Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Tandoori Tofu and Vegetable Kebabs

July 7, 2011
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For our vegetarian/grilled dinner party, I served these kebabs as the entree.  The marinade was great, but unfortunately the tofu didn’t seem to really absorb much of it.  Perhaps a longer marinating period would help?

We ommitted the rice, since we were having a bunch of other food, but we added some sweet potato cubes (par-cooked) to the skewers and they were actually the tastiest part of the dish.

  • 1 (16-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained and cut into 16 cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 16 large mushrooms (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 small red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

Preheat oven to 375°.

Arrange tofu in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until tofu releases 3 or more tablespoons liquid.

Prepare grill.

Combine chopped onion and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl. Add tofu, mushrooms, and onion wedges; toss gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

While tofu and vegetables marinate, prepare rice. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in raisins and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.

Remove tofu and vegetables from bowl; discard marinade. Thread tofu cubes, mushrooms, and onion wedges alternately onto 8 (6-inch) skewers. Lightly coat kebabs with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Serve with rice.


Recipe: Olive Oil Poached Salmon

March 14, 2011
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Anne Burrell is one of my new favorite TV chefs.  I always liked watching her as Mario Batali’s sous on “Iron Chef America,” but I am so glad that she’s getting the spotlight all to herself now.  On her show, “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef,” she has such a contagious enthusiasm about food.  Oh, and the dishes she prepares?  They always look AMAZING.

So, when my parents were joining us for dinner recently, I decided to make up for “the burnt, sauce-less short rib disaster of 2011″ and give some of Chef Burrell’s recipes a go.  While I was in California, I watched an episode where she poached salmon in olive oil - and my mom LOVES her some salmon.  As a show of confidence, I even splurged on some really choice salmon from Whole Foods.  I was going to honor the protein, gosh darnit.

It turns out that olive oil poaching is the easiest and most delicious thing EVER.  Seriously, the fish was like buttah.  The little satchet of herbs was pretty subtle in terms of the flavor it imparted on the salmon, but it still tasted delicious and had wonderful texture.

I’ll post recipes for the two side dishes later (warm farro and cranberry bean salad and butternut squash mostarda), but I would definitely recommend this meal.  And I am definitely a member of Team Anne – I hope she cleans up on “Chopped: All-Stars.”   

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, peel removed in wide strips with a veggie peeler
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt

Place the aromatics (the garlic, thyme, lemon zest, coriander, and bay leaves) in cheesecloth. Tie into a sachet. Add the oil to a large straight-sided saute pan and toss in the sachet. Bring the pan to a medium heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Let the salmon come to room temperature and season generously with salt. Add the salmon fillets to the pan with the olive oil. Let the fish cook in the oil for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oil with a fish spatula to a plate before serving


Recipe: Farfalle with Golden Beets, Beet Greens, and Pine Nuts

February 21, 2011
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Howdy, howdy!  I’ve missed you, bloglets.  Here is the 30-second update: we stopped playing Fantasy TCAS because I was kicking my hubby’s ass so badly (and relatedly, that Target challenge was el stupido), I’ve been to Winston-Salem and back TWICE over the past two weeks, and now we are in NYC for the long weekend (thanks, dead Presidents).

In an effort to get back in the swing of things, I figured I’d write up this recipe while looking at the snow fall over Manhattan.  This is a nice winter dish, since the warm pasta is so comforting and it’s relatively easy to find golden beets (they had them aplenty at my local Whole Foods, where I was accosted by another shopper who wanted to know what they were and what I was going to do with them).  Husband and I both wished there were more greens in the dish – like all greens, they cook down a ton – but otherwise we really enjoyed the meal.  You could make the dish with regular beets, but the end result will be very pink pasta.

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large onions, quartered lengthwise through root end, sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches 2-inch-diameter golden beets with fresh healthy greens; beets peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, greens cut into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 12 ounces farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil and onions to same skillet and sauté until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to sauté until onions are tender and browned, about 30 minutes longer. Add garlic and stir 2 minutes. Scatter beet greens over onions. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over; cover and cook until beet greens are tender, about 5 minutes.Meanwhile, cook beets in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beets to medium bowl. Return water to boil. Add pasta to beet cooking liquid and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Stir onion-greens mixture and beets into pasta. Add pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten. Season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve, passing additional cheese.


Recipe: Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

February 4, 2011
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I try to keep a can of pumpkin puree in the pantry at all times.  For pumpkin pie?  Nope.  For my dog.  Yes, my health-conscious pit bull LOVES him some pumpkin.  He also loves sweet potatoes and squash (all varieties, but I suspect his favorite is butternut), for what it’s worth.  At least SOMEONE in our house gets excited about winter produce.

When I saw this recipe in one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks, I knew that the pupster was going to (temporarily) give up his pumpkiny treats – that can of puree was going to be sacrificed for delicious enchiladas.  They couldn’t be easier, and they were absolutely bursting with flavor.  For the roast chicken, you can use any recipe you like, or you can use a store-bought rotisserie bird.  I opted to keep the seeds in the jalapeno, and I used a “Mexican” shredded cheese blend that I happened to have on hand.  The result was a spicy, rich, satisfying meal that took practically no time to put together (I had roasted the chicken the day before).  I hope you enjoy!

  • 1/2 leftover roast chicken, skin removed, meat shredded
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, quartered (remove ribs and seeds for less heat, if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine chicken and scallions.  Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a blender, puree pumpkin, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full).  Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish.  Lay tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly.  Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. 

Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


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Recipe: Latin Baked Chicken

January 26, 2011
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In the month in between travel to San Francisco (an awesome, delicious trip that we took over MLK weekend) and NYC (an awesome, delicious trip that we’ll be taking over Presidents’ Day weekend), the idea is to dial back the unhealthy eating and drinking and get back into a solid exercise routine.  The latter is always harder, not only due to time constraints but also due to the fact that I like cooking a heck of a lot more than I like working out.  Go figure.

This was one of the first new slimmed-down recipes I tried after the New Year, and it turned out to be really tasty.  The marinade doesn’t sound like much, but reducing it and then brushing it on the chicken a few times during cooking really intensified the flavors and allowed the sugars to caramelize a bit.  You really won’t miss the skin on the chicken – the meat is tender and flavorful – and as I’ve said a thousand times before, skinless thighs are no worse for you than skinless breasts (and since they are smaller in size, I find that they make portion control a little easier).  We enjoyed this chicken with saffron rice and steamed vegetables for an easy weeknight dinner.  I hope you enjoy it as well!

  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • 3  tablespoons  less-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  tablespoons  honey
  • 2  tablespoons  minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 8  (4-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine lime juice, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, and chipotle in a large bowl. Add chicken, and toss well to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. Arrange the chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray, reserving marinade. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Place reserved marinade in a blender, and process until smooth. Place pureed marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Brush chicken with half of cooked sauce; return to oven and bake an additional for 10 minutes. Brush chicken with remaining sauce; bake an additional 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°.


Recipe: Meatballs with Pappardelle

December 27, 2010
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For my birthday, my dad stood in line at Williams-Sonoma so that he and my mother could present me with an autographed copy of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.  I literally squealed with joy when I opened it – look, isn’t it awesome???

The book is really gorgeous, and the recipes are all super enticing.  However, as I flipped through the pages, I realized that even though the dishes were more accessible than, say, the ones in the French Laundry cookbook, they were still pretty complex and detailed.  In other words, I probably wasn’t going to be making any quick weeknight meals out of Ad Hoc.

The next free weekend I had, I decided it was on like Donkey Kong.  I chose this recipe first because it didn’t require any unusual ingredients, and, well, I love pasta and meatballs.  It turned out that the most time-consuming part of the dish was the tomato sauce (which I will post separately) – the meatballs themselves were actually pretty straightforward and, dare I say, easy.

Easy as they were, these meatballs were fantastic.  The moistness and flavor were just right, thanks to the excellent mixture of meats (I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of veal, which I don’t normally love).  The cheesy center was just plain decadent – you really don’t NEED the mozzarella, since the meatballs are plenty rich on their own, but if you can say no to cheese, you have much more willpower than I do.

So, the first Thomas Keller experiment was a success – the dish was even a hit leftover, reheated in the microwave the next day.  Even though technically it was just “spaghetti and meatballs,” I was very proud of myself and couldn’t wait to try the next recipe on my list.

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces boneless beef sirloin
  • 12 ounces boneless beef chuck
  • 8 ounces boneless pork butt
  • 8 ounces boneless veal shoulder or top round
  • 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound pappardelle
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and reduce the heat.  Cook gently for about 20 minutes, to soften the vegetables without browning them.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Next step: meat.  If you have a meat grinder, the cookbook has a great breakdown of how to set things up and run the meat through.  I have a grinder attachment for my Kitchen-Aid mixer, but I really just didn’t want the hassle of DIY grinding.  So, I had the butcher at Whole Foods grind everything for me fresh.  I know, I’m a cheater, but I’m relatively sure that Thomas Keller would have wanted me to enjoy SOME time with my husband that day.

In a bowl, combine the ground meat, onion and garlic, bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and the egg and mix gently to incorporate evenly.  Do not overwork the mixture.  To check the seasoning, put a small patty of the meat on a plate and cook in the microwave for 30 seconds, then taste and add more salt if desired.

Divide the mixture into 12 equal balls, using a scant 1/2 cup (4 ounces) for each.

Cut the cheese into 12 cubes, about 3/4 inch.  Shape the meatballs, stuffing a cube of cheese into the center of each one.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Put the meatballs on the cooling rack and bake for 15-18 minutes, until cooked through but still juicy.  Remove from the oven and let the meatballs rest on the rack for a few minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle; drain and put in a large bowl.  Toss with the melted butter, the remaining tablespoon of parsley, and the lemon juice.

TK’s Serving suggestion: Spoon the tomato sauce into a gratin dish or shallow serving dish.  Top with the meatballs and garnish with fried oregano.  Serve the pappardelle on the side.


Recipe: Braised Chicken with Shallots

November 22, 2010
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My love for chicken thighs is well-documented, so it should come as no surprise that I dog-eared this recipe from Fresh Flavor Fast for a dinner last week.  This is a relatively quick braise, so you can certainly tackle this meal on a weeknight (as I did).  I was a little surprised that there was no butter in the recipe, but the sauce was plenty thick and rich on its own, between the Dijon mustard and the time in the pot.  I served this with homemade baguettes, which were essential in soaking up all of the delicious juices – but you could certainly opt for potatoes, rice, pasta, or some other variety of starch.  The cookbook suggested that this dish was better the next day, but I loved it the most right after it was served the first time.  Yum!

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound shallots, peeled and halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Coat with flour, shaking off excess.

In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot with tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high.  Cook chicken until browned, 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove and set aside.

Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Add wine; cook until evaporated, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in mustard and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil.

Return chicken, bone side down, to pot.  Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, 30-35 minutes.  Transfer chicken to plate and keep warm.  Add tomatoes to pot, season with salt and pepper.  Cook on high until sauce is thickened, 6-8 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low and return chicken to pot.  Cook until heated through.  Serve.


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Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples and Leeks

November 11, 2010
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As much as I love “the other white meat,” pork tenderloin isn’t the most naturally robust and flavorful cut of meat.  The texture is great, but you have to pair it with something that brings out its potential.  Whenever I cook pork, I can’t help but think of apples, so this recipe (from Fresh Flavor Fast) grabbed my attention right away.  My dinner dates (dad and husband) were not so sure.  Apples and leeks?  Honey and vinegar?  They weren’t as convinced as I was that this would be a delicious fall meal.

Not only was the dinner super tasty, but it was also pretty darn easy.  Broiling the pork allows you to forget about it for a bit and tend to the sauteing.  You don’t have to peel the apples, which eliminates a lot of time and effort.  The whole shebang took less than 30 minutes to put together, which is definitely appreciated after a long day.  Everyone really enjoyed the flavors – even those who were skeptical at the start.

  • 2 pork tenderloins (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat and silver skin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 Gala apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and halved crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar

Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. On a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet, rub pork with 1 tablespoon oil; generously season with salt and pepper. Broil, until pork registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest, 10 minutes (temperature will rise about 5 degrees as it sits).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium. Add leeks and fennel seeds; cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender, about 6 minutes. Add apples, and cook, tossing, until just beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in honey and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice pork, and serve with apples and leeks.


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Recipe: Rigatoni with Shrimp, Calamari, and Basil

October 25, 2010
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While I detox from my sister’s gluttonous wedding weekend and ponder tasty diet dinners, I want to share this recipe from the wayback machine.  I made this pasta dish a month or two ago, and it really hit the spot – it was hearty and satisfying, but the seafood and veggies kept it tasting fresh and light (well, light-er).

When I made this dish, I could not find calamari ANYWHERE (I can usually get it at a small local market, but they were all out when I visited), so I just doubled the shrimp.  And speaking of shrimp, my only issue with this recipe was the processing/blending of half of the seafood.  I don’t really understand the point – I mean, it certainly imparts great shrimpy flavor, but why can’t you just leave the little guys whole?  I will definitely omit that step next time – though, maybe the calamari would make the difference?

Oh, and anyone who poo-poos the idea of cheese and seafood together?  Well, let’s just say those people are no friends of mine.

  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, divided
  • 14 ounces cleaned calamari (bodies only; tentacles reserved for another use), divided
  • 12 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

Place half of shrimp in medium bowl. Slice half of calamari crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide rings and place in small bowl.

Coarsely chop remaining shrimp and calamari; place in processor. Using on/off turns, blend until shrimp mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to another medium bowl.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 5 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, garlic, and crushed red pepper; sauté until leeks are tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped shrimp mixture; stir until shrimp and calamari are just opaque, about 2 minutes. Add clam juice and peas; simmer until flavors blend, about 3 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside; cover to keep warm.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved whole shrimp and sauté 2 minutes. Add calamari rings to shrimp; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until just opaque, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta; return to same pot. Add chopped shrimp and calamari sauce, 1/2 cup cheese, and 1/2 cup basil and toss to blend.

Divide pasta among 4 bowls. Top each serving with sautéed shrimp mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil. Pass additional cheese separately and serve.


Recipe: Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika

October 22, 2010
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Happy Friday, everyone!  For my last post of the week, I thought I’d share a really tasty recipe that was a big success on my dinner table.  The spice rub for the chicken is so great for a fall meal – it has the perfect amount of heat and tastes so comforting.  I love cooking with bone-in, skin-on chicken – the extra flavor is worth any additional calories.  And, as a nutritional bonus, the chicken in this dish is joined by healthy chickpeas and tomatoes (both delicious when roasted).

The yogurt sauce and cilantro are certainly optional (in fact, I left the cilantro out because my family doesn’t like it as much as I do), but the former is nice for a cooling effect.  Don’t be afraid of the salt – it really brings out the rest of the flavors.

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 4 chicken breast halves with bones
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 450. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.


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