Tag Archives: Pistachio

Braised Pomegranate Chicken with Israeli Couscous

Apologies to all who tried to access my blog over the last few days and were unable to connect. I’ve had some technological issues, something about exceeding the allowable CPU’s and plugins not properly updated. Sadly, my skill-set does not extend to understanding the issues much less fixing them. I turned my problem over to the talented Hillary Little, and put my talents to work on problems I can solve.

I spent the better part of the week perfecting pomegranate braised chicken. I already have one pomegranate chicken recipe on the blog, and while it’s very delicious, it’s been in my weekly dinner rotation for over 7 years now and I’m bored with it. The chicken is braised in a tomato based sauce, enhanced with some pomegranate molasses. I really wanted a more vibrant, pronounced pomegranate flavour.

In my quest to perfect pomegranate chicken, I made it several times this week. In round one, I loaded up on pomegranate molasses in the braising liquid. The finished sauce was way too bitter. Strike one. I also had the brilliant idea of making it a one pan dish and added the uncooked Israeli couscous to the pan, with the browned chicken and braising liquid.  By the time the chicken was done, the couscous was too mushy. Strike two.

In round three, I used less pomegranate molasses and added some white wine and chicken stock to round out the braising liquid. It was better than round one, but the pomegranate flavour was really muted. Strike three.

A quick web search revealed an epicurious.com recipe that cleverly used pomegranate juice as the braising liquid. Wish I’d thought of that! As the chicken braisedin the oven, the juice reduced down to a thick, rich, sweet-tart sauce. Exactly what I was trying to achieve.

I started with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I really wanted the extra flavour that braising on the bone would bring. Season the chicken liberally with salt and paprika and put it in the skillet on high heat, skin side down. Leave it alone for a good 5-8 minutes to give it a chance to really get brown. There’s flavour in the brown. 
Remove the chicken and pour off some of that rendered fat. Saute the onions until light brown. Cumin and cinnamon add great depth of flavour and ground pistachios add body and texture to the sauce.
 I used a combination of pomegranate juiceand chicken stock for the braising liquid. Vegetable stock or water would also be fine. 
Israeli couscous is the perfect starch to sop up all that braising liquid. I added tons of fresh mint and Italian parsley to give it a lively herbal note. Toasted chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds added crunch. A squirt of lemon juice and big glug of extra virgin olive oil brought it all together.

Click here to print recipe for Braised Pomegranate-Pistachio Chicken Thighs.

Click here to print recipe for Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate and Pistachio.

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Dipped Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

cookies and milk 2This is a tale of cookie evolution. These sweet beauties started off their short life as Cheddar Pistachio Biscuits. I had envisioned them as a little nibble to have with a glass of Prosecco over the holidays. I thought they would be similar to the Cheddar Biscuits I made a few years ago, which were met with rave reviews by my wine swilling  sipping girls weekend friends. I baked up a batch of the Cheddar Pistachio biscuits and was kind of horrified by the results. The orange cheddar clashed horribly with the green pistachios and offended my highly tuned sense of aesthetics. I could deal with the ghastly appearance if the flavours were good, but they just tasted so odd, because they were neither sweet or savoury, but rather a muddled in-between. It just confused the palate. With blessings by my tasting panel (husband and child #2), they got tossed.

Being December, I decided to wholeheartedly enmbrace the sweet route and make a pistachio shortbread cookie. And because December is all about excess, (we have January to practice our moderation skills after all!) I dipped these in melted bittersweet chocolate and rolled them in some finely chopped pistachios. The inspiration for this recipe came from a 2004 Bon Appetit recipe for hazelnut shortbread sticks. They rolled the dough into little fingers, baked and then dipped them. I sped the whole process up by turning these into slice and bake cookies.mise en placerolling logs of doughslicing cookiesdippingEach cookie is heavily studded with coarsely chopped pistachios, so that each bite delivers crunch. The final dunk into the bittersweet chocolate provides a perfect balance for the richness of these sweet and buttery cookies. cookies 625 sq

Click here to print the recipe for Chocolate Dipped Pistachio Shortbread.

cooling on rack 625 sq

 

Pistachio Crusted Halibut and Feeling Like an Imposter.

At the beginning of April, I dashed off a hurried post about Alice’s New Classic Macaroons. I was rushing because I had a million things to do to get ready to travel to Toronto for Passover. I flew to Toronto on a Friday morning. Just before we took off, I checked my Blackberry to see if there were any messages for me. My inbox was empty. An hour later, when we landed, I turned my Blackberry back on and was shocked to see that I had over 76 emails in my inbox.

My first thought was that someone near and dear to me had been in a terrible accident or had a fatal heart attack. But as I scrolled through the messages, I realized that none of them were from anyone I knew. Most of them were from strangers telling me that they liked my latest post on macaroons.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how all these people had seen this post. In a normal day, I usually get about 225 hits on my blog. When I checked my blog stats later that day I was gobsmacked to see that over 2900 people had viewed my latest post. Yikes, I’d gone viral. Visions of book deals and television appearances began dancing in my head! I slowly floated down to earth when I realized what had happened. I had been “Freshly Pressed.” My blog host is WordPress. Each weekday, about ten new blog posts from over 450,000 posts are selected to be featured on the Freshly Pressed section of their WordPress.com homepage. I was one of the chosen!

For the next two weeks, each day, my Blackberry pinged repeatedly to tell me that I had another new follower. For those of you who don’t know what this means, simply put, a follower is someone who as decided that they like your blog so much that they want to be notified by e-mail every time you post a new blog entry. I must admit it was a bit unsettling to discover that that all these new people were “following” me. It was hard to resist the urge to look over my shoulder for them. I felt like such an imposter. These people were following me and I had nowhere to lead them.

Eventually I got over myself and posted a lovely entry about Farinata. Then I was gearing up to write about pistachio crusted halibut and somehow managed to injure my back. Unable to sit or stand without pain shooting down my leg, I crawled into bed. I found myself wishing, for the very first time in my life, that I had been born a male. Sitting down to pee was so painful. I have perfected the semi squat with very minimal splash. Thinking about patenting this position!

I’m not sure if it is a pinched nerve or a disc problem. I had an MRI today so I should get more information soon. I am on day 7 of bed rest and am finally able to prop myself up to type, so I thought I’d share this yummy halibut recipe with you.

I have been making this recipe for several years now. It is my go to recipe for any white fish. I never seem to tire of eating it. The crunch of the pistachio and cornmeal crust contrast so perfectly with the moist flaky halibut. The tangy yogurt-cucumber sauce is a perfect accompaniment. This recipe was created by the incredible grillmeister, Chris Schlesinger . His book “Thrill of the Grill” is like a grilling bible to many.

The fish is served with a spicy yogurt sauce. The heat in this cooling yogurt sauce comes from Maras pepper, a dried Turkish red pepper, that has a medium balanced lingering heat. I was unable to find it, so I used Aleppo pepper instead. Aleppo peppers come from Syria and they pack a moderate heat, with fruity undertones, mildly reminiscent of cumin. You could also put in a pinch of cayenne. The remaining sauce ingredients are lemon, yogurt, dill, scallions and cucumber. I like to remove the seeds from the cucumber, as they make the sauce too watery. A small teaspoon makes seed removal quite easy.

The pistachios for the crust need to be chopped quite fine or you will have problems getting the coating to stick to the fish. The halibut gets soaked in milk for about 30 minutes before breading. This is done to get rid any really strong fish odours. While halibut is mild, unless you live next to the ocean, chances are you are not buying just caught fish. The milk soak just refreshes the fish, sort of like when we shower after working out, to refresh us.

The fish goes into a hot pan coated with some olive oil. Once it is browned on both sides, it gets popped into a hot oven for the last bit of cooking.

Click here to print recipe for Pistachio-Crusted Halibut with Spicy Yogurt.