Ground Beef Tagine

This is a modified version of a Moroccan-inspired recipe on a popular food delivery website. Among other things, I divided the recipe in half. As delicious as it is, the squash makes it only good for 2 days in the fridge. This is about 4 servings.

  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • half of a 15-oz can diced tomatoes and juice
  • 1 c couscous
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 3/4 lb zucchini, diced (salt and stand in colander 15-30 minutes, rinse)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 red onion, diced fine
  • handful mint
  • handful parsley
  • 2 Medjool dates, or sub a small handful of raisins, chopped
  • 1/8 c sliced almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 t ras el hanout
  • 1 t turmeric

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat in a 1 quart saucepan. Add half the garlic and half the spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil, add couscous, stirring to blend. Cover and let stand 6-8 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high in a sturdy skillet . Add the ground beef; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Drain meat and discard the drippings. Set cooked beef aside.

Heat  1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan at medium-high. Add the zucchini, onion, remaining garlic and remaining spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.

Add the cooked beef, tomatoes, dates and 1/2 cup of water to the pan of vegetables; season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 12 to 14 minutes, or until heated through and the liquid is slightly reduced in volume. Transfer to a serving dish.

Once the tagine has simmered for about 10 minutes,  add the almonds, half of both the parsley and the mint (roughly chopping the leaves just before adding) and the juice of the lemon to the pot of cooked couscous,. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the finished couscous to a serving dish. Garnish the tagine with the remaining parsley and mint. You’re welcome.

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Safe Salsa for Canning

salsa

 

1 1/4 lb chopped onions

5 lb tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 lb mixed peppers, chopped

1 head garlic, minced

2 1/4 c apple cider vinegar

3T salt

1 1/2 c cilantro

char peppers on gas grill, place in bag to release skins, peel and chop. Optional-Oven roast cored and lightly tomatoes, 10 minutes per side, cool, peel, and chop. Mix everything together and cook at medium heat for 10 minutes or so, tasting and adjusting seasonings. I added cumin and a little bit of hot sauce. Also, spoon off excess moisture and even strain some off, otherwise it will be too runny.

Water bath process pints for 15 minutes. If it’s too tangy when you open to eat, gently heat salsa and add honey until the balance is good, then rechill before eating.

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Brandied Nectarine Jam

3# nectarines, chopped, skins on

3 c sugar

zest and juice of 1-2 lemons

6T brandy (could be peach, cherry, whatever)

cook to 220F

WB process 10 minutes

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Thai Chicken and Rice Noodle Salad

thai salad 

I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of flowery talk about how good this salad is—there are plenty of people already doing that kind of writing. This delicious and healthy salad keeps in the fridge for about two days tops, but you’ll probably eat it up by then. This recipe makes a bunch—6 big servings, I’d say. Don’t dress the salad until you are about to serve it, as its delicate ingredients will get soggy.

 

Dressing:

  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 6 T lime juice (the juice of 2 limes)
  • 6 T vegetable oil (sub toasted sesame oil if you like)
  • Sriracha to taste

Salad:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 ounces dry, medium-width rice noodles
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 6 full leaves of green cabbage or about 1” sliced thin off of the head
  • one large handful of each — cilantro leaves, mint leaves, and green onions
  • salted peanuts

 

Prepare the dressing by blending the fist five ingredients in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add sriracha to taste. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, add the chicken breasts, turn heat to low, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the chicken cook for 17 minutes – while it’s cooking, you can prep the other ingredients. Remove from water, let cool slightly, and shred by hand.

Soak the rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Drop in boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes, until cooked. You are looking for a tender firmness just like egg pasta. It’s very easy to overcook rice noodles and end up with mush, so keep tasting until they are just right. Cut through the noodles with a kitchen scissors if you want them to be shorter and easier to eat. Drain and rinse, and separate by hand if noodles stick together.

Peel the carrots and shred in a food processor. Shred the cabbage. Mince the cilantro, mint, and green onions.

Toss the chicken, noodles, vegetables, and remaining dressing (to taste) together. Garnish with peanuts. Serve immediately.

 

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Hawaiian-style Crock Pot Meatballs

I was going to a potluck where the fare is typically old-school and wanted to do  meatballs, but found the vast majority to be “1 jar grape jelly/1 bottle chili sauce.” Not wanting to  do the same old thing, I stumbled across a recipe for “Hawaiian Meatballs.” I used this as the basis of my  recipe.

3-4 lb. premade meatballs (whatever fits in your Crock Pot)

1-18 oz. jar orange marmalade or apricot jam

1 cup hoisin sauce

1- 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained

1- 8 oz. can crushed pineapple

1 t grated ginger

1 t minced garlic

1/2 t cayenne

1 sweet onion, sliced vertically and then in half

2 green peppers sliced the same way

sesame seeds for garnish

Combine jam, hoisin, pineapple, ginger, garlic, and  cayenne in Crock Pot, mixing well. Cook on high  for at least a half hour. Brown meatballs (which can still be frozen, doesn’t matter)in a skillet, and add them and the vegetables to the Crock Pot. switching to low  heat. Cook for at least another hour. Garnish with sesame  seeds.

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Asian Chicken Taco

This one falls into the “easy as it gets” category. The chili sauce takes just a few minutes to throw together. Inspired by the Chili Chicken Burritos recipe in “The New Cook,” by Donna Hay.

asianchicken

Serves 2

2-4 flour tortillas

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (the precooked type out of the hot case is fine, leave skin on in this case)

salad greens, preferably mixed, or spinach greens

3 medium-hot red chilies, seeded and chopped fine

1/4 cup sugar

1 T water

1 T lime juice

1/2 t cumin seeds

1 tomato, chopped fine

sour cream and flake sea salt for finishing

Place chilies, sugar, water, lime juice, and cumin in small saucepan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Add tomatoes and cook a few more minutes until mixture has thickened.

Optional step: lightly dress the greens with a simple vinaigrette.

Heat tortillas in a pan, or better yet, directly on the gas flame on your stove until slightly blackened and puffy. To assemble, smear tortilla with sour cream, then add chicken, chili sauce, and lettuce. Finish with flaky sea salt or Kosher salt.

 

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Meyer Lemon Bars

lemonbar

My mom’s friend Judy Conway brought some Meyer lemons to me the other day from her yard in the south Bay Area. Two, actually.  They were thin-skinned, very fragrant, and heavy for their size. I had to refrigerate them immediately, they were so ripe. In other words, screaming to be made into something that acknowledged their almost-over-the-edge awesomeness.  I Googled “lemon bars” and Ina Garten’s classic take popped up. I started with the amount of juice and zest my plump Meyers delivered, and worked backwards from there. In downsizing her recipe to the amount of lemon juice I had, I ended up using an odd-sized pan (7 x 10”)  which further throws off the proportions, yielding a thicker crust and curd. I took it another step by slightly overcooking both steps, allowing  these gorgeous Meyers (and Mexican sugar, see below) to slightly caramelize. Savor the rare qualities of this classic sweet.

Ingredients

For the crust:
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar (I prefer pure cane Mexican sugars for their glorious, unrefined chunkiness)
1 cup  flour
fat shake of kosher salt

For the filling:
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (preferably Mexican) sugar
1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon zest  (depending on size and skin, 2-5)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (depending on size, 2-5)
1/2 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until completely mixed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a standard hand mixer, but beware this small batch might gum up the beaters. Gently scrape down, and add the flour. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until completely mixed.  Using floured hands, gather the dough into a ball inside the bowl. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into an approximately 7×10” glass or metal baking container, building up a small rim around the edges. Chill for 20 minutes.

Bake the crust for 20 to 25  minutes, until the surface is a light caramel brown. Set aside on a wire cooling rack, leaving oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust, then bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is set and the top is slightly browned. Let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, set pan in sink, or over wax paper, and sift/sieve powdered sugar over the top. Wipe rim of baking dish.


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