Saturday, August 29, 2015

Moroccan Fish Tagine

For the carb-lovers, this is awesome over rice or couscous. For the carb-avoiders, this is just fine without.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-2 yellow onions, diced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced. (Or about a cup of the smaller colorful sweet peppers.)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if your broth is really salty)
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 can diced tomatoes (I prefer fire-roasted)
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika is awesome)
4-6 cups chicken broth (start with 4 cups. If you want it soupier, add more)
1-1/2 pounds cod fillets, cut into spoon-sized chunks
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (one of the little supermarket boxes)
3 tablespoons tahini
1 lemon's worth of zest + juice
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or 1 Tablespoon dried
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, or 1 teaspoon dried (optional)

Open the bag of fish, pour cold water in so the fillets start to thaw. Dice the onion & chop the pepper. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat, saute onion & pepper & salt until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Start thinly slicing all the mushrooms, set aside. Add the garlic and can of tomatoes, cumin, paprika, and simmer for 1 minute.

Pour in stock (or mix in bullion and then add water). Turn heat to high, start stripping cod fillets out of their vacuum packaging. Cut into chunks. When mixture is boiling, add the mushrooms & fish. When tagine reboils, reduce heat to simmer. Cook until fish is opaque, which is about 5 minutes.

Get fresh cutting board & knife not contaminated by fish. Zest lemon, chop parsley & cilantro. Shake / stir tahini jar. If you don't have a zester, use a peeler and dice the lemon zest fine. When the fish is cooked through, stir in tahini, zest, lemon juice & cilantro. Ladle into bowls, serve immediately.

But remember to blow on it to cool it off before eating immediately...

(Serves at least 4, up to 6 if you added the second onion and had it with rice or couscous.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Street Food and Scars

Sometimes it's the little things that shock me. I like street food, and since it's a commonality from Venezuela to Turkey, India to Germany, I didn't understand my husband's deep culture shock at the concept of coming out of a concert and buying loaded hot dogs from a cart on the corner.

I figured it must be related to his civil war, but put off asking until I served him fish tacos. It's rather time-consuming to make good fish tacos, because I have to dice and chop the everything. Cabbage, red onions, green onions, tomatoes, cilantro, slices of limes, chunks of avocado... and have to make the lime-juice-mayo before I start any of this, so it has time to meld.
He explained gently that there was one street food in the townships, a bowl of corn porridge and if you were very lucky, some meat. But never in any of the white areas. It wasn't the paranoia of civil war that denuded his earlier life of fried pastries, things on sticks, things wrapped in foil or in paper... it was apartheid. Because the sheer utter evil that strangled his country would have found it unthinkable to let food vendors of any other race into white-only areas.

The man eats all his food with a knife and fork not because Britishness, but because the scars of evil prevented him from ever learning the careful dance you do to avoid getting the grease on you while enjoying the night. There were no ice cream trucks in his youth, no fried chapatis stuffed with more spice than meat, no fish and chips at the wharf cooked fresh from the catch coming in, no tacos or burritos out of the food truck, no hot dogs loaded with sautéed onions and peppers, no polish sausages oozing sauerkraut juice and mustard out of the lining, no cornish pasties, no pirogies, no blini rolled up and dripping powdered sugar and lemon juice, no corner coffee stands with paninis, no tapas, no currywurst, no fritters or kebabs, falafel or rice balls, mochi, or steamed pork buns...

I understood apartheid resulted in the shootings, the disappearances, the training the police dogs to eat the faces off of victims, and all the horrors we associate with great evils.

But I still find it small and sad to watch a man eye a fish taco with trepidation, and take the first bite due to love and faith, because he's never known the wide an wonderful variety of the food world on the streets.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Morning Sights Around Here

My next door neighbor has some oregano that's so ignored it'd best be described as feral. She told me I was "welcome to take all you want, anytime."

Now and then, she sees me skulking past in the bright morning light, wearing an oversize t-shirt and boxers, barefoot and bedhead sticking about wildly, with scissors in one hand and a couple sprigs in the other. For some reason, she's usually laughing when I notice her...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Chicken and artichokes with kippered lemon sauce

Chicken and artichokes with kippered lemon sauce

1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
1 tin, drained, kippers in oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
zest & juice of 1 lemon
2 pounds chicken, diced
1 jar (33 ox) artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered
1/2 teaspoon dill weed dried, or 1-1/2 tsp fresh
1/3 cup parsley & basil, rough-chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Combine chicken chunks and artichoke quarters on a rimmed baking pan, add some salt and pepper & dill weed. Add juice of the lemon you're zesting, set aside.

In skillet, combine butter & oil, heat. After butter melts, add the kippers, and mash with the back of wooden spoon until they're roughly paste-like. When the paste is bubbling rapidly, turn off heat and add lemon zest and garlic.

Turn the oven broiler on high.

Drizzle oil mixture over chicken & artichokes. Mix well to coat. Stick in oven, set timer to 15 minutes. At least every 5 minutes, stir well to take the lightly browned bits to the bottom, and the raw bits to the top. When it's all done (roughly 15 minutes), pull out, garnish with parsley & dill, stir, serve.

Goes well with a salad.

4 servings, roughly 68 grams of protein, 61 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbs. (Not counting salad)

...okay, fine, the original recipe called for anchovies. But I like kippers, I had kippers, and it tasted good. Any strong tasting fish, including sprats, ought to do just fine.