Whether you already know you love the spicy, earthly flavors of a good harissa sauce or want to give it a try for the first time, this recipe will not disappoint. I use our Tomato Harissa Sauce recipe that we waterbath-can each year, making this quick and easy to prepare. If you have not pre-made our sauce and want to use your own red harissa paste (homemade or store-bought), I’ve included the substitutions in the recipe notes below. The small amount of honey adds a subtle sweetness to the harissa’s spiciness while the Preserved Lemon brings additional complexity to the sauce….
If you haven’t tried harissa by now, you are missing out – it’s just that good. With as many variations as there are regions in North Africa, this spicy paste is often thought of as the Mediterranean/ Middle East’s version of Asia’s sriracha sauce. It is used as a base to liven up flavor in curries and stews or as a condiment. Harissa’s complex blend of spicy chiles, garlic, spices, salt and olive oil is wickedly addictive, with a brazen red color that is enticing and seductive.
I started making two different variations of harissa sauce a couple years back. I make the more authentic sauce/ paste, made with chilis, spices and olive oil, year round, as it has a limited refrigerator life of about 3 weeks. This harissa sauce for canning has tomatoes added and no oil and has a shelf life of one year, when canned and stored properly. We grow quite a few tomatoes in our garden each year for canning salsas and tomato sauces. Since I make several meat dishes by combining harissa with stewed tomatoes, this canned version was a no-brainer for me. This sauce eliminates most of the prep work, making it perfect for weekday meals, without sacrificing flavor. Getting a home cooked meal on the table on those days when I’m really pressed for time or exhausted from a long day is a definite win-win….
I honestly feel pesto is as close to perfection as it gets. This simple green sauce that borders on divine can be used as a sauce or marinade for pasta, meats, vegetables and salads and its proportion of ingredients are fully customizable. That being said, this is my family’s favorite version, served traditionally, with pasta.
Each summer, we grow 3-4 huge pots of basil, which makes enough pesto to feed my family through the winter months. Freezing individual 1-2 ounce scoops of sauce, before vacuum sealing, keeps it fresh tasting and worthy of serving. Using the best quality ingredients will make the sauce that much better.
Plums have a special place for me, not only for their flavor, but because they were my first foray into entrepreneurship as a child. We had a prolific green plum tree in our yard, that produced far more plums than my family and all the neighborhood birds could consume. Rather than watching them rot on the ground, I decided to fill baskets and brown paper bags with the excess plums, cleaning and polishing them into tantalizing beauties for potential customers. I loaded them into my Red Flyer wagon, and set out door to door, peddling my wares. The response was better then hoped for and a summer business was born, filling my piggy bank many times over. Although I was far from being in need as a child, there was something gratifying and independent about making, spending and saving money I had made by my own hand. This rustic cake is a salute to by-gone times when life was simpler and children could canvas their neighborhood with homemade/ home grown goods without needing a license or adult supervision. It has a delicious butter cake base with a sour cream plum filling, topped with an almond streusel….
Ranking high on our culinary ‘love lists’, Chermoula and potato roti are both ‘go to’ recipes that make it to our dinner table on a regular basis, for both family meals and dinner parties. Used in many North African countries, this regionally diverse area has spawned numerous incarnations of this parsley, cumin and garlic based marinade. Traditionally a marinade for seafood, we prefer switching it up with chicken. Nearly foolproof, the beauty of this chermoula is that any fresh shrimp or chicken breast anointed with this marinade and properly grilled, renders a perfectly balanced, exquisitely flavored dish. Its amber color with flecks of green and red are a visual treat when served, each bite evoking a moment of silence, as the brain tries to identify each flavor as it’s released in the mouth. Yes, it’s that good!…
This is the time of year that I walk the fine line between being thrilled with the plethora of ripe veggies coming out of our garden and surrendering to the burgeoning feelings of panic that I might not get everything canned, preserved and prepped prior to the inevitable first frost. After divvying up what goes to restaurants and the shelter that feeds our Vets and those in need, we still have an amazing bounty of veggies. Two things there never seem to be a shortage of are summer squash and cucumbers – the plants that just keep on giving. Making homemade cucumber dill pickles is a great way to use up pickling cucumbers because you can make them as crispy or sour as you like and they are so easy to make.
This is the time of year when gardeners and farmers are busy reaping the fruits of their labor and keeping on top of harvesting the abundance of ripe offerings. Whether you have a summer garden or buy your veggies from local farmer’s markets or the grocery store, summer squash, tomatoes and peppers are in abundance and at the peak of their natural cycle. Grilling is one of our ‘go to” methods of cooking summer vegetables and with this Balsamic Glaze it makes a perfect farm to table side for any grilled meat….
When I first bought our smoker, it remained in its’ box, unused, for several months. Zog is the reining, (in all honesty, the only), master of the grill in our household, so it was actually a gift for him. One of those gifts surreptitiously given to one family member so the entire family can benefit from the fruits of their labor. A few months after finally using it, he confessed that his initial trepidations about using the smoker was that it would be complicated and laborious. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was as easy as grilling on the BBQ and that he had mastered making the most divinely succulent and tender chicken we had ever tasted. This simple recipe is a tried and true family favorite….