Lamb & Chickpea ‘Tagine’

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Ok, so this isn’t a real tagine because, well, I didn’t make it in a tagine. I used the word in the title because it’s so evocative of the flavors and cuisine I was trying to cook tonight. I do really want a tagine one of these days, along with all sorts of other cool kitchen items I currently don’t have (I’m looking at you molcajete, fancy chopsticks, wok, Chinese soup spoons…) Using a dutch oven is a reasonable approximation, so that’s what we went with today.

We both love the flavors of the greater Middle East/Northern Africa. You may have noticed that if you’ve read more of our blog than just this post via Pinterest. I would venture a guess that dishes from that part of the world make up the highest percentage of our blog, as compared to other regions. Check out some of our other creations… they range from main dishes like Bahraini Chicken Machboos or Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha) to Spinach & Feta Gözleme, to some of Ally’s beloved soups like Persian Spiced Lentil Soup or North African Wedding Soup, to delicious snacks like Muhammara and Spicy Feta Dip, and even Baklava! So many amazing and varied dishes! The flavors here tonight are incredibly similar to our Tangy Moroccan Meatballs, which is one of Ally’s favorite meals we’ve ever made and shared on this blog. The main differences between the two are the addition of the chickpeas tonight, which allows the dish to easily stand alone without the addition of another starch, and the obvious fact that last time we made meatballs, while this time we braised some tender lamb chunks. It’s also a bit spicier and a bit less tangy than the meatball dish. Some variety is good! Last note – this, like many other braised/stewed dishes is SO much better the longer you let it sit. Yay leftovers!

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Lamb & Chickpea ‘Tagine’

(Inspired by our previous recipe for Tangy Moroccan Meatballs and some additional internet browsing)
Ingredients: 
  • ~2 lb boneless lamb (shoulder, boneless leg), cubed
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock (or lamb if you have access to it)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 can (16oz) chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • Fresh cilantro
Instructions: 
  1. Season all sides of the cubed meat generously with salt & pepper.
  2. Using a tagine if you have one, or a dutch oven if not (like us), heat the oil over medium heat on the stove top. Once hot, brown the meat on all sides and then remove to the side.
  3. Maintaining medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and carrots to the dish. Cook for ~5 minutes, until softened and becoming fragrant.
  4. Now stir in the tomato paste, tomato, and all of the spices except for the saffron. Cook for just a minute or two, stirring everything together.
  5. Now return the meat to the dish, along with the stock, lemon juice, and olives. Adjust the heat to bring to a light simmer with the lid on.
  6. Cook at that light simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is nice and tender.
  7. Remove the lid and increase heat to a more vigorous simmer. Add the chickpeas at this point. Cook for an additional 6-8 minutes with the lid off.
  8. Taste and add additional salt if desired (we added maybe a 1/2 tsp).
  9. Serve topped with torn cilantro and an extra squeeze of lemon if you’d like. Eat as a stew alone, though you could also put it atop couscous or rice.
Serves 4-6

Goat Mac

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My sister and I share a love of all things carbs, with a special place in our hearts for mac and cheese of any variety. Awhile back, I found a cookbook solely devoted to mac and cheese and gave it to her for her birthday or Christmas or something. (Which is not as good as a present she once gave me – it was an orange t-shirt with two cartoon cows dancing on it, with the words “I LOVE CARBS!”)

The recipe we’re sharing today originated with that mac & cheese cookbook. I made my sister send me screenshots from several options in the cookbook and settled on this one. We were very happy with our selection. Despite retaining the cheesiness of a standard mac & cheese, this feels slightly lighter. I mean, it’s certainly not low calorie, but the tanginess of the goat cheese just gives you a different sensation. I love goat cheese in any form, so definitely enjoyed this! I went light on the panko crust which worked for us. My only complaint at the end was that the finished product looked a little monotone in my pictures – so not really an actual problem!

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We had this dish this weekend when our favorite Georgians came to visit us in Virginia! We had a great weekend, with some delicious food, a few roaring fires, some trap shooting, some wandering in the woods, and a fun day of Virginia wine/beer/cider tasting with stops at King Family Vineyards, Blue Mountain Brewery, Bold Rock Cider, and Devil’s Backbone Brewing! And, of course, we enjoyed visiting with our friends! They all approved of this recipe, so hopefully you will too!


Goat Mac

(Adapted from The Mac + Cheese Cookbook)
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 5 cups small pasta (penne, farfalle, elbows, whatever)
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 12 oz goat cheese
  • 4 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + Panko bread crumbs
Instructions: 
  1. Pre-heat the oven 400 degrees.
  2. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until very lightly simmering. Meanwhile, bring a large pot over water to a boil.
  3. Once the large pot of water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  4. In another saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. When the butter has melted, begin to slowly whisk in the flour. When the flour is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Slowly whisk all of the milk into the mixture. (It will initially get incredibly thick, then begin to thin out.)
  6. When all of the milk has been added, return the pot to medium heat and whisk continuously for ~3 minutes.
  7. Now add the garlic, shallots, both cheeses, and salt to the pan and lower the heat to low-medium. Stir frequently until the cheeses are well-incorporated.
  8. Finally, add the pasta to the sauce and stir until all of the noodles are coated and distributed equally.
  9. Pour all of this into a rectangular glass baking dish. Top with panko crumbs. We only used a light coating, ~1/4 cup, but feel free to make a thicker layer if desired.
  10. Bake for ~10 minutes. Serve when hot and bubbly, and when the panko is lightly toasted.
Serves 6-8

Maple & Mustard Pork with Shallots

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We’re baaaaack! Very sorry for the lack of recipes for the past few months! The dates of our blog absence directly correlate with the first and early second trimester of Ally’s pregnancy with our first child!! While this is spectacular news, our blog did suffer for awhile there. Ally has been fairly sick for the first trimester and generally hated everything about food for a few months there. For awhile, she wouldn’t eat any of the following: meat, seafood, “sweet things,” “heavy things,” or pretty much anything you might think of to make for dinner. So honestly, there wasn’t really a whole lot to blog about for a good length of time! (Unless you’re really interested in meals consisting of Cheez-its and pickles – you just let us know next time! 😉) Thankfully, all of this is starting to improve greatly, though she still randomly will refuse certain foods out of the blue, and we still haven’t made it back to seafood yet!

But don’t you worry – we have an amazing recipe to share today for our welcome back. Last spring we shared Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle and a rave about the blog where we found the recipe inspiration. Well tonight’s source recipe comes from the same place – truly I think this is my favorite food blog and one I keep returning to again and again. The original recipe is here – our main change was to double the meat and triple the sauce, to make it more appropriate for the five diners we had for this meal. I highly recommend utilizing the sauce to meat ratio we’ve created here, not because I think our idea was superior, but because the sauce is SO DELICIOUS. I was licking the plate. Literally. Not joking. [Pregnant women are allowed to do that. It’s a law.]

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Maple & Mustard Pork with Shallots

(Adapted from the amazing Seasons & Suppers)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 pork tenderloins (~2 lbs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 6 large shallots, peeled & quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Trim any silverskin off the tenderloins (if need be) and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. Heat oil on medium-high in an oven safe dish like a dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, place the tenderloins in the dish and sear on all sides until lightly browned (2 or 3 minutes per side).
  4. Toss the quartered shallots in around the meat.
  5. Whisk together the remaining ingredients for the sauce and pour over top the meat and shallots.
  6. Move the pan to the oven on the medium rack. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 150 degrees.
  7. At this point, remove the pork from the pan and tent with aluminum foil. Set the shallots aside as well.
  8. Return the pan to the stove top over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened. This may take an additional 15+ minutes.
  9. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  10. Serve the pork sliced, surrounded by the shallots, and topped with the sauce.
Serves ~6

 

Recap of 2018

Our yearly recap has become my favorite blog post to write each year! I’m still proud of us for keeping up with our blog for all this time. Now some of you may interject here… ‘What about the fact that this is the first Bon Appetit Baby! post since mid-November? Where have you guys been? We thought this blog was going to fall off the face of the planet, like so many others.’ True, true… but I promise we had a good reason for our absence! We’ll elaborate later. But meanwhile, let’s celebrate 2018 and look forward to 2019!

2018 has been a big year for us! Some of the biggest accomplishments of our lives happened this year. We completed our graduate degrees, graduated from the University of South Carolina, passed our boards, moved from South Carolina to Virginia, started new jobs, and are under contract for our first house! We had so many great times with our friends and family too! So many exciting things happened in 2018… we can only imagine what 2019 has in store for us!

But despite our absence in the past few weeks, we’ve still made a lot of delicious food this past year! Take a look back with us!

Favorite Dishes of the Year:

♥ Ally: Tangy Moroccan Meatballs, French Onion Meatballs, & Southern Pimento Cheese

♥ Selim: Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread, White Wine Poached Shrimp, & Sultan Selim Kofte

Dish I Want to Improve:

♥ Ally: Shrimp Beignets – I think our dough to shrimp ratio isn’t quite perfect

♥ Selim: Southern Fried Chicken – we need to work on maintaining the proper oil temp for each batch

Best Surprise:

♥ Ally: Sabse Borani

♥ Selim: Fig Chutney

If We Had a Restaurant, This Would Be the First Thing on the Menu:

♥ Ally: Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle or Roasted Patatas Bravas with Super Garlic Aioli

♥ Selim: White Wine Poached Shrimp or Bahraini Chicken Machboos

Most Viewed Post:

Bay Scallop Risotto retains the top spot for another year!

Runner-Up (2nd most viewed post):

Cleveland Polish Boy

Number of Unique Visitors: 3,223

Number of Followers: 51

Number of Bucket List Items Checked Off: only 3 which is disappointing, but we did add to 12 more

Cuisines Sampled: Spanish, Cape Verdean, Cajun, Afghani, Southern, Bahraini, Cuban, Irish

Nationality of Blog Visitors: US, Canada, UK, Australia, Romania, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, China, France, Turkey, Denmark, India, UAE, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Barbados, Russia, Ireland, Chile, Philippines, Mexico, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Bangladesh, Japan, Poland, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Malta, Bahrain, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Antigua & Barbuda, Israel, Laos, Armenia, Tanzania, Kuwait, Qatar, Portugal, Egypt, Macau, Honduras, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Norway, Algeria, Nepal, Croatia, EU, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, & Guam! (This is perennially my favorite statistic! Hi everyone!👋🏼👋🏼)

2019 Goals:

  • Celebrate more food and worldwide holidays
  • Finally share Selim’s perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe 🍪🍪 (we’ve been saying this for 2 years)
  • Have more guest posts from our talented friends and family 👨‍🍳👩‍🍳
  • Keep working on the Culinary Bucket List
  • Explore more new-to-us ingredients and world cuisines 🌍🌎🌏
  • Move into our new house AND remodel the kitchen into our dream kitchen! (We’re finally going to have a gas range and windows!!!!)

Happy New Year and Welcome 2019!!! 🍾

Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread

Growing up, when we were having a special treat or the whole extended family was together, my grandmother would make us her ‘sticky buns.’ Now that she has passed away, my mom thankfully has taken on the responsibility of the sticky bun making! It was only after I was probably in my mid-20s that I realized what we called Grandmom’s sticky buns was what most people call monkey bread. You know what I’m talking about… those sweet, sugary, pull-apart balls of doughy deliciousness that taste of cinnamon and frequently have chopped nuts attached! (This is a point of contention in my family – nuts or no nuts?! The two parties are bitterly divided and therefore Grandmom and Mom make one dish with and one dish without the nuts. I’m on Team Nuts, for the record.) As I was writing this post, I decided to look up the history of monkey bread. Fun facts for your bank of useless knowledge: 

  • Monkey bread was termed such because we eat it using our fingers, pulling apart each chunk, which was thought to mimic the way monkeys eat. 
  • Alternative names include: monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread (I guess this is where we got our sticky buns moniker!), pinch-me cake, bubble bread, and Hungarian coffee cake.
  • The origin of this treat is probably the Hungarian-Jewish arany galuska, brought to this country by Eastern European immigrants in the late 1800s. 
  • American monkey bread differs from arany galuska as each dough ball is dipped in butter, which was not part of the original recipe. 

So there you have it – more knowledge than you ever knew you needed about monkey bread! Now this version is a savory adaptation of the sweet breakfast tradition. The base concept is the same; dough balls, dipped in the butter, stacked haphazardly prior to baking, and eaten pulled apart with fingers. While I love the original, this cheesy, herby version is amazing! It’s an amazing alternative to regular bread to accompany dinner, but it definitely would still work as a breakfast dish. 

Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread

(Adapted from Home Skillet, by Robin Donovan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted & divided
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 tbsp of melted butter, milk, and water. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Let the mixture sit for ~10 minutes, until frothy. 
  2. Stir in the flour and salt. As it comes together, switch to kneading the dough with your hands. Once you have a dough ball, place it in a clean bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for 90 minutes. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  4. Mix together the two cheese in another bowl. Remove 1/2 cup to another small bowl.
  5. Add the garlic and herbs to the main bowl and toss together. 
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until roughly 1/8th inch thick. Spread the cheese mixture onto half of the dough and then fold the other half over top. 
  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into small squares. Roll each square into a ball. 
  8. Using the remaining melted butter, brush butter on all surfaces of your cast iron skillet. Then dunk each ball into the butter prior to placing in the skillet. Layer the balls across the bottom of the skillet and then stack into further layers as needed. 
  9. Sprinkle the dough balls with the reserved cheese.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes in the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes prior to eating. Run a knife around the edges and then flip the skillet over onto your serving platter. 

Serves 4-6

Beef Barley Soup

A lot of our family and friends think because we have this food blog and enjoy ‘fancy’ dinner date nights, that we only eat complex, homemade dishes for every single meal. Hate to burst the bubble, but that is far from the truth. We obviously do love experimenting with new recipes and tend to take a little longer to prepare some complicated dishes than others might… but this is not every single day for us. We have a deep love for boxed Kraft mac & cheese, get giddy about our occasional trips to Taco Bell, and eat Trader Joe’s frozen pizza roughly once a week. And I (Ally) love Campbell’s canned soups. Go ahead, judge me, I don’t care. One of my all time favorite Campbell’s soups is Beef Barley. Since it’s getting to be quite chilly around here – it’s been below freezing a few mornings this past week! – I decided we definitely needed soup for dinner tonight. Beef barley just sounds so hearty, warm, and filling to combat the chill today!

Beef Barley Soup

(Adapted from several sources: Campbell’s, this blog, & this one)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 1/2 lb stew beef, cubed
  • Salt & pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 large carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 1 large potato, shredded
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup quick pearl barley
Instructions: 
  1. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot to a bit above medium. Once hot, sear the beef cubes, in batches if needed. Remove the beef to the side once seared on all sides.
  3. Add the garlic, onions, and carrots to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant and softened a bit.
  4. Shred the potato into the pot, followed by all of the remaining ingredients, except the barley, and including the set-aside beef. Bring to a boil and then lower to a light simmer.
  5. Cook for ~ 2 hours. Then add the barley and increase to a slightly more vigorous simmer for ~20-30 minutes until the barley is cooked.

Serves 6-8 as a main dish; more as a side

Weekend in Cleveland

October has been kind of a low volume blogging month for us. Honestly, we haven’t made a whole lot worth remembering. This is a little sad because there are so many good food holidays we should have been celebrating in October. (We’ve missed Noodle Day AND Pasta Day – though why those are two separate holidays is beyond me! We also bailed on Dessert Day, Gumbo Day, Pumpkin Pie Day, Taco Day, Red Wine Day, and Chocolate Cupcake Day ☹️ So many missed opportunities! We were also at an event on World Food Day, which I was hoping to make a yearly celebration after discovering what it was all about last year (see: Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha)).)

Enough about what we haven’t done this month. One thing we did this month was visit Selim’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. We love our visits to Cleveland for many reasons (family and friends chief among them 🖤), but we also always have excellent food! Cleveland is by far one of the most underrated food cities. Cleveland is definitely a city of immigrants, from the Central & Eastern Europeans of the 1900s to the Hispanic and Middle Eastern newer arrivers. And luckily, that creates a delicious melting pot of foods of all ethnicities.

We tried Brazilian food for the first time outside of those yummy, but kitchsy Brazilian steakhouses. Batuqui was delicious and definitely not kitschy, though Selim did have an amazing garlic-rubbed steak! We also stopped at Selim’s favorite Italian bakery, Presti’s, in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. And to round out the culinary highlights of the trip, Selim took me on my first milkshake date to Tommy’s. The milkshakes definitely live up to their reputation 😍

So, in conclusion, no recipe today, but some pictures of Selim with his favorite Cleveland treats!