Grilled Thai Chicken

With Lemon Grass

4 servings

Joan Nathan got this recipe from Su-Mei Yu, who runs Saffron, a Thai chicken carryout in San Diego. The marinade is quite pungent, but the flavors mellow during cooking. Instead of grilling the chicken, it could be baked for 40 minutes at 350 degrees, then broiled for 5 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Nathan's "The New American Cooking" (Knopf, 2005).

One 3-pound chicken, halved lengthwise, rinsed thoroughly and patted dry (may substitute 3 pounds of chicken leg quarters)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

1 large head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

1 stalk lemon grass, outer leaves and tough green tops removed, root ends trimmed and minced

1 tablespoon white peppercorns, dry-roasted and ground (may substitute coarsely ground black pepper)

1/3 cup Thai fish sauce

Juice of 1 large lemon

Place each chicken half, skin side down, on a chopping board. Pound with a mallet or heavy frying pan to crack the bones and flatten slightly. Flip the chicken over and repeat the process. (If using leg quarters, omit this step.) Set aside.

In a blender or a food processor, process the salt, garlic, lemon grass, peppercorns, fish sauce and lemon juice just until pureed. Transfer the mixture to a large resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Massage the chicken through the bag to coat it with the marinade. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature or for up to 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Prepare the grill. If using a charcoal grill, when the coals are white hot, rake the hot coals to one side, leaving the other side empty. (For a gas grill, set to medium-high heat for indirect cooking.) Spray the grill grate with nonstick spray oil. Remove the chicken from the bag, discarding the marinade, and place the chicken directly over the hot coals. Grill until the skin is slightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Slide the chicken to the other side of the grill, away from the coals. Cover, leaving vent holes open, and grill the chicken for 50 to 60 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. (For a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium-low or low, depending on your grill.)

To check for doneness, pierce the chicken in the fold between the breast and thigh (or between the thigh and leg, if using quarters). The juices should run clear and not pink. (Or use a thermometer and cook until temperature reaches 180 degrees.) When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, transfer to a platter and tent with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.

Per serving: 321 calories, 32 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 137 mg cholesterol, 5 g saturated fat, 2075 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Candy Sagon; e-mail questions to

Tortilla al Estilo Route 11

(Route 11 Potato Chips Omelet)

4 appetizer servings

As Jose Andres says in his new cookbook, "This dish proves that a good tortilla is simply egg, potato and the right frame of mind." This is an adaptation of his mentor's omelet at El Bulli in Spain.

Why use Route 11 chips, specifically? A thicker, saltier chip can make this almost inedible. Andres' tip: Keep moving the egg mixture when you pour it in, or it will become thick and heavy. Recipe adapted from his "Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America" (Clarkson Potter, 2005).

7 large eggs

4 ounces lightly salted potato chips, such as Route 11 chips

4 tablespoons extra-virgin Spanish olive oil

Break 6 of the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the chips and stir, crushing them a little as you blend the eggs together. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes until the chips absorb a lot of the egg. Beat the seventh egg and add it to the egg-chip mixture, adding salt to taste.

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the egg mixture and stir briskly a few times with a wooden spoon to prevent the eggs from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Shake the pan in a circular motion for 10 seconds to keep the mixture loose. Reduce the temperature to low and cook for another minute.

Place a plate over the top of the pan and invert the pan so the tortilla winds up on the plate, raw side down. If the pan looks dry, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Return the tortilla to the pan by sliding it back in, raw side down. Continue cooking for 60 seconds, or until the eggs are the desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 402 calories, 13 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 32 g fat, 372 mg cholesterol, 8 g saturated fat, 860 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions to

Black Bottom Fudge Torte

10 servings

Call it a torte, or call it a brownie cake, it's both beautiful and intensely chocolatey. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Adapted from "Chocolate Chocolate," by Lisa Yockelson (Wiley, 2005).

For the topping:

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

5 tablespoons superfine sugar

2 large egg yolks

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon flour

1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips

For the batter:

1 cup flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

13 tablespoons (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid

4 large eggs

13/4 cups superfine sugar

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Unsweetened cocoa powder for sifting over top of baked torte

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray oil.

For the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Using a hand-held mixer on moderately low speed, beat the mixture until smooth. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, salt and flour and blend until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.

For the batter: In a small bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In another small bowl, combine the chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of the sifted flour mixture. Set both bowls aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and the melted chocolate, stirring until smooth.

In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, then add the sugar and whisk to combine. Stir in the vanilla extract and the melted butter-chocolate mixture. Sprinkle the flour mixture over and stir, using a whisk or flat wooden paddle, until all of the flour is absorbed. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the chocolate batter. Using the tip of a round-edged knife, gently swirl together the cream cheese mixture and the chocolate batter. Do not overswirl, or the batter will become muddy.

Bake for 42 to 46 minutes, or until the center is softly set. (The torte will rise and puff a bit.) Transfer the torte to a wire rack. When completely cooled, remove from the pan. Before slicing, sift cocoa powder on the outer edge. Serve within two hours, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Per serving: 605 calories, 9 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 37 g fat, 189 mg cholesterol, 22 g saturated fat, 152 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Yuki Noguchi; e-mail questions to

Chewy Peanut-Caramel Bars

Makes about 32 bars

These are what Snickers bars would be if they were turned into bar cookies. Nancy Baggett says these irresistible bars are runaway best sellers at school bake sales. Our recipe tester's daughter took some to her high school and instantly became "Miss Popularity." These are good cold from the refrigerator, good at room temperature, and good frozen (like when you try to keep them in the freezer for unexpected guests, but your family finds them and eats them anyway).

Adapted from Baggett's "The All-American Dessert Book" (Houghton Mifflin, 2005).

For the crust:

11/4 cups flour

21/2 tablespoons sugar

Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks

5 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

11/4 cups tightly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups chopped unsalted peanuts

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

11/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels or mini-morsels

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish by lining it with aluminum foil and coating the foil with nonstick spray oil.

For the crust: In a food processor, blend the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cream and vanilla extract and pulse just until the dough holds together, being careful not to overprocess. Press the dough firmly and evenly across the bottom of the baking dish and prick the crust all over with a fork. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just tinged with brown all over and slightly darker at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the topping: In a heavy, medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, butter and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Add 21/2 cups of the peanuts. Cook, stirring frequently, for 21/2 minutes, adjusting the heat so the mixture boils briskly. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the hot topping over the crust, covering the entire surface as evenly as possible and smoothing it with a greased table knife, if necessary. Let cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the chocolate morsels on top and let stand for a few more minutes or until the chocolate is partially melted. Using a table knife, spread the melted chocolate over the topping. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup peanuts on top. Let cool completely before cutting into bars about 11/2 by 21/4 inches.

The bars can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days or frozen for 2 months. Bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.

Per serving: 241calories, 5 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 18 mg cholesterol, 6 g saturated fat, 41 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Candy Sagon; e-mail questions to

Lisa Yockelson's Black Bottom Fudge Torte; below, the ingredients for Jose Andres' Tortilla al Estilo Route 11.