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A taste of Morocco to help with the November doldrums

Need a warm-up? Feeling like you are in a culinary rut? November lends itself to the warm yet fresh flavours of Morocco. Yes, that’s what I said: we are in Elmira and I am thinking cool fresh flavours of mint, citrus and the toasty flavours of cumin and cinnamon.

Local flavour of carrots, squash and sweet potato marry with chicken in a tagine, a cool cylindrical terracotta pot with a stack that braises meat and vegetables slowly for a tender, flavourful dish for the family to enjoy. Oh, no tagine? That’s OK: you can bake the chicken tagine in a pan. Let’s not get caught up on the never ending list of kitchen gadgets … although Christmas is coming …

This is a double recipe from one of our cooking classes. Why? Make it, then freeze half for later. Time created, well used another day. If it is too much chicken just cut the recipe in half. You can also use only chicken breasts with the bone in if butchering a whole chicken is not for you.

This salad is a treat, a great combination for extra vitamin C and D to keep us healthy.

If you are feeling down because of the weather try cooking something new or experiment with new flavours to recapture your interest – you never know where it will take you.

 

Mint and Arugula Citrus Salad

  •  1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1-1/2 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 medium)
  • 4 large oranges
  • 1 five-ounce package arugula
  • 1/2 bunch mint
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • 3 tbsp of feta (dried)

 

Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl.Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper;

Place onion in large bowl. Add 1/3 of dressing and toss. Let marinate 20 minutes;

Cut off peel and pith from oranges. Cut each orange crosswise into 8 slices. Add arugula, mint, and olives to bowl with onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss;

Add remaining dressing, toss. Tuck orange slices into salad and sprinkle with feta cheese.

 

Chicken Tagine

  •  1/4 cup (about) olive oil
  • 1-1/2 onion, chopped
  • 7 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp (packed) grated lemon peel
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp dried chili pepper
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 whole chickens, cut into 8 pieces each
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 fresh fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 1 large carrot peeled, cut into 1-inch lengths, on an angle
  • 1/4 small butternut squash diced large
  • 1/2 sweet potato, diced large
  • 12 dried apricots, cut in half

 

Heat 1/4 cup oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add next 7 ingredients and sauté 3 minutes longer. Scrape contents of skillet into heavy large pot, reserve skillet;

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of chicken and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes per side;

Transfer to pot with onion mixture, 1 pan with breast meat and 1 for leg meat. Repeat with remaining chicken in two more batches, adding more oil by tablespoonfuls if needed. Add broth to skillet; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Transfer broth to pot; add fennel and root vegetables;

Bring tagine to simmer. Cover, place in oven at 350 F and simmer until chicken is almost tender, about 30 minutes. Add the apricots;

Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to large bowl. Boil sauce until reduced enough to coat spoon, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper;

Return chicken and vegetables to sauce, add fresh herbs and serve.

 

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