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. Chrysa

    I guess I don’t like anything too strange, but I do like to spread canned frosting on rice cakes. (Talk about defeating the purpose of a low-cal snack!)

  2. Ditz

    Mmmm … I am thinking … wrap thin slices of cold smoked turkey a couple of times around dried cherries which have been soaked in warm amaretto. Roll very very lightly in mixture of toasted fine panko and crushed almonds (2 to 1 ratio). To serve: Dip the end of the roll, every few bites or so, into a thin cream cheese sauce which has been barely dusted with black pepper (not too much, just enough to gently punch up the cream cheese a bit — mustn’t overpower the amaretto flavor those mah-valous cherries). This came to me this minute as I’m thinking of unusual combinations. I haven’t tried it myself, but I will! I am already salivating. Amaretto-soaked dried cherries are food from the gods. Truly divine. I can totally OD on those. I need new excuses to make them. Last time I made some intended as a dessert topping, I nibbled so many straight from the bowl that I had to make another batch to finish the dessert.

  3. kiyana

    I don’t think I eat anything really strange but then I’m from Hawaii so what is common local cuisine there is wierd to everyone else so, how about green mangos dipped in soy sauce?!!

  4. Michelle H.

    Actually I would have never thought of putting mole in soup, until I read it in a Cooking Light Recipe and now it is a family favorite.

  5. Connie

    Cottage cheese sprinkled w/Parmesan cheese is my downfall. Add dill pickles on the side! mmmmmmmmmmm.

  6. Suanne Giddings

    I like cocktail sauce with lots of horseradish and lemon on saltine crackers. Another favorite is fried, peppered sauerkraut and bacon sandwiches. My dad was the strange eater of our family and taught us to eat strange things too. He made us brains and scrambled eggs for Sunday breakfasts – served with hot pepper sauce. How about tongue fixed with pickling spices in the pressure cooker… served with ketchup and don’t forget the tongue and ketchup sandwiches. He used to take cooked canned biscuits and break them up into less than a half cup of coffee – Add butter and some sugar and mix it all up and he called it coffee pudding.
    Thanks for a fun giveaway!

  7. aa

    well, it would have to be my juice combos – I love orange juice with a pinch each of regular salt, rock salt, black pepper and cumin
    Or unfiltered apple juice, with the juice of half a keylime squeezed in, with a pinch of each of the above.
    Sooo refereshing 🙂

  8. Audra

    Don’t know if someone said this already, but chocolate (especially dark chocolate) and hot pepper goes really good together. There is a company that makes a chili-chocolate ice cream that is excellent. Mexican Hot Chocolate is the same idea too.

  9. Sandra Grauschopf

    One of my favorite unusual flavor combinations was something that I had in Quebec – french fries with gravy and this funny cheese that tasted a lot like mozzarella.

  10. Karen M

    I love plain donuts dipped in diet soda. My whole family thinks I’m off my rocker 🙂

  11. Dia W.

    I also love McDonald’s fries dipped in their vanilla ice cream. YUM! I saw someone dip their fries into a vanilla milkshake at a fast food restaurant as a child, and decided to add my own twist to it since I was always at McDonald’s. It’s soooo good.

  12. Nita

    Hey Jaden! I had this amazing hotdog from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels in Woolloomooloo, Australia and now it’s one of my fav ways to dress up a dog…hotdog, chili, mushy green peas, grilled onions, chili sauce (sriracha), and topped with a cheese sauce (similiar to bechamel). Another strange but perfect combo (but common here in Thailand) is fruit dipped in a sugar/salt/chili flakes combo — especially great with green apples, green mangoes, green guava. Hope I win! Thanks!

  13. Dara Nix

    Mine is leftover from my days as an Army Brat in Germany. Although it is not unusual there, I do get a lot of stares here when I eat my french fries with mayonnaise!

  14. ESTELA S

    It’s not too farfetched, but people seem ntrigued when I do it. I make an egg omelette and as it cooks, I spoon mashed potatoes in the middle, with cheese. It actually tastes very very good!

  15. Sydney

    My older son used to love “lubricant” sandwiches – butter and mayo on bread. I fix a wonderful marinade that includes lime, soy sauce, oil, garlic, brown mustard and brown sugar.

  16. Jo-Anne Madsen

    You’re not alone! Fortunately for me, my son is a chef and treats my palate to many exquisite delights!

  17. ELSIE

    My daughter loves to melt chocolate bits, and just eat them right of the microwave. I am not sure that that is particulary odd, but its the best I got! THANKS for this giveaway!

  18. mary

    Although I try to avoid eating it, I love potato chips dipped in ice cream – must be the salty and sweet combo

  19. Patty Niedert

    I love grape tomatos, fresh pineapple, feta cheese drizzled with olive oil, then salt/pepper.

  20. Aisling

    Sigh – I don’t think I have any wierd food pairings, but some of the suggestions here are definitely strange. When I was younger, I did enjoy popcorn dipped in mustard. I’d love to win the cookbook!

  21. Jennifer Schroeder

    I love to dip my pizza in Italian dressing. The look on my husband’s face the first time he saw me do it was priceless. The best part is, he does it now too!

  22. Linda B

    I have a quirky habit- when I eat ice cream in the winter, I have to have a cup of hot tea with it. My husband thinks it’s weird. But I love the combination.

  23. Heather

    After reading through the replies I realized one. I like to mix barbeque sauce and ranch dressing and put it on hamburgers and use it as dip for fries. Is that unusual? I’m not even sure.

  24. Miss Emma

    I don’t think it’s strange, but people I know do: I like to drink V8 when I eat Triscuits.

  25. Brooke Allen

    I’m not sure how weird either of these are:

    I like to dip french fries in ranch dressing… yum!

    I put potato chips on my cheeseburgers to give it a little crunch.

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