Monday, November 10, 2008

Moroccan binge.

I've had a beautiful butternut squash from the farmer's market sitting on my counter since last saturday, slowly gathering graffiti with sharpie...from me. =) I also didn't feel like studying, so...

Qorma of Chicken Breast, Butternut Squash and Apricot
served with cous cous and garbanzo beans with a balsalmic red onion reduction, grape tomato salate, and seer moss (garlic yogurt)

(garnished with fresh ground sea salt and grape tomatoes)

It was the perfect opportunity to experiment with something that has been bugging me - I hadn''t tried to use anything but the most standard beans and vegetables in my stews/curries/qormas (pick your word). I had experimented with seasonings, but not ingredients nearly as much.

Thus, building from the butternut squash, I picked up some dried apricot as well, inspired from a Tagine/Tajine recipe in one of my cookbooks. I broke from the recipe by using the squash, a few of the seasonings, and most fundamentally the qorma cooking process, browning the meat before braising it. I now would like to try the same basic concept in the more traditional form, without browning, to see what the difference is.

The apricots I was initially very skeptical of - at $7/lb, I was expecting huge flavor right out of the bag. Not so - they were actually kind of plain tasting right out of the bag, not to mention brown and unappetizing. (I had never tried dried apricot before.) However, to my surprise, they were fantastic cooked! The flavor they imbued the qorma with was incredible, sweet and tart balancing perfectly with the warm spiciness of the seasonings (cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, garlic, spanish paprika). The butternut squash was also a new thing for me - I can't say I'd ever eaten one aside from soup nor even seen one cut open. I cubed them and they turned out so smooth and buttery (go figure - "butter" nut squash)!

Overall, I was incredibly pleased with the result! I also captured a nice little burst of steam from the plate while photographing:

(The only bad part about keeping a food blog is when your food gets cold photographing! But I'm quick now.)

And, just to point out a nice little cooking failure:

Frozen "stir fry" vegetable FAIL:

Somehow the entire bag congealed into a ball. And I had the bright idea of "stir frying" the iceberg. Needless to say, it was not really edible. Freezer burn is rough.

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