Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Moroccan Night

There's nothing like the aroma of all the spices blended together when you make these recipes.  I am beyond tempted to learn bellydancing now!  The color the tumeric gives to the chicken is just gorgeous.  Do yourself (and some of your favorite people!) a favor and make these recipes soon.  You'll be glad you did.

Let's start with our soup.  I added double the amount of couscous the recipe called for and about a cup of extra chicken broth.  So, we had a thick stew like texture instead of a very liquid soup that the recipe stated would be the end result.  I liked this version.  The sweet potatoes added a very sweet flavor and next time I'd add another potato.

Moroccan Chicken and Couscous Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into approximately 1 ½ by ¼ inch strips
¼ t. cayenne
1 t. ground cumin
1 ¾ t. salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1 sweet potato (about ½ pound) peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
¾ cup tomato puree
1 quart water
2 cups low sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
½ cup couscous
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the chicken, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.

Stir in the sweet potato, zucchini, tomato puree, water and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the couscous to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat. Let the soup stand, covered, for 2 minutes. Add the parsley and serve.
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine via http://www.cooking.com/

Shirazi Salad (Cucumber and Tomato Salad)

Now we'll move on to the salad.  Next time I make this (with some of Sweet Harold's garden cucumbers and tomatoes!), I'll add some chopped mint and maybe a little more lemon juice.  It needed a little more "zing"  for my taste.

2 T. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
¼ t. sea salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
5 small cucumbers, preferably Persian, unpeeled and diced or 5 small cucumbers, peeled and diced
¼ red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
To make dressing, whisk ingredients together in mixing bowl, set aside.
To make salad, combine all ingredients in salad bowl, toss with dressing and serve.
Adapted from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/

Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Finally, the main event.  I have a tagine which I used instead of a skillet.  I love all the spices in this dish.  This is such a fun dish to cook and the flavors are so different than what we're used to eating on a regular basis.

2 t. paprika
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. turmeric
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
2T. olive oil
1 chicken, 3-4 lbs. cut into 8 pieces or 3-4 pounds of chicken thighs and legs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
Peel from one preserved lemon*, rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded, peel cut into thin strips
1 cup green olives, pitted
½ cup water
½ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Combine all the spices in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken pieces and put in the bowl, coat well with the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices.

In a large, heavy bottom skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt (go easy on the salt, the olives and lemons are salty) and brown, skin side down for five minutes. Lower the heat to medium love, add the garlic and onions. Cover and let cook for 15 minutes.

Turn chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through

Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve with couscous, rice or rice pilaf.
Adapted from http://www.simplyrecipes.com/

*Preserved Lemons
Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for preserved lemons, lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices. It's quite easy to do, though takes at least three weeks before the lemons are ready to use.  I keep some of these in the fridge at all times. 
4 lemons*
1½ cups lemon juice*
2 cups Kosher salt
*the amount of lemons and lemon juice required will vary according to the size of the lemons.

With soap and boiling water, thoroughly clean a small ramekin, a 1-quart glass jar and its air-tight lid. Allow to dry completely.

Thoroughly scrub the lemons and wash with soap and water. Slice the small bumps off both ends of the lemon, then quarter each lemon pole to pole. (If you are giving the lemons as a gift, you may wish to remove the seeds and trim the white material that runs from top to bottom through the lemon.)

Pour salt into a bowl. Place each lemon slice into the salt, one at a time, rolling it until the lemon is heavily caked in salt. Place the lemon into the glass jar. Repeat until the glass jar is almost completely packed.

Pour the lemon juice into the jar, leaving ½” of space at the top. Add a tablespoon of salt. To ensure the lemons remain completely submerged in lemon juice, place the bottom of the ramekin through the mouth of the jar and on top of the lemons. Close the lid.

Allow the lemons to pickle for 30 days at room temperature, turning/shaking the jar each day to redistribute the salt throughout the liquid. The lemons will be fully-preserved after 30 days. The preserved lemons can be transferred to refrigeration and stored for up to 6 months.
From http://www.thefoodchannel.com/

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