Showing posts with label Moroccan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moroccan. 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!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Moroccan Fish

by Sheila Connolly

For some reason lately I've been craving something I've been calling Moroccan fish.  Why, I don't know.  I don't do a lot of Middle-Eastern cooking, although I do have the classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden (1974), a gift from a friend when I was first married.  But for some reason, none of the fish recipes spoke to me this time.

What did I want?  Mostly the spices—a little earthy, a little hot.  I snooped around the Internet a bit and still didn't come up with exactly the right combination.  So once again, I merged a couple to get the results I was looking for. I can call it a mash-up, right? (Although that does sound a bit disgusting, but as in music or writing, it's combining two different sources to create something new.)

I am informed that most Moroccan fish recipes call for a marinade called charmoula.  The problem is, there is no one charmoula recipe, so I improvised.  The one I liked best is actually a combination of a dry rub and a marinade (you grind the dry ingredients together, then add moister ones)


1 tsp coriander seeds
12 black peppercorns

Hey, meet my new spice
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch of saffron
½ tsp coarse salt
1 tsp paprika

In a mortar or a grinder, finely grind the dry ingredients.

1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 Tblsp fresh lemon juice

Stir these ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a thick paste.

The fish:

This is a single hake filet, about one pound
Once again, you may use whatever sturdy white fish you can find (hake, haddock and cod work well), either a single filet or several smaller serving-size pieces.  Rinse the fish and pat it dry.  Rub the chermoula on both sides and place the fish in a shallow baking dish that has been coated lightly with olive oil.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

The veggies:

I'm still working on those lovely fresh local ones from the farmers' market, and I happened to have a lot that were roughly the same diameter—some adorable peppers, and heirloom tomatoes.

1 small onion, thinly sliced
2-3 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
2-3 small peppers, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Remove the marinated fish from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  You will find that it has probably produced some liquid, which is fine.  Scatter your vegetables around the fish (this is why the small ones fit nicely).  As the fish cooks, it will produce more liquid, which will cook the vegetables without letting them dry out.

Place the baking dish in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake until the fish flakes easily and the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Serve with couscous or rice. 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ras el Hanout

This post could have been captioned "Confessions of a Top Chef - aholic."  Yep, my favorite food porn is back in the form of Top Chef Masters.  I watch, dazzled, as the cheftestants prepare gourmet food out of canned goods and penny candy, with nothing but a camp stove and with one hand tied behind their back.  Literally.  (Okay, all of those restrictions are from separate challenges, but whatever ... the point is, the cheftestants are wizards, and I am their humble acolyte.)

Of course, my culinary skills are significantly more limited, my palate less refined.  I consider myself a decent home cook because I can make a passable spinach lasagna and follow a recipe like a champ. 

Still, part of me yearns to dabble in the magical world of the Top Chef kitchen.  Which is why my eyes were inexorably drawn to a jar of ras el hanout on the spice rack at my local Kroger.  I swear for the last two seasons I've seen Top Chef contestants using the Moroccan spice blend in everything from lamb stews to panna cotta.

I couldn't resist.  I bought the jar without the faintest idea of what I would do with it.

Anyway, as soon as I opened the jar and took a whiff, I knew I'd made a good choice.  And I had an inkling of how I would use the spice (with lentils and potatoes).  I served this easy, savory stew with warmed naan.

Lentils with Ras el Hanout

1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. diced celery
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into half moons
2 pounds new potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 c. lentils
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock (or water with appropriate number of bullion cubes)
4 tsp. ras el hanout spice blend
1 tsp. salt

Saute celery and onion in the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium (or a bit below) and simmer covered for 35-40 minutes (until lentils are tender).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jeri Westerson Guest Blogs

Please welcome our guest, Jeri Westerson!!
Writing a medieval mystery like my latest, SERPENT IN THE THORNS (in bookstores Sept 29), involves a lot of diverse research, from the weight of armor and weapons (I own a sword, a helm, and numerous daggers), to the feel of the clothing, and to the taste of the food. And yes, I have cooked medieval food. It’s good to know what my character Crispin Guest—an ex-knight turned detective—might have eaten when he was a knight and flush with funds, and what he might have been reduced to eating when he was stripped of his title and wealth.

The first in the series, VEIL OF LIES; A Medieval Noir, will be released in paperback on October 13 with a brand new and sexy cover! I was very excited when it was nominated for a Macavity Award for Best Historical Fiction and then even more excited when it was nominated for a Shamus for Best First PI Novel. I think that’s a first for a medieval mystery.

Now on to food! You posed a few questions to me.

Name three things in your refrigerator right now.

Home-brewed mead (my husband makes it), brie, and sugar-free
strawberry Jell-O.
Do you cook or are you a take-out queen?

I do like to cook but lately there doesn’t seem much time for that. Though a few months ago, I did make the dinner for our little gourmet club. I served tapas. I set up stations throughout the dining room and living room with different foods and wines to go with them. It was a lot of fun and it gave me the excuse to buy new platters (I’m a sucker for crockery).

What does your protagonist like to eat?

My protagonist, Crispin Guest, is a former knight turned detective on the mean streets of fourteenth century London. What he used to eat and what he eats now are two different things. The nobility were pretty much carnivores with quite a few dishes at one sitting devoted to something with meat, though they were either dipped in sauces or were cooked in sauces with a decidedly flavorful flair. (And before you say it, they didn’t use sauces to cover rotten meat. That’s just one of those myths we can’t seem to get rid of.) Of course now, in his reduced circumstances, Crispin is forced to eat a lot of soup or pottage. The dreaded turnip shows up a lot and coarse breads and cheeses. He used to enjoy fine wines from Spain and France, but wine is expensive, even in the tavern he frequents and it would have been wiser of him to buy the cheaper ales than pay more for wine, but its his one concession to his glorious past and more often than not, he over indulges.

Is your heroine a good cook or is she going to look around town for someone to feed her curiosity?

I don’t really have a heroine, except for the wife of the tavern owner at the Boar’s Tusk, Eleanor Langton. She doesn’t provide a lot of meals for Crispin but something more like a place for him to find some comfort (they run a tab for him). His cook, more often than not, is his servant and former street urchin/cutpurse Jack Tucker. Jack is young and scrappy and he manages to scrounge the occasional sausage and capon for their hearth as well as brewing the interminable turnip pottage. If they get tired of Jack’s cooking, there are also many sellers of cooked food in London--medieval fast-food. They might enjoy cooked meat pies, fish, fowl, and even hedgehog and cat meat!

Would you care to share a recipe with us?

I found a lovely medieval dish that anyone can prepare at home. It’s a chicken dish, and I love chicken. This recipe is quite good and it’s easy.

First, the recipe in Middle English, the language of Chaucer and also of Crispin. Then a translation, and then a modern version for you.

Middle English: Chykens in Hocchee. Take chykenns and scald hem. Take parsel and sawge without eny other erbes. Take garlic and grapes and stoppe the chikens ful, and seeth hem in good broth so that they may esely be boyled therinee. Messe hem and caste thereto powder douce.

Modern Translation: Chickens in Hotchpot. Take chickens and scaled them. Take parsley and sage without any other herbs. Take garlic and grapes and stuff the chickens full and cook them in good broth so that they may easily be boiled within. Divide them into portions and cast sweet powder on top.

A word about medieval cooking before the modern recipe. The flavors that the medieval person enjoyed with their meat is very different from the modern European. In the middle ages, they seemed to like a lot of dried fruits and spices that we are more familiar with in desserts. If you are at all familiar with Moroccan cooking (or real mince pies), then you have tasted medieval meat dishes.

The powder douce that is mentioned in the Middle English version above was usually a mixture of spices, something like we’d use Zatarans or Old Bay. This is a collection of “sweet” aromatic spices, like aniseed, fennel seed, and nutmeg.

Chickens in Hotchpot (Hodgepodge) or Stuffed Chicken in Soup

4-5 pound stewing chicken
6 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
½ teaspoon dried sage
12 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ pounds grapes
garnish/powder douce: nutmeg, crushed anise and fennel seeds

1. Place chicken in colander and scald with boiling water. Remove fat from cavity opening.
2. Bring water and salt to boil.
3. Stuff bird with 6 Tablespoons of parsley and the sage, garlic, and grapes
4. Place chicken in boiling water. Return to boil; cover and lower heat.
5. Allow to simmer about an hour or until chicken is tender. About 15 minutes before it is finished, add the remaining parsley to the broth.
6. Cut chicken into portions, and serve together with stuffing and liquid in soup bowls.
8. Remember to eat with your fingers. No forks and spoons were rare.
7. Sprinkle each serving with powder douce.

The pictures of that medieval woman are me! I cooked a medieval feast for friends while we were camping last year. And no, I usually don't wear fourteenth century clothes. I am cooking a version of the chicken dish on a fire rather than in a pot. It's good both ways.
Thank you, Jeri, for joining us today! If you'd like to know more about Jeri and her character, Crispin, please check out her website: Jeri Westerson