Tag: recipes

…and now we return to our regularly scheduled program

Friday, July 9th, 2010 | All Things, Books, Eats, Family, Travel

Has is it been an entire year?

I’ll admit: once I got out of the habit of posting a blog entry every day, it became ever easier to just abandon the project entirely.  But lately, I’ve begun to (re)consider: perhaps the best way to ease back into this process would be to dash out these episodes, as the mood or inspiration strikes, sometimes including photos and at times, not.  And just see how it goes.

This is what I’ll write today.

To recap the entire past year would be an exercise requiring more time and energy that I’m ready to dedicate now.  But to fill in the most recent highlights:  I spent two late spring weeks in Spain, eating and drinking (and photographing) my way through Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada and Madrid.  (Glorious!)  In mid-June, I had another birthday (somewhat less so), followed in rapid succession by the commemoration of several milestones: a 70th birthday, a funeral, a wedding, and a 50th anniversary.

And tonight I sit in my apartment on the eve of little Joshua’s first birthday, assessing the 15 pounds of chicken wings I just purchased to prepare for the celebration tomorrow.  (Quite the grisly scene of fowl carnage it is… so you see: sometimes the lack of photographs is a very good thing.)  For the marinade, I’ve settled upon Gourmet‘s recipe for “Asian barbecue sauce,” even as its lack of specificity strikes me as strange.  I’ve never come across a recipe for “European sauce,” after all.

Last week, I read through Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, about a girl who discovers she can taste emotions in food — specifically the feelings of those preparing it.  I picked up the book having been intrigued by its premise after catching an interview with the author on NPR.

If this weren’t surrealist fiction, if this were at all possible, what impressions would my family and friends sense in these chicken wings, lingering beneath the tangy hoisin and sweet shaoxing wine?

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A taste of Morocco

Saturday, January 19th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends

This weekend’s North African pot luck may have been the most challenging yet, requiring research for new recipes and the deployment of special equipment. An excellent opportunity to break out the clay tagine I received for Christmas from SC a while back. SYB, for his part, selected the dinner theme to show off his fancy new Le Creuset version. (Incidentally, Amazon sells a silicone tagine for $20. I adore my Silpats, but I am skeptical of the suitability of silicone for this particular purpose.)


So this is what I learned in my preparations for Saturday night: a “tagine” refers to both a shallow, rimmed earthenware cooking dish with a tight-fitting conical lid, and to the food cooked within. The distinctive shape of the tagine creates a closed convection system, circulating moisture and heat. Steam condenses at the top of the lid – the farthest point from the heat source – and drips back into the dish, which allows the tagine’s contents to be braised over a long period of time without requiring additional liquid. I’ve seen tagines used in the oven, but they are intended for use on the stove top, or traditionally over a charcoal brazier.

The main characteristic of a Moroccan meat tagine is a full-bodied, highly seasoned sauce — not spicy hot, though, which is more characteristic of Tunisian cuisine. I located a recipe for Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds and set to work in my kitchen, but due the size of my dish, I ended up making two batches: one in the tagine, the other in my trusty dutch oven. Curiously, they didn’t turn out looking or tasting noticeably different.

My results bore out Cooks Illustrated’s May 2006 look at tagines in an “Equipment Corner” article titled “Do you really need a tagine?” The editors concluded “no” — that for the most part, a quality dutch oven will do the same job at least as well.

In my Moroccan recipe hunt, I came across a New York Times piece in which Zarela Martínez (executive chef and owner of midtown Mexican restaurant Zarela) mentioned a chicken, preserved lemons and green olives tagine, accompanied by eggplant grilled with a pomegranate-molasses vinaigrette — a flavor combination which sounded intriguing and delicious. “Somehow eating that combination of the preserved lemon and the olive, which is salty, and the slightly sweet eggplant on the side with the pomegranate molasses, is just heaven. Whenever I’m trying to seduce someone, let’s say, that’s exactly the meal that I’ll make.

Hmm, interesting. So just in case: here’s that tagine recipe, adapted from Paula Wolfert‘s 1973 classic cookbook, Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco.

And because it’s still a dream of mine: 36 hours in Marrakesh. One day.

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