1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons milk
11/2 lbs chicken thighs
½ cup vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all the spices for the rub in a glass dish large enough to hold the chicken.
Rub the spice mixture over all the sides of the chicken thighs. Refrigerate covered for several hours.
Set a rack in a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Combine the milk and two eggs in a shallow dish. Place the flour in a large deep bowl.
Heat the oil until it shimmers in a deep skillet.
Dredge the chicken in the flour, then in the egg mixture and dredge in the flour again.
Transfer the chicken to the rack in the baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes, until crispy and the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced. The inner temperature of the chicken should register at 65C/150F when the chicken is cooked through.
Old Fashioned Macaroni & Cheese
This dish can be baked at different temperatures depending on how you are cooking other parts of the meal. By itself bake the casserole at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. For this meal bake the casserole for 15 minutes while the chicken is baking
1/4 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
11/2 cups milk or Half & Half
1/4 lb. (4 oz.) processed cheese (Velveeta), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in flour and black pepper; cook 2 minutes stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to boil; cook and stir 3 to 5 min. or until thickened. Add Velveeta; cook until melted, stirring frequently. Stir in macaroni.
Spoon into a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with Cheddar. Melt the remaining butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the casserole.
Green Bean Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed
Fresh basil, chopped into thin ribbons
1 shallot, peeled and sliced thin on the cross-wise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the beans and let them cook for about 7 minutes until done but still bright green and quite crispy. Drain the beans in a colander.
In the same saucepan heat the oil with the rosemary and garlic.
Add the beans and lemon juice and toss in the flavored oil. Arrange on a serving plate, sprinkle with basil, shallot rings, and salt. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (8-10 ounces), tenderloins removed and trimmed of excess fat and halved horizontally
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to even 1/4-inch thickness. Pat dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Combine the flour and grated Parmesan cheese in pie plate. In a second pie plate, whisk together the egg white and chives.
Coat the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Transfer chicken to egg-white mixture; coat evenly and let the excess run off. Coat the chicken a second time in the flour mixture.
Heat the oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Place the cutlets in the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the chicken is pale golden brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn the cutlets with a wide spatula and continue to cook until the chicken is pale golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to individual plates and serve with lemon wedges.
2 medium tomatoes
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Black Italian olives
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese into 1/4″ slices.
Assemble the salad by layering slices of tomato, mozzarella, and basil leaves on a serving plate.
Season with salt, pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil.
Scatter a few olives around the serving plate and serve.
Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto
10 thin asparagus spears, woody ends removed
2 very thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
Coarse black pepper
Bundle asparagus together in small batches (5 in each) and wrap one slice of prosciutto around each bundle. Place the bundles in a small oiled baking dish. Sprinkle the bundles with olive oil and black pepper. Roast in a 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.
For 2 servings
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets (4-5 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
2 thin slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Flatten the chicken cutlets to 1/4-in. thickness. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper; top each cutlet with 4 sage leaves and 1 slice prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Refrigerate uncovered until ready to cook.
When ready to cook, sprinkle each cutlet with 1 teaspoon flour.
In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat; cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and chicken is no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
In a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth, wine, and cornstarch; add to the skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Bring to a boil; cook and until reduced by half. Spoon over chicken. Serve with lemon wedges.
1 lb spinach, stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, sliced thin
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add the spinach and saute for 3-4 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Yellow Squash Rounds
Yield: 2 servings
2 small or 1 medium yellow summer squash
Roasted Garlic powder
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place an oven rack in the center position of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Wash and dry the squash, and then cut each one into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the squash rounds on the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle the squash with garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a small spoon to spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each slice of squash.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the Parmesan melts and turns a light golden brown.
Multiple varieties of peppers are abundant in my area at the Farmers’ Market and in my neighbors’ gardens. Take advantage of this great crop and make some delicious recipes. Peppers are easy to freeze. Remove the seeds and cut into sizes that you like to use. Place them in ziplock freezer bags to use in the future. That’s all it takes.
Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, and squash are also plentiful.
Tuscan Flavored Redfish
I like to use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset herb seasoning on fish. It is a salt-free combination of basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, and anise. However, you can use any dried Italian seasoning mix.
Two thin redfish fillets, 4 oz each, or fish fillets of your choice
Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset seasoning or other dried Italian seasonings
3 small Italian frying peppers, seeded and sliced into rings
1 small red onion, sliced into rings
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
A handful of finely chopped fennel fronds
Sprinkle the fish, on both sides, with the herb mix. Season with salt to taste. Set aside while the vegetables saute.
Push the vegetable to one side, add the remaining oil and, then, the fish. Cook the fish two minutes and carefully turn the fillets over. Cook for two minutes more. Sprinkle the fish with the orange juice and fennel fronds. Serve the fish alongside the sautéed vegetables.
Mexican Flavored Chicken Stuffed Peppers
Coleslaw is a great side for this dish.
2 medium green bell peppers
1 large chicken breast, about 8 oz, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup medium spice salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cut the top off the peppers and reserve the top. Clean the peppers and remove the seeds. Stand the peppers up in a deep baking dish that is just large enough to hold the two peppers.
In a mixing bowl combine the shredded, cooked chicken with the salsa and cheese. Stuff the peppers with the mixture and place the tops back on the peppers.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add about one inch of water to the baking dish and place the dish, uncovered, in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the peppers to individual serving dishes, using a slotted spoon.
Summer Tomato Salad
1-pint grape tomatoes halved
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Italian vinaigrette. recipe below
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl. Let marinate at room temperature for several hours before serving.
To make 1 cup of dressing:
Mix 1 tablespoon of dried Italian seasoning with 1 tablespoon of water in a mixing bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup red wine vinegar.
Whisk in 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Let stand several hours for the flavors to develop. Whisk again before adding to a salad.
French Basque Pipérade
My easy version of this dish is great to have in the refrigerator. It can be used as a side for grilled meat or fish and is especially good on top of an omelet. This recipe also makes a good pizza topping.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium sweet onions, peeled, halved and cut into ½ inch thick slices
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1 medium dried bay leaf
6 medium green bell peppers, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
2 teaspoons piment d’Espelette
1 cup marinara sauce
In a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil. Heat over medium, Add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Stir in the herbs and pepper slices and season well with salt. Cover and cook until the peppers are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the marinara sauce, piment d’Espelette and season well with salt. Cook uncovered until the mixture melds and the juices thicken about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve or store in a covered container to use during the week.
Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
I made half the recipe to yield 2 servings.
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons lemongrass paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Zest from 1 lime
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
8 chicken thighs, bone-in, and skin-on or off according to preference (3½ pounds)
Make the marinade.
Mince the shallots and combine them with the lemongrass paste in a large bowl or ziplock bag. Add the minced garlic, ginger, black pepper, lime zest, salt, oil, fish sauce, and honey. Stir the marinade to combine all the ingredients.
Place the chicken thighs in the marinade. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grilling grates. If using a stovetop grill, heat on medium-high and oil the pan.
Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and shake to remove excess marinade. Discard the remaining marinade.
Grill the chicken until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F.
Rainy Day Oven Method
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken skin-side down on a wire rack placed on top of a foil-lined baking sheet.
Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the chicken skin-side up and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the skin is evenly browned and the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Pork Fried Rice
I always save one BBQ pork chop, when I make them, to use in this dish. If you want to add some spice to this dish use Asian chili oil instead of peanut oil. For a low carb version substitute four cups of cauliflower rice.
4 cups leftover cooked rice
1 cup cooked pork, finely diced
2 tablespoons Asian chili oil or peanut oil, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced banana pepper or other thin-skinned pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook, without stirring, until fully cooked on one side, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook until just cooked through, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into ½-inch pieces.
Add 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan along with scallions, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring until the scallions have softened, about 30 seconds. Add banana pepper and celery; cook, stirring, until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the diced pork and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer everything to a large plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan; add the rice and stir-fry 2 minutes.
Return the pork mixture and eggs to the pan; add soy sauce and sesame oil and stir until well combined. Serve with the Lemongrass Chicken.
The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. This series continues with the country of Morocco.
Morocco is located in the northwestern corner of Africa and is slightly larger in area than California. The country has three different regions: the northern coast along the Mediterranean Sea is made up of fertile land that rises to elevations of about 8,000 feet (2,400 meters), the Atlas Mountains run between the Atlantic coast in the southwest to the Mediterranean Sea in the northeast and the semiarid area in the south and east known as the Western Sahara .
Morocco has to deal with desertification. Desertification is the process where fertile land becomes barren and desert-like over time. It may be caused by a lack of rainfall or drought, the clearing away of trees for farming or allowing livestock to graze too long in an area. These practices leave no plants to hold the soil in place so wind and rain can carry away the fertile topsoil. Morocco also has a problem with water pollution from oil spills, poor sewage treatment practices, and the use of strong pesticides.
Nomads called Berbers were the first inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago. They used local ingredients to prepare lamb and poultry stews. Over time, traders and conquering nations introduced new food customs. Among them were the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. However, the strongest influence on native cooking was the Arab invasion in the seventh century A.D.
They introduced spices including cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cumin, and caraway. They also introduced sweet-and-sour cooking, which they had learned from the Persians. Moors from Andalusia in southern Spain also influenced Moroccan cooking. The pastilla, or bisteeya, a popular pigeon pie in Morocco, was originally a Moorish dish. In modern times, the French and the British made contributions to Moroccan cuisine.
Morocco, unlike most other African countries, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds. Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around seafood, lamb or poultry. The Moroccan national dish is the tagine or stew. Common ingredients may include chicken or lamb, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tagine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices including saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. The tagine’s name is taken from the earthenware dish with a cone-shaped top in which it is cooked and served. Another Moroccan dietary staple is couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served in many different ways, with vegetables, meat, or seafood.
Flat, round Moroccan bread is eaten at every meal. Moroccans eat their meals at low round tables, sitting on cushions on the floor. They eat with their hands instead of silverware, using the thumb and first two fingers of their right hands. They also use pieces of bread to soak up sauces and carry food to the mouth. Small warmed, damp towels are passed around before the meal to make sure everyone’s hands are clean.
Most meals consist of a single main dish, often a stew, a couscous dish, or a hearty soup. It is served with bread, salad, cold vegetables, and couscous or rice on the side. A typical breakfast might include bessara (dried fava beans stewed with cumin and paprika), baghrir (pancakes), and bread. Two breakfast favorites that may sound exotic to Westerners are lambs’ heads and calves’ feet. Although Moroccans love sweets, they are usually saved for special occasions. With everyday meals, the most common dessert is fresh fruit.
The sweetened mint tea that comes with every meal is served a special way. It is brewed in a silver teapot and served in small glasses. When the tea is poured, the pot is held high above the glasses to let air mix with the tea. Tea is served not only at home but also in public places. In stores, merchants often offer tea to their customers.
Morocco is famous for its street food that includes shish kebab, roasted chickpeas, and salads. Both full meals and light snacks are sold.
A favorite purchase is sugared doughnuts tied together on a string to carry home.
Moroccan Mint Tea
1½ Tablespoons green tea (or 2 teabags of green tea)
3 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons of fresh or dried spearmint leaves
Put the tea in a 2-pint teapot and fill it with boiling water.
Let the tea steep (soak) for 2 minutes.
Add mint leaves and sugar to taste.
Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Prunes
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon powdered saffron
3 short cinnamon sticks
4 ounces butter
2 large onions
½ cup sugar
1 strip lemon peel
1 pound dried prunes
Combine the oil and ground spices in a large bowl.
Cut the chicken into cubes and chop the onion finely. Put the chicken and onion into the bowl with the oil and spices. Combine well and let stand for 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the chicken, searing (browning) them lightly on all sides.
Add any remaining marinade and enough water to cover. Simmer until chicken is tender (about 30 minutes).
While the chicken is cooking, put the prunes in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring the water to a bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and let them stand for 20 minutes.
Drain the prunes, return them to the pan, and ladle a little liquid from the meat pan over the prunes. Simmer the prunes for 5 minutes.
Add the lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, saffron and half the sugar to the prunes.
Stir the remaining sugar into the meat.
Arrange the meat on a serving platter. Add the prunes to the meat, and pour the sauce from the prunes over the meat and prunes.
Boil the remaining liquid from the meat rapidly to reduce it by half and pour over the meat and prunes.
Melt a small amount of butter in a saucepan and brown the almonds lightly. Garnish the tajine with the almonds and mint.
Serve with rice or couscous.
Fried Baby Carrots
1 pound baby carrots
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
Sprigs of mint, to garnish
Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold the carrots in a single layer.
Add the carrots and cook gently 15 minutes, shaking frequently.
Add the garlic and cook 10 minutes more until the carrots are tender and spotted with brown.
Add the sugar and cook 2 minutes.
Stir in the lemon rind and juice and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the chopped mint and transfer to a serving dish.
Garnish with sprigs of mint.
Ingredients for salad
2 cans (15-ounces each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 ounces feta cheese, cut into cubes
8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes
2 ounces pitted black olives
4 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley
Lettuce or other salad greens
Ingredients for dressing
5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt, to taste
Place the chickpeas in a bowl and add the feta cheese cubes.
Cut the tomatoes in half if necessary, to make them bite-sized.
Add tomatoes to the chickpeas and feta cheese mixture. Add the black olives, parsley, and lettuce.
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Pour over chickpea mixture, toss gently, and chill. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
This past weekend I made Steak & Chicken Fajitas for a get together with friends. Sandwiches seemed like a good option for the leftovers.
On the weekend I cooked the following:
1 pound Flank Steak
3 large boneless chicken breasts
2 large onions, cut into thick slices
3 bell peppers, cut in half and seeded
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and Pepper
Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Drizzle the flank steak with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on either side and season generously with salt and pepper.
Drizzle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the vegetables with the remaining oil.
Grill on the steak 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Set aside to rest.
Cook the chicken on the grill 6-7 minutes each side or until no longer pink in center. Cook the vegetables about 2 minutes on each side..Leftover were refrigerated and later used for sandwiches.
Philly Style Cheesesteak Sandwiches
This sandwich goes well with coleslaw.
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced grilled onion
½ cup thinly sliced grilled bell peppers
6 oz grilled beef steak, cut into thin strips
2 slices (1 oz each) provolone cheese, cut in half
2 slices (1 oz each) American cheese, cut in half
2 sub rolls split and lightly toasted
Worcestershire sauce, ketchup or hot sauce
Heat a skillet and melt the butter. Cut the steak into very thin slices and divide into 2 piles in the skillet.
Top each with one slice of provolone and one slice of American cheese to warm through and melt the cheese.
Be sure the peppers and onions are warm.
Divide the peppers and onions between each sub roll, placing them on the bottom half.
Place a steak/cheese mound on top of the peppers on the sub rolls. Top with your favorite condiments.
Mexican Shredded Chicken Sandwich
Serve this sandwich with Guacamole.
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups shredded leftover grilled chicken breast
1 cup salsa
Sliced jalapeno peppers, optional
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 soft sandwich rolls, cut in half
Heat the oven broiler.
Mix the shredded chicken with the spices, salsa and add sliced jalapenos to taste, if using.
Combine 1/2 cup cheese and sour cream; set aside. Toast the rolls in the broiler on one side until lightly browned.
Spread the four roll halves with the cheese/sour cream mixture and broil until the cheese begins to melt and spread about 2 minutes.