Moroccan Chicken Skewers

Moroccan Chicken Skewers are similar to a chicken gyro or kefta sandwich. The seasonings give the chicken the Moroccan flavor and the garlic sauce provides a potent finish.

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Moroccan Chicken Skewers
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of BonAppetit.com, July 2014)

2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast “tenderloins”, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
2 red peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1 1/2″ squares
1 bunch green onions
6 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
Warm pita bread

To make garlic sauce, mash 4 cloves of the minced garlic using the blade of a chef’s knife. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Gradually whisk the yogurt into the garlic-oil mixture. Chill.

Toss the chicken cubes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of garlic, parsley, cumin, paprika, onion powder, ginger powder, and crushed red pepper flakes; season with salt. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Thread the chicken cubes onto metal skewers. Thread the red pepper squares onto metal skewers. Drizzle all skewers with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 8 – 12 minutes for the chicken and slightly less for the peppers.

Serve the chicken and peppers in warmed pitas with the garlic sauce and chopped tomatoes.

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Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Vegetable Panzanella

Fried Zucchini Blossoms are a special treat. The blossoms are only available for a short while, just before the zucchini begins to form. The blossoms are very delicate and they must be cooked the same day they are picked. Piping them with filling takes a little practice but is worth the effort. This recipe combines the fried blossoms with a panzanella, a salad with vegetables and crispy bread cubes that are slightly softened with a red wine vinaigrette.

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Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Vegetable Panzanella
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 4

1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4″ X 1/4″ X 2″ sticks
3 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/4″-thick rings
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small loaf crusty bread cut into 3/4″ cubes, dried in oven
1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 – 6 zucchini blossoms
Canola oil
1 cup farina 00 or cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup sparkling water such as San Pellegrino
1/2 cup soft goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup fat free milk
4 strips bacon, fried crisp and cut into small dice

In a medium skillet over medium heat bring 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a shimmer. Add the zucchini and red onion. Cook for 4 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add tomato and cook for another 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare red wine vinaigrette. Mix the vegetables, bread cubes and toss with vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine half of the diced bacon, goat cheese, and milk and mash with a fork until combined and creamy. Transfer the cheese mixture to a sandwich-sized zip-top plastic bag. Cut off one of the corners opposite the zip-top. Pipe the cheese into each of the blossoms and set them aside.

Mix flour, baking powder and sparkling water in a medium bowl. Add additional water as needed to create a batter that has the consistency of melted ice cream.

Heat canola oil in a large Dutch oven or cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. (Use enough oil to create a depth of about 3/4″ in the vessel.) When oil is hot, working in batches, use tongs to dip the blossoms into the batter and the place them in the oil. Cook them for 3 minutes, turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the fried blossoms to a paper-towel-lined dish and season immediately with salt.

To serve, plate divide the vegetable panzanella among the serving plates and top with the fried blossoms. Drizzle the fired blossoms with a little of the vinaigrette.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Make 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp honey
2 tsp Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, mix together vinegar, lemon juice, and honey. Slowly add oil while constantly whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

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Roasted Fennel and Potatoes with Garlic

Oven-roasted potatoes are a perfect side dish for almost any grilled meat. Adding some fennel sweetens the dish and the pungent roasted garlic slices give it a bit more depth.

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Roasted Fennel and Potatoes with Garlic
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of The Italian Vegetable Cookbook, Michael Scicolone, 2014)

Serves 4

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425F.

Cut the fennel through the core into 1/2″-thick wedges. (Leave the core intact to help wedges retain their shape)

Oil a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the fennel and potato slices in a single layer. Brush the top sides with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes, or until browned. Flip them and season them with salt and pepper. Add the garlic slices. Bake for 10 minutes more, or until they are tender and browned. Serve immediately.

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Pesto Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Stacks

Pesto, Eggplant and Mozzarella Stacks are warm salads that can accompany almost any meal. The tender baked vegetables, gooey mozzarella, and tangy pesto are effectively Italian comfort foods. The Garlic Hot Sauce that Ample Bites used was one of the sauces I cooked up a couple of weeks ago (see June 23, 2014 post titled Homemade Hot Sauces).

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Pesto Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Stacks
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of The Italian Vegetable Cookbook, Michael Scicolone, 2014)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into (6) 1/2″-thick slices
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 garlic clove
3 large tomatoes, cut into (6) 1/4″-thick slices
Garlic Hot Sauce
Fresh mozzarella, cut into (6) 1/4″-thick slices

Preheat oven to 425F. Oil a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Flip the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes, or until browned on both sides and tender. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven heat to 375F.

Rinse herbs and pat dry. Place the garlic clove in a food processor and pulse until minced. Add the herbs with a pinch of salt and pulse until chopped fine. Add the olive oil and a dash of Garlic Hot Sauce and process until smooth.

To create stacks for baking, place the three largest diameter eggplant slices on the baking sheet, top each with a slice of tomato, then a slice of mozzarella. Drizzle each with pesto. Place another slice of eggplant, another slice of tomato and a final slice of mozzarella on each stack. Secure the stacks with skewer to keep the layers from sliding off.

Bake the stacks for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melting. Remove the stacks from the oven and plate them. Drizzle each stack with the remaining pesto and serve immediately.

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Mushroom – Prosciutto Pizza with Fontina

Mushroom – Prosciutto Pizza with Fontina is a sauceless pizza that relies on the sweet-salty Fontina cheese and the rich sauteed mushrooms for flavor. The absence of a sauce allows the bottom of the crust to get extra-crispy as some of the cheese works its way into the dough.

Small amounts of cooked sausage or pepperoni can be used in place of the prosciutto and almost any semi-soft cheese can be used in place of the Fontina. For another variation substitute basil for the parsley.

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Mushroom – Prosciutto Pizza with Fontina
(Mark Kelly – 2014)

16 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 ounces Shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine at room temperature
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/2″-wide by 2″-long strips
12 ounces coarsely grated Fontina cheese
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

The Best Pizza Dough (Two – 12″ – 14″ diameter)
(See previous Ample Bites post “The Best Pizza Dough” for recipe)

Preheat oven and baking stone or baking steel to 500F.

In a large skillet over medium heat bring 2 tablespoons of oil to a shimmer. Add the mushrooms and cook until the release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid is evaporated. Add the parsley and toss for about a minute. Remove from heat.

Brush the outside 3/4″ of each pizza dough with oil. Spread half of the grated Fontina on each dough, divide the prosciutto between the doughs and then top each with half of the mushroom mixture. Drizzle the prepared doughs with olive oil just before moving each to the oven. Bake the pizzas for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Creamy Creole Crab Dip

Creamy Creole Crab Dip was a huge hit at two July 4th functions. The dip is a little spicy, very creamy and the crab dominates the flavor profile. If you don’t have access to good quality crab, chop shrimp and use them in place of the crab.

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Creamy Creole Crab Dip
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’, July/August 2014)

Makes 2 – 9×9 appetizer portions

2 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
½ cup minced shallot
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 tsp hot sauce
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Creole seasoning
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 tsp stone-ground mustard
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cupfinely chopped yellow bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-ounce package jumbo lump crabmeat, drained and picked free of shells
4 Tbsp Jim Beam bourbon
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Pita chips
Sliced green onion

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, ½ cup of Swiss, shallot, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire, Creole seasoning, Old Bay Seasoning, and mustard. Mix at low speed until combined and smooth.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add peppers, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and crabmeat, and cook 1 minute. Add Jim Beam, and cook until liquid is reduced, about 2 minutes.

Fold crabmeat mixture into cream cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and transfer equally into two baking dishes. Divide the Parmesan and the remaining ½ cup of Swiss between the two dishes on top of the crab-cream cheese mixture.

Bake until hot and bubble and the cheese is light brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onion and serve with pita chips.

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