Moroccan Dry Rub

North African Dry RubThis North African flavoured rub is great on chicken, but equally good when used to flavour vegetarian dishes, like a chickpea stew or tofu. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until you are ready to use the rub, as the fresh ingredients will spoil after a while and you don’t want to lose all that good rub!

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
5 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

If using the entire 1 cup batch of rub at once:
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lemons worth of zest, minced*

If using one portion of the rub (about 3 tablespoons):
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon worth of zest, minced*

* Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Either portion out a small amount of rub, and add your minced garlic and lemon zest, or if using the whole recipe, add the garlic and lemon directly to your mixing bowl. Mix well, so that everything is incorporated.

This is a dry rub, but you can add oil directly to the rub to make a paste, or lightly oil whatever it is you are using the rub on, then apply the spice mixture. This rub can be used right away, or you can let it sit on your dish so that the flavours permeate the food. Without the wet ingredients, this rub can last about 6 months in an air tight container.

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Chocolate Chicken Mole

Chicken MoleYou may look at this list of ingredients and be a little shocked! Moles, meaning sauce, traditionally have at least 20 different ingredients on average and are a source of great pride. They usually involved several different types of peppers, dried fruits, nuts and a hint of chocolate. This version is a bit of a dumbed down one, as it only contains 12 (chicken and garnish not included)! If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can poach or roast off the equivalent amount of chicken yourself.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ chipotle peppers with 1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from can (or more to taste), chopped
1 ½ cup raisins
1 (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ ounces unsweetened chocolate (or 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 ½ rotisserie chickens, meat removed and shredded (skin and bones discarded)
⅓ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Zest of 1 orange, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving

Directions:

Place a pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to soften for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle with adobo, raisins, and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.

Transfer the mole to a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, and orange zest. Serve with cilantro, lime, avocado, and tortillas.

Chocolate Banana Fried Won-tons with Boozy Caramel Sauce

chocolate banana wontonsIngredients:

For Won-tons:
2 very ripe bananas
⅓ cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ (14 ounce) package won-ton wrappers
oil for frying

For Boozy Caramel Sauce:
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Sabra Orange Brandy), optional
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

To make the filling:

Place the bananas, chocolate chips, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla into a mixing bowl, and mash until evenly blended. Alternatively, chop the mixture in a food processor until the chocolate chips have been reduced in size. This will help prevent the chips from poking through the won-ton skins as you handle them. It will also change the texture of the filling – you will not have pockets of melted chocolate in the won-tons.

To make the won-tons:

Separate and place the won-ton wrappers onto your work surface. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the banana filling onto the centre of each wrapper. Use your finger or a pastry brush to lightly moisten the edges of the won-ton wrappers with water. Fold one corner of the wrapper over the filling onto the opposite corner to form a triangle. Press the edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Fry the won-tons in the hot oil a few at a time until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the won-tons over halfway through cooking so they brown evenly. Remove, and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

To make the sauce:

Prepare the sauce by combining the butter, brown sugar, orange liqueur, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is smooth, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

To serve:

Serve the won-tons warm with the caramel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate chips to garnish.

Asian 5 Spice Blend

Five SpiceFive-spice powder is a spice mixture of five spices, used primarily in Chinese cuisine but also used in other Asian and Arabic cookery. While there are many variants, a common mix is:

  • Star anise (bajiao, 八角)
  • Cloves (dingxiang, 丁香)
  • Chinese Cinnamon (rougui, 肉桂)
  • Sichuan pepper (huajiao, 花椒)
  • Fennel seeds (xiaohuixiang, 小茴香)

Other recipes may contain anise seed or ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, Amomum villosum pods, Amomum cardamomum pods, licorice, sichuan pepper, Mandarin orange peel or galangal. In South China Cinnamomum loureiroi and Mandarin orange peel is commonly used as a substitute for Cinnamomum cassia and cloves, respectively, producing a different flavour for southern five-spice powders.

Five spice may be used with fatty meats such as pork, duck or goose. It is used as a spice rub for chicken, duck, pork and seafood, in red cooking recipes, or added to the breading for fried foods. Five spice is used in recipes for Cantonese roasted duck, as well as beef stew. It is used as a marinade for Vietnamese broiled chicken. The five-spice powder mixture has followed the Chinese diaspora and has been incorporated into other national cuisines throughout Asia.

Although this mixture is used in restaurant cooking, many Chinese households do not use it in day-to-day cooking. In Hawaii, some restaurants place a shaker of the spice on each patron’s table. A seasoned salt can be easily made by dry-roasting common salt with five-spice powder under low heat in a dry pan until the spice and salt are well mixed. This recipe will make about 1 cup of spice blend.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons star anise powder
2 ½ tablespoons ground pepper (can be regular peppercorns or Sichuan)
2 ½ tablespoons ground fennel
2 ½ tablespoons ground cloves
2 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 ½ tablespoons Himalayan salt (or regular salt)

Instructions

Use a mortar and pestle to grind any herbs necessary. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. This blend will last at least a month in an airtight container.

Tandoori Spice Blend

Tandoori Spice BlendTandoori masala (masala means spice blend) is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian and Pakistani cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and may include other spices and additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.

Tandoori masala is used extensively with dishes as tandoori chicken. In this dish, the chicken is covered with a mixture of plain yogourt and tandoori masala. The chicken is then roasted in the tandoor at very high heat. The chicken prepared in this fashion has a pink-coloured exterior and a savoury flavor. For you kosher readers out there, try making this dish using non-dairy yogourt or water down some non-dairy sour cream to get a yogourt like consistency.

Other chicken dishes, in addition to tandoori chicken, use this masala, such as tikka or butter chicken, most of them Punjabi dishes. Meat other than chicken can be used, as can paneer (paneer is a homemade pressed cheese made out of curdled milk).

If freshly prepared, the masala can be stored in airtight jars for up to two months. The spice blend is also readily available at larger supermarkets and specialty Asian stores, with varying tastes depending on the brand. This recipe will make about 1 cup of spice blend.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Note: If your saffron is really fresh and doesn’t crumble easily, toast it in a dry skillet over medium heat until dark red. Cool; then crumble.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

Chewy Ginger CookieThese big, soft cookies are extremely addictive! You have been warned! This recipe will make about 2 dozen, though I suggest doubling it due to the aforementioned addictive quality!

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water, orange juice or liqueur of your choice
¼ cup molasses*
2 tablespoons white sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Warning, this is a very sticky batter. It is best to let the dough sit for a bit (maybe 30 minutes or so) so that the sticky factor gets toned down some. Alternatively you can stick them in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or use a little bit of oil/oil spray on your hands when rolling them.

Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an un-greased cookie sheet, and flatten.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

* A quick tip for when measuring molasses (or honey or other sticky ingredient), lightly coat your measuring cup with oil/oil spray first. This will let the molasses slide easily out.

Gluten Free Chewy Ginger-Molasses Cookies

Ginger CookiesNormally, I wait until the end of the week to give you a dessert recipe, but these are so good, I couldn’t wait! I’m sure you’ll forgive me! Most of these ingredients will be found either online or in specialty stores, but even some of the larger supermarkets carry them these days. If you can’t find them though, substitutions are okay! Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups chickpea flour
1 ½ cups gluten-free oat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
5 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
1 ½ cups coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
4 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons almond/soy milk
large grain sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and set them aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside. In another large bowl, cream the oil and sugar with an electric mixer, then beat in the molasses. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, and beat until combined.

A little at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine with electric mixer on medium-low until all flour is combined and no lumps remain (batter will be thick and sticky at this point). Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from refrigerator. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop balls of dough out onto prepared baking sheet, spacing each cookie 2 inches apart. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until they darken a bit and are fragrant. Place cookies on a rack and let them cool before eating. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.