Category Archives: Moroccan

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

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Moroccan Chicken Tagine

There are really only two Moroccan restaurants anywhere in the Portland area and one of them is way too far away. The other one is downtown, and it seems like the older I get the less I feel like venturing across the river. Anytime I see an address of a restaurant that has the dreaded cardinal direction “W” in it I find myself immediately disinterested. Why can’t I just exist within a little bubble the size of, say, a two-mile radius around my house?

Whenever I do get up the energy to brave the bridges and go downtown, I feel like I need to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new and crazy. I figure that if got myself all the way down here, I better make the most out of the experience. On one of these excursions I  took a giant leap out of my comfort zone and made reservations at a Moroccan restaurant. This restaurant really had all the bells and whistles, including poufs on the floor instead of chairs, rosewater hand washing to begin your meal, and belly dancers that you have to awkwardly look at while you are eating, as if you are in a strange strip club in an alternate universe. Or so I would imagine, as I’ve never been to one. An alternate universe, that is.

I’ve been back to that restaurant many times since that fateful first venture, yet I’m entirely unable to order anything other than the Apricot Chicken Tagine. Lord help me, this plate of sweet, spiced chicken and tender apricots just hits the spot. It hits all the spots, I tell you! Every. Single. Spot.

I decided that I wanted to try to recreate the dish at home (from memory) which wasn’t exactly easy. Since I’m also very lazy I wanted to make it in the pressure cooker to cut back on some of the cooking time. If you don’t own a pressure cooker, don’t fret! I’ll provide instructions below for using a regular Dutch oven.

After some a lot of experimentation, I’m very happy with this dish and am ready to share it with all of you. A serving is under 400 calories and it REALLY fills you up. Boy, aren’t you just lucky?

I give you, the Moroccan Chicken Tagine:

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Is that not the darkest chicken you’ve ever seen? The husband was eating the leftovers for two days before he realized it was chicken. He doesn’t have the most refined palette in the world, which is great for me because he’ll eat pretty much anything and I’m a terrible restaurant food order-er.

The chicken is tossed with flour and Moroccan spices prior to being seared in the bottom of a hot pressure cooker (or Dutch oven). I use a Fagor brand pressure cooker and a Martha Stewart Dutch Oven (you can find both on my Kitchen Stuff page). The chicken comes out of the pot, and the ginger, onions, and garlic go in. The pot gets de-glazed with broth before the apricots and tomatoes are added, then the chicken pieces find their way back into the mix. Bring the concoction to high pressure over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain the pressure and process for 5-7 minutes. If you’re using a Dutch oven, simply bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the apricots are tender. Stir in some honey, almonds, and chick peas and serve with couscous.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 c. dried apricot halves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz. can chick peas, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/8 c. almond slivers
  • 2 Tbsp. Moroccan spice mixture (1/2 tsp. cayenne, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 2 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. coriander)
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a pie plate, combine the flour and Moroccan spice mixture. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
  2. Heat oil in your pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and allow to brown for one minute per side. Remove chicken from pressure cooker and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add ginger and onions. Saute for three minutes, until onions are semi-translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the apricots, whole tomatoes, chicken broth or stock, and browned chicken pieces to the pot.
  5. Cover, and bring to low pressure over medium-high heat. Once you have reached pressure, cook for eight minutes then remove from heat and release the pressure using the quick release method (open the steam valve).
  6. Stir in the chick peas, almonds, and honey and let them warm for a few minutes.
  7. Check your chicken for done-ness and taste the tagine. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve over couscous and garnish with cilantro leaves.

*If using a Dutch Oven instead, follow steps 1-4 as described, then bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until apricots are tender. Continue with step 6.

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Nutrition (per  serving):

396 calories, 9 g. fat, 24 g. protein, 59 g. carbs, 15 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Kefta (Moroccan Meatballs)

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Kefta (Moroccan Meatballs)

Holy cow, you guys.

These little balls of meat are incredible. The husband and I actually fought over who got to take the leftovers to work the next day for lunch.

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I just can’t seem to get enough Moroccan food lately, so I decided to use up some of the (32 lbs. of ) ground beef in our freezer to put together an easy and flavorful dinner. You could also use lamb in this recipe if you’re in to that sort of thing.

Basically, you just make some meatballs and then cook them in a fragrant sauce of onions, butter, lemon, and turmeric. These meatballs just melt in your mouth and explode with texture and spices.

One of the hardest things about blogging about recipes (in my opinion) is developing a delicious recipe and then realizing it will probably be months before you get to make it again because you are too  busy coming up with new recipes all the time. The only list I have that is longer than the “future recipes” list is the “make again recipes” list. So by my calculations I’ll be able to make these meatballs again some time in November. Sigh. Some days I wish there were just more opportunities to eat dinner throughout the day. Somewhere around six or seven would work for me.

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I actually made the meatballs and browned them the night before I made this dish so I could save time on the night-of by just simmering them in the delicious sauce until they were finished cooking. But if you have all the time in the world, go ahead and make the whole thing at once.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 small onion, very finely minced (I threw mine in the food processor)
  • 2 dried chili arbols, stemmed, seeded, chopped (I buy these in large bags on the Hispanic foods aisle and keep them in a mason jar)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Moroccan spices (or 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, and 1/8 tsp. cayenne)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  •  1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro (a.k.a. fresh coriander)
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • Black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add the ground beef, Moroccan spices, finely minced onion, minced garlic, ground ginger, zest of one lemon, salt, parsley, and a generous pinch of black pepper. Mix to combine. Go ahead, use your hands.
  2. Form the mixture into meatballs. I made mine about the size of a ping-pong ball.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, dried chilies, minced fresh ginger, and ground turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned (about 3-4 minutes).
  4. Add the cilantro, lemon juice, and water, stirring to combine. Bring the sauce to a  boil.
  5. Add in your meatballs, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Let cook for 20 minutes, turning the meatballs once or twice to ensure even cooking.
  6. Remove the lid and continue cooking for another ten minutes or so until the sauce is thick. Check your meatballs to make sure they are cooked through, and taste your sauce to check seasonings. Add more salt if necessary.
  7. Serve with rice, salad, or couscous.

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Nutrition (per  serving):

238 calories, 12 g. fat, 25 g. protein, 8 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

What are your favorite ground beef recipes? Do you have much success making meatballs with ground turkey?

Moroccan Chicken Stew

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Moroccan Chicken Stew

My Mom recently handed me a stack of cookbooks that my grandma had rescued for me from my aunt’s garage sale (my family knows that I love to cook). There was a recipe in one for Moroccan Lamb Soup which got me thinking about Moroccan food again, so I decided to put together a simple one-pot meal for those of us who don’t have a good source for lamb (seriously, where do I even buy that?).

Behold, Moroccan Chicken Stew:

morchickstew2I brought the leftovers to work and had to brag to my co-workers about this bowl of sweet, sweet deliciousness. I used chicken thighs, but if you’re a bit more particular about your meat chicken breasts or tenders would also work well in this dish.

I tossed the chicken pieces in a mixture of flour and Moroccan spices then added them a hot dutch oven that had been browning some onions for me. In went some garlic, canned tomatoes, chick peas, and raisins. I wanted to add some green olives, but the husband loathes such things so we went without.

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A sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves (also known as cilantro) brought just the right amount of freshness to this warm and hearty stew.

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I can’t believe how easy and scrumptious this was, especially because all of the ingredients are totally pantry staples. This dish would also freeze well if you wanted to make a big batch and save some for a rainy day (you know, like mid-June in Portland).

Serve it up with some sweet Moroccan Mint Tea and you’ve got yourself a meal that will transport you straight to Casablanca.

Here’s how I made it:

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives (optional)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. loosely packed fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

Directions:

  1. In a  6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and cook until light golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile mix flour with coriander, cumin, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a shallow dish or pie plate. Toss chicken with flour mixture to coat evenly.
  3. Add chicken to Dutch oven and cook 7 minutes or until lightly browned, turning chicken over as needed to prevent sticking. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  4. Stir in tomatoes with their juices, beans, raisins, olives (if using), and water; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Break up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Served garnished with cilantro.

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Nutrition (per serving):

361 calories, 10 g. fat, 31 g. protein, 38 g. carbs, 9 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

Moroccan Mint Tea

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Moroccan Mint Tea

In an attempt to use up the massive amount of mint I purchased at the Farmer’s Market last week, I decided to make homemade Moroccan Mint Tea to go with the Moroccan Lentil Soup.

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This was so simple I was shocked that it never before occurred to me to make mint tea from fresh leaves.

mntt6Essentially I just boiled water, added some mint leaves, let it steep, then added sugar.

mntt4This was so delicious I drank four cups and then couldn’t sleep because of the sugar. It complimented my soup perfectly and was wonderfully refreshing. Plus, it was a great way to use up some of those mint leaves!

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups water
  • 20 mint leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. Sugar

Directions:

  1. Boil water.
  2. Reduce to simmer, add mint leaves, wait five minutes.
  3. Strain mint leaves.
  4. Add sugar, stir, pour into cups.
  5. Drink it.

I told you it was easy, right?

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This is definitely going to become a regular thing at our house.

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Nutrition (per serving):

36 calories, 0 g. fat, 42 g. protein, 9 g. carbs, 0 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 1

Moroccan Lentil & Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

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Moroccan Lentil & Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

When I got home from work tonight I felt kind of sad that my husband wasn’t going to be home for dinner and I didn’t have anyone to cook for. I was toying with the idea of hitting up the food cart pod near our house when the dog started whining to be let outside. I opened up the front door and found a package from Amazon addressed to me (!!)

I LOVE getting things in the mail. I think it all started last year when we registered for wedding gifts and packages started arriving at the house. Now, these packages full of amazing kitchen utensils, towels, and small appliances weren’t coming from our friends and family. They were coming from me. It is embarrassing to admit, but I am a *little* bit impatient.

I had followed the “guidelines” for such things and registered just a few months after we go engaged. The problem with that was I had many, many months to become attached to all of the objects on the registry, and over the weeks I found myself in need of some of the items. One by one, boxes from Macy’s and Amazon found their way to our house containing “necessary” items such as a butter dish, a gravy boat, and a bath mat (in green, of course).

It was even worse after the wedding – we received so many amazing and generous gifts from our loved ones, yet I had a nagging feeling like I had abandoned those poor, sad items that been picked over at the store. Back we went to Macy’s, where we completed our Fiesta-ware collection, picked up some more Pyrex, and brought home my oh-so-beautiful green stand mixer (which wasn’t even on our registry to begin with). As I write this post I may or may not have a separate browsing tab open logged into our (still) active registry at Macy’s.

Like I said, I have a problem.

So back to the Amazon box I found on my doorstep: I was so excited I let out a weird high-pitched squealing sound which freaked out the dog. I brought the box inside to discover that it was a gift from my parents in celebration of receiving my M.B.A. (THANKS, MOM & DAD!). Inside I found a creme brulee torch (hallelujah!), a mango splitter (which I already have BIG plans for), and a (green) immersion blender. I did a little jig in my kitchen to celebrate my bounty and then started tearing open the package containing the immersion blender.

I skipped over to the fridge and pantry and pulled out lentils (I’m on a lentil kick lately, so sue me), garlic, carrots, an onion, a yellow pepper, and some Moroccan spices and went to work.

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Into a pot went some oil, garlic, carrots, and onion and under the broiler went the yellow pepper. Next came the lentils and the Moroccan spices (nutmeg, cumin, coriander, allspice, ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon)…

lntlsp3… which I like to keep in this nifty little jar I found at an estate sale for fifty cents. Isn’t it cute?

At this point I noticed some smoke coming out of the back of my stove and thought, huh, that’s weird – OH NO THE PEPPERS!

Don’t worry, the peppers were fine. Just a little charred, which is what I was going for anyway. I chopped them up, added them to the mix, and brought the whole mixture and a few cups of water to a boil. I let it simmer until the lentils were practically mush and the carrots could be mashed with a fork, then used the immersion blender to puree it into a creamy soup.

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Okay, I know you’re probably looking at this picture thinking that it is the ugliest soup you’ve ever seen, and you probably aren’t wrong. Soup is notoriously hard to photograph, but you’ll just have to trust me that this DOES taste good! I’m thinking next time I might go with red lentils and red pepper instead of brown lentils and yellow pepper to try to get a better color. Maybe a bit of paprika and turmeric will help it out as well!

What’s that? The beautiful glass of breathtaking yumminess posing behind the soup? Oh that’s just some homemade Moroccan Mint Tea. I drank FOUR glasses of this stuff and then couldn’t sleep from all the sugar. I’ll post the recipe sometime over the next few days.

lntlsp5Oh, sorry, I thought I heard you say that you wanted to see more bad soup pictures. Well, it’s too late now. There you have it.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Moroccan Spices, or to taste
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Place your quartered bell pepper on a baking sheet and place under your oven’s broiler for 3-5 minutes on high, turning once or twice. Once roasted, remove from oven and chop.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a 3-quart or larger dutch oven over medium-high heat and add your oil. Saute garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add your carrots and onion. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add chopped roasted bell pepper to the mixture.
  3. Stir in your lentils and Moroccan spices and stir to combine. Let cook for 60 seconds, stirring occasionally, to toast the spices.
  4. Add your water and bring the contents to a boil. Let boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are very soft (they may break out of their skins). Check the lentils about 15 minutes in to see if they need more water.
  5. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree the contents until creamy and smooth.  You may need to add more water to get this the right consistency – you want it to be a soup, not re-fried lentils!
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt. Serve with Moroccan Mint Tea and garlic bread (seriously, don’t skimp on the garlic bread!)

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Nutrition (per serving):

83 calories, 4 g. fat, 3 g. protein, 12 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 2