Tagine: a special earthenware pot used in Morocco for cooking

Tagine: a stew-like Berber dish of North Africa made of vegetables and meats, slow cooked at low temperatures

Aunt Suzy says . . .

If you read our blog, you know we love Moroccan cooking!  My birthday gift from my brother and sister-in-law didn’t work out last fall, so I had a credit at an online cooking store.  I have always wanted a tagine, so I treated myself to this beauty!  It was so fun to cook in and I hope to use it often.  I think it will get more use in the winter since tagines, the dish, are typically heartier fare.  My friend Asya gave me this recipe recently, and I couldn’t wait to try it once my tagine arrived.  It was delicious, as expected with a Martha recipe.  And it was very easy, not always expected with a Martha recipe.  Delicious served with a dry French Rose wine or a Chenin Blanc.

NOTE:  You do not need a tagine to cook this; a Dutch oven will do the trick as well!

Serves 4-6

adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 tablespoons harissa (more = hotter)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 cups stock – fish or chicken

1 sweet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise then cut crosswise in 1/3-thick slices

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 zucchini, cut lengthwise and then sliced crosswise in 1/3-inch slices

1 summer squash, prepared ditto to zuke

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 preserved lemon, rind only, small dice (optional)

1 pound salmon filet, wild-caught preferred

1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

Roast the salmon to very rare in a 450° oven for 5-7  minutes depending on thickness.  Let cool slightly and then remove the skin from the bottom.  Cut into serving pieces and set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or bottom of a tagine over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.  Add the harissa and tomato paste, stirring till combined.  Whisk in the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the sweet potato, cauliflower, zuke and squash.  Stir to combine, then add salt.  Bring this mixture to a gentle bubble, then turn down heat and simmer covered until vegetables are al dente.  This could take 15-30 minutes depending on what type of pot you are using.

Next add the chickpeas and the diced preserved lemon.  Stir to combine and cook for another 10 minutes, covered.  Place the reserved salmon pieces on top of the vegetable mixture.  Cook, covered, till just heated through in order not to dry out the salmon or the tagine.  Serve over cooked couscous or rice and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro.

Pappa Al Pomodoro

January 7, 2012

Margaux says…

Happy birthday, Desi! My son is 3 today, and it reminded me of this soup, which I made for his birthday party last year. This year we’re skipping a meal with the party, but I made the soup this week anyway because it was on my mind, and it is SO GOOD!!! This has got to be at least in my top 5 favorite soups, if not number 1. I saw Ina make it on Barefoot Contessa last fall, and have made it SEVERAL times since. It was in the same “bread” episode that I got this recipe, which is also pretty wonderful. Anyway, back to the soup…for one thing, it has fennel in it, which is fast becoming one of my favorite ingredients. If you haven’t tried fennel yet, you must…it adds so much flavor to things! The other awesome thing about this soup is the topping–you have to make that part, because it’s divine. If you’re making the soup vegetarian, it’s no problem, the topping will be just as good without the pancetta (although you may need to add a smidge of olive oil to make up for the lack of grease).

If you’ve never used fennel before, you chop it like you would an onion. First, you need to remove the stalks completely, then cut the bottom off, and then slice it lengthwise. Remove the outer layer, and cut out the core at the bottom. Then lay one half cut-side down on a chopping board, and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Then slice again crosswise, in about 1/4″ slices. Super easy.

If you have leftover croutons after the soup’s all been eaten up, they also taste great on salads (including the pancetta)!

Make this vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with water, and eliminating the pancetta. Make it vegan by eliminating the parmesan, which I actually did last time I made it and it was just as delicious! I found that one large loaf of ciabatta will work for both the soup and the topping. I don’t remove all the crusts from the bread that I put in the soup, just the toughest bottom part (I have a hard time wasting all that bread!).

Pappa Al Pomodoro

from Barefoot Contessa

1/2 cup good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (water for vegetarian)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (eliminate for vegan)

For the topping:
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped (eliminate for vegetarian)
24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper

Directions
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine.

Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.

Margaux says…

I think my mom got this recipe from a chef friend-of-a-friend several years ago…I’m kind of cloudy on the details of where it came from. But what I do remember is that we tried it right away (mainly out of curiosity-it sounded to easy to be true), and it was fabulous. I have since made it many, many times. I make it for company, for regular week-day meals, and for weekend “special” meals. It only takes an hour (well, an hour and five minutes, for the prep time of cutting potatoes), and it’s only 3 ingredients. The only down-side is that your house will get smoky, the fire alarm may go off, and you will need to clean your oven. I always make it when my oven is already pretty dirty, and ready for me to run the self-clean cycle.

As many times as I’ve made this, I’ve never altered or added anything. It turns out perfectly every time, so what’s to mess with? I’ve used all three citrus fruit options, and there really isn’t a difference in the flavor of the chicken, in my opinion. I usually serve it with a vegetable, like steamed green beans or sauteed spinach, but tonight I made this quinoa salad with it and it was great!

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

1 whole roasting chicken
1 lime, lemon or orange, halved
1-2 lbs. red potatoes, halved
1 metal roasting pan

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Rinse and pat-dry chicken, and place breast-side up in the pan. Place citrus fruit into cavity of chicken, and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Place potatoes around the chicken in the pan, as close to the chicken as you can get them. Roast for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 15 minutes before carving.

Dad’s Pot Roast

November 3, 2011

Margaux says…

For the most part, I tend to cook a new recipe every night.  But there are a few things that I make on a regular basis (meaning, 2-3 times a year), and this is one of them.  I am a meat-and-potatoes kind of gal…have been since the beginning.  Pot roast is one of my favorite things, next to steak and mashed potatoes, and my dad gave me this recipe for it when I was in middle school.  I’m pretty sure it’s my Granny’s recipe, although she may not have put in the garlic or herbs. Anyway, it’s been a standard for me ever since!

You have to get a nice, marble-y piece of meat…that’s what makes it good.  You can add as many potatoes and carrots as your pot will allow…it seems I can never cook enough carrots!  Just add a little more water if you need to when adding the veg.  The water doesn’t have to completely cover, because the tight-fitting lid will create a steam bath in there, but it should almost cover the ingredients.

The best part about pot roast (well, second best, next to the taste!), is that it is super easy to make!  I like to make it on days where I have a lot of other things going on…it only has a few ingredients, and prep time is only about 10-15 minutes.  If you’re making gravy (which is totally necessary, in my book), that will take another few minutes at the end, but it’s worth the trouble.

Dad’s Pot Roast

2- 2 1/2 lb. Boston or chuck roast
1 medium onion, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp oregano
2-4 potatoes, quartered
2-4 carrots, cut into 3″ pieces
2-3 cups water (or more, if needed)

You need a dutch oven, cast iron is best-it adds flavor! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of the meat. On top of the stove, over medium-high heat, heat oil, and brown meat on both sides. Add water to the top of the meat and add onion, herbs, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Place a tight-fitting lid on top and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and add potatoes and carrots (and a little more water if needed), and cook one more hour. Mmm-mmm-good.

Pan Gravy

I like to use Wondra flour for my gravy–it makes it super easy. First thing you need to do is remove the meat and vegetables from the pan, and strain the juices. I usually reserve 2 cups of the juices for gravy, because my family likes gravy…it makes a lot of gravy. Put the 2 cups of strained juices back in the pan, and turn the heat on medium. Whisk together 4 tbsp Wondra flour and 1/2 cup water. Whisking constantly, add flour/water mixture to the pan, and continue stirring until boiling. Boil a few more minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Sometimes I like to get fancy and make red-wine gravy. In this case, just substitute 1/2 cup red wine for 1/2 cup of the juices. It gives the gravy a lot of yummy flavor!