Cooking fish can be intimidating. It’s expensive and very easy to overcook or over-season. So over the years I’ve tended to stick with what I know, mainly shrimp and salmon, or something cheap like tilapia or catfish. That is, until my recent (and delicious!) encounters with swordfish.
Swordfish is a firm fish that stands up well to cooking on the grill, and can handle a little more seasoning and spice than some other fish dishes. As with any other fish it will dry out when it’s overcooked, but unlike other fish it does not necessarily “flake” when it’s done. Simply look for it to turn white and opaque with a little bit of pink at the center.
Grilled swordfish is absolutely delicious, it absorbs the smoky flavor of the grill with a firm texture almost like steak. This recipe is for a swordfish kebab, seasoned with Moroccan spices and grilled briefly. The end result is a moist, firm and flavorful fish that doesn’t really taste “fishy” at all. It’s a great complement to a main dish salad, or serve with vegetables and rice.
Swordfish Brochettes (Qotbane de Hut)
1 lb. swordfish, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 c. Italian parsley, chopped
¼ tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
Mix swordfish with other ingredients and season with sea salt. Leave to marinate at least 2 hours (I marinated overnight and grilled in the morning).
Thread onto skewers and grill 2-3 minutes on each side.
Adapted from: Café Morocco by Anissa Helou
You can wrap just about anything up in phyllo dough, brush it with oil or butter and bake for a tasty treat. Sweet, savory – it doesn’t matter. It might look difficult, but if you ever folded paper footballs in class – that’s the same technique for folding a phyllo-filled triangle, anyone can do it! It is a bit time-consuming, but most phyllo items can also be frozen after folding, for a quick appetizer in a pinch. Just be sure to set them in one layer on waxed paper or foil until frozen – otherwise they may stick together and that just makes a mess when you have to pull them apart. Add a little more baking time from frozen and you’re good to go!
Spanakopita (spinach-filled phyllo) is perhaps the most popular of these that you’ll see as a party appetizer. The filling is typically made of spinach and feta, and often flavored with dill. In Moroccan culture, similar filled phyllo pastries are called briouat. Actually, they traditionally use a pastry called brik or warka, but you can’t get that in the U.S. very easily so phyllo is a good substitute.
This variation is a fairly simple briouat filling of egg and herbs. I sauteed minced onion in a non-stick pan until translucent, then added fresh chopped parsley and cilantro, a pinch of saffron threads and cinnamon. After the spices and onion had cooked for another couple of minutes, I slowly stirred in beaten eggs over low heat to mix into the other ingredients and gently scramble. As soon as the eggs firmed up, I removed the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
When the filling was cool, I used it to fill the pastry and folded to make triangles. I sealed the edges with canola oil and used that also to brush the tops lightly before baking. They bake for about 20 minutes at 350 or until nicely browned.
Last Sunday I popped over to the Farmer’s Market after church to pick up some fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs. As usual, I ended up with more food than I could (or should) possibly eat in a week – what can I say, I’m a vegetable farmer’s daughter! On my shopping list were cilantro and mint, and when I asked for those two herbs, learned that for $1 more I could have a third. Given the options, I chose basil.
With everything else to cook last week, I waited too long on the basil and it started wilting and turning brown. So I needed something quick to use a lot of basil, and immediately thought of pesto. Having recently received Clotilde Dusoulier’s “Chocolate & Zucchini” cookbook through paperbackswap.com (give me a referral credit if you decide to sign up, my nickname is crazy4food!), I flipped through the cookbook to see if there were any recipes involving pesto or basil. I had some pistachios leftover from Moroccan cooking, so I settled on this recipe for Pistachio Pesto.
1 c. pistachios (shelled and unsalted)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. (packed) basil leaves
1/4 c. Parmesan
1/2 c. good quality olive oil
In a food processor, mix the pistachios, garlic, pepper and salt and grind into a powder. Add lemon juice, basil and Parmesan and about half the olive oil. Process some more, adding olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
This makes a wonderfully-colored pesto which you can serve with bread, as a sandwich spread or a pasta sauce. The author even suggests using it to stuff cherry tomatoes as an appetizer. I personally love pesto inside a grilled cheese sandwich!
Adapted from: Chocolate & Zucchini, by Clotilde Dusoulier