Marinated Chicken Kabobs with Parmesan Tomato Couscous

The weather was absolutely amazing today.  

We decided to grill.  My oldest son loves Greek food so we decided to make Chicken Kabobs and serve them with Tzatziki Sauce, Couscous and steamed Asparagus….  If you don’t use couscous often, you definitely should buy some.  It is a very fine pasta that takes only 10 minutes to prepare (definitely a working mom’s “go to”). 

Below you will find the recipes from our Sunday Dinner.

Oh … you are probably wondering what was for dessert…  I purchased baklava and strawberries.. (like I said, the weather was gorgeous).

Enjoy!

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Marinated Chicken Kabobs

2 pounds boneless Chicken, cut into 1 inches cubes

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1/4 cup Fig Infused White Balsamic Vinegar

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Sumac (optional)

1 teaspoon Oregano

1/2 teaspoon Cumin

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Place chicken cubes in a 13×9 shallow baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour over the chicken and toss to coat chicken.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap.
  5. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Thread onto skewers.
  7. Grill until cooked.

Note:  You can substitute White Balsamic Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar for the Fig Infused White Balsamic Vinegar. 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Parmesan Tomato Couscous

1 cup Couscous

3/4 cup Water (or chicken stock)

1/2 cup Marinara Sauce

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan Cheese

  1. Add the water, marinara sauce, olive oil, salt & pepper to a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Take off the heat and add the couscous, parsley and parmesan cheese.
  4. Cover and let sit for 5 mins.
  5. Fluff with a fork.  Adjust seasoning as needed.

 

I’ve tried many recipe for Tzatziki.  My favorite is Ina Garten’s recipe.   Here is a link to the recipe from the Food Network.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/tzatziki-recipe/index.html

Perfect Paprika Party

My grandmother, who loved to cook, would tell everyone that came to visit that she had made something “especially for you”.  As more people arrived, you realized that she loved cooking for everyone…each person was special to her…which made her extra-special…

One of the things that I enjoy most is cooking for others. It decompresses me after a busy day or a crazy week. I enjoy planning an enticing menu, preparing the food and seeing the satisfied faces as they enjoy the meal “made especially for them”.

While brainstorming ideas on what to make with the spice Paprika, I decided to create recipes for a Paprika Party! This so-called “basic spice” (which up until now has been nothing more than a mere garnish in my kitchen) has a plethora of flavors, colors and health benefits.

I hope this article inspires you to try Paprika for more than just dusting your “deviled eggs” and to make something memorable for those people in your life that are special to you.

Enjoy!

 

What is Paprika?

Paprika is the powder form of the capsicum peppers (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). There are many varieties of Paprika peppers which are mainly grown in Hungary and Spain. The peppers are picked, dried and milled.

The Spanish were the first to create the powdered form of Paprika. When Christopher Columbus returned from his trip to the Americas, he presented the King and Queen of Spain with capsicum peppers as gifts. However, Paprika was not introduced to Hungary until the 16-17th centuries.

Nowadays, you can easily find many varieties of Paprika at your local supermarket. Like most spices, Paprika also needs to be stored in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. It does not have a long shelf life, so it is best to buy Paprika in small quantities.

Below is a break down on the various types of Paprika that you can choose from.

Paprika

Plain Paprika is bland which is why it is often used as a garnish for deviled eggs and potato salad.

 

Hungarian Paprika

Depending on the type of pepper used, the flavor profile for Hungarian Paprika ranges from sweet to very hot. The color ranges from mild to bright red. The brightest red is considered to be the hottest.

There are six types of Hungarian Paprika:

1. Special quality (Különleges) – Mild flavor, Vibrant Red

2. Delicate (csípősmentes csemege) – Mild flavor, Light Red

3. Noble sweet (édesnemes) – Sweet flavor, Bright Red

4. Semi-sweet (félédes) – Sweet flavor with trace of heat

5. Rose (rózsa) – Mild flavor with trace of heat, Light Red

6. Hot (erős) – Hottest of all paprikas, Light Brown-Orange

 

Spanish Paprika (Also known as Pimentón)

Depending upon the amount of seeds included when milling the peppers, the flavor profile of Smoky Spanish Paprika ranges from sweet to hot.

There are three types of Spanish Paprika:

1. Dulce (sweet) – Sweet & Smoky flavor, Dark red.

2. Agridulce (bittersweet or semi-sweet) – Bitter & Sharp flavor, Dark Red

3. Picante (hot) – Hot flavor, Deep Dark Red

*Note: Be sure to read the ingredient list on the Paprika before you purchase it. Sometimes, manufacturers add either MSG or an artificial smoky flavor.

 

Tips for Cooking with Paprika

1. Paprika has a high sugar content. If it is cooked too long, it will become bitter.

2. Both Hot Paprika and Smoked Paprika can easily overpower your recipe. Be sure to adjust the amount of Paprika you use to suit your personal taste.

3. Paprika is a great substitute for chili powder (especially for those who love the flavor of chili powder but can do without the heat). One cool tip that I read is useful when you use too much chili powder. Basically, adding the spice Paprika will balance the heat of the chili powder without disrupting the flavor profile of what you are preparing (rule of thumb is to add double the amount of chili powder).

 

Nutritional Benefits

Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.

  • Loaded with vitamin C.
  • Aids digestion
  • Contains anti-oxidants
  • Increases metabolism
  • Clears pulmonary and nasal congestion
  • Improves blood pressure and circulation

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Paprika Party Mix

2 cups raw Almonds

1/2 cup raw Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1-1/2 tablespoons Sea Salt

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt and paprika. Set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and the sunflower seeds in a microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave for 3-4 minutes (in 30 second increments) until golden brown.
  4. Add dried cranberries.
  5. Drizzle the nut/seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/paprika mixture.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Store in an air-tight container.

*Variation: Cumin pairs well with Paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon on cumin seeds to the salt/paprika mixture.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Paprika Fudge

12 oz Bittersweet Chocolate chips

6 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened Dark Cocoa

  1. Line a 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and kosher salt.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir vanilla extract.
  4. Spread chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle with the Paprika/Cocoa mixture.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  7. Lift fudge out of pan and peel off the aluminium foil.
  8. Cut into 36 squares.

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spicy Beer Cocktail

(my take on a Michelada…especially for my husband)

1 ice-cold Mexican Beer

2 tablespoons of Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon of Sweet or Hot Paprika

2 tablespoons of fresh Lime Juice

1-2 dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce

1 dash of Soy Sauce

1 dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Black pepper

  1. Mix together the salt and Paprika on a small plate.
  2. Rim a glass with a little lime juice and then dip in the salt and paprika mixture to cover the top of the glass.
  3. Add lime juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper.
  4. Slowly pour in beer into your prepared glass.

*Note: Not spice enough for you, add more hot sauce or Paprika.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Nuttella Spice-tini

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

2 oz. Vodka

1 teaspoon Nutella

3/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika, divided

1/2 teaspoon Cocoa Powder

1 packet Splenda

  1. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika, Cocoa Powder and Splenda. Set aside.
  2. Add the Chocolate Liqueur, Vodka, Nutella and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika to a Martini shaker.
  3. Whisk rigorously to blend the Nutella.
  4. Add ice and give a good shake.
  5. Rim the glass with vodka, chocolate liqueur or water.
  6. Dip glass into the Sweet Paprika, Cocoa, Splenda mixture.
  7. Carefully pour into prepared glass.

Variation:  If you do not have Nutella, swap out the 1 oz  chocolate liqueur for 1/2 oz.  Add 1/2 oz of Frangelico.

 

Herb Focaccia Onion Serving

Herbed Focaccia with Onions

This  past weekend I needed to make something to take to our neighborhood Halloween party.  It was Saturday morning and I had no clue what I was going to pull together.  Normally, I would have it all planned out…however, last week was more hectic than expected …so now I had to wing it with ingredients I already had in my pantry. 

It was really easy to make.   I made one for the party and one to put in my freezer.

To serve, I sliced up the focaccia into small squares and served with a store-bought black olive tapenade. 

Note:  This recipe is based on using stand mixer with a dough hook to knead the bread dough.  If you do not have one, knead by hand.

Enjoy!

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe –  Herb Focaccia with Onions

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 packet instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/4 cups warm water

2 tablespoon olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons Corsican Herb Blend, divided

1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly

ground black pepper

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, 2 teaspoons of the Corsican Herb Blend, yeast, salt and sugar.  Stir to combine.
  2. Attach your mixing bowl to your mixer and place on low-speed. 
  3. While the mixer is mixing, slowly add the warm water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  4. Mix to combine ingredients then increase the speed to medium-high.  
  5. Mix until the dough is smooth.  This takes about 5-7 minutes depending on your mixer.
  6. Remove dough from mixing bowl and shape into a ball. 
  7. Spray another bowl lightly with cooking spray.
  8. Place the dough ball into the bowl and turn to coat. 
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location to rise (double in size – about 1 hour).
  10. While the dough is rising, saute your onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 30 minutes (until golden and soft).  Season onions with 1 teaspoon of Corsican Herb Blend and salt/pepper to taste.
  11. Set onions aside to cool.
  12. When dough has finished rising, shape dough into a rectangle on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  13. Lightly brush with olive oil.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove plastic wrap from dough.  Use fingers to press dough down (giving a dimpling effect).
  15. Top the dough with the sautéed onions.  Season with pepper to taste.
  16. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. 
  17. Transfer to a cooling rack and drizzle with olive oil.
  18. Cut up and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe – Zaalouk – Spicy Eggplant Salad

On a recent shopping expedition, the eggplant was on sale and this recipe came to mind.   I honestly do not know remember where I found the original recipe for this.   But, I do remember searching for it over ten years ago.  My husband and I used to enjoy going to a Moroccan restaurant in the Philadelphia area that served this and I wanted to learn to make it at home for him. 

This classic Moroccan dish is a great appetizer and over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe to our tastes.  It is another recipe for your collection that you can be creative with.  Switch out the vegetables for ones that are in season or are your favorites (like summer squash, zucchini, red onions or colorful bell peppers).  

The combinations are endless.  

Serve it warm or at room temperature with warm pita bread

Enjoy!

 

Zaaloouk – Spicy Eggplant Salad

1 1/2 pounds Eggplant, peeled and cubed

5 cloves Garlic, peeled

3 large Beefsteak Tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)

4 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Red Wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Paprika

good pinch of Chili Powder  (depending on how much heat you like)

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Sumac Pepper

1 teaspoon Cinnamon (or Sweet Spice Blend)

Salt to taste

1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped

  1. Boil the peeled and cubed eggplants with garlic in plenty of salted water, covered for 30 minutes (or until eggplant is very soft).
  2. Drain and chop the eggplants and garlic in a colander.
  3. Mash them with a fork, pressing all the water out.
  4. Put tomatoes into the emptied pan.
  5. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes (or until reduced to a thin sauce).  Stir occasionally.
  6. Mix with the mashed eggplants and garlic.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients.
  8. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Seeking Sumac…

  
  
.
 
  
  
Welcome to the debut article on the Gyspy World Spice Cafe blog. 
  
Be sure to check out the “About” section to learn more about the author,
the reason for the blog and what this blog will be all about… 

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
Why choose Sumac for the debut article?  
 
I love to cook! I am always searching out new recipes and ingredients to try. Recently, I’ve read and viewed recipes that have the spice ingredient called Sumac. In fact, on one show recently, a contestant on a “cook off” pulled Sumac out and called it their secret ingredient. That was enough to spark my interest enough to try this spice. First I checked out my local grocery store and upscale markets. No luck there. It was time to take the research online…  
 
 
What did I learn?  

   

First and foremost, be very careful when buying the spice Sumac. Always buy the spice Sumac from a reputable source. You do not want to have it confused with an the ornamental Sumac shrub grown in America that has inedible poisonous white berries (aka Poison Oak).      

The spice Sumac is grown in the Middle East and in parts of Italy. It has dark red berries that are sold as whole berries or as dried coarsley ground. It has a tart, fruity taste and the the smell is only slightly aromatic. This spice has been used for over 2,000 years ( mainly in Arabic cuisine as well in Turkey, Greece and Lebanon). North American Indians were known to use the spice Sumac to make a beer-like beverage.  Typically the spice Sumac is used as a souring agent. It is often used as a substitute for lemons. It pairs well with grilled meats & fish, rice, beans, vegetables, marinades and salad dressings. It is especially well known for being excellent with tomatoes. Hummus is often served with a dusting of Sumac…. Hmmm. I thought it was Paprika…  

I was very surprised to read about the spice Sumac’s medicinal uses and health benefits. It is known to have the affect to calm your stomach, promote digestion and reduce fever. I also read that some believe it to contain antioxidants and possess antimicrobial properties.  
 

Finally Finding Sumac… 

 
Empowered with all this information, I continued my search for the spice Sumac. While out and about with the family, we found that a new Mid-Eastern store had recently opened at a local shopping center. We all went inside to check it out and asked about Sumac — THEY HAD IT! After leaving the store, I carried my my purchase like I scored a treasure. Before we even got to the car, I had already opened the container to smell and taste the Sumac. It was pleasant and slightly tart. It was definitely not overpowering or dominant in either flavor or taste.
 
 
Cooking with Sumac

The next day, I hit the cookbooks and brainstormed ways to thread this new spice into my family meals over the next few weeks. I’ve incorporated the spice Sumac in breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer and even dessert dishes. I tried it on eggs, added it to both Pizza Sauce and Marinara Sauce, used it in hummus (adding a dusting on the top too), and on vegetables. It is very flexible and I think the best way to describe the spice Sumac is that is in my opinion it is a “flavor enhancer”. It takes food to the next level without you realizing it. It is a background flavor that leaves you wondering hmmmm this is good and I’m not sure why… At this point, I cannot imagine my spice cabinet without the spice Sumac.  

 
  
Traditional Recipe # 1 – Za’atar 
 
This traditional spice blend is used on vegetables and flatbread. You can mix it with olive oil or yogurt to make a very good dip.        
   

2 tablespoons dried thyme   

1 tablespoon sumac     

2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted     

1/2 teaspoon table salt       

Mix all ingredients in a small container with a lid. Give it a good shake. 

 

Traditional Recipe #2 – Warm Chickpea and Swiss Chard Salad with Sumac      

9 oz. dried chickpeas      

1/2 cup olive oil      

1 onion, cut into thin wedges      

2 tomatoes      

1 teaspoon sugar      

2 garlic cloves, chopped      

3 lbs swiss chard      

3 tablespoons fresh mint      

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice   

1-1/2 tablespoons ground sumac       

  1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl, cover with water and leave to soak overnight. Drain and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 3/4 hours, or until tender. Drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until soft and just starting to turn brown. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds and dice the flesh. Add to the pan with the sugar, cinnamon and garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Wash the swiss chard and dry with paper towel. Add to the tomato mix with the chickpeas; cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the swiss chard wilts. Add the mint, lemon juice and sumac; season and cook for 1 minute. Serve at once. 

   Blogger’s Comment: I chose to use only 1/4 cup of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper…   

Taster Comments:   One taster commented “This stuff is great!”.  Another taster commented “Love It!” and ate two servings.     

Source:  Taste of the Mediterranean Step-By-Step by Bay Books            

        

        

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe –  Sumac Scented Cherry Almond Chocolate Bark

        

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips   

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon      

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped      

1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped finely      

1-1/2 teaspoons sumac, divided       

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.
  2. Place the chocolate chips into a medium sized bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until the chips have softened up. Stir until smooth.Stir in cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of sumac.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate mixture onto the wax paper. Using a spatula, evenly spread the chocolateSprinkle the cherries and almonds on top. Using an off-set spatula, gently press into the chocolate.
  4. Dust the chocolate with the remaing 1/2 teaspoon of sumac. 
  5. Chill until set. Break into smaller pieces and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Variation: If you like a creamier texture, add 1-2 oz of half/half to the chocolate chips (before melting). Then add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract too if you like. It will take longer to set…         

 Taster Comments: One taster asked if I had added Cherry Juice as they had picked up on the fruity flavor of the Sumac. My younger tasters, got caught eating too much of the chocolate… they had it on their faces when I caught them …     

Upcoming Articles       

Working on developing my own spice blends. The next few articles will continue with the Sumac theme and be about the Sumac Spice blends.     You will also see mini-articles to give some other tips and facts about the Spice Scene…