Posts Tagged ‘mint’

Kefta Tagine with Eggs and Roasted Cumin

January 16, 2012

After 2 weeks of not cooking, due to a lack of dishwasher (yes, we were actually so lazy we dirtied as few dishes as possible!), I wanted to try something lengthy, complicated, warm and comforting. Something that could go terribly wrong, but could also go terribly right. So, I broke out my Tagine cookbook, by Ghillie Basan, to find something spicy and filling to warm us on a cold winter night.

This dish caught my eye because even though it was comprised of the traditional lamb that is in many African dishes, it came together as meatballs, with sunny side up eggs, all cooked in the tagine.

The meatballs are called kefta, and they are filled with amazing spices, and are poached in water (which helps them keep their perfect shape), then cooked in spiced liquid that absorbs into the meatballs, and creates a hot, dry bottom of the tagine in which to cook the eggs.

Not only did the dish turn out perfectly, but the combination was nothing we had ever experienced. The spice, ras-el-hanout, is worth seeking out (I found mine at my local spice store, but you can also find it online).

My only caution is to be careful of the spice level. I will write this recipe with the spice level I used so hopefully it will do the trick (vs. the original recipe from the cookbook).

Trust me, it is worth the effort. And, ironically enough, at the end of the day there really weren’t many dishes to speak of – except the tagine itself (which doesn’t go in the dishwasher).

KEFTA TAGINE WITH EGGS AND ROASTED CUMIN
Serves 4

For the Kefta:
16 ounces ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried mint
3 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Rest of the Dish:
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6-8 eggs
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, dry-roasted and ground
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley

To make the kefta, put the ground lamb, onion, mint, ras-el-hanout, cayenne and parsley in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix well together. Using your hands, knead the mixture and mold it into small balls.

Fill a tagine (or dutch oven) with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully drop in the kefta, a few at a time, and poach them for about 10 minutes, turning them so they cook on all sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Reserve roughly 2 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.

Add the butter to the tagine with the reserved cooking water and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt and cayenne and drop in the poached kefta. Cook over high heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated (about 15 or so minutes). Carefully crack the eggs around the kefta, cover the tagine with the lid, and cook and steam until they are just set. Sprinkle the roasted cumin seeds and the chopped parsley over the top of the dish. Serve with pearl couscous and flat bread.

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhanwala)

January 22, 2011

One of the first dates I had with my husband, I surprised him with preparing Indian food (one of his favorites). At the time, I was in a tiny apartment and really hadn’t developed the love for cooking that I have know. Reflective of that yet to be discovered passion was my sadly barren spice rack. I had the basics – cinnamon, oregano, etc. – but no garam masala or anything that sounded remotely exotic.

I remember going to Whole Foods and buying little baggies of the “rare” ingredients, as I saw them back then. I spent all day cooking, figuring out how to put together a sauce reminiscent of our nights of Indian takeout.

At the time, I was quite proud of my newly learned skills. And Rob was too, since I had clearly hooked him into yet another date with me. But, he didn’t marry me for my Indian cooking skills, since I have rarely attempted the feat since.

But, when I saw this recipe for butter chicken (our favorite dish at the old Indian restaurant around the corner), I knew I had to give it a go – if nothing but for old time’s sake.

The total preparation takes a little over an hour (and overnight marinade), so it might be ambitious for a weeknight, but it was perfect for a Sunday night. The sauce tasted exactly like the butter chicken we knew – and the leftovers the next day were even better. The only alteration I would make is to maybe shred the chicken before putting in back in the sauce, so eating it isn’t so much work.

Cooking Indian this time around was a bit different, though. I had no need to buy special ingredients because I had them all in my well-stocked spice closet (with the exception of curry leaves which I didn’t seem to miss). I had more confidence in my cooking abilities than years before. And, I had the ambition to make more than one dish by making the accompanying raita (which I recommend to help cool the heat). But, one thing did remain the same – I enjoyed it with the man I will spend the rest of my life with.

Thanks, Saveur, for this great Indian recipe that will be made frequently in our home.

MURGH MAKHANWALA (BUTTER CHICKEN)
Serves 4

FOR THE CHICKEN:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. crushed red chile
flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 3″ piece ginger, peeled and thinly
sliced crosswise
Kosher salt, to taste
1 3–4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces,
skin removed

FOR THE RAITA:
1/2 English cucumber (about 6 oz.),
seeded and grated
1/2 medium tomato, seeded and finely
chopped
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh
mint leaves
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated

FOR THE SAUCE:
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green cardamom pods, cracked
3 whole cloves, crushed
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes,
undrained
1 3″ piece ginger, washed and grated
(skin on)
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″
cubes
1 tsp. garam masala
4 fresh or frozen curry leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste

Marinate the chicken: Combine all marinade ingredients except for chicken in a food processor; purée. Transfer marinade to a large bowl and add chicken, tossing to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 500°. Transfer chicken to an aluminum foil—lined baking sheet and spoon any marinade from bowl over chicken. Bake chicken until light brown but not cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; set aside. Meanwhile, make raita: Toss cucumbers, tomatoes, and salt in a colander and let sit for 10 minutes. Press cucumbers and tomatoes to drain well and then transfer to a medium bowl along with yogurt, mint, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, and carrots; toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Make the sauce: In a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat, combine chile flakes, garlic, cardamom, cloves, tomatoes, ginger, bay leaf, and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often and crushing tomatoes with a spoon, for 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf and transfer sauce to a food processor; purée. Return sauce to pot and continue cooking over medium-low heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Add reserved chicken pieces and any marinade from pan, along with 1/3 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream, butter, garam masala, and curry leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

To serve, transfer chicken and sauce to a serving platter and serve with the raita and basmati rice.

Smoke-Roasted Chicken Thighs With Paprika and Creme Fraiche Stuffed Tomatoes

October 4, 2010

As Ohio seems to have gotten a severe fast-forward into fall, I am resigned to the fact that grilling out is going to be few and far between. Although, my parents grill in the dead of winter in Michigan (and shovel a path to their grill!), so I am not saying it cannot be done. But, I will admit our grill gets used a bit less frequently, especially when I would rather cacoon inside and smell up the house with spices and tantalizing goodness.

But, a few more grilling recipes will be showing up as stragglers – ones I really wanted to try this year and just couldn’t bear waiting until next spring. Needless to say, they would become hidden in my folder of “must tries” and then get shoved aside for the new recipes that Bon Appetit or La Cucina Italiana says I must make in spring 2011.

So, this New York Times recipes is one of the last ones standing. My husband requested it when he read it a few Sundays ago, and I make a point to always whip up his requests…

It seems so simple – just smoked paprika, honey, lemon juice, garlic and butter – smothered on some chicken thighs and nestled on a sizzling grill. But, the taste explodes with a sweetness of the honey (and nice caramelizing), the smokiness of the paprika and the punch of the garlic. And, the butter just melts it all together…

The stuffed tomatoes were a far cry from what the original recipe said. I couldn’t find robiola in my local store (although I have run past 2 recipes since then requiring it, so I will need to find a supplier quick!), so I substituted creme fraiche. I am sure another cheese would be better – something less the texture of creme fraiche and more the texture of, well, robiola. But, it turned out really nice and refreshing, and cut the smokiness of the chicken perfectly.

So, don’t give up on your grill quite yet -there is no snow to shovel, just leaves to sweep out of the way. Seems a small price to pay for a fantastic dinner!

SMOKE-ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PAPRIKA
Serves 4
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons softened butter
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3½ pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Mint leaves, for garnish.

Build a fire in a grill with a cover, leaving about ⅓ of the grill free of coals. If using a gas grill, make sure one side of the grill is unheated, and either swap out the paprika above for the smoked version known as pimenton de la vera or wrap two small mounds of moistened wood chips in heavy aluminum foil and pierce the tops of the packets with the tines of a fork.

In a bowl, combine the paprikas, honey, lemon juice, garlic and butter and stir to make a paste. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then coat thoroughly by hand with the spice paste.

Place chicken on cooler side of grill and cover. If using wood chips, place the foil packets, pierced side up, on the hotter side of the grill and cover. Roast chicken for 15 minutes, turn, cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until cooked through.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, with lemon wedges, sprinkled with mint leaves.

ROBIOLA-STUFFED TOMATOES (or CREME FRAICHE-STUFFED TOMATOES)
Serves 4

4 large ripe tomatoes
3½ ounces robiola cheese, rind removed, diced (or creme fraiche or other soft cheese)
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or use insides of ripe tomatoes, above
½ teaspoon mild paprika
4 chives, finely diced
2 tablespoons vodka (yes, vodka)

Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh. Sprinkle the shells with kosher salt and turn them upside down on paper towels to drain for 30 minutes.

Place the robiola, gorgonzola and butter in a bowl, season sparingly with salt and aggressively with pepper, and beat until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Fill the tomatoes with the mixture. Place on serving dish until ready to serve. Serves 4. Adapted from “Recipes From an Italian Summer,” by the editors of Phaidon Press.

Pork Kebabs (Souvlaki Hirino) and Feta Tart (Alevropita)

August 28, 2010

As if I don’t read enough foodie magazines, I saw the magazine Saveur the other day in Fresh Market and was intrigued. The whole issue was featuring Greek food, and since I love ethnic food, I thought I would pay the $5 to see what it was all about. And, of course, as of last week I now have a 2 year subscription to this fantastic magazine!

I tried this recipe combo first as part something I thought I could easily do, and part something I was scared of. The kebabs looked easy enough as long as I remembered to marinate in advance. And I know how to grill pork. And kebabs are a breeze. But, the feta tart looked a bit scary. It was an egg batter that you pour into a hot pan and bake. Now don’t get me wrong, the recipe itself didn’t look too challenging, but the thought that I would make my own bread did scare me a bit.

I can honestly say this was the best meal we have had in weeks. The pork had a great flavor (and the oregano made it very Greek!) and the feta tart was amazing (and the perfect complement to the pork)! Definitely a wow dish, and it was surprisingly so easy! Don’t be alarmed that the batter spreads really thin, it ends up forming a great, crispy crust.

Thanks to Saveur for giving me a great, new Greek menu. If these recipes are any indication, I will be blogging many more from this magazine!

PORK KEBABS (SOUVLAKI HIRINO)
Serves 2-4

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup red wine
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. dried mint
1 tbsp. dried oregano
8 cloves garlic, smashed and minced into a paste
1 bay leaf, finely crumbled
1 lb. trimmed pork shoulder, cut into 1 1⁄4″ cubes
4  9″ wooden skewers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, wine, lemon juice, mint, oregano, garlic, and bay leaf; add pork and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Meanwhile, soak skewers in water.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, arrange an oven rack 4″ below the broiler element and set oven to broil.) Thread about 4 pieces of pork onto each skewer so that pork pieces just touch each other. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the grill (or, covering exposed ends of skewers with foil, put skewers on a rack set over a foil-lined baking sheet). Cook, turning often, until cooked through and slightly charred, about 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

FETA TART (ALEVROPITA)
Serves 4-8

6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. vodka
1 egg
1 1⁄4 cups flour, sifted
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄8 tsp. baking powder
10 oz. feta, crumbled
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

Heat oven to 500°. Put an 18″ x 13″ x 1″ rimmed baking sheet into oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 2 tbsp. oil, vodka, egg, and 1 cup water in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and whisk until smooth.

Brush remaining oil over bottom of hot pan and add batter, smoothing batter with a rubber spatula to coat the bottom evenly, if necessary. Distribute cheese evenly over batter, and dot with butter. Bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown and crunchy, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Chicory

July 25, 2010

As you may know by now, every Thursday my husband and I have “pasta and wine night.” It is a treat because I am only allowed to make pasta once a week (per my healthier husband) and we get a glass of wine to celebrate the start of the weekend the next day.

In the summer it is tough to find pasta that feels right for the hot, sticky nights. No 5-hour tomato sauce, no baked ziti, no homemade macaroni. So, I am on a constant search for summer pasta.

I found this one in Food & Wine (by Michael White) and thought it looked light, yet flavorful. I was also curious about the chicory/escarole because I will admit, I had actually never cooked with it before. I also thought the mint was an interesting twist…I always trust Food & Wine, so I thought we should give it a try.

The sauce is light – the chicken broth melds with the sausage drippings and olive oil into a flavorful coating. The escarole adds a nice flavor (and healthy component). And the mint, just seems to work – can’t describe why!

So, I recommend making this one on a hot summer night when you want some light pasta without sacrificing the flavor. I know we will eating this one a few more Thursdays this year!

ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND CHICORY
6 Servings

1 pound orecchiette
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound chicory or escarole, coarsely chopped and washed
Kosher salt
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons shredded mint

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook over moderately high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate.

Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicory with any water clinging to the leaves and season with salt. Cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until the chicory is tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes longer.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with the sausage, chicken stock and pecorino and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is slightly reduced and creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the mint and serve right away, passing extra cheese at the table.

Molten Chocolate-Espresso Cakes

June 21, 2010

The dessert I probably get asked to make most often are my brownies. And now, my coworker (who is 6 months pregnant) is craving them constantly (in addition to her husband who eats the leftovers she brings home).

I am convinced the reason the brownies are so fantastic is because they have coffee in them (and a whole lot of chocolate!). So, when I saw this recipe in my Martha Stewart cookbook, I thought it might work for her next fix.

These are incredibly easy to make – literally take as long as cookies. And what is great about them, is you can make them in advance and serve them for company – just sift powdered sugar on top and add a sprig of mint, melt raspberries and sugar to make a sauce to pour over top, serve with a scoop of ice cream, etc. There are so many options. But no matter how you dress them up, you can guarantee they will be heavenly.

I didn’t eat them right out of the oven (but I bet they were amazing), although once they are room temperature, they have almost a mousse-like filling that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Enjoy, Chocolate Lovers!

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE-ESPRESSO CAKES
Makes 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder/crystals
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush 6 cups of a standard muffin tin with butter, and dust with sugar; tap out excess. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Let chocolate cool.

Whisk together flour, espresso/coffee powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. And eggs one at a time, mixing until completely incorporated after each. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla and chocolate.

Spoon batter into prepared cups, dividing evenly. Bake until cakes no longer jiggle when tin is shaken, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool at least 10 minutes before turning out cakes.

Spanish Spice-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Parsley Mint Sauce

June 14, 2009

IMG_0305When I first starting grilling, I always thought meat had to marinade overnight. Steaks, chicken, pork loin should all be coming out of a large zip lock bag glistening with something zesty or sweet.

But, the reality is, when I saw Bobby Flay put a spice rub on a piece of meat, I realized I was missing out on a completely different aspect of grilling. And when I tried it, I knew that I had found a new way prepare food.

This recipe could easily be made without the sauce, if it isn’t your style, but I find it is a great complement to the Spanish flavors of the chicken. I personally use a little less garlic than Bobby (this recipe below reflects my omission). Also, if you do not grill the serranos, you might want to add one to start and see how much heat it gives your sauce. Always easier to add more than to subtract!

If you are looking for a unique way to use up that chicken in your refrigerator, this one is a keeper. I like to serve it with cous cous, but it could go with any side you like. Thanks to Bobby Flay and his grilling expertise for this one!

SPANISH SPICE RUBBED CHICKEN BREASTS WITH PARSLEY MINT SAUCEIMG_0301
4 Servings

Spice-Rubbed Chicken:
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground mustard
2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 boneless chicken breasts
olive oil

Parsley Mint Sauce:
1 1/2 cups tightly packed fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup tightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 serrano chilis, grilled peeled, chopped (or raw)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
water
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your grill to high. Whisk together the paprika, cumin, mustard, fennel, pepper and salt in a small bowl.

Brush the chicken with a few teaspoons of oil on both sides. Rub the breasts on the skin side with some of the rub and place on the grill, rub side down. Grill until golden brown and slightly charred, about 4-5 minutes. Turn the breasts over and continue cooking until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and immediately drizzle with parsley-mint sauce (or serve sauce on the side). Let rest 5 minutes.

To make sauce, place the mint, parsley, garlic and serranos in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add the honey and mustard and process until combined. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until emulsified. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk in a few tablespoons of cold water to thin the sauce-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


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