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.
Makes 12 Cakes
For the crust
1 cup finely ground pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar or brown sugar substitute for baking
3 tablespoons butter melted
For the cheesecake
8 oz mascarpone cheese softened to room temperature
15 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute for baking
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the strawberry topping
1 cup sliced strawberries
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons granulated sugar or sugar substitute for baking
For the blueberry topping
1 cup blueberries
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons granulated sugar or sugar substitute for baking
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place paper cupcake liners into 12 muffin cups. In a small bowl, stir together the crust ingredients. Evenly divide the mixture among the 12 muffin cups, about 1 tablespoon in each. Press the crust mixture firmly into the bottom of each muffin cup. Set aside.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the softened mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Using a muffin scoop fill the muffin cups to the top.
Bake for 40 minutes until the cakes are slightly puffed and the mixture looks set.
Allow the mini cakes to cool in the muffin tin completely. As they cool, a small indentation will form in the top of each little cake.
Place the pan with the cakes still in the pan in the refrigerator to chill.
Arrange the mini cakes on a serving platter. Fill the indentations on each little cake with the fruit topping. Fill half of the mini cakes with strawberry topping and the other half with the blueberry topping.
To make the fruit topping:
In one small saucepan place the strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar. Simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Pour into a storage container and chill.
Repeat the same process for the blueberry topping.
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.
For low carb or gluten-free use almond flour
4 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch or 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (to thicken)
3 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a medium bowl, combine the blueberries, thickener, sugar, and lemon juice and mix well until the blueberries are coated.
Pour the blueberry mixture into a greased 9-inch pie pan.
Melt the butter in the microwave in a glass bowl. Stir in the almond flour, sugar, and lemon zest until a crumbly dough forms.
Using your hands, crumble the dough over the blueberries in pea-sized clumps.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling. Serve warm or cold.
Small-Batch Fresh Blueberry Jam
Two cups of berries will make a half cup of jam.
With this recipe, I was able to fill two pint-sized freezer jelly jars three-fourths of the way to the top. This recipe can be doubled but you will need a longer cooking time.
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a large saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened and reduced by about half, about 30 minutes.
Using a potato masher crush the berries several times during the cooking process.
Pour the jam into clean freezer jars. Store the jam in the freezer.
Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute for baking
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries
2/3 cup packed brown sugar or brown sugar substitute for baking
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 400°F and either butter a 12-15 muffin cup pan or use paper liners.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.
Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.
To make the topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle the topping over the muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Fresh Fruit Ice Cream
The vodka helps to keep the ice cream from getting icy.
I used strawberries for these recipes.
2 pounds fresh in-season fruit (strawberries, peaches, etc), chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can (13.5 ounces) full fat coconut cream
½ cup powdered sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons vodka
1 teaspoon orange extract
Pour the heavy cream, coconut cream, sugar, vodka, and orange extract into a deep mixing bowl.
Process the mixture with an immersion blender until thoroughly combined and the mixture thickens. Stir in the sliced fruit.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the mixture for 3 hours to overnight to let the flavors develop.
Whisk the mixture and pour into a large loaf pan, cover and place into the freezer.
After about an hour, stir the mixture.
Return it to the freezer until frozen solid.
Let the ice cream sit on the kitchen counter for 15 minutes before serving.
4 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar or sugar substitute
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup (8-9 oz) fresh strawberries finely chopped
Place cream cheese, cream, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the chopped strawberries. and process
until the berries are incorporated.
Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze at least 4 hours. To unmold, run under hot tap water for 20 to 30 seconds, and then twist the stick to gently to release.
Our blueberry bushes are producing lots of berries this month. I have used them in salads, pancakes, and desserts. Though I would share with you a few breakfast breads, I just made this week to use up some our bounty. There will also be plenty to freeze for the winter months.
You can use any flavoring you like in this bread, It doesn’t have to be lemon.
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×4-inch loaf pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl stir together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.
In another medium bowl combine the egg, milk, oil, lemon peel, and the 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Stir together the 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the 1 tablespoon sugar. While the bread is still in the pan, brush lemon-sugar mixture over the top of the loaf. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before serving.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the flavoring of your choice
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
Work in the butter just until the mixture is uneven and crumbly;.
Stir in the blueberries.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and milk.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sprinkle some flour on the parchment.
Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment, and form into a circle about 3/4″ thick.
Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Using a knife or bench knife slice the circle into 8 wedges.
Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.
Bake the scones for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm.
In my kitchen, a pound of crab meat can go pretty far. At least two meals. Make the crab filling and use it to stuff fish fillets and to make crab cakes.
1 pound Lump crab meat
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons seafood (Old Bay) seasoning
Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, minced garlic, fresh parsley, lemon juice, pepper and Old Bay seasoning.
Stir in the onion, celery and bell pepper. Gently fold in the crab meat, without breaking up the lumps. Set aside one cup of the mixture for the stuffed flounder and reserve the rest for crab cakes.
Crab Stuffed Flounder
Place the fish and sauce over cooked pasta or squash noodles. Serve with a tomato salad to complete the dinner.
2 large or 4 small slices flounder fillets, about 12 oz total
1 cup crab filling
4 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Lemon Cream Sauce, recipe below
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil an 8-inch baking dish.
Place the flounder on a piece of wax paper. Arrange the crab mixture lengthwise down the wider section of the fillets. Starting from the thinner edge of the fillet, fold over the long way. Place the stuffed fillets in the baking dish and sprinkle each with cayenne pepper and thyme.
Baked Crab Cakes
Crab Filling from above, about 2 cups
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons butter
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Add the breadcrumbs to the crab filling and form the mixture into four patties. If you do not want to bake the patties immediately, they can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for several hours or overnight.
Place the patties in an oiled baking dish and place a teaspoon of butter on top of each crab cake. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with the lemon sauce.
Lemon Cream Sauce
This recipe makes enough sauce for both the stuffed flounder and the crab cakes.
1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
To make the Lemon Cream Sauce
Melt the butter over medium heat in a small skillet, add the shallot and cook until softened. Add the cream and remaining ingredients. Whisk until thickened, about another minute or two.