Moroccan Chicken anyone?

I've had this recipe in my repertoire for years, it has evolved over time but is one of those tried and tested recipes that whenever I am lacking inspiration or time I go to. This recipe can be turned into a quick dinner, if you use chicken breast, 40 minutes, seriously) or lazy dinner in a slow cooker. 

Moroccan Chicken (*adapted from epicurious); 4 servings

  • 1 Lemon or preserved lemon
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced (ciseler)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 4 pieces of chicken, thighs and legs or breasts
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • salt and pepper

1. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, combine garlic, spices and 1 tbsp of olive oil, add 1 teaspoon of both salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine until it forms a paste. Slather on chicken making sure the chicken is evenly seasoned. Marinate for as long as possible, ideally overnight but at least 20 minutes.

2.  Heat a dutch oven or a large frying pan with olive oil, sear the chicken well on both sides   and then set aside. 

3. In the same pan over medium heat, saute the onions until slightly softened, but not fully cooked. Add the chicken back to the pan and add the chicken broth until the chicken is halfway covered. Add the green olives and lemon and then simmer on low-medium heat until chicken is fully cooked (this will be faster for the chicken breast, about 20 minutes and longer for the legs about 30 minutes). 

4. When chicken is fully cooked, remove and discard lemon, strain the sauce and reduce in a saucepan, until doubled. Serve the chicken with couscous and some sauce drizzled over! 

Now, if you have a bit more time, I would suggest you try making this same recipe but braising the meat for longer, if you do that, you get this great Moroccan Pulled Chicken - with the exact same ingredients, but you have to use chicken legs, otherwise it won't work. Do steps 1 - 3, but ignore step 4 above. 

4. Simmer the chicken on low heat, cover with a lid or aluminum foil to lock in the moisture. After 30 minutes, remove the lemon (if you leave it in the whole time it makes the stew a bit bitter). Check and make sure there is enough liquid, you want it to come up about halfway. Keep braising the chicken until you can pull the meat away with a fork. This should take about 1 hr in a pan/dutch over or 2 1/2 hrs if you use a slow cooker. 

5. Remove the chicken with tong and place in a large bowl. Strain the sauce and reduce until doubled. Meanwhile, using your finger roughly pull the meat off the bone. You want large chunks because when you add it back to the sauce and heat it up it will continue to shred. Discard the bones and skin. 

6. Add the shredded meat and olives back to the sauce. Heat through and serve with couscous or in some pita bread! 

Couscous Recipe

Basic Couscous Recipe
1 cup couscous 
1 1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and pepper 

 Optional Add-in
1/4 cup crushed pistachios
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup of diced cucumber
1/4 cup of dried unsweetened cranberries
1/4 cup sultanas (Note - soak in earl grey tea for a few minutes, it helps to rehydrate them and wash off some of the excess sugar)

1. In a kettle or pot, bring water to a boil. 
2. In a medium mixing bowl, add dry couscous, olive oil and salt and pepper. 
3. Pour boiling hot water over couscous and cover with cling film/plastic wrap. Let stand for 2 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Add in any of the optional add-ins and then serve. 

Here comes the Broccoli

Since I don't generally cook vegetarian food, I've been trolling the internet looking for vegetarian recipes which meet my discerning criteria: 

a) is not trying to make vegetables into meat. meat is meat, vegetables are vegetables, can't we just leave them be?

b) healthy. I'm detoxing so it should be easy on the butter, cheese, and fat. Oh yeah, and ideally using whole grains 
c) delicious

Despite perusing tons of vegan/vegetarian blogs you'd be surprised how few vegetarian recipes there are that meet this description! But I can always trust Smitten Kitchen (one of my fav blogs!) to have great mouth watering recipes, and I decided to adapt her broccoli pesto recipe for tonight's dinner.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 pound broccoli

2 handfuls of rocket/arugula (washed)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, julienned
2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper 

handful of pine nuts
1/2 of shaved parmesan
1/2 pound dried whole wheat spaghetti

1. Trim the stem off the broccoli and peel the rough bits, cut into pieces. Trim the broccoli florets into similar sized bits. (yes, I know I'm starting to sound British)

2. In a small saucepan on medium heat, sauce onion and garlic until softened. 

3. Blanch broccoli florets and stems in salted boiling water. Drain and rinse 

with cold water.

4. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente and then drain. 

5. In a food processor, in small batches pulse together broccoli, rocket/arugula, onion, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and add olive oil as needed to help combine. Blend until pesto-like consistency. 

6. In a large bowl, mix together pasta and pesto and then plate. Garnish with more parmesan 

Good Olde Asian Stir Fry

I've been going through Asian food withdrawal since leaving Toronto (where I was spoiled with days of home cooked Asian food, thanks to Mama Tran), so decided to do a basic Asian stir fry using the contents of my kitchen. Here's my detox vegetarian stir fry:

1 package of rice vermicelli
1/2 cup of dried chinese mushrooms
handful of green beans
handful of tenderstem broccoli 
1 onion, julienne
2 cloves of garlic, mince
1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp of vegetable oil
cilantro & mint 

4 Tbsp of oyster sauce
1 Tbsp of soy sauce
1 Tbsp of chili garlic sauce

1. Rinse the dried mushrooms well and then soak in hot water for 10-20 minutes. Dry on a paper towel. 

2. In a pot of salted water, blanch broccoli and beans. Drain and set aside. 

3. In a large pot, bring water to boil. Cook vermicelli for 6-8 minutes and then rinse and drain well.

4. Julienne onion, green onion and mince garlic. Take the mint and cilantro and give it a rough chop and set aside for garnishing. Now you're ready to finish off the dish

5. Heat a large pan or wok on high heat, add oil and saute onions, mushrooms and garlic together, until softened. Add sauce ingredients, oyster sauce, soy sauce and chilli garlic. Add cooked vermicelli, beans and broccoli, toss until well combined. Garnish with chopped mint and cilantro.

Verdict: this was fast, from start to finish took 20 minutes (excluding the hydrating the mushrooms part). Next time think I will add some bean sprouts and carrots just to add some more texture and colour to the dish. This is an easy dish to meat-ify as well, the BF opted to add some grilled beef, but pork, chicken and shellfish would all work.