Moroccan Lamb with Rice

This dish is adapted from several different lamb-with-dried-fruits recipes I’ve found on Food Network. Most of the dishes I came across had a ton of ingredients and so many individual steps that it looked like one would spend an entire day preparing it and dirtying up every food prep implement in the kitchen. Complicated isn’t a way I like to cook, so I created this simpler approach to a classic. The rice with vegetables can be served separately and is completely vegan.

You’ll need an electric slow-cooker or a dutch oven for slowly braising the meat.

For the Lamb
3 lbs. lamb, cubed or small bone-in cuts like chops, trimmed of all fat.
2 cups dried fruits, pitted and chopped. Traditionally apricots and golden raisins are used, but figs, dates and even a handful of prunes or cherries would be tasty.
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 head fresh cilantro
1T honey
1T coriander
1T cumin
2t dried ginger
2t turmeric
1/4 t cinnamon
2t salt
1t freshly ground black pepper

Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Rinse the meat and pat dry, then coat with the spice mixture.

In the bottom of the slow cooker layer the onions and garlic, then the meat, and top with the dried fruits and drizzle the honey. Add the broth, place the lid on tightly, and set on high. Cook for 3 hours before testing the meat for tenderness. (If using a dutch oven layer the ingredients as above and place in a 275F oven.)

After cooking the meat should be very tender and pull apart easily with a fork. A total of 4 hours may be required depending on the size of the cuts used.

Meanwhile make…

Vegetable Rice
1 1/2 cups (dry measure) brown basmati rice
1 cup vegetable broth plus water to cover rice
2 zucchini
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers
2 medium carrots
1 onion
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
14 oz. can garbanzo beans (low sodium preferred)
1T olive oil
2t turmeric
1t cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

In a rice cooker, cook the rice according to the machine directions, substituting the vegetable broth for part of the water required. On the stove, use a small sauce pan with tight-fitting lid, add the rice and broth and then cover with water by 1 inch, cook on low heat until water is absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, wash and dice the onion, zucchini, pepper, and carrot. In a large skillet or shallow enamel brasier, sauté the onion and spices in the oil for a few minutes, then add the zucchini, pepper and carrot. Cook for about 3 minutes until the vegetables begin to cook but are still firm.

Add the tomatoes (with juice). Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and add them as well. Cook for a few minutes more until some of the excess liquid from the tomatoes evaporates, then turn off the heat and let stand uncovered until the rice is done.

A few minutes before serving, add the cooked rice to the vegetables and toss to combine. Cover with a lid and if the dish has cooled off to much put it on low to reheat for a few minutes.

Serving
Tear the leafy head of the cilantro bunch from the stems, wash thoroughly and spin to dry. Roughly chop the cilantro just before serving the dish.

On a large platter, place the rice to make a bed. Layer the lamb and pour all of the cooked fruit/onion mixture over the top, then sprinkle heavily with the cilantro and serve immediately.

Veggie Chicken Fajitas

Another recipe from our growing collection of Mexi-tarian dishes. This recipe is a favorite in our house because it can be pulled together quickly. To make it even easier consider prepping the cut vegetables ahead of time. This dish goes well with Spanish rice or with a simple side salad. Consider serving with a copper ale or lager.

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow or white onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers of any color
  • 2 packages of Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips
  • 1 package of Mission Foods tortillas (these come in 6 or 10 packs)
  • Salsa
  • Shredded cheese (we prefer sharp cheddar)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Wrap the tortillas you will be using in aluminum foil and place them in a warm toaster oven or regular oven.

In a large frying pan sauté the onions for about 5 minutes, seasoning them with salt and pepper after they have been cooking for a few minutes. Add the bell peppers and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the frozen Chik’n Strips, season with chili powder and cumin, cover and cook for another 5 minutes (or until chik’n is tender) stiring often.

Remove warm tortillas from the oven. Spoon some of the meat and vegetable mixture onto individual tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, salsa and lettuce. Roll the tortillas and enjoy!

Enchilada Sauce

Worth the trouble!

Get a couple of bags of dried chilies at your coop or supermarket. Poblanos, Anaheims, and some of the tiny hot ones are good. The little red chillies are HOT, so be careful. A few go a long way. Remove the stems and seeds. You don’t have to get all of the seeds out. Reconstitute the chilies in warm water until they are soft. About 30 minutes or a little longer usually works. Put the chillies and a little of the soaking water in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

The rest of the ingredients can be added to taste. Cook some minced onion and/or garlic in a little oil, add some flour to make a roux. Cook until smooth and bubbly. Pour in the blended chillies. Add some salt, cumin, and a tiny bit of cinnamon. Simmer until the sauce is the consistency you like, adding more of the soaking water if necessary.

This will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for at least a week.

Bean Sprout Pancakes

I love savory pancakes, and these are a great Korean version. They are tasty served hot or at room temperature. Serves 6. [Inspired by: Flavors of Korea by Deborah Coultrip-Davis and Young Sook Ramsay.]

Spicy Dipping Sauce
3 Tbsp Gochujang*
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup water
Whisk ingredients together.

Mild Dipping Sauce
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp white or rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
Whisk ingredients together.

Pancake Ingredients
12 oz. fresh mung or soy bean sprouts
1 bunch (approximately 7) scallions
2 Tbsp Gochujang
1 egg
3/4 cup rice flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1-2 cups water
vegetable oil for cooking

*Gochujang (pronounced: go-chew-jang) is a seasoning paste commonly used in Korean cuisine. It is made from fermented rice and Korean hot pepper powder, and has an earthy and mildly spicy flavor. You can purchase it in any Korean market, and many other Asian markets (ask for it by name if the products for sale do not have English writing on them). If you can not find Gochujang, you can substitute brown miso paste mixed with a little bit of Cayenne pepper powder, but I recommend searching for a Korean market. If you live near a large city it should be easy to find one and it’s a fun adventure to see all the different items that you can’t get at a regular supermarket. Plus, the produce is usually high quality and very inexpensive.

Preparation
Heat a pot of water to boiling. Rinse the sprouts and add them to the boiling water and cover immediately (use a light-weight lid so steam can escape, and turn down the heat to prevent spill-over). Boil the sprouts for 2 minutes, then drain and shock in a bowl of cold water, and drain again.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg and add one cup of the water and the two flours. Mix well. This mixture should be thin like pancake batter. Add more water if necessary. Rinse the scallions and trim off the top 2 inches of the green parts and the roots, then slice finely. Add the scallions and Gochujang to the batter and mix well. Finally, add the cooked sprouts and mix until coated with the batter.

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large skillet for several minutes until the pan is hot. Use a 1/3 cup measuring scoop to ladle out the pancake mix. As soon as you place a scoop of batter in the pan, use the back of a wooden spoon to spread the mix out and flatten. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the edges are brown and begin to crisp, then flip the pancake and cook for about 2 minutes more. If your pan is large enough you can cook two or even three pancakes at once. When all pancakes are cooked, stack them in piles of 2 or 3 on a cutting board and chop them into pieces approximately 1-inch square. This makes them easier to handle with chopsticks. Serve with the dipping sauces.

Wilted Cucumber Salad

This Korean side-dish is cool and crisp, a great accompaniment to any spicy meal. The recipe may seem complicated, but the steps are quite easy and this dish can be prepared with little effort while you are making the main part of the meal. Serves 4-6.

Ingredients
5-6 small pickling cucumbers, OR 3 large
1/3 cup kosher or sea salt (NOT iodized table salt)
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
a pinch of dried chili flakes for garnish (preferably the mild Korean pepper found in Asian markets)

Preparation
Wash the cucumbers thoroughly to remove any wax on the skin. If using the large cucumbers, slice them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice the cucumbers into paper-thin wafers. (A slicing mandolin makes the work faster, but always remember to use the guard as the blades on these are very sharp and dangerous.)
Fill a large bowl with filtered water and add the salt. Stir to dissolve, then add the cucumbers. Let sit for 2 hours, or until the cucumbers are wilted and flexible.

To remove the excess salt from the cucumbers, rinse them in a colander and then rinse out the bowl. Refill the bowl with fresh water and add the cucumbers to the unsalted water. Let stand for about 15 minutes. The excess salt will migrate into the water and leave the cucumbers unsalted. Taste one to make sure the salty flavor is gone. When the cucumbers are ready, pour them in a colander and rinse one more time, then rinse out your bowl again.

Next, grab a handful of the wilted cucumbers slices and squeeze out the extra water. Don’t be afraid to squeeze hard! Remove as much water as you can and put the cucumber ball into the bowl. Continue in this way until you have wrung out all of your cucumbers. Add the vinegar, sugar and chili flakes to the bowl, then stir well to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the ratio of tart to sweet to your liking. Transfer to a serving dish; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This dish may be made ahead of time as it keeps well in the fridge for several days.

Hearty Meatless Enchiladas

Most vegetarian enchiladas are simply cheese and onion. These enchiladas are stick-to-your-ribs hearty because of the faux meat. This is a dish that can easily be made early and popped into the oven for a quick meal. Great with a lager or ale. Serves 6.

Ingredients:
6 6″ flour tortillas (Whole wheat, regular flour or some other if available. We prefer Mission brand.)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper (any color)
1-2 green onions chopped
1 whole package Gimme Lean! faux beef (or other crumble-style)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp crushed red chili flakes.
15 oz can black beans
2 cups enchilada sauce*
1/4 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese (preferably from Vermont, of course)

Preparation
In a skillet or saucepan, over medium-high heat, heat the oil, add the chopped onion and sauté until the onion softens. Add the salt and pepper, and faux meat. Break up the meat and continue to stir the mixture for about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, pepper flakes and black beans to the mixture and continue to cook. Add about 3/4 of the enchilada sauce, and allow to simmer and reduce a bit. Add the diced bell pepper just before you are ready to start filling the tortillas.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degree Farenheit.

Spoon some of the mixture into the center each of the tortillas, and add a little grated cheese, and fold. Folding methods varies, but the key is to not overfill the tortilla. Pour a little of the sauce into the bottom of a 9″x13″ glass casserole dish and then place each enchillada into the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchilladas, making sure that all of the tortilla is covered but not saturated. Sprinkle the tops with enchilladas with the remaining cheese and some chopped green onions.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven carefully, remove the foil and continue to bake for additional 10 minutes or until the tops begin to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with dollops of sour cream or guacamole (optional).

* If you can’t find enchilada sauce, look for a can of adobo sauce and wisk in vegetable broth. Or make your own some other way.

Thai Butternut Squash Curry

This is a fabulous recipe that works well served over basmati rice and with a nice cold beer. One can eliminate the seafood altogether—or replace with tofu—for a vegetarian version, although I personally have never tried it this way. This is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe, and you will not believe how easy it is—and delicious!

Ingredients
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp. Red Thai curry paste (gauge on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 cups fish or vegetable stock (easiest to use the stock cubes boiled in water)
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into three and bruised with the flat of a knife
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 1/4 lbs. butternut squash (peeled and cut into large bite-size chunks)
1 lb. salmon fillet, preferably organic, skinned and cut into large bite-size chunks
1 lb. of peeled raw shrimp
(OR substitute 1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed, for the seafood)
1 bunch Bok choi
Juice of 1/2 lime (use up to a full lime to taste)
Chopped fresh cilantro (for serving only)

Preparation

  1. Skim the creamy (semi-solid) top off the can of coconut milk and put it—over medium heat—into a large saucepan or casserole with the curry paste. Let it sizzle and, using a whisk, beat the coconut milk and paste together until combined. Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, and turmeric.
  2. Bring to a boil and then add the butternut squash. Cook on a fast simmer until the squash is tender (about 5-10 minutes). You will want to gauge this yourself.
  3. To the simmering curry/squash mixture add the salmon and shrimp. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes or until done.
  4. Stir in the bok choy, and push down into the curry with a wooden spoon. You want to just wilt the bok choy.
  5. Next, squeeze in the juice of half a lime and stir.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and add the cilantro right before serving.

Enjoy!!

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale

Adapted from this recipe posted on the Old Shaw Farm blog. When we tried the original recipe I found the sauce a bit too rich. Cutting back on the peanut butter should help. This dish is fairly simple and a great way to get more kale in your diet! Serves 2 for a main dish or 4 for a side dish.

Ingredients
1 large or 2 small bunches kale, washed and de-stemmed
1/2 lb. pasta (thin rice noodles or regular spaghetti)
2 Tbsp. all-natural peanut butter
3 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
2 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
a splash of water

Preparation
In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, chili sauce, tamari and sugar. Add a little water to thin out the sauce a bit. Set aside.

Rinse the kale and cook it wet in a large frying pan (no oil needed). Cook on medium heat until tender. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package directions and drain, then add them to the pan with the cooked kale. Pour the sauce in and toss well. Serve hot or at room temperature.