Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

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My mother taught me how to cook, and how to love cooking. She had a lot of wonderful cookbooks and I loved to look through them. Several stand out. Cooks Illustrated was one. This recipe is adapted from that.

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Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lemon
cloves garlic, minced
skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 4 pounds)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons honey
large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins
1/2 cup green or Kalamata olives, pitted and halved 

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Zest the lemon. Combine 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest with 1 minced garlic clove; set aside.

Season both sides of chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or pan over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, flip the chicken pieces over and brown the other side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a large plate; Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have browned at the edges but still retain their shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add a few tablespoons of water now and then if the pan gets too dark). Add the remaining minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spices and flour and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, honey, remaining lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the chicken (with any accumulated juices) back in, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the carrots, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes more.

Stir in the olives, reserved lemon zest-garlic mixture, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

Serve with couscous and homemade pita bread.

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Lentil and Tofu Red Curry

Lentil and Tofu Red Curry

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This is a wonderful vegetarian weeknight dish. It warms up well for leftovers. I used Trader Joe’s Pressed tofu which saves time on the draining and pressing. I am not a big fan of lentils but my husband loves them so I try new things out and I have to say this was very good. I think this would also be good with carrots added or other vegetables.

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INGREDIENTS

1 package extra firm Tofu drained, pressed and cut into large cubes
2+ Tbsp Olive Oil, for frying onion and tofu
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Red Curry paste (or to taste)
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce (optional)
1 cup french green lentils, rinsed
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 red pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into strips

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a  large saucepan and saute onion until translucent. Add red pepper and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Add curry paste and cook 1 minute. Stir in stock, fish sauce and lentils and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until lentils are tender and two-thirds of the liquid is absorbed, about 30-35 minutes.

Stir in coconut milk until well combined, simmer. While this simmers heat oil in a large frying pan and add the tofu. Season with salt and pepper and keep stirring, gently, until tofu is nice and brown on all sides. Add tofu to curry mixture and serve.

 

Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Risotto

It might not be spring yet but I can just about see spring in the distance… and things are starting to bud with all the rain. So much rain. But they had some beautiful, thin Asparagus stalks in the market yesterday and that called for this dish! This recipe was adapted from a great Williams Sonoma cookbook that I got for Christmas back in 1996. My parents gave me a love for food, and cooking and most of my kitchen implements came from them over the years.

Serves 6 as a side dish

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Ingredients

5 1/2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1 1/4 pound asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
3/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio or medium grain rice
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped tarragon or 1 tsp dried
salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions

In a medium sauce pan over high heat, bring stock to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil until just tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the wine to the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and keep the liquid hot.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the rice to the onion and stir until a white spot appears in the center of the grain, about 1 minute.

Add 3/4 cup of stock, adjusting the heat to simmer, so that the liquid bubbles and the stock is absorbed slowly. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the stock 3/4 of a cup at a time, stirring almost constantly, until the rice starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking until the rice is tender but slightly firm in the center and the mixture is creamy, about 10 minutes longer. You can add more stock or liquid if needed.

Add the asparagus, parmesan cheese, chopped tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in shallow bowls

 

Valentine Ginger Heart Cookies

Valentine Ginger Heart Cookies

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Happy Valentine’s Day. My husband loves ginger cookies so I like to try new recipes that I think he will like. I knew he was the ONE on our first date when we (over dinner) began talking about meals we had eaten in the past, meals we wanted to eat in the future and foods we loved. We also loved other things and running – which initially brought us together – has been great to offset the love of eating… We are still running (and eating) together after 15 years!

These are a sweet and wonderful treat to share (or not) with someone you love. They can be cut into any shape but they lend themselves to this holiday as they are a little sweet, a little spicy and nothing says love like a warm cookie!

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Ingredients

3/4 C butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 C molasses
4 C All Purpose flour
2 tsp roasted ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground roasted cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp Cardamon
1/4 tsp salt
Sanding Sugar

Directions

In a large bowl of standing mixer use the paddle beater and cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add egg and molasses. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices and gradually add to the creamed mixture.

On lightly floured board turn dough out and cut into quarters. Roll out dough to an 1/8 thickness and cut with heart shaped cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake at 350 for 10 min until firm.

 

Porchetta-Style Ragu

Porchetta-Style Ragu

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This is a really easy weeknight dinner. I made homemade pasta but will taste just fine with dried store bought! This is adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe. The next time I try this I might use the pork loin and slow cook it and make it with shredded pork. I made the sauce and kept it warm in a crockpot until ready to serve.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups large homemade breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces cold meaty pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 pound coarsely ground pork loin or packaged ground pork
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, about 1/3 palmful
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, optional, if you have one in the freezer, plus freshly grated cheese for tossing and serving
  • 1 pound mezze rigatoni, or rigatoni (I used pappardelle
  • A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, toss the breadcrumbs and butter; season with salt. Bake, stirring once, until toasted and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, until the fat begins to render, about 2 minutes. Add the ground pork. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the rosemary, garlic, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, the fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper. Stir until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine. Cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the Parmigiano rind, if using. Reduce heat to low. Let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.

Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions. Scoop out about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Discard the Parmigiano rind from the sauce. Add a generous handful of grated Parmigiano, the lemon juice, and the pasta to the sauce. Toss, adding the cooking water as needed if the pasta is too dry. Season with salt.

Toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 teaspoon lemon zest, the parsley, and a bit more Parm. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with the breadcrumbs and shredded cheese.

Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Cheese Soup with Parmesan Cheese Toasts

Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Cheese Soup with Parmesan Cheese Toasts

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The past 2 months have been so busy, suddenly it was Christmas and then it was over and I was cleaning up glitter. One more holiday before the bleak month of January. This would make a wonderful start to New Year’s Eve dinner. I served this as a soup course for 9 as part of Christmas Eve dinner. I made it the night before, then heated up and added the cheese and cream right before serving. It also reheated well the next day. This is adapted from a EMERIL LAGASSE recipe. I did not take a lot of photos as I was in full on dinner party mode but trust me this soup is worth making!

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INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions
8 to 12 garlic cloves, smashed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 quarts Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 cups 1-inch cubes crusty French or Italian bread
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Parmesan Cheese Toasts

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions, the smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Add the bread cubes. Cook, whisking often, until the bread disintegrates and thickens the soup, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Purée the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or blender. Return to the pot and whisk in the cream, cheese, and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle into bowls. Serve with the hot cheese toasts.

Parmesan Cheese Toasts

Twelve 1/4-inch-thick baguette slices (cut on the diagonal to make large slices)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup Mayonnaise (I used Black Truffle Aioli)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Spread the bread on a baking sheet. Mix the cheese, mayonnaise, parsley, garlic, and cayenne in a small bowl. Spread a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto each slice of bread.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve hot.

Spinach and Corn Strudel

Spinach and Corn Strudel

This is fun and easy. The fillings can be changed to reflect the season. I have made this with mushroom, seafood and other seasonal vegetables. The first time I served this I made a fresh tomato sauce but it works just as well with a good salsa or pasta sauce.

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Ingredients

1 cup part skim ricotta
2 Tbs Parmesan grated cheese
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
nutmeg to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsps olive oil
8 oz fresh mushrooms
5 cups raw spinach leaves
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
4 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh tomato sauce, salsa or canned tomato sauce

Tomato Sauce

3 medium tomatoes
salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Pepper taste
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
6 fresh basil leaves

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds, chill them in an ice bath, and remove their skins and seeds.

In a blender or food processor, puree the tomato flesh for about 5 seconds. Add the salt, sugar and pepper.

with the machine running, slowly add the oil and vinegar, blending for 2 to 3 minutes to make a smooth mixture.

Pour into a bowl and stir in the basil.

Preparation

Heat oven to 400 F. Lightly flour a sheet pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, corn, egg whites, lemon zest, nutmeg and seasoning until well combined. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the spinach over medium heat, stirring for about 3-5 minutes. Dry the spinach by wrapping in a cloth towel and squeezing gently. Chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

While the spinach is drying, saute the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of oil, make sure to drain off any excess liquid.

Brush a sheet of phyllo with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Place a second sheet on top of the first and brush it with another tablespoon of melted butter. Repeat with the other sheets.

With the long side of the phyllo toward you, spoon the ricotta mixture on the bottom third of the phyllo dough. Spread spinach and mushrooms on top. Top with the mozzarella shreds.

Roll the phyllo up from the bottom, like a log, tucking the sides in so the filling won’t fall out.. Place the roll on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until golden.

The serve, ladle the tomato sauce onto 4 plates. Cut 4 slightly diagonal 1 inch crosswise slices of strudel.Place each one a bit off center and cut side up so the pinwheel design of the filling shows. Slices the remaining strudel into 4 pieces, each with a straight crosswise edge and a slightly diagonal edge. Stand one slice on its straight edge and one slice laying down, on the plate.