Monday, December 19, 2011


Behold. The Le Creuset Tagine (or Tajine).

A gift. Of course. From Hannah- who has maintained her Le Creuset connections up until the end of this year. Bless her heart and foresight. This was my birthday gift, given prematurely in expectation that it would come in handy over the holidays. And it certainly has already.

For a bit of background ... according to these folks ...

"Traditionally the tajine was used by nomads in north Africa as portable ovens for making stews over charcoal fires. It would sit above an open fire and meats and vegetables or fruit would be cooked slowly over a very low heat."

Well said. My first foray into tajine cooking needed to be vegetarian (for our guest of honor didn't eat the meats). Another helpful tool I picked up this weekend helped me out big time:

photo courtesy of gizmodo

The application. This thing is brilliant. Reference hundreds of recipes, save your favorites, create shopping lists from the recipes you want to use .. this thing is money. So, I found a potato based tagine recipe that called for lots of spices, some lemon, olives, a whole lot of goodness. It slow cooked on the stove top for a few hours and I ladled it over whole wheat couscous. It was one of those nights that made dinner hit the table a bit late, but when we did eat everyone was satisfied. I'm a tagine believer.

A few other recipes that knocked my socks off this weekend? A regular of mine that I never sick of: Herb Biscuits. It's a traditional biscuit recipe, but added to the flour, baking soda, baking powder, butter milk, and butter I threw in some dry ground mustard, thyme and some celery seed. Savory and crumbly, they went great with some over-easy eggs and a hot cup of coffee. SO good! 

And then there was Sunday night dinner. Mom and Dad were out of town, our roommates were watching football at a friend's house, my other sister and her fiance were spending their night preparing for the holiday. I was still planning on a big meal, so we invited some friends over for Southwest Burgers (which I kinda just threw together from what I had in the fridge). I added a chipotle spice blend to some grass fed ground beef and a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce (I add a bit of that to just about every ground beef dish I make- a nice secret ingredient for you that's no secret anymore!). I hand formed the burgers and seared them in a grill pan. I topped them with sauteed mushrooms, onions and jalapenos, then a mixture of cheddar and gruyere cheeses. I broiled them before placing them on sandwich sized scallion focaccias. The condiment of choice was barbecue sauce. If I can say so, they turned out pretty awesome. It had been a while since I had eaten a burger and this recipe helped me use up a handful of veggies I needed to use, as well as the bread. Success, I must say.

This week will be a crazy busy one. Lots of meetings for some new gigs I'm nailing down. Lots of prep for the holidays, seeing family members that we haven't spent time with in months ... The holidays fly by every year. I wish I had a remote control for life sometimes, just so I could hit the pause button when I wanted to. I like to revel in those times when we're all sitting around the table, smiles on everyone's faces, good food on every plate. It is a sight to behold. One that I wish I could linger in just a bit longer than fate or time allows.

I guess if I could live in those moments all the time, they probably wouldn't feel as special when they came around. Such is the gift of the holidays. It's the gift I'm most looking forward to.

I hope all of you enjoy a beautiful holiday season. I know I will. xo

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