Monday, May 17, 2010

My Husband the Cook

When my husband and I first got married, he couldn't tell you the difference between a spoon and a spatula.  Ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration.  Shallots, scallions and chives though, he certainly didn't know the difference between those.  And while his mother boasted about his culinary skills before we got married, in all reality making eggs and pancakes is not what I call culinarily difficult.

Josh has always respected my stubborn refusal to be solely responsible for the household duties.  He has always recognized that since we both eat, so we both should cook, and as a result I believe this has transformed my husband into an amazing cook.  He has learned to cook using a recipe as a guide, rather than a strict set of rules, substituting ingredients here and there to make a beautiful meal.  And so today I want to share with you some of the amazing things he has recently made.

#1:  Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Apricots

A good friend of mine introduced Moroccan cooking to Josh and I.  Ever since, Josh has been experimenting with both the cooking of Moroccan food, as well as the making of ceramic Tagines.  

Here are a few recipes that Josh has made.  And when I say these are AMAZING, I'm NOT exaggerating.  Honestly these dishes are mouth watering and perfectly savory.  

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds - Pictured above
(This recipe has been altered from Epicurious.  Follow the mentioned link to see the original recipe.)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds organic chicken thighs
  • 2 cups cut red potatoes or yams (remove the skins if using yams)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium red onion, halved, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 fresh sprigs cilantro
  • 5 sprigs italian parsley
  • water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • Sever over couscous
  • Stir together ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat well.
  • Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in base of tagine (or in skillet), uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.  Add chicken and cook 8 to 12 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate. 
  • Add onion and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to tagine and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add cilantro and parsley to tagine along with 3/4 cup water, chicken, potatoes, and any juices accumulated on plate. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30-45 minutes.
  • While chicken cooks, bring honey, and one cup water, cinnamon stick, and apricots to a boil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are very tender (add more water if necessary). Once apricots are tender, simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • While apricots cook, heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small skillet over moderate heat and cook almonds, stirring occasionally, until just golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
  • Ten minutes before chicken is done, add apricot mixture to tagine. Discard cinnamon stick, then serve chicken over couscous, sprinkled with almonds on top.
And follow this link to yet another great tagine recipe called Kefta Mkawra or Moroccan Meathball Tagine

#2:  Sangria
  • 1 bottle white wine - we like sauvignon blanc
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cut orange juice
  • fresh or frozen fruit
Directions:  At the bottom of a large pitcher, squeeze the juice from the fruit.  Pour in the remaining ingredients and let sit for 1 -3 hours, or as long as overnight.  Serve over ice.

Wondering what to do with that left over champaign?  Here's another Sangria recipe:
  • 1 bottle red wine - lately we have preferred pinot noir or malbec
  • 1-2 cups left over champaign
  • fresh fruit - anything from grapefruit, to peaches, to berries
  • A few Tablespoons of sugar
Directions:  At the bottom of a large pitcher, use the sugar as an abrasive to squeeze juices out of the fruit.  Mix in the left over champaign and an entire bottle of wine.  Let sit for 1-3 hours.  Server over ice.

#3 Asparagus, Potato, Goat Cheese Pizza
  • 5 ounces fingerling potatoes
  • Cornmeal (for sprinkling)
  • Pizza Dough
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed, each spear cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in small saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Cool. Cut potatoes into thin slices.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle rimless baking sheet with cornmeal. Roll and stretch pizza dough to 16x11-inch oval. Transfer to baking sheet. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in small bowl. Brush garlic oil over dough. Sprinkle 3/4 of green onions over, then mozzarella, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Top with potato slices and goat cheese. Toss asparagus and 1 tablespoon oil in medium bowl. Scatter asparagus over pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then lightly with salt and generously with pepper.  Bake pizza until crust is browned and asparagus is tender, about 18 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Sprinkle with remaining green onions. Cut into pieces.

#4 Thai Crab Cakes

The funny thing is, while Josh is getting better in the kitchen, he still does funny things from time to time.  For example, when Josh made the Thai Crab Cakes for me on Mother's Day, instead of buying crab meat, he bought crab legs.  And this was no big deal to him, to have to cook the legs and pull out all the meat.  I must say though, I didn't mind either because by using the meat right out of the crab legs, well, the crab cakes were much better, mouth watering really.  So was it a rookie mistake, or maybe he's just more of an expert than I'm giving him credit for.


Erika said...

Loving this post with all its delicious recipes and lovely photos! You (and Josh) are rejuvenating my presently squelched cooking passion and prompting me to get back to work on my cook book (as soon as the school year officially comes to a close).

Kristin said...

I needed some new recipes! Good point about if you both eat, you both should cook. You'd think that should transfer to laundry, as well, but so far the translation has been lost in my household. Then again, Tim does change the oil and mow the lawn, even though I enjoy the benefits of car and grass. And once I vowed that I would never do a man's laundry. . . what I would do for a man I love.
Thanks for having such terrific variety in your blog. I love it.

The Artists House said...

Thanks Erika and Kristin.

Erika, I can't wait to see your cookbook. You are such an amazing, creative, and healthy cook. Your recipes are the best. Keep me informed as I would love to know when you finish

Kristin, agh, laundry. Josh and I are really good at putting the laundry in the washer and dryer. If only we had a third machine that folded the laundry and put it away. Our laundry will sit on the counters for days until one of us stops being so stubborn and does something with it. Josh use to always tell me that he would do more chores if I would give him a chance, meaning if I wouldn't do them first. It's hard for me to just look at the mess, but sure enough, if I wait long enough he does chip in and do it. Funny what different creatures we are. We miss you too. Looking forward to seeing you this summer :)

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