Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shanks

Great news, not only is it summer, but I have finished my undergrad and have 3 months before my first year in law school commences.  I’ve got a summer job that I’m quite excited about, who would’ve thought employment would feel like such a luxury!?!  If you are thinking, “hmmm, no blog posts since November, I wonder if she still knows how to cook?” the answer is yes, I just have spent very little time cooking anything shareable.

So, although the weather is getting warmer, here in B.C., we still have the occasional wet and chilly day and this is the perfect meal for just that.  I inquired as to its origins and my mother scoured her cookbooks and the internet to no avail.  So while I am sure this faux-tagine is not a family recipe, I can only credit my mom for introducing it to me.

A Pat & A Pinch - Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shank

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shank

3 tbsp. cumin seeds

3 tbsp. coriander seeds

4 12-14 oz. lamb shanks

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ c. olive oil

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 1” piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 large yellow onion, grated

1 large pinch saffron

1 c. white wine

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 ½ tsp. ground cloves

2 whole bay leaves

1 ¼ c. dried apricots chopped

4 c. chicken stock

1 tbsp. butter

Toast the cumin seeds in a skillet for about 4 minutes, stirring a few times.  Grind the cumin seeds and coriander seeds coarsely with a mortar and pestle.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.  Put the olive oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium-high heat.  Brown the lamb on all sides, 10-15 minutes.

Remove the lamb, pour off the fat and add the carrots and celery.  Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until just beginning to soften.  Add the fresh ginger, onion, and saffron and cook until the onion is translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine, ground cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon stick, ground ginger, ground cloves, bay leaves, and dried apricots.  Cook 5 minutes.

Place shanks back in the pan and add the stock.  Cover the pan and cook in 350F oven for about 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender and falling off the bone.  Remove the lamb shanks and cover with foil.  Set aside and keep warm.

Skim the fat off and strain liquid into a saucepan.  Discard solids.  Reduce the braising liquid to a saucy consistency by slowly simmering.  Time will vary widely, can take as long as 20 minutes.  Adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper, add butter.

Serve with couscous and a nice seasonal green vegetable.

Zucchini Lemon Thyme Cheese Tart

At a visit to the local Saturday market, we were offered a taste of this delicious tart made by Hastings House pastry chef, Rosemary Harbrecht.  The pastry was a perfect compliment to the freshness of the cheese and zucchini.  Rosemary gave us a copy of this recipe and we made it for lunch that day and it was a family hit. Enjoy!

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1 1/2 c. flour

5 oz. cold unsalted butter

kosher salt

1/2 tsp. vinegar

1 1/2 lbs. zuchinni cut into 1/8 inch slices

black pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

8 oz. chèvre (original recipe called for 4 ounces each of chèvre and cream cheese)

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. lemon zest

By hand or in a food processor, mix flour, butter, 3/4 tsp. salt until crumbly.  Add the vinegar and 3-4 tbsp. cold water just until dough comes together.  Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic to chill for 20 minutes.

Roll out the dough to about 10 or 11 inches in diameter.  It should be about a 1/4 inch thick.  Place the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for at least another 15 minutes.

Toss the zucchini slices with a teaspoon of salt and let it drain for about 20 minutes.  Gently press out more moisture with paper towel.  Then toss the zucchini in a bowl with pepper and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Mix the cheese with the herbs, zest, and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread this over the pastry leaving a small uncovered border.  Arrange the zucchini slices in overlapping circles.  Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes until the zucchini is golden around the edges.

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Aguadito de Pollo

This is a Peruvian chicken soup that I made for dinner tonight, adapted from A Cozy Kitchen.  I’d hoped it would be more green for the photos but no such luck tonight.  Nevertheless, it is a worthy recipe.  A little spice, the heartiness of chicken and rice, and the freshness of sweet corn make this ideal for any season.  I hope you enjoy it as well!

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2 c. cilantro leaves & stalks (yes the stalks have just as much flavour)

2 serrano pepper, halved and seeded

4 garlic cloves (2 whole and 2 minced)

4 1/4 c. chicken broth, divided

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in (or a combination of chicken thighs and drumsticks)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced (I had none sadly but for the colour, I wish I had)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 c. white rice

1/2 c. green peas

1 ear of corn, cut off the cob

Salt to taste

1 lime, wedged

Add cilantro leaves, serrano peppers, 2 whole garlic cloves and 1/4 cup of chicken broth to a blender. Blend until mixture is thoroughly combined. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, carefully add chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin-side down. Cook on first side for 4-5 minutes, and until skin is crisp and slightly browned. Flip on second side and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add yellow onion to the remaining oil and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Next, add red bell pepper and ground cumin, allowing to cook for 1-2 more minutes, followed then by the minced garlic. Add the rice and cilantro liquid mixture to the pot and mix, being sure to completely coat the rice. Add the chicken back to the pot and cover with the remaining 4 cups of chicken broth. The broth should just cover the chicken. Cook for 20-30 minutes, and until rice is fully cooked.

When you’re ready to serve, add salt to taste if needed. Mix in corn and peas shortly before serving.

Add a few cilantro leaves to each bowl of soup, along with a few wedges of lime.

Soy Sauce Marinated Cucumber Salad

This dish was my favourite way of eating veggies as a picky little girl.  It’s simple, quick to prepare, and a tasty side to anything you toss on the BBQ.

2 tbsp soy sauce

1.5 tsp white sugar

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 english long cucumber halved, and seeded and thinly sliced (about 1 mm)

sesame seeds

Place the slices of cucumber in a dish or bowl.  Mix together the soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar and pour over.  Use a fork to gently ensure that the cucumber slices are coated and refrigerate for 3 hours, occasionally re-coated slices in their marinade as the ones near the bottom will absorb the most. Serve cold as a side garnished with sesame seeds.

Preparation time: approx. 15 minutes (if you are a slow cutter like me)

Note: you can replace the white sugar with brown if you need to and although I haven’t tried it myself, I imagine this would work with Tamari or Bragg’s for a gluten free version.