Tag Archives: almonds

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Onions, Cinnamon, Almonds & Cherries

I’m a big fan of Myra Kornfeld. I’ve had the pleasure of taking two cooking classes with her, and I have all three of her cookbooks. I always recommend her books to new cooks: her recipes are very clearly written, approachable, creative and delicious. She draws inspiration from all regions of the world, and I find that her measurements are spot on — especially for people who aren’t yet comfortable experimenting too much with seasonings.

My clients love this Moroccan-inspired dish, consisting of breaded chicken breasts stuffed with dried fruit, onions and nuts. Normally, I opt for the more flavorful and moist legs and thighs when eating chicken; but the stuffing in this dish imparts lots of flavor and moisture to what can be a boring cut of poultry.

I know this recipe is lengthy, but it doesn’t actually take too long to make. Plus, since it reheats so well, it’s a good dish to make a day ahead if you’re planning a dinner party. Your guests will surely be impressed.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Onions, Cinnamon, Almonds, and Cherries

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Myra Kornfeld’s The Healthy Hedonist Holidays: A Year of Multicultural, Vegetarian-Friendly Holiday Feasts


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onions (from approximately 1 large onion, or 2 medium onions)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • ½ cup dried cherries* or raisins, (soaked in hot water for 20 minutes then drained)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar**
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • oil for sautéing***

*I used unsweetened tart cherries, which are very tart. You may prefer dried Bing cherries for a sweeter flavor.

**I used sucanat, which is unrefined, evaporated cane juice. You can use whatever kind of sugar you like.

***My preferred fats for sautéing are olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee.


Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the almonds, cherries, sugar, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, and a sprinkling of black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are deeply golden, about 15 minutes.

Trim, rinse, and pat the breasts dry. Remove the tenderloin (the small hanging piece) and set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut into the breast about ½ inch from one end. Create a pocket, slicing to within about ¼ inch of the other side.

Stuff each breast with about ½ cup of the filling, distributing it evenly throughout the pocket and to the ends. Press on the top of each breast to close the pocket.

Line up 3 wide shallow dishes or bowls (pie plates are great for this). Fill the first with the flour. Lightly beat the eggs in the second dish. Toss the breadcrumbs in the third dish.

Season the breasts generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge one breast well in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip it into the eggs, turning to coat evenly, and then dredge it in the bread crumbs, pressing to make the crumbs adhere evenly. Gently shake off any excess. Set the breast on a plate and repeat with the remaining breasts.

Refrigerate the breaded chicken for at least 5 minutes and up to 3 hours to let the coating set. Bread the tenderloins also. Discard leftover flour, egg, or breadcrumbs.

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Film a large nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. (I used organic olive oil spray. You can also use a pastry brush to spread a thin layer of oil over the pan.) When the oil is very hot (a hand held 1 inch over the pan should feel hot), carefully add 2 breasts to the pan (it should sizzle) and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. If the oil gets too hot, reduce the heat to medium. Transfer the breasts to a baking pan. Repeat with the other two breasts.

Cook the tenderloins until brown and firm to the touch, about 3 minutes per side. Serve them along with the medallions or save them for a tasty snack.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the chicken feels firm to the touch (it will register 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer), about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and slice into 1-inch thick medallions. Serve hot.

Unfortunately, the lighting was not conducive to a great shot of it. Will reshoot.

Kitchen Notes: You can place the cut medallions in a baking dish, cover, and refrigerate. Because of their filling, they stay moist, even when reheated.

I tried sautéing the chicken breasts with a little more olive oil, and I did not like the results as much as with the method above. Although this method does not yield quite the same golden-brown finish as sautéing with a thicker layer of fat, it does produce a crispier cutlet, which I find much more satisfying to eat.

Passover Macaroons

It’s Passover week! Passover is absolutely my favorite Jewish holiday. I find the Exodus story spiritually nourishing, and you can get really creative in how you choose to tell the story during the Seder — it’s the epitome of do-it-yourself spirituality. Social justice is a big theme at many of the seders I attend. I’m slowly building my own Haggadah collection, and plan to eventually put together my own Haggadah.

In April of 2006, I attended an “Exotic Sephardic Seder” cooking class taught by Jennifer Abadi at the JCC in Manhattan. The class was great — we learned to make a variety of dishes that didn’t at all resemble the typical Eastern European Jewish (also known as Ashkenazi) holiday table that I grew up with. I’m not knocking Ashkenazi cooking at all, but variety, as they say, is the spice of life. I’m going to a potluck seder Monday night, and I’ve decided to bring cookies for a few reasons: they’re easy to make in large batches, they’re always a crowd pleaser, and I love this recipe!

Technically this cookie is a macaroon — all that means is that this is a drop cookie made of egg whites, sugar and almonds. No flour, which means it’s a perfect recipe for those observing Passover — which involves strict dietary restrictions involving grains and leavening.

I’ve made some minor adaptations to this recipe. Namely, I replaced vanilla extract with vanilla beans, and not because I was trying to be fancy. Kosher for Passover vanilla extract is difficult to come by for a few reasons. It’s usually made from grain alcohol, which is one of the restricted food items during Passover. Also, some brands of vanilla extract contain corn syrup, and the consumption of corn products is prohibited amongst Ashkenazi Jews (see: Kosher for Passover Coca Cola®). And, for me, imitation vanilla flavor is absolutely out of the question. Hence, vanilla bean. Shuna Lydon, the pastry chef at Peels restaurant in New York City, talks about how to most effectively use vanilla beans here and here.

For this recipe, I used the oily interior of the vanilla bean to make vanilla sugar. I also have a jar of vanilla sugar that I made using the ground-up pod (as per Ms. Lydon’s suggestion). You can also use the empty pods for making your own vanilla extract (which I also have a jar of in my kitchen cupboard — alas, it’s made with vodka, so I couldn’t use it for Passover purposes).

And then there’s the issue of confectioner’s sugar. Confectioner’s sugar often has cornstarch mixed in with it to prevent caking. As mentioned above, corn products are a no-no for many observant Jews. Luckily, I happened to have Trader Joe’s ® organic powdered sugar, which contains tapioca starch. This satisfied my Passover needs (I’m not a strict observer, meaning I didn’t look for the “Kosher for Passover” label). In the past, however, I have ground granulated sugar in a food processor for this recipe.

So, without further ado, I present to you the recipe for . . .

Italian Macaroons with Almonds and Pignoli

Adapted from Jennifer Abadi’s “Exotic Sephardic Seder” cooking class, April 3, 2006

Serves 15-20 people (approximately 6 dozen macaroons)


  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups whole blanched almonds (You can also use the same amount of ground almonds.)
  • 2 ½ cups pine nuts
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract (I used an all-natural, alcohol-free almond flavoring.)
  • egg whites from 6 large eggs

Special Equipment: Food Processor


  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Make vanilla sugar. Split the vanilla bean top to bottom, vertically, into two distinct halves. Lay on a flat surface and scrape interior out with a small sharp knife. Knock the oily interior into the sugar. “Smush” seeds into sugar with thumb, forefinger and middle finger.
  3. Combine almonds (ground or whole) with pine nuts in a food processor until finely ground and well combined.
  4. Add vanilla sugar and confectioner’s sugar and pulse together until a soft meal is formed.
  5. Add almond extract and egg whites and pulse mixture once again until a soft paste is formed.
  6. Drop one heaping teaspoon at a time onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving one inch between cookies. Decorate each mound of cookie dough with three or four pine nuts or a whole almond. Do not press down the cookie dough.
  7. Bake the macaroons until a light golden brown on bottom and edges, around 15-17 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. These cookies can also be frozen.