Easter Chicken in Miso & Preserved Lemon

A simple one-pan dish. The sauce here uses the salty umami of Japanese miso (fermented soy) with the citrus brightness of Moroccan preserved lemons. Roasted on a bed of vegetables, the result is awesome!

Special tools:.

Iron skillet or oven proof pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb chicken thighs on the bone, skinless
  • Sauce: 1/4 cup white miso + 4 tbsp mirin + 2 tbsp soy sauce + grated 1/2 inch ginger + 3 garlic pods, crushed + 1/2 preserved lemon cut into strips (or, juice and strips of zest of 1 lemon)
  • Vegetable layer: 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 1 zucchini sliced into rings + sliced cremini mushrooms

Method

Heat a very lightly oiled iron skillet (or oven-proof pan). Brown the chicken on both sides on the skillet (about 2 minutes on each side, undisturbed). Remove from heat.

Pile the chicken on one half of the pan, while you layer the vegetables on the other half, Then move the chicken to the other half while you layer the remaining half of the pan. Then adjust the chicken pieces as a single layer on the layer of vegetables at the bottom. Pour the sauce evenly.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes (or till the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F).

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Don’t worry, if the sauce does not cover the vegetables completely; but try to cover the chicken as much as you can. The medium heat (350 F) does not unduly caramelize. Turning or mixing during the cooking process is not required: this can be done at the end, just before taking the pan to the table.
  2. Cabbage is also a good vegetable to use here. Just don’t shred them, use larger chunks- they turn pliable with the cooking.
  3. You can add maple syrup in place of mirin (a fortified Japanese wine used widely in washoku cooking).
  4. If you find it too tricky to use one-pan, you can remove the browned chicken onto a platter. However, it is not very difficult to carry out the process in the description (see below).

Bok Choy Soup

This Chinese cabbage with a small sized head and crunchy stems is conducive to a gentle steaming, a quick stir-fry or simply serving raw. All classical applications. I dare to deviate here.

What started out as a lazy, innocuous side-dish turned into an attention grabber! You won’t have the crunchy texture of this petite cabbage, but that is compensated by the umami-rich, savory broth. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Pressure cooker or Instant pot [electric pressure cooker].

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of heads of Bok Choy
  • 5 oz green spinach
  • 1/4 cup chicken or any other savory stock of your choice
  • 2 tbsps of soy sauce
  • few thin slices of ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • topping: white sesame seeds and sliced red chillies

Method

Put all the ingredients, except toppings, in a pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 2 mins.

Serve, while still hot, with the toppings.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. You can use a regular pot; you may have to cook for 15 minutes or so on low-medium heat.
  2. If using a pressure cooker, stove-top or electric, follow the manufacturer’s instructions: make sure that you release the steam before opening cover.
  3. For a vegan version, you can use vegetable stock or simply water. Note that the recipe calls for very little liquid; yet in the end you have enough broth from the greens.

Norwegian Inspired Cracker Bread

Just the other day, I was looking for a vehicle for some exclusive (yeah, expensive) cheese and I ran into Norwegian knekkebrød-  it was coup de foudre!  So good that I tossed the cheese: the pedestrian cardboard-looking vehicle became the center piece!

Here is my version of the cracker: tastes awesome, incredibly healthy, and laughably simple to make. If you are like me and order a smattering of grains and flour with the click of a button (from Shiloh Farms, say), here is a fantastic way to put them to use. And, if you don’t, maybe it is time you started since all these quaint whole grains and flour will keep your body’s biology on its toes (I am told).

Special tools:

Sheet pan with a silicone mat (Silpat) or parchment paper.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour (1/4 cup whole wheat  flour + 1/4 cup buckwheat flour + 1/4 cup dark rye flour + 1/4 cup millet flour) + 1/2 tsp baking powder + sea salt +  1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/3 cup seeds (pumpkin seeds + sunflower seeds + black and white sesame seeds + flax seeds)
  • 2/3 cup whole grain (canahua/quinoa+ kamut flakes -not berries- + barley grits -not whole grain-)

Method

Mix all ingredients with a whisk. Add just enough cold water so that it holds together. Then spread it thin (about 3-5 mm thick)  on a silpat or parchment paper.  This makes approximately an 8 X 12 inch rectangle. Score the surface to make a dozen squares (see picture).

Bake in the top rack at 300 F for 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Store.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. You can mix and match any grains you like- just keep the proportion of flour:seeds:grains as in the recipe.
  2. Be careful about the whole grains– I have used grits and flakes but not berries as they may not cook. I use the baking powder to soften a wee bit.
  3. When I use uncooked quinoa or canahua, I find the texture a little gritty. If that bothers you, then use cooked quinoa.
  4. You can also place the silpat directly on a wire rack and bake for a crispier (but not browner) version.
  5. For an even lighter taste bake at 275 F for 1 hour.

Superbowl SuperDip

A dip that lets you ditch the chips! Single servings can be handed out to each in beer mugs, so no worries about careless superbowlers double and triple dipping.

I don’t use cheese in the layers, instead I use two layers of yogurt- one for the usual sour cream and the other for cheese. Believe me, you will not miss the usual suspects. Enjoy!

SuperDip

Special tools:.

Tall transparent beer mug to layer the dips.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup refried pinto beans
  • 2/3 cup drained yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (garbanzo) hummus
  • 1/3 cup guacamole
  • 1/4 cup salsa (1/2 cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved + 2 scallions chopped fine + 1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced + 2 tbsp minced cilantro + 1 tbsp lemon juice + dash of salt)

Method

Carefully make the following layers of 1/3 cup each: beans, yogurt, hummus, yogurt, guacamole. Top with salsa.

Serve with chips or vegetable crudités.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. To make the layers; carefully spoon the dip in the center of the glass and then push it out with the spoon. This will avoid trailing strands of dip in the sides.
  2. You can always use smaller portions with disposable transparent glass. A transparent container lets one see all that awaits the excited palate.
  3. Homemade refried pinto beans: soak beans overnight and cook the beans until soft and drain. Saute diced onions in a little oil; add a little of cumin powder + cayenne pepper + all-spice powder + cinnamon. Add 1 cup of cooked beans and 1 cup water. Cover and cook for 15 mins. Then cool and mash with a potato masher.
  4. Homemade hummus: You can use canned garbanzo beans or cook them from scratch (soak beans overnight and then cook till tender). Run through a processor with seasonings of your choice: garlic, sesame paste, cayenne etc.
  5. Homemade guacamole: For this dip you can uses just avocado and a little salt for seasoning and lime juice to avoid premature oxidation.
  6. You can substitute one of the layers of yogurt with cheese if you want- I would use goat cheese to surprise your palate.

Tangia Lamb Stew

This is a mishmash of sorts: Chinese inspired stew in a Moroccan pot. I experimented with the stew in my recently acquired Tangia pot. Really a sign of the times- the global village we live in that gives everyone the ability to draw from diverse cultures.

The Tangia pot is like an amphora jar, unlike the more popular Tagine pot where the oversized lid allows for a large space for steam to circulate steaming top the layer while braising the bottom layer. In a Tangia, on the other hand, all the layers meld into one.

An absolutely easy-peasy, no-hassles recipe with no pre-browning (just a trot to your local Asian market). I replace the Moroccan spices with a melange of soy-based sauces giving that unmistakable Hong-Kong, Cantonese depth of flavor. I throw in some of my own twists (kicap manis and sake which have served me so well on previous occasions).

It turns out that the sous-vide (under vacuum) version works equally well. I am a reluctant sous-vider but this one may have made a convert out of me. Enjoy either the tangia/oven or the vacuum pack/sous vide version!

Special tools:

Moroccan tangia pot.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless lamb, fat trimmed and cut into stew sized pieces
  • Sauce: 1.5 tbsp Chou Hou Sauce + 1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce + 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce + 1 tbsp Malaysian Sweet Soy Sauce (kicap manis) + 2 tbsp sake
  • Aromatics: 1 bay leaf + 2 star anise + 1 tbsp dried orange peel
  • 1 large potato peeled and cut into bite sized pieces and steamed till fork tender and slightly cooled
  • Garnish: sliced scallions + chopped cilantro

Method

Put all ingredients, except the garnish, in the tangia pot. Seal top with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 F for 2 hours.

Garnish and serve with greens (tender pea greens in picture). Alternatively, serve with steamed rice.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. It is very likely you wont have a tangia pot, then choose a baking pan with as narrow a mouth as possible. Place a droplid on the surface of the stew- this way the ingredients are encouraged to stew in their own juices, quite literally.
  2. To be doubly safe, I place the tangia pot in a hot water bath (bain marie). Though in Morocco the pots may indeed be placed in actual village baths. Ha.
  3. If you cannot get kicap manis (1 tbsp), mix 1 tbsp soy sauce with 1 tbsp brown sugar.
  4. Sous-vide version. Vacuum seal and cook at 155 F for 8 hours.

Ayurvedic Shot

I adapt this from Thrive’s health shot. It was such a hit with friends, family, acquaintances over the last holiday season, that I feel obliged to share my version with all. The haldi (turmeric) and sonth (dried ginger) components make it unmistakably Ayurvedic. I love the taste, first and foremost; then I am equanimous, as a yogini, after.

It’s the season for apple cider and the few intrepid winter farmers’ markets grab your attention with this. So it was only fitting that I incorporate this into the shot; something like Temperate meets Tropics. Enjoy and embrace the yogi(ni) in you!

Cider Ayurvedic Shot
Special tools:

Blender.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz) apple cider (serves 2)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (or fermented turmeric powder) + 1 tsp ginger powder (sonth) + dash of sea salt + pinch of ground black pepper
  • 3 cubes of frozen tender coconut water (or just ice cubes)

Method

Blend all the ingredients in your powerful blender for 45 seconds or so.
Serve immediately.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. To make coconut water ice-cubes: Pour coconut water into freezing trays. It freezes in about 2 hours in the freezer. Then remove th cubes and place in a container in the freezer. Use as required.
  2. Sonth is dried ginger. It is different from fresh ginger; it has a deeper flavor and taste. Ginger powder in your supermarket is indeed sonth (fresh ginger cannot be powdered).
  3. Both turmeric and ginger powder do not technically dissolve easily in a liquid medium; the blender helps in the “emulsification”, in addition to the froth.
  4. Instead of the 1 cup apple cider, you can use –1 cup tender coconut water + 1 tbsp honey + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar– (as in Thrive’s health shot).
  5. Warm Shot: Instead of using the iced cubes, you can warm the cider with the exact same ingredients for a comforting warm shot.