Tag Archives: lemons

Chicken, Olive, and Lemon Tagine (Djaj Mqualli) over Sauteed Kale and Israeli Coucous

One night, Kevin invited some new friends over for dinner and I didn’t want to make anything complicated so I chose this gem.  It did come with some small challenges.  The first was that I didn’t know what “cracked olives” were!! I did some googling and found that they are as simple as putting the olives on a cutting board and smacking them with the flat side of the blade.  Also, I could not find preserved lemons!!! After going to 4 different stores and not finding preserved lemons, I decided to make up a quick preserve method and allow them to preserve  prior to making the dinner.  This actually made for a brighter lemon flavor as the stew cook down, which really made the dish!!  What better way to welcome new friends than with a dish that that is as bright as our budding friendship?
This entry is for a whole meal, not just the main course and it came together rather quickly, so don’t be daunted!!!


Optional: “Quick” Preserved lemons

4 lemons, washed, sliced into 1/4 inch slices and deseeded
1 C salt
4 C boiling water

3 tbsp. olive oil
6 whole chicken legs cut into thighs and legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large yellow onions, sliced
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
12 tsp. crushed saffron threads
12 cups chicken stock
6 oz. green olives, cracked or 6oz pitted green olives
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 jarred preserved lemons, cut into slices (or use 4 “quick” preserve lemons from above)
Sauteed Kale and Israeli CousCous
2 C Israeli or Pearl CousCous
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
1-10oz bag of baby kale or precut kale, larger stem pieces removed
1/2 C vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tsp. finely chopped cilantro


**Optional**Make Quick Preserve Lemons: The morning you are going to cook, place all lemon slices into a wide mouth, 1 quart mason jar.  Add salt, and enough boiling water to reach the neck of the jar. Cap the jar with the lid and shake the jar until majority of the salt has dissolved, if there are still a few in the container then that’s ok.  Let the jar sit and shake it periodically.  When ready to make recipe, drain entire contents in a colander.

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in an 8–qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper; add to pot and cook, turning, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Add onions to pot; cook until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add spices; cook for 2 minutes. Return chicken to pot with stock; boil. Stir in olives, butter, and lemons into pot, bake  until chicken is tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. Make coucous according to package instructions, cover and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover, add parsley and cilantro, and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Combine couscous and sautéed kale, mix well.

To serve, spoon kale and couscous mixture into the center of plate, top with a piece of chicken. Spoon jus,  olives and several slices of cooked lemon over chicken.  Serve with reserved jus.

Farmers Cheese

Photo by Michael Abner
Photo by Michael Abner

I have been interested in making cheese for a little while now after visiting a farmer’s market in Saint Paul, MN a few years ago.  This dairy farmer was selling his cheeses and I was intrigued about making it.  Now, a few years later, and I found myself with a few days off and time to spare, so I decided to try my hand at making cheese.  I did not want to use rennet (I have not been able to find it locally, and when the urge to make something strikes I generally do not have time to order online…), so I researched rennet free cheese.  In farmers cheese, you use lemon juice to cause the milk to curdle.

So you basically take a gallon of whole milk (Skim milk just gives you less curds, and who likes skim milk anyway, except for frothing for lattes) and bring it to 190 degrees (medium heat), stirring to keep from burning.

Photo by Michael Abner
Photo by Michael Abner

At this point you  pull the pot off of the heat and pour in the juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup), stir this in and leave it alone for 10 minutes.  Seriously, just leave it alone!  I decided that I wanted to have a bit more taste, so I added fresh rosemary leaves at this point.  You pour this into a strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and allow it to strain all of the whey out.  After most of the whey has drained off, you can gather the cheese cloth together and squeeze the rest out.

At this point, you are left with just curds, which can be salted and kneaded to mix.

Photo by Michael Abner
Photo by Michael Abner

I was concerned about there being too much salt, so held back to just a pinch.  However, when I served it, I had to salt it to bring out the flavor.  This was really good on crackers.  I would not suggest using anything sweet with this, as it does not have enough “tang” to counteract the sweetness, but it complements salty items very nicely!

A tip:

Do not use “ultra pasteurized” anything.  This prevents any curds from forming and you will just have wasted a gallon of milk and a lemon.

Wasting Lemons is sad


When I find non-ultrapasteurized goats milk, I will make something with that!  If so, I will keep you updated.


Preserved Lemons

So I am trying something that I have been leery of in the past – preserving lemons. IMG_0001_2 There is a very funny article at jenmenke.com that explains my trepidation with making these. However, I had a bunch of Meyer lemons languishing in the refrigerator, a box of kosher salt, and a few days off from work.  To me that equals experimentation day.


So, I scrubbed the lemons and removed the last bit of the stem that was left on each.  IMG_0003I then put a couple of handfuls of salt in the bottom of my current favorite canning jar.  Then I Took each lemon and cut it into quarters, but not cutting all the way through, leaving it to open up into connected quarters.  Sprinkling salt into the quarters, I pressed them as best I could into the jar, compacting them as I went.  I also added salt to each layer of lemons that I placed into the jar.   I was surprised at how many fit into the jar!IMG_0004I am, apparently, supposed to leave these on my countertop for 7-ish days then keep them indefinitely in the refrigerator.  We will see!  I will post updates as myIMG_0007_2 experiment goes on.