Grapes and Grappa, Figs and Olives + Free Cooking Light Cookbooks!

Grapes and Grappa, Figs and Olives

Since I’ve been working on my cookbook, which is all about modern Asian cooking, almost everything edible that comes out of my kitchen has been Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian or Korean. Yes, it can be tiring and I’m considering starting a new blog called “Steamy Kitchen, UnAsian” just to break the monotony. Gimme some Brazilian! Moroccan! Australian!

My family has been begging for something different, and everytime that I ask the kids, “so what do you want for supper tonight?” They chime excitedly, “McDonald’s HAPPY MEALS! Hip, hip, HOORRAYYYY!”

Which is fine. I give in. Because I do love me some McD french fries dipped in soft serve ice cream. I know, You’re groaning. It’s a leftover habit and craving from my pregnancy days.

Please tell me that I’m not alone in this craving! Please tell me that you, too have strange culinary cravings and secret flavor combinations that just make other people squirm uncomfortably in their pants.

Tell me and I’ll enter you in the drawing to win one of three gorgeous Cooking Light The Complete Cookbook – this baby is MASSIVE, weighing in at 4.4lbs with 1,200 recipes, 630 color photographs and a companion DVD. Plus I think there is an offer for 1 free year of Cooking Light magazine subscription inside.

OHOHOH! And there’s a bonus…at the end of this post.

Perks of Being My Friend

I get many cookbooks and products for review. Things I don’t like, I don’t mention on the blog and just give it away. The things that I do like, I review, write about it and give you all a chance to win the product for free. One of the many perks of being in close proximity of my mailbox each day at 4pm when I check my mail is that you can be the first to call “dibs,” as I often give the book or product away when I’m done with the review.

MiMi (grandma), visiting from Buffalo, just happened to be there right as I was opening the box from Cooking Light’s PR agency. She called dibs and happily flipped through the book as if it was hers already.

But then later that evening, I finally had a chance to flip through it. HOT DAMN!! I love the book! And I’m keeping it. There’s no way I’m letting this baby go! (Sorry, Mimi, you’ll just have to enter in the contest and see if you can win it!)

The reason I love this book so much is the variety of flavor combinations that I normally wouldn’t have come up with myself. See recipes below.

adapted from Cooking Light The Complete Cookbook. The recipe calls for boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks. What I did instead was use whole bone-in chicken thighs, had Scott grill them outside on the BBQ grill, and just made the sauce separate to pour over when the chicken was done grilling. I love this recipe- this is definitely a keeper and all my dinner guests raved about it.

Moroccan Chicken: Figs, Olives and Honey

Prep : 12 min. Cook : 16 min. Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/2 lbs chicken skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into large 1-1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup quartered dried Calimyrna figs
1/4 cup chopped green olives
3 tablespoons sweet Marsala or Madeira wine
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Stir in chopped parsley and next 9 ingredients; reduce heat to medium and cook 8 minutes; stirring occasionally. Garnish with parsley sprigs if desired.

Grapes and Grappa, Figs and Olives

inspired by Cooking Light The Complete Cookbook. Original recipe was Grapes and Grappa with Quail. But I didn’t have a quail handy and craved a warm salad instead. The original recipe called for Prosciutto, but when I went to the market, Prosciutto was *#$@!* $8.00 for 6 paper-thin slices. WTF? So I know this cookbook is cooking LIGHT. But I wasn’t about to pay that kind of money for crappy prosciutto. So I used bacon instead.

I think I just upped the caloric intake by a hundred or so. Feel free to slap me.

Grappa is an Italian liquor distilled from grape pressings left over after winemaking; cognac is a good substitute.

Grapes, Grappa and Bacon: A Warm Salad

serves 6-8

1 bag of salad greens
1/2 lb grapes, cut in half
4 slices of turkey bacon, bacon or prosciutto
2 ounces grappa
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

OPTION #1: I’m gonna give you a choice. If you’re gonna use bacon or turkey bacon, the cooking light way would be to crisp in the microwave on paper towels. Once it’s cooked, crumble and set aside. Heat a medium, nonstick skillet over high heat and add 1 tbl olive oil. When oil is hot, add the grapes and cook for 15 seconds. Add cider vinegar, grappa, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 seconds and pour over salad greens. Top with crumbled bacon.

OPTION #2: Using prosciutto. Cut prosciutto into small, bite-sized pieces. Grab a large skillet, add 1 tbl olive oil and heat over medium heat. When hot, Add prosciutto. Fry crisp. Add grapes, let the grapes sizzle in the olive oil for 15 seconds. Add grappa, vinegar, sugar, S&P, and mustard. Let simmer on low for 30 seconds. Pour over salad greens. Eat and then go jogging around the block.

OPTION #3: The shameful, sinful method that I used. Cut bacon into small, bite-sized pieces. Grab a large skillet and add bacon in skillet. Cook bacon over medium heat. until crisp. You should have about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan. (wince!) You can spoon some of the fat out if there’s a lot. Add grapes, let the grapes sizzle in the fat for 15 seconds. Add grappa, vinegar, sugar, S&P, and mustard. Let simmer on low for 30 seconds. Pour over salad greens. Eat and then go jogging around the block.


Drawing for the free Cooking Light cookbook!

All you have to do is comment below. Tell me a flavor or ingredient combination that isn’t mainstream. It doesn’t have to be strange or exotic – just maybe a little different, innovative or…ok, strange is cool too. p.s. I like pickles + pate in a baguette too.

Here are mine:

Seaweed sprinkled with salty/sweet plum powder (li hing)

Canned smoked oysters + apricot jam

Winners have been announced!!! See who won.


I will really regret typing this…

But for shits and giggles, when I announce the 3 winners of the cookbook in a couple of weeks, I will let YOU vote for which strange flavor concoction for met to try. I will make it and videotape myself eating it, all for your sick and twisted enjoyment.

You’ll decide in a couple of weeks. And maybe…just maybe I might do this on television.

Now, that’s web-ertainment. Beat that, Zimmern.

Contest is over, but come vote for which strange flavor concoction that I will try (and whoever you pick also gets a nice Steamy Kitchen care package.

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Comments 408

  1. Tina

    I love eating “nori komi furikake” (prepared sesame seed and seaweed) sprinkled on popcorn. Someone once gave me a package of microwave popcorn from Hawaii that came with this wild mixture of seaweed and rice crackers to sprinkle on top of the popcorn. It was delicious. So then, I found this sesame seed and seaweed mixture at an Asian market and now I could make my own special popcorn. My daughter is addicted to the seaweed stuff now. We sprinkle it on everything including seared tuna over spring greens.

  2. Janet

    I like french fries with vinegar and I love to dip a chocolate bar into a hot cup of tea.

  3. Kristie Belding

    Banana salad does it for me. Mix milk, mayo, salt, sugar, pepper, non spotted ripe bananas, and crisp Iceberg lettuce (not the bagged stuff).

    It was one of my grandmother’s staple dishes for a big family gathering. I have yet to meet anyone else who makes/eats it.

    Tastes best when eaten withing 30mins of prep. I’ve tried mixing it up, but the original version is best.

    My husband mixes grape and OJ together to make Grorange Juice, but the one drink that grosses me out is his Smoothie King -Grape, Apple, and dash of Cinnamon smoothie. YUCK!

  4. Deborah B

    I’m a peanut butter whore. I also eat my PB&J sandwiches with potato chips in the middle. Yum. Now I’m starving and it’s way too late to eat!

  5. kristyn

    Chili sauce and grape jelly to make sweeet and sour meatballs. I couldn’t believe the strangeness of that combination can be so good.

  6. trish

    I love the Asian combination of peanut and sesame. A hot sesame oil with a peanut sauce over noodles is delicious to me.

  7. Patricia Miller

    This is probably not strange to half the world, but it is to my family-I love the combination of curry powder and raisins with any kind of meat. Just add onions, green pepper and a can of tomatoes and it’s the kind of meal I dream about.

  8. chris swanson

    I love pickles on pizza. And cold pizza dunked in blue cheese dressing. YUMM!

  9. Deborah Rosen

    I love scrambled eggs with romano cheese and salsa. My SO thinks it’s strange but it makes perfect sense to me.

  10. Janice

    My new found flavor love is Indian. There are combinations there that seem odd, but oh, so good!

    I think a really odd combination would be the Indian spices with tofu shirataki noodles. Hmmm. Maybe it would make a good combo.

  11. sarah

    I like turmeric, curry, pepper, garlic and scrambled eggs in Ramen soup. Most people say it’s too much and I did too until my husband got me hooked on it!

  12. Elizabeth M.

    As for a combination I’ve tried….I love, love, love potato chips dipped in applesauce. Try it! You’ll see… It completely rocks.

    As for some flavors that I’ve heard can be mixed but I’m not going to be the guinea pig (you are) here ya go… tofu and japanese bread crumbs (panko). Go for it!

  13. Justin B,

    The one I always make people try before I tell them what is in it:

    Meatballs with a grape jelly and mustard powder based glaze

    Always a hit!

  14. Heidi

    I dip my artichoke leaves in miracle whip instead of butter and people are always grossed out but I love it!

  15. Trisha R

    I spent a lot of time in Latin America – and one thing I still crave is a typical breakfast of black refried beans, scrambled eggs, and crumbly salty cheese. YUMMM

  16. Kristyn Martin

    I love popcorn dipped in ranch dressing. It makes my husband want to barf. πŸ™‚

  17. Marion Burgess

    I love a big spoonful of peanut butter on top of my ice cream with chocolate syrup.

  18. Tiffany Owens

    Now that it’s almost summer, I love watermelon & tomatoes together. Sounds gross, but it’s delicious!

  19. geekbearinggifts

    I’ve always loved the (for American palates) strange combination of beef with tomato sauce, cinnamon and bechamel you get in the Greek dish Pastichio.

    The French fry with mayo combination described above doesn’t seem too strange to me, as I love steak fries dipped in good thousand island dressing, or sprinkled heavily with coarse black pepper and dipped in brown mustard. Yum!

  20. Tesa S.

    I inherited several things from my grandparents. I love hot cornbread in cold milk. My “paw-paw” would use buttermilk sometimes, but I like it with regular milk. My maw-maw used to make biscuits and we’d drown them in “sugar-syrup,” which she made with 2 parts water, 1 part sugar, boiled down to syrup. Yum.

  21. Deanna

    For years I have been teased for putting pickles or green olives in my Dr. Pepper or Coke. I can’t seem to stop.

  22. Colleen S

    I had a thing for a while with ham, pickel, square cheese and mayo tortilla roll ups.. They make me kinda gag now, but for a bout two years that was my craving

  23. Gretchen Noelle

    Peru has caused me to like some strange things…breakfasts of bread and avocado or rice, beans, fried egg & fried banana…lunch with tuna, red onions, lime juice and plantain chips along with crackers or bread…but US cravings do still include Wendy’s Frosty and Fries. Oh and yesterday I made a stew out of garbanzo beans, pork, chili peppers, cinnamon, cloves, port, and peanut butter. Is that strange?

    I had been a faithful subscriber of Cooking Light, even paying the extra shipping charge to have them send it to Peru…up until the $15 regular price subscription turned into $122 for me. So, yes, I would love a complete cookbook. πŸ™‚

  24. Sandra

    Beer and gooey butter cake! Believe it or not — it’s wonderful!!

    Thanks for sponsoring this contest!

  25. Renee

    As a kid, we always ate peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches. They aren’t bad, and it helps with the dry peanut butter syndrome.

  26. Sarah Z

    I love cottage cheese and peaches and an egg-in-the-basket with strawberry jelly – yum!

  27. Erica L

    I like to dip tangerine slices in dark chocolate. Pick me, you’ll enjoy this one!

  28. Susan White

    Spanish rice and ice cream.
    or peanut butt sandwich with arby’s sauce.
    Thanks so much

  29. Beth

    Sweet Potato Chips dipped in ketchup

    Chocolate chip pancakes with peanut butter spread on top

    OOOO…I am hungry now!!

    Thank you for the chance to win!!! πŸ™‚

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