A Food & Travel Blog

A Little Moroccan Magic – Chicken Tagine

03/12/2012 | By

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel a little over the last few years.  As we bid farewell to school fees (one more year, but who’s counting),  school books, uniform costs, dependent offspring and their associated expenses, both The Husband and I hope to be able to do include quite a bit more of it in our future.  If I assume we won’t be winning the lottery any time soon, I don’t suppose I’ll ever get to all the places I want to see, but I intend to prioritise and Morocco is going to be very high on that list.

I have long had a passion for the flavours of Moroccan and Middle Eastern food, neither of which is a cuisine commonly found locally to me.  Thanks to some excellent sources of supply for the requisite spices, I like to think I do a pretty fair job of preparing my favourite dishes at home, but I long for the opportunity to lie around on some sort of cushioned arrangement, in a gloriously tiled courtyard, wearing something loose, drapey and flattering, listening to the gentle splash of a small fountain, while sipping freshly made, sweet mint tea and enjoying authentic Moroccan food.  As you can probably tell, I’ve got the complete fantasy worked out –  the whole lying around aspect is very attractive to this lazy woman.

Moroccan food is not difficult to make if you have the right spices – and they are readily available these days.  Try to avoid buying the supermarket spices if you can – their flavours are often not really very good.  I buy mine online or at gourmet stores and it is well worth the small extra expense.  This delicious chicken tagine, served with steaming piles of golden couscous, is quite simple to make and so wonderfully fragrant that you will be very impressed with yourself – even my ungrateful teens enjoyed this meal and took the leftovers to school the next day for lunch.

One tip for the couscous – the boxed stuff is pretty ordinary, but will absorb surprising amounts of liquid and will reward you handsomely if you spend a little more time over it.  Traditionally couscous is steamed three times (being rubbed between each stage) over the cooking stew and, in reality, that’s easily enough done if you have the right equipment.  But if not, try this method.  Place 2 cups of couscous in a wide, shallow dish with an equivalent amount of very hot (or boiling) stock, give it a stir with a fork, then cover for 5-10 minutes.  Remove cover, melt 100 gms of butter,  pour it over the couscous then, with clean (or gloved) hands, gently rub the couscous through your fingers to separate it, making sure the butter is distributed evenly.  Cover again for 5 minutes, then fluff up with a fork (or fingers) before serving.

Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potato, Prunes & Orange

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Moroccan
Servings: 6
Author: Amanda McInerney of Lambs' Ears and Honey

Ingredients

  • 700 gms chicken thighs on the bone if possible
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes cut into large cubes
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 Tbs Ras el Hanout
  • 50 gms butter
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 litre chicken or veg stock
  • 1 can chick peas drained
  • 3/4 cup prunes stones removed
  • zest of 1 orange cut into strips
  • orange blossom water
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds

Instructions

  • Melt butter and oil together in a heavy based saucepan over moderate heat. Add Ras el Hanout and cook gently for a minute or two, until fragrant.
  • Add chicken to spiced oil and brown quickly. Set aside.
  • Add onions to spiced oil and cook over moderate heat until softened and golden.
  • Return chicken to pot, add the sweet potato and stock to cover, stir to combine. Cover, bring to boil, then turn heat down to a slow simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add chick peas and prunes and simmer for 10 minutes more, then stir in orange zest and simmer a further 5 minutes.
  • Serve on couscous, drizzling with a splash of orange blossom water and sprinkled with almonds.

 

 

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Vancouver – Here I Come!

09/01/2012 | By

 

Full moon over Vancouver – Image by Thom Quine (Wikimedia Commons)

Excitement levels and blood pressure are rising in our house as it is only three more sleeps until I take off with my eldest daughter, the Cupcake Queen, for Vancouver to pick up the youngest from her student exchange.  After spending a few days in Canada, the three of us will have the girls trip of our dreams traveling down the west coast of the US to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  We will be leaving behind the two blokes, husband and son, who will have to fend for themselves – and keep the dogs, cattle and poultry alive – for three weeks.  The last time I left the family for any length of time I spent a week cooking and freezing multiple meals.  In retrospect, I think that little burst of domesticity was fueled by guilt and a misplaced sense of my responsibility for their nutritional and culinary well-being.  I’m very happy to say that I’ve grown so much as a person in the last few years that neither of these conditions are an issue for me at all now. 😉

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Surfeited with honey – Honey Orange Chicken with Ras el Hanout

23/09/2011 | By

Blossom by blossom the spring begins”  Swinburne

For quite a lot of Australians the transition between seasons can slip past without a great deal of notice as the climate in large parts of the country is very mild for most of the year.  Here in the Adelaide Hills this is not the case, though.  Summer is still hot here, but the nights are much cooler than down on the plain, and we slide into autumn with a riot of reds, burgundies and browns as the introduced trees which grow so well up here prepare for the coming chills.   Winter is generally cold, wet and foggy, but worth it for the glories of spring.  The blossom trees are breathtaking in their beauty and the dormant gardens start to kick into a life that is teeming with activity.  The slightly warmer weather rouses all sorts of living things, not all of them welcome – brown snakes come to mind, from their repose and the atmosphere comes alive with birdsong and the satisfied buzz of what I like to think of as my own, personal bees as they go about the business of pollination and honey making.

(more…)

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What’s in the box – 8/9 June

11/06/2011 | By

This weekly post is aimed at offering some simple recipe suggestions to the subscribers of Adelaide Food Connect weekly fresh produce boxes.  It can be a challenge to deal with the same seasonal produce week after week and I hope to help inspire with fresh ideas.  The link to the contents of the boxes this week is here.

Icy days up here on the hill with the temperature struggling to make it up to double digits.  This weather is very bad for my waistline as I cook up rich, hearty casseroles, vats of soup served with crusty bread and butter, hot chocolates and, with the slow combustion stove quietly humming along,  the urge to bake is simply overpowering.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a particular fondness for Moroccan and Middle Eastern food.  There is something about the fragrance of the spices used in these cuisines that really sings to me so I am always on the lookout for new (to me, at least) ways to incorporate them into my own cooking.   This week I found myself with an over-abundance of organic onions from past Adelaide Food Connect boxes at the same time as I serendipitously saw a Moroccan recipe using copious amounts of the same.   This dish, Chicken Mezgueldi, is a chicken tagine flavoured with ginger, preserved lemon, saffron and turmeric and served with fragrant caramelised onions spiced with more ginger, cumin, cinnamon and sweet paprika.  Don’t be put off by the amount of ingredients as it is really quite simple to make.  I cooked up a pile of the onions the day before I made the dish and refried them a little, just before serving, to give them more of a browned caramelised finish and they were just perfect served on top of the slowly cooked, aromatic chook.

This week’s spinach recipe comes to you from Tessa Kiros’ lovely book “Falling Cloudberries“, a record of some of the recipes she grew up with and others shared by friends and family.  It is another simple recipe that can be tarted up in loads of different ways if you wish.  This would make quite a lot of rice, so I would probably halve these amounts to serve as a side dish.

 

Spinach Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 30 gms butter
  • 120 gms spring onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.2 kg spinach, chopped
  • 300 gms long grain rice

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and saute the spring onion until softened. Add the garlic and stir for another moment, then add spinach and mix through.
  2. Add the rice, stir through and season with salt and pepper. Pour in 700 mls of water, bring to the boil, lower the heat and cover pan with a lid. Cook for about 15 minutes until the water is evaporated.
  3. Remove from heat, fluff the rice with a fork and cover the pan with a clean cloth and allow to steam for a few minutes more before serving.

Variations

I would be very tempted to add any or all of the following to this – chopped preserved lemon, currants, toasted slithered almonds or pine nuts. I would also stir through a good slurp of olive oil or melted butter before serving – but then that’s probably what gave me my “full” figure…

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 6

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WHAT’S IN THE BOX JUNE 16 – Chicken, Broccoli and Pasta Bake

16/06/2010 | By

The list for this weeks boxes is here. As usual, the contents will vary depending upon the size ordered.

The winter veggies are really starting to come in now, with broccoli and cauliflower joining the usual suspects. Cauliflower can be a bit tricky to glam up – although, personally, I really can’t go past dousing it in a nice cheese sauce. However, for something a bit different, Claudia Roden (in “The New Book of Middle Eastern Food”) suggests chopping equal amounts of cauli and fennel bulb into similar sized pieces and boiling (I’d steam them) until just cooked, then dressing them with good olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. I love fennel to bits so I’m keen to give this a go!

Just yesterday I found a scrunched up piece of paper with an old recipe that I tore from a magazine ages ago for a Chicken, Broccoli & Pasta Bake. Too easy if you cheat and buy a cooked chook and easily adapted to take in other veggies. I would also probably add some fresh herbs to this – maybe thyme.

Chicken Broccoli & Pasta Bake
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Buy a cooked chook and this is in the oven in no time. I’ve used thyme here, but any fresh herbs you have on hand will be just fine.
Ingredients
  • 250 gms small pasta spirals, cooked
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 300gm light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch chopped, fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup each grated mozzarella and parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease large ovenproof dish.
  2. Steam broccoli until just cooked.
  3. Combine pasta, broccoli, chicken, tomatoes and onions in large bowl.
  4. Stir in cream, stock, mustard, garlic and season to taste.
  5. Pour into ovenproof dish. Top with cheese.
  6. Bake approx 20 mins.
 

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WHAT’S IN THE BOX – 9 JUNE- Two Recipes to use up Those Oranges

09/06/2010 | By

WHAT’S IN THE BOX – 2 JUNE (Where is the year going!!!?)
Now I seem to have the hang of this – the link to the list of this weeks contents is here!
If you need some inspiration for the pumpkin and/or leeks you need look no further than my home page where I have only just posted a recipe for a pumpkin and leek risotto!

You can find the list of what is in the boxes this week (depending on which size you order) here.

The carrots that we have been getting are just lovely and last night I just peeled them, cut them into chunks, tossed them in some butter and olive oil melted together and put them in a shallow baking dish in the oven. After about 15 minutes of cooking I drizzled them with honey and sprinkle some ground coriander seeds over them and gave the pan a bit of a shake. I cooked them for about 40-45 minutes, tossing occasionally to prevent them sticking – delicious! If you have some maple syrup on hand I think that would be a fantastic substitute for the honey.

I am thrilled to see our local citrus becoming available now – our oranges are very hard to beat!
I have a fantastic, idiot-proof, healthy and simply delicious dessert using fresh oranges here – enjoy!

The new seasons citrus is just wonderful and oranges, in particular, are so versatile and can be used loads of ways.  Today I have two different ideas for you.  The first is just a plain and simple orange cake.  this recipe is one that I have had for ages and it never fails.  It is very rich with 4 egg yolks, but these can be substituted for 2 whole eggs if necessary. It can be iced with a butter cream icing flavoured with orange juice or I often just make a low fat icing by mixing icing sugar with straight orange juice and pouring that over the cake.

Orange Cake
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Nothing fancy, but delicious and reliable.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups SR flour
  • pinch salt
  • 125 gms butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • grated rind of 1 orange
  • 4 egg yolks
  • juice of 1 orange
Instructions
  1. Grease and flour 20 cm ring tin and preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about 4-5 minutes. Add yolks one at a time, beating well between each one, then add rind. Fold in sifted flour and salt and orange juice.
  3. Pour into tin and bake 40 minutes. Check that it is cooked by piercing with a metal skewer which will come out clean if cake is done.
  4. Cool on wire rack before icing.
 

The second recipe is a dish my mother used to make – but, in spite of that, is really very nice!

Honey chicken with Orange and Ground Coriander
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
This is a simple and tasty dish that my mother managed to master. We looked forward to dinner on the nights she made this!
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breast fillets or on the bone (skin on is nicer, but no skin if you must!)
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1-2 tsp ground coriander
  • honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Place chook fillets in shallow baking dish, skin side up, and squeeze juice over them, then sprinkle evenly with coriander and place in oven. After about 10 minutes, remove from oven and drizzle each breast with about 1 dessertspoon of honey and baste with juice. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes, basting again after 10 minutes, the honey will caramelize with the juice, making it all sticky and yummy.
 

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