Monday, May 14, 2012

Recipe: Healthy Chicken Marsala (great for date night!)

One of my favorite dishes to order at an Italian restaurant is the Chicken Marsala. I love the thinly pounded chicken breast which is usually juicy and tender. I love the rich marsala wine sauce soaked mushrooms. I love the side of pasta that is typically served with the dish.

I am always trying to make healthier versions of restaurant favorites so I decided to make this healthy chicken marsala (only 224 calories), and substituted the pasta for cauliflower mashed potatoes and a side of sauteed kale. The dish was so easy to prepare, the flavors were still there but at half the calories. I didn't miss the pasta (ok fine, just a little!) because the cauliflower mashed potatoes were quite filling and added starchiness to the dish.

I usually prefer dark over white meat, but if you pound the chicken breasts, they come out thin and tender. After pounding the chicken breasts, I coated them in a mixture of regular and whole wheat flour. Coating the chicken will allow it to brown in the pan.

I only used cooking spray to brown the chicken, and it did the trick.

Added loads of porcini mushrooms, low sodium chicken broth and sweet marsala wine. The wine made this dish so aromatic. Mmmm wine soaked mushrooms.

Cauliflower mashed potatoes is one of my favorite recipes. It is a great healthy substitute for high starchy-carb mashed potatoes.

Sauteed kale is such a quick side to prepare. A huge bunch cooked down into a saucepan. A sprinkle of crushed red pepper added a firey flavor.

Three pots later, dinner was served.

The dish is so simple, easy to prepare (great for a weeknight dinner), delicious and healthy!

Chicken Marsala Recipe
From Women's Health Magazine
Makes 4 servings

3 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
3 Tbsp white flour
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 - 1 1/2 lb chicken cutlets or 2 breasts, halved and pounded thin
3 c sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp thinly sliced shallots
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaf

1. In a shallow bowl, combine flours and pepper. Dredge chicken in mixture and set aside.
2. Lightly coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Add chicken and sauté until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove cutlets to a plate and keep warm.
3. Add mushrooms and shallots to pan; stir for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add wine to pan. Reduce to a glaze, scraping any loose brown bits from bottom of pan.
5. Reduce heat and add broth, parsley, and thyme. Stir; cook until broth reduces by half.
6. Return chicken to pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Per serving: 224 cal, 2 g fat (1 g sat), 400 g sodium, 20 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 27 g protein

Braised Kale Recipe
4 servings

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1 1/2 pounds kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over medium heat and stir in garlic for a minute.
2. Add kale and cook for about a minute.
3. Add chicken broth, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
4. Add crushed red pepper and salt to taste.
5. Remove from heat and serve.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sharing dishes at West LA's neighborhood Freddy Smalls

Freddy Smalls Bar & Kitchen opened up in West LA a few months ago, and boy what a treat it is to have another restaurant bar in the area. The space was previously home to El Sarape, a Mexican restaurant, but you would not be able to find much similarities. The restaurant has tiled walls and a sort of classic old fashioned feel to it.

It's no surprise that the place was bustling at 7.30pm. The restaurant doesn't take reservations and the space is cozy - there is seating at the bar, some high tables and booths.

After standing around for about 15 minutes, a spot opened up at the bar and we swooped in. The bartenders were real friendly and chatty.

The menu comprises of small plates which are great for sharing, and some larger entrees. They also have a couple specials on the board.

Chicken liver mousse is sold per piece at $4 each. Each crostini was slathered with silky liver and topped with caper berry marmalade, frisee and pickled radish. The marmalade added a fruity sweetness to the intense liver. Rather tasty but I think $4 is kind of pricey for each crostini. 

Fried brussels sprouts with smoked goat cheese and apple cider glaze 
It seems that many restaurants are currently featuring brussels sprouts on their menu. I liked Freddy Small's version as the vegetables were crispy and caramelized, unlike some other restaurants that have more of a sauteed preparation. The brussels sprouts are served with a creamy goat cheese which we asked for it to be served on the side. The goat cheese was mild in flavor but sufficient to temper the sweetness of cider.

Beef tongue with potatoes, turnips with sherry vinaigrette mustard
This dish was listed on the specials board. The tongue was tender and had a fatty texture that kind of dissolved in my mouth. It had a smokey taste, almost like cured ham, and texture similar to mortadella. The sprinkle of pepper gave the tongue slices a bite. I enjoyed this dish and thought it was unique.

Freddy Smalls is just the type of place that I can't wait to return to. I like the small neighborhood feel to it - it's lively and trendy yet feels like the kind of place that you could just stop in for a drink or share a bite with friends. The menu looks great with other items I'd like to try, such as the charcuterie, pork belly & abalone and corned beef with bone marrow.

Freddy Smalls Bar & Kitchen
11520 W Pico Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 479-3000

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lunching at Westwood's sandwich shop Fundamental LA

Westwood has been booming with new restaurants of late - 800 Degrees, Ramen Yamadaya, Five Guys, Skylight Gardens, Casa Azul Cantina, Fundamental LA. So much to choose from. On one of my days off, I decided to meet the Sig O for lunch at the sandwich shop Fundamental LA.

The shop is simple, the decor basic. I thought it would be packed but we were able to grab seats at one of their communal tables.

The menu is short and concise, with just a few sandwich and salad options. They also serve beer and wine! The SO cringed a little when he first looked at the menu. This wasn't his type of sandwich shop. Guess he was hoping for a good ole sub for $5. But he was quickly won over after he took a bite of the food. This is why we leave the restaurant selections to moi.

The side of potato chips sounds normal but they were worth the additional $2. The fresh homemade chips were crisp and had a kick to it from the pepper.

He ordered the Cold Roast Beef sandwich. The pink tender thin slices of beef were topped with muenster cheese, tangy pickled red onions and spinach. The bread was nicely toasted and spread with spicy horseradish.

The beef sandwich was tasty but hard to match up to the fried chicken sandwich which was hands down the winner. We were both impressed with the sandwich. We liked the nice-sized portion, fresh fluffy brioche and the well seasoned LARGE fried chicken which had a crispy skin but was not greasy. The meat was tender and juicy too. The sandwich had a unique combination of mild tarragon aioli, sweet apple and spicy crunchy nuts.

Fundamental LA is such a great lunch spot. The sandwiches were served quickly and were reasonably priced. The ingredients are fresh, sandwiches are unique and the restaurant has a comfortable, non-pretentious feel to it - making it a great spot for both work professionals and UCLA students alike.

Fundamental LA
1303 Westwood Blvd.
Los angeles, CA 90024
(310) 444-7581