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Archive for October, 2012

Moroccan Chicken CousCous

On a recent episode of Doc-Zone I learned that Moroccan food is known to be some of the least processed and freshest food in the world.  They often get their ingredients fresh from the market the same day that it’s cooked.  Wouldn’t that be something?

Either way, they are also known for their CousCous recipes.  Seemed like a great place to start my journey into cooking.  So here we go!

 

Ingredients :

  • 4 Boneless Skinless chicken Thighs (I used a whole package expecting left overs)
  • Half a cube of chicken stock / bouillon.
  • Half a red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp or 5ml ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of Saffron or 1 tsp of Turmeric if you don’t feel like paying a zillion dollars for the Saffron (I chose the expensive route)
  • 2 tbsp / 30ml olive oil
  • 1 small onion (I used an organic table onion, but any onion should do)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I was lucky that we were given two cloves from the farm deliveries)
  • 2 tbsp or 30 ml honey
  • chilli powder – recipe calls for 1/2 a tsp but you add as much as your taste buds can handle
  • 100g of cous cous (I used roughly half of a 284g box, again expecting left overs)
  • juice from half a squeezed lemon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • I added in some Mushrooms just because we had them and they weren’t being put to good use.

Prep :

  1. Chop up your onion, mushrooms and bell peppers into small squares
  2. Garlic should be chopped into very fine pieces, as small as you can.
  3. Crumble the half cube of chicken stock and add in the pinch of saffron (or your tsp of turmeric)
  4. Bring 300 ml of to a boil and add in the stock and spice.  Set this aside and let it sit while you work on the rest.

Steps :

  1. Use the 30 ml of oil to oil up a large skillet or frying pan, One with a cover.  Once it’s heated throw in your chicken thighs.
  2. On medium to low heat you want to cook your chicken thighs through.  Should take roughly 5 to 10 minutes.  Be sure to flip them often to make sure the chicken is cooked through
  3. Add Onions, garlic, red pepper and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Remember keep stirring it from time to time so you don’t over cook one side of the thighs.
  4. Add cinnamon, chilli power and honey and your chicken stock/spice mix
  5. Bring it to a simmer (barely boiling) and cover, letting it cook for 15 minutes.
  6. While the chicken cooks you can bring the amount of water indicated on your cous cous package to a boil, for me it was 2/3 cup of water.
  7. Once it’s boiling add in your cous cous and stirr for a few minutes.  Then cover your pot and let it sit.  If you’ve never made cous cous before it will quickly absorb the water… don’t panic it’s supposed to do that.
  8. Once your 15 minutes is up transfer your chicken thighs over to your pot with the cous cous.  This is just to keep them warm and get them out of your skillet for the time being.
  9. Turn up your heat and reduce the sauce down to 1/3 of its original level.  It should take roughly 5 minutes and you’ll notice the sauce will become a little thicker.
  10. Finally pour in the lemon juice and get ready to serve.  You can re transfer the chicken back to  your sauce if you want to get it out of the way to manage and fluff up your cous cous.

Cover roughly 1/3 of your plate with the cous cous, and two or three chickens thighs ( depending on how big they are) and then top with your sauce.  I was extremely rushed to get to a night shift when I made this so I didn’t actually have time to prepare some greens to put on the side but that is certainly possible.  I would likely have chopped up a bit of shard although I would have guessed that steamed asparagus would have also been a great choice.

Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous
Missing some green, but still very delicious.

 

The verdict on this dish is very good.  I was quite surprised at how the garlic, onions and cinnamon came together to create a caramel flavour.  The chicken was extremely juice and the cous cous added that extra substance.  I enjoyed every single bite… even the left overs were delicious.  This is a recipe that I will definitely make again.  I would guess a nice red wine would go very well with this dish, although I am no expert at matching wines with plates just yet.

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So after trying to figure out what to do with the massive organic Zucchini we had gotten from our farm delivery last month I decided I would try out a cake.  When I was younger my mom used to get me to eat zucchini cake by not telling me there was anything else in there.  I was only told I had eaten my first piece that it was a chocolate zucchini cake instead of just chocolate.  But at that point I didn’t care too much because it was clearly delicious.  I wanted to try it out for myself, except this time the real challenge was to make the cake entirely, or as close to entirely as possible, out of organic ingredients.  Lucky for me the Organic section out in Dominion had pretty much everything I was looking for.

If you want to make it yourself and you don’t want to spring the extra coin for organics you can certainly just scratch out the word “organic” and it should turn out just as good.

Ingredients.

1 3/4 cups organic sugar cane sugar
1/2 cup organic safflower oil
3 organic eggs
2 teaspoons organic vanilla
2 cups coarsely shredded organic zucchini
2 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
2/3 cup organic cocoa powder (more or less depending on how you like it)
2 1/2 teaspoons organic baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons organic baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (I couldn’t find any organic salt… but it’s friggin salt, who cares)
2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
1/2 organic milk (I used skim, I’m sure 1% or 2% would also work)

You’ll also need :

  1. A cheese grater to grate up the zucchnini
  2. 2 large bowls
  3. Any type of cake pan you want to use, I ended up using a round one.
  4. Strainer* (It’s not required, however from what I read it’s a good idea to let the zucchini shavings drain out some of it’s water for a little while before starting to cook this)
  1. First you want to shred the entire Zucchini using a cheese shredder (large holes, not the small ones) into your strainer and let it sit for a while to drain out most of the water. (You’ll be surprised how much water there is in a zucchini)
  2. Preheat your oven to 350F
  3. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the sugar.  It’s easier to do this first as you don’t want to do it after you have half the cake mix done and have to wait.
  4. In your other large bowl beat sugar, oil and eggs.  After that is mixed add the vanilla and zucchini.  It will look pretty mulchy after this part but trust me when you mix it all together and cook it you won’t even notice the zucchini anymore.
  5. Add the dry mixture alternately to the wet mixture using your half cup of milk.
  6. Blend well.
  7. Pour into a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan
  8. Bake in oven at 350F for 50 to 60 minutes. (I think I did roughly 55 and it turned out good.  Best to do 50 and then wait a little longer if needed.)
  9. Let it stand for 10 minutes or so after you take it out.

Now for the frosting I decided chocolate would go well with Peanut butter.

Ingredients :

  1. 1/2 cup organic peanut butter (try to get the stuff that isn’t mixed with the oil… it’s already pretty soft and thus you won’t need to microwave it to soften it first.  Just mix it together and poor it into your measuring cup.)1 tbsp organic milk (This is a ridiculous under estimate.  You will need a lot more than this.)

    1/2 tsp oragnic vanilla

    1 ½ cups of oragnic powdered sugar (if you can find it… I wasn’t able to)

The process is fairly easy.  However I would suggest you keep a wooden spoon handy for this part.

  1. Beat the vanilla, milk and peanut butter in a bowl for as long as it will allow you to.  It should be ok add this point.
  2. Add in your frosting 1/4 cup at the time.  When the frosting becomes too hard add in another tbsp of the milk. After my first quarter cup of sugar I had to ditch the beater and use a wooden spoon.  All the peanut butter just got stuck in the blades.
  3. Continue to add sugar and milk incrementally until you have no sugar left and the consistency is to your liking.  Remember it has to be soft enough to spread onto a cake, but not too soft that it will run off and not stick to it.

I was able to cover the entire cake with roughly 1/4 inch of peanut butter frosting.  To be safe I put the cake in the fridge when I wasn’t eating it to make sure peanut butter didn’t melt away and make a mess.

I was very pleased with this recipe.  Not only did it make a great use for the zucchini, but it was actually really good and surprisingly healthy tasting.  I could taste the very slight difference in the whole wheat flour from the regular flour but that was it.  I brought it into work and it was gone by Lunch time.

And the best part is, I still have 3 cups of shredded zucchini in my freezer waiting.  I believe I will try the recipe on some cupcakes with a cream cheese icing.

Mmmmmm

The frosting recipe was taken from Families.com.  They had their own version of the cake recipe there as well.
The recipe for the cake was taken from Riverglenfarm.ca. A website for Riverglen Biodynamic Farms, located in Ottawa’s greenbelt.

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