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Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Howdy folks, as you know if you follow the blog, times a bit tight round these parts lately. Any great dinner ideas? Doesn't actually have to be quick, per se. Just easy. And are reasonably healthy, like include some kind of veggie, not just grilled cheese (unless there's something interesting thrown in too).
Oh, and tasty.
In other words, the best of the best, your family secrets.
Divulge.
CJ

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Hey Lady!  Just a quick add, but no big long recipe cos I'm not reinventing the wheel or nuthin, just reminding you of some spokes.

 

When you need stuff quick, don't forget things like ....

 

Zucchini slice (make in muffin pan to cook quicker!)

Scrambled eggs or any variation of it - especially if your kiddo's will eat wilted veg from the garden, or tinned corn is another go-to for us

Pasta with any veg that's quick (again, corn, peas, broccoli, carrot) and grated cheese thrown in as soon as the pasta is drained to melt it right it.

Rice, fried, or boiled and then finished with veg, bacon pieces, chicken pieces, and leftover meat you know they'll eat.

Potato  pancakes, or Latkes I think they used to be called.  Just grated veg mixed with egg n a bit of flour, really.  My 4 yr old loves making these, too.

Normal pancakes, with fruit or frozen berries, etc.  Or french toast.

 

But here's a leak from the nuts n bolts train of thought, too....on 'systems'.  If you need to have a lot of time on your hands, do your prep in the mornings while you're having your second (or ok, third, if you are like myself) cup of coffee.  By then my baby is usually self-occupied for about 10 mins or so in herself, and the 4yr old is either watching morning playschool or is actually at school/kindy.  If I can get the start of the prep done (peel, chop, defrost meat or get it schnitzelled or marinated or sliced, for example) and then the clean up for that prep done, I am always a better, less Shouty, Stabby Mama that night.  My aim is to have the kiddo's fed by 5 and in and bathed by 6.  The baby is 18 months but she's asleep by 6.30 every night about 95% of the time, and the 4yr old is with me reading on his bed by 7pm.  Without that, my sanity wanes due to not enough 'alone' time.  I'm a wierd mama, I need some knitting and some quiet time to feel like I'm going to be a human to be honest.

 

The other thing is, don't you have a pressure/slow cooker thing that can do stuff while you don't watch it?  If you do, use it as much as possible.  We had visitors over most the day, and I've got relatives staying here for 5 days.  Today I threw all the ingredients at my slow cooker for chicken and vegie soup.  I did it while the kids were doing play dough stuff.  And that was at 11am, so I didn't give dinner another thought until 5 when I had to find three bowls for us and put in some bread to toast.

 

That's my system, anyway.  Hope it helps someone out there in the playroom!

I just thought of some slow cooker chili.  Guess what?  I don't even brown the meat, I just kind of separate it with a potato masher and throw everything else in on top of it.  When it;s ready, just break it up a bit.  You can use a less fatty meat if you don't want any grease.

These are my reasonably healthy, just easy but not necessarily quick recipes, among them some family "secrets" :))

 

Vegetable tagine

Feel free to substitute any vegetable I list, it's more a "general guidelines" list, not precision-sensitive french pastry.

 

In a dutch oven or any pot with a lid, layer the following ingredients, taking care, if you substitute, to put the longest cooking ones in the bottom and the quickest cooking ones near the top. I assume you will prep the vegies (peeled, washed, cubed or diced, or florets separated, or sliced, more or less chunky, depending on taste and cooking time requirements, i.e. medium potato cubes and thick slices of tomatoes and 1" cubes of squash or gourd...)

I don't measure, I just peel, wash, cut and make layers.

 

- Turnips or rutabaga

- Carrots

- Cauliflower and/or broccoli

- Onions

- Sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

- 1 tbs paprika sprinkled all over

- Potatoes

- Squash or edible gourd

- Sweet pepper (any color you like or have handy)

- Tomatoes

- An other sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

- An other tbs of paprika powder

- Roughly chopped cilantro and flat-leaf parsley (be generous)

- Olive oil all over

- 1 to 1.5 cups water (depending on the vegies actually used and your simmering habits or your stove simmering capacity)

Cover, simmer until vegies are cooked. Check on the potatoes because we generaly like them well cooked while it doesn't matter much if carrots still have some bite to them.

It should take an hour or more, I never really checked how long I cook this.

We eat this with bread or with rice.

 

My Mother's Stuffed Rghaifs

 

- Make a simple bread dough with half your usual amount of yeast, do not use sugar in it, just water, flour and salt. Make it supple, not sticky but almost.

- Divide it in tennis ball size balls.

- Shape the balls to have them smooth, oil them well (I dip them in a bowl of olive oil then coat them well)

- Put on a tray or rimmed cookie sheet, cover to prevent crusting and allow to rise while you prepare the filling.

 

- For the filling, small cubes of sweet peppers (less then 1") and same with onions, put to "sweat" in an olive oil coated pan.

- Add paprika powder, salt, pepper, a generous handfull of roughly chopped cilantro and same for flat-leaf parsley.

- If you have greens (wild or cultivated) add a handfull if you wish.

- If you have leftover meat, any kind, chop it small and add it.

- When onions and peppers are softened by the sautéing, remove from heat and spread in a plate to cool.

 

- I use a pancake griddle to make my rghaifs. Before I had it I used 2 cast iron pans simulteanously. It is also possible to lay the assembled rghaifs on a cookie sheet and stick them in a 350F oven until golden brown. When I have a crowd to feed, I assemble all the Rghaifs and use all of the above cooking tools at the same time to be able to speed up so I serve as much guests as possible at the same time.

 

- It's more efficient to assemble all of the rghaifs before beginning to cook them. Don't forget to preheat the griddle or cast-iron pan or oven when you're half way through the assembling process.

 

- To assemble rghaifs, have a bowl of olive oil on the counter or kitchen table.  Oil your surface, oil again the ball of dough, spread it in a roughly round shape (don't sweat over the regularity of the circle, it's a peasant meal, irregularity is its charm). The thickness should be similar to an apple tart dough, roughly less than 1/4" thick.

- Spread a tablespoon or two of filling, again roughly, doesn't matter if it doesn't reache the edges of the circle of dough.

- Fold the circle in two, from top to bottom (half moon) then in two left to right (you'll have a triangle). Pat it a bit with the palm of your hands and set aside under cover (plastic or cloth) while you proceed with the rest of the rghaifs.

- You might have too much filling for the amount of dough or not enough filling. Adjut next time. If not enough filling, just fold the dough alone, nothing in it. It's good too. If too much filling, you can spread a little before the second fold, at the "half-moon" stage or just eat the filling with regular bread, it's good hot or cold or room temp. I rarely end-up with exactly the right amount of filling for all the rghaifs and I make these since a very long time.

 

- If you cook on the griddle, you'll get a hang of the best temperature setting. On mine I set it to 350F (it has a temp dial). On the stove, err on the medium low heat, more on the low than medium if you use a good ole cast-iron that you took care to preheat well. The oven is 350F.

 

- On the griddle or pan, cook on one side, check if it is golden by lifting a corner and peeking. When golden on one side, flip and cook the other side.

 

- In the oven, when it's golden, like bread, it's ready.

 

It's a bit long to make, but dead easy and it's an extremly popular meal in my house. I serve with cut-up raw vegies on the side or just nothing. It's comfort food in my exented family.

 

I'll add more recipes later and will try to take pics of the Rghaif assembly for you next time I make them.

I forgot to mention, you spread the Rghaif's dough with your hands, not a rolling pin since it will slide because for the olive oil. If your dough rested enough, it will be easily spread. If a hole form, not a big deal since the dough disk will be folded.



Zoubida Ayyadi said:

- To assemble rghaifs, have a bowl of olive oil on the counter or kitchen table.  Oil your surface, oil again the ball of dough, spread it in a roughly round shape (don't sweat over the regularity of the circle, it's a peasant meal, irregularity is its charm). The thickness should be similar to an apple tart dough, roughly less than 1/4" thick.

- Spread a tablespoon or two of filling, again roughly, doesn't matter if it doesn't reache the edges of the circle of dough.

- Fold the circle in two, from top to bottom (half moon) then in two left to right (you'll have a triangle). Pat it a bit with the palm of your hands and set aside under cover (plastic or cloth) while you proceed with the rest of the rghaifs.

Since I'm stuck waiting for the roast to cook (so every body needing a lunch box has meat slices in their sandwich tomorrow), I'm going to continue adding family recipes.

I appologize there are no specific quantities in these recipes. That's because we make them like that, without really measuring, just by gutz and feeling (smell, texture...)

 

Here's how my mother makes her vegie tagine. Since I tap so much in her recipe repertoire, I'll give her credits using her firstname. For this vegie tagine, I recommend trying not to substitute ingredients as it's kind of balanced for flavors. And actually, I will give you some pointers for quantities too.

 

Yamna's Chermoula Vegetable Tagine

 

Chermoula is a marinade sauce. It is slightly different depending on what it is suppose to marinate (fish, lamb, beef, chicken...) and there are regional specificities too.

 

Directly in a dutch oven or tagine or heavy-bottomed pot, throw in and mix the chermoula ingredients which are:

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 2 good handfulls of cilantro leaves, chopped

- 2 good handfulls of flat leaf parsley, chopped

- 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pounded with some salt in a pestle and mortar

- 1 medium onion, finely chopped

- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin

- 1 tablespoon of ground ginger (or 1" grated fresh ginger)

- 1 teaspoon tumeric powder

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1/2 cup water (when using juicy tomatoes, I skip water, but then I'm carefull to have all simmer slowly)

 

Layer the following vegetables, in this order:

- Thick slices of sweet pepper (plus one hot pepper or jalapeno if you like it)

- Chunks of edible gourd or winter squash

- Slices of potatoes

- Thick slices of tomatoes

 

Cover, simmer until potatoes are cooked. Carefull that there's enough liquids but that shouldn't be a problem if your really simmer on low heat.

 

Stir just before removing from heat.

 

When I say "edible gourd" it's a moroccan heirloom gourd we use. The closest one I know off and available through seed companies is the italian Cucuzzi gourd. I rarely cook summer squashes and I don't grow them, but if you have a kind that is firmer than zuchinis and a bit longer to cook through, you can use it.

 

Since I'm giving tagine recipes, it may be of use to know can be made in a slow cooker. I don't like how they turn out in a slow-cooker, but I'm biased since I use my moroccan earthenware (tagines) to cook these, or my french enamailed cast-iron pot (dutch-oven you call these I believe).

A french laid-back, easy and tasty poultry dish you might want to try. I serve it with egg-noodles simply buttered and seasoned with freshly cracked pepper and salt, homemade noodles if I have the courage an patience. It's nice with rice too. A mesclun salad on the side or some sautéed broccoli.

You can substitute rabbit for the chicken if you want.

Mustard Chicken (poulet à la moutarde)

5 or 6 pieces of chicken (I prefer to reserve the breasts for other dishes and I use the legs and wings for this one)

2 or 3 very heaping spoons of Dijon mustard (don't use american mustard, it's not the same taste)

A little salt (mustard already salted a bit) and pepper to taste

3 or 4 chopped french shallots (optional)

1 or 2 sprigs of thyme, or a pinch or two dried thyme

1 bay leaf

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup cold water with 2 teaspoons starch or flour to thicken (optionnal)

Parsley, chopped

 

- Mix the mustard, garlic, salt, pepper and coat the chicken pieces will with the mix. Allow to marinate if you have time.

- Put all the ingredients in a pot, preferably heavy bottomed.

- Bring to a slight boil, then lower the heat. Cover the pot and gently simmer until the chicken is cooked.

- If you want to thicken the sauce, add the slurry of water/starch and give it a gentle boil.

- When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and add roughly chopped parsley leaves to taste.

I like the recipes and the combination of spices.  I seldom measure , just what tastes right.  I have tried writing family recipes down and is very slow...but the children are asking for them.   How is rghaifs pronounced?

Zoubida Ayyadi said:

Since I'm stuck waiting for the roast to cook (so every body needing a lunch box has meat slices in their sandwich tomorrow), I'm going to continue adding family recipes.

I appologize there are no specific quantities in these recipes. That's because we make them like that, without really measuring, just by gutz and feeling (smell, texture...)

 

Here's how my mother makes her vegie tagine. Since I tap so much in her recipe repertoire, I'll give her credits using her firstname. For this vegie tagine, I recommend trying not to substitute ingredients as it's kind of balanced for flavors. And actually, I will give you some pointers for quantities too.

 

Yamna's Chermoula Vegetable Tagine

 

Chermoula is a marinade sauce. It is slightly different depending on what it is suppose to marinate (fish, lamb, beef, chicken...) and there are regional specificities too.

 

Directly in a dutch oven or tagine or heavy-bottomed pot, throw in and mix the chermoula ingredients which are:

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 2 good handfulls of cilantro leaves, chopped

- 2 good handfulls of flat leaf parsley, chopped

- 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pounded with some salt in a pestle and mortar

- 1 medium onion, finely chopped

- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin

- 1 tablespoon of ground ginger (or 1" grated fresh ginger)

- 1 teaspoon tumeric powder

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1/2 cup water (when using juicy tomatoes, I skip water, but then I'm carefull to have all simmer slowly)

 

Layer the following vegetables, in this order:

- Thick slices of sweet pepper (plus one hot pepper or jalapeno if you like it)

- Chunks of edible gourd or winter squash

- Slices of potatoes

- Thick slices of tomatoes

 

Cover, simmer until potatoes are cooked. Carefull that there's enough liquids but that shouldn't be a problem if your really simmer on low heat.

 

Stir just before removing from heat.

 

When I say "edible gourd" it's a moroccan heirloom gourd we use. The closest one I know off and available through seed companies is the italian Cucuzzi gourd. I rarely cook summer squashes and I don't grow them, but if you have a kind that is firmer than zuchinis and a bit longer to cook through, you can use it.

 

Since I'm giving tagine recipes, it may be of use to know can be made in a slow cooker. I don't like how they turn out in a slow-cooker, but I'm biased since I use my moroccan earthenware (tagines) to cook these, or my french enamailed cast-iron pot (dutch-oven you call these I believe).

These recipes sound great.  I make a Moroccan Stew that's similar to the tagine.

fishea52 said:
I like the recipes and the combination of spices.  I seldom measure , just what tastes right.  I have tried writing family recipes down and is very slow...but the children are asking for them.   How is rghaifs pronounced?

Zoubida Ayyadi said:

Since I'm stuck waiting for the roast to cook (so every body needing a lunch box has meat slices in their sandwich tomorrow), I'm going to continue adding family recipes.

I appologize there are no specific quantities in these recipes. That's because we make them like that, without really measuring, just by gutz and feeling (smell, texture...)

 

Here's how my mother makes her vegie tagine. Since I tap so much in her recipe repertoire, I'll give her credits using her firstname. For this vegie tagine, I recommend trying not to substitute ingredients as it's kind of balanced for flavors. And actually, I will give you some pointers for quantities too.

 

Yamna's Chermoula Vegetable Tagine

 

Chermoula is a marinade sauce. It is slightly different depending on what it is suppose to marinate (fish, lamb, beef, chicken...) and there are regional specificities too.

 

Directly in a dutch oven or tagine or heavy-bottomed pot, throw in and mix the chermoula ingredients which are:

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 2 good handfulls of cilantro leaves, chopped

- 2 good handfulls of flat leaf parsley, chopped

- 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pounded with some salt in a pestle and mortar

- 1 medium onion, finely chopped

- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin

- 1 tablespoon of ground ginger (or 1" grated fresh ginger)

- 1 teaspoon tumeric powder

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1/2 cup water (when using juicy tomatoes, I skip water, but then I'm carefull to have all simmer slowly)

 

Layer the following vegetables, in this order:

- Thick slices of sweet pepper (plus one hot pepper or jalapeno if you like it)

- Chunks of edible gourd or winter squash

- Slices of potatoes

- Thick slices of tomatoes

 

Cover, simmer until potatoes are cooked. Carefull that there's enough liquids but that shouldn't be a problem if your really simmer on low heat.

 

Stir just before removing from heat.

 

When I say "edible gourd" it's a moroccan heirloom gourd we use. The closest one I know off and available through seed companies is the italian Cucuzzi gourd. I rarely cook summer squashes and I don't grow them, but if you have a kind that is firmer than zuchinis and a bit longer to cook through, you can use it.

 

Since I'm giving tagine recipes, it may be of use to know can be made in a slow cooker. I don't like how they turn out in a slow-cooker, but I'm biased since I use my moroccan earthenware (tagines) to cook these, or my french enamailed cast-iron pot (dutch-oven you call these I believe).

Oh yes, tagine is a actually a kind of stew, cooked in the pot named tagine.

Rghaifs, my canadian husband and my sons can't pronounce it. Very few western people I know are able to pronounce it actually.

Here's a video from a Moroccan public TV cooking program. The host pronounces rghaif in the very first seconds, just as the camera makes a close-up to the old ladies face. She says "rghiaf" then repeats "rghaif bal merseta" (rghaif with wild mint).

This video will also give you a sense of how you spread the dough, fill it and fold it. The old peasant lady on the video does it the usual way, in squares. She forgot to melt butter to mix in her oil and just add it like that. I don't use butter in my rghaifs because my sons don't like them to be too fat. But I don't skimp on olive oil though.

 

Rghaifs made by an old peasant lady video

Zoubida, I'm so glad you joined our group and added your recipes. Morrocan food is my top favorite for something special. It's become my tradition to cook a big fancy multi-course Arabic/North African/Mediterranean meal for my birthday. Of course, though I've done lots of cooking in my life and have "the instinct" I don't have any instinct for food so different than what I grew up with, so it's the one time in the kitchen I actually follow recipes, pretty religiously. I have Claudia Roden's big book, and a few others of Arabic food, though, truly Morrocan remains my favorite. I am slowly developing something like an instinct for the unique balance of flavors.
I love the simple idea of just layering vegetables, cooking and calling it dinner. I would love that, though I'm not sure my family would appreciate it as much.
Maybe if I cooked the chicken dish too, that sounds divine.
I hope you check out the blog. See you around!
-CJ

CJ, you can serve the vegie tagines with some meat of course. My husband grew-up with, probably, the same type of diet as you did, so when I make lots of vegies for supper, I always grill or pan-sear some meat for him, or he will wither and melt by the end of the following hour.

My sons are like me, they feel sustained with an entirely vegetarian meal, given I make some kind of starch with it (bread, rice, pasta, couscous or whatever).

And, you already know we do multicourse meals, everything on the table at once so we pick an choose what we'll have on our plate. Since I read your article about knots&bolts, I can tell you how I manage that. I make a lot of one dish and refrigerate or, if time and the amount of ingredients allow, I can the prepared dish.

With no meat, it keeps 3 to 4 days in the fridge. With or without meat, caning is 5 years, that's if the guys give it a rest. I try to think ahead and add-up in the fridge or the can shelf each time I cook. This way I have several things ready at any given time. It's very nice for the boys since they can open the fridge, pick and choose what they'll nibble on when they're hungry and I'm not able or don't want to cook. Since I adapt all possible recipes for caning, we also have the caned meals shelve to dig in if we want to. If I can't or don't want to cook on a particular day, I know I can have a meal on the table in minutes and not even comparable with commercial convenience food. Once you get in the habit of cooking a lot of the same thing in the intention to can or refrigerate for few days or freeze (although we don't like to freeze cooked meals here), you end-up with enough to allow for "vacation from cooking" if you wish or need to.

An other thing we do, are "caning bees" either with my husband and kids or with a friend or two. We spend an entire day caning Chicken M'slalla (onions, chicken, turmeric and garlic) on Satruday and ratatouille on Sunday. In a week-end we are able to can A LOT of 1-quart jars, sometimes enough for a year's supply for each family. It's interesting because that allows us to buy bulk (i.e. share a veal between 2 or 3 families, can some parts, season or marinate and freeze others).

In Morocco, we eat meat but in small quantities (except on special occasions) and not at every meal. We accompany with lots of vegies and some kind of starch, mostly bread.

You adapt to your habits and tastes, that's the beauty of multiculturalism, when you mix in your own touch and twist to a foreign culture cooking, you get an even richer and complex experience.

I'll come back with recipes for simple grilled meats later.

Oh, I suggest, if you make the mustard chicken, to just serve it with rice and a salad or simple vegie on the side.

The vegetable tagines will go very well with simply grilled or pan-seared or sautéed meat of your choice.

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