Chicken Tortilla Soup

12th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate, Soups

Based on a Rick Bayless recipe

This is a remapping of one of Rick Bayless’s recipes for those who want a more hands-on approach to the dish. As usual, we’ll do everything we can to extract the most flavor possible from the ingredients, creating something absolutely delicious, and almost 100% scratch made. We use tinned tomatoes, simply becuase it’s really hard to get fantastic fresh tomatoes during the cooler months, when a hearty, spicy soup like this is most welcome, and also just becuase they’re really good. Choose a quality brand, preferably all natural. The fire roasting brings up the smoky flavours of the soup.

The method isn’t tedious, but it does take some care. We’ll golden-brown the chicken, rendering some of its fat in which we’ll cook the onions. Then, the chicken gets another turn in the pot, browning to deliver more of its chickeny goodness. Read more…»

Chicken Marrakesh

10th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Main Courses, Moderate

This is actually the dish that inspired the creation of Marrakesh Sunset in the first place. We’d gone out for a lovely Morrocan meal, and I fell in love with a Chicken Tagine, with Citron Confit, or preserved lemon. After its haunting my dreams for a couple weeks, I didn’t just want it, I had to have it. So, I looked up a dozen or so recipes for similar dishes, spent several hours experimenting with the balance of the spices, and this delightfully simple but richly flavored and delicious dish was the result.

This is traditionally cooked in a tagine, a shallow clay pot with a tall, conical lid designed to seal in the goodness. The stew would be braised in the tagine until tender; then, the lid would be removed, and the pot brought to table for service. The recipe here is adapted for the cooktop using a 4-5qt sauteusse, deep skillet or even a Dutch oven, but if you have a tagine, it’s even better. Read more…»

Chili Canario

6th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate

Chili is one of those ‘controversial’ foods. Almost everyone loves it, and each has at least one opionion about what it is, and what it is not. There are national and world-wide competitions in which contestants try to prove that theirs is, in fact, the best there is. Some like it hot and spicy, and others like it hotter and spicier. One thing is constant; according to the International Chili Society, “Never has there been anything mild about chili.” Well put!

Here’s my version. It’s spicy and rich and wonderful. The Chili Casablanca has some little surprises that add interesting dimensions to the dish. It’s not flame-thrower hot, but presents plenty of warmth. If you want more fire and even more flavor, add a little Flavorevolutions Fatal Attraction hot sauce when you serve it — it complements the spices beautifully. Or, chop some fresh Habaneros, red onions and cilantro to sprinkle over the top. For a twist, garnish with wedge of lime. Read more…»

Fusili with Tomato Cream

3rd April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Main Courses, Moderate, pasta

Tomato cream sauces can be wonderful, and are a great addition to the culinary repertoire, but often, they end up a little lacking in that wonderful tomato flavor that we crave. My approach is to turn the knobs to eleven, amping everything up, so that when the cream is added in the final steps, there’s still lots of tomato goodness, tons of flavor and amazing mouth-watering aromas. And, we’ll do it without tomato paste.

The method is simple, but requires a little attention. We’ll cook down and caramelize the tomatoes, add some sun-dried to amplify the flavors, and use an unexpected ingredient. (Even if you think you hate anchovies, try it my way. They add some body and depth, and amp everything up, but won’t make the sauce fishy; you won’t really taste them, but you’d notice if they weren’t there.) Read more…»

Citron Confit – Salt Preserved Lemons

1st April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate

Once you’ve had preserved lemons, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without a jar of them in the pantry. They have a bright and lively taste, without being overly sharp, and bring lemony goodness to many dishes.

You can order them from Middle Eastern specialty shops, but they’re really easy to make,
and you’ll know exactly what to do next time that generous neighbor brings you a big bag of fresh lemons from their overly prolific tree.

An open jar will keep in the fridge for at least a year, though you’ll use them far more quickly than that, so be sure to have another jar or two “doing their thing” on the counter top. It takes six to eight weeks before before they’re really ready to use, so what are you waiting for? You’ll want these on-hand when you get your Marrakesh Sunset, so you can immediately do a batch of Chicken with Citron Confit and Olives! Read more…»

Cauliflower Masala Soup

31st March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Soups, easy

This soup is dead simple, delicious, delightfully fresh and aromatic, and wonderfully healthful. It’s a fantastic way to add another veg to your day without having to chew it. The secrets to this recipe are the spices, and the freshness of the ingredients. Don’t overcook, or the cauliflower will lose some of its delicate sweetness.

Cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae family, along with cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and some leafy greens, like kale and collards. It’s high in vitamin C and folate, and is loaded with phytonutrients believed beneficial to human health. To top it off, its delicious raw, cooked, or pickled.

When choosing your cauliflower, look for one that’s tight, bright, firm and evenly colored. Medium sized heads are best, as they can become tough and strong tasting when they get too large. Remove the leaves and stems, and either discard, or put in the freezer for use later in a vegetable stock.

On to the soup! Read more…»

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The Ideal Martini

31st March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Cocktails

Is there any cocktail more elegant than the Martini? And, is any drink more argued over? Wet, dry, olives or a twist? Clean, or dirty? Since it’s one of my faves, I thought I should give the Martini a little air time.

Okay, so maybe there’s not such thing as a perfect Martini, since everyone has their own idea of what one should be. Some like vermouth. Others think that showing the vermouth bottle to the shaker is sufficient, or whispering the word, or waving the cork over the glass, or bowing in the direction of France, or some silliness.To my mind, there are definitely a couple of things that do not a Martini make, so let’s start there. Read more…»

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The Gregorio – A Refreshing Aperitif!

12th March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Cocktails

Everyone should have an eponymous cocktail. Here’s mine. It started life as a modification of the Americano/Negroni. I loved the idea of Campari and vermouth, but the Negroni’s gin component didn’t delight. The Americano’s addition of a splash of soda to the Campari-Vermouth mixture is a nice touch, but the result is just a bit too light to my tastes, and with nothing to stand up to the bitters, it winds up not quite as refreshing as its ingredients seem to promise.

As a lover of Manhattans, the idea of adding Bourbon or Rye seemd a natural way to bring this one more in line with my tastes. A sqeeze of orange adds a deliciously fruity element, and serves to lighten things up without adding bubbles. It’s a lovely whistle whetter, a wonderful aperitif, and is absolutely stellar during summer’s outdoor parties. You really should give it a try. Alla salute! Read more…»

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Playing the Ful

11th March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy

When I was in Egypt, I fell in love with the cuisine. Who wouldn’t? Wonderful spices, beautiful vegetables, great seafood, fresh lamb, goat and pigeon, brilliant green olive oils, all brilliantly seasoned, simply cooked, and served with delicious breads! It was really fantastic. (I could go on for hours about the roasted pigeon I ate while looking down from a rooftop over the old part of Cairo.)

In Qurna, a small village not far from Luxor’s west bank, there was a little shop across the road from my flat that always had a big copper pot of fava beans, Ful Medames, buried in the ground over hot coals. I’d often wander across the road,for a bowl of these fragrant beans, along with some fried ta’miyya (Egyptian falafel), flat bread (‘eish masri), and a drizzle of olive oil; a delicious, hearty breakfast. Delightful! Read more…»

Rocking the Tabbouleh

2nd March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy

Traditional tabbouleh is a wonderful Levantine parsley salad dish, generally made from bulgar wheat, seasoned with mint, lemon, olive oil and fresh green onions and tomatoes. It’s wonderful and healthful, and many variations can be found all over the middle-east. Remember, though, it’s a salad dish, with grain, not a grain dish with salad. The parsley really should feature prominently.

I’ve turned up the volume a little, and brought some new flavours to the more traditional, while still retaining its original spirit. Arugula brings a slightly peppery flavor, and preserved lemon offers a delightful, almost floral character. The sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, add a nice textural element and a little more intensity.

A suggestion of mint, green onions and tiny grape tomatoes complete the salad. It’s great as a side, or when served with a little feta, it can be the foundation of a lovely light supper. Read more…»

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