Thursday, June 29, 2023

Thai Green Chili with Chicken

This dish is a variation of a Jamie Oliver recipe. It’s basically chicken cooked in a delicious green herb sauce with coconut milk. And just like Jamie, you’re totally allowed to bung things in…in a very high spirited way. 

Jump to Thai Green Chili with Chicken

Jamie calls his recipe a “Curry”. I’ve left out a signature “Curry” spice – turmeric - so I call mine a “Chili”. Changed name aside, it’s a good example of how to create a great recipe by combining many highly flavored ingredients and then enriching them with coconut milk for a super-savory, creamy sauce.

I didn’t want to call it Thai GREEN CHICKEN Chili, because I don’t find the word GREEN in front of the word CHICKEN particularly appetizing, so I just added "With Chicken"…

Anyhoo, I like to brown the chicken separately in a big sauté pan, while I attend to other parts of the recipe. I ultimately cook it in a saucepan, because I want to keep as much of that yummy sauce as possible, so I don’t want it boiling away in a big wide pan. These are the steps:

  • Brown the chicken in a large sauté pan. 
  • Remove the chicken to a large saucepan.
  • Soften onions in the sauté pan with all those nice browned chicken bits.
  • Whirl up the green sauce in a food processor or blender.
  • Pour the sauce over the cooked onions in the sauté pan and then add the whole thing to the chicken in the saucepan.


Also, the chicken is fabulous in this dish, but not crucial, so you could totally stir fry a whole host of vegetables – snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, squash, peppers and onions to name a few – and simmer them in the sauce for a bit and you’d have a great dinner.

In most recipes, I cook the carrots and red peppers after the onions are cooked BEFORE adding any other ingredients. But in this dish I find it’s okay to just add them to the sauce and chicken without any softening and they cook just fine right along with the chicken.

Thai Green Chicken Chili (serves 3 - 4)

6 boneless chicken thighs
Kosher salt
1 tbl. olive oil 
2 onions, peeled, halved, halved again and cut into slices
2 jalapeños, halved and seeded (wear gloves!)
1 bunch of cilantro, stemmed and washed
1 bunch of basil, stemmed and washed
2 scallions, chopped roughly
1 thick slice of ginger, peeled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled with center stem removed
1 lime, zested first then juiced
½ tsp. salt 
1 can coconut milk, stirred well (It's easiest to do this in a separate bowl or measuring pitcher. And 👎 to lowfat coconut milk. Just go for it.)
4 carrots, cut into thick matchsticks
1 red pepper, cut into thick matchsticks
Optional: 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock for reheating leftovers*

For garnish:
1 lime, sliced
3 scallions, sliced into thin rounds
chopped cilantro  

Season the chicken thighs with kosher salt. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes on both sides until lightly browned. Remove chicken to large saucepan. 

To the same sauté pan (don’t wipe it out), add sliced onion with a big pinch of Kosher salt and cook on medium high until you hear a sizzle. Turn down heat to low. Cover (even if your lid is smaller than your pan, it’s fine.) and cook for 10 minutes until completely soft, stiffing occasionally.

Meanwhile, add jalapeños, cilantro, basil, scallions, ginger, garlic, lime zest, lime juice and salt to blender. Blend to chop roughly. Add one can of stirred coconut milk. Blend until smooth. 

Pour green sauce over onions and bring just to a simmer. Pour entire contents of sauté pan over chicken. Add carrot and red pepper slices. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook, simmering gently for 25 to 30 minutes until chicken is done. Garnish with lime slices, scallions and chopped cilantro. Serve over rice. 
*If reheating the chicken and sauce on top of the stove, add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup stock to the pan just to loosen the sauce a bit.

- By the way, click here for Jamie’s AMAZING method for having fresh chilies always available. -

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

A Coffee Wonderland


One more Chicago note - if you're a Starbucks fan, you'll be gobsmacked at their outpost in downtown Chicago. If you're not a fan, you should just walk on by...
Starbucks' first foray outside of Seattle was in Chicago in 1987. Unfortunately, they opened the day that the stock market crashed - October 19, 1987. After that inauspicious start, little by little they grew until they built a 35,000 square foot temple, The Roastery, celebrating their coffee-making prowess on the Magnificent Mile in 2019. 
I learned about it on our Architectural Boat tour. The guide said it was pretty magnificent and if you want a $30 cup of coffee, this is your place. Well, almost but not quite...
There is a latte on one of the menus for $6.50, but if you oat milk it up and add olive oil(?), it brings it up to $7.50. That's available on the third floor "Experiential Coffee Bar" with "Oleato" on the menu, which is a "Starbucks Reserve coffee infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil. Velvety smooth. Deliciously lush." I guess it's in the same category as Bulletproof Coffee. 🤷

Another unique feature of the Roastery is the fourth floor cocktail bar, obviously coffee-themed, offering, for example, a flight of espresso martinis. (I do love that idea.) There is an Old Fashioned and different whiskey cocktails on the menu, among other things. Don't drink coffee? Not a problem. There's a whole list of tea-infused cocktails, so you can keep up with your coffee chugging friends...although at $16 to $24 a hit, there probably isn't much chugging going on.
I didn't actually buy anything. I occupied myself by riding up and down all four floors (a few times) on the striking curved escalator. In the center is a spectacular 56 foot tall bronze colored cask, filled with coffee beans that travel in tubes to different locations in the building. (The fifth floor is a rooftop space, which wasn't open.) It's a gorgeous building - industrial, yet comfy, modern but with many classic elements from the history of coffee-making. 
The Chicago Roastery is a great place to go as its own special destination. I wouldn't necessarily go (or be able to afford) a normal coffee date in the place. But a first date or a special rendezvous would be a perfect reason to visit. Bring lots of money and lots of patience because the crowds can be thick on weekends and evenings. Starbucks is hoping you're willing to pay more and wait more for a very special experience. And if you want to go for free, ride up and down the escalator.  Dunkin' Donuts is just a few blocks away.


Saturday, June 10, 2023

Chicago Has Great Eats in Eataly and More

We didn't have a lot of time in Chicago the week after Memorial Day, but we did have some great food. First, I wanted to compare Chicago's Eataly with New York's. Admittedly, I haven't been to New York's since the world shut down, so it may have changed considerably. But their website indicates it's still a pretty hopping place. Even though the Chicago Eataly claims to be 10,000 square feet bigger than New York's, it seemed similar.🤷 


We had a wonderful burrata pizza and some delicious arancini. And I had a perfectly made Aperol Spritz. 
On the street nearby, I saw one of these cool dessert machines. It was AFTER we went to Eataly, so I passed, but they looked yummy.

We went to two extraordinary restaurants - The Purple Pig and Tanta

The Purple Pig's Whipped Ricotta with Dates, Pistachios, Compressed Pears 😋, Honey and Mint was a great start. The toasted bread was crusty, oily (in a good way) and a perfect foil for the ricotta. The Duck Croquettes were crispy and rich.
The House Cured Sardines were perfectly tangy and delicious.


I loved the Seafood Risotto. It was creamy and so flavorful with a beautiful seafood stock. And the Apple Tart with Cinnamon Gelato and Bourbon Maple Syrup tasted as good as it sounds!

Tanta is a delightful Peruvian restaurant, somewhat fusion-y, with lots of wonderful dishes to share and also to keep for yourself.😆 
The Pisco Sour was refreshing. Everything was tasty, fresh, interesting and I could have gone back the next day and the day after. I loved the Chaufa Aeropuerto, which turned out to be perfectly made fried rice with char siu pork and a shrimp omelet.


Other dishes we tried - Cebiche Classico, Salmon Tartare 👍👍👍, Chicken and Fish Skewers and Adobo.

One last non-food place we visited - Millennium Park. What a nifty place. The giant (coffee?) bean sculpture was impressive. It's actually called Cloud Gate and is one of the largest sculptures in the world at 110 tons and nearly 70 feet long. We walked and walked and then crossed over the very cool Frank Gehry designed BP Walkway to beautiful Lake Michigan and skyline views all the way back to the River Walk.