Thursday, April 12, 2018

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Zucchini, Apricots and Olives



This is one of my favorite things to make and eat. I developed the recipe over time, tweaking things here and there, and you can adapt it to your own taste. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's not complicated. You can play around with the spices and the amounts of them (I usually just eyeball it) as well as the different kind of veggies and fruits. Tomatoes, sweet potato, butternut squash, chickpeas, a little ginger, dried plums (ok, prunes,) golden raisins and summer squash are all things that I've tried in this dish with great success. You can vary it to the season and your taste. This particular one is a little summery with the zucchini, mild olives and apricots. I use castelvetrano olives, which if you haven't tried, are amazing. I have seen die hard olive haters come around after trying them. They're mild, buttery and not overly briny. I serve it over a simple couscous with a sprinkling of parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Sometimes I add a little harissa, a Tunisian spice blend. It's available in most markets and comes in a tube or jar but if you can't find it, it's totally optional so don't worry. It's a perfect meal either way.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Olives and Zucchini
serves 6 generously

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2.5 - 3 lbs.)
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp of cayenne
1 tsp kosher salt
olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c tomato paste
32 oz chicken broth (I like the organic, free range Imagine brand)
6 oz dried apricots (I used organic turkish apricots), roughly chopped
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 c castel vetrano olives (pitted or unpitted - just be careful while eating)
juice of one lemon
a handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

harissa (Tunisian spice blend)
prepared couscous to serve over

Lay one of the chicken thighs flat on a cutting board and cut it in three pieces lengthwise and then 3 times crosswise so that you have 9 pieces of chicken. Do this with the rest of the thighs and place all the meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the next 6 ingredients and stir to coat evenly. You can let this marinate 5 minutes or overnight.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven on the stove with a medium flame. Add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for about five minutes or until the onion starts to turn pale golden. You don't want to let it get too dark, or to burn. Next, add the seasoned chicken and tomato paste. Turn the heat up a little. You want to stir it every couple minutes until all the pieces start to look like they're getting some color and are no longer pink. The time will depend on your pot, flame and how often you stir, but it should take about 10 minutes. Add the apricots and chicken broth, turn down the heat to a simmer (you don't want it boiling) and cover. Let simmer for about one and a half to two hours. You can check on it and add some water (a cup or two) if the liquid level starts getting low. You want it to look like a liquidy stew. In the last ten minutes of cooking, add the zucchini and olives.

Before serving, stir in the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve over couscous in large bowls. Enjoy!



Thursday, February 1, 2018


Chicken Parmesean


This is a somewhat lighter version than what you usually find in restaurants. Feel free to use your favorite brand of store bought tomato sauce, although this one is easy, tasty, and only takes about 30 minutes to come together. You can make it while you're cooking the chicken. To make it even healthier, you can bake the chicken breasts on a greased sheet pan for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. If you are cooking the chicken in a skillet, place each piece on a wire rack over a cookie sheet as they finish cooking. This will prevent the bottom from getting soggy. No one likes a soggy bottom.


For the tomato sauce:


2 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped in small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
pinch of chili flakes
salt and pepper

Sautée onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes until pale golden, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add chili flakes and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom. You can add a splash of red wine or water if it starts to get too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more chili flakes if you like it spicy.

For the chicken:


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened or butterflied*
1 egg
1/4 c milk
1 c breadcrumbs (regular, whole wheat, Italian, panko or panko Italian all work well)
salt and pepper
2-3 Tbs canola or vegetable oil
8 oz fresh mozzarella ball, sliced in to 6 circles
hand full of fresh basil

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the breadcrumbs in a wide bowl. Dip the chicken breasts in the egg and milk mixture, then in breadcrumbs, turning to coat thoroughly. Heat oil in large skillet. Once hot, add chicken and cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden and cooked through. If you're not sure, cut into a breast to check for doneness. Once cooked transfer to wire rack over a cookie sheet. Lightly salt and pepper breasts. Top each breast with a big spoonful of tomato sauce and a slice of cheese. Place tray in oven and cook about 5 minutes or until cheese starts to melt.

Serve chicken with the rest of the tomato sauce and fresh basil.

*To flatten the chicken, place a chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap or in a food storage bag. Using the smooth side of a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, pound gently until uniform in thickness. You can also buy thinly sliced chicken breast cutlets or slice the breasts horizontally to make thin cutlets. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant


This is the easiest recipe around for miso glazed Japanese eggplant. You only need about 5 ingredients (more if you want to go a little crazy with the garnish) and 20 minutes. Similar to the eggplant nasu dengaku you can find at Nobu, it's delicious as a vegetarian meal with steamed rice, or as a side to teriyaki steak or salmon. 



Ingredients:

4 Japanese eggplants
4 Tbs white miso paste
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs mirin
2 Tbs sake (optional - if not using sake, increase mirin to 4 Tbs)
vegetable, peanut or canola oil
optional garnishes: sesame seeds, cilantro, scallions, cilantro, lime wedges, pickled ginger


1. Combine miso, sugar, sake if using and mirin in a small saucepan, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved and color begins to darken, about 5 minues. Remove from heat.

2. Slice 4 Japanese eggplants in half lengthwise and score with a pairing knife in a cross hatch pattern.

3. Heat oven to broil. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil until a piece of eggplant placed in it will start sizzling immediately. Working in batches, place eggplant in pan, skin side up, and fry 1 minute or until golden. Turn and fry 30 seconds more. Transfer eggplants to baking sheet lined with paper towels. 

4. Put eggplants, skin side down, on an unlined baking sheet. Spread each half with 1 Tbs miso sauce. Broil until miso begins to darken and caramelize, 1-5 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler. Keep an eye on them as they can go from perfect to burned rather quickly. A little char is good, but you don't want them black.

5. Eat as is or garnish with any of the optional garnishes.


(Serves 2-4 depending on if it's a main course or side.)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blackberry Ice Cream


Blackberry Ice Cream 


A couple weeks ago I was picking wild blackberries in upstate New York and I was inspired to make a blackberry ice cream when I got home to LA and my ice cream maker. This is the ice cream to make when you have a couple pints of really plump, super sweet blackberries bursting with flavor. Wild or farmer's market is ideal, but nice ones from the grocery store will do just as well. However, once you buy your blackberries, don't put them in the fridge or you will loose a lot of the natural sugar and a lot of flavor. Keep them out on the counter until you're ready to go. I tried to keep the sugar low and the creaminess factor high with this recipe. Last week I served it at a dinner party with a no-cook blackberry sauce. Just crush a cup of blackberries in a bowl with a potato masher, add a spoonful of sugar and the juice of half a lemon and stir to combine. It gave a nice, tart counterpoint to the rich ice cream and everyone loved it.

Recipe:

1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
5 egg yolks
8 oz blackberries
pinch of salt

In a blender or food processor pulse berries until not quite smooth, you want to have a few chunks to bite in to.

Warm milk in saucepan and warm until hot but not scalding. While milk is heating mix sugar, egg yolks and a pinch of salt in a large metal bowl. Whisk 1-2 minutes until combined and creamy. Gradually pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly and being careful not to scramble the eggs. Return mixture to the sauce pan, place over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring constantly until mixture reaches 170 F. If you don't have a thermometer, just cook the custard until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Strain custard in to a clean bowl to remove any cooked egg solids. Add cream and blackberries. Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. When ready to freeze, pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Makes about 1.5 quarts.




Sunday, July 2, 2017

Strawberry Almond Clafoutis



Clafoutis (pronounced kla-foo-tee) is traditionally made with cherries, but it's also delicious with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, prunes soaked in brandy...any fruit really really. It's elegant (because it's French!) and easy; like a cross between a soufflé and a flan. You basically make a crepe batter in the blender, pour it over the fruit and bake. It will puff up a little like a soufflé and should be creamy within.

This recipe serves 2-4 and is baked in a small dish but can be doubled (only increase the fruit to 3 cups) and baked in a 9 inch cake pan or skillet to serve 6-8. If you don't like almonds, use 100% AP flour and substitute vanilla extract for the almond extract.

Strawberry Almond Clafoutis

8 oz (2 cups) hulled strawberries, sliced in half if large
1 T unsalted butter
1/2 c milk
2 eggs
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/4 c almond flour
1/2 t almond extract
1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Use butter to grease a 6 inch cast iron skillet or gratin dish. Place strawberries in pan, cut side down if halved.

Put all other ingredients in blender and whizz until combined and smooth. About 15 seconds. Pour batter over strawberries. Bake 35-45 minutes or until middle is just set and clafoutis is lightly golden. Let cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into wedges to serve. Good warm, room temp or cold.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Quick Raw Low Sugar Strawberry Jam


Did you know you can make RAW strawberry jam in no time at all with just a small amount of sugar or sweetener? I love old fashioned jam but this is great in the summer when you don't want to stand over a hot stove. It works best with sweet, small, very ripe famer's market strawberries like gaviotas.

Raw Strawberry Jam

250 g or 2 c hulled, ripe strawberries
1 T lemon juice
1-2 T sweetener of choice (honey, agave, maple syrup, white or brown sugar...)
2 T chia seeds

Place strawberries in a blender with lemon juice and sweetener of choice. Blend or pulse for chunkier texture. Taste and adjust sweetener if you want. Transfer to bowl and stir in chia seeds. Pour into a jar and let set in fridge. Makes about 10 ounces and keeps up to 2 weeks refrigerated.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Strawberry Cherry Galette





Fruit galettes are a perfect summer dessert. Easier and more forgiving than a pie, and only a little more work than a crisp or crumble. I used strawberries and cherries, but this would be good with any stone fruit as well.


1 tart crust (recipe below)
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 c cherries, pitted and cut in half
3 T sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
juice of half a lemon 1/8 tsp salt
egg wash (1 yolk and 1 T milk or water whisked together)
2 T turbinado sugar
2 T butter


Heat oven to 375 F.

Combine strawberries, cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and stir gently to combine.

Roll out tart dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper until it's 1/8" thick. Transfer dough and parchment to a sheet pan. Place fruit in center of dough, leaving a 2" border. Gently fold the pastry inwards,over the fruit, pleating to hold it in (it can be messy). Brush pastry generously with egg wash. Dot butter over exposed fruit and sprinkle turbinado sugar over everything. Bake for aprox. 45-55 minutes or until crust is deep golden and fruit is bubbling. Let cool slightly before serving.

Tart Crust (Pate Brisee)

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1/2 c cold, unsalted butter, cut in to 1" chunks
2-4 tbs ice water
Put the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand (about 15 seconds.) Pour two tbs of water through the opening and mix until the mixture will hold together when pinched (you may need to add the remaining water.) Remove the dough and work it into a ball. Pat it down into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before assembling tart.