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For the Foodie Mom: Tagine by Le Creuset {Review}

Tajine dinners are one of my finest memories of my trip to France with Edward. We went in the Spring and traveled for almost 4 weeks – first in London visiting friends and then in France. We hopped from city to city but one of our favorites stops was in Grenoble. Our vintage hotel had a balcony with a view of the Alps. We were walking distance from the city market. And the Moroccan food there was absolutely delicious. I had fallen in love with tajines on a previous visit to France, but it was Edward’s first time. That dinner was one of my favorite memories of our trip, combining three loves – my love for France, good food, and my husband.

You can find good Moroccan food almost anywhere in France in my experience and since our trip almost *gasp* two years ago, I have not been able to find a Moroccan place anywhere near Charlottesville that serves tajines. Finally, I decided I would have to buckle down and learn how to make it myself.

What’s a tajine?

Well, I will tell you. It’s a large dish, usually made out of enameled clay or cast iron, with a tent shaped lid. It’s a slow cooker designed for the stove top and keeps food moist and juicy as it cooks.

Kitchen Kapers, sent me one. A gorgeous yellow cast iron tajine made by the exquisite French company Le Creuset. I had read reviews on other cooking websites, but was warned that the clay version needed time to soak and several reviews mentioned that their dishes came damaged or even broken.

Not so with Kitchen Kapers.

It arrived quickly and safely, and as soon as it arrived I started planning my fabulous tajine dinner. I have to say that I was a little nervous about it – would my own cooking live up to all my wonderful memories of dinners in France?

I decided on a savory chicken dish to start out – with lemon and olives cooked in the tajine and then piled over couscous. We had Dr. Dolly and her family over to celebrate the arrival of the tajine in our house. It. was. wonderful!

Chicken cooked perfectly. It pulled apart beautifully. Lemons so tender, you could cut into them like a fork on dense chocolate cake.  The size of the dish was ideal, too – we fed 5 people without a problem, though we did gorge ourselves a little – no leftovers!

Just last week I tried another recipe. This time a sweeter dish with almonds, honey, cinnamon and apricots. WOW! If I had a glass of wine and some music on I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between my French experience and my home one. Edward raved about it from the moment he got home from work and smelled the spices in the air to bedtime as he crawled into bed full and happy. I’ve included the most recent recipe below. Enjoy!

Chicken Tajine with Apricots and Almonds

yield: Makes 4 servings

active time: 30 min

total time: 1 1/2 hr

ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (3-lb) chicken, cut into 6 pieces, wings and backbone discarded
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • Special equipment: a 10- to 12-inch tagine or heavy skillet; kitchen string

preparation: Stir together ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat well. Heat butter in base of tagine (or in skillet), uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then brown half of chicken, skin sides down, turning over once, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Brown remaining chicken in same manner, adding any spice mixture left in bowl. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Return chicken to the tajine to finish cooking.

While chicken cooks, bring honey, water or broth, cinnamon stick, and apricots to a boil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are very tender (add more water if necessary). Once apricots are tender, simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the apricots and glaze as well as the slivered almonds into the tajine with the chicken. Discard cinnamon stick. Finish cooking chicken and apricots together. Serve with couscous.

Note: I used 2 lbs of boneless skinless dark meat, and a package of wings as well. This meant less time spent cutting chicken.

You can find a 2-quart cast iron moroccan tagine by Le Creuset for the special mom in your life (or yourself) from Kitchen Kapers–an online store (with over 7 brick and mortar locations) that inspires homemade fun for $159.99, a $55 savings from retail prices listed on other sites.

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From now through the end of May, we’re Celebrating Motherhood.  Join us as we share gift ideas and giveaways for mom.

For Her & Him: Cooking Up Love (part II)

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  Even though Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, I still have a few great ideas and giveaways for the whole family that I want to share with you.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?  For every giveaway featured prior to February 13th, all drawings will still take place on February 14th.  However, all giveaways featured February 13th or later will have draw dates on February 28th.

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I am SO excited to share with you some of my most favorite items for Valentine’s Day that focus on the heart of the home, the kitchen.  With, loving hands, I prepare delicious and hearty meals for those whom I cherish.

My new go-to place for ideas for kitchen adventures is Kitchen Kapers–a family-friendly kitchenware store that’s been inspiring a little homemade fun in kitchens since 1975.  With 14 locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, Kitchen Kapers specializes in quality kitchenware at affordable prices.

Kitchen Kapers has so many great options for Valentine’s Day. 

Are you and your spouse coffee drinkers or tea lovers?  Kitchen Kapers’  his and her asian mug set ($19.99) is a fun way to enjoy your weekend tea time for two (or it’s a great gift for a couple celebrating an anniversary in a keepsake box).  By the way, today is Chinese New Year!

Want something more daring and romantic?  Think of plump and ripe strawberries dipped in fondue chocolate in this electric fondue set from Cuisinart available at Kitchen Kapers for $59.99–50% less than listed retail price!

This cœur a la crème “cream of the heart” mold is perfect for making your own sweetened cream cheese covered in wild strawberries. Yum!  And, a 4-inch ceramic mold retails for a mere $4.99–hosting tea parties with cheese and crackers will never be the same again.

Besides carrying great kitchenware online, Kitchen Kapers flagship store and culinary academy, located in Moorestown, New Jersey, is where foodies can find an extensive range of cooking classes from knife skills to learning the art of French cooking or creating beautiful cakes.  Foodies can develop an international cooking skill set from Sicilian, Tuscan, Cuban, or Sexy Szechuan in the couples cooking classes–that’s the kind of date night I would LOVE.

For the younger set, Kitchen Kapers has classes for children (ages 5-12) and teens (ages 12-18).  I love that they have a class just for young boys to create fun and boy-inspired foods in Emma’s Boy Brigade.  Some of the other classes are aptly titled, “How to Cook Better than Your Parents.”  When my son is older, we may need to visit Morristown to acquire a family culinary adventure.

For Valentine’s Day, it is this passion-red porcelain enamel on cast-iron Le Creuset heart-shaped casserole dish that makes me smile every time I walk into our tiny kitchen.  This sweet little dish looks like it’s reaching out to give a hug with the little red handles on the sides.

See?

The tight-fitting lid seals in the flavors and creates a blanket of heat for gently cooking food.  The enameled surface allows for even heating, longer heat retention, and it doesn’t react to acidic foods.

I can make perfect sticky rice every single time.  Stir-fry bell peppers?  Simple.  Deep frying chicken thighs for chicken cacciatore?  Easy to do, easy to clean.  I essentially created every part of a chicken cacciatore all in this one little 2 quart casserole (just for the cooking experience), and then I served the rice along side the chicken cacciatore for dinner.

Tonight, I used the “heart pot”, as my son so tenderly refers to it, to prepare a berry crisp with hints of cinnamon and cocoa.  The heart-shaped casserole dish from Le Creuset retails for $200, but it’s $50 less on the Kitchen Kapers site.  My little family can celebrate Valentine’s Day every day with this passion-red beauty.

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Gluten-Free Berry Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz. bag of frozen organic strawberries
  • 1 10 oz. bag of frozen organic blueberries
  • 2 T of cocoa powder
  • 1 T of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup of sukenot or turbinado sugar or honey or brown sugar
  • 2 T sukenot or turbinado sugar or honey or brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1 can of organic coconut milk (optional)

Directions:

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Next, grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish or use an ungreased porcelain enamel cast iron oven–the Le Creuset 2 qt heart casserole dish is perfect.

Pour thawed and drained blueberries and strawberries into baking dish, and mix the 2 T of sukenot into the berries.  Then, dust with cocoa powder.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat or other gluten-free flour with the 1/3 c. honey/sukenot/brown sugar/turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and cut with a knife or pastry cutter until crumbly.

Then, Layer the flour-cinnamon-sugar mixture over berries in dish.  Note that buckwheat flour is already earthy brown, even more so when mixed with cinnamon and brownish sukenot.

Bake about 30-35 minutes uncovered and try to distract yourself with something else like eating dinner.

Remove it from the oven and the cinnamon-cocoa-berry smell will bring anyone within wafting-distance standing within two paces of you…or closer.

See how the finished crisp is only a slight shade darker than before it went into the oven?  I love the bubbly berries peeking through the crisp!

This dessert should be served warm. It can be drizzled with coconut milk and a little more honey, or topped with ice cream, whipped cream. It makes 6-8 servings.

Gooey berry goodness.

Note: if you haven’t worked with coconut milk before, here’s a little tutorial.

First, never. ever. NEVER. buy the lite coconut milk.  It’s a waste of money and nutritional value.  All the good stuff is in the rich and fat of the milk (medium-chain mono-unsaturated fats…good for you!).

Second, open the can and use a spatula to pour the coconut water and the milk into a mixing bowl.

It’ll be a chunky and congealed mess. So, take your trusty whisk and beat away until the chunky congealed goop becomes a smooth white liquid.

There, now you can use it!  Take a spoon and drizzle it over your gluten-free berry cobbler.

Store the remaining coconut milk in a sealed glass container.  It will last in the refrigerator up to 7 days.

I love to use it in smoothies, soups, and sauces.  In fact, for Valentine’s Day, I’m using coconut milk to make thai chicken and peanut sauce from the New Intercourses cookbook.

For more “Cooking up love” ideas, read part I of this post series.

*I received samples from Le Creuset  and Kitchen Kapers for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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