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GOOKING COOKING/ABBY MANDEL

The Skewer

January 21, 1998|ABBY MANDEL | Mandel's latest book is "Celebrating the Midwestern Table" (Doubleday & Co., 1996)

Consider this casual Moroccan-style dinner the next time you have friends over. It's simple to make and the recipes can be increased easily to serve 8 or 12.

Preparation of the grilled lamb shish kebabs, couscous with carrots and currants, and cucumber-and-tomato salad moves quickly when you use a food processor for mincing and chopping.

Chicken or turkey breasts or sirloin or tenderloin beef can be substituted for the lamb, and although I have suggested serving this meal hot, it can be just as delicious served at room temperature for a picnic.

Cracked green olives and/or canned chickpeas moistened with olive oil and flavored with garlic, onion and cumin are easy nibbles with drinks. Sliced oranges or strawberries and simple butter or semolina cookies are all you need for dessert.

MOROCCAN LAMB SHISH KEBABS

16 (2-inch) chunks trimmed lamb cut from leg, about 1 3/4 pounds

1/4 cup minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 small onion, chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 large lemons, each cut into 8 wedges

Rinse lamb and blot dry with paper towels. Put in plastic food bag.

Combine parsley, garlic, onion, oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste in small bowl.

Pour into plastic bag with lamb, close bag and work with fingers to coat lamb with marinade. Marinate in refrigerator at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours, occasionally working bag to distribute marinade. Let come to room temperature before cooking.

Soak 4 wooden skewers 15 minutes. Alternately thread 4 lamb pieces and 4 lemon wedges on each skewer, leaving slight space around lamb to allow it to cook thoroughly. Reserve marinade.

Place on grill over hot fire or on broiler pan. Brush reserved marinade on top side of kebabs. Cook until well-seared on bottom, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until lamb is browned and rare or pink in center as desired. To test for doneness, insert tip of sharp knife into center of lamb chunk. Serve hot.

4 servings. Each serving:

376 calories; 690 mg sodium; 97 mg cholesterol; 26 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 31 grams protein; 0.38 gram fiber.

COUSCOUS WITH CARROTS AND CURRANTS

1 cup couscous

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

4 small carrots, chopped

1/3 cup dried currants

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Combine couscous, salt and pepper to taste in 1-quart bowl.

Bring broth, turmeric, carrots and currants to boil in small saucepan. Add to couscous and stir well with fork. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Stir in parsley with fork.

4 servings. Each serving:

202 calories; 619 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 41 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 1 gram fiber.

CUCUMBER-AND-TOMATO SALAD

To use a food processor to shred the cucumbers, cut halves into chunks that fit in the feed tube horizontally; long shreds make a difference in this relish-like salad. To slice the mint leaves, stack them together and use kitchen shears to cut them into thin strips.

2 seedless cucumbers, peeled and halved

1 tomato, halved crosswise and diced

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves

8 leaves red leaf lettuce

Mint sprigs

Shred cucumbers and blot lightly with cloth towel.

Put cucumbers, tomato, green onions, sugar, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to taste in bowl and toss gently to mix. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

To serve, toss salad with mint leaves. Drain off excess liquid, taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve salad on red leaf lettuce leaves garnished with mint sprigs.

4 servings. Each serving:

78 calories; 306 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.55 grams fiber.

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