Sunday, March 5, 2017

Moroccan Kefta Kebabs

One of the great things about being a foodie in this day and age is the wealth of great cuisines available to be had.  Time was, one had to travel the world to sample anything more exotic than Italian or French, but now, distant cuisine comes to you, usually in the form of a restaurant, often managed by expats from those distant lands.

Here in my neck of the woods, we have a couple of Lebanese Restaurants, an Ethiopian one, and quite a smattering of others.  What we don't have at the moment is a Moroccan one, and that's too bad, because I've sampled this cuisine other places (though, unfortunately, not Morocco itself) and I quite enjoy it.  It is spicy, savory and just a bit exotic.

I've always been planning to feature some Moroccan food here on the blog, particularly since we received a tagine, or Moroccan cooking pot, as a wedding gift years ago.  I've even photographed a few recipes in that pot, but for whatever reason those photos never came out good enough to blog, alas.  But the food was good.  Moroccan recipes often feature some unique, interesting ingredients. Preserved lemons are big in their cuisine, as is Harissa, a spicy, piquant pepper sauce that is all the rage in Morocco, and it's popularity is spreading rapidly.  

I received some Harissa as a Christmas gift a year or so ago, and I've been fascinated with it ever since.  I've picked up several more brands and tried them.  They run the spectrum on heat and flavor, but all were good, and Harissa could be well on its way to becoming the 'new' sriracha.

Anyhoo, this recipe features harissa prominently, so give it a try if you get a chance.


1 lb Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion, Minced
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
1 Tablespoon Harissa Sauce
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paparika
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 Teaspoon Harissa Powder (optional)


Preheat Oven to 400F.  Mince Onion

and Cilantro

Mix with Harissa, Smoked Paprika, Cumin, Garlic and Egg

Add Breadcrumbs

Add Ground Beef and mix until thoroughly blended

Grab about a hand full of the meat mixture

Shape into kebabs of about three ounces each.

Usually you would from these onto a stick like a true kebab, then grill them over an open fire.  I find that 1) the ground beef kebabs don't tend to stay on the stick very well and 2) they will break apart if you try to grill them this way.  Sure, grilled over a charcoal fire will give you better flavor, so go that route if you want, but I usually fix these in the oven for simplicity's sake, and they come out great.

Place on tray and roast in 450F oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

Serve right away.  Here we've served some with rice and harissa-roasted carrots.

Until next time,


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Curry Pork Empanadas

Living in Texas, I love me some Mexican food, or Tex-Mex, as we call what traditional Mexican cuisine has morphed into here in the Lone Star State.  Things like this happen when a cuisine gets exported from its homeland to another place.  Chinese American cuisine is quite different from what is served in China; Same deal with Italian American.  Pretty much everywhere, local chefs put their creative stamp on whatever cuisine comes their way.

This tasty little dish is sort of like that--a fusion, a hybrid, something that might have occurred if Mexican cuisine had made it to the Far East.  We've taken a traditional Mexican dish, the Empanada, a little baked meat pie, and exoticized it with the addition of some South Asian ingredients like curry powder and soy sauce.  The result, well--taste it for yourself.  It's simple to make and ready in a flash. Maybe we'll call it Thai-Mex.  Better yet, let's just call it delicious.

Dough Ingredients

16 oz Cream Cheese
8 oz Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3 Cups All Purpose Flour

Filling Ingredients

1/2 Pound Ground Pork
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion
1 Clove Garlic
1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cardamom
2 Tablespoons Marsala Wine
1/2 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
1 Egg

For the dough:

Mix the room temperature cream cheese, room temperature butter, salt and flour until dough forms. Refrigerate for one hour.

Brown the ground pork.


Dice your onion

Add the olive oil to the skillet and then the diced onion.  Cook onions and, a few minutes later, add the minced garlic.

 Add curry powder

and the cardamom.

Stir and cook for a minute or two.  Return meat to pan.

And stir this up until everything is well mixed.  Add the Marsala wine

soy sauce


and sugar.  Mix cornstarch with an ounce of water and stir it in to thicken the mixture.  Chill the mixture in a bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.

Now for the dough.  Roll it out to a thin layer on a cutting board, somewhere between an eighth to a quarter of an inch thick.

and use a three inch biscuit cutter to cut rounds.

Place the rounds on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.  Spoon a tablespoon of the meat mixture into the center of the dough rounds.

Brush the edges of the rounds with egg wash

and fold over to seal and form a pouch.  Use the tines of a fork to press down the edges of the empanadas.

Spread them evenly on a baking sheet

and brush them with the rest of the egg wash.

Bake in a 375F oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

They will be flaky and delicious.  The crust, will all that cream cheese, is light and tangy in flavor.

The filling, spicy and exotic.

Serve em' up hot and they'll be gone before you know it.

Until next time,

¡Adios Amigos!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Halibut Poached in Bacon Broth

So I have to say that I love love love seafood.  I have ever since I was a kid, when we would go to a local seafood restaurant called Seven Seas that was all decorated up so that it seemed you were dining 'under the sea.'  (you know, paper Mâché cave walls with fake crabs, lobsters, starfish, treasure chests and even mermaids and King Neptune decorating the place)  Why don't they have restaurants like that any more?

Oh well, despite my love of seafood as a kid, I didn't discover halibut until I was an adult.  And I have to say, it has become one of my favorite fruits of the sea.  It's startlingly full flavored for a whitefish, which are usually sort of bland.  (I'm looking at you, Cod)  No, halibut is meaty and buttery and savory and practically melts in your mouth.  That is to say, it doesn't need much adornment.  I usually just grill it and serve with a little lemon/butter/caper sauce and that's that.

But, my wife got me a new cookbook for Christmas--a bacon cookbook of all things.  In it was this little recipe, which I've modified slightly, but I can affirm that bacon and halibut were truly a match made in heaven, or perhaps 'under the sea.'


8 strips bacon
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 onion
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh dill
10 black peppercorns
4 halibut fillets

Fry four of the strips of the bacon until crisp.


Quarter and peel your onion

And brown it in the bacon grease with the chopped carrots and celery

Add white wine and deglaze pan.

Get yourself a handful of peppercorns, no more than 10-12.

Add peppercorns and fresh fill

Enjoy that fresh dill aroma that wafts up from the pan.

Add chicken broth

With the flat of a kitchen knife, crush your garlic cloves and peel.

Add peeled garlic cloves to stock.

Add four uncooked strips of the bacon along with the crumbles from two of the cooked bacon strips.  (reserve the other two for garnish)

Brintg to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 1 hour, covered.

Strain broth into a container and discard solids.  You should have about a two cups of broth.

Note the fat that has separated and is floating on the top of the broth.  You can skim this off for a leaner dish.  Also, if you make the broth early enough, refrigerate it for an hour and the fat will solidify and be easier to remove.

Add skimmed bacon broth back to skillet

Heat it to a gentle simmer.  Enjoy aroma--this stuff is fantastic--I hope you've tasted it by now, because it is wonderful, bacon-y and savory and so on and so on, with a rich brown color.  

Poach Halibut fillets in broth until done

I use a food thermometer and cook them to just to 145 degrees F.  By this time the fillets will have absorbed some of the broth as you can see here:

Serve with some of the thickened broth as a sauce.  You can thicken it with a little cornstarch or just reduce the sauce over high heat.

Until next time,

See you 'Under the Sea,'