Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harissa Chicken Kabobs

Harissa is a delicious North African hot sauce.  A spicy paste made of red chilis, garlic and warm spices including cumin and caraway. It has a zillion uses, add it to soups or stews, marinate meats, use it as a sandwich spread, infuse grains like rice or couscous or use it to make a great, quick pasta sauce.  Check out this Harissa Spaghettini recipe from 101 cookbooks, really delicious and innovative stuff.  Today's recipe for chicken kabobs uses Harissa as a base for a marinade.  The addition of more warm spices, garlic, olive oil and a hint of lime juice packs a ton of flavour and moisture into this chicken.  I serve the kabobs with Harissa spiked aioli for dipping and Israeli salad (which I'll tell you about before tomato season is over).

Harissa Chicken Kabobs
Origin: Jaime, Impeccable Taste

Notes:  I make my own Harissa to avoid the small amounts of sugar that the store bought varieties usually contain.  I find the spices are more fragrant in the homemade variety which is a bonus, but seriously, buy yourself a jar/tube, save some time and you'll bump up the spices in the chicken marinade.  The recipe I use for homemade Harissa is here.


3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
3 generous tablespoons Harissa
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
skinless boneless chicken breasts (the marinade makes enough to coat 2-4 lbs of chicken)
Harissa Aioli for serving (see recipe below)

Prepare the marinade.  In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, lime juice, Harissa, spices and olive oil.

Cut the chicken breasts into cubes about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in size.  Add cubed chicken to the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (the longer the better).

When you are ready to grill, thread chicken onto skewers.  Grill over high heat for 12-15 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear.

Harissa Aioli
Origin: Jaime, Impeccable Taste


1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use homemade olive oil mayo)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Harissa

Combine mayo, lime juice, garlic and Harissa in a medium bowl, season with salt and whisk to combine.  Chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

What would happen if a whole summer whizzed by completely potato salad free?  It hurts to even think about, it just wouldn't be right.  I was determined to come up with an alternative for all of us white potato avoiders.  I knew I could make this happen with the nutritionally dense sweet potato, as long as there were enough savoury, tangy and creamy ingredients to balance out the sweet.  A healthy dose of onion, pickles, chopped egg, and celery did the trick!  With all of those delicious flavours mingling together, it's quite the summer party.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Origin: Jaime, Impeccable Taste

Notes:  To keep things paleo friendly, I make my own mayonnaise, avoiding sugar and unhealthy vegetable oils.  I have included my recipe for homemade, olive oil mayonnaise below.  Obviously, good quality store bought mayo works great here (I like Hellman's)I have incorporated instructions on how to roast sweet potatoes into this recipe.  Everyone has their own method for this.  I have found that preheating the baking sheets helps them crisp up pretty well.  You can roast the potatoes however you like, you just need to start with well roasted, bite sized chunks of sweet potato for this salad.


4 pounds sweet potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed clean
1/2 cup coconut oil (or any vegetable oil), divided
salt and pepper

5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced (about 1 cup)
4 large dill pickles, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

To roast the sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 475 degrees, place oven racks in the middle and lower positions.  Insert 2 baking sheets to preheat along with the oven.  Heat coconut oil in a small saucepan until just melted/liquified.  Chop the sweet potatoes by halving them lengthwise, then cut the halves lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces, chop wedges into bite sized pieces (about 1/2 inch thick).  In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 4 tablespoons of oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.  When the oven and baking sheets are preheated, carefully remove the baking sheets and drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil onto each sheet.  Carefully distribute the sweet potatoes between the 2 baking sheets in a single layer, and pop them back in the oven.  Roast for about 15 minutes, then flip the potatoes with a spatula, and put the trays back into the oven, rotating the 2 sheets top to bottom.  The potatoes should be done after an additional 10 minutes of roasting.  I like to put each sheet under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get some nice brown crispy spots.  Remove potatoes and cool completely.

To prepare the salad, combine the mayo and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.  Toss the cooled sweet potatoes, eggs, onions, pickles, celery and mayo mixture together in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, chill and serve.

Homemade Olive Oil Mayonnaise
Origin: Jaime, Impeccable Taste

Notes:  This mayo can be made with a food processor or by hand with a very strong arm.  I use light or extra light olive oil for this recipe to keep the flavour neutral.  The mayonnaise made in the food proccessor will be more stiff then that made by hand, but it's worth it to save time and your arm.


2 egg yolks, preferably room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups light (not extra virgin or first pressing) olive oil

Food processor method:  Put the egg yolks, Dijon, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Measure out your olive oil.  Process the egg and seasonings for about 30 seconds until lightened and thickened slightly.  Keep the motor running and using a teaspoon (it helps control the speed at which you add your oil), drizzle oil SLOWLY, teaspoon by teaspoon, drip by drip, through the feed tube of the food processor.  After you have added about 1/2 cup, you should see a thick mayonnaise forming, you can now increase the speed at which you add the remainder of the oil, still using the teaspoon to drizzle in a slow, steady stream.  Stop processing immediately after you have finished adding your oil or it may separate. (Use your ears, you can actually hear a change in the sound of of the mayonnaise as it loosens before it separates. Stop processing immediately if you hear this!) Chill until ready to use.

By hand:  Dampen a tea towel, fold it, and place it under a medium sized mixing bowl (this will keep the bowl steady when whisking like a mad person).  Measure out your olive oil.  Place egg yolks, Dijon, lemon juice and salt in the mixing bowl, whisk vigorously until pale and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.  While whisking continuously, using a teaspoon, VERY SLOWLY drip the olive oil into the egg yolk mixture.  By VERY SLOWLY I mean it should take you about 4 minutes to add the first 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Once the first 1/4 cup of olive oil has been added, you should see the mayo starting to emulsify.  You can increase the speed at which you add your oil now, still using the teaspoon to drizzle in a slow, steady stream.  It should take you an additional 4-5 minutes to add the rest of the oil.  Do not over mix or the mayo may separate.  Chill until ready to use.

If your mayo separates:  Have no fear!  It can always be rescued.  Get your arm ready, it's going to take some more elbow grease.  Start with one egg yolk in a medium, clean bowl.  Whisk the egg yolk vigorously for about 30 seconds, until it has lightened in colour.  Slowly add your separated mayonnaise, drip by drip into the new bowl, whisking continuously.  This should bring the mayo back to a smooth, creamy consistency.