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Herb Roasted Lemon Chicken

This is a take on the popular Moroccan dish – lemon and olive chicken tagine. There is actually a recipe for this in my Moroccan cooking box that includes preserved lemons. This version uses regular lemons and is a recipe I saw on Netflix’s “Paleo Way” which I highly recommend watching.

I switched up the spices in the marinade a little from the show. I LOVE Ras El Hanout, so I used that. It truly is the QUEEN of all spices. The blend I use (for sale in my shop) uses 21 different herbs, spices and florals to create a rounded, subtle flavor profile that pairs extremely well with chicken. I also love all the health benefits I get from the spice blend – antioxidants, blood sugar reducers, and anti-inflammatories to name a few.

This recipe is pretty easy to make. You need a whole chicken – wash it and pat it dry with some paper towels.

Make the marinade with a handful each of chopped cilantro and flat Italian parsley. Add in 6-8 chopped mint leaves, 2-3 minced garlic cloves, and 2 heaping tsp of Ras El Hanout. Blend it all with 2 tbsp. of olive oil, salt, pepper and juice from one lemon. Slather the marinade all over your chicken.

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Place the chicken in your roasting pan and stuff it with halved lemons. Add 1 cup of chicken stock to the pan. Add 10-20 Kalamata olives, 2 quartered onions, 1 cup of chopped butternut squash and 4 chopped dried dates to the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees until done (timing completely depends on the size of your chicken!) Enjoy!!

Herb Roasted Lemon Chicken
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 handful chopped cilantro
  • 1 handful chopped flat Italian parsley
  • 6-8 chopped mint leaves
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 heaping tsp Ras El Hanout spice blend
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice from one lemon
  • 2 lemons halved
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 10-20 kalamata olives
  • 1 cup butternut squash
  • 2 onions quartered
  • 4 chopped dates
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Wash and pat dry chicken.

  3. Mix together ingredients cilantro through lemon juice to create a marinade.

  4. Slather marinade all over the chicken.

  5. Place chicken in a roasting pan.

  6. Stuff chicken with lemon halves.

  7. Optional - toss onions and squash in a little olive oil with salt and pepper

  8. Place remaining ingredients in the pan.

  9. Bake in oven until chicken cooked through.

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Bannock

This delicious quickbread’s origin isn’t completely clear.  Also know as “Indian Fry Bread”, many believe that it was brought over by Scottish Fur traders in the 1800’s. However, there is some linguistic evidence that this bread may predate western contact. A staple of First Nations cuisine across Canada, it is also made by American Indians.

There are three main ways to make bannock. In a tin in the oven, on a stick over fire or fried in a deep pan. I’m going to share my take on my cousin’s recipe, which is fried.

I love to make bannock and use it as a hamburger bun. It makes a simple dinner taste and look gourmet. To be extra fancy (and authentic) I’ll pair the bun with a buffalo burger and juniper berry sauce. It can be served many ways though, even just with peanut butter and jelly.

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To make them add 6 cups of flour to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

Add in lukewarm water (not hot!), sugar, oil and instant yeast. Slowly mix the ingredients together by bringing the flour from the edges of the bowl into the center.

Add salt about 1/2 way through mixing in the ingredients.

Knead the bread until shiny and elastic. Form into a ball.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough around to coat it with oil. Cover and place in a cold oven with the light turned on for 2 hours.

After two hours punch down the dough and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut into the desired size and fry in 2-3 inches of canola oil at 365 degrees until golden brown on both sides.

Bannock
Ingredients
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (not hot!)
  • 2 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
For frying:
  • 2-3 inches canola oil
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and make a well in the center.

  2. Into the well, add the lukewarm water, sugar, 1 tbsp. of canola oil and instant yeast.

  3. Slowly mix together by pulling the flour from the edges of the bowl into the well. Half way through mixing, add in the salt.

  4. Knead the dough until shiny, smooth and elastic.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl. Turn the dough around in the bowl to coat it in oil. Cover and place in a cold oven with the light on for 2 hours.

  6. Remove from the cold oven and punch down. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut to desired size.

  7. Fry in 2-3 inches of canola oil at 365 degrees until golden brown on both sides (flip them 2-3 times). Drain on paper towels.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

I’ve started working on ideas for an Indian Cooking Box and I have a neighbor from Northern India who is an excellent cook. She was able to explain (over Facebook messenger nonetheless!) how to make the perfect chicken tikka masala and it’s too good not to share.

There are a couple secrets to this dish. First, you can add a small amount of red food coloring to the marinade to give your chicken that pink color you see in restaurants. Second, adding cashews to the sauce and then blending it smooth adds a level of nutty, creaminess that will have you licking your plate clean.

I served this with my Indian rice recipe and it made enough for 8-10 servings (yay, leftovers!)

I used chicken thighs in this recipe because I find them more juicy and tender than breasts, but go ahead and use whichever you prefer.

First, you need to marinate the chicken for about four hours. You mix up whole milk yogurt, paprika, chili powder, flour, oil, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and a couple drops of red food dye (optional).

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Once marinated, line a baking tray with foil and place your wire cooling rack on top. Put the marinated chicken on the rack and broil until blackened areas start to appear (the chicken will not be completely cooked through). This process cooks the marinade into the chicken.

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In a large saucepan, melt ghee (or any oil) and cook an onion and hot green pepper until browned. Add a large can of peeled tomatoes (I crush them first with my hands), cashews, red pepper flakes, garam masala, fenugreek powder (optional), and salt.

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Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 5 minutes to allow the ingredients to heat up.

Pour sauce into a blender and blend until smooth.

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Add the blended sauce back into the saucepan. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and add into the sauce. Simmer until chicken cooked through.


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Turn the heat down to low, add in some butter and cream. Mix and taste. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with chopped cilantro and Indian style rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs chicken (skinless, boneless) thighs or breasts
  • 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (not greek)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1-2 drops red food dye optional
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
Sauce
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 1 hot green pepper chopped
  • 1 28 oz can peeled tomatoes, crush with hands
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, roasted cashews
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder optional
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the ingredients yogurt through to black pepper to create a marinade. Add in the chicken and allow to marinate for 4 hours in the fridge.

  2. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack on top. Place your chicken on the rack in a single layer (or use a broiling pan). Broil until blackened areas appear on the chicken. (About 10 minutes). The chicken will not be cooked through.

  3. In a large saucepan, melt the ghee or butter on medium heat. 

  4. Add the onion and pepper and cook until browned.

  5. Add the peeled tomatoes, cashews, red pepper flakes, garam masala, fenugreek powder, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

  6. Pour sauce into a blender and blend until smooth.

  7. Pour the sauce back into the saucepan. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces and add into the saucepan.

  8. Simmer until chicken in cooked through

  9. Reduce heat to low and add butter and cream. Adjust seasonings as desired.

  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve with Indian rice.

Indian Rice
Ingredients
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp whole green cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice three times to remove the excess starch.

  2. In a medium saucepan, boil the water with the cardamom and cumin seeds.

  3. Add the rinsed rice and stir. Return to a boil.

  4. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.

  5. Remove the cardamom pods from the top of the rice.

  6. Fluff with fork and serve.

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Turkish Borek with Mashed Potatoes, Ground Beef and Bechamel Sauce

This recipe is a little more ambitious, but a lot of fun to make. I’ve included videos in this blog to demonstrate how to make, roll out and form the dumplings. I initially saw these dumplings being made in a video on Pinterest, but it was in Arabic. I couldn’t understand a word and didn’t even know what the dumplings were called. I posted my questions on a few facebook websites and found the dough ingredient list in broken English on the bottom of the page. I eventually found out that they were called Turkish Boreks and that the dough and fillings vary greatly by region.

The first time I made these the dough turned out great, but the filling was a little bland. So I changed it up a bit and made them again. They were delicious. That being said, you can easily change up the fillings and the spices to your own taste.

Make the dough first and then while it’s rising, make the fillings. The fillings in this recipe are ground beef with onions, mashed potato and béchamel sauce.

For the dough, mix in a large bowl ( or your stand mixer bowl if you have one), 2 cups plus 1 tbsp. flour, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. instant yeast, 1 tsp. baking powder and stir. Add in 1 tsp. salt, 4 tbsp. vegetable oil and 2/3 cup of warm milk. I warmed the milk for 40 seconds in the microwave. If you have a meat thermometer check the milk to make sure it is not more than 105 degrees F.

Mix until a dough forms and then either hand knead for 10-12 minutes or knead in your stand mixer with the dough hook for 6 minutes. The dough should become smooth and elastic. It should be tacky to touch, but not stick to your fingers.

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Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl and turn it around in the bowl to grease all sides of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a cold oven with the light turned on until it doubles in size, about 90 minutes. You can check to see if the dough is done by poking your finger into the dough. If the indent fills back in slowly or not at all, the dough is ready.

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Meanwhile, make your fillings.

Finely chop 1/2 onion and cook in a skillet with a little butter. Once translucent, add in the ground beef and cook until brown. Season with chopped flat leaf parsley, Ras El Hanout (optional – but I do sell this spice blend in my online store), salt and pepper.

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Peel and boil two medium sized potatoes until fork tender. Mash with Ras El Hanout (optional), salt, pepper and 1 tbsp. of butter.

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Make the béchamel sauce. Warm the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds. In a small saucepan melt together the butter and oil. Whisk in the flour until no lumps remain. Slowly add in the milk, whisking the mixture smooth in between each addition to prevent lumps from forming. Initially, the mixture will turn into a thick paste that you can brown slightly. It will thin out as more milk is added. Bring to a boil and stir for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

(Note: the videos appear like they are sideways, but they will turn right side up when you click on them)

When your dough is ready, remove it from the cold oven. Punch it down and then let it rest for 5 minutes (this allows the gluten to relax so it doesn’t spring back as much when rolling it out).

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Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece out to the size of a bread plate. Lightly dust the top of each dough circle with flour. Stack the 6 dough circles and roll out to about 15 inches wide. In the video, I rolled out to 18 inches wide, but I would recommend keeping the dough a little thicker for your first attempt at this recipe.

 

Peel the top layer of dough off of the stack. Brush lightly with a 1/2 oil – 1/2 melted butter mixture. Flip over. Place approx. 1/4 cup of mashed potato in the center of the dough. Top with 1/4 cup of ground beef. Top off with 2 tbsp. of béchamel sauce. Gather the edges of the dough in pleats. Twist like you are closing a bag and pinch closed. Allow the gathered top to fall open over the dumpling. Tuck the edges underneath. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Turkish Borek
Ingredients
For the Dough:
  • 2 cups plus 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk ensure less than 105 degrees F
Potato filling:
  • 2 medium russet potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tsp Ral el Hanount Spice Blend (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
Meat filling:
  • 1/2 onion chopped fine
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1-2 tsp Ras el Hanout (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup plus 5 tbsp warm milk
  • nutmeg to taste
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
Coating:
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
Instructions

Dough:
  1. In a large mixing bowl or your stand mixer bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and instant yeast.

  2. Add in the salt, oil and mix well. 

  3. Heat the milk in the microwave for 40 seconds. Ensure it is not hotter than 105 degrees. Add to the flour mixture and combine to form a dough.

  4. Hand knead for 10-12 minutes or knead in your stand mixer, using the dough hook, for 6 minutes. The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic. It should be tacky to touch, but not stick to your fingers.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Turn the dough around in the bowl to grease all the sides of the dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and then place in a cold oven with the light on.

  6. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. You can test the dough readiness by poking your finger into it. If the indentation fills back in slowly, or not at all, it's ready. (while the dough is rising you can make your fillings.)

  7. Punch down the dough. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax (this will make it easier to roll out).

  8. Cut the dough into 6 equal parts. Roll out each part into a circle the size of a bread plate. Lightly sprinkle flour on top of each piece.

  9. Stack the 6 circles of dough on top of each other. Roll out into a circle 15 inches wide.

Mashed Potato Filling:
  1. Peel and boil the potatoes until fork tender.

  2. Mash with butter, Ras el Hanout, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meat Filling:
  1. In a large skillet, cook the onions with a little oil until translucent.

  2. Add the ground beef and cook until brown all the way through

  3. Add the parsley, Ras el Hanout, salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside.

Bechamel Sauce:
  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the flour, oil and butter. Ensure no lumps form.

  2. Slowly add in the warmed milk, a little at a time, whisking out all lumps in between each addition. At first a thick paste will form and you can brown this a little. As you keep whisking in more milk, the paste will thin out.

  3. Bring to a boil and stir for 7-8 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and mix in nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Assemble the Borek:
  1. Peel the top layer of dough off and place on the counter.

  2. Mix together the oil and butter for the coating. Brush onto the dough circle. Flip it over.

  3. Place 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes into the center of the dough.

  4. Top potatoes with 1/4 cup of ground beef mixture.

  5. Top beef with 2-3 tbsp. béchamel sauce.

  6. Gather the edges of the circle in pleats. Twist together the top like closing a bag and pinch closed.

  7. Allow the top to flop back down over the dumpling. Tuck the edges underneath the dumpling.

  8. Place on a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat until all dough used.

  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

 

 

 

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Steak and Ale Pie

For those of you who follow this blog, you’ll know that I prefer to cook ethnic cuisine from warmer regions. The fruits, spices and nuts from those areas, combined with lamb, chicken and beef make such delicious combinations of flavors in my mouth. Orange chicken with scents of cinnamon, lamb with apricots and almonds, beef with walnuts and pomegranate, spiced onions with honey….I could go on and on (if any of those sound good, check out the cooking boxes in my shop). But now the weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing color and I’m craving a taste of home. Despite my last name, I am not Italian. I am Canadian and my family is British. So yesterday I asked my husband to build a warm fire and I made a scrumptious, steak and ale meat pie.

This pie does take some time to cook so I suggest making the filling and pastry ahead of time. Then assemble the pie about 1 1/2 hours prior to dinner time.

To make the filling first mix a little flour, sea salt and cracked black pepper in a bowl. Toss in your cubed beef and stir to coat. You can use any braising type beef, but the better the cut the better the final product! I used chuck beef and it was still a little tough when done. Next time I’m going to look for sirloin or NY striploin on sale and use that instead.

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In a large, deep skillet, brown the meat with some butter and oil on medium heat. Remove the beef to a bowl and pour 1/2 cup of brown ale into the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour out into the bowl with the meat in it. Chill in the refrigerator.

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Add a little more oil to the skillet and fry the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent and starting to brown.

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Add in the rest of the ale, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and reduce for 1 hr. Stir occasionally.

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Add in the mushrooms, garlic and lemon juice. Reduce for another 1/2 hour. You want the mixture to be fairly dry. Taste and adjust seasonings (sugar, salt, pepper).

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Add the onion mixture to the bowl with the beef. Mix and chill until ready to use.

While the sauce is reducing, make your pastry.

In a large bowl mix the flour and salt.

Cut in the shortening until its in pea size pieces. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of this, but it should look crumbly.

In a 1 cup measuring cup beat 1 egg. Add the vinegar and then top off with milk until the cup is full.

Add to the flour and mix well with your hands. If the dough is a little sticky add 1-2 tbsp. more flour.

Roll into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill for a minimum of 20 minutes.

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This recipe makes a lot of dough. I roll the leftovers into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. It will be enough pastry for a pumpkin pie.

When you’re ready to assemble the pie remove the pastry dough from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Take a little less than 1/2 of the dough and roll out to about 1/8″ thick. Run an icing knife under the pastry to release it from the counter. Fold in half and then into quarters.  Place in a 9 inch springform pan. Let the edges hang over the top edge and gently form the dough to the shape of the pan. Any holes or rips need to be repaired with a bit of extra dough.

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Place in the filling and smooth out flat.

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Beat one egg lightly and brush on the top and inside edge of the pastry.

Take about 1/2 of the remaining dough and roll out into a circle. Place on top of the pie and pinch the top edge closed. Cut of excess dough. Roll all excess dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

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Brush the top of the pie with the egg. Cut three large slits into the top to allow steam to escape.

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Bake for 45 minutes then remove the springform sides. Cover the top with tinfoil if it is getting too brown. Bake for an additional 15 minutes and serve.

Steak and Ale Pie
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 lbs beef cubed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 2 cups brown ale
  • 3 red onions chopped
  • 5-6 carrots chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar more to taste
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 12 oz mushroooms chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg lightly beaten for wash
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sea salt and pepper.

  2. Add the cubed beef and toss to coat (sirloin or NY striploin are best)

  3. In a large, deep skillet melt together the butter and 1/2 tbsp. oil on medium heat.

  4. Add the cubed beef and brown.

  5. Remove the beef to a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of ale to the skillet and reduce heat to low. Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet and pour into bowl with beef. Refrigerate.

  6. Add the other 1/2 tbsp. oil to the skillet. Add in the chopped onions and carrots. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent and starting to brown. 

  7. Add in the remaining ale, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, bay leaves and thyme. Simmer for 1 hour to reduce. Stir occasionally. (Now is a good time to make the pastry)

  8. Add in the mushrooms, garlic and lemon juice. Reduce for another 30 minutes. The mixture should be fairly dry.

  9. Mix into the bowl with the beef. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Filling must be cool prior to placing in the pie.)

Assemble the pie:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Take a little under 1/2 of the pastry dough and roll out on a heavily floured surface to 1/8" thick. Tip: run an icing knife under the pastry to separate it from the counter.

  3. Fold pastry in half and then into quarters and unfold in a 9 inch springform cake pan.

  4. Let the excess pastry hang over the edges of the pan and gently press down on the pastry to form it to the shape of the pan. Any holes are tears need to be repaired with excess dough or the filling will leak out.

  5. Put the filling into the pie. Brush the top and inside edge of the pie with the beaten egg.

  6. Take 1/2 of the remaining dough and roll out into a circle. Place on top of the pie. Pinch the edges closed. Cut off the excess dough and mold all remaining dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

  7. Brush the top of the pie with egg wash.

  8. Cut three slits into the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.

  9. Put the springform pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes.

  10. Remove the springform sides and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Place tinfoil over the top of the pie if it's becoming too brown.

  11. Serve hot.

 

Pastry dough
Ingredients
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/3 cups shortening
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • milk to fill 1 cup with egg and vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt.

  2. Cut in the shortening until pea sized. It should look crumbly.

  3. In a 1 cup measuring cup beat the egg. Add in the vinegar and then top off with milk.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with your hands. If dough is sticky, add 1-2 tbsp. flour.

  5. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for a minimum of 20 minutes prior to rolling out. Freezes well.

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Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken

Haven’t made any preserved lemons yet? No worries, click on the SHOP button and buy yourself some! I’m creating an online store with the hard to find ingredients required for ethnic cooking. I’m even making box kits for Moroccan and Persian cuisines, which would make great Christmas gifts. Do yourself a favor and order some saffron too – I bought it wholesale and the low price will make up for some of your shipping costs. So stay tuned and please be patient as I struggle through the technical issues to get the store up and running.

Now – on to the cooking! This dish is delicious and arguably the most popular of Moroccan recipes. It uses preserved lemons and the spice blend Ras El Hanout. I am selling both ingredients in my online store so don’t fret. Ras El Hanout is a blend of multiple spices and herbs and each recipe is slightly different and regional. My recipe blends 21 spices and herbs and has a very slight heat to it.

This recipe is traditionally cooked in a tagine, but a large oven proof dish, such as a dutch oven works just fine.

First you are going to make a marinade for the chicken. Mix together some garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, tumeric, salt, pepper, Ras El Hanout and vegetable oil. Rub it onto 6 chicken thighs. Let it marinate in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

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Heat 1/2 tbsp. of oil in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add in your marinated chicken and brown it on both sides.

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Add the onions and cook until translucent and soft.

Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and cover.

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Place in a preheated, 350 degree, oven for 40 minutes.

Place the dutch oven back on the stove and remove the chicken. Set the chicken aside someplace warm (like back in your turned off oven).

Simmer and reduce broth for 10 minutes.

Rinse off one preserved lemon. Remove the flesh and pith (white part) and thinly slice the peel.

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Add the preserved lemon peel, olives, parsley and cilantro to the dutch oven. Stir and heat for 1 minutes.

Serve over the chicken and enjoy!

Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken
Ingredients
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ras El Hanout
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 2 large onions sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • peel from 1 preserved lemon cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup green olives pitted
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp cilantro chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix together the garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, tumeric, salt, pepper, Ras El Hanout, and 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Rub onto chicken thighs.

  2. Heat remaining 1/2 tbsp. oil in a dutch oven on medium heat.

  3. Add the chicken and brown on both sides.

  4. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  6. Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick.

  7. Bring to a boil.

  8. Cover and move the dutch oven to the oven. Cook for 40 mins.

  9. After 40 mins, remove the dutch oven and place it back on the stove.

  10. Remove the chicken and set aside.

  11. Simmer and reduce the broth for 10 minutes.

  12. Rinse one preserved lemon. Remove flesh and pith (white part) and thinly slice peel. 

  13. Add the preserved lemon peel, olives, parsley and cilantro. Stir and heat for one minute.

  14. Remove from heat and serve over the chicken.

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Ground Lamb Dumplings with Pistachio and Pomegranate

This recipe creates juicy and flavorful meatballs delicately displayed in wonton wrappers and baked in pomegranate juice. It can be served as a an appetizer or a main dish. It’s one of my new “favorite” recipes and is something I will definitely add to my regular repertoire.

This recipe did not end up the way I initially intended. I originally was trying to create an Italian fusion dish using the Armenian method of wrapping Manti (dumplings) with homemade dumpling wrappers and my meatball recipe. I cooked it in beef broth as per the Armenian method. It was doughy and weird (although pretty). So, I switched out the homemade dumpling pasta for premade wonton wrappers that I bought at a local Asian store. Not only was it less doughy, it was also A LOT easier. Next I switched out my meatball recipe for something with more of a Persian flare – lamb meatballs made with ground pistachios. Then I changed the beef broth out for pomegranate juice because why not? It was sure to add a little sweetness. The final creation was beyond delicious and beautiful. It was a tasty mosaic of Persian and Armenian flavors and textures.

As per usual, it’s easy to make. Just know you need about 10 minutes to wrap the dumplings. (You could easily make this without the wonton wrappers and serve as an appetizer with little wooden skewers.)

I used a shallow serving dish that was oven proof to bake the dumplings in, but any oven proof dish will work.

First you need grind your pistachios. This was easily accomplished in my small food processor. You will need 1/2 cup of ground pistachios when your done, plus some chopped ones for garnish.

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Now you need to do a little chopping. Alternatively, you could place all this in your food processor, but I like to see the individual ingredients in my meatballs so I chop by hand. You need to finely chop 1/2 an onion, then chop the herbs – cilantro, tarragon and parsley.

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In a large bowl mix the ground lamb, finely chopped onion, ground pistachios, bread crumbs, cilantro, parsley, tarragon, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sea salt, cumin, and egg. Mix together well using your hands. This is your meatball mix.

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Grease your oven proof dish.

Now create the open faced dumplings. Take a wonton wrapper and place a walnut sized meatball in the center. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and use it to wet the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a rectangle, but only seal the side edges leaving the top open. Then seal the outside edges of the top to form a “kayak” shaped dumpling (open in the middle so you can see the lamb meatball).

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Place the dumplings in a symmetric pattern in the greased, oven proof dish.

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Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from oven and drizzle 1 cup of pomegranate juice over the meatballs. Placed sliced butter evenly over dumplings. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-17 minutes (or until meatballs cooked through).

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Mix together 1 cup of plain yogurt with 1 tbsp. of lemon juice. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

Garnish the dumplings with pomegranate arils and chopped pistachios. Drizzle some of the yogurt sauce overtop and put the rest on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

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Ground Lamb Dumplings with Pistachio and Pomegranate

Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tarragon chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh flat parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pkg wonton wrappers
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 3 tbsp sliced butter
Garnish:
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • 3-4 tbsp pomegranate arils
Sauce:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Grind your pistachios in a food processor. 

  2. Chop the onion, tarragon, parsley and cilantro.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the ground lamb, pistachios, onions, herbs, lemon juice, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, sea salt, cracked black pepper, cumin and egg. This is your meatball mixture.

  4. Form walnut sized meatballs and place in the center of the wonton wrapper.

  5. Dip a finger in a bowl of water and wet the edges of the wrapper.

  6. Fold wrapper in half, into a rectangle.

  7. Seal sides.

  8. Seal top edges leaving the middle open to expose the meatball. The dumpling should look like a kayak.

  9. Grease your oven proof dish. A round dish is best, but any casserole dish will work. Arrange dumplings in dish in a geometric pattern.

  10. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

  11. Remove from oven and drizzle pomegranate juice over the meatballs. Top with sliced butter. Place back in the oven for another 15-17 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

  12. Mix together the sauce ingredients.

  13. Garnish dumplings with chopped pistachios, pomegranate arils. Drizzle some of the sauce overtop and save the rest for dipping.

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The Squamish Salad Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part IV

I used to live in Squamish. It’s a small town on the Western Coast of Canada. I lovingly refer to it as “hippieville” to my North Eastern friends. Flip flops, toques (wool hats), and flowing skirts are required wardrobe there. Healthy, organic food, full of nuts and vegetables is the popular cuisine. This bowl is based off of a west coast recipe called the “Glory Bowl” which was made popular by a café in Nelson, BC. This is my east coast version of that bowl. I have replaced the tofu with chicken, the rice with quinoa, made the dressing lighter and changed up a couple of other ingredients to create a lighter, yet slightly tastier bowl.

Taking the brown rice out of the bowl also makes it quicker to prepare. I usually start by making 1 cup of quinoa (I prefer the tri-color kind) and setting it aside. Then I grate one bunch of carrots and one bunch of beets. Finally, I cube some chicken (breast or boneless thighs) and saute them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Now I can assemble the bowls.

You can make this as individual bowls or as one big salad. If making individual bowls, I use about 1/2-3/4 cup of each ingredient (except the nuts). First place the quinoa in the bottom of the bowl. Then add a layer of wild arugula, then beets, carrots, chicken and finally sprinkle the top with roasted pepitas.

Now to make the dressing (which is the best part in my opinion). Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined (about 90 seconds). (Nutritional yeast flavoring/flakes can be found at most upscale grocery stores such as King’s or Whole Foods.) Drizzle lots of dressing over each bowl (or onto your big salad). Use it all, you won’t be disappointed.

This bowl makes a perfect lunch on a hot summer day. Enjoy!

The Squamish Salad Bowl
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried quinoa prepare according to package directions
  • 1 small bunch carrots peeled and grated
  • 1 small bunch beets peeled and grated
  • 3-4 cups wild arugula
  • 4 chicken breasts or deboned thighs cubed
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepitas
Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast flavoring/flakes
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Set aside. (I like to use tri-color quinoa because it looks pretty).

  2. Peel and grate the beets and carrots.

  3. Cube the chicken and saute in olive oil until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. If doing individal bowls use approx. 1/2-3/4 cup of each ingredient. Layer in the following order: quinoa, wild arugula, beets, carrots, chicken. 

  5. Sprinkle roasted pepitas on top.

Dressing:
  1. Place all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. (About 90 seconds).

  2. Drizzle dressing overtop of bowls.

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The Moroccan Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part III.

Those of you who follow my blog regularly will have noticed that I enjoy spices. Particularly, the spices used in Indian, Moroccan and Persian cooking. Since I have already given you an Indian bowl, here’s a Moroccan one! (I promise the next bowl will have more of a salad vibe).

I recently saw an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, (yes, I’m addicted), where one of the housewives served a Moroccan stew for dinner. It looked delicious. I searched the internet for a similar recipe and found something that looked close on Pinterest. I have changed it up to add a bit of spice and heat. I’ve also put in the option of adding chicken as it is a very light lunch bowl. Finally, I added some raisins and a pecan garnish for some texture variety. I hope you like it as much as I do!

This recipe uses onions, garlic, ginger, garbanzo beans, tomato sauce, butternut squash, red lentils and bell pepper with an abundance of yummy spices. It is paired up with quinoa (I like tri color quinoa because it’s pretty), wild arugula and greek yogurt.

It’s ridiculously easy to make. If you’re adding chicken, I recommend cooking it first in a skillet with a little olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Use bite size pieces to make it easier to eat.

Dice a yellow onion and mince three garlic cloves. Add these with a little olive oil to a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, for 60-90 minutes (or until squash is fork tender and lentils soft).

Using a deep bowl, fill 1/3 with the cooked quinoa, 1/3 with the stew, and 1/3 with wild arugula. Top with a dollop of greek yogurt and sprinkle on some chopped pecans. Serve with a piece of naan (optional).

The Moroccan Bowl
Ingredients
The Stew:
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 14 oz can garbanzo beans
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp grated ginger (fresh)
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 medium breasts chicken cut into bite sized pieces (optional)
Serve with:
  • 1 cup quinoa (I like tri-color) prepared according to package directions
  • 4 cups wild arugula
  • greek yogurt
  • chopped pecans for garnish
  • small piece of naan optional
Instructions
  1. If using chicken, precook in a medium skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan (or soup pot). Add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

  3. Add remaining stew ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 60-90 minutes or until squash fork tender and lentils soft.
  4. Fill bowl 1/3 with cooked quinoa, 1/3 wild arugula and 1/3 stew.

  5. Top with a dollop of greek yogurt and garnish with chopped pecans.

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Crispy Brussel Sprouts Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part II

I recently took a trip to sunny Arizona. There, I enjoyed some real, authentic Mexican food. I also enjoyed some fusion Mexican food – or Mexican with a TWIST. One such dish was Brussel sprout nachos. I NEVER would have put those two things together. It was served with a bright pink beet crema and a fried egg. The colors definitely popped. I liked the nachos, but it got me thinking about a healthier version of the dish. This bowl is inspired by these strange, yet delicious, nachos from Diego Pops.

To be honest, I can’t recall all the ingredients on the Brussel sprout nachos. However, I think there may have been some picked onions on them. Pickled onions and cabbage are very popular in tacos right now. So I’ve added some picked red onions into my bowl. These need to be made at least an hour in advance, but will keep in the fridge for several days.

To make the onions, mix together the apple cider, sugar, salt, and water. Add one sliced red onion and cover. Chill.

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Take one pound of Brussel sprouts and cut the bottoms off and remove any dead outer leaves. Slice them lengthwise. Toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil in a bowl. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking tray.

 

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Peel one small beet (or 1/2 of a large beet) and cut into chunks. Add the cut beet and two garlic cloves to the leftover olive oil/salt/pepper mixture in the bowl you removed the Brussel sprouts from. Toss to coat. Wrap up in aluminum foil and place on the baking tray.

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Bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Shake the tray a couple of times to prevent the sprouts from burning. They should be dark brown and blackened in areas when done.

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While the Brussel sprouts are roasting, prepare your wheat bulgur. Alternatively, this bowl could be made with quinoa or brown rice.

Once cooked, mash together the garlic and beets with a fork. Mix with 1 cup of your favorite ranch dressing a puree together in a blender. Run the blender until you can no longer see bits of beets in the dressing (about 3 minutes).

Quickly fry up an egg for each bowl you are making.

Assemble the bowls. Use the bulgur as a base and gently place the egg on top. Using a fork remove a few rings of onion from the vinegar solution and place on top of the egg. Add the roasted Brussel sprouts and drizzle the dressing on top.

Crispy Brussel Sprout Bowl
Ingredients
  • 1 red onion sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 small beet
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup wheat bulgur prepared according to package directions. May sub quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 egg per bowl
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
Instructions
  1. You need to make the pickled onions at least one hour in advance. Mix together the apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Add the sliced red onion. Cover and chill. (These will stay good for several days in the fridge).
  2. Wash the Brussel sprouts. Remove any dead outer leaves and cut the bottoms off. Slice lengthwise.

  3. Place Brussel sprouts in a bowl. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over top. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coast. Remove sprout to a baking tray.

  4. Peel and chop beet into chunks. Place chopped beet and garlic cloves in the bowl with the olive oil/salt/pepper. Toss to coat. Wrap in aluminum foil and place on the baking sheet with the sprouts

  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until Brussel sprouts brown and blackened in areas. Shake the tray a couple of times while baking to prevent burning. (Now is a good time to make your bulgur).

  6. Mash the beet and garlic cloves together. Place in a blender with ranch dressing and blend using highest setting until no beet pieces are visible (about 3 minutes).

  7. Fry one egg per bowl.

  8. To assemble the bowls: Place a large scoop of bulgur in the bottom of the bowl. Gently add the egg on top. Remove with a fork several slices of pickled onion and place on top of egg. Add Brussel sprouts and drizzle dressing on top. Enjoy!

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The Butter Chicken Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part I.

This blog is the first in a series of scrumptious lunch bowls that are both visually stunning and tasty. “Bowls” have become popular of late, but they are usually made with Acai and other berries. Presentation is a key ingredient when making a bowl and I’ll show you how simple this is.

I haven’t posted a blog in awhile. Life just got…busy. So to make it up to you I’m including three recipes in this post. They all go together or can be used separately. I’m going to show you how to make butter chicken, Indian rice, and a mango chutney (Indian style). Of course, this bowl can be made with plain rice and without the chutney. It will still taste delicious.

Butter chicken was the first Indian dish I tasted. It has no heat so it tends to be liked by everyone. (Of course, you can add a little chili pepper if you want). After my first taste of Indian food I was in love and it continues to be my favorite kind of ethnic food today.

The Butter Chicken:

Melt the butter in a deep skillet and saute the onions until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala and fry the spices for another minute to release their flavors.

Add the chicken to the skillet and brown. Then add the diced tomatoes, sauce and almond meal. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. (This is when you should start making the rice).

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Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt. Serve with the rice and garnish with chopped cilantro and mango chutney.

The Indian Rice:

This is so easy and enhances the flavor of the dish.

Rinse the rice three times to reduce the amount of starch.

Boil the water with the cumin seeds and whole green cardamom pods. Once boiling, add the basmati rice, stir and return to a boil. Cover, then reduce heat to low for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the water will be completely absorbed and the cardamoms will be on top of the rice. Remove them with a spoon.

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Fluff the rice with a fork.

The Mango Chutney:

This can be made up to a week in advance. It’s also great with samosas.

In a saucepan mix together the vinegar, golden raisins, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt and onion. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

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Add the mango and water and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. I then mash the mango a bit with a potato masher to get the desired consistency.

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Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The Presentation:

In a deep bowl spoon the rice into one side and pat down.

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Into the other side of the bowl spoon in the butter chicken.

Add a dollop of mango chutney on top of the rice.

Garnish with the cilantro.

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Butter Chicken
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger grated
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp almond meal/ground almonds
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat melt the butter.

  2. Add the onion to the skillet and saute until translucent.

  3. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and saute for one minute.

  4. Add the tumeric, chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, and garam masala to the skillet and fry for 1 minute to release the flavors.

  5. Add the chicken and brown.

  6. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and ground almond meal.

  7. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20-30 minutes.

  8. Remove from heat and stir in Greek yogurt.

  9. Serve with basmati rice (see Indian Rice recipe) and garnish with cilantro and mango chutney.

Indian Rice
Ingredients
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp whole green cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice three times to remove the excess starch.

  2. In a medium saucepan, boil the water with the cardamom and cumin seeds.

  3. Add the rinsed rice and stir. Return to a boil.

  4. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.

  5. Remove the cardamom pods from the top of the rice.

  6. Fluff with fork and serve.

Mango Chutney (Indian Style)
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups mango fresh or frozen. Cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan mix together the onion, brown sugar, raisins, vinegar, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cumin and salt.

  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

  3. Add the mango and water. Continue to simmer and stir for an additional 10 minutes.

  4. Mash the mango with a fork or potato masher to your desired consistency.

  5. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi with a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

As I travel along on my Italian cooking journey I decided to try and make gnocchi. It’s actually pretty easy. It does make a sticky dough that can test your nerves at times, but the result is a tender, fluffy gnocchi with a delicate flavor.

The first time I made gnocchi I made it with spinach and a lemon oil sauce that I had adapted from a cookbook. While I loved it, my kids don’t like anything green so I decided to try and see if I could create a butternut squash gnocchi instead. (Orange is a more acceptable color to eat according to both my toddlers and teenagers.)

First you need to roast the squash in the oven. I cheated and bought pre-cut cubes, but if you want to save money buy a small butternut squash, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Coat either the pre cut cubes or squash halves with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until fork tender. (Cubes take about 25 minutes, halves about 1 hr).

Shred the roasted squash with a fork. Weigh out 250 grams and place in a large bowl. Add ricotta cheese, grated parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and flour. Mix well. A sticky dough will form.

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Heavily flour your counter and turn out the dough. Divide the dough into four sections. Take one section and form a ball. Coat the ball with a light layer of flour and roll into a 1 inch log.

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Slice the log into 1/4 inch pieces. Then, using a floured fork, press the tines into one side of the gnocchi to form grooves.

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Repeat with the remaining 3 sections.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the gnocchi in two batches. The gnocchi will float to the surface when done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place into a colander to completely drain.

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In a large frying pan melt 1/2 cup of butter and cook until it starts to turn a golden color. Add the chopped sage and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi into the pan and toss to coat. Cook until the gnocchi is hot again. Serve and enjoy!

Butternut Squash with a Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Ingredients
  • 1 lb butternut squash cubed or whole
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4-6 leaves sage chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  2. If using a whole squash, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.

  3. Place squash on a greased baking sheet, brush on olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Cook until fork tender (approx. 25 minutes for cubes, 1 hr for halves)

  5. Mash and shred squash with a fork. Weigh out 250 grams and place in a large mixing bowl.

  6. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to form a sticky dough.

  7. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface. Divide dough into four equal sections.

  8. Take one dough section and form a ball. Coat ball with a light layer of flour.

  9. Roll ball into a 1 inch rope. Slice into 1/4 inch rounds.

  10. Using a floured fork, press the tines into one side of each gnocchi to form grooves.

  11. Repeat with the remaining 3 sections.

  12. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook gnocchi in two batches. They will float to the surface when done.

  13. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place in a colander to completely drain.

Sauce:
  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter and cook until it turns a golden color. 

  2. Add the sage and cook for another 2  minutes.

  3. Add the gnocchi into the skillet. Toss to coat. Cook till hot and serve.

 

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DeMaio Sunday Gravy and the World Beyond Ragu

Anthony DeMaio was a man larger than life. I entered his family in the twilight of his life and was honored to know him. He would regale me with stories of driving Patton around in a tank during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, lifting a car off of his son single-handedly when a jack collapsed and, of course, how he loved to make meatballs and Sunday gravy.

Now, despite my last name, I am not Italian. The first time I went the DeMaio house it was for a Sunday lunch. The first course was pasta with this famous Sunday gravy. At first I was confused because it looked like pasta sauce, not gravy, but the terminology was quickly explained to me. Everyone was putting some white stuff I thought was called “rigota” on the side. I tried some. It was delicious. I later discovered that this was ricotta cheese. The pasta was served with an assortment of meats including: sausages, meatballs, a piece of beef that looked like pot roast and some pork. I wondered how many days they had cooked for to make this meal. Did they just have pot roast the night before? It was a lot of food. The next course was chicken (seriously, when did they sleep??) and then finally salad. Italians have salad last, not first, like North Americans.

This meal was served to me many times and every time I couldn’t believe the huge assortment of meats on the table. If this was “Sunday” gravy did they always make “Saturday” pot roast and sausages? My father-in-law tried to explain to me how to make the “gravy”, but I misunderstood some of the directions and ended up with a sweet, oily mess. You see, I never understood that the meats were cooked in the sauce. His daughter, Margie, clarified that for me years later. Yes, that’s the secret. While he did get up at 5am to make the sauce in time for lunch, he was not actually making 4 separate dishes.

This meat infused pasta sauce is well worth the time it takes to make. It’s not hard, but it needs to simmer for a good portion of the day to develop it’s flavor.

First, make some meatballs. You can do this the day before. Make sure you use 85% lean ground beef rather than anything leaner. Otherwise, the meatballs will turn out dry. Mix all the meatball ingredients together with clean hands and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using wet hands roll the meat mixture into 2 inch balls. Keep rolling until the outside of the ball is nice and smooth. Re-wet your hands as necessary. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done in the center. If your meatballs are placed in the sauce without being thoroughly cooked first, they might fall apart.

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When you’re ready to make the sauce find a big soup pot and heat about 2 tbsp. of olive oil in it. Brown the beef, pork and sausages.

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Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Cook the onions in the remaining oil (add more if needed) until translucent and then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Take care not to burn the bottom of the pot. Add the paste and brown for approximately 2 minutes. Precooking the paste will reduce its acidity. Then add the crushed tomatoes, meatballs, browned meats and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add approximately 1 1/2 cups of water. You may add more water later on if the sauce becomes to thick. Bring the sauce to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for a minimum of 4 hours to allow the flavors to infuse.

 

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Serve with your favorite pasta, some ricotta cheese and shredded parmesan. Enjoy!

Mr. DeMaio

A big thanks to Anthony DeMaio and his daughter Margie for sharing this recipe.

DeMaio Sunday Gravy
Ingredients
Meatballs:
  • 2 1/2 lbs 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup grated romano cheese
  • 4 tbsp Italian flat leaf parsley chopped fine
  • 1-2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Sauce:
  • 1 lb chuck steak
  • 1 lb pork loin
  • 6 links Italian sweet sausage
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes san marzano is best
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. The meatballs must be cooked in advance. You can either do this in the morning or the day before.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Mix all meatball ingredients together.

  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  5. Using wet hands roll the meat mixture into 2 inch balls. Roll between your hands until the outside of the balls is smooth. Re-wet your hands as necessary.

  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

Sauce:
  1. In a large soup pot heat some olive oil and brown the meats. 

  2. Remove the meats from the pot and set aside.

  3. Cook the onion in the pot until translucent. Add more oil as necessary.

  4. Add the minced garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant.

  5. Add the paste to the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes. You want the paste to start to turn brown - this reduces the acidity.

  6. Add the remaining ingredients and the meats back to the pot.

  7. Add the meatballs to the pot.


  8. Add 1 1/2 cups water to the pot and bring to a boil. 

  9. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for a minimum of four hours to allow the flavors to infuse.

  10. If sauce becomes to thick add some water. Alternatively, if the sauce is too thin, remove the lid and allow to reduce until desired consistency.

 

 

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One Pot Madras Chicken Curry with Basmati Rice

A while ago, my mom shared with me a one pot chicken shwarma recipe. It was absolutely divine and got me thinking about one pot cooking. It takes the “timing” issue out of cooking, which is especially important when cooking for company. This dish is spicy and flavorful and definitely one of the recipe creations I am proud of. It makes a large amount, but the recipe can easily be cut in half.

First you are going to make a curry paste to rub on your chicken thighs. Combine dry mustard powder with ground coriander, ground cumin, red chili flakes, paprika, minced garlic, minced ginger, malt vinegar and vegetable oil. Stir until a paste is formed and rub it into all sides of the chicken thighs. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

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When you’re ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large, deep skillet heat about 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

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Cook the onions in the oil until translucent. Add in the rice and stir to coat the rice grains in the oil.

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Add in the chicken stock, garbanzo beans, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add the chicken back into the pan. Bring to a simmer.

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Cover and place in the preheated oven. Cooked covered for 35 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and enjoy!

One Pot Madras Chicken Curry with Basmati Rice
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 inches ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 14 oz can garbanzo beans
  • 8 small chicken thighs
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • cilantro leaves chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Mix the first 9 ingredients together to form a paste. Rub onto the chicken pieces.  Allow to marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

  2. In a large, deep saucepan heat about 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil. Brown the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

  3. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent.

  4. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat the rice grains with the oil.

  5. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and garbanzo beans to the pan. Stir to combine.

  6. Add the chicken back into the pan and bring everything to a simmer.


  7. Cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Then remove cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

  8. Garnish with cilantro and serve. Enjoy!

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How to Make Homemade Pasta Without a Pasta Machine or Roller

I have been on a delectable journey of learning to cook from scratch. I just can’t believe how much better everything tastes. Homemade breads, perogies, jams, pickles, doughnuts and cheeses are full of flavors and texture. I wanted to try to make pasta from scratch, but I didn’t have a machine. Then, a couple of days ago, I was watching a reality TV show (yes, I watch the Housewives series on Bravo) and I saw them hand rolling pasta while on a trip to Italy. So, I thought I’d give it a try and I wasn’t disappointed. My Italian husband actually told me this was the BEST pasta he’d ever eaten.

It was a lot easier than I thought, but the rolling takes a little time so be patient. Think of it as “cooking with love”.

First go to the store and buy some semolina flour. You can use regular AP flour if you like, but traditionally pasta is made with semolina.

Mix two cups of semolina flour with a 1/4 tsp of salt. Adding the salt is optional. You can boil the pasta in salted water instead if you prefer (or do both!)

Dump the flour/salt mixture onto your counter in a mound. Create a well in the center.

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Into the center put 3 eggs and 2 tbsp. of water.

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Using a whisk, beat the eggs and water together and then slowly incorporate the flour from the edges of the well with each whisk. Continue until the dough becomes too thick for the whisk and then use your clean hands to finish mixing the dough together.

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Now, eggs are all different sizes so you may need to add a little more flour or water as you start to knead.  The dough should hold together, but not be sticky.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. It will be quite stiff to start and soften up as you knead. It should become smooth and shiny.

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Once the dough is well kneaded, form it into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Wait 45 minutes to allow the dough to rest. DO NOT SKIP this step. The dough will be too difficult to roll out.

After 45 minutes the dough should be soft and appear more hydrated. Divide it into 4 sections. Wrap three sections back up in the plastic wrap until ready to roll.

Take the first dough section and flatten it into a disc on a heavily floured surface.

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Roll the dough into a rectangle as thin as you can. This takes some time and a little bit of “elbow grease”.

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Once done, dust the dough lightly with flour and roll from the top like a jelly roll.

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Cut the ends off the roll and then slice into rounds to your desired noodle width (I cut them just under 1/4 inch).

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Carefully unroll the rounds into a bowl and sprinkle with flour to prevent the noodles from sticking together.

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Repeat with the remaining 3 sections.

Boil for 2-4 minutes in salted boiling water and serve with your favorite sauce.

The noodles will be so much more tender than store bought ones.

Enjoy!

PS – I made a delicious sauce using a large jar of marinara sauce, 1 chopped onion, sliced black olives, sliced mushrooms, parmesan cheese and sausage meat. Fry the onion and then add the meat. Cook until meat browned all the way through. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce, olives and cheese and simmer until ready to serve (I also sometimes add 1/2 can of garbanzo beans).

Homemade Pasta
Ingredients
  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt optional
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Mix together the flour and salt (salt is optional - traditionally the pasta is not salted and boiled only in salted water).

  2. Pour flour salt mixture onto your counter in a mound

  3. Create a well in the center

  4. Put the eggs and water into the well

  5. Using a whisk, beat the eggs and water together and then slowly incorporate the flour with each turn until the dough becomes too stiff. Then finish incorporating the flour into the dough with your clean hands

  6. Knead for ten minutes. Add a little water or flour as necessary. The dough should hold together, but not be sticky. The dough will start out stiff and soften as you continue kneading. It will become smooth and shiny after 10 minutes of kneading.

  7. Form the dough into a ball and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Wait 45 minutes to allow the dough to rest and hydrate.

  8. Divide the dough into four sections. Keep three sections in the plastic wrap until ready to use to prevent a crust from forming.

  9. On a floured surface flatten the dough into a disc. Roll out as thin as you can into a rectangle. This takes a bit of time and elbow grease. Be patient.

  10. Dust the dough with flour and roll from the top down like a jelly roll.

  11. Cut the ends off the roll and discard. Slice into rounds to the desired width of your pasta.

  12. Unroll the rounds into strips and dust with flour to prevent the noodles from sticking together.

  13. Repeat with the remaining three sections. 

  14. Boil in salted water for 2-4 minutes. Enjoy!