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Archive for September 20th, 2011

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

I’ve been thinking about preserved lemons; it seems every second Moroccan recipe I pick up calls for preserved lemons. I love the tang of a freshly squeezed lemon; I love the colour of lemons, the wake-up call a squeeze of lemon gives to almost anything…so why not preserved lemons? I was a bit concerned about the salt, but most of the recipes call to rinse the salt off, and I even found one called to blanch the preserved lemon in boiling water for 30-60 seconds to remove some of the bitterness the pith and the skin may cause. Well, that’s practically insurance that I will love it. I decided to make only two, to give it a try.

I researched several recipes and they were pretty much all the same: steralize jar, cut lemons, salt, press firmly into jar to extract as much lemon juice as possible, if not enough juice came out, fill with more lemon juice, leave for a few days at room temperature, pressing down every day, then refrigerate. The recipe I loosely followed was a David Lebovitz recipe (he is an American chef living in Paris). I added the suggested cinnamon to mine and WOW! Salt and cinnamon really have an affinity. Next time, I will add a cinnamon stick so it doesn’t mess up the lemon juice as much!

I can hardly wait to try this in a month!

Preserved Lemon with Cinnamon

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I am so excited to introduce my best friend and husband as guest blogger today, please meet JT! I have asked JT to blog about the Moroccan Braised Beef because I had also asked him to prepare it. When I read the recipe on Epicurious, it dawned on me that it was indeed very similar to Julia Child’s Boeuff Bourguignon, and since JT is the master of THAT meal, it really was a no brainer (plus it got me out of the kitchen a bit sooner 😉 ). And I hand it over to you, JT…

I don’t pretend to have the same knowledge nor quite the same passion for cooking as does my wife Eva, but I do have some specialty items I do enjoy creating ……glass of wine in hand. As Eva eluded to above, one of my favourites meals to make (and eat) is bÅ“uff bourguignon (bb), however during the summer months it is just too hot to prepare and too heavy to eat. So, when Eva asked if I could make the Moroccan braised beef (mbb) I was happy to oblige (considering the temperature had gone from 28° C last week to lows around 5° C this past weekend). In reviewing the mbb recipe I saw two steps that I found interesting compared to the bb. First, in the bb recipe, the beef is seared in a hot pan then coated with flour and baked at a high temperature for a few minutes. This gives a really nice thick sauce after bb has fully cooked. While the mbb beef is seared, it does not add any flour or thickeners, but it does have a lot of liquid. Eva suggested to use the bb method of baking the flour onto the meat, but I resisted and made it according to the recipe. Since the mbb is simmered on the stove top uncovered instead of in the oven as with the bb, much of the liquid is evaporated off (also giving the house a really great aroma). The final product had a beautiful thick sauce similar to my usual bb. The second step in the mbb that I was curious about was the creation of a glaze. Again following the recipe to a T, the ingredients did boil down to a very shiny, flavourful, glaze. I mixed the beef into the glaze first for a couple of minutes prior to adding the rest of the liquids to incorporate even more flavour into the meat. Here are a couple of tips to hopefully improve the appearance, flavour and texture. 1) Cut the beef into about 1″ (25 cm) to 2″ (50 cm)…..any larger than 2″ is just too large in my opinion. 2) Simmer at a very low heat setting and increase cooking time to longer than 1 1/4 hours. I cooked ours for 2+ hours and the meat just fell apart. 3) Add some of your raisins about half way through the simmering process as the long cooking time tends to almost dissolve them into the sauce and it is nice to see some of them in the final product 4) Never add a wine or sherry you wouldn’t drink.

You may now wonder which I like better bb or mbb? I am leaning toward the mbb, but that may be just because it is a new taste to me……I’ll have a better idea after dinner tonight as we having leftover mbb…..yum!!!

Thanks JT for a great synopsis of the recipe and the tips. I sure would make eat it again, and again!

Moroccan Braised Beef

Moroccan Braised Beef

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-4-inch cubes
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala* (Krishna Jamal’s HeartSmartâ„¢ Flavours of India, Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre, 1998)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup dry Sherry
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Add meat to pot; sauté until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same pot. Add onions; sauté until brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and next 5 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add wine and Sherry; boil until reduced to glaze, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add broth, tomatoes with juice, and 1/4 cup raisins (reserve about 1/4 cup of the raisins to add later as suggested in tip 3 above); stir to blend. Add beef and accumulated juices; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until sauce is thick and beef is tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours 15 minutes.
  4. Season stew with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly, chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.)

You will notice that the Epicurious link to spiced almonds and couscous also included raisins, but since the beef had raisins, we omitted them, the almonds added an excellent of flavour AND texture.

Spiced Couscous with Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, wine, and saffron to a measuring cup and let sit for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion; cover and cook until translucent and tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Reserve.
  3. Bring the saffron water to a boil, add couscous and remove from heat. Allow to sit covered for about 15 minutes or until couscous has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork.
  4. Mix onions, almonds and cinnamon into couscous. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

All in all, an exceptional Moroccan dinner we are both eager to try in Morocco. PS, our guests also seemed to really enjoy it. Thank you Gordon and Angela for allowing us to use you as test victims…again!

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