Chicken and Olive Tagine (Meslalla)

This is a special dish of feasting and celebration related to a very special time of the year — the much awaited olive harvest. Zeitoun (olive) season in Morocco is sometime in autumn but thanks to the availability of beautiful olives in markets all year round, this dish can be made anytime and not only as a part of the harvest ritual.

This is my version of meslalla, a Moroccan preparation of well seasoned olives, cracked or chopped and cooked with a meat of choice. It is heaven on a plate for olive lovers, and I am an olive lover.


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Blood Orange, Radish and Dill Salad

Certain things are worth waiting for.

Blood oranges are one of them. I love all varieties of orange so to me, blood oranges are like an already pretty woman wearing red lipstick for a special occasion. It’s nature’s way of giving oranges moxie and making them spunkier than they already are for just a little while, just long enough to tease people. How mean is that. Usually by the time I’ve decided to buy them their season is already over, and I’m left daydreaming about them for a whole year.

But not this year…

I’ve bought them as soon as I saw them. I’ve become smart enough not to procrastinate on important things like this. I bought a kilo, ate what I could and made a salad with the rest.

So, this is my message to you-ou-ou. Outsmart nature, buy blood oranges while they last, and do make this salad.

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Baked Zucchini

This is one of our favorite ways to eat zucchini as well as one of our favorite side dishes. It is really simple to make and highlights what a wonderful vegetable zucchini is. As you know, zucchini is quite bland and needs to be seasoned well but it is one of the quickest, most versatile vegetables to cook. The garlic, zesty salsa and cheese in this recipe give zucchini much flavor.

I always make extra because I absolutely love zucchini sandwiches for lunch. I can eat them many days in a row with extra cheese.

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Shepherd’s Salad

I’ve never eaten with a shepherd, but I know if I ever did, he would serve me a lively salad with cucumbers and olives from his orchard, and plenty of sheep’s milk cheese that he made himself. I just know it. He would be humble and hospitable, and we would candidly eat, talk and laugh as if we had known each other for ages. Our conversation would be as honest as the ingredients in his salad and we would remember both for a very long time.

My dream of eating with a shepherd will come true one day. I’m not sure if it’ll happen in Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco, Syria or Egypt but I know it will happen.

Meanwhile I have this salad to keep me happy.

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Charred Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj)

Baba ghannouj , better known to Westerners as baba ghanoush, is that lovely, lovely eggplant puree that you’ve probably ordered and loved the last time you ate at a Middle Eastern restaurant. I order it every time I eat at my favorite Turkish place or my other favorite Turkish place.

If you want it really smoky, you have to make it at home. Charring the skin until burnt gives the dish much character. After the charring is done, the rest is easy. A few pulses in the food processor with tahini, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, and your baba ghannouj — “pampered daddy”, literally — is ready.

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Heavenly Gluten-Free Brownies

If you love anybody enough this Valentine’s Day you will give them brownies. OK, chocolate dipped everything is nice too, a box of chocolates is (somewhat) thoughtful, and this ice cream, well, this ice cream really really speaks the language of love — kisses. But…nothing equates to brownies to put a smile on his/her face. Trust me on this one.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these brownies are gluten-free, or that they contain less sugar and butter than most brownies out there. It doesn’t hurt that they’re so outrageously heavenly either. Now, that’s LOVE.

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All Vegetable Tagine for The Boston Globe

I wrote this recipe for The Boston Globe this week. It is a vegetarian tagine with cabbage, potatoes and carrots cooked in a flavorful sauce. The recipe includes instructions for making it in a tagine as well as in a heavy pot. If using a traditional tagine, be sure to cook it over a small flame.

Click here for the recipe.

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Baked Miso Fish

Hello, friends. Things have been quite hectic on my end lately — loads of homework and deadlines but through it all, there are many exciting recipes in the making.

In the meantime, this dinner happened last night.

I didn’t make it for the blog. I was simply in the mood for something different and thought I’d whip up a quick marinade with the forgotten miso in my fridge. Luckily, I took a picture and jotted down the ingredients, just in case it turns out good. It was far better than I expected. It was to-die-for delicious, and I decided to post it because I knew you would appreciate how easy and boldly flavorful it is as much as I did. We share common culinary tastes around here after all, don’t we?

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How to Season a Tagine or Other Clay Pot

Tagines and other terra cotta pots need to be seasoned before use as they are prone to cracks. Seasoning a tagine not only enhances its durability by making it more crack-resistant, it also eliminates the initial clay smell, which can be quite strong. Tagines come in all kinds of sizes and are typically either conical or dome-shaped. Whichever kind you choose, it will be a special piece of cookware to cherish for a long time.

Here is how to season your clay pot in a few simple steps:

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Pomegranate Molasses Almond Torte (gluten-free)

First of all, if you’ve never had pomegranate molasses, I encourage you to buy some. It is a great ingredient to add to both sweet and savory dishes. I like having a bottle handy to mix into yogurt, drizzle over ice cream or simply toss into fruit salads. When I’m feeling more inspired, I even use it in marinades or to make ice cream. It adds so much flavor.

Pomegranate molasses can be found in specialty or Middle Eastern food stores for a few dollars. Be sure to buy a good brand, such as this one, made with 100% pomegranates and no added sugar.

See that beautiful color in the torte? That’s the visible sign of pomegranate molasses. The invisible magic is a delightfully tangy and fruity edge, and a very moist texture.

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