Yogurt Lamb and Pea Tagine

It’s been a while since I’ve made a tagine. The chicken tray bake with olives and preserved lemons that I made a few months ago is probably the closest thing I’ve eaten in a long while. Needless to say, I missed it. A lot. A quasi tagine-less winter is a first for me, I must say, but between the birth of a baby and a persistent post-partum sweet tooth, I’m hoping you’ll forgive me. Will you?

It is not pea season where I live but since I don’t mind frozen vegetables, this was hardly a problem. Peas, especially, seem to remain sweet, tender and full of flavor despite a long ice coma. Pea season in Florida is supposed to start in late January but I haven’t seen any in the market yet. As soon as they appear I feel that spring is almost here even though we’re still smack dab in the middle of winter. Peas are magical like that. I think it’s the color.

I was a little bit adventurous with this particular tagine. I made it with yogurt, which is not quite the usage. Along with lemon it yielded a fresh tangy sauce that accentuated the peas and livened up the sauce. It was lovely.

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Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce for The Boston Globe

These flavorful meatballs are a great choice for an easy dinner or cocktail party. The creamy yogurt sauce adds a nice cooling contrast making the meatballs light and fresh. Serve them with a side of cucumber, radish and tomato slices or turn them into sandwiches by serving them on gyro bread.

Here is the recipe.

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Couscous

 

I haven’t been this excited about stumbling across an ingredient since my ras el hanout find. Thoughts of gluten-free couscous have crossed my mind many times but I wasn’t sure it existed and have never actively sought it. When I saw the Lundberg Brown Rice Couscous at the store I thought I should try it and share my experience with you.

 
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Chestnut Cream Eclairs

We hosted Christmas dinner this year. John’s family came over for a couple of days and his mom cooked a very festive dinner as she does every year. Last year’s dinner was chocolate themed, a couple of years ago it was all Star Trek. I cooked dinner the first night they arrived. I made mustard chicken with couscous and a simple cucumber salad.

And of course there had to be dessert. I made chestnut cream puffs.

There aren’t any left. I guess everybody loves cream puffs. They are true crowd pleasers. And who wouldn’t love tiny airy pastries filled with creamy goodness!

The next best thing to having marrons glacés for Christmas is probably the Clément Faugier chestnut spread. It tastes exactly like pureed candied chestnuts. I bought it for myself as a Christmas gift and decided I should make something with it for everybody to enjoy. It is already sweetened and flavored with vanilla so all it needed was a quick whipping with mascarpone to make a lovely filling for the éclairs.

Ever made pâte à choux? It may sound like a fancy French word but it is very approachable. This recipe is so easy and great to keep handy for making those dainty choux à la crème (round, cabbage-shaped puffs), éclairs (oblong puffs), gougères, croquembouches and much much more.

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Chilled Cranberry Spice Soup

Ah the short days with early darkness. They need a color lift.

A splash of pink in the middle of the winter.

A fresh and bright cranberry yogurt soup with a hint of spice to keep with the holiday spirit. Just what a winter table might need.

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Gingerbread Soufflé

I’ve always dreaded making soufflé. I’ve heard so many horror stories of it not rising and so thought for a long time I should leave it to the top chefs out there. I was wrong; I found soufflé to be easier than cake, literally. It was quick, straight-forward and fool-proof (I made it twice). It rose beautifully, a little higher than in the picture, and well, I can hardly hide my pride of that. I am just a home cook and I did it, and so can you!

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Spelt Flour Cranberry Cake

I wasn’t sure whether to call this a cake or a bread. Americans tend to call cakes baked in a loaf pan breads. Where I come from pumpkin bread, gingerbread and the such would be considered cakes. Either way and whichever name they go by, we love those seasonal favorites. This one is moist, dense and delicious — wonderful, wonderful at teatime.

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Vegan Eggnog Recipe

Eggnog minus eggs and cream sounded like a great idea to me. It meant I could have my dessert and my eggnog this holiday season without having to pass up one or the other. When I made it the idea made even more sense because a healthy drink turned out to be as delicious and festive as I had hoped.

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Warm Potato & Asparagus Salad

Happy Early Saturday Morning! And Happy First Day of December! Can you believe it’s already here? I don’t know about you but I’m all about the holidays already. The tree is set up, gift lists are created and I’m already thinking about holiday baking and recipes.

Yesterday I made this warm potato and asparagus salad and thought it would be perfect as a holiday side. It is warm which everybody welcomes on a cold December night. It copiously serves six but with some simple math can easily be made to feed twelve or twenty-four even. And, well, it is delicious with its warm shallot dressing and hint of anchovies.

P.S. If you like anchovies, by all means use more than a hint.

P.P.S. This potato and apple salad.

xo,
Nisrine

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Couscous Casserole

What have you been up to? A lot of feedings and diaper changes around here. They say you have to feed and change a baby every two to three hours but I think it’s really more like every hour and a half. Sometimes it seems like that’s all I’m doing all day long.

“You know, you’ve done it before…”, said the nurse at the hospital checkout. “But I forgot…uh, it’s been a while!”, I replied. I really did forget so many things. It’s feeling like the first time again and I’m as clumsy as ever trying to handle a tiny, delicate baby without squeezing him too hard or breaking him.

But between feeding and changing him, I have been finding time to do things such as cooking, writing, exercising and light socializing. I’ve worked out a (forever changing) schedule of sorts so that my routine includes a little more than continuous mothering. It helps that James sleeps between sessions.

It was between feedings that I thought I’d revisit the kitchen for some cooking. I had enough Thanksgiving meat leftovers for about a week but nothing to go with them. The only problem is I hadn’t done any grocery shopping lately and had to just see what’s available in my pantry and work with it. There were three boxes of whole grain instant couscous on the middle shelf, a can of olives on the bottom shelf, aging carrot and celery sticks left from a holiday appetizer tray in the fridge, and plenty of condiments to make it all taste good.

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