Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Dinner: I'm talkin' Moroccan! Plus, the best hummus on the planet.

Those of you who've been reading this blog for awhile know that making Sunday dinner is one of my favorite rituals. I love to dream up something involved, do the shopping, find just the right wine, and then dive into the prep work, listening to singalong songs and having a cocktail in the process. Tonight I'm going Moroccan, trying a beef and green olive tagine with an Israeli cous cous side. But before the main event, I'm serving The World's Best Hummus, created by Hanna Anki, Owner and Chef of Hanna's Italian Mediterranean Restaurant in San Rafael. I twisted his arm for the recipe and now it's on frequent rotation chez moi. Hanna is Jordanian and so it makes sense he knows a thing or two about hummus. His version is insanely tasty, with a zesty citrusy edge, fragrant toasted pine nuts and jalapeño garlic gremolata on top. It's easy to make in under 20 minutes and it's beyond satisfying. But consider yourself warned. You will be ruined for every other hummus after sampling it. Simply put, can't touch this.

So, to begin, go find your cute polka-dot apron. You know the one, the black and red number with flamenco frills on the bottom. Now put on some dreamy music to set the mood. Iron & Wine feels right. And pour yourself a glass of that Malbec you love so much. Now you're ready.

You'll need:

1 12 oz can organic garbanzo beans
3/4 c lemon juice
3/4 c tahini
1/4 c cold water
2 tspn olive oil
2 oz pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeño

Boil garbanzos in their own water for 10 minutes.
Drain water and place hot ‘bonzos, in blender.
(Note to self: start new band called “Hot Bonzos”)
Add lemon juice and cold water. Blend until finely puréed.
Mix blended ingredients with tahini in bowl.
Add water and lemon juice to taste.
Pour onto plate, spread evenly.
Put olive oil in pan and toast pine nuts.
Make gremolata of finely chopped parsley, jalapeno and garlic.
Pour hot pine nuts and oil over hummus. Top with gremolata.
Serve with toasted persian bread, naan or pita.

Et, voila! Or as one feeble coworker wrote in an email to me some years back: "Wa-la!" (One wonders why these types always reside in upper management.)

As for the Moroccan meal, I've not yet begun the process so I'll share another one I made recently after my sis-in-law forwarded me the recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's blog, GOOP. It's a recipe that Gwynnie apparently enjoyed while dining with Mario Batali at his home. I have no idea why she's on that show traipsing around the world with him when we would so much rather watch Bourdain crisscrossing the globe, eating pig's colons and cussing it up. Anyway, you'll be using all kinds of delicious ingredients like preserved lemons, saffron and cinnamon. And you'll cook them in a big mélange like this:

And your house will smell like heaven.

And when you're done, your work will look like this.

The following is lifted, 100%, from Gwynnie's blog, so please credit her--or actually Mario Batali--with the below. I also added slivers of medjool dates to offset the incredible tartness of the preserved lemon.

Chicken with Onions, Lemon and Saffron

This chicken dish is easy to make but has complex flavors. Finishing it with the preserved lemons and cilantro garnish is inspired.

TIME: 1 hour
1 whole chicken, cut into 12 pieces (leave skin on)
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour seasoned with 1 tablespoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (NO, GWYNNIE, NO! The o.o. burns, so use a high-heat oil like Safflower!)
3 large Spanish onions, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
2 whole lemons, cut into paper thin slices
1 large fennel bulb, sliced 1/4" thick
12 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1/2 cup green olives
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon hot pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika, available from
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup dry white wine (such as Albariño)
1 bunch cilantro, washed
1 whole preserved lemon, flesh removed and rind sliced into paper thin slices (available from
1/4 cup pomegranate pips

Preheat oven to 425°F. Rub the chicken pieces with coarse salt, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Aggressively season chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground pepper all over and then dredge them in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large, wide, heavy pot over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Place half of the chicken pieces skin side down into the hot oil and cook for eight to ten minutes or until golden brown and crispy, swirling the oil and rendered fat around the pot every minute or two. Turn the chicken and cook for two minutes on the second side and remove to a warm plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Add the onions, fresh lemon slices, fennel, garlic, olives, saffron, pimentón and cinnamon to the pot and cook until softened and golden, about eight to ten minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Place chicken pieces and drippings from the plate into the onion bed, pushing them so that they’re almost covered with the onion mixture, but with the skin still above the surface of the moist and delicious morass. Place the whole pot, uncovered, into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile tear the cilantro into 1" pieces, toss with the preserved lemon slices and pomegranates and set on the table in a nice bowl. Remove the chicken and serve immediately from the pot, pinching a bit of the cilantro salad over each portion.


Anonymous kathyfb@ medjool dates said...

This is great. I had thought about making Humus a couple of times, but never got around to looking for a recipe. Now without effort and without even looking for it I found it ! Thanks for Sharing.

10:00 AM  

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