Category Archives: Rockin’ Moroccan

Recipe: Rockin’ Moroccan Chicken Stew with Couscous

This is my first “illustrated” recipe!

The steps for making this Moroccan Chicken Stew are not complicated, but I thought it would be fun to show you the instructions along the way — you know, the whole picture is worth 1000 words thing.

IMG_0140

This dish is a variation of my Moroccan Lamb Stew, subbing chicken thighs, because some people just don’t, or won’t,  do lamb. Read the rest of this entry

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Spring Dinner Menu

Does the idea of throwing a large dinner party excite you, exhaust you or scare you? Maybe all three?  I get it. It’s fun to be the host and gather your family and friends for a special meal, but there is also a certain amount of pressure involved…  that is,  unless you plan ahead and come up with a menu that is simple to prepare, but will still be memorable for your guests.

Is there such a thing? Yes, there is,  and it’s not as hard to create as you might think. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Za’atar Pita Chips

Zaatar, za’tar, zatar, zatr, zahatar, zaktar or satar!  However you spell it, za’atar is a delicious spice blend with Middle Eastern origins.

Introducing:  za’atar by Your Spice of Life!

The same way that there is no set recipe for Italian or Cajun seasoning, there is no standard for za’atar. However, the components of za’atar that are most often found are thyme, oregano, sumac berry, sesame seeds and salt.

I wanted to develop my own za’atar blend, honoring its tradition but also adding my own twist, as I do with all my blends. So I omitted the sesame seeds (mostly because of their very short shelf life) and the salt (because none of my spice blends contain it). Instead, I added some marjoram to intensify the herbiness, and a pinch of lemon peel to brighten the flavor and enhance the lemony flavor inherent in sumac berries.

Read the rest of this entry

Recipes: Time-savers and add-ins

Who wouldn’t love creating soup-to-nuts meals every day, from scratch?

OK, maybe not literally soup-to-nuts, but you know what I mean: wholesome, healthy meals that are creative and delicious. Time constraints and energy shortages can get in the way;  as much as I   to cook from scratch,  there are times when I need to take a few shortcuts.

I’m not alone in that, either;  there is a very popular show on the Food Network, Semi-homemade with Sandra Lee,  in which Sandra combines fresh ingredients with store-bought to create what she calls “semi-homemade” dishes.

Over time, I’ve come up with a few shortcuts, myself,  that are real winners: Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Deconstructed Hummus

Chick peas.  Garbanzo beans.  Chi chi beans. Their biggest claim to fame, here in the States, is salad bars.They are vastly underappreciated, which is sad because they are inexpensive, filling, low in fat, easy to work with, full of fiber, creamy and delicious!  (Really! Check this out)

They are also the main ingredient in hummus, which is easy to make but requires pulling out your food processor or blender. I like simple, so I came up with this dish that has all the same flavors as a spiced hummus without the fuss.

Chick peas with Moroccan spice

Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Mini-Meatballs

Moroccan flag
Moroccan flag

Located in Northern Africa, Morocco is a land whose cuisine is sublime yet not well-known here in the US.  Thanks to living in Southern France for a while (which, for the geographically challenged, put me fairly close to the top of the African continent), I enjoyed the influence of the cuisine from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

One of my most enduring culinary memories was the taste of the complex spice blends from that area. I’ve done my best to re-create it in my Rockin’ Moroccan spice blend, which appears in another YSOL recipe, Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous.  In this recipe, I’m going for the same exotic taste, but we’re getting there much faster with these simple but flavorful mini meatballs. Read the rest of this entry

Introducing: Rockin’ Moroccan

 

I love creating new blends, and the ones that are most fun are the exotic ones!

So I ventured into North Africa and pulled together the tastes that you might find in Morocco and Algeria, for this new blend that is awesome in the traditional lamb stew with couscous!

Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous

There are many variations of this North African stew, both in terms of the spices used and the meat (or lack of meat). Feel free to substitute beef for lamb, or skip it entirely for a vegetarian version. Traditionally served over a mound of couscous (preferably whole wheat), this hearty and healthful dish will serve about 10.

2 lbs lamb shank
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
8 large carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
4-6 zucchini squash, cut into 1″ pieces
2 large sweet potatoes (or white potatoes, or yams)
16 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid
2 16 oz cans garbanzo beans, with liquid
32 oz chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3/4 tsp salt (opt)
4 tsp Rockin’ Moroccan spice blend

In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown the lamb pieces in generous amount of olive oil until very dark all over. Lower heat and add the garlic and onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring to pick up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the rest of the ingredients. If needed, add some water to cover the vegetables. Cover, and raise heat to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender and the lamb begins to come off the bone (or shred with a fork). Taste for seasoning, and add more salt or Rockin’ Moroccan spice blend as needed.

The stew can rest at this point until ready to serve.  When ready, prepare couscous for the number of people you are serving. If using boxed couscous, follow instructions on box.

If using loose couscous, here is what you need to know:  one cup of dry couscous serves about 2 people for a main dish. For each cup of dry couscous, you will need to boil 1 1/2 cups of water (or you can use broth for more flavor). Once the liquid boils, turn off the heat and add in the dry couscous. Cover tightly and let sit until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve as the base for your stew.

For detailed info on cooking couscous, check out this neat site:  http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/cooking/cook-couscous-00000000002332/index.html

Your Moroccan stew can be frozen, but it is best to freeze the couscous and the actual stew separately.

Do you enjoy Moroccan dishes?  Try these other 2 recipes of mine:  Moroccan Lamb Mini Meatballs and Deconstructed Hummus!

photo credit: http://www.travelvivi.com/israeli-cuisine/
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