Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Figs

2015-09-24 14.18.25

This has to be one of my favorite chicken dishes ever! Chef Michael Chiarello inspired me to make this recipe after seeing him do it on television. The name sounds really fancy, but the dish is not hard to make. There are a few step that need to be followed and none of them are hard to do.  I would have like to have used fresh figs, as he did, but they weren’t in season at the time.  I used dried figs and reconstituted them. I’ll tell you how I did this in a minute. I’m starting with the spice rub for the chicken.

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All I did to make the spice rub for the chicken was to take fennel and coriander seeds and place them into a spice grinder. Then I dumped the spices into a bowl and added some white pepper. That’s the spice rub. Now for the chicken. I had my butcher remove the bone from four skin-on chicken breasts. I seasoned both sides of the chicken with Kosher salt first. Then I sprinkled a good amount of the spice rub on both sides, and carefully, under the skin as well. I’m pan searing the chicken for this dish and then, finishing it off in the oven. In a large pan, pre- heated, on med-high heat, I added in some olive oil and place the chicken in skin side down first. I cooked the chicken for about 4 minutes on that side and then turned the chicken over and cooked it for another 4 minutes on the other side. Once I finished both sides, then I place the pan right into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature was 165 degrees. After the chicken comes out of the oven, I remove it from the saute pan, place the cooked chicken on a plate. I cover the chicken with foil and move onto my sauce.

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Earlier I prepared the ingredients for my sauce. This is what I did. First I bought concord grapes and red seedless grapes. I placed them into a large plastic zip-lock bag, and with my hands, crushed all the grapes to release their juices. Once all the grapes were crushed, I set them in a fine strainer over a large bowl to let the juices fall into the bowl. I used my hands to crush any grapes that I may have missed in the bag to release as much juice as possible. This process took about 15 minutes. In the end I had 2 cups of grape juice. While I was working on the grapes, on the stove I had 4 cups of organic apple juice in a large sauce pot. I placed the dried figs and a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar into the pot. First, I gave it a quick stir then turned the burner on med high heat, I brought the figs up to a boil, then reduced the heat to med low and let this simmer for 30 minutes. This allowed to figs to reconstitute in the apple juice and plump up. Using a slotted spoon I fished all the figs out of the poaching liquid and let them cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, I removed all the stems and cut the figs into quarters.

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Getting back to the chicken, I have the saute pan with the chicken dripping still in the bottom. On med high heat, I have 1/2 a finely diced red onion ( 1 whole dice shallot would be fine too) that I’ve added to the hot pan. I saute the onion until they are soft and translucent. To the onion, I sprinkle in some Kosher salt and black pepper. Next two sprigs of fresh rosemary. This will add extra flavor to the sauce. As the pan is bubbling I pour in the fresh grape juice and some unsalted chicken broth. Still on med high heat, I allow the sauce to come up to a bubble and reduce the heat to a simmer for another 5-7 minutes. Next,I  add in the reconstituted figs, that I quartered, to the pan letting them swim around in this delicious grape reduction for another couple of minutes to absorb the flavor. Finally, swirling the pan around carefully, I add another sprinkling of Kosher salt, and turn heat off. This amazing sauce is ready to be poured all over the pan seared chicken. I served this Tuscan chicken with a simple arugula salad dressed with shavings of Parmesan cheese and a lemon vinaigrette. Also, lemon pepper sauteed asparagus, and a garnish of concord grapes.

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 45 minutes
4 boneless skin-on chicken breasts
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon Fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon Coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 a finely diced red onion ( 1 whole diced shallot)
1 package of dried black mission figs (reconstituted) stems removed and quartered (1 pint of fresh figs quartered and stems removed)
2 pints of concord grapes (reserve some for garnish)
2 pints of red seedless grapes
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of unsalted chicken broth
Kosher salt to taste

Start out by making the spice rub for the chicken. Once the rub is made, start poaching the dried figs in the apple juice and sugar for 30 minutes. While it’s simmering, continue with the prep. Place the grapes into large plastic bag, and using you hands, crush all the grapes. Next place them into a strainer over a large bowl. While the grapes are draining, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and dice the onion for the sauce.  On the stove, have a large saute pan heating up and ready. Season the chicken with Kosher salt and the spice rub. Don’t forget to get some of the rub under the skin too.  Add the olive oil to the pan. Start with the skin side down, sear the chicken about 4 minutes each side. Then place the chicken into the 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the internal temp is 165 degrees. While the chicken is in the oven, the figs should be ready to come out of the poaching liquid. Let the figs cool for about 5 minutes then remove the stems and quarter the figs. When the chicken comes out of the oven, place them onto a plate and cover with foil. Using the same saute pan to make the grape reduction. Be careful because the handle is hot from the oven. On med high heat, add in the 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and the diced onions to the chicken dripping that are still in the pan. Saute until translucent. Add in the grape juice and unsalted chicken broth. Once it comes up to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer this for 5-7 minutes and then add in the figs. Season with a sprinkling of Kosher salt. Swirl the figs around in the grape reduction so they absorb that grape flavor for another couple of minutes and then turn off the heat. Place the chicken on a serving platter and pour over the grape reduction with figs.

Type “Lemon Pepper Asparagus”  into the “search bar”  for my recipe.

Recipe For My Lemon Vinaigrette
1-8 ounce jelly jar with lid
4 tablespoon or 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice ( usually 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil E.V.O.O.
Place all the ingredients into the jelly jar. Place the lid on tightly and shake.

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Gumbo With Shrimp, Chicken, And Andouille Sausage

2015-06-07 18.26.12

This dish is a labor of love. It’s a dish that took me a while to master. They say that Gumbo is a thick soup that is served over rice, jambalaya is a rice dish that contains the proteins and the vegetables. I’d say it’s the Cajun version of Paella. Now for my Gumbo recipe, I’m leaving out the okra. I love okra but Steve is not a fan. If you’re adding the okra in and it’s not in season, use the frozen. Add the okra in towards the end. I’ll remind you when I get to that point. There are so many components to this dish but, they compliment each other beautifully. Using best ingredients you can find makes a difference in the finished dish. Let’s get started.

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I start with the Andouille sausage. To get a start on their cooking process, In a small saute pan with a lid, I place the Andouille sausage in a small saute pan with a small amount of low sodium chicken broth. On med heat, I bring this up to a boil and turn in back down to a simmer. I cook the sausage like this for about 15 minutes. I then take the lid off, remove any liquid that still left in the pan and on med heat brown the outside of the sausages to give them some nice color. Once finished, I remove them from the pan and let cool for a few minutes before slicing them on the bias.

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Using the same pan, still on med heat, I place a couple of tablespoon of unsalted butter in the pan to start melting. I have two boneless- skinless white meat chicken breasts that I’ve cut up into medium size chunks. Once the butter has melted I saute the chicken off. At this point I like to season my chicken with the Creole seasoning,  I make sure to turn the pieces on all sides until they are nice and caramelized on the outside. This process takes about 10-15 minutes. The chicken will not be cooked all the way through at this point. It will finish cooking in the pot with the rest of the ingredients.

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Last of my proteins are my shrimp. I have about 3/4’s of a pound that I have peeled and de-veined. This takes about 5-10 minutes to do. I do not cook the shrimp at all. They will be the last ingredient I add to the pot.

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During the time that the different proteins are being prepared, I’m also working on the veggies for this dish.

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They call it the Holy trinity. Onions, celery, and green bell pepper. That’s going to be the base for this dish, I dice up all this while I’m working on the meats. This helps to cut down on the amount of prep time too. I also have some minced garlic that’s going to go into this dish. By the time I have all my proteins ready, I have all my veggies diced and minced as well.

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I start with a big Dutch oven pot that I preheated on med heat. I add the onions in first. I season with Kosher salt and black pepper. After the onions have started to soften, I add in the diced celery, green bell pepper, and minced garlic. Still on med heat, I cook all the vegetables util they’ve soften slightly. At this point, I add in my spices. Ground thyme, Creole seasoning and some tomato paste. I stir that through and cook for 5 minutes. I set the pot on the back burner, on warm, while I prepare the roux for this dish. I like to make my roux separate and then add it in to the softened veggies.

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So for me, the roux is a very important player in making a great gumbo. This is where the labor of love for this dish comes in to play. A dark peanut butter color is what I’m looking for. This means, I’m going to go past the blonde stage that roux is usually done. I like to do this separately and then add the darkened roux to the softened veggies. On med high heat, in a non- stick saute pan, this process can take anywhere between 10-15 minutes. I start out with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil along with unsalted butter. The oil will prevent the butter from burning and the butter will add lots of flavor. Once the butter has completely melted into the oil, I add in the all-purpose flour. Using a silicone whisk, whisking continuously until the flour has absorbed the butter. At this point the flour mixture will start bubbling. Keep whisking constantly for 5 minutes then turn the heat down to med. Keep whisking. In a few more minutes the flour will start to darken. When you see the caramel color developing switch to a spatula and scrape down all the sides and bottom of the pan. After a little more stirring you will see the flour getting browner. Maintain the med heat setting until you get the color of milk chocolate. Now I’m ready to combine the roux with the sauteed vegetables.

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I move my Dutch oven pot to the front burner that’s on med heat where I had just removed the roux from. I add in the roux, using a spatula to get every bit and stir the veggies through. Now, when the veggies are coated with the roux mixture, I add in the Andouille sausage, chicken, and two bay leaves. I then stir that through. Next, I stir in a can of fire roasted tomatoes with their juices.

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Next for some liquid. I’m using an unsalted chicken stock for this recipe. The stock is deeper in color and flavor. Still on med heat, I’m going to bring all this up to a boil, then reduce it to med low heat and simmer. Continue occasionally stirring the gumbo uncovered, for about 30-35 minutes. During the last five minutes of cooking, I, toss in my peeled and de-veined shrimp and thawed frozen okra (optional). When ready, you’ll see that the sauce has reduced and thickened. I like serving my gumbo over Basmati rice and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chopped Italian parsley.

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Yields: 6-8 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes ( includes pre – cooking sausage, chicken, preparing shrimp, and dicing all veggies)
Prep Time for Roux: 15 minutes
Equipment: 6 quart Dutch oven, or some type of heavy bottom pot
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (one for sauteing veggies)
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
heaping 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup of diced celery
1/2 cup of diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup of diced sweet onion
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons of Creole seasoning ( 1 tablespoon to raw chicken, 1/2 tablespoon to sauteed veggies)
1-15 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes ( regular diced is fine)
1 teaspoon of ground thyme
2 bay leaves
2-1/2 pounds total of any combo of sausage, chicken, and shrimp
10 ounce package thawed frozen okra (optional)
4 cups of unsalted chicken stock

Start with prepping, seasoning, and cooking all the proteins with the exception of the shrimp. While they are cooking, saute and season the veggies. Set the proteins and sauteed veggies aside while you start on the roux. Once the roux is made, remove it from the heat. Place the Dutch oven, with the sauteed seasoned veggies back on the burner where you removed the prepared roux from. The pot on med heat, and using a spatula, scrape the roux into the pot with the veggies. Add the pre- cooked sausage, chicken, fire roasted tomatoes, and bay leaves. Stir all this through the roux mixture so all is coated well. Lastly, add in the chicken stock. Bring all this up to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer ( med- low) and simmer for 30-35 minutes. During the last five minutes of cooking, toss in the raw shrimp and thawed frozen okra (optional).. Stir the shrimp through and the gumbo is finished. It will be dark in color and delicious in flavor. I ladle the gumbo over a scoop of Basmati rice, garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

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Candied Grape Tomatoes

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The grape candied tomatoes are so delicious. They’re great to add in  salads, a garnish for soups, or even to top chicken, steak. or even a nice piece of halibut. These little jewels are a staple in my frig and are so easy to make.

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I have 2 pints of red grape tomatoes that have been halved. In a bowl I add in olive oil, Kosher salt, and black pepper. I toss everything together so all the tomatoes are coated.

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Make sure all the tomatoes are spread out into one layer on a sheet pan. Place them into a 300 degree oven for 2-1/2 hours. After they come out of the oven and are still hot, I sprinkle some extra fine sugar over the tomatoes and let them cool completely. The sugar just enhances the sweetness, of the already sweet tomatoes Once they’ve cooled completely, I place them into a sealed tight canning jelly jar, and right into the frig. They are ready whenever I need them.

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 2-1/2 hours at 300 degrees F.
Equipment: sheet tray, a seal tight container
Shelf life in frig 7 days
2 pints of halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon extra fine sugar

Halve 2 pints of grape tomatoes. In a bowl place the tomatoes, olive oil, Kosher salt, and black pepper. I then place them in one layer on a sheet tray and bake them low and slow at 300 degrees F. for 2- 1/2 hours. Once they come out of the oven and are still hot I sprinkle the sugar over the top and toss them gently. I let them cool completely and then put them into a seal tight jar.

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Philly Cheese Steak Dip

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Philly cheese steak has to be one of the most loved sandwiches today. Now think about those flavors in a dip. Set this dip out at one of your parties and I promise you it will be the first to disappear.

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The type of steaks I’m using are 2- 4 ounce top sirloin fillets. They’re nice and lean and great for this dish. The first thing that I do for this recipe is to make the steaks in advance. If you can, the night before would be ideal. The reason is, after they’ve finished cooking, you want the steaks to be cold and firm before cutting them up into bite size pieces. First, I season my steaks with Kosher salt, black pepper, and a sprinkling of garlic powder on both sides. Also it’s important to remember to let your steaks come to room temperature before you start to cook them. I sear mine off, on both sides in a cast iron skillet, and then place them right into a 350 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature is between 125-130 degrees. I like my steak med-rare. I pull the steaks out of the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes before placing them into the frig for at least one hour.

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While the steaks are in the  frig, I go ahead and get started working on the other ingredients for the dip. I dice up red onion, and some red and yellow bell peppers. In a small saute pan, on med heat, I add in a little olive oil, I saute the veggies for around 3-5 minutes, or until they get a little color on them and they are just tender. I remove them from the heat to cool down. In a bowl, I reserve about 1/4 cup of the veggies for later. I also reserve a small amount of the diced steak as well. I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

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,In a large bowl, I mix in the base for my dip. All at room temperature, I add in some good mayo, shredded Provolone cheese, full fat cream cheese, shredded Mozzarella cheese, and a tablespoon of Montreal steak seasoning. Next I add in the cooled diced veggies and mix those through. To that I add in the diced steak that came out of the frig, and mix that through.

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I have a 1 quart casserole dish that I’ve buttered generously.

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Using a spatula, I transfer the dip into the buttered casserole dish. To the dip, I sprinkle some shredded Mozzarella cheese. Remember the reserved veggies and diced steak from earlier?  I take the diced steak pieces and push them down into the dip a little allowing it to show through the top. Same with the veggies. I like the fact that it shows what’s in the dip. Plus it looks great too. I also add some minced chives before placing the dip into the oven.

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Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F. for 20-30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly, and cheese is slightly golden brown on top. Once the dip is finished, I add another light sprinkling of the minced chives right over the top. I serve the dip with some homemade tortilla chips. You could also serve the dip with thin slices of a real good Baguette bread.

Yields: 3-4 cups
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour for steak to cool in frig
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes
Bake: 350 degrees F. 20-30 minutes

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of diced red onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper for sauteing veggies
1/2 cup of room temperature good mayonnaise
8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese
1/2 a cup of grated Provolone cheese
3/4  cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese ( 1/4 cup for the dip mixture and 1/2 cup for the top)
8 ounces of cooked and cooled diced Top sirloin filet steaks ( reserve 1/4 cup of cooled diced steak for the top)
1 tablespoon minced chives for top
minced chives for garnish

Prepare the steak the day before or cook it in advance and place it into the frig for 1 hour. This allows the steak to be cold before dicing it up and adding to the dip mixture. While the steak is in the frig, dice and saute the veggies. Set them aside and reserve 1/4 cup of them separate for the top. You want to do this with the diced steak too. Next, in a large bowl prepare the base mixture for the dip. To the base mixture, add the cooled diced veggies and diced steak. Mix all the ingredients together and them place the mixture into a 1 quart buttered casserole dish. Next, sprinkle the reserved shredded Mozzarella cheese all over the top. Then take the reserved veggies and steak and push them slightly into the dip so they will show through the top. Then sprinkle with some minced chives before baking uncovered at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the top is slightly golden brown. Finally, after the dip comes out of the oven sprinkle again with more of the minced chives. Serve with some homemade tortilla chips or bread.

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