Monday, June 20, 2011

Moroccan Chicken Stew and Thai Coconut Mahi Mahi

Today it was just Claire, myself, our 5 year olds, and the 18 month old twins in the kitchen.  These recipes were somewhat new for us, so we had to concentrate.  One of these days I will take a picture of the absolute mess my kitchen becomes when we do this.  Oh, and we also made a couple of Easy Macaroni and Cheese casseroles for other families.  (See the Lasagne: Red, White, and Bleu, Ole!  post.)  I didn't include the recipe here, but to make it vegetarian, I used one can of cream of mushroom and one can of cream of celery instead. And no bacon.

I've had a bunch of turnips in my refrigerator drawer that I've been wanting to use up, and our CSA farm helpfully gives us scads of great recipes that use things like Russian kale, chevril, and the arch enemy of all children: Swiss chard. This Moroccan Chicken and Turnip Stew was one of the recipes.  It turned out fabulously.  The zucchini noodles are so versatile- you can also serve them with a teriyaki glazed salmon steak or mix with spaghetti noodles with Bolognese sauce on top.

Morrocan Turnip and Chicken Stew
There are a few ingredients that are in this stew that you can leave out if you are cooking out of your pantry. I didn't quite have all the turnips that the recipe called for, so I used a couple of potatoes in addition.  The original recipe calls for a whole chicken, but I grabbed a couple of boneless breast packets out of the freezer.  I also had  some kale and carrots on hand, so I added those for color. People talk endlessly about the wonders of saffron- I don't buy it regularly, but you can often find it for cheap in ethnic food stores. The reality is that most people don't stock it in their kitchens.  If that's the case, leave it out.  Consider substituting a teaspoon or two of curry powder in lieu of the saffron and turmeric.

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed
2 lbs. chicken drumsticks or thighs (boneless if desired)
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch saffron threads
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 lb. small turnips, rinsed and quartered
2 potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
(1 1/2 c kale, chopped, optional)
(1/2 c carrots, small cubes, optional)
1/4 c lemon juice
salt and pepper

Melt butter and oil in Dutch oven-sized pot and lightly brown chicken on all sides, cooking in two batches if necessary.  Remove the chicken and cut into 1 inch chunks once cool. Leave to the side. Stir onions into butter and oil to color.  Add the chickpeas, stock, white pepper, ginger, saffron, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken. Add turnips, potatoes, and carrots and simmer 20 minutes more. Add kale. Simmer sauce to reduce, mashing some of the chickpeas against the side of the pan to thicken the sauce; it may take 10-15 minutes to produce a nice thick sauce. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Adapted from The Victory Garden Cookbook.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Thai Coconut Sauce
Our friend Robi sent us an email with this mahi mahi recipe from, and we immediately had to try it.  It was delicious. The sauce would also be good on a flakier fleshed fish, like tilapia. Claire thought it might also be good with chicken.  As she puts it, "There is something magical that happens in my mouth when coconut milk, lime juice, and cilantro come together." I agree.  We served it over the zucchini noodles, but consider plain jasmine rice if you are short on time.  The sauce is actually very quick to make.  If you can't find clam juice anywhere, you could use chicken stock.  (I mixed 8 oz chicken stock with 1/2 tsp anchovy paste.)  Do not subsitute fish sauce for clam juice, unless you are trying to get your sodium fix for the next 3 months.  I garnished with thinly sliced sweet red pepper. Mmmm.  Original recipe at

1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tsp ground red pepper (or diced serrano chile)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
4 tablespoons minced green onion
4 6-ounce mahi-mahi fillets

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or in our case the George Foreman grill. Combine first 6 ingredients in medium skillet. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or serrano chile, depending on level of heat desired; boil until sauce thickens slightly and is reduced to generous 3/4 cup, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro and 2 tablespoons green onions. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Brush fish all over with 1/4 cup sauce; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill fish until opaque in center and grill marks appear, 5 to 7 minutes per side, depending on thickness of fish. Divide coconut sauce among 4 plates; top with fish. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and green onions.

Delicious lunch is served. Low carb, anyone?
Zucchini Noodles

I had been wanting to let Claire try my Zucchini noodles.  I've seen lots of recipes that have you use a vegetable peeler, so if you don't have a lemon zester, you can use a peeler. I like to use the lemon zester because it makes the noodles more uniform.  I've also made the noodles where I'll mix 1/2 zucchini noodles with 1/2 cooked spaghetti noodles.  The zucchini noodles blend right in, while the spaghetti noodles give the "pasta" a little more substance.  It's impossible for kids to pick the zucchini out, and the bonus for the adults is that you're getting less carbs.  I like to push the envelope by serving broccoli and salad on the side in addition, and not even counting the zuke noodles as a veggie. Haven't been called on it yet...

1 small-medium zucchini per person
(small amount matchstick carrots for color, if desired)
1 clove of garlic, slivered
1 tsp canola oil

Holding one end of the zucchini, use a lemon zester to shred the squash down to nothing. Rotate as you go. Don't trim the end off until you are done, as it makes a nice handle.  Repeat with the other zucchini. If there are a few small pieces left, you can slice them with a knife and add them to the pile of noodles.

Heat the oil in a pan.  Add the garlic.  Add the zucchini and stir fry for less than a minute.  Just cook long enough to soften.  Cooking for much longer than that will turn the noodles to mush.  Toss with equal parts cooked spaghetti if desired, or serve as is. Garnish with shredded parmesan, sesame seeds or poppy seeds, depending on your main dish.

Banana-Raisin Bread Pudding with Spiced Rum Sauce
As I was flipping through the William-Sonoma catalog, this recipe caught my eye.  We had to try it.  Pros:  it smelled delicious. Cons: time-consuming, needy, dry, and lots of egg yolks and heavy cream. Good thing you had the low carb mahi-mahi and zucchini noodles for dinner, eh? Sadly, this recipe did not really live up to the visual and olfactory hype. But we are including it anyway.  We are currently on a mission to find a better banana bread pudding recipe. Stay tuned. 

1 1/2 lb sliced bread, cut into 1-inch squares
2 T unsalted butter, at room temp, plus 2 T melted
4 3/4 c heavy cream
3 c milk
7 egg yolks
3 eggs
2/3 c plus 1/2 c granulated sugar, plus more to sprinkle
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, peeled, sliced lengthwise into quarters, then into 1/4 chunks
2 T firmly packed brown sugar
4 T spiced rum

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread squares until the bread is dry, 6-8 minutes.  Remove bread and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Grease a 3 quart baking dish with room temperature butter.

In a large bowl, whisk 3 c cream, milk, 3 of the egg yolks, the whole eggs, 2/3 c granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Submerge the dried bread into the mixture and let soak for 30 minutes. Stir and press the bread into the liquid every 10 minutes.

Combine the banana slices and brown sugar in another bowl.  Toss well.  Place half the soaked bread into the prepared baking dish and cover evenly with bananas.  Top with remaining bread, and pour any remaining cream-egg mixture over the top.  Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 T granulated sugar.

Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan, transfer the pan to the oven and pour 1 inch of very hot water into the roasting pan to make a water bath. Bake until top is golden brown and the pudding is just set, about 1 hour.  Transfer the roasting pan to a wire rack and let pudding cool in the water bath.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, whisk the remaining 1 3/4 c cream, 4 egg yolks, and 1/2 c granulated sugar.  Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 5-6 minutes.  Do not let the mixture boil. Whisk in the rum, and strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve.

Serve in warm pudding bowls and drizzle with sauce and vanilla ice cream.  Serves 12.

  • The rum sauce separated as it cooled.
    Still pretty tasty, but overall disappointing recipe.
    We're calling it a Fail, but including it for posterity.
    As printed on one of those motivational kitten posters, 
    "Nobody's perfeck."
    • Please leave us comments and suggestions!
        George Foreman GRP4 Next Grilleration 72 Square Inch White Removable Plate Grill          The Victory Garden Cookbook (Paperback)      

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