Beauty in the Ordinary

This is not about being brilliant, or extraordinary, it's not about wanting to be famous, or making headlines, or trying to impress...this about sharing a 'gift' each day with the lift the spirit of people when they read this blog, to show them the beauty in the ordinary.
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Raold Dahl

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Day to Cook

Uncharacteristically, the weatherman has been dead-on with his forecasts over the passed couple of weeks.  And so, as predicted, today is windy, rainy and decidedly cool.

Looks like my bike is going to have to remain in the garage today.

Time to crank up the the fridge and see what can be prepared for the arrival of weekend guests.

Mary's Chicken Marbella
2 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and finely puréed
2 Tbsp dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes, finely chopped
1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1/4  cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
1 In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, several hours or overnight.
2 Preheat oven to 350°F.
3 Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
4 Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest point, yield clear yellow juice (not pink).
5 With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Add some of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Serve remaining juice in a gravy boat.
Serves 5.

This recipe is easy and delicious and really benefits from a couple of days marinating in the fridge.
(I always like to give credit to the person who gave me the recipe.  I'm pretty sure my clever friend Mary didn't invent this, but she probably tweaked it.)

The hot banana peppers stuffed with italian sausage meat that I baked in roasted tomato sauce a couple of weeks ago turned out so well, I'll make those again too.

and Friday night, I will set up some bread to be baked on Saturday morning.

I'm on my own for dinner tonight, so a quick shrimp tapas I think, with some steamed rice.

1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic,chopped
1lb shrimp cleaned, de-veined, tail on
olive oil
zest of 1 lime
1/4 c white wine
parsley, chopped
salt, pepper
1 - Saute shrimp in a little olive oil until pink.
2 - Add garlic, saute one minute more.
3 - Add wine, zest, parsley toss with butter
4 - Season with salt and pepper.
This recipe works really well as an appetizer, served with crostini rubbed with garlic.

Just one more cup of delicious coffee while waiting for the sun to come up and I'll get started.
  Who says gray days aren't productive?


  1. Oh, can I be one of your guests too? The food sounds delicious! Autumn has finally reached us here as well and I'm preparing to spend a lot of time cosy inside drinking tea. Love from London xo

  2. That chicken dish looks fabulous. I can almost taste it from here!

  3. That's your fridge, Jacqueline? You make me want to throw out everything in mine and start again.

  4. Pop on over MP...dinner in a couple of hours? (Your time of course). I love London in Autumn...all that lovely gray pavement and beautiful squares.

    Cro...I think the marbella is right up your alley. Let me know if you try the recipe.

    Bit of poetic licence there fridge is much messier!

  5. J - you're making me feel hungry. It all looks healthy eating. I think I'll try the chicken marbella too - though in half quantities for just the two of us. Looks mouthwatering

  6. If you make the whole thing Molly...stick half in the keeps nicely.
    SOAC-M - the secret? No-Kneading. Have a look at the link...easy-peasy!

  7. Looks like a few new recipes to try,they all look wonderful.

  8. That chicken looks soo good. Have some drumsticks for tonight so will go and put them to marinate right now. Will look at the bread recipe later.

    Love your posts.

  9. BL...please let me know what you try. I had one of the stuffed peppers for lunch, hot, hot, but soooo tasty!

    Again susan, would love to hear how it all turns out!

  10. you remind me of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta

  11. I'll take that as a compliment John...thank you.

  12. Jacqueline - we had this last night made with chicken drumsticks. I didn't have any oregano or red wine vinegar so used white wine vinegar and fresh thyme leaves. I also put some kumara (sweet potatoe) and agria potatoes in the tin with the chicken.

    It was absolutely delicious and the one remaining drumstick was just as nice cold.

  13. What a great variation SH...will definitely give your version a go! Brava!

  14. It is perfectly Autumnal here now...beautiful and firey tree colors popping out of the mist.
    I'm greatly admiring your 'alone' dinner...I tend to be lazy when alone and it's not pretty what I tend to eat at those times...maybe I'll have to try your tapas next time, I'm sure it will win over Veggie Booty and cottage cheese.
    xo J~

  15. it's just a question of getting your head around it Jessica. The tapas recipe is really quick, easy and very little clean up. Often, when alone, I do better making myself a good lunch...I seem to loose the plot come evening!

    BTW...what the heck is veggie booty?

  16. J, I tend to do much better at lunch than dinner as well...but it's usually nothing I've personally made (sushi to go for example). I'd love to nourish myself more lovingly at dinner when it's just me.
    Veggie Booty are these little snacky puff-nuggets of yum that are supposedly healthy for you because they're coated in all sorts of good for you green powders (spinach and the like), really, they're just a big old salt hit for me in the place of chips...I just imagine healthier for eating them. They also make Pirate's Booty (cheese puffs), and other crunchy yummies...I'm so much more a salt person than a sugar. :d


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