Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

moroccan-stewWow.  I have been away for a while.  I feel distant from my little blog space and from my kitchen.  We’ve been slowly reconnecting since my time in Orange County; I’ve been sleepwalking through my house the last few days and enjoying my own food in a dream-like state.  Ahhhhh…

Anyway, I’m back and I want to share this easy and fabulous Moroccan stew.  I made it just before I left for my event in So Cal; I felt so comforted and joyful and delightfully global while eating it – I was transported from my deadlines and pile of work to food fantasy land.  It is the FIRST thing I made when I got home.  It is warm and beautifully spiced and fragrant and very healthy and extremely delicious.  How can something be comforting and sensual and exotic all at once?  This is how.  This dish.  I know I get very intense and dramatic about food, but please, make this and go there with me.  It is so, so good. 

I originally came across the inspiration for this dish on Gourmet’s website, but I’ve changed it so much that I’m just warm-spices giving you my version below.  The dish departs from the traditional couscous and is made with quinoa, which is actually an ancient Incan grain and is extremely nutritious.  I love nutty and tender quinoa, which is what originally caught my eye; the warm addition of spices is what inspired me to try it immediately.  You can be very flexible with this – adjusting, eliminating or adding spices to your liking; all of my measurements are estimates since I tend to just spoon and pinch into the pot.  If you want to go vegetarian, add chick peas instead of chicken.  The first time I made it without the dried prunes and it was savory and spicy tomato-y goodness.  The second time I added the prunes which gave the dish a sweeter dimension.  I liked both ways so much that I think I’ll keep switching it up.  This could serve two to four depending on the amount of quinoa you prepare – I made enough “stew” for four and quinoa for two – we just ate extra veggies and sauce.

Soft and nutty quinoa, toasted almonds, tender chicken, sweet carrots and earthy turnips, warmly spiced sauce, bright and green little onions or parsley – all so tasty and so good for you, too!  I’m in love with this dish – I will make this over and over again.

Sit down at the table and inhale the lovely fragrance of the spices – take time and enjoy the flavor in every bite – imagine that you are wandering the narrow aisles of a souk in Morocco with the intense aromas of steaming tagines, the colors of the market and the sounds of music and humanity joyfully confronting your senses.

warm moroccan stew

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of slivered almonds, toasted
  • one red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • one tbsp of tomato paste
  • one heaping tsp of paprika
  • one half to one tsp of cumin
  • half tsp of dried ginger
  • one half to one tsp of cinnamon
  • one half to one tsp of corriander
  • pinch of clove
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (use aleppo if you have it)
  • two cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • one skinless, boneless chicken breast or a half pound of skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into one inch cubes
  • two to three carrots, sliced about a quarter of an inch thick on the diagonal
  • one large turnip, peeled and cut into eight wedges
  • two thirds of a cup of pitted, dried prunes, halved
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • quinoa (or other grains such as bulghur or rice if you don’t have quinoa – but I suggest you get some and keep it as a pantry staple)
  • a couple of fresh green onions or fresh flat leaved parsley for garnish
  1. heat oven to 350 degrees and toast almonds for about 5 minutes or until fragrant – remove from oven and set aside
  2. meanwhile, prepare quinoa or grains according to package instructions, typically two cups of water to one cup of grains, simmered or steamed for added fluffiness
  3. heat olive oil in a larger saucepan over medium high heat, add onions and saute with some salt and pepper until soft, about six to eight minutes
  4. add the tomato paste and cook for about one minute more, stirring well to combine
  5. add your spices and cook for about one minute more, adding a little chicken broth if things are getting too brown
  6. add the veggies, chicken, prunes (if using) and broth and cook, covered for about 15 to 20 minutes
  7. ladle the stew over the quinoa and top with the toasted almonds and fresh green onions or parsley – serve with some harissa paste if you want a lot of heat and spice

I always freeze tablespoons of tomato paste in separate bags so that the entire can doesn’t go to waste after one use

Read Full Post »

john alma’s trout almandine

My post on sole almandine reminded my mother that I have been anxiously awaiting my grandmother’s recipe for trout almandine.  This is a fabulous dish, and I believe that trout is abundant in the markets right now.

I remember thoroughly enjoying the French/Creole dishes prepared by John Alma (my grandmother on my father’s side); smothered quail at Christmas, the richest French onion soup, spicy gumbo and jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, and my favorite, trout almandine…  They were delicious – the amount of butter prolific.  These were pretty fancy dishes coming from a woman who claimed she ate black-eyed peas every day of her childhood.  My mother also cooked many recipes that came from John Alma and the wholly unique culinary culture that emanates from New Orleans and the Delta South.  The smell of flour and oil browning in a pan instantly transports me to a time when I had to stand on my tip toes to peek at the roux that one of these talented women was carefully stirring.

I was reminded of the extensive culinary diversity of New Orleans during a recent visit.  The city is rich with the most vibrant and ostentatious food, overflowing with accidental fusion cuisine.  France, Spain, Italy, Haiti, the West Indies – all stake a claim to the food that Louisiana is famous for.  The bizarre landscape of this swampy state provides some interesting star players for the main course; turtles, frogs, squirrels, fish of every size shape and color…nothing is safe.  Put all of this together and you have some spicy, steamy, intense food.  No worries.  You can balance the savory with the sweet; my personal preference being a hot, fluffy biscuit doused in cane molasses, or a sticky bread pudding spiked with rum or bourbon.  Only in Louisiana can you have food that is at the same time elegant and wacky.

It is only through cooking that I continue to discover the subtle influence my early years in Louisiana have on the dishes I now prepare.  Believe it or not, I can clearly remember sucking down crawfish, raw oysters, beignets and cafe au lait from my highchair.  Some would scoff at a three year old eating raw oysters and drinking coffee from a sippy cup.  Not me!  I couldn’t be more grateful for my dive head first into some serious food.  I am not only thankful for being exposed to something other that fish sticks and mac and cheese, but also for having recipes that have been prepared by at least two generations of women in my family.  Thankfully, I have fabulous cooks on both sides of the family.  I’ve also had the very good fortune of living in three states with completely different styles of cuisine; California, Texas and Louisiana.  Even as I am writing, I am flooded with the best memories of eating or watching my mother, grandmother or aunt fixing something delicious.  These memories are still so near and close to my heart that they actually have a fragrance – the image of the food and hustle bustle in the kitchen flawlessly clear in my mind’s eye.  

But back to the topic at hand, which is the most delicious and delicate trout you will ever eat.  My mom expertly prepared the freshest trout – typically just caught from Lake Ponchartrain by my proud father and his best buddy.  Even cooked from the tiny kitchen of a Residence Inn, my mom could turn out some trout that tasted as if was prepared by the most accomplished chef in the finest kitchen.  It was one of my absolute favorites and I could never get enough of it.

Below is John Alma’s recipe with a few of my mother’s minor alterations, posted exactly as provided to me.  Mom has never prepared this dish with stream trout; only the fat, speckled trout from Lake Ponchartrain.  No matter; you can always imagine that your trout was swimming in that vast Louisiana lake mere hours ago.  A few other notes from my mother:  “There is nothing low calorie, fat or carb about this recipe! Do not modify, it alters the soul of this dish! Just enjoy its buttery deliciousness without guilt…”

I couldn’t agree more. 

john alma’s trout almandine

  • 6 mediums size trout, filleted (you can substitute redfish fillets if trout is unavailable) 
  • 1 tsp. season salt (I use Nature’s Seasons, it is very well balanced and doesn’t overwhelm)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Savory
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Turmeric
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 tsp ground Mace
  • 1 pack (2 1/2 oz.) slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
  • thin lemon slices for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place baking sheet or serving platter in oven to prewarm.
  2. Melt butter in sauté pan until foam subsides and it barely starts to brown. NOTE: Watch carefully that butter doesn’t burn. If butter has very dark granular specks, it has burned!  Throw it away, clean pan, and start again.
  3. Roll freshly washed (slightly patted dry) trout fillets in mix of season salt, savory, turmeric and flour. Only flour as many as will fit in your sauté pan at one time.
  4. Brown fillet in butter on both sides (about 2 minutes per side, depending on size of fillet). Place cooked fillets on warming dish or baking sheet in oven as they finish. Place skin side down if skin is still on fillet, they look prettier that way. Place a piece of loose foil over warming dish of fish to preserve moistness if cooking a lot of fillets.
  5. Cook remaining fillets in batches until all are on warming dish.
  6. Add additional butter to sauté pan if needed for sauce. Turn heat to low and melt butter and add mace and almonds. Stir constantly and lightly sauté almonds. They will burn easily if left unattended. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and parsley.
  7. Keep fillets on warming dish or place fillets on warmed serving plate, or individual plates. Place thin lemon slices on fillets. Spoon sauce over fish, any remaining sauce may be placed on the table in a bowl for spooning on fish or side dishes.

More of mom’s notes:

The flavor of this dish is very delicate and relies on the turmeric, savory and mace with a browned butter foundation. I have tried to use oil and low fat substitutes for all or part of the butter and it didn’t work, the taste was not the same.

 

I have never cooked this with freshwater stream trout (rainbow, golden, etc.), only with pretty big trout from Lake Ponchartrain. I think that the trout down there are speckled trout and the fillets were about 1/2 lb. each.

 

I would serve this with a mild flavored spring vegetable such as fresh sautéed green beans. A strong flavored vegetable such as broccoli will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish and sauce. Wild and Basmati mixed rice, Jasmine rice or my favorite, Konriko wild pecan rice are really good with the fish. 

 

Read Full Post »

This is a quick and tasty little dinner.  We ate it last night, and it is consistently delicious.  The recipe for the sole came from Gourmet magazine.  While there aren’t many ingredients, you do have to pay attention and prepare this properly, or your almonds and butter will burn.  The texture and taste of the sole really compliments this preparation, and because of this, I don’t think any white fish would do as a substitution.  If there isn’t any sole at the market, trout may work well. 

Very tasty with some sauteed haricot vert (little french green beans – I buy bags of frozen from Trader Joe’s) and shallots, sprinkled generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Sole Almandine – Serves 2

  • 2 sole filets – skinned
  • 3 tbsp butter (I use smart balance sticks) – divided
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds, or just  a generous handful
  • a lemon
  • a little flour, salt and pepper, and canola oil
  1. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil and 1 tbsp of the butter over medium high heat in a flat bottomed sautee pan
  2. Gently salt and pepper the filets and dust them with flour
  3. Cook the fillets in the pan, about one and a half minutes per side – very quick!  Remove them from the pan and put a fillet on each plate
  4. Dump the oil and fat from the pan, wiping out any excess
  5. Add the other 2 tbsp of butter and your almonds, cooking over LOW for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently
  6. Remove the pan from the heat, and squeeze your lemon juice into the pan
  7. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve – so tasty

Sauteed Haricot Vert or regular Green Beans – Serves 2

  • a few generous handfuls of the veggies (if using regular green beans, snap the ends)
  • one medium shallot, cut into half rings or very coarsly chopped (you could do an onion if you don’t have shallot, but for this I prefer the delicate flavor and size of a shallot)
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  1. add a few glugs of olive oil to a pan, heated over medium
  2. throw in the shallots with a little bit of salt, and cook for a minute or two
  3. add your green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for five to seven minutes, or until starting to brown a little (sometimes I blanche frozen green beans in a little bit of boiling hot water first, but it isn’t totally necessary)
  4. finish with some sea salt and a generous grind of pepper

This is a quick and easy dinner.  It’s not too terrible for you; although some could make an argument about the butter.  Oh well… it tastes delicious.  🙂

Read Full Post »