Pomegranate Glazed Chicken Vegetable Skewers

chicken vegetable skewers~ Pomegranate Glazed Chicken and Vegetable Skewers ~

Everything tastes better on a stick. Skewered chicken, peppers and onions are a simple healthy and quick dinner that the whole family will enjoy and have fun eating. These skewers pack extra flavor with a marinade enriched with sweet and piquant pomegranate molasses. The sugars in the molasses help the chicken brown and crisp while grilling.  If you have the time, marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours. If not, then simply let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the vegetables and soak the skewers.

Pomegranate Glazed Chicken Vegetable Skewers

Pomegranate molasses may be found in the international aisle of most supermarkets.

Serves 4 to 6

Marinade:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 medium red onions, cut in 1-inch chunks

10 (10-inch) bamboo skewers, pre-soaked 30 minutes

Whisk the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Set aside 1/3 cup for basting. Lightly season the chicken pieces with salt and black pepper. Place in a large bowl and pour the remaining marinade over and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours (or let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes).

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat or preheat the oven broiler. Thread the chicken on the skewers, alternating with onions and peppers.
Grill or broil until sides exposed to heat source are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and baste with reserved marinade. Continue to grill until the other side is golden brown, and the chicken is thoroughly cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers

Lamb Keftas TasteFood
~ Grilled Moroccan Lamb Keftas, Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Tsatsiki ~

There is something utterly complete about this meal. Homemade ground lamb keftas, fragrant with Moroccan spices, are grilled until crisp and succulent. Served with a sweet and spicy red pepper puree and cool minty yogurt sauce, these addictive morsels hit all flavor notes. They are a great option for party food, easy to prepare in advance and economical in ingredients. Just be warned that your guests will inhale these skewers before you blink, so you might need to splurge on a double recipe.

Spicy Lamb Kefta Skewers

Serves 4 to 6

Keftas:
2 pounds ground lamb
1 small onion, minced, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Pre-soaked bamboo skewers
Extra-virgin olive oil

Tsatstiki:
1 1/2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
1 small English cucumber, seeded, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Tabasco

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Pita bread
Fresh mint leaves

Prepare the keftas: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine, without over-mixing. With a light hand, form a handful of the meat around a skewer into a sausage, about 2-inches long by 1-inch wide. Place on a tray or platter. Repeat with remaining meat. Lightly brush the keftas with olive oil. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Prepare the tsatsiki: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until use.

Grill the keftas over medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes, turning once or twice. (Or broil in the oven). Serve warm with tsatsiki, red pepper sauce and pita. Garnish with mint leaves.

Super Bowl Party Food: Dry Spice Rubbed Pork Ribs

BBQ Pork Ribs TasteFood 1

~ Dry Spice Rubbed and Grilled Pork Ribs ~

Call me a fair weather fan (or a championship series fan) when it comes to football. I don’t pay much attention during the season, but once it gets down to the final stretch I am right there on the couch with all of you potatoes. As this season would have it, I was nearly in a connundrum, since I am a die-hard New Englander residing in San Francisco. Who would I root for? That question will remain unanswered (sigh) since the Ravens removed any potential conflict of interest. Now I am a resolute 49ers fan, which is a good thing, since that means I am now welcome in my friends’ homes to watch the game. And for the big occasion I suggest this finger-licking-spicy-good rib recipe for your Superbowl Party.

Dry Spice Rubbed Baby Back Pork Ribs

The key to making these ribs is in the method. Begin with a dry rub which coats and permeates the meat with a sweet, spicy, smoky flavor as the ribs cook long and slow in a low-heat oven. You can start the ribs early in the afternoon; pop them into the oven and forget about them for 3 hours. Thirty minutes before serving, remove and transfer to the grill to cook just long enough get all caramelized and crispy.

Serves 6-8

For the rub:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne (or to taste)

3 racks baby back pork ribs

Preheat oven to 200° F. Combine all of the rub ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
Pat ribs dry with a paper towel. Arrange in one layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Rub the spices all over the ribs on both sides, coating well. Bake in oven for 3 hours.
Prepare grill for indirect medium heat. Grill ribs on a rack over indirect heat, turning, until the meat darkens and crisps, 10 to 12 minutes.

These ribs are good as is, with the crispy exterior and succulent meat. If you like your ribs more wet, baste with your favorite sauce  just before removing from grill and serve with additional sauce on the side.

Lambs + Clams: A new contest and a recipe for Moroccan Spiced Lamb

Lambs + Clams: A new contest and a recipe for Moroccan Spiced Lamb

I was delighted to be asked by the folks at The Charleston Wine and Food Festival to participate in a food blog event and contest called Lambs + Clams.  This event will promote the annual festival while celebrating the purveyors and farmers who supply their products to the Charleston region. Four monthly recipe contests will be held in the lead up to the festival which opens February 28, 2013. Each contest will spotlight either lamb, clams or oysters supplied by Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm and Travis Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters, both of whom provide their quality products to top chefs and restaurants all over the Eastern seaboard.

I am flattered and honored to be selected to compete with 7 talented food bloggers (listed below) from around the country in this event. By now you should know I love a good challenge, so I did not hesitate to accept. Let the games begin!

This month the contest kicks off with a challenge to create a recipe for a leg of lamb from Border Springs Farm. You can imagine how excited I was to receive my lamb – the anticipation felt like Christmas. It arrived in a BIG box, and I eagerly unpacked a gorgeous, glistening boneless leg of lamb weighing in at 5.4 pounds. Christmas came early this year.

I love to travel, and when I am not traveling, I bring my bucket list of destinations home to my kitchen for cooking inspiration. With that motivation, I decided to create a lamb recipe fragrant with the heat and spice of northern Africa and made a thick fiery marinade heady with Mediterranean spices, garlic, lemon and mint. One deep whiff made my fingers and toes tingle and transported me to Morocco, the sands of the sahara and an aromatic souk. It was all I could do to keep from slurping it up with a spoon.

I smeared and massaged the lamb with the marinade – yes, that’s right: massaging helps to work the spices into the meat. I could also just say “work the marinade into the meat with your fingers” but massage sounds so much nicer. Then came the hardest part – waiting. The longer the wait, the better. The lamb should marinate overnight, or even for 2 days if you can stand it. (When time is truly an issue, 8 hours will do, but overnight is best).

Once you’ve mastered the waiting part, the recipe is very easy to prepare, and the results are outstanding, yielding a succulent, exotically aromatic leg of lamb with a subtle kick of heat. To serve the lamb, I roasted an assortment of late summer vegetables (chinese eggplant, sweet peppers, onions and zucchini) with olive oil, garlic and salt and scattered them around the meat. There was plenty to share, so a few friends joined us as well,  and we all enjoyed this wonderful pre-Christmas gift of lamb.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb with Lemon, Mint and Yogurt

Ground cumin and coriander may be substituted for the seeds, however the flavor is best if you toast and grind your own seeds. Serves 6 to 8.

Marinade:
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro sprigs (or Italian parsley)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
Zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon Sriracha or harissa
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 3-4 pound boned leg of lamb, butterflied

Yogurt Sauce:
1 1/2 cups Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the marinade: Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar with pestle and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add remaining marinade ingredients and whisk to blend. Make small incisions in the fat and meat of the lamb. Rub the marinade all over the lamb, massaging it into the meat and folds with your fingers. Place lamb in a rimmed baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

One hour before roasting, remove the lamb from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. If grilling, prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat. Grill the lamb for 10 minutes over direct heat to sear, skin-side down, turning once. Move to indirect heat and grill, covered, turning once or twice, until medium-rare (a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part will read 130 F), 20 to 30 minutes. If roasting, place lamb in a roasting pan. Roast in a preheated 425 F. oven, skin-side up, for about 30 minutes for medium-rare, turning once. Finish under a broiler, skin side up, for a few minutes to brown meat. Allow lamb to rest for 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil, before carving.

To make the yogurt sauce, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Arrange the lamb on a serving platter. If you roasted vegetables, scatter them around the lamb. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with the yogurt sauce.

 

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Pearl Couscous

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Pearl Couscous

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Pearl Couscous Salad

I was going to make soup. But the weather has been a little hot lately, with triple digit temperatures reminiscent of summer, not October. My plan was to make a harvest chicken soup, taking advantage of the peppers and tomatoes that are still going strong in our California garden. Instead, and because the thought of a simmering pot of hot soup in the kitchen is unbearable, I re-configured the ingredients, threading them on skewers and cooking them on the grill. A pearl couscous salad was the perfect accompaniment, served at room temperature with flecks of chiles and fresh herbs from the garden.

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Pearl Couscous
Serves 4

Marinade:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large chicken breasts, without skin, 6 to 8 ounces each, cut in 1-inch pieces

Pre-soaked bamboo skewers
2 large sweet red and/or yellow peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 large chipotle pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut in 1 inch pieces

Pearl Couscous Salad
Extra-virgin olive oil
Lemon halves
Fresh Italian parsley sprigs

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Place chicken in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours (or overnight), turning once or twice.
Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Thread chicken on skewers alternating with peppers and onions. Grill over direct medium heat, turning once, until browned and chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and slide chicken and vegetables off of skewers. To serve, spoon Pearl Couscous salad onto serving plates. Top with chicken and vegetables. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little fresh squeezed lemon juice. Garnish with fresh parsley.

No-Fail Sriracha Marinade and a recipe for Grilled Chicken Skewers

No-Fail Sriracha Marinade and a recipe for Grilled Chicken Skewers

~ Grilled Chicken Skewers with Sriracha Lime Marinade ~

I would like to share my favorite no-fail marinade that will carry you through the summer grill season. It’s downright addictive with a blend of spicy Sriracha, tangy lime and thick Dijon mustard. I made this last week for a mess of shrimp we grilled up for our Solstice party, and they disappeared before you could say “Sriracha Shrimp.”  It left me craving more, so I made another batch the next day and used it to flavor these chicken skewers and another round of shrimp for an easy outdoor dinner party. What I love about this marinade is that it tastes great on everything it coats. Try it on skirt or flank steak, firm fleshed fish, portobello mushrooms and provencal vegetables. Just like a best friend, it won’t let you down. Continue Reading Grilled Sriracha Marinated Chicken Skewers

Summer Beach Grill Party: BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Last weekend we celebrated the summer solstice with our annual BBQ and bonfire at the beach. This is a Nordic tradition we happily packed up with us from Denmark, where the longest day of the year is celebrated in true viking-style with feasting, fire, libations, and an effigy which is burned to ward off evil spirits. Since the sun sets over the sea at 9 pm in California and not at midnight during the Scandinavian midnight sun, we enjoy an abbreviated version, Pacific-style, before the park rangers shepherd us off the beaches – or the residents call the police. This year was spectacular, with warm weather, tame winds and a hopping crowd of 50 wannabe vikings. As hosts, we took responsibility for the Danish beer, grillables and fire setting, while everyone else brought side dishes desserts, beach chairs, lots of kids and wine. It truly takes a village! On the menu were these sticky spiced ribs – inspired by a delectable recipe from my friend Karen who brought them along last year. (She is on tour in Italy right now with her band which is another story in itself.) Continue Reading Grilled BBQ Baby Back Ribs