Tagine of Chicken with Figs and Dates

Tagine of Chicken with dates and figsSummertime is tagine time at our house because summer is when laziness rules supreme.   Tagines are a lazy cooks sort of dish; you heat the tagine, add the first group of components, wait, add the second group of components, wait some more, and then eat.  This is perfect for those summer days where you really have more pressing things than cooking on your mind (such as yard work or laying in a hammock).  If you have a side burner on your grill, you get the added benefit of not heating the house up when you cook.

This particular tagine is a thing of spiced, fruity glory.  The onions are cooked, together with a pile of spices, long enough to caramelize them.  I can promise that soyou will not be left wishing you had more richness in the dish.  The chicken, once added, is cooked together with chicken stock, and the figs and dates.  The end result is a sweet, but not cloying concoction that goes great with some Basmati rice or other similar pilaf.  After everything is in the pot, all you need to remember to do is periodically ladle out some of the excess liquid and reduce it on the stove.  Once thickened to the consistency of thin gravy (or you get tired of reducing it), return it to the tagine as you continue cooking.… 

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Tagine of Clams with Olives and Chilies

Tagine of clams, olives, and chiliesSteamer clams, like the ones pictured above, are a nostalgic food for me and I typically associate them with summer.  You see, summer was the time that my family often spent time camping on the west side of Puget Sound on a body of water called Hood Canal.  Gathering and eating various forms of seafood was always a part of the experience and I spent many happy hours sifting through the beach gravels in search of various types of clams.  We would then take them back to camp, clean them up, and have them steamed with garlic butter, or toss them in the cioppino pot simmering on the fire.

Although a lot can be said for the merits of eating succulent, sweet clams like Manillas or littlenecks with nothing more than a well-seasoned butter sauce, there are simply other things to do with clams.  In this dish, the clams are bathed in a rich and very slightly spicy tomato-based sauce.  Cumin and garlic are accented by the fresh flavors of the red bell pepper and the lightly simmered poblano chili.  … 

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Tagine of Onions and Dates

Tagine of OnionCaramelized onions are simply wonderful.  There is a reason that French onion soup is so popular, and it isn’t the cheese melted over the top…although that probably doesn’t hurt.  This dish combines two things I really like, caramelized onions and dates, with a sweet and almost desert-like spice scheme.  The result is a side dish that would be a great match for most roast chicken dishes, probably would work well with lamb, and presents a really special flavor profile that lands just this side of being too sweet (at least to me)…. 

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Zucchini and Artichoke Hearts with Charmoula

Zucchini and Artichoke Hearts with CharmoulaThis side dish is really just another version of pan-seared vegetables with “insert descriptor”-sauce.  But in this case, it’s a pretty tasty sauce.  There are certainly more complicated formulations of charmoula out there, and I encourage you to experiment with them.  I chose this one because it was quite simple yet still had the citrus notes and slight bitterness that I was looking for.  I think the seared garlic played well with it as a complimenting flavor.  The way that it coated the vegetables was delightful, and I caught Brinn ramming some helpless artichoke down into the bottom of the serving dish in an effort to soak up more of the sauce…. 

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Harcha – Moroccan Semolina Bread (or biscuit?)

DSC_0030There is this young lady that goes by the name Alia.  Bless her soul, this gal is both an enthusiastic cook and a savage eater.  She is absolutely hilarious and has such an amazing, energized style that it makes you want to track her down and give her a big hug.  I don’t follow things on youtube much but Her Channel is worth checking out and, if you like her style, subscribing to; she typically has interesting things going on.  In addition to having a super cool attitude, she has a bunch of great Moroccan recipes that, I would assume are pretty authentic.

I was fascinated when I saw her video on a type of bread called Harcha.  Simply had to make them.  After slaving away for about…I don’t know, less than half an hour, I had a fresh batch of these suckers to go with dinner.  Style wise, they lie somewhere between a chunk of shortbread and a biscuit.  The heartiness of the pan toasted semolina and the richness of the butter makes a great platform for a wide variety of spreads and toppings.  They are really simple, really rich, really fast to make, and not at all good for you.  Yay!  We served ours with some triple cream brie just in case the hefty 230 calories and 3.3 g of fat in each harcha wasn’t enough.  Ate some lamb with them too in order to further boost that fat count for the week. … 

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