Tag Archives: garlic

Spiced Mediterranean Squash

In the Mediterranean, particularly Syria and Lebanon, stuffed squash is a very popular dish. Called koosa, it is a staple of family meals throughout the Mediterranean Middle East. It is usually served with hummus, pita, and a green salad. However, it is often difficult to find squash large enough to stuff. Other times you just don’t want to go through all the work of hollowing out and stuffing those squash  So I often make this simple alternative that contains all of the flavor with just a fraction of the work. You will need the following ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice

One 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

One 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes

Three yellow squash, sliced

One tablespoon of McCormick Greek seasoning

Two teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, ground allspice, and tumeric

2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a large dutch oven heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Stir often to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the ground beef and brown until the meat is cooked completely. Add the Greek seasoning while you are browning the meat. Once the meat is cooked through add the squash, salt, and pepper and mix until everything is fully incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.



Continental Chicken

Coq au vin is a very traditional French dish that is made by stewing chicken in red wine along with onions, mushrooms, olives, and tomatoes. I had it as a child and really enjoyed it but never made it as an adult because I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and don’t believe in consuming alcohol. Last year I moved and I have slowly been unpacking boxes and stumbled across a cookbook that I had bought at a thrift store a few years ago. It had a book mark in it and I wasn’t sure why and so I decided to make the recipe to find out why I had marked it. Well the recipe turned out to be a non-alcohol based version of coq au vin called continental chicken. Needless to say I was quite happy with the results.

To make continental chicken you will need the following ingredients:

Eight bone-in chicken thighs

two tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

One medium onion, sliced*

One clove of garlic, sliced

One 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes

One 16 ounce can of sliced mushrooms

One 16 ounce can of medium black olives

One 8 ounce can of tomato paste

One half cup soy sauce

Three cups cooked white rice

In a large Dutch oven heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions start to brown slightly. Add the chicken to the pot, skin side down, and brown on each side (about five minutes per side). Add the rest of the ingredients, except the rice, and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the rice according to package directions. Serve the cooked chicken and sauce over the rice.

*If you can find them try using spring or BBQ onions instead of  regular onions. You’ll need three to replace one medium yellow onion but they have a milder taste and give the sauce a wonderful flavor and texture.


Dinner in Westros

Okay, I am going to admit it. I have a nerdy side. I enjoyed George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” long before HBO premiered “A Game of Thrones” and I will enjoy it long after people stop jumping on that bandwagon. I Like Dungeons & Dragons, The Lord Of The Rings, and lots of other “nerdy” things as well. And judging by the success of most of those in pop culture, I’m guessing a lot of you like it too but are afraid of admitting it. If you were to look at my Facebook feed, you would probably think that all I cared about was role-playing games, Doctor Who, and politics.

So by now you are probably wondering what all this has to do with food or dating. Well the truth is, a lot.  If you read A Song of Fire and Ice you will find an extremely varied and exciting food culture. You will also find a lot of great don’t for dating, such as “don’t cut your date’s father’s head off and then force her to look at it.” Today we are interested in the food though, and not the extremely complicated and often disturbing love lives of Westros’s rich and famous.

Before I begin, I must give credit to The Inn at the Crossroads, an incredible website that does a great job of chronicling the food of A Song of Fire and Ice. All the recipes I am sharing in this post come from that website, with a few tweaks of my own.

So about two weeks ago I decided to make a Game of Thrones themed meal for my girlfriend. She loves to have me cook for her and it gave me an excuse to try out some new recipes. So let me tell you what I did.

For the appetizer I went with garlic mushrooms. This recipe was first mentioned in A Dance With Dragons. That means that you folks who only watch the show won’t have heard of it, and as the circumstances of the meal constitute some huge spoilers, I won’t share it here. I will say however that it is a southern dish often enjoyed in Pentos. The recipe is delicious and you should definitely try it.

So, to make garlic mushrooms first you take a pound of white mushrooms and lay them out on a baking tray. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of the mushrooms and then sprinkle three cloves worth of minced garlic over the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and just before you slide the mushrooms into the oven, top it with three tablespoons of butter, chopped into small pieces. Bake the mushrooms for 15 to 20 minutes and then serve them. This should keep you and your friends happy while the rest of the meal is cooking.

Next up, for the side dish, I made spiced squash. This recipe came from A Clash of Kings and was enjoyed by Serr Janos Slynt right before Tyrion Lannister exiled him to the Wall. So this dish comes from King’s Landing, which fits with the theme of taking a culinary tour through Westros and beyond.

First you need an acorn squash. This is a smallish squash with a tough skin and it takes a long time to cook. The original recipe called for sugar pumpkin, but since those are hard to get except at Halloween, I went with something a little easier to procure. Split the squash and scoop out the seeds. Rub butter on the inside of each half and then season the squash with 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon of paprika. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; if you turn down the oven after making the mushrooms, you shouldn’t have to wait at all. Now, bake the squash for one to one and a half hours, until the squash in very soft and the top just starts to turn brown. The squash can be served in halves if there is just one or two of you eating or it can be cut into cubes and served that way.

Finally, we get to the main dish, honeyed chicken. This is a dish fit for a king, and was served when King Robert I visited Ned Stark at Winterfell in A Game of Thrones.  First we start with the chicken. The recipe calls for whole chickens, but it is more economical and leads to less waste to use leg quarters. Lay the chicken out in a pan and rub it down with olive oil and sprinkle it with sea salt. It has to cook in a 400 degree over for an hour to an hour and a half just like the squash, so it is best to cook the together.

Now while the chicken is roasting, it is time to do the honeyed part of the dish. In a small sauce pan, combine 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup of honey, mint, and 1/8 cup of raisins. The amount of mint that you need depend on whether you are using fresh or dried mint. With fresh mint, you want to use about a teaspoon. Dried mint only takes 1/4 teaspoon. Simmer the honey/vinegar mixture on the stove until the raisins plump and the sauce reduces slightly. When it’s done you want it to have a syrupy quality to it. Take the sauce off the heat and let it sit until the chicken is done. When the chicken comes out of the oven spoon the sauce and raisins over the chicken. The sauce will melt slightly and form a delicious glaze.

Now for dessert, go with something simple like store bought sherbet. This is something that was enjoyed in Dorne, so it fits the theme and is simple to prepare.

There you go, a culinary tour of A Game of Thrones that is fit for a king and yet economical and easy to prepare. Why not have some friends over to watch the show and give these recipes a try. You will be glad you did.