Tuesday, July 26 –
I have to say that all in all, this was a very good dinner. I will warn you ahead of time that somehow my phone didn’t save the photos of the food, so I don’t have any to share. Super lame because the chicken legs were beautiful (as things like chicken legs go, anyway). But the food – it was very good. My wonderful boyfriend said that it was “finger licking good, in spite of the olives.” I, on the other hand, love and adore most olives, so I could have kept eating until I popped.
I did modify the recipes just a little bit. I started with the chicken dish, which I cooked all the way through and then added the olives right before they went into the oven. I did this to try to save the entire dish from grossing my wonderful boyfriend out. It ended up working out ok because the skin on the chicken saved it from soaking in any of the brine. I only made 3 leg quarters instead of 3 legs and 3 thighs. I’m really glad I did this because I don’t think there would have been enough marinade to soak everything in. The rest of that recipe I left as called for. The chicken turned out so soft and moist that the meat almost pulled right off the bone. With each bitefull of chicken meat, olive carefully placed at the tip of the fork, the mouthfulls were juicy, salty, briny, and delicious.
The carrots I added 4 garlic cloves instead of 2, because you really can’t ever have enough garlic in my humble opinion. I also only had caraway seeds (with no pestle and mortar) so they had a bit more of a bite than I think the recipe would be if they were ground. They were still delicious and I’m glad I made them. Making them while the chicken cooked was definitely the right plan because it gave the garlic and lemon time to soak into the carrots. Served at room temperature like the recipe called for I could have nibbled on them like a snack. I could easily make these again to serve with dips instead of the raw carrots that I usually fall back on. Maybe this deserves some of the yummy yogurt sauce that I made with the Afghanistan recipes? Probably, yes.
With the kale I only changed the amount of kale I cooked. I started pulling the leaves off the ribs and quickly ended up with a bowl full of leaves and I was only half way through the bunch of them. So I went with my instinct to only make half of the bundle of kale, and they turned out yummy. I have had kale that I liked and some that I didn’t, so I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture of this recipe. Together with the sauce from the chicken and the crunchiness of the carrots, this was the perfect green to add to the plate.
I served dinner with naan that I ordered from an Indian restaurant up the street, because let’s face it, store bought naan just isn’t the same. I thought the flavors would go better than something like french bread or sourdough. Both my wonderful boyfriend and I love Indian food, so I figured this was a good way to tempt him to eat it, even though it had olives. The flavors and the texture worked out just fine, and I would recommend the combination for anyone making dishes like these. The naan soaked up the juices from the chicken and the kale, and the flavor didn’t overpower the spices in the broth.
Things I have learned: Saffron apparently costs over $600 a pound (so said the lady at the grocery store) and is one of the most expensive things you can buy. I already knew it was expensive but I hadn’t ever given in to buying it. So now I’m a proud owner of some amazing strands of deliciousness. I will probably own almost every spice known to cooks by the time this project is through – and that excites me. I like shopping at Safeway because their prices are good, but I LOVE shopping at Central Market and could probably get lost for days in there dreaming up things to cook/make/blend/bake. I need to always read the recipes and get started the day before, because most of them want me to marinate the meat overnight.
Thoughts for the potluck: Super excited! I’m pretty sure I’ll be making pulled pork, mango salsa, and a big batch of rice. I’m also considering roasting some onions to go on the side and maybe, just maybe some coleslaw. I will wait to see what everyone else is making before I decide to make too much food.
Thoughts for next week: American Samoa recipes were a little bit harder. I finally decided on a fish dish (Poisson Cru) and a dish that looks like banana doughnuts (Panikeke). I will keep looking though to see if I can find a good side dish to go with the fish.
Thoughts for my friends: I try to post the recipes that I’ve picked before I actually make them. If there’s a night that you would really enjoy or really want to try because it interests you, please let me know and I would be happy to make extra.
Thoughts about wine: As another passion that I’m trying to develop, I am looking forward to cooking a country that has their own wine. If any of my readers have recommendations of wine to go with the meals I will be cooking, I’d love to hear about it (even if it’s not specifically from the country that I’m making that week). I figure like garlic, the more wine the better!
Thoughts about the map: I finally got the map that I ordered, but I had to have my wonderful boyfriend make me a cork board that was big enough to fit the names of the things I have cooked around the outside. I hope to have it up and start pinning it this. Geography lesson and cooking lesson all in one!
I wish I could end this with photos, but I’ll just have to go without. I will definitely keep these recipes on hand to make again. More to write after the potluck on Sunday!
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: http://thym-thym.blogspot.com)
Chicken with Olives Tagine (Djej bil Zitoon)
- 3 chicken legs and 3 chicken thighs, with skin still attached
- 1 cup ripe or midway olives (Greek Kalamatas, Italian Gaetas are the favorites, but you can even use Spanish Manzanilla olives)
- 1 medium sweet onion, quartered and sliced
- 2 tbsp S’men, butter or vegetable oil
- 4 small sprigs each of cilantro and parsley, tied together with a string
- 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup water
For the Chicken Marinade:
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
- A pinch of saffron
- A pinch of freshly ground cinnamon
- 1/2 sweet onion, roughly diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
The day before, put all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend to a paste. Pour it over the chicken and marinate overnight. Refrigerate, covered. If you forget to do this step the day before, a minimum of one hour would work too, though the longer the marinating time the better the flavor of your chicken will be.
The next day, place the chicken thighs and legs, along with its marinade, the S’men, butter or oil, and the sliced onion in a tagine or a casserole. Add the water and the bouquet of herbs nestled in a corner. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on a medium-low heat 35 minutes, turning the chicken often in the sauce.
If using the kalamatas or Gaetas olives, just rinse them to get rid of the excess brine and set aside. If using Manzanilla olives, which come often stuffed with pimento, remove the pimento with a toothpick and blanch the olives three times, adding a teaspoon of sugar to the third blanching. Set aside. Serves 4
After thirty five minutes of cooking, add the olives to the chicken. Add water, if necessary. Continue cooking 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 375F (180C).
Discard the herb bouquet and transfer the chicken pieces, along with the sauce and the olives, to an ovenproof dish, if necessary. Continue cooking the chicken until nicely browned on the surface, about 10 minutes, depending on your oven.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and spoon the olives and sauce around them. Drizzle a few drop of 1/2 a lemon on the sauce, depending on your taste. Scatter some chopped parsley on top and serve at once with plenty of bread.
Caraway Spiced Carrot Salad
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp freshly ground caraway seeds
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
Steam the carrots until tender but still retain their shape. When the carrots are cooked, carefully remove the steaming basket and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add the garlic, ground caraway and parsley. Cook for one minutes stirring constantly until fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the hot carrots to the herb mixture and toss. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and lemon juice and toss again. Transfer to a plate and leave to infuse for at least an hour. Enjoy the salad at room temperature.
Sautéed Kale with Cumin and Smoked Paprika
- 1 bunch Kale (about 1 pound/500g)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup/250ml parsley sprigs, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup/ 125ml fresh coriander, tightly packed
- 1 tsp freshly ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt
- Salt, black pepper
- lemon wedges
- Oil cured black olives
Strip the kale leaves off their stems and cut away the tough midribs of any large leaves. Chop finely and wash in plenty of water. Drain well. Chop and pound the parsley, coriander, garlic and 1/4 tsp salt to a paste in a mortar or a food processor. Heat a large sauté pan and add olive oil and the chopped onion. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the herb paste. Cook 2 minutes stirring and without burning, then add the kale, cumin and smoked paprika, stir to combine, and cover the pan. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the greens are tender. When they are tender, remove the lid and allow any excess water to evaporate. Turn off the heat and stir in the yogurt. Serve with bread, cured black olives, or any of your favorite olives, and wedges of lemon to squeeze to taste.