We had a little party last night. It was only about 19 people if you counted all the kids. For our house that’s not a lot of people. We almost always have more people than we actually invited. One year for Thanksgiving I invited 15 people and 55 people showed up. How does that happen, you wonder? Well, people bring people. They know they’ll be welcome at our house so they bring their friends. The only problem it sometimes poses is that I don’t know about it in advance. It’s hard to feed 55 when you’re cooking for 15-20. I have learned to always make extra for those unexpected (but welcome) guests. Now my friends from the Marshall Islands, they know how to “partay”. They routinely have get-togethers for large crowds. There is no such thing as a small Marshallese gathering. They celebrate EVERYTHING. Oh, it’s Tuesday…let’s have a party. They never miss a chance to live in community. I love that about them as a people group as much as I love their grilled chicken. Of course when I asked around for a recipe nobody could really quantify anything. So, I decided to come up with my own concoction. You’ll be happy to know that many Marshallese have eaten my chicken and given it the “NOD” of approval!
Come on over for some good food, good times and mehndi (henna tattoos). There’s always room for a few extra people…
Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken
10-12 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin off and visible fat trimmed
1 1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 whole garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 small onion
dash of chilli flakes
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Take the skin off the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat. Wash and set aside. Blend in a blender or processor garlic, ginger and onion together. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients before pouring in soy sauce, stir to incorporate well. Pour over chicken and either place in a large ziplock bag and seal or put in an airtight container. Marinate overnight in refrigerator. Grill over medium heat and serve!
I love eggplants. My husband–hmmm– not so much. My kids will eat anything. I usually don’t announce the fact that there are eggplants in any menu items and if asked I pretend I have hearing loss..”what did you say? Oh, why does it taste like eggplant?” (that’s the evasive maneuver). We haven’t had eggplants for a while and I was inspired by coolcookstyle‘s amazing eggplant flatbread recipe she came up with for a recent cooking challenge. I found some wonderful Japanese eggplants and decided to make Moussaka.
One of the matriarchs of the Greek community here in Salt Lake City, Georgia Katsanavas, is a great cook and I have had a copy of her recipe for years have eaten moussaka many times but never actually made the dish myself. I decided to look through the recipe and see if I had all the ingredients…I did, but I decided to add and change a few things…this is NOT Georgia’s original dish for those who are lovers of her amazing food, but it is definitely based on her recipe.
This is not a weeknight dish because it takes a bit of time. It’s also kind of rich, so it’s not a monthly recipe either. That being said, this will definitely be on my list of things to make for special dinners or occasions. It came out incredible and tasted heavenly. One of those dishes where you take a bite and close your eyes at the same time and make a MMMMM noise. Like my friend Ernie would say, “It’s slap yo mama good!” I had a wonderful Sunday dinner and Grantley got past the fact that there were eggplants in it….it was that good!
4-5 firm Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 pounds ground extra lean ground beef (traditionally lamb is used)
1 large onion
1 large red bell pepper
4-5 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red or marsala wine
28 ounces of canned diced tomatoes, pureed in a blender
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
handful of fresh flat leafed parsley
fresh oregano, about 1 tbsp chopped
Some honey (optional)
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (reserved for sprinkling on top)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Slice the eggplants length wise and sprinkle each piece with a little salt and let them sit for 15 – 20 minutes.
In the meantime heat a medium-sized sauce pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil and saute onion, bell pepper, garlic and ginger together. When vegetables are tender add in meat and begin cooking until no longer pink. Add in cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in tomato paste and wine and mix to incorporate. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes until all the wine has evaporated. Add in the pureed tomatoes and let it simmer gently to let the flavors marry and some of the liquid evaporate, about 10-15 minutes. Add in parsley, oregano and a couple of tablespoons of honey (if needed to balance out the acid of the tomatoes) before taking off the heat.
Using a paper towel soak up all the excess water off the eggplants (the salt should have drawn that out). Brush lightly with about 4 tbsp olive oil and grill on a hot grill (or you can roast them in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes) about 2 minutes on each side or until nice and tender.
Prepare the Bechamel sauce:
In a medium sauce pan heat the butter. Using a rubber spatula or whisk mix in the flour and keep stirring until it’s a light golden brown color and the flour flavor is gone. Slowly add in the milk and the bay leaf. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Add in the ricotta and goat cheese, nutmeg and salt. Turn off heat and stir until all the cheese is melted and nicely incorporated. Take out the bay leaf.
Spray with cooking spray a deep 9 x 13 pan. Layer the bottom with half of the eggplants. Put half of the meat mixture on top and spread evenly. Cover the meat mixture with the remaining eggplants and put the rest of the meat mixture on top. Pour the Bechamel sauce on top of the meat mixture and spread smoothly. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Put completed Moussaka on a cookie sheet to catch any bubble ups and bake for 40 minutes in a pre-heated 400° oven. Serve warm.
When I am tired and hungry, I am sorry to say I get a little cranky (my family would say a lot cranky). We had a really long week and last night all I wanted to do was relax and hangout, maybe even go to bed early…..but I was hungry. I was not going to eat cereal or a salad. I wanted something warm and delicious and someone else to maybe cook it for me or bring it to me and maybe fan me whilst I ate. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. Since I didn’t feel like chopping a bunch of stuff and I had some Quinoa on hand, I decided to make a Kitchuri out of it. Kitchuri is a pretty traditional Bengali dish and I blogged about it a few weeks ago. I wanted to make an even easier version out of Quinoa. Because Quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain, it contains a lot of protein and that meant I could be even lazier and not have to make something else to go with it to make it into a complete protein. If you want to learn all about Quinoa, check out one of my favorite dietitian bloggers, Nadia and her latest post here.
The only chopping I had to do was 2 tablespoons of Cilantro. I could handle that. It was tasty, it was quick and it was delicious. Wins my vote for the relief of crankiness!
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup Quinoa (I used the brown and not the red)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seed
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 green chili, seeded and sliced length ways
1/3 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
pinch of salt to taste
Wash and rinse the Quinoa. Let it soak for about 10-15 minutes before boiling in 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt until all the water is absorbed. Take off heat and fluff with a fork. In a larger skillet dry roast the cashews and sesame seeds until nice and golden. Should only take about a minute or two. Take out of the pan and set aside. Add oil to the pan and when it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and black mustard stir fry for a few seconds or until the seeds start jumping around. Add the peas, green chili and the quinoa and stir fry for about a couple of minutes. Add the cashews, sesame seeds and turmeric along with any additional salt if needed and stir fry until the turmeric is incorporated and the quinoa is a nice light golden-yellow color. Zest the lemon over the quinoa and add about a tablespoon of lemon juice and the chopped cilantro. Toss and serve. It’s delicious!
My friend Diane Hubbard told me that she was inspired to make Preserved Lemons http://kolpona.com/2012/03/08/preserved-lemons/ and now she wanted more recipes that used Preserved Lemons besides North African or Middle Eastern dishes. I took that as a challenge and decided that for tonight’s dinner I was going to make a dish with Preserved Lemons and anything else I had on hand in the kitchen, WITHOUT going to the grocery store. It felt like a pasta kind of night. A few minutes after cooking dinner, our friends Tasi and Soloa dropped by.
They ate all the pasta, Banana bread from this morning, Onion Dill bread from yesterday, Double Chocolate Chili cookies and took home some Lentil soup I’d made. I love feeding people who like to eat. Let me tell you, when two big Samoans come over from the gym, they can eat some stuff. So, Diane here’s a recipe inspired by you. Tasi and Soloa seem to think it’s pretty darn good and I think it’s a keeper. By the way, it serves a family of 6 or two hungry Samoans.
Ingredients at a glance.
Saute shrimp in olive oil with a little salt, garlic and ginger. Take it out as soon it barely turns light pink.
In the remaining oil add tablespoon of butter.
Finished pasta dish.
Here’s the recipe:
Lemon Artichoke Shrimp Pasta
1 lb of pasta (Linguine, Spaghetti, Fettucine – I only had Spaghetti on hand so I used that, next time I think I will use Linguine)
8-10 Large Shrimp, cleaned with tail on
3 whole garlic cloves minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound young Asparagus, trimmed
4 oz jar of marinated Artichoke hearts
1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped
1 tsp Rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leafed Parsley
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a 5 quart stock pot boil water with 5 tablespoons of salt (should be like sea water salty) for the pasta and cook pasta according to package directions.
In a large skillet heat olive oil and saute shrimp, salt, garlic and ginger until the Shrimp turn into a light pink shade, about 1 minute or so. Take Shrimp out of the pan and set aside. In the same oil add tablespoon of butter. Add chopped onion, preserved lemon and tomato along with Rosemary and fresh cracked pepper and saute 2-3 minutes until flavors are released and onions are translucent. Add roughly chopped artichoke hearts and asparagus tips and the tender parts of the stem cut into 1 inch pieces and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the Shrimp back into the mixture and saute an additional minute or until the Shrimp is cooked through. Toss in Feta Cheese and stir then add the pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano and Parsley and toss to coat. Take off heat and serve immediately.