Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Doing Dinner Moroccan Style - 3-16-10

After a brief break in weekly dinners while I recovered from a business trip and the ensuing madness, I decided to do a Moroccan-themed dinner last week.

It went over extremely well. Yum. I will definitely be visiting these recipes again.

Hummus
from my friend Adrian
-1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinzed and drained
-1/2 c. plain fat-free yogurt
-2 T lemon juice
-3 garlic cloves, crushed (or 1 t jarred minced garlic)
-2 t olive oil
-1 T water
-1/2 t salt
-1/2 t. cumin
-1/8 t pepper

Purée in food processor until blended but still slightly chunky.

Okay... so this didn't seem to have much flavor in my opinion. I think I added too many chickpeas because I was confusing the amount of chickpeas in the hummus with the amount in the chekcen stew. So I ended up adding more liquid, and it wasn't very flavorful. Lesson: read the instructions while making the dish. Don't rely on memory.


Moroccan Chicken Stew
-8 chicken thighs, skinned
-1 T vegetable oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-2 large garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 t turmeric
-1/4 t cinnamon
-1/8 t red pepper (I used 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
-4 whole cloves (I omitted, just because I thought I had them in my pantry and didn't realize I was wrong until it was too late to go buy them)
-2 bay leaves
-4 c chicken stock
-16 oz. canned whole tomatoes, quartered, with juices
-1 medium green pepper, sliced into 1-inch pieces (I did about 1/2-inch dice)
-2 carrots, sliced (thinly!)
-1/2 t. salt
-19 oz chickpeas, drained
-4 cups cooked couscous
-1/4 cup raisins
-1/4 cup sliced almonds

1. Pour the oil into a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook about 2 minutes until onion is soft but not brown.
2. Add turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper, cloves,and bay leaves. (At this point your kitchen will smell amazing!)
3. Immediately add chicken and stock. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid boils.
4. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, chickpeas, and salt. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are tender.
6.Ladle stew over 1/2 cup cooked couscous. Sprinkle with raising and sliced almonds.

Soooooo good. One thing I would change, though, is to do something to add more flavor and color to the chicken. Maybe browning the chicken for a few minuteswith some garlic, onion, salt, and red pepper flakes before transferring it into the pot with everything else... it was cooked through, but just didn't have as much flavor as everything else.


Moroccan Lemon Cake
I don't really know what about this is Morocco-specific, but it was yummy, so I'm sure I'll make it again.

-4 eggs
-1.5 c sugar
-1/2 c vegetable oil
-2 c flour
-4 t baking powder
-1/2 t. salt
-1/2 c milk
-2 T fresh lemon juice (I would double this)
-zest from 1 or 2 lemons (definitely 2)
-1 t vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Grease and flour a small bundt or tube pan (I used a fluted tube pan).
3. Zest and juice your 2 lemons.
4. With electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs until thick. Gradually mix in the oil.
5. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt, then milk.
6. Beat until smooth, then stir in lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.
7. Bake for 40 minutes until tests done.
8. Let cool for 7-10 minutes. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a spatula, turn onto a rack to cool. Serve.

The flavor of this cake was very subtle, so I would double the lemon juice and zest next time I made it. It was still tasty, but I want a stronger flavor.

Surprise! InStyle magazine's heavenly orzo dish

I bought the March InStyle at the beginning of the month and found the most delectable recipe on the last page of the magazine.
Who knew they had recipes in InStyle? Not me.
Regardless, I'm glad I saw it, because this dish is truly the "Truffle Heaven" they dubbed it.

Created by Chef Amanda Freitag, officially called Truffled Orzo with Asparagus.

-1 bunch standard-size asparagus (or use broccoli)
-1/5 cups orzo
-2 T extra virgin olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 T unsalted butter
-2 T grated Parmesan cheese
-1 T grated pecorino Romano
-2 T black truffle butter*
-salt to taste
-1 t cracked black pepper

*If truffle butter is unavailable, you can make your own by combining 2 T softened butter with 1/2 t of black truffle oil.

1. In a 5-quart pot, bring salted water to a boil.
2. Place washed asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute; remove with tongs and set aside. Keep water boiling.
3. Cook orzo in same pot for 7-9 minutes; drain in colander; set aside.
4. Trim the tough stem ends off asparagus and discard. Cut remaining asparagus into 1/4 inch thich slices and reserve.
5. In a medium pan, heat oil, then sauté garlic until golden brown.
6. Add asparagus to pan; add cooked orzo.
7. Continue cooking orzo over low heat and add heavy cream and [plain] butter, stirring constantly.
8. Add cheeses and stir until they melt and combine.
9. Stir in truffle butter, salt, and pepper. Serve in a bowl family-style. Top with more parmesan if desired.


The flavor of this dish is so amazing. I felt like it was subtle, but complex and fresh. So good.
I used white truffle oil because I couldn't find black truffle oil. Maybe you'll have better luck with the truffle butter. :)

Butterscotch Brownie redemption - 2-18-10

Okay, so a few weeks ago the plan was to make healthy kung pao chicken with bok choy and fried rice.

As it turns out, the kung pao was gross (in my opinion--my friends liked it well enough), the bok choy was okay, and I bought fried rice because I didn't have time to make it. Meh.

But that night I also discovered the wonder of Butterscotch Brownies. Which redeemed the whole evening for me.

Yum.

Butterscotch Brownies
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

-8 T (1 stick) butter, plus extra for baking pan
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 t vanilla extract or 1/2 t almond extract
-pinch of salt
-1 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350* F.
2. Grease 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.
3. Melt butter over low heat. Transfer to bowl and use electric mixer or whisk to beat in the sugar until very smooth.
4. Beat in egg and vanilla; stir down the sides occasionally.
5. Add salt and gently stir in flour (no electric mixer this time).
6. Pour into greased pan (will be very thick, you'll have to spread it).
7. Bake until just set in the center, about 20-25 minutes.
8. Cool on rack before cutting. Keeps for 24 hours.

You should make these right now. If you can't make them now, make them soon.

You're welcome.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coming soon...

-The Incredible Orzo and Asparagus Wonder with Truffle Butter (that's how I like to refer to this lovely side dish, anyways... yep, it was that good.)

-Fail: "Healthy" Kung Pao Chicken with Bok Choy and Fried Rice (I'm okay with public failure. I know you'll still be my friends.)

-The only redeemable part of the aforementioned Fail: Butterscotch Brownies. (Love. Them.)

-A report on this week's menu: Moroccan chicken stew over couscous; bread and hummus; lemon cake (and possibily mint tea)

What have you been cooking lately? Got any goods to share?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change

I like change. I crave it. It's refreshing and renewing to me.

My college roommates used to joke about me being pregnant all the time because I always wanted to move our furniture around in different configurations. When I owned a house, the artwork on the walls changed about every 6 months.

So. Why bring this up? Well, I just realized today that it is an important factor to consider as I'm weighing different career options.

My most recent career decision is Museum Studies. And I happen to think it's a perfect fit for me.

For the past 6 months or more, I've been trying to decide between art, education, and public administration.

Museum Studies combines them all. I decided I would really love to be the education director of a museum--coordinating workshops, seminars, school tours, creating curriculum based on permanent and temporary exhibits.

Think about it: I would be involved in education (check), surrounded by art and constantly thinking about/researching/talking about art (check), and the content I develop would change regularly, as would the people to whom the information is presented (check). Art, education, public administration, and change.

It's been a long time coming... but I feel really good about it!

So, to help get some experience under my belt, I am volunteering as a docent at both the Springville Museum of Art and the BYU Museum of Art. I'm really excited.

(I just hope it doesn't mean another 4 years of undergrad studies before I can do a Museum Studies Certification.)

Keep your fingers crossed for me! ('Cause I'm going to do it all while working full time.)