Whew, it's been a busy past few months! Though we've had Stems and Savories on our minds, it's been hard to find time to cook, take pictures, and post our recipes. I just got back from a trip to Europe- a trip I've been dying to take since high school! While I was on the plane for eight hours, I was reflecting on what is important to me in my life and what I need to start making more time for. What came to mind? Stems and Savories, of course. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day bustle and think that taking time to do what we love will take away from the time we need to spend on our work. But I think taking time for yourself is actually one of the most important things you can do to increase your work productivity. From yoga teacher training to moving to traveling to sending out my manuscript for review... there's always something taking my time. Although those things make me happy, sometimes you just need to do what your heart is calling for to re-find your balance. And for me, that was a night cooking in the kitchen and a night posting to Stems and Savories.

The food abroad was amazing. Absolutely amazing. I'm going to try to re-create some dishes that I had over the next few months, and I'm crossing my fingers they turn out well enough to post! Since I spent some time in Barcelona, I figured I'd start with a Catalan Chicken recipe that I actually made in a cooking class at Cooks of Crocus Hill in college. I only took two classes from them, one where I learned to make French food (try this savory tart!), and one where I learned how to make some Spanish dishes, but both classes were absolutely fantastic and make up some of my greatest off-campus memories from college. I actually took this class with my research mentor, which was probably the best way to celebrate our friendship and love for cooking:)

This is one of my favorite recipes ever. The bread crumbs, almonds, chocolate, and parsley mixture used to thicken the sauce is absolutely phenomenal. I hope you enjoy for now, and know that I will try to find some more time in the kitchen in the coming weeks!

catalan chicken with almond, chocolate, and parsley picada

2 pounds chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
14 1/2 ounce can of whole tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup Oloroso sherry
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
One 3-inch strip of orange peel
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 slice of peasant bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Large pinch of saffron threads
Small pinch of aniseeds
Small pinch of ground cloves

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 4 minute per side. Transfer to a plate. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until softened, for about five minutes. Add the broth, sherry, bay leaf, orange peel, and thyme and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, cover, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, turning once. Meanwhile, toast the bread and almonds on a baking sheet for 8 minutes. Then heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet, add the garlic, and cook over moderate heat for about 3 minutes until golden. Transfer to a food processor with the bread and almonds, then add the chocolate, parsley, cinnamon, saffron, aniseeds, and cloves. Process this mixture to a picada paste. Stir the picada into the sauce that the chicken is boiling in and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Discard the bay leaf and orange peel, season with salt and pepper, and serve with freshly grated manchego cheese.

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