April Dinner Party

This month I caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen in weeks.  Where does the  time go?


I prepared a mostly Mediterranean menu. I served two appetizers –  a cold bruschetta with toast rounds and a warm olive tapenade spread, also served on french bread.  The main dish was Chicken Marbella- a favorite from The Silver Palate Cookbook.  This recipe blends italian flavors with dried plums and olives.  I serve it with couscous, which is the perfect vehicle to soak up the pan juices.   The dessert, however, was all-american – apple crisp with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Everything (except the couscous) could be prepared in advance.  I broiled the tapenade spread just as my guests arrived.  As we ate the salad my guests brought,  the chicken  rested and the couscous “cooked” (which takes 5 minutes !)  The apple crisp needed an hour to cook, but I put it in the oven as we sat down to dinner and the timing was perfect.  Oh, don’t forget to take the ice cream outof the freezer 20 minutes before serving, so you’re not fighting to scoop it out!


  • Bruschetta and Tapenade toasts
  • ‘Rocket’ Salad
  • Chicken Marbella
  • Couscous
  • Fruit Crisp

Chicken Marbella (serves 6-8)


  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup dried plums (prunes)
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • 1/4 cup capers, with a little for the juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/8 cup dried oregano
  •  3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/8 cup italian parsely, finely chopped


  1. Place the chicken pieces, dried plums and olives in a large bowl.
  2. Combine the capers, olive oil, vinegar, bay leaves, dried oregano, garlic , salt and pepper in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour the oil mixture over the chicken and toss with your hands to coat all the chicken.
  4. Cover the bowl and let the mixture marinate, refridgerated, overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  6. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a large shallow baking dish.  Pour the marinade over the chicken.
  7. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and pour the white wine around the chicken, not over it.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes , basting frequently with the pan juices, until the chicken is cooked.
  9. Transfer the chicken, dried plums, olives and caper to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices.Serve the remaining pan juices in a gravy boat or small pitcher.
  10. This dish can also be served at room temperature or cold.

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