Papas Arrugadas with Red & Green Mojo Sauce

Canarian Potatoes

The humble potato. Where would be without it? As a Jew just coming off of Passover, I can tell you I’d be lost without it! So in honour of our starchy, tuberous friend from the nightshade family, I dedicate this week to the ever versatile potato!

We’re going to be starting our international dedication with a recipe from the Canary Islands, which are Spanish territory just off the southern coast of Morocco. It is fitting to choose a recipe with Spanish roots, since the English word potato comes from the Spanish patata (the name used in Spain).  The Spanish say that patata is derived from the Taíno (native language of the people of the Caribbean) batata and the Quechua (native language of the people of the Andes) papa. So as you can see, even the name is international!

This recipe makes a great little appetizer if you’re serving a tapas style meal or hors d’oeuvres and wine, as something savoury to nibble on! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the green mojo sauce:
½ green bell pepper, cut into large pieces
½ cup cilantro or parsley leaves*
2 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the red mojo sauce:
4 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¾ teaspoon pimentón picante, chile pepper, or cayenne
2 teaspoons pimentón dulce or sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste

For the potatoes:
2 pounds small new potatoes (in their skins), washed
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt

* Click here to learn how to clean cliantro and parsely.

Directions:

To make the green mojo sauce:
Blend all the ingredients except the oil to a paste in the food processor. Gradually add the oil and blend to a light creamy consistency.

To make the red mojo sauce:
Mix the garlic with the pimentón, and cumin in a bowl, then beat in the olive oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste.

To cook the potatoes:
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan that holds them in one layer, and add just enough water to cover and the salt. If you have to boil the potatoes in two pans, do so, this way they each get the salty coating.

Bring the salty water to a boil and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, letting the water bubble for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and the water has evaporated. Leave them over very low heat for a few minutes, moving them and turning them over in the dry pan, until they are wrinkled and covered with a fine powder of salt. Serve hot or warm, with one or both of the sauces.

Moroccan Dry Rub

North African Dry RubThis North African flavoured rub is great on chicken, but equally good when used to flavour vegetarian dishes, like a chickpea stew or tofu. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until you are ready to use the rub, as the fresh ingredients will spoil after a while and you don’t want to lose all that good rub!

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
5 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

If using the entire 1 cup batch of rub at once:
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lemons worth of zest, minced*

If using one portion of the rub (about 3 tablespoons):
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon worth of zest, minced*

* Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Either portion out a small amount of rub, and add your minced garlic and lemon zest, or if using the whole recipe, add the garlic and lemon directly to your mixing bowl. Mix well, so that everything is incorporated.

This is a dry rub, but you can add oil directly to the rub to make a paste, or lightly oil whatever it is you are using the rub on, then apply the spice mixture. This rub can be used right away, or you can let it sit on your dish so that the flavours permeate the food. Without the wet ingredients, this rub can last about 6 months in an air tight container.

Fish Soup

Fish SoupThis is a nice alternative to chicken soup, and combines the fish course and soup course into one! All the flavour, half the work! This recipe will serve about 12 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
2 large leeks, white part and most of the green part, sliced*
4 stalks celery
1 bulb fennel, quartered (save the fronds for garnish)*
6 cloves garlic
1 large bunch parsley*
2 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
Head and tail of a large salmon, tile fish, or any other big fish, quartered, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
2 (540ml) cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon cayenne, or a little more to taste
Good pinch ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
2 good pinches saffron
8 cups fish, cubed, about 1” size (salmon, tile or snapper)

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these vegetables and herbs.

Directions:

In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, garlic, parsley and peppers. You can do this in batches if you have a smaller processor or you find the vegetables are becoming over processed.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, and then add the vegetable mixture. Sauté the mixture until the onions and leeks become translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Mix often so that nothing sticks and burns.

Next, add the head and tail of the fish (in the cloth), along with the tomatoes, water, potatoes, wine, cloves, bay leaves and paprika. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth with the fish parts in it, and then add the chopped up fish meat and saffron to the pot. Allow the soup to cook another few minutes until the chopped fish has cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and then serve hot, garnished with a few fronds from the fennel.

Fajita Spice Mix

Fajita SeasoningA fajita is a term found in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referring to any grilled meat usually served as a taco on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally referred to the cut of beef used in the dish which is known as skirt steak. Popular meats today also include chicken, pork, shrimp, and all cuts of beef. In restaurants, the meat is often cooked with onions and bell peppers. Popular condiments are shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, and tomato. The northern Mexican variant of the dish name is Arrachera.

So I call this a Fajita seasoning mix, but it can be used with tacos, chilies or anything that you want to give a south western flair to. You will notice the addition of two ingredients that may seem a bit out of place. First, there is the cocoa powder; you won’t taste it in the finished product, but the subtle chocolate flavour helps round out the other spices and notes of the blend. The second it the starch. I add this to help thicken, ever so slightly, the sauce/gravy that is created when using this blend, especially in fajitas or tacos. When it comes time to using the blend, other than as a dry rub, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (more to taste), 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. This will give you the slight saucy consistency you want.

This recipe will make about a cup of spice mix.

Ingredients:

¼ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon corn starch/potato starch/flour

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. Can be kept for one to six months (depending on how airtight your container is).

Moroccan Mains: Chicken & Couscous

tumeric chicken

Moroccan Chicken

Serves 8
Ingredients:

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
2 onions, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
4 carrots, sliced ¼” rounds
4 stalks celery, sliced ¼” rounds
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained
2 zucchini, sliced ½” rounds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat adding a little olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and brown in the saucepan until almost cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in same pan. When tender, stir in ginger, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and turmeric; stir fry for about 1 minute, then mix in broth and tomatoes. Return chicken to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and zucchini to pan and bring to a simmer once again; cover pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and tender. Stir in lemon juice and serve over the rice, plain couscous or the delicious couscous recipe below.

CouscousMoroccan Couscous

Ingredients:

1 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into ¾” pieces
½ cup golden raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
grated zest of one orange
1 540ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup orange juice
1 ½ cups couscous
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint*

Directions:

Place a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the cumin, ginger, cloves, cayenne, cardamom, coriander, and allspice; gently toast until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oil and onion, cook until softened. Stir in the bell pepper, and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins, salt, zest, and garbanzos. Pour in the chicken broth and orange juice; turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, stir in the couscous and remove from heat; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and fold in chopped mint.

*To learn how to inspect fresh mint, click here.

Moroccan Spicy Lentil Soup

Spicy Lentil Soup

The recipe for this soup was passed around the office with rave reviews! It was originally published in the Toronto Star many moons ago, but has since become a staple in many of the houses of my co-workers. When they heard I was doing a Moroccan Week, it became a no brainer that I include this recipe! I hope you all enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions minced
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cinnamon stick, about 2-3 inches in length
1 cup dried red lentils
5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
796ml can diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
540ml can chick peas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

In a large pot, heat oil over a medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring every 3-5 minutes, until the onion has softened, but has not browned. Stir in the paprika, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the lentils, and mix until they are well coated. Stir in 5 cups of stock, tomatoes, salt, pepper and the bay leaf. Raise the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes. Add the remaining cup of stock and stir in the chickpeas, parsley and lemon juice. Simmer uncovered for a minute or so. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Adjust the flavour as desired, adding more salt, pepper or lemon, then serve hot. Enjoy!