Kefta Meatball Tagine

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The whole name of this recipe is Kefta Meatball Tagine in Tomato Sauce with Eggs. It’s from the cookbook Morocco, written by Jeff Koehler, published in 2012. I think I bought the cookbook because of the stunning photo on the cover, which is a beet and potato soup.

The subtitle describes this book as “a culinary journey with recipes from the spice-scented markets of Marrakech to the date-filled oasis of Zamora.”

From the book, “Tagine is the name of the dish as well as the round, shallow-based terra-cotta (clay or ceramic) casserole with a tall, pointed, conical lid. The lid fits into the base’s grooved rim and acts as a closed chimney. The steam rises and condenses on the wall of the lid, and the moisture falls back onto the simmering food, preventing the loss of moisture or flavor. Tagines are perfect for slow cooking, whether over an ember-filled brazier or the low to medium heat on a stove.”

There is some prepping to do if you’ve just purchased a tagine, similar to seasoning a cast-iron skillet. But care must be taken always to not overheat the tagine or it will crack. Medium direct heat is the maximum suggested for using a tagine on the stove.

Also from the book, “To season a tagine, submerge the base and lid in water for at least 2 hours (overnight if not glazed). Remove and let dry completely. Brush the inside of the base and lid with olive oil. For an unglazed tagine, paint the entire vessel with oil. Place in a cold oven and turn on to 350 degrees. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and allow the tagine to slowly, and completely, cool. Season the tagine again if it goes unused for a number of months.”

Which is probably what happened to my first tagine. I hadn’t used it for a while, and didn’t realize I should re-season it, so the bottom cracked.

I recently decided to purchase one again. Because I love the look of La Chamba cookware, I purchased a La Chamba tagine. Seasoning directions were included.

This recipe is reminiscent of shakshuka, with the eggs cooked in red sauce, but then, with meatballs?!! I just had to make it.

Kefta Meatball Tagine in Tomato Sauce with Eggs
printable recipe below

1 1/4 pound ground beef, not learn
1/2 medium red onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
Heaped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heaped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups canned peeled whole Italian plum tomatoes, seeded, with juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs

In a mixing bowl, add the meat, onion, one of the garlic cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, parsley, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and blend into a consistent, smooth paste.


Taking spoonfuls of the mix, roll meatballs that are about 1 1/4” in diameter. There should be about 36 total.


In a food processor, using quick pulses, purée the tomatoes and their juice. (I used tomato sauce I’d made from my fresh tomatoes.)

In a tagine, add the olive oil and tomatoes, season with salt, and cook over medium-low heat until deep red and thicker, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining garlic, spices, and herbs.

Gently set the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, gently turning the meatballs with a pair of spoons until browned on all sides.

Dribble in 1/4 cup of water, loosely cover, and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. The tomato sauce should be a little loose. Add a bit more water if necessary to keep the sauce loose.

Make four spaces between the meatballs and gently crack the eggs into the tagine. Cover and cook until the eggs set, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

I served with a little bit more chopped parsley and cilantro, as well as a flatbread on the side.


 

I didn’t make my own flatbread, I purchased pita bread.

Wow this is so good, just as expected. The spices make this dish, as do the herbs.

Of course, you don’t need a tagine to make this dish, so don’t worry if you don’t own one. Use a braiser or deep skillet.

 

Chicken with Chick Peas, Tomatoes, and Chorizo

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You all know that I’m kind of a stubborn gal. Trends of all kinds send me in the opposite direction. I did love bell bottoms, but I was young and silly then. I will never get long pointy fingernails that seems de rigeur these days. I’m too practical. Besides I’d mostly like slice my eyeballs.

When it comes to food, I’m the same, although I’m the first to admit that I’ve been wrong. I married a guy with an orange crock pot. Never used it. Now they’re called slow cookers. I bought one and use it. Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes were on every menu in the 80’s, so none for me. Very silly. And then there was cauliflower rice. Made my eyes roll, but the recipe I made was really good! Bowls? Why does food have to be in bowls? I’ll never have an instapot, but that’s mostly cause I don’t need anything insta anymore with no kids at home.


Which brings me to when I first started noticing tray bakes and sheet pan bakes and the sort. Even my beloved Nigella put food baked in a jelly roll pan on Instagram. Really? A jelly roll pan is just a shallow baking dish!!!

Once again, I broke down once I saw the cookbook, The Roasting Tin, by Rukmini Iyer. It’s “simple one dish dinners.” Which I’m assuming are different than one pot dinners?!! Sorry, I can’t help myself.

The Roasting Tin, below left, was published in 2017, followed in 2018 by The Green Roasting Tin.

To be fair, I bookmarked a number of good sounding recipes in the cookbook. The recipes are easy and I trust that the main ingredients come out of the oven all cooked properly, because the authors seems quite popular. One pot tray-bake meals do cut out any preliminary steps like sautéing or browning or par-boiling.

This is the recipe I chose to make first.

Chicken with Chorizo, Chick Peas, and Tomatoes

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
100 grams or 3.5 ounces chorizo, roughly chopped
1 – 400 gram tin of chickpeas, drained
1 – 400 grams or 14 ounce tin of tomatoes
300 milliliter or 10 ounces water
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1.4 kilograms or 3 pounds chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F. Place the onion, garlic, rosemary, chorizo, chickpeas and tomatoes in a roasting tin, and use the water to rinse out the tomato tin before pouring it in with everything else. Season well with salt and pepper.


Arrange the chicken thighs over the tomato mixture, and rub with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, then transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes.

Turn the heat up to 200 degrees C or 400 degrees F and roast for a further 50 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.

Taste the sauce, season as needed with salt and black pepper, and serve hot.

So, have I ever in my million years of cooking thrown purple onions in with sweet potatoes when roasting? Sure. Have I ever cooked chicken and sausages in the same roasting pan? Of course.

However, this book does have some unique ideas, and I can’t deny the fact that it is fun to cook a whole meal in a “tray” with minimal preparation and mess!

Although if you noticed, I did use a roasting pan. My jelly-roll pans warp when they’re in the oven, which would have created a terrible mess.

I’m sure the author will forgive me for not using a tray.

Tomato Basil Soup

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There was a little bistro here in my town – a sandwich, soup, and salad kind of place. It was successful, but the owners eventually retired and moved to Texas to be closer to their extended family.

The one thing I always ordered was their tomato basil soup. It was rich, tomatoey, and perfumed with sweet basil. And I don’t typically order soup at restaurants.


This is my attempt to recreate something hopefully similar, and definitely good, based on the following criteria.

1. I believe in using good quality canned tomatoes. Summer fresh tomatoes are lovely, but can lack in sweetness, or worse yet – can be tart.

2. I’m adding a carrot to provide a sweet boost, something I learned from making an Italian tomato tart.

3. I’m including a few sun-dried tomatoes for sweetness; they also help thicken.

4. Dried basil goes into this soup. I know that it seems unsophisticated, but I feel both fresh and dried herbs have their places in cooking.

Tomato Basil Soup
printable recipe below

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
2 – 28 ounce cans San Marzano whole tomatoes, or other high quality brand
6 sun-dried tomato halves, jarred in oil
1 tablespoon (or more) dried sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces heavy cream

Melt the butter in a large enameled pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for about 5 minutes.


Add the garlic halves and stir for about 30 seconds, then pour in the canned tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.

Simmer the tomato mixture for at least 30 minutes, uncovered. Cook longer if there’s still too much liquid; you’ll be adding cream later.

Stir in the sweet basil and salt, and season to taste.

Let the soup cool. Then pour the soup into a large blender jar, along with the cream.

Return the puréed soup to the pot and heat through before serving.

Even with the cream, the soup remains tomato-red, and definitely rich in flavor.

If more richness and creaminess are desired, you can always add a little sour cream or creme fraiche.

Alternatively, crumble a little goat cheese on top.

This soup is fairly quick and definitely easy. If you don’t have sun-dried tomatoes, just use a good quality tomato paste instead, about 3 tablespoons. I like tubular tomato paste for a small job.

Add more dried basil if the soup isn’t basil-y enough. You should definitely taste the tomato-basil combination!

 

 

White Bean-Tomato Gratin

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I love to use tomatoes when they’re perfectly red and ripe during the summer months when my garden is behaving properly. I probably overuse them, in fact, because I love tomatoes so much. Sometimes they’re good just sliced, with a little salt. They are also perfect for fresh sauces and salsas, and I’ll certainly cook them when necessary. None go to waste.

But then there are the winter months. Sometimes, “vine-ripened” tomatoes are available at my local grocery store, but these really fall flat in quality. Which isn’t surprising, of course. They sell them even attached to the vine, but they’re never the same.

Fortunately for all of us, there is such a thing as canned tomatoes. The kind you purchase. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve canned my own before, because my garden produces just enough for some nibbling and a little cooking, when, like I said, it’s behaving.

But I really love canned tomatoes. They serve a purpose. I think it’s important to buy the best, highest quality you can find, no matter the price. Because it does make a gigantic difference.

And while we’re on canned ingredients, let’s discuss canned beans. Specifically, white beans. From all of my white bean dip posts you know that I happen to respect canned beans. Certainly there’s nothing quite like home-made beans, from scratch, but white beans, like tomatoes in cans, are wonderful when necessary. (And for pureeing purposes, canned white beans process smoother than home-made, I’ve found.)

So today I’m simply making a gratin using canned white beans and tomatoes. The rest you should have on hand. Within an hour, this gratin was done. And it’s good. Please don’t tell me you don’t have time to cook.

White Bean-Tomato Gratin

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
Salt, pepper

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2 – 15.8 ounce cans white beans, rinsed and well drained

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1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan

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1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
Fresh rosemary leaves, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and give them a good stir.
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Add the tomatoes, and cook for just a few minutes. There should be no significant liquid in the bottom of the saucepan. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste.
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Stir in the white beans and remove from the saucepan from the heat. Lightly grease a baking dish. The size of the baking dish depends if you want a thin white bean and tomato layer, topped with a significantly larger amount of breadcrumbs and cheese, or a deeper dish, which is what I chose.

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Place the bean and tomato mixture into the baking dish. Cover with the cheese.
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And then cover with the breadcrumbs.
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Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top, if desired.
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And then sprinkle a few rosemary leaves over the top, if you like rosemary. This is completely optional. Honestly, there’s not much rosemary flavor in just those few leaves, but I happened to have them on hand, and like the looks of rosemary.

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Bake until the top browns, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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Today I served the gratin with some sous vide flank steak, which was a really nice combination.
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But the gratin would be delicious with just about any protein.
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Even fish, because it’s not strongly flavored in any way.

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note: If you don’t like rosemary, other options would be to add dried thyme to the white bean and tomato mixture while it’s cooking, or even dried basil or fresh basil. It’s just what flavor you want in the gratin. Even some fresh lemon or orange zest would be lovely. Or, just leave the basic flavors of the onion, garlic, and tomato shine on their own. There is nothing wrong with that.

Tomato Tart

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It isn’t tomato season yet where I live, but sometimes I prefer good, canned tomatoes over fresh. And this is one of those times that canned tomatoes are superior to fresh in a recipe.

This recipe comes from a book entitled, The Best of Bugialli, by none other than Giuliano Bugialli. Even if I never used any of the other recipes in this book, which I have, I’d keep this book just for this one recipe – Torta Di Pomodoro – translated to tomato tart.

It’s actually one dish that daughter number 2 asks for on occasion, which always makes me happy. Mostly because I’m thrilled to oblige, but also because I love it too. What’s not to love? It’s tomatoes in a pie crust. But it’s different than other tomato tarts I’ve come across in my many years of reading recipes.

So here it is. It’s a very long recipe because one part is the crust, and the other part the filling. But it’s honestly a very simple, straight forward recipe. You can make the crust and the filling the day before.

I’m typing the recipe as it is in the book, and then following it I will add my five cents’ worth.

Tomato Tart

For the crust*:
8 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons cold sweet butter
5 tablespoons cold water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Filling:
1 medium-sized celery stalk
1 carrot, scraped
1 medium-sized red onion, cleaned
1 small clove garlic, peeled
10 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
5 large fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 pounds very ripe tomatoes or 1 1/2 pounds drained canned tomatoes, preferably imported Italian
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sweet butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Basil leaves, optional

Prepare the crust: Sift the flour onto a board and arrange it in a mound. Cut the butter into pieces and place over the mound. Use a metal dough scraper to incorporate the butter into the flour, adding the water 1 tablespoon at a time and seasoning with the salt and nutmeg. When all the water is used up, a ball of dough should be formed. Place the ball in a dampened cotton dish towel and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

Prepare the filling: Coarsely chop the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley and basil all together on a board.

If using fresh tomatoes, cut them into large pieces. Place the fresh or canned tomatoes in a non-reactive casserole, then arrange all the prepared vegetables over the tomatoes. Pour the olive oil on top.
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Cover the casserole, set it over medium heat, and cook for about 1 hour, without stirring, shaking the casserole often to be sure the tomatoes do not stick to the bottom.

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Pass the contents of the casserole through a food mill, using the disc with the smallest holes, into a second casserole.
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Add the butter and season with salt and pepper.

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Place the casserole over medium heat and let the mixture reduce for 15 minutes more, or until a rather thick sauce forms. Transfer the sauce to a crockery or glass bowl and let cool completely.

Butter a 9 1/2″ tart pan with a removable bottom.

Flour a pastry board. Unwrap the pastry and knead it for about 30 seconds on the board, then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a 14″ disc. Roll up the disc on the rolling pin and unroll it over the buttered pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cut off the dough around the rim of the pan by moving the rolling pin over it. Using a fork, make several punctures in the pastry to keep it from puffing up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the pastry, then put pie weights or dried beans in the pan. Refrigerate the pastry for 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the tart pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and lift out the foil and weights or beans. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the crust is golden, about 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, finish preparing the filling: Add the eggs and Parmesan to the cooled tomato sauce. Taste for salt and pepper and mix very well with a wooden spoon.

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Remove the tart pan from the oven, leaving the oven on. Let the crust cool for 15 minutes, then pour in the prepared filing.

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Bake the tart for 20 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the oven and let the tart cool for 15 minutes before transferring it from the tart pan to a serving dish.
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Slice the tart like a pie and serve it with the fresh basil leaves.

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* You of course don’t have to use this recipe for the crust, especially if you have your own favorite that you use. And if you dislike making pie crusts, store-bought can also be used.

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notes: I’ve made this tart many times and I have a few suggestions. First, reduce the tomato mixture as much as possible, or it will be too watery. Secondly, I use 3 large eggs and one extra egg yolk. Thirdly, I’ve always had to bake this tart for at least 15 minutes longer than it says in the directions.