This is my first official blog post. And while I write it with both excitement and passion, I also feel vulnerable about putting myself out there. I came up with the idea of “One Hut Mama” well over a year ago (you can read more about that in my “let the journey begin” intro) and today is launch day!
Yesterday, Denver had a “bomb cyclone,” which I learned is a rare weather event. It was cold, windy and snowy.
Schools and businesses were closed and many people, like myself, worked comfortably and safely from home. Modern technology is great that way; I was able to participate in a conference call with my colleagues, attend a work-related webinar, communicate by email and access my work’s network all while the wind and snow were whipping all around. My housemates (more about these two young men later) were not so fortunate, so off to work they went at about 11 am . . .
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to try a new recipe more than a cold snowy day, so I decided to cook Moroccan-style. I started with assembling some spices like paprika, cumin, turmeric, cloves and a few more. My unique recipe for this Moroccan spice blend, also known as Ras El Hanout, is included at the end of this post.
After blending the spices, I used my favorite well-seasoned cast iron skillet (a gift a few years back from my brother Brad), to sauté – in olive oil – chopped carrots, onions and ginger seasoned generously with the spice blend. I then added some chopped dates and sautéed for a minute or two longer to give this combination of ingredients a nice sweet flavor. Not that I’ve been to Morocco, but the aroma in my kitchen was so wonderfully Moroccan!
After transferring this carrot-onion mixture to a covered container to keep it warm and so it didn’t dry out, I added some more olive oil to the unwashed skillet and pan-fried both sides of boneless, skinless chicken breasts sprinkled generously with the spice blend.
I then prepared couscous (according to the package directions) and gently folded the carrot and onion mixture into that. To serve, I placed the warm couscous-onion-carrot mixture on the bottom of a bowl, topped with the grilled chicken and sprinkled with some feta and cilantro and a couple of squeezes of fresh lemon juice. While I realize you may not think of Morocco when I say “feta and cilantro,” it’s what I had on hand and they added so much to this dish. So, there you have it, voila!
The housemates were fortunately home early and safe by dinner time after their employer offered hotel accommodations (CYA-style) because the roads weren’t safe. Lucky for me, the housemates enjoy trying out my new recipes and providing feedback like “it needs a little more salt.” All in all, the housemates give this recipe a big thumbs up! And, I think this could be a perfect camping or “hut mama” meal some day . . . it’s simple, tasty and healthy and the aroma conjures images of a place and culture far away.
Thank you very much for stopping by and here’s the recipe for my Ras El Hanout, my special Moroccan spice blend:
2 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger
2 tsp each of cumin, paprika, cardamom and salt
1 tsp each of turmeric and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp of cayenne
2 Tbsp of brown sugar