Pumpkin Pisto

Pisto is the Spanish version of ratatouille. There are many versions of this dish, and this vegetable stew is sometimes used as a filling for empanadas. I am not usually a fan of ratatouille because I find that most restaurants or people cook the dish to death and the vegetables just end up a slimy mess. But when I found a recipe for pisto using pumpkin and butternut squash, I had to try it.

I used a Delicata pumpkin that I bought at the Orbanics market, and a butternut squash for this recipe. The pumpkin had a yellow flesh, that is not as sweet as the orange fleshed pumpkin we can buy here to use primarily in soup and couscous. I loved this recipe. It is full of flavor and goes well with chicken and lamb. I served it with roasted chicken with sumac, onion and pine nuts. You could also serve it as a main dish with rice.

Pumpkin Pisto

Serving Size: 4

Recipe from Moro East by Sam and Sam Clark

800g (1-3/4lb) peeled and seeded pumpkin or butternut squash or a combination of both, cut into 2cm (3/4 of an inch) chunks

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 large or 3 medium onions, roughly chopped

1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1 cm (1/3 of an inch) chunks

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

4 bay leaves, preferably fresh

1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

A few grates of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

12 tablespoons (180ml) passata

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar, mixed with 4 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

Sprinkle the pumpkin with the salt and set aside. In a large, deep frying pan (about 30cm or 11 inches in diameter), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and stir until the onions are soft and light brown.

Add the red pepper and saute for an additional 10 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves and rosemary, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin and reduce the heat; saute for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is barely soft. Add the oregano or marjoram, nutmeg, cumin and the passata. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender. Add the vinegar-water, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, with the toasted pine nuts.


Chicken with Garlic, Pinenuts, Raisins and Saffron

It is very rare that I buy a cookbook and want to make 90% of the recipes in the book….very rare. So, when Moro: The CookbookDavid Lebovitz recommended all three Moro cookbooks, I had to check them out. It took me about 2 minutes to decide to purchase all three:

Moro is a restaurant in London that specializes in Moorish cuisine, which has Moroccan and Spanish influences. It is owned by Sam and Sam (Samantha) Clark, who met at the River Cafe, married, and went on a three-month honeymoon in their camper-van to Spain, Morocco, and the Sahara desert. When they returned with a slew of ideas, they opened Moro in 1997 and have been enticing customers with their delicious offerings ever since.

So far, I have made two recipes from this cookbook and I can’t wait to make more. Even though there are some seafood and pork recipes in the cookbook, you can easily replace them with fish, lamb, beef, or chicken. There are also quite a number of vegetarian recipes in all three books, especially Moro East, which is based on the allotment they had at the famous Manor Garden Allotments, which were unfortunately bulldozed in 2007 to make way for the 2012 Olympics. The allotments were started in 1900 and had 80 plots which were owned by a diverse ethnic population. Some of the recipes in Moro East were inspired by the Clarks’ allotment neighbors from Turkey and Cyprus.

For Shabbat, I made a delicious chicken dish with saffron, whole garlic cloves, raisins and pinenuts. The sauce is creamy with a subtle hint of saffron. It is very important that you use high quality saffron for this dish. I served it with a Persian short-grained brown rice mix of herbs, pistachios, almonds, and raisins, and French green beans. It is easy to make and could even be made a day ahead.

Mr BT was in heaven over this dish. Now I have to convince him to take me to the not cheap (!) Moro restaurant next time we go to London.

Pollo Al Ajillo con Piñones y Pasas y Azafrán - Chicken with Garlic, Pinenuts, Raisins and Saffron

Serving Size: 4

From Casa Moro by Sam and Sam Clark

6 tablespoons olive oil

12 garlic cloves, peeled

1 medium chicken, cut into eighths

150ml (2/3 cup) light white wine or fino sherry or half white wine and half sherry

50 threads saffron, infused in 7 tablespoons boiling water

100g (2/3 cup) golden raisins, soaked in warm water

75g (1/2 cup) pinenuts, lightly toasted

Salt and pepper

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic, fry until golden, remove from the pan and set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (pepper only if using kosher chicken) and place the breasts, skin-side down in the pan. Cook on both sides until the skin is crispy and a deep golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the rest of the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown.

Add the white wine or sherry and the saffron in its liquid to the pan, shaking the pan until the oil and the wine are emulsified. Reduce to a simmer and cook the chicken legs and thighs for about 15 minutes. Add the chicken breasts, garlic, drained raisins, and pine nuts. Season with additional salt and pepper, and cook with the cover on for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the breasts are fully cooked.

The sauce should have the consistency of single cream. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water or reduce the sauce if it is too thin. Serve with rice or roasted potatoes and a salad or a green vegetable.


Happy as a Duck in Andalusian Sauce

Last Friday we were invited by a dear old friend of ours to a wine tasting in Har Adar, near Abu Gosh. It is a beautiful drive up to the Jerusalem Hills that always reminds me of Provence. Yossi and his lovely wife Dina, who makes lovely biscuits,  were our gracious hosts. Yossi, who writes a blog called Yossi’s Wine Page, invites vintners from boutique wineries around the country to do wine tastings about once a month at his home .

This month’s event was a tasting of wines from Ben-Shoshan winery at Kibbutz Bror Hayil in the South. The award-winning winery makes approximately 12,000 bottles a year which are sold mostly in wine boutiques. Yuval Ben-Shoshan and his adorable son Gefen (which means a grape vine) were showing off their delicious wines.Bror Hayil in the Sou

Yuval makes his wine from grapes grown in two completely parts of the country. One is Avdat, in the northern Negev desert, an area that 1500 years ago was the center of the ancient kingdom of the Nabataeans, who also built Petra in Jordan. In spite of the desert climate, the Nabataeans were famous for developing irrigation systems, including underground storage cisterns, that allowed them to farm the land successfully with very little rain water; and modern Israeli farmers have done very much the same thing except using modern technology. The other area is at Kfar Shamai, in the northern Galilee, which is one of the countries grape-producing regions.

The result is an outstanding Shiraz 2007, which won a bronze medal at the Israel Wine Awards this year, Cabernet Sauvignon Avdat, Cabernet Sauvignon Kfar Shamai, and a Cabernet-Merlot blend. We tasted the first three wines and came home with a bottle of Shiraz and Cabernet Avdat. The Shiraz was unusually light and fruity, and just right to drink a little cooler than room temperate, which is how it was served due to the heat of the hot Israeli sun beating down on us.

Mr BT’s birthday was last Sunday and I was lucky to find a whole duck on sale that I snapped up right away. I had never cooked a whole duck before, but I knew that I had to find something special to make for Mr BT’s special day. I found a recipe for duck with an Andalusian sauce where the duck is first marinated in a boiling marinade flavored with star anise and tumeric. It is served with an delicious sauce made of oranges, lemons, honey, and balsamic vinegar. I served the duck with pan-roasted potatoes and sauteed artichoke hearts and mushrooms. If I had served this dish in the winter, I would have served it over creamy polenta.

We toasted his birthday with the Ben-Shoshan Shiraz 2007. It was a perfect match to the sweet and sour Andalusian sauce.

For dessert, I served a light dessert of beautiful fresh figs with a drizzle of Provencal chestnut honey.

Roast Duck with Andalusian Sauce

Serving Size: 4

1.4 kg (3lb) whole duck

For Boiling Marinade:

1 quart of water

6 cloves garlic (skin on and bashed)

6 bay leaves

4 star anise

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon tumeric

For the sauce:

Juice and zest of 2 large oranges

Juice of 1 medium lemon

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1/2 a pint of chicken stock

60g (2oz) sultanas

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch

3-4 teaspoons cold water for slurry

For the boiling marinade: Put all of the ingredients in a tall pot, such as an asparagus steamer, and bring to the boil. Boil for ten minutes and then reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, cut the wings tips off the duck and make two cuts into the carcass, parallel to the wing bones. This will allow the duck fat to escape during roasting.

Suspend the duck, using a butcher's hook or similar into the neck over the pot, without letting it fall into the marinade. Using a small soup ladle, pour the marinade all over the duck. Keep doing this until the duck has a nice golden yellow color from the tumeric. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and dry for approximately one hour.

After the duck has dried, preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and roast the duck on a rack over a roasting tin of water for approximately one hour and a half. Check the duck half way through cooking because you may need to put a tent of aluminum foil over it to prevent the duck breast and wings from overcooking.

While the duck is roasting, prepare the sauce. Put all of ingredients in a small saucepan, except for the cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the sauce by half. Then, make a slurry of cornstarch and water, and whisk it into the sauce to thicken it. When the sauce is sufficiently thickened, take it off the heat and reheat it before serving.


Related Posts with Thumbnails