Sunday, November 6, 2016


I had the best birthday and anniversary, and the kids had a good Halloween. I can’t believe it’s November already. But I tell you what – I’m ready for this election to be done and over. I’m sick of the phone calls from pollsters and having my newsfeed filled with craziness. Just let me know my fate already.
This was actually a fairly easy dinner to make. I should make this more often.
One other thing I’ve been looking forward to is this Moroccan meal. Ever since we named our cat Morocco, the kids have been asking when we’re getting to Morocco, and we’re finally here. The first thing I started with is making the main dish for the day: chicken tagine. It’s kind of a national dish from what I’ve read. I began by browning some eggplant and some boneless skinless chicken thighs together. I browned the chicken but didn’t cook it all the way through. Then I took the skillet off the heat. I placed the chicken and eggplant in my crockpot, layering it with some chopped onion and carrots, dried cranberries, and dried apricots. Finally, I mixed together my liquid mixture and poured it on top of the chicken: 2 c chicken broth, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp flour, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 ½ tsp cumin, 1 ½ tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, and ¾ tsp of black pepper. Once everything was stirred and mixed in the crockpot, I put it on low and covered it for the next 8 hours. Just before this was done, I made some instant couscous for this to be served on top of. This turned out really well. The chicken was so tender, it practically shredded on its own. And the fruit and the spices blended well enough so that neither was overpowering. I really liked this dish. And making it in the crockpot made for an easy dinner idea.

Since I have an extra loaf, I might make some chili to go with the other loaf. It would be perfect.
Next, I made the bread: khobz. Moroccan khobz bread is slightly different than other flatbreads in that it’s a little bit thicker. I mixed together 4 c of all-purpose flour, 2 tsp of salt, and 2 tsp of sugar. Then I made a well in the middle and poured in my yeast. (I actually had to pause just before this so I could run to the store for yeast. I could’ve sworn I had some! You know what they say about assuming, right?) On top of the yeast I threw in the well, I poured in 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and 1 ¼ c of warm water. Working it with my fingers, I brought the dough together and kneaded it for nearly 10 minutes, adding in a little flour to keep it from being sticky. Then I divided it into two balls, covered it, and let it rest for 10 minutes. After this time, I flattened the balls until they were disks about ¼” - ½” thick, covering it again for about an hour or so. At this time, I put the bread loaves (that are on greased and floured baking sheets) into a 425ºF oven for about 20 minutes. I rotated the pan halfway through and kept an eye on how golden it was and whether it sounded hollow when I tapped on the bottom. Of course, as I was taking the loaves out and putting them on cooling racks, I realized I forgot to score the bread before putting them into the oven. But, no matter. It was still good. Because it is thicker and slightly denser, it makes for a great “dippin’ and soppin’” kind of bread.

The better to help you see, my dear.
I went with two side dishes for this meal. The first one was Moroccan Spicy Carrot Salad. In a small saucepan, I mixed together my carrots (I used a bag of frozen carrots), water, garlic, olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Bringing all of this to a boil, I let it cook down for about 20 minutes until the carrots were soft. Not all of the water had evaporated, so I drained most of it off. Then I stirred in my wine vinegar (all I had was red wine vinegar) and cumin and took it off the heat. Just before I served this, I garnished it with some chopped cilantro. I thought it was good, but I think it would have been better if I had used a different kind of vinegar. Perhaps either white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead. I don’t think I used enough cayenne pepper to make it spicy. It was more like a spice-ful carrot salad. 

Quite nearly perfect.
The second side dish I made was Moroccan pomegranate and roasted vegetable salad. In a bowl, I mixed together diced sweet potato, carrots, and a parsnip along with some ras-el-hanout (a spice mix that I had to make myself), olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once everything was evenly covered, I put it on a baking sheet that I put in a 400ºF oven for about 40 minutes. The vegetables should look like they’re starting to char. When the vegetables had cooled, I tossed them with some baby spinach, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese (I actually found feta cheese with peppercorns in it!), and some balsamic vinegar. I was supposed to add in some red onion to the roasting vegetables, but I forgot. So, I just diced up a little and added it into the mix at the end. This was clearly the winner of today’s meal. In fact, I am thinking of bringing this to Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks. The sweet-sour of the pomegranate seeds and the spices on the roasted vegetables along with the creaminess of the feta cheese and the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar made this absolutely wonderful.

Overall, I give this meal an A!
This meal taught me one thing: stop assuming that I know what’s in my refrigerator and cabinets. I swear, every time I sit down and make up my grocery list for the ingredients in my recipes, I think to myself, “Do I have [whatever ingredient]? I think I still have some left.” Do I actually get up and check? No. Do I check to see if I even have enough for what I’m doing? Absolutely not. And then when I get to cooking, I search through the refrigerator or cabinet to find I either don’t have some ingredient like I thought I did or I don’t have enough. Thus, the trip to the store with flour in my hair and/or face and my mismatched clothes that I usually wear when I cook. I want to tell people, “I’m not white trash; I’m just a cook who forgets things.” These are the things life is made of, I suppose.

Up next: Mozambique

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