh curry leaves, leaves removed from stems*
    1 teaspoon cayenne
    1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
    10 whole cloves
    1 (1-inch) piece cinnamon stick
    1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    About 2 cups vegetable oil
    1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    3 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided

    Toss all ingredients except water, oil, onion, and flour with 1 teaspoon salt in a wide heavy medium pot. Marinate chicken, covered and chilled, 1 hour.
    Add water and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
    Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 inches oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
    Toss onion with 1 teaspoon flour, then fry in 2 batches, stirring frequently (do not let burn), until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve 3 tablespoons oil.
    Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving liquid, and gently pat dry. 3Heat reserved oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown chicken all over, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a platter.
    Add remaining 2 teaspoons flour to fat in skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add chicken-cooking liquid (with aromatics and spices) and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pour over chicken. Top with fried onions.

    Avocado and Watercress Salad

    1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
    1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
    1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (use small holes of box grater)
    4 teaspoons soy sauce
    1 teaspoon sugar
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    6 cups watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
    1 firm-ripe avocado

    Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in oil.
    Just before serving, toss watercress with enough dressing to coat. Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Gently toss with watercress. Serve and Enjoy!