Category Archives: The Bird Feeder

Our community recipe exchange.

Frenchified Popcorn

Frenchified Popcorn
Author:: 
Type: Snack
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Servings: 4
 

For our first Movie Night, the film is set in France. Voilà!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, more if you like
  • About 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or safflower oil
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
  • Celery salt to taste or fleur-de-sel French sea salt

Instructions
  1. Melt the butter with the crushed garlic, ever so gently, in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the popcorn, tossing to coat. Cover, and shake the pan over high heat until all the corn has popped. Remove from the heat.
  3. Pluck the garlic gloves from the butter and pour over the popcorn. Toss.
  4. Add the herbes de Provence and plenty of celery salt. Toss again. Season with regular salt to taste, and serve.

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Rock the Casbah Lamb Kebabs

I love Turkish, Middle Eastern and Asian food, and I love lamb. This dish is spicy but not too hot, and it blends the flavors of several cuisines into one very flavorful, deceptively simple package. You can easily double or triple the amounts for a large group, and the meat mixture keeps well in the ‘fridge for a day or two.

Have a recipe to share? Please do! We have a very easy recipe formatting tool which lets you easily enter ingredients, directions and more. First, you need to email me, asking to be given Author status here. After that, when you are logged in, you’ll have the ability to add a recipe here, like this one. It’s fun and easy, and you can save your recipe as a draft until you’re satisfied with it.

Rock the Casbah Lamb Kebabs
Author:: 
Type: Main Dish
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Servings: 3-4
 

Try to find tamarind concentrate; it really “makes” this dish. If your local market doesn’t carry it, just get some online. Amazon has it, and you’ll find many uses for it beyond this recipe. It adds an indefinable sweet/sour tang that enhances Middle Eastern, Indian and Thai dishes.
Ingredients
For the basting sauce:
  • ⅔ c. honey
  • 3 T. tamarind concentrate (stir in jar before measuring)
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • ½ t. ground cardamom
For the kebabs:
  • 1¼ lb. ground lamb
  • ¾ c. chopped onion
  • ½ c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ c. chopped cilantro (I hate cilantro, so I used more parsley)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ¾ t. salt
  • ½ t. sweet paprika
  • ½ t. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ t. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 12 bamboo skewers

Instructions
  1. About one hour before cooking, place bamboo skewers in a long baking pan with water to cover them. Weight them down with something so they stay submerged. Being wet will keep them from burning too soon on the grill.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix kebab ingredients, using your hands, as though making a meatloaf mixture.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  5. Heat grill or broiler to medium heat.
  6. Using about ⅓ cup of meat mixture in your hand, place a skewer in the middle of it, forming the meat around the skewer like a fat, elongated sausage.
  7. When all skewers are assembled, brush each one with a little olive oil.
  8. Place on grill or broiler pan and begin cooking.
  9. After about 3 minutes, brush each kebab with the sauce mixture.
  10. Grill/broil another couple of minutes on first side; using tongs, turn kebabs over and cook for 2 minutes.
  11. Brush second side with sauce and continue cooking until you see a bit of charring. Your kitchen will probably be getting smoky at this point, so have a window open or your range hood running!
  12. Total cooking time should be no more than about 10 minutes for medium.

Notes
You can also used cubed boneless leg of lamb instead of the ground lamb, but the kebabs won’t be as spicy as the ground lamb mixture. I often serve this with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on the side, the Turkish way. Fage Total is the best I’ve had in this country, and it’s available now in most good supermarkets.

 

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Spicy Moroccan Veggies with Couscous

You can use any kind of plain couscous for this dish. Please don’t use the flavor-packet kind! Couscous is so easy to make and so flavorful, I often use it instead of rice.

[tip]Ras-el-hanout is a wonderful Moroccan spice mixture. You can sometimes find it in specialty food stores, or from various online ethnic grocers. Or just mix up a batch for yourself using the spices found in the Notes section of this recipe card. Enjoy![/tip]
Moroccan Veggie Couscous
Author:: 
Type: Vegetable Side
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Servings: 6-8
 

Ingredients
  • 6 tsp. ras-el-hanout (or make your own–see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes with their juice, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 15-ounce can chick peas
  • 1 cup plain couscous

Instructions
  1. Toast ras-el-hanout in large skillet over medium heat until it begins to waft its fragrance throughout your kitchen. Do not let it burn! Pour it into a bowl and set aside.
  2. If you have no ras-el-hanout, mix the spices in the note below with a whisk, then heat as above.
  3. Add raisins to 1 cup of hot water; let sit until plumped.
  4. Add the oil to the skillet turn the heat up to medium high. Add the onion and sauté until softened.
  5. Add the garlic, carrots, and potato and sauté for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and the spice mixture. Drain raisins and add to skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and carrots soften, about 20 minutes.
  6. Add the zucchini and chick peas and heat until the zucchini has cooked and the beans have heated through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Cook couscous according to package directions.
  8. Add cooked couscous to large bowl and spoon veggies over it. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

Notes
If you can’t find the wonderful Moroccan spice mixture called ras el-hanout, you can make your own: 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon turmeric ½ teaspoon cinnamon Pinch saffron ½ teaspoon cardamom ½ teaspoon coriander ½ teaspoon nutmeg ½ teaspoon ground black pepper As a main dish: You can turn this into a main dish if you add slices of white or dark meat chicken to the vegetable mixture and sauté until cooked through.

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What’s cooking for Thanksgiving?

We’re not hosting the holiday feast this year, but I’ll be bringing several dishes to a relative’s home next Thursday. No decisions yet; she has to let me know what kinds of things I should bring.

What is your Thanksgiving plan? Click here for some  fun ideas for easy holiday dishes, from Mark Bittman of the New York Times. I especially want to try the 45-Minute Roast Turkey method. I’ve done this with chicken, and it works great. It’s called spatch-cocking, and it does result in a very tasty bird in a very short amount of time. His popover recipe is very easy and delicious, reminiscent of the Dutch Baby I make on cold winter mornings when we have houseguests. The Dutch Baby is a sweet dish, and the popovers are savory. Same basic batter and method, but if you add savory herbs and bake the batter in a muffin pan instead of a big cast-iron skillet, you get popovers.

If you’d like to share some of your holiday recipes, please let me know and I will “promote” you to Author status here, so you can post in our new Bird Feeder section. And yes, I see the irony of having poultry recipes in a bird-lover community website.

Just send me an email, & I will enable you to post your recipes.

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Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
Author:: 
Type: Main dish
Prep time: 
Cooking time: 
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Servings: 4-6
 

Ingredients
For the Meatballs
  • ½ cup dry bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ pound ground chuck or sirloin (you can use all beef, but the mixture makes it very rich)
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup lingonberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons juice from Quick Pickled Cucumbers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
  1. Make the meatballs: Mix breadcrumbs and cream in small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Sauté onion in oil in small skillet until softened. Set aside to cool
  3. In a large bowl, combine the meats, onion, honey, and egg, and mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the bread crumb-cream mixture and mix well. Wet your hands with water and form the mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball, or a little smaller. Set them on a plate. You should have about 24 meatballs. Sometimes I make them smaller, about the size of a ping-pong ball.
  4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.
  5. Prepare the sauce: Return the skillet to the heat, whisk in the stock, cream, preserves, and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through. Serve hot with mashed potatoes, preserves, and Quick Picked Cucumbers. If you can find lingonberry preserves, they add a deliciously authentic Swedish kick to this meal.

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Quick Pickled Cucumbers

Chef Marcus Samuelsson, who was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Sweden, produces the most amazing food. I first tasted his artistry at Manhattan’s Aquavit restaurant back in the 1980s. What a revelation! Who knew Swedish food could be so delicious? Samuelsson is now a celebrity chef and has opened a new restaurant in Harlem, Red Rooster. A dinner visit there is high on my list. In the meantime, I often make this dish to accompany Samuelsson’s scrumptious Swedish meatballs.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers
Author:: 
Type: Side dish
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Cooking time: 
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Servings: 4-6
 

I’ve adapted this just a tad.
Ingredients
  • 1 English (hothouse) cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 allspice berries or juniper berries

Instructions
  1. Slice the cucumber very thin. I use a very sharp knife, but you can use a mandoline. Put slices in a colander with the salt and let the salt work for about 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, and allspice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Rinse the salt off the cucumbers. Squeeze as much water out of the cucumbers as you can, then place them in a large bowl. Pour the pickling liquid over the, covering them completely. Let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, up to 1 hour. They will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

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