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Category: pasta

Chocolate Pasta with Prune & Apricot Chicken

Gut & Gerne Schokolade Shop, Duesseldorf
Last week, I was in Duesseldorf, Germany, for the day and as I was walking around the Altstadt (old city), near the Rathaus (city hall), I stumbled across a quaint little chocolate shop. What caught my attention initially was the window dressing: a chocolate fondue pot pouring over with mouth-watering, melted chocolate and a bunch of packages of chocolate noodles! Yes, chocolate noodles!
I had never heard of them or seen them before (after 4 years of living in Germany and previous visits to this city), but apparently they are well-known in Germany. And of course, I couldn’t resist the temptation, as you can imagine… so I entered.
The Gut & Gerne Schokolade shop, on Burgplatz 3-5, is a true delight for any chocolate lover. It’s offers an assortment of chocolates for drinking, baking, and cooking, pralines, truffles, liquors… anything chocolate, they have it… and of course, the chocolate pasta, which intrigued me so much. They also have a cafe attached to the shop and offer chocolate seminars. So cool! After a good perusal, I decided I just had to take a package of pasta home with me.
Even the packaging is inviting, don’t you think?
So, I’ve been home a week and hadn’t touched the pasta, because I refused to make a sweet dish out of it. The package comes with a recipe for “caramelised chocolate noodles” involving sour cherries and vanilla ice cream. And I’m thinking of making some with a vanilla sauce, so typical of German desserts. But not yet.
Last night, I was inspired by a recipe I was reading for chocolate-prune cake. Now that sounded like a good pairing to me. So, here’s the recipe below for prune and apricot chicken, paired with chocolate pasta.
Prune & Apricot Chicken, with Chocolate Noodles
Ingredients, for two persons
  • 250 g of chocolate noodles (I used half the package I purchased)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • olive oil
  • 500 g of chicken breasts, cut into squares
  • fine cornflour (I use Maizena brand – cornflour is gluten-free, by the way)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 12 prunes (cut in half if they are large)
  • 12 dried apricots (cut in half if they are large)
  • 2 tablespoons of pickled baby onions
  • 100 ml of red wine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a 1/2 a vanilla pod can be used, be sure to take it out before serving)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil
  • chicken broth
  • table salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Process
In a pasta pot, bring water to a boil, with a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a dash of olive oil. Add pasta and cook, 9-10 minutes. When pasta is al dente, remove from heat and drain.
In the meantime, clean and cut the chicken in squares. Season with salt and pepper. Roll in cornflour, and shake off excess.
In a wok or skillet, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and saute until golden brown. Add the carrots and saute an additional 2 minutes.
Add the red wine and reduce. Add a dash of soy sauce, and enough chicken broth to slightly cover the chicken. Add vanilla, cinnamon, prunes, apricots and pickled onions.
Simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is thick.
Guten Appetit!

*Note: we were slightly disappointed by the lack of intense chocolate flavour of the pasta, which we expected. I generally accompany the Prune & Apricot Chicken with couscous or quinoa.

Welcome with Fideua

Wow! London is so inviting when the sun shines and it’s warm out. I went out for a walk to take advantage of this rarity, in a city, which is typically grey and wet. And on the walk, I made the decision to create this blog to share my experiences, discoveries and photographs of my travels and to have a place to compile recipes, which I find in my search and passion for new foods and challenges.
Gorgeous sunshine during my walk today.


I am half-Spanish, half-American and grew up in the south of Spain. I’ve travelled around the world since the prime age of 3 months…and hope to never stop discovering new places and revisiting old ones! 

Now, I live in London with my husband, and we moved here about 6 months ago. Adjusting to the weather has been a challenge, although we were relocated from Germany, which does not necessarily have 360 days under the sun, as Spain proclaims. But London has a lot to offer otherwise and it’s an amazing place to explore.

Yet, every once in a while, there is a need to get away and soak up some Vitamin D au naturel, in Spain for example.


During my recent visit to Sevilla, not only did I procure a healthy tan, but also enjoyed a number of my favourite dishes. One of them is a typical dish from Valencia, called Fideua, which my aunt made for me.

Valencia is the region of Spain, south of Catalonia, on the Mediterranean coast. It’s famous for producing Valencia oranges, Marcona almonds, rice, and has an extensive repertoire of seafood dishes; one of the most famous is the paella.

The Fideua is similar to the paella, but is made with noodles instead of rice.


Fideua de Gandia, adapted from Evarist Miralles, Best Chef Spain 2011. 

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 400 g of Fideua noodles (number 3 in Spain) 
  • 250 g of monkfish, clean and cut up in chunks
  • 12 large shrimp, with skin and heads
  • 1 teaspoon of pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1 calamar or sepia (squid), cleaned and cut up in slices and pieces
  • 2-3 large spoonfuls of tomato sauce with chunks or homemade tomato sauce
  • “majada de ajo”: 2-3 cloves of garlic and parsley, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 litre of fish broth*
  • 1/2 cup of white cooking wine
  • sea salt to taste
Fish broth: in a pot, bring to boil and simmer, the following ingredients: 2-2.5 litres of water, one whole fish (scaled and clean), one large onion, 2 carrots (cut into large pieces), and 2 celery sticks. Cook for about 30 minutes, and leave to rest for about 20 minutes, so the flavours integrate. 

Process
In a large skillet or paella pan (for 6 persons), heat the olive oil, enough to cover about half of the bottom of the pan. Once the olive oil is warm, add a few pinches of sea salt and stir. Add the shrimp and saute, enough for the shrimp to turn pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan. 

In the same oil, saute the monkfish and remove from pan. Again in the same oil, saute the calamar/sepia. Add the pimenton to the calamar, frying just a bit and moving both the calamar and pimenton together. Do not over-fry the pimenton, or it will turn sour. Add the tomato sauce and stir well. Then add a few spoonfuls of the majada and 1/2 cup of white wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the fideua noodles, stir and cook about 1 minute. Add the fish broth (generally 1.5 times of broth per unit of noodles). The broth should be thin and clear, for a better fideua. Cook 5-7 minutes. 

Place the monkfish and shrimp on top of the noodles and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until the pasta is “al dente”. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

And to really bring out the flavours of the seafood in this dish, we generally pair it with a chilled Albariño, the Spanish white wine from Galicia, in northeastern Spain. Buen provecho!


Note: In the version pictured, as I didn’t have monkfish or calamar at home, I used a small whiting and clams instead. I used the fish head and the clams to make the broth, removing the clams as they opened, to not overcook. I sauteed the whiting, in large chunks, just as the recipes says to do with the monkfish. Then added the fish, with the clams, at the same time as the shrimp. 

As you can see, you can substitute a variety of seafood, depending on your taste and what you may have available in your kitchen. I tend to do that a lot, so I don’t have to go out shopping at the last minute. 😉
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