Friday, December 28, 2007


Our Christmas Dinner Recipes

I thought that recipes for the tagine I made for Christmas dinner and the maple mousse Fritz made for dessert might be of interest to those of you who like to cook, so here they are.

Don’t be put off by the tagine—it’s really pretty simple to make and after the initial preparation, it has the good manners to cook itself for an hour or so until it’s dinner time.

The mousse is very, very good and not something you’re going to encounter unless you make it yourself.


1 cup real, 100% maple syrup (NOT Vermont Maid or any of the other flavored sugar syrups).
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon gelatin soaked in ¾ cup warm milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream (whipped)

In the top of a double-boiler over medium heat, soak the gelatin until thickened, and mix in the egg yolk/syrup mixture. Beat until thick (about 20 minutes by hand). Let the mix cool.

Fold the whipped cream into the cooled maple mixture, pour into a ring mold and refrigerate until firm. To unmold, dip the ring mold into warm water, put a plate or platter on top, and invert, allowing the mousse to drop onto the plate, and serve.

CHICKEN TAGINE with preserved lemon and olives
Tagine is the name of the dish and of the traditional ceramic vessel it’s cooked in. You can substitute a heavy iron dutch oven or pot roast pot successfully.

2 to 3 pounds chicken, breasts and/or thighs cut up into chunks
2 tablespoons tagine spice (available pre-mixed from Williams-Sonoma and other
gourmet stores, on line, or use recipe below)
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup lemon juice
6 preserved lemon wedges (recipe below), rinsed with water. Include the pulp in the tagine or not as you prefer—I use it with seeds removed. I julienne the lemon peel to distribute it throughout the dish.
1 cup cured green or black olives (not the canned bland kind)
ground fresh pepper and salt
Cooked basmati rice, cous cous, or barley for serving. Barley’s my favorite.

In a small saucepan, toast the spices over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes until very fragrant. Transfer to a big bowl, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken, stir to coat thoroughly, and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

When ready to cook, place the rest of the olive oil in either a traditional tagine or a covered dutch oven and, over medium-high heat, brown the chicken on all sides. Add the onion and stir frequently until it begins to become transparent. Add the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, preserved lemon and olives. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is very tender, about one hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. Serve over rice, cous cous, or barley.

TAGINE SPICES (generally 1 teaspoon of each ground spice, not this whole list in any one tagine, but a grouping of five or six).
Madras Curry (always optional)
Cayenne pepper or hot paprika or freshly ground white pepper
Tagines and tagine spice mixes can be purchased on line.

4 good-sized fresh lemons
2 bay leaves
a cinnamon stick
water and olive oil

Hold each lemon upright on one pointed end and cut down into quarters, stopping ¼ inch short of separating the slices. Spread open and salt liberally, placing each lemon into a wide glass jar, salt on the bottom, one lemon pressed into or next to another. Pour extra salt onto the top lemon, drop the bay leaves and cinnamon stick into the jar, and fill with water until all lemons are covered. Float a layer of olive oil onto the water to seal it. Screw the top on the jar and let cure in a cool place. After one month, the lemons are ready to use. A jar of preserved lemons will remain edible for a year, but use them up and enjoy them long before that..

Preserved lemon can also be purchased at gourmet stores like Dean & Deluca at Broadway and Prince St., or at Kalustyan’s on Lexington Ave. and 28th Street, both in New York City.

Google “tagine recipes” for a wide variety of lamb (traditional), chicken, beef, fish and vegetarian tagines.


We went up to the house yesterday morning to find the plumber and the technician from the propane company getting the heating system going. There was some water on the floor—the wallboard guys had nicked one of the plastic water tubes with a dry wall screw. That section of tube had been replaced and it looked as if everything was going OK. The tubes had still to be bled of all the air in them. Our plumber, who has a wicked dry wit, was in high spirits. With the heat going, the plaster work can begin. The blueboard hanging crew was down to detail finishing work around the windows.

Plastering began today; looks like it's going well, and surprisingly quickly.

Scooby, and anyone else who's curious about our use of blueboard and plaster, just about everybody connected with the project shares a real dislike for standard wallboard. Blueboard is thicker, firmer, more stable altogether. I suspect we'll also get better sound insulation out of it from room to room and that it won't deteriorate the way wallboard can as time goes on. The skim coat of plaster will take paint better as well.

The recipes look delicous....I'm still waiting for the one from the meal that you guys fixed for me when I visited......can't even remember the name, but do remember how good it was! (Lentils, fruit, nuts.....)
Ah, Lewis--Majadra. Yes, we promised that to you and haven't sent it. Look for it on my next blog entry on Monday.
All sounds great - I'll give 'em a shot. Yummy!

These food recipes makes you and your family happy for this christmas. very delicious food
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