MOROCCAN TURKEY PIE WITH OLIVE OIL CRUST

Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here. A video summarizing important tips can be found here

We don’t eat sweets that much. I bake a lot but it all goes to departmental colleagues, senior citizens at our town center, and homeless meals. What is a baker to do, when a pandemic forces everyone into isolation and she has very limited outlets to share sweets?  She bakes savory stuff, that is. Like this crazy departure on Shepherd’s Pie, made lighter because the topping is cauliflower-based. The lightness is immediately neutralized by enclosing it in a pie crust. It all balanced out beautifully,  and we were both quite pleased with our dinner. Normally I would make a salad to go with it, but it felt like a complete meal without it.

 

MOROCCAN TURKEY PIE WITH OLIVE OIL CRUST
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for the pie crust:
250g all-purpose flour (260 grams)
1/8 teaspoon salt
50g olive oil (50 grams)
125 g cold water

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the olive oil, stir with a fork until the flour gets coated with it, forming a crumbly ness. Slowly add cold water and knead gently just until the dough starts to comes together.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate one hour before using.

Roll it over plastic wrap lightly coated with flour, then use it to cover a 9-inch pie pan of your choice. Freeze for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400F. Remove crust from the freezer, cover with saran wrap or parchment paper and add weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

for the filling:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 + 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 large carrots, cut in pieces
8 oz mushrooms cut in pieces
2 celery ribs, minced
1 + 1/2 tsp salt
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon harissa, or to taste

Brown the ground turkey in a large skillet using 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and seasoning with 1 tsp salt. Once the meat is brown, transfer to a bowl. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil and saute the carrots, shallot and mushrooms, sprinkling all the spices and the final 1/2 tsp salt over the veggies as they cook. Once the veggies start to get some color, add the harissa, the ground turkey reserved, and mix everything gently. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool it completely.

for the topping:
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
70g raw almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp paprika

Arrange the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket, cover, and steam for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Check after 12 minutes, if a fork goes through easily, stop the steaming.

Put the almonds, olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and paprika in a Vitamix type blender (or food processor) and add the steamed cauliflower. Blend, increasing the power until it gets very smooth and thickens a little.  Remove from the blender and reserve until ready to top the pie. Can be made a day in advance, keep it in the fridge.

Assemble the pie. Heat the oven to 400F. Add the turkey filling to the crust, spoon the cauliflower topping. If desired, add a pattern using the tines of a fork.

Bake for 30 minutes. If you like a darker topping run it under a broiler protecting the edges of the pie crust. Allow the pie to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you omit the pie crust, this would turn into a pretty low-carb meal, that will still be quite satisfying. Keep that option in mind, although then I think a small salad could be a nice touch. Just lightly coat a Pyrex pie dish with olive oil and add the cooled turkey mixture, spread the cauliflower topping and bake. Some grated cheese could be very nice, we usually opt for a meal that is low in saturated fat, so we skip it.

I am very pleased with the olive oil crust. There are many recipes in cookbooks and websites, some will instruct you to do it as a press-on crust, but I did not like that at all. I adjusted the amount of flour and fat to produce a dough with good consistency for rolling. As a general rule, olive oil crusts need to bake for 35 to 40 minutes total, so depending on the type of filling you have, how moist it is, you can blind bake it for 10 minutes as I did, or skip it all together. Make sure the total baking time does not go over 40 minutes, or the crust might get too tough. It is a nice option for those avoiding dairy or trying to reduce the level of saturated fat.

 

 

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APRICOT AND BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS

Simple to the limit. Very tasty. If you have a pressure cooker or the famous InstantPot, you can have this main dish at your table any night of the week. I got the idea for it from a delicious shredded chicken I made also under pressure. For this one, I changed the flavors and reduced the cooking time so that the pieces of chicken would still hold together.  Probably excellent with orange marmalade instead of apricot jam. Hey, go wild and try mango jam, if you have it around.

APRICOT AND BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

¼ cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 to 3 tsp fresh)

In a small bowl, whisk the jam and vinegar together until very smooth. Depending on how thick your jam is, add a small amount of warm water to help loosening the mixture a bit. Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker set over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides (do it in batches if needed).  Return all the pieces to the pot.

Pour the jam-vinegar mixture over the meat; add the thyme.  Add some water to bring the liquid about 1/3 of the heigh of the chicken pieces.  Lock the lid onto the pressure cooker and bring it to full pressure.  Cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure manually, if needed reduce the liquid by simmering for a few minutes.

Adjust seasoning and serve with your side dish of choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We enjoyed it with our favorite rice of the moment, easy Tahdig-Rice, which I blogged about in my latest Incredibly Simple series.  Some sauteed asparagus rounded our meal pretty nicely. If you like a bit more spice, add a touch of Harissa or Sriracha to the jam mixture. I intend to try that next time.

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CHERRY CHIPOTLE CHICKEN THIGHS

Oddly enough, this chicken recipe was born from a batch of French macarons. I know, how could it be? It turns out that I made a filling for macarons using white chocolate ganache and sour cherry jam. Quite a bit of jam was left in the jar, and I knew it would sit in the fridge at the risk of being forgotten. Why not put it to use in a savory recipe? I adapted bits from a few cookbooks, and came up with a pressure cooker version for chicken thighs that had some sweetness, some spice, some sourness, and what I love the most: that falling-apart texture.  I hope you give it a try.

CHERRY CHIPOTLE SHREDDED CHICKEN
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cherry jam
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

Place the tomatoes, jam, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, chipotle, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, and cloves in a blender. Blend and pour the smooth sauce in a pressure cooker.

Add the boneless chicken thighs, whole. Close the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) and bring to full pressure. Cook for 20 minutes,  release the pressure manually, and remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks (it should be very tender). 

Add the shredded meat back to the sauce, heat gently for a few minutes, adjust seasoning (you may need a bit more salt).  Serve over rice or the side dish of your choice. Also great as a filling for fajitas.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As a good Brazilian-American, I use my pressure cooker all year, but of course now that the temperature outside starts to fall down, this type of comfort food shows up more often in our menu. On weeknights, the pressure cooker is the best tool to have a meal with that aura of hours and hours in the making, materialize in the blink of an eye. Well, a few blinks. Not that many, though.

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MISO & SESAME ROAST CHICKEN WITH REVELATION QUINOA

It always fascinates me how little details, minor changes in dealing with an ingredient can change the outcome. In this post, the chicken goes from being roasted whole to flattened out – the famous “spatchcocking” method which sounds a lot naughtier than it is. It cooks faster and you get better browning of the skin . And the quinoa? First it is prepared as the instructions in the package tell you to, but then it gets roasted. I don’t call it revelation quinoa for nothing.

MISO & SESAME ROAST CHICKEN WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
4 tsp white miso
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely grated peeled ginger
1 chicken, butterflied
2 tsp sesame seeds
root vegetables of your choice, peeled and cut in 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
salt and black pepper to taste

Combine vegetable oil, 1 tsp sesame oil, miso, soy sauce, lemon juice and ginger in a small bowl. Place butterflied chicken in a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Add oil mixture, turning chicken to coat. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate overnight. One hour before roasting chicken, remove chicken from refrigerator.

Heat oven to 375°F. Distribute the veggies around the chicken. Season the chicken and veggies with salt and pepper. Cover baking pan with foil. Roast for one hour. After 40  minutes, uncover and baste the chicken and veggies with the juices that form at the bottom of the pan. Cover again and roast for another 20 minutes, increasing the temperature to 400 F.  Remove chicken from oven; remove foil. Baste with pan juices, drizzle with remaining 1 tsp sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Roast, uncovered, 20 minutes or until skin is golden, chicken is done and juices have caramelized.  Cut in pieces and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ROASTED RED QUINOA
(adapted from Mostly Plants)

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water or chicken broth
salt to taste
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Rinse quinoa with cold running water.  Drain well. Heat a non-stick sauce pan and add the quinoa, stirring often until it starts to toast. Once it gets fragrant and  you can see some darkening of the seeds, add 2 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

Heat oven to 400 F.  When the quinoa is cooked, transfer to a quart size baking sheet spreading as a layer. Add the olive oil and mix well. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, moving the seeds around a few times during roasting. Serve, and amaze yourself.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve made this chicken three times already, tweaking the temperature and timing to suit our taste. In Nigella’s version the whole thing is done in about one hour at a higher temperature, but I prefer the method I shared with you today.  The quinoa is just wonderful. I doubt I will have it any other way from now on. Ok, it does take longer, but what I’m doing now is cooking it in water (or broth), cooling it down and saving it in the fridge. Then it is a 20-25 minute job, perfect to do while the main dish is being prepared. It is all about texture, a real game changer.

As the weather cools down, two things happen. My mood takes a deep dive, and this type of meal shows up more often in our menu. Such is life. Yin and yang.

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CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES

Puff pastry turns any delicacy into something special. It is hard to beat the taste and texture of a nicely laminated dough. You can go sweet or savory, you can skip any additions, just form them as sticks, twist them around and enjoy plain or with a humble sprinkle of spices. Today I share a recipe for puff pastry squares using a classic Brazilian filling: chicken and hearts of palm.

CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for rough puff pastry:
(makes a little more than you’ll need)
345 g unsalted butter, frozen
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
300g all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp (to toss with grated butter)
80 g whole milk, cold
80 g water, cold (may not use it all)
1 egg for egg wash

for the filling:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lemon (to poach chicken)
salt and ground black pepper to poach chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
salt and ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
100 g hearts of palm, cut in ¼ inch rounds
100 g frozen peas (no need to defrost)
80 g cream cheese (full-fat)
Sriracha sauce
fresh cilantro to taste
1 lemon
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup whole milk

Mix in a large bowl the 300g flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Grate the butter using a food processor with a grating disk attachment. Toss it with 2 Tbsp flour and reserve.

Take 155 g of the grated butter and mix with the flour in the large bowl, tossing with your hands to form reasonably small crumbles. Keep the rest of the butter in the freezer. Add to the flour/butter mixture all the cold milk and half of the water. Make a smooth dough, trying to handle it as little as possible. Adjust with water and or more flour.

Roll it out as a rectangle, about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Add roughly 50 g of frozen grated butter to the center of the dough. Fold bottom half up, add 50 g more butter to the folded portion. Fold the top portion down, covering the butter. Turn the dough so that one open side is facing you. Roll it out as before, add the leftover grated butter exactly the same way. Fold and place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough as before, fold two more times without adding any more butter. Roll out as a rectangle and keep in fridge until filling is ready and cold.

Roll out about 1/3 of the dough (roughly 300 g) as a square a little bigger than 12 inches. Do the same for another third of the dough.  Cut 12 squares from each piece of dough, punching a star using a cookie cutter in the center of half the squares (they will be the top of the pastry).

Place the squares that will be the bottom over parchment paper. Add enough cool chicken filling, brush the sides with egg wash, place the top pastry and push the edges to close it down. Brush the top with egg wash and bake at 400F for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

FOR THE FILLING (can be made a couple of days in advance)
Poach the chicken breasts very gently in water seasoned with salt, pepper, soy sauce and lemon juice. I like to bring the water to almost a boil, turn the heat off, and leave the chicken in the pan for 15 minutes. Keep in mind it will cook longer in the pie.  When chicken is poached and cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers or a couple of forks. Reserve.

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper in a large skillet until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken breast, tomatoes, tomato paste, hearts of palm pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Dissolve the flour in the milk, whisking well to avoid lumps. Pour into the meat mixture and heat until it starts to thicken.  Add the cream cheese, then the frozen peas and mix everything gently. Add the Sriracha sauce, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Add the minced cilantro, lemon juice and allow the mixture to cool completely before assembling the pastries.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The filling for these puff pastry squares is very similar to this one of my recent blogging past. It is a classic component of Brazilian recipes like pasteis, empadinhas and pies. The recipe will provide you with leftovers that you can enjoy over rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or if you are truly daring, try it as a topping for pizza or flatbreads. Add a bit more cheese on top for good measure.

You will have a little bit of puff pastry leftover. You can cut in small squares, fill mini-muffin pans and play with other fillings like….

Mushroom duxelles!  Or save in the freezer for future important experiments in the kitchen. It does freeze beautifully…

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ANOTHER TWISTED SISTER OF THE SHEPHERD’S PIE

Gastronomic heresy alert: I am calling Shepherd’s Pie a concoction made with ground turkey and cauliflower topping. And what’s even worse, I’ve committed this sin before an I am doing it all over again, without a hint of shame.  This preparation is filling but moderately so. It won’t let you go into a state of total lethargy once you move away from the table. It is also low in carbs and saturated fat, in case you worry about those details. I used a trick quite popular in keto-type recipes to give ground turkey a more pleasant texture upon cooking. It involves baking soda and a few minutes of your time. Absolutely worth it. Read on the comments for full explanation on the baking soda trick.

TURKEY SHEPHERD’S PIE
(adapted from several sources)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head cauliflower, core removed, florets cut in pieces
½ cup water
Salt and pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pound 93 percent lean ground turkey
¼ teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tablespoon harissa
¾ cup homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan until ver hot. Add cauliflower and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Pour 1/2 cup water, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until the cauliflower is fully tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, and process until smooth. Add the egg and paprika, and process a few more seconds. Reserve.

Prepare the ground turkey: in a bowl, add the meat, one tablespoon water, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and baking soda, mixing everything together. Set aside for 15 minutes. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Make sure to use a skillet that can go under the broiler.  Add mushrooms and celery and cook until no liquid remains.   Stir in harissa and cook for a few more minutes.

Add broth, carrots, and Herbes de Provence,  and bring to a simmer.  Add the turkey meat, breaking it up with a fork.  Cover and cook until turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat every few minutes. Whisk cornstarch and the 2 tablespoons water together in small bowl, then stir mixture into filling and continue to simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Pat the meat mixture to make it leveled, and spread the cauliflower puree all over the surface.  If you like, use tines of fork to make a pattern of ridges on the surface. Place skillet under the broiler and broil for about 10 minutes, if necessary move the pan around to get homogenous color on the surface.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Quite often ground turkey develops a dry, unpleasant texture when cooked, unless you use alternative methods such as pressure cooking, or the crock pot low and slow for a long time. The addition of baking soda changes everything, by raising the pH. This has two benefits: it reduces the interaction between protein molecules in the meat (by a mild denaturing effect) and accelerates browning. Since the proteins are not able to interact with each other very efficiently, they acquire a more tender texture. It is important to not overdo it. You don’t want the meat to get all mushy, it is a delicate balance. In other words, don’t add the baking soda and walk away for a couple of hours.

This recipe can be assembled all the way and kept in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, place it covered in a low oven to warm up, then uncover and run under the broiler.  Leftovers are superb, and as usual, they showed up as my lunch two more times that week.

Note added after publication: a dear friend of mine from UK brought to my attention that a lesser sin would have been to call this a Twisted Sister of the Cottage Pie, as that at least involves other kinds of meat, whereas the Shepherd is always made with ground lamb.  So there you go, a bit more culinary trivia for us all.  I will keep my title, since one sister was already out there… (wink, wink)

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AFRICAN PEANUT STEW WITH SMOKED TURKEY

Fact: I’ve had this recipe waiting since 2005 when a friend raved about it. I know that for sure because I was cleaning files in my computer and stumbled on this folder of “must make recipes.” with a date of May 2005. Fourteen years. Talk about taking my sweet time. To make things even more interesting, I did not include the recipe, but something that at the time seemed enough for me to retrieve it. Mean Chef’s Favorite Chicken Peanut Stew.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I have no idea which recipe he was referring to, but found a bunch of possibilities online and from that I came up with this version that turned out absolutely blog-worthy. I used turkey breast that we smoked ourselves, but you can go with the more authentic version that calls for chicken thighs.

AFRICAN PEANUT STEW WITH SMOKED TURKEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

1/2 turkey breast, smoked (or 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skinless)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 piece of ginger, minced (about 2 tsp)
salt and pepper
2 sweet potatoes, cut in large pieces
3 cups chicken stock
1 can small diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen, about 15 ounces)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2 tsp ground coriander

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. If using chicken thighs, brown them well on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go, and adding more oil if needed. Remove the chicken to a bowl as you work with the other ingredients.

Add the fennel pieces and the ginger to the pan, a touch more of salt and pepper, saute until fragrant.  Add the sweet potatoes, stir a few times, then add the chicken stock, stirring the contents to release any bits stuck to the pan.

Add the tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, and coriander, mix well to combine. If using chicken thighs, add them now. Cover the pan and cook for about one hour at gentle heat, until chicken is cooked through.  If using smoked turkey (or any type of pre-cooked poultry), cook the sweet potatoes until tender, then add the pieces of meat and simmer everything together for 10 minutes or so.

If using chicken thighs, when they are tender, remove the pieces, shred the meat, discard the bones. Add the meat back to the stew and simmer it all together for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning, add cilantro right before serving.
.

SMOKED TURKEY BREAST

1 turkey breast, bone-in
1 (64-oz.) bottle apple cider
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 rosemary sprigs
10 fresh sage leaves
1 hickory wood chunk
1 black walnut wood chunk

Make the brine in advance to give it time to cool completely. Bring cider all ingredients up to wood chunks to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Cool completely.

Place turkey in brine; cover and chill for 12 hours.

Heat smoker to 250 F. Place wood chunks receptacle. Remove turkey from brine, and dry with paper towels. Smoke turkey, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 225° and 250°, for around 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 165°. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I know most people do not have an electric smoker, but please don’t let that prevent you from trying this recipe, go for chicken thighs and it will be equally delicious. I must say, however, that the stuff that we smoke at home is so much better than anything bought at the store, that it makes the investment worth it. Salmon is the best example, but turkey comes a close second. I would not dream of making this stew using store-bought smoke turkey. It is way too harsh and intense, with a very dry texture. In this dish we can detect some hint of smoke in the background but it is subtle and delicate.

We both thought that this would be a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving for two or four people. You know, when roasting the whole bird seems like unnecessary trouble. It has the perfect combination of flavors. Add some sage instead – or in addition to – coriander, and you will be all set with a great meal for that special holiday of November. I intend to remind my readers about it when the time comes… but first, there is a lot of Spring and Summer to enjoy and I CANNOT WAIT.

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