Showing posts with label Gourmet De-Lite mystery series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gourmet De-Lite mystery series. Show all posts

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chicken and Potato Tagine

Since I bought my tagine--a Moroccan cooking vessel (see my first dish with it here), I've felt a need to use it again.  My husband keeps eying it in the cupboard and scratching his head.  I'm sure he's thinking, "what on earth did she need that for?"  But if you love to cook, you know that trying new utensils, tools and ways of cooking is like, well, the adrenaline rush other people get from bungee jumping or skydiving.  Just a lot safer.

The basis for this recipe is one I found on (About) Food.  But I incorporated a few things from other recipes and left out ingredients I didn't have...I'm easy that way.


Chicken (either cut up a whole chicken or use parts--in my case I wanted to use up some leg/thigh combos that were in the freezer.

1 large onion, sliced

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Splash of chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil

A couple of potatoes depending on how many you are serving -- peeled and thinly sliced

I took the skin off my chicken pieces because unless you brown the skin...well, yuck, right?

Combine all the spices and the garlic and fresh parsley and/or cilantro (I used both because I had them and I love cilantro) in a bowl and add the chicken pieces.  Use your hands to coat the chicken pieces with the spice mixture.

Place the sliced onions in the bottom of the tagine (or your pot), cover with the sliced potatoes.

Arrange the chicken pieces on top.  Pour a splash (about 1/2 cup) of chicken broth into the bowl the chicken was in and swirl around to collect any remaining spice mixture.  Pour on top of the chicken.  Drizzle some olive oil on top (the original recipe called for 1/3 cup but I just...couldn't.  Too much oil for my taste.)

I still don't have a diffuser so I couldn't cook this on top of the stove as per instructions (the tagine could crack) so I baked it at 350 degrees in the oven for around 45 to 60 minutes--until the chicken was done and the potatoes were cooked.

The smells are incredible!  The great part about having a tagine is that you can bring it straight to the table and serve from there.  

I served the chicken with baby bok choy.  A bit of a mix of two cultures, but they went together very well!


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pad Thai

from Peg Cochran

Awhile back I posted a recipe for Pad Thai that was not particularly authentic but was delicious nonetheless.  I decided to go in search of a more authentic  version and found this one on the internet.  Sadly, I forgot to note where it came from but happily I printed a copy!

This necessitated a trip to the local Asian Market--something I always enjoy--for a bag of banh pho or Thai rice noodles.  You can substitute linguine if you have to, but it's so good with the real deal.  It was also the only place I was likely to find tamarind paste.  Mine came in a plastic wrapped block but I've seen pictures of it in glass jars as well.  Tamarind is a fruit and the paste is made from the pulp of the fruit.  I've read it keeps for a very long time in the fridge and I'd say mine is going on three months at least with no signs of spoiling.

The recipe does call for fresh bean sprouts but I substituted canned since there have been so many scares about bean sprouts causing stomach ailments due to bacteria.

This is a dish where having a "mise en place" makes the cooking go more easily--meaning have all your ingredients ready beforehand--measured, chopped, etc.--so all you have to do is cook the dish.

This is supposed to serve two, but we got between three and four servings out of it.


8 oz. banh pho or Thai rice noodles
1 to 1.5 cups chopped chicken breast or thigh
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh bean sprouts or 1 regular size canned
3 green onions sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup roughly chopped peanuts
1/4 cup chicken stock
olive oil

Pad Thai Sauce
3 - 4 TBSP tamarind paste dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water.
2 TBSP fish sauce
1 - 3 tsp chili sauce like sriracha
3 TBSP brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground pepper

Marinade for chicken
1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 3 TBSP soy sauce

Cook noodles according to package directions however leave them very al dente because they will cook more later.  Drain and rinse with cold water to keep them from sticking (rinse again later if they are sticking.)

Combine ingredients for Pad Thai sauce in a small bowl.  Stir well.

Place chicken slices in a small bowl.  Pour marinade over chicken and stir well.

Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add 1 to 2 TBSP oil and garlic.  Stir fry approximately 30 seconds.  Add marinated chicken mixture and cook 5 to 7 minutes.  If wok becomes too dry, add chicken broth by tablespoonfuls. 

Add noodles and Pad Thai Sauce, Toss the mixture and stir fry 1 to 2 minutes while tossing.  Add bean sprouts and cook until noodles are done.

Place on serving plate and top with cilantro and peanuts and green onions.  Serve with fresh lime wedges if desired.

Drained and rinsed noodles

Thai fish sauce can now be found in many grocery stores--don't be put off by the pungent aroma!

Tamarind paste

Top with cilantro

More toppings--green onions and chopped peanuts

The exotic taste will delight and transport you!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

by Peg Cochran

I've long been fascinated by the idea of a "tagine."  A tagine is a Moroccan stew as well as the conical lidded terra cotta pot in which it is cooked.  There are chicken, beef, fish and lamb tagines.  But the Moroccans do not eat pork.  My aunt was born in France but when she was still a young girl, they moved to Morocco where her father was president of a textile company.  She used to tell us tales of the Moroccan way of eating--everyone eating from the communal tagine using bread to scoop up the food instead of a spoon or fork.

My daughter spent three weeks in France recently with a friend of hers and while they were in Toulouse, they had lunch at a restaurant that served Moroccan food including a tagine with sausage and chicken that they had to order the day before!  That only fueled my desire to try it.

Moroccan restaurants are a little thin on the ground in the Midwest so I knew I'd have to make it myself.  And that is the reason for so many of the recipes I've tried!  I found a tagine in World Market for a very reasonable price.  Next came seasoning it--something I learned online.  You soak the pot in water for anywhere from several hours to overnight, then you rub the inside with olive oil, put it in a cold oven which you heat to anywhere from 200 degrees to 350 degrees (depending on which source you are referencing) for an hour or so.  You then let it cool in the oven and it's ready to use.

I found numerous recipe online for chicken tagine, all vaguely similar.  I fiddled around with a couple of them and came up with this one.

But first I needed preserved lemons.  They take at least a month to make, but I found Mark Bittman's recipe for "express preserved lemons" and decided to try that.

Ingredients for chicken tagine:

1 chicken, skin removed and cut into pieces (I saved the back and wings for stock)
2 onions, chopped
handful of parsley, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4  teaspoon smoked hot paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric (for color)
salt to taste (I didn't use any)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads if you have any -- I didn't
1 small handful of green olives (I cut mine in half)
1/4 cup of Bittman's express preserved lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Skin your chicken and cut into serving pieces (or buy a chicken already cut up--I like dismembering things so I do it myself.  Hey, I write murder mysteries, remember?)  Combine onion, herbs and spices in a large bowl. 

Add chicken pieces and cover with chopped ingredients. 

Add a dash of the lemon juice that has collected in your bowl of preserved lemon.  It's not exactly a marinade since it isn't very juicy.  Marinate chicken for a couple of hours in the fridge. By the time I removed it to cook it, it was already very tender.

Remove chicken from marinade and scrape off bits of onion and herbs.  Put aside.  Pour enough of the 1/3 cup olive oil to cover the bottom of the tagine.  Scrape marinade out of the bowl into the tagine. Add olives (I cut them in half for easier eating) and about 1/4 cup of the preserved lemon bits.

Add water and stir.  Place chicken on top (one chicken fits nicely in the tagine I bought.) Drizzle remainder of olive oil over the top (try not to think about the quantity of oil you're using or the calories therein.)

Put in COLD oven and set for 350 degrees. (This can also be cooked on top of the stove but you MUST have a heat diffuser or you may crack your tagine.) My chicken was done in about an hour and a half. 

 Chicken nestled into tagine

Mark Bittman's Express Preserved Lemons

Either purchase organic lemons or dip regular lemons in a bath of boiling water for at least 30 seconds and rub off wax coating with a clean towel.

Cut lemons into small dice and toss with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a glass bowl. 
Cover and let sit for at least three hours.  Can be transferred to a glass jar if desired and kept in refrigerator. 


Bon Appetit!  The finished dish served over basmati rice

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Woof! Woof! Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

by Peg Cochran

I know we normally feature "people" recipes here, but I hope you will allow me to deviate this one time.  When I found out what unhealthy things are being put in dog food, I decided to feed our Westie, Reg, homemade food.  (In case you didn't know, Reg is famous for appearing in my Gourmet De-Lite Series.) He can't believe his good luck!  Every night he scarfs down chicken, fish or pork (and the occasional treat of some beef) with a grain like rice or barley and one of his favorite vegetables--carrots, green beans, broccoli or sweet potatoes.

I decided that since I was feeding him "real" food for breakfast and dinner, I should get rid of the dog biscuits and make him homemade treats as well.  This recipe is for sweet potato dog biscuits, but I somehow managed to read "sweet potato" as "pumpkin" and I used canned pumpkin.  They turned out great and Reg LOVES them!  And I feel good because I know he's getting something good to eat.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Dog Biscuits:

1 cup canned pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling!)
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 egg
Use whole wheat flour

These are so easy to make!  Combine everything in your food processor and blend until a dough forms.

 Add ingredients to food processor

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet (you'll probably need two) with parchment paper.  Make small walnut-sized balls of dough by rolling a chunk of dough between your palms.  Line up on cookie sheet.

Flatten each ball of dough.  I used the bottom of a juice glass.

Bake at 350 degrees until quite hard.

And that's it!  You now have homemade dog treats!

Reg about to enjoy a biscuit straight from the oven!

My latest Lucille book, Hit and Nun is out now!

And the first book in my upcoming Cranberry Cove series is available for pre-order!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Fish Tale

by Peg Cochran

Or, "A Fish Dish We Actually Liked."  I have to confess to not knowing a whole lot about cooking fish although I have zillions of recipes for beef, pork, lamb and chicken. In an effort to consume more fish I bought a bag of frozen "swai."  (Fresh fish is hideously expensive in Michigan because we are so far from the sea.) I had no idea what swai was, but it said it was mild and buttery tasting so I figured that would be good.  I later discovered (via the great Wikipedia) that swai is Vietnamese cat fish.  I did not tell my husband that before serving this to him!

I found this recipe online and scribbled down the directions without noting where it came from so I cannot give proper attribution.  But it was easy and we really liked it!  As a matter of fact, I made it twice in two weeks--a record for us.

The original recipe was for six fillets but I cut it down to two which is all we needed to eat.  Leftover fish isn't something you take to work the next day and heat up in the office microwave--not unless you really want to irritate your colleagues.


2 fish fillets (swai or tilapia or cod would all work)
olive oil
Fish seasoning
Lemon juice and/or white wine

Rinse and dry your fillets with a paper towel.  Then dry them with a second paper towel--it seems like overkill but they will brown better.  Either sprinkle the fish with a seasoning of your choice or mix the seasoning into a couple of scoops of flour that you've put on a plate.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Dip fish in flour and cover on both sides.  Meanwhile heat the olive oil (just enough to coat the pan) in a saute pan until shimmering but not smoking.  No need to set off the smoke alarm.  Place the floured fish in the pan and cook for three minutes.

Flip the fish (a metal spatula works best) and place 1/2 tablespoon of butter on each fillet.  Cook two minutes more.  Remove fish to a plate, turn down heat, and add a good squeeze of lemon juice to the pan.  If you don't have enough lemon juice, you can mix it with white wine.  Deglaze the pan and pour the sauce (there will be very little but that's okay) over the fish. 

Voila!  Dinner! Make some easy sides and you've got this on the table in less than half an hour.

I used a store brand fish and seafood seasoning that had bits of lemon and orange in it.

I mixed the fish seasoning in with the flour

Dip your fillets in the flour and cover on both sides

Brown one side, flip, and place 1/2 tablespoon of butter on top of each fillet


 Have you met Lucille and Flo from my Lucille series? Reviewers have called them "the Italian Lucy and Ethel" and "I Love Lucy meets Jersey Shore."  Hit and Nun is the latest--the first two, Confession Is Murder and Unholy Matrimony are only $.99 for all e-readers.


Pre-order now:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker

From the kitchen of...Peg Cochran

No, not really.  This is a Nigella Lawson recipe.  I saw her make it on television, and I thought no way!  It's that easy to make ice cream?  I made it the first time for Christmas dinner and served it with a chocolate roll cake with mocha filling.  Heavenly!  And soooo easy.  (The ice cream, not the cake!)

This would be great to impress guests with.  "Oh, yes, I whipped up the ice cream myself..." (wait for applause.)  You could serve it alone, sprinkled with some cocoa powder, on top of a store bought pound cake (I won't tell!).  The possibilities are endless.  She also made a Margarita flavored ice cream which I plan to try soon.  What fun for a Mexican themed party!  I'll share that if it comes out.

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (I used Medaglio D'Oro)
*2 tablespoons espresso liqueur like Kahluha

*This time I substituted Bailey's Irish Cream for the coffee liqueur--seriously, who doesn't love Bailey's?

Put all the ingredients into a bowl of your mixer.  I used a stand mixer.  Whip until soft peaks form--don't overwhip--you're not making whipped cream.

Freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

Seriously.  That's it.  Enjoy straight from the freezer--no need to let it soften.

Simple ingredients!

Add cream, condensed milk, espresso powder and liqueur to your mixer

Whip until soft and "voluptuous" as Nigella says (if you eat too much of this you will be very voluptuous!)

You can eat it straight from the freezer--in a midnight raid if that's your style!

Speaking of food...the character in my latest Lucille Mystery Series book--Hit and Nun--is a huge fan of food--pizza in particular which she is convinced is on the Paleo diet she is trying to follow!  Available now for all e-readers.

From a review at Marceline's Fan Zone: "From beginning to end I truly enjoyed each of Lucille’s attempts to rationalize what she was eating with the Paleo diet she was certain that she was using. I laughed out loud every time she tried to determine if the cavemen would have eaten the item that she was considering eating." 

ALSO!  The first two books in the series, Confession Is Murder and Unholy Matrimony are on sale this month for only $.99 each at all ebook retailers!  Here's your chance to catch up with Lucille, Flo and the whole gang!