Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spiced Grilled Chicken (Djej Mechoui)

 Hello again, my Moroccan cookbook. I feel it's been a long time since I spent any time with you (though I am sure my Indian cookbook feels an even greater loss) but I am back and I am glad you openly accept me.

Ha, look at me trying to be funny - and failing. That's what happens when you write a post after a few glasses of wine: suddenly humor seems like a good idea while the ability to pull it off is severely dampened with each passing sip. Anyway, grilled chicken, Moroccan style, which means paprika, cumin and cayenne, along with hints of lemon juice and olive oil. Nothing flashy, just nicely spiced chicken with some dandy (yes, dandy!) grilled lemons to eat alongside. Mmm, grilled lemons.

Depending on the saltiness of your salt you may need more. The recipe calls for watercress when serving the chicken; I served a salad. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mighty Millet Pilaf


Millet. The word always makes me giggle because it invariably makes me think of "pellet", as in food pellets that you feed gerbils, guinea pigs and rats. My word/image association wants millet to look like pet food, as unappetizing as that sounds, but if you are unfamiliar millet is a round, tan little grain that looks either like over-sized couscous or the ugliest bead ever. Fortunately, it cooks somehow like rice (an initial toasting, add double the amount of water, then simmer until absorbed) and, like so many grains, adepts itself well to many flavors. Not that I have always known this, but since seeing millet in my sister-in-law's pantry (and subsequently cooking & eating it) I am able to sing the praises of this humble little bead of deliciousness.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And the Beet Goes On

No big build-up with this one: here is the recipe I submitted for food52's "Best Winter Tart Recipe" contest last week. It is a slight variation on a tart recipe my sister gave me years ago, albeit for summer vegetables, but it is easy to change to whatever season you like. I've made it with  my own crust; store-bought pizza dough; puff pastry; and phyllo dough. It's your choice, though the puff pastry and phyllo help make the tart a bit lighter - which is especially nice when using winter vegetables. One thing: on my food52 version I listed only 5 ounces goat cheese, but that small amount was overpowered by the beets and brussels sprouts. The tart won't be harmed with an extra few ounces of cheese, so I modified it as such for here. I also listed 10 sheets of phyllo but I had problems separating my sheets so I probably ended up using 15? more? It just makes for a flakier crust. Enjoy!

*This tart was chosen as an editor's pick on food52! Which means that 5oz of goat cheese works just fine, though if you are fan a cheese go ahead with the larger amount listed below.

Winter Vegetable Tart
Originally from something my sister read, but at this point all mine
3 beets, peeled, halved and sliced to 1/4inch thick  
2 leek2, roughly chopped  
1 cup brussels sprouts, quartered  
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped  
8 ounces plain goat cheese  
1 tablespoon chopped chives  
1 tablespoon chopped chervil  
1 garlic clove, finely minced or forced through garlic press  
1 tablespoon milk  
10 sheets phyllo dough  
3 tablespoons butter, melted  
salt & pepper  
olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place beets, leeks and brussels sprout on sheet pan and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper then, using hands, toss vegetables to coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender. 
  3. Prepare the phyllo crust: place one sheet of dough on greased sheet (or pizza) pan and brush sheet completely with melted butter. Place next sheet of dough on top, brush with butter and repeat with next 7 sheets of dough (you will have one remaining.) 
  4. Place final sheet of dough on top and brush only outer edges with butter (make about a 3-inch border.) Spread the cheese mixture in the middle, being sure the cheese touches the butter border. When vegetables have finished roasting arrange on top of cheese, being sure they are an even layer, then fold edges of dough over filling (to partially enclose the vegetables and cheese.) You can make this fold fancy or keep it in a square shape - your choice. Brush dough with additional butter and bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Serve hot.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Grapefruit Granita

I find it difficult to blog while watching Top Chef but if I keep putting this off it just won't happen. Some good news: Seth and I have finally finished trekking around the States collecting all of our stuff! Last week we flew to San Diego to pick up my car - and see my fabulous friend, Kerry - where I managed to pick up a Showgirls tattoo and eat the best pizza of my life at a winery in Escondido. Oh, the wine was also pretty tasty, but seriously: pizza, hot damn.

However, this is not my attempt at recreating that delicious pie but my attempt to use more of those damn grapefruit stubbornly sitting outside. Over a week ago I made grapefruit curd (with whipped cream stirred in, making it seem more like chiffon than curd) and, of course, the candied peels, and while I have been hoping to use the fruit in some savory dish I ended up making a grapefruit granita thanks to the suggestion of my sister and the super-easy recipe that shouted to me from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Candied Grapefruit Peels

Some time ago I read Smitten Kitchen's post about candied grapefruit peels, in particular how they ended up a complete disaster: SK's recipe didn't specify "completely remove pith" - actually, the recipe (below) states specifically to retain the pith; nasty -so she didn't and as a result her peels were inedibly bitter. I was sad, because the pictures were so beautiful that it was difficult to believe the product didn't match the advertisement, and because I was tempted to try the recipe but was worried the problem had to be something other than pith. I wasn't willing to waste grapefruit just to experiment on some damn candy.

However, now that I am trying to create everything from breakfast to dinner to cocktail time with the 50-pound sack of grapefruit sitting on my sister-in-law's porch, I am no longer concerned with wasting fruit as anything I do with the things will at least serve the purpose of removing them from the porch. My time for candied grapefruit peels had come.