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Archive for May, 2009


the delicious taste of procrastination

In t-minus 3 days, all my things should be in boxes, ideally, and ready for my big move. Except I know myself. I know that in 3 days, I’m going to look at my room, or my kitchen, in dismay and ask myself what in the world I’ve been doing. Something my mother would ask in the most disapproving of voices. This is when I would blame youtube for my perpetual procrastination, and thank Warda for her amazing chicken and olives recipe. If you need a break from anything, life, packing, the economy?, turn up your speakers and listen to this song. If you’re hungry afterwards, do what I did, and make this incredible North African chicken and olives recipe (aka دجاج بالزيتون). Everything else can wait.

mise en place

My plan is to pack up the rest of my room today and make a dent, at least, in the kitchen department. Since I was in the mood to relax and cook last night, I went with a whole chicken, but you could’ve just as well gone with already-cut, bone-in chicken. The bone is important here because that is what will keep the chicken moist during the cooking process.

happily marinated

The marinade for this dish is one of the best I’ve tasted in a long time. You basically throw in the spices, ginger, onion, and half a preserved lemon into a food processor with some olive oil and you’re set. You can technically skip the preserved lemons, but if you feel compelled and don’t have some laying around, Whole Foods and other specialty stores should carry them. If you want to start getting a jar ready for 6-months down the road, you won’t regret it.

chicken & olives (دجاج بالزيتون)

Rice, cous cous or bread are all perfect sides for this dish. This dish is also being featured for this month’s A Taste of the Mediterranean, where we’re showcasing the cuisine of North Africa throughout the month of May. iGourmet has agreed to sponsor the contest and is offering a $50 gift certificate for the winning dish. Make a variation of this meal, be creative and enter to win!

Chicken with Olives

serves 4-6 people

Components

For the Marinade:

  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 preserved lemon
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the Dish:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • small bouquet of parsley
  • small bouquet of cilantro
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water
  • 1 onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1 cup green olives
  • bread, rice or cous cous
  • extra parsley, for garnish

Putting them all together

  1. Make the marinade by pulsing all the ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Wash the chicken under cold water and butcher into 6 or 8 pieces. Dry and marinate over night (or at least 1 hour, if rushed).
  3. Tie the bouquet of parsley and cilantro with a string for easy retrieval after cooking.
  4. Place marinated chicken, with marinade, in a large heavy-bottomed pan (or tajine) along with the rest of the ingredients, except the olives.
  5. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium-low heat (simmering), making sure to turn the chicken pieces in the sauce every once in a while.
  6. Remove the parsley and cilantro bouquets, add the olives and transfer to a 375 degree F oven to finish cooking.
  7. Serve alongside rice, cous cous or bread and enjoy!

notes: Recipe very slightly modified from Warda. Also, rinse olives if excessively bitter.

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packing my things

Molly’s Tomatoes

Yesterday, my Friday started out like a dreadful Monday in disguise. It was pouring, I was running late for work and I had a flat tire. In retrospect, this wasn’t too bad. I called in late, pulled up my sleeves and youtubed: how to change a tire. I was mildly amused by the number of videos there were for this topic. After watching a few I thought I was fully-trained, if not an expert, on how to put on those silly-looking donut wheels. To make a long, miserable story short – my spare also turned out to be flat, the tow truck took 3 hours to pick me up, and it took 2 hours to get my wheel changed  – never in my life had I felt so much relief in returning home and closing the door behind me.

Before going to bed last night, I finished Molly’s book: A Homemade Life. If you haven’t already bought it, you need to go and pick up a copy. In her book she has a chapter appropriately titled and dedicated to happiness, which apparently is achieved by slow-roasting tomatoes for six hours. I was convinced. After my miserable chain of events, I set out to make this recipe on Saturday morning, and ran errands while the tomatoes did their thing in the oven.

mise en place

Molly’s recipe calls for coriander, which I didn’t have, but I sprinkled some dried thyme instead, and added couple cloves of minced garlic for good measure. I cook under the illusion that anything roasted should have garlic in it. Ultimately though, I was happy that I found a recipe for the large bowl of tomatoes idly resting on the dining room table, just waiting to be used.

tossed in olive oil, thyme & garlic

The dish couldn’t have been easier to put together. I sneaked a taste of a couple the quartered tomatoes, put the rest in the oven at 200 degrees F, and went on with my errands. *I knew I wasn’t going to take long, but if you’re going to do this, I recommend using the cook-time feature in your oven so that it could turn itself off automatically.

ready to combine

After six hours, your entire house will take on the wonderful scent of the roasted tomatoes and lemony thyme. In order to make it a meal, I toasted a few slices of a day-old baguette, topped them with a healthy smear of fresh goat cheese, and a couple pieces of the slow-roasted tomatoes. Molly was right, this is happiness.

roasted tomato, goat cheese crostini

As she describes in her book, the possibilities for flavoring or using these tomatoes are virtually endless. Tomorrow, for instance, I can’t wait to wake up and throw a couple of these in with my scrambled eggs. I can then layer a few more pieces inside my sandwich for lunch, or toss them in with my salad – you get the idea.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

approx 1 cup of roasted tomatoes

Components

  • 2 lbs roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • thyme, to taste (approx 1 tsp)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Wash and dry tomatoes. Quarter them and scatter them on a large baking sheet.
  2. Gently, using your hands, toss the tomatoes with the oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake at 200 degrees F for 4-6 hours or until tomatoes crinkle at the edges and shrink by about half.
  4. Pull them out of the oven, let them cool and eat as desired.

notes: Recipe adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Roma tomatoes are best for this recipe, but any tomato will work just as fine. You could go longer than 6 hrs if you’d like, I actually went 7hrs when I made these and they were excellent.

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deliciously wrinkly

According to the atmospheric noise generated by this random-number generator, these three commenters will be receiving a pack of mahlab in the mail.

Congratulations to Hélène, Katie and Hannah, respectively, and thank you to everyone who commented and e-mailed me with their support.