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Archive for September, 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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Harira

This is a traditional Moroccan soup, with many variations. I really liked the ingredients from Epicurious, with some minor alterations based on the reviews (love the reviews). I made this a day in advance so the flavours could really meld. Click on the heading to link to the original recipe. This soup reminded me very much of Mulligatawny, and was equally as flavourful. I am looking forward to ordering this soup in Morocco to see whether my version was authentic.

Harira a traditional Morocca Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 4 cups water, I held off, adding after for desired consistency
  • a 28-to 32-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and puréed coarsely
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 cups canned chick-peas, rinsed, hulls removed
  • 1/4 cup raw long-grain rice (I used brown rice)
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions:

  1. Soak the saffron threads in the chicken stock for about 20 minutes (you get more flavour out of them).
  2. In a heavy kettle (at least 5 quarts) sauté onions, carrots and celery until tender and dust with cumin and coriander and sauté only until you smell the spice.
  3. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, chick-peas, rice and lentils and simmer covered for 30 minutes, or until lentils and rice are tender.
  4. I took half the soup and puréed it to a smooth and velvety finish and then poured it back into the chunky soup. It made for a really delicious thick vegetable soup, add water to achieve the desired consistency.
  5. Soup may be prepared 4 days ahead (cool uncovered before chilling covered).
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro and parsley, drizzle with EVOO

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I’ve been cruising the net trying to find the right combo of courses for our Moroccan themed dinner party on Saturday; it’s not as easy as it sounds, there are so many interesting recipes and flavours, it’s difficult to choose. We found the main course and side first, then the desserts. Then I thought OMG, we need a soup! And the temperatures in Toronto have plummeted to a chilly 7°C overnight – great soup weather! And, last but not least i went scouring the net for hors d’Å“uvres.
This post is all about the hors d’Å“uvres. I was enamored by this recipe because it sounded like hummus, and I adore hummus. The flat bread reminded me of something my Mom used to make with ‘leftover’ bread dough, Langos (pronounced langosh, it’s a traditional Hungarian pan-fried flat bread). Plus, it has so many names…I knew it was the one for us! I have linked the original recipes in their titles. It is rather odd to make this flat bread using a food processor, but it does seem to work, and the dough is not too heavy to bog down the processor’s motor. It’s a chewy, tasty bread, something like Naan. Of course, my alteration is the substitution of two to one all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour. (it had to be done).

Batbout or Matlouh or Mkhamer or Toghrift or Matlou with Bessara
aka Moroccan Flat Bread with Fava Bean Dip

Batbout or Matlouh or Mkhamer or Toghrift or Matlou (Moroccan Flat Bread)

Batbout and Bassara

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 tablespoon herb (I did not add this)

Directions:

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in the food processor by giving them a whirl of the blades.
  2. Stop the machine and add the water all at once. Close the machine and mix until the dough forms a ball of slighly sticky dough. Add more water by the tablespoon if you find your ball of dough is a bit tough. You want a very supple, soft dough.
  3. Divide the dough in 4 balls. Oil them well with good quality, peppery olive oil and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  4. There are a complex number of rolling steps which my source describes wonderfully with photos. Here is my simplified version:
  5. Flatten each ball to a rectangle about 1/2cm thick, fold in the long sides (like a business letter, she describes!) Flatten a bit more with your fingers and then roll it up like a small, tight jelly roll. Punch down the top and allow to rise another 30 minutes. I covered with EVOO and plastic wrap and put them in the fridge overnight (a trick to slow down the yeast so I can make the bread when I have more time tomorrow).
  6. Pre heat your cast iron pan to very hot for about 15 minutes. We have natural gas, so it didn’t take as long.
  7. Bring the rolled up dough balls to room temperature. Once at room temperature flatten to a large circle about a 1/2cm thick – this bread will thicken slightly in the pan. Oil generously (I would switch to an oil with a higher flash point, like peanut or grape seed). Fry both sides until cooked through and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/saladsandsidedishes/r/Bessara_Recipe.htm

Bessara

This is a slightly soupier dip than hummus. You can even thin it down and serve it as a soup!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups canned fava beans (also known as Broad Beans)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (I used chipotle oil oil for a bit of a kick!)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable stock, as required
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, lightly roasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper (I omitted since I used the chipotle olive oil).
  • For garnish, mix a small amount of roasted cumin, paprika, chopped cilantro. Drizzle with EVOO.

Directions:

  1. Put beans into a food processor, add garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of vegetable stock and spices.
  2. Process on high speed until smooth, adding additional liquid if necessary to thin the Bessara. It should be thin enough to pour or spread out on a plate. Taste the Bessara and adjust the seasoning if desired.
  3. To serve, heat until warm and serve with the flat bread above. Garnish the Bessera with any of the following: ground cumin, paprika, hot paprika, EVOO, or chopped parsley.

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We are continually researching Morocco for our upcoming trip and I am so excited about the latest our latest discovery: a cooking class in Marrakech at Maison MK! We chose this course because they take you to market to buy your ingredients! How cool is that? In Mellah market we will learn about all the local products, & ingredients. The covered market sells fruit & vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, spices, etc. We will buy all the ingredients to make the tagine in the maison mk kitchen. (Apparantly this is the market they took Jamie Oliver to for his programme on Marrakech!) This trip keeps getting better and better!

This is the third recipe for my Moroccan themed dinner party dessert trio. I found this recipe on About.com, and validated it with bloggers and other sites — I like the way the citrus ties it into the two other desserts. The tasters I made were a huge success (last night with JT and this morning with my friend, Kim). I cut the recipe into a quarter of the original, although I list it as it’s full volume, from this link. It’s very quick once you have all your ingredients ready mise en place, as they say. I have shown my revisions in blue.

Moroccan Coconut Lemon Cake

Ingredients:

— For the Cake—

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cups grated unsweetened coconut
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one or two lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

— For the Icing and Garnish —

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (I used less)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • I also added about 2 tbsp of coconut powder, because I felt the powdered sugar was too sweet.
  • I also added about 2 tbsp lemon juice to help cut the sweetness of the powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup toasted, sweetened coconut* I used more because I wanted the whole cake covered.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Grease and flour your cake pan(s).
  2. Zest and juice the lemon.
  3. With an electric mixer or by hand, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Gradually beat in the oil. Beat in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
  4. Stir in the flour, coconut, baking powder and salt, and then the milk. Beat until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s). Bake until the cake tests done: 25 to 30 minutes for layers; 35 to 40 minutes for oblong; about 40 minutes for a tube or bundt pan. Even the little ramekins I used took about 30 minutes for the cake tester to come out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 7 to 10 minutes. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a spatula, and turn out the cake onto a rack to finish cooling.
  7. To decorate the cooled cake, mix everything BUT the toasted coconut to spreadable consistency. Spread the icing in a thin layer over the enitre cake, and dust with the toasted coconut so that it covers all sides and the top. Allow the icing to set before serving.

*Note:To make toasted coconut, spread grated unsweetened coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 5 to 8 minutes, or until light golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Cover and store until needed.

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I’ve been reading up on Moroccan blogs; one such blog mentioned that a Moroccan host can take up to a week to prepare a meal for her honoured guests! I started Monday… does that count?

Onto dessert #2 for my little trio for Saturday night’s Moroccan themed dinner party. I found this one on Epicurious, and just liked the way it sounded but I did verify that this dessert does exist in Moroccan cuisine. I cut this recipe in half but list the full ingredients below, and it made five mini tarts, perfect! (ok, three are for the dinner party – I don’t eat dessert- and one was the taster for JT to make sure it was yummy and it sure was!!! the larger round one is for my friend (and boss) because she gives me a ride home most evenings (believe it or not, we live across the street from each other…we are indeed good friends!)

Moroccan Fig & Sesame Tart with Orange Cardamom Cream

Fig and Sesame Tart

Ingredients for pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

For filling:

  • 9 ounces dried Turkish figs, stemmed and finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flower water (preferably Mymouné) I googled orange water substitutions and found that you can use an orange liqueur like Triple Sec.

For cardamom orange cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Accompaniment: fresh orange sections

Directions, pastry dough:

  1. Pulse together flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined.
  2. Add butter and process until mixture resembles fine meal.
  3. Add 3 yolks (reserving the fourth for egg wash) and process until it forms a smooth dough, 2 to 3 minutes. (Don’t worry about overworking dough.)
  4. Transfer dough to a work surface and gather into a ball, then divide into 3 equal pieces. Form one third of dough into a small disk, then form remaining dough into a larger disk. Chill disks, each wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make filling while dough chills:

  1. Simmer figs, water, sugar, and cinnamon in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in sesame seeds (3 tablespoons) and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in orange-flower water, then transfer filling to a bowl.
  4.  Cool filling to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Assemble and bake tart:

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place flan ring in center.
  2. Roll out larger disk of dough into an 11-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. (If dough is too firm to roll out, let stand at room temperature 5 minutes.)
  3. Fit dough into flan ring, pressing dough up side of ring (dough is very tender and tears easily; patch as needed; they will blend in during baking), then trim dough flush with top of ring. Spoon filling into crust and spread evenly.
  4. Roll out remaining disk of dough into a 9-inch round on lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin. Gently lay round over filling, then roll rolling pin over top to trim. Patch if necessary.
  5. Beat together remaining yolk and cream (1 tablespoon) in a cup with a fork and brush some of egg wash over top crust, then chill until egg wash appears darker and is slightly tacky, about 3 minutes. Brush with second coat of egg wash and chill again. Lightly score top with back of a small knife to make a decorative pattern and sprinkle with sesame seeds (1 teaspoon).
  6. Bake tart until top is golden, 30 to 35 minutes (I found 40-45 minutes did the trick).
  7. Transfer tart on baking sheet to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then slide tart off parchment onto rack to cool. Gently remove ring.

Make cream and serve tart:

  1. While tart bakes, stir together cream, honey, zest, and cardamom in a medium bowl and chill, covered. Just before serving, beat cream mixture with an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks.
  2. Serve tart, warm or at room temperature, with cream and oranges.

My tarts were very small, about 10 cm x 4cm and the round one was about 8cm. I plan on serving the three desserts on a long rectangular plate. My ‘Platogram” is below. I usually do this for more complex dinners so I don’t mess it up after a couple of glasses of wine!

Plating the Dessert

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It’s a very happening week in Toronto because we have the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) — the world’s largest film festival (according to Wiki, obviously a Torontonian wrote it!). We have been graced with some of the biggest stars, George Clooney (be still my heart), the BrAngelina’s, Madonna, Robert DeNiro to name a few. JT and I have been fortunate enough to score tickets from friends in the past, but unfortunately, not this year :-(, so to feel part of the action, we decided to get all dolled up [you know, just in case we bump into someone ;-)] and head downtown to the Ritz (we [I] heard Mr. Clooney was staying there). The Ritz is a brand new hotel in Toronto, opened in April, I think. We’ve been fortunate enough to have stayed in several Ritz Hotels in US and Canada and the one thing that is consistent is the quality of service — always exceptional. We had a glass of wine at TOCA and then we ventured to the back patio DEQ (say Deck) for another glass and some dinner.

At TOCA we were served a little plate of deep fried capers (not to my taste, capers were crunchy but the brininess was lost), crispy maple bacon (very weird taste, also not my cup-a-tea) and some roasted salted corn (very tasty). A pleasant surprise was that a very tasty Pinot was only $10 a glass. Last year we went down to the Four Seasons Hotel (another TIFF hangout, we actually saw Henry Winkler with his family) and the wine was $15 a glass, we had two each and paid about $80 with taxes — NO FOOD!! Dare I say, the Ritz is way classier!

Snacks at TOCA at the Ritz Carlton Toronto

TOCA Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4.5/5, food na/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

After our glass of wine, we asked the manager to direct us to the other bar with the ‘great patio’ — he actually escorted us there. That’s service! I’m used to “see that sign at the far right, head that way and make a left, you can’t miss it!” type of service! He sat us at the patio bar as more than half the restaurant was closed for a private TIFF party. Later, we found out Mr. Clooney spent Friday and Saturday night at this bar [OMG, I may have been sitting on the exact same bar stool that HE sat on — damn, I was wearing white pants, not so easy to avoid washing ;-)]

We enjoyed DEQ’s specialty flat bread, which is kind of like a pizza, it had Chorizo and artichokes, quick roasted tomato goat cheese – it was delicious! JT was still hungry so we ordered Bruschetta, 6 pieces, also a signature dish (you order the amount you want, 1 each of three flavours or two each); the flavours were tomato-basil, Ingersoll burrata-pesto and speck asparagus with a poached quail egg. I was not that hungry but managed to scarf down the speck asparagus with the quail egg and the tomato-basil – both were delicious. The bartender was very nice, chatted us up for some of the time. We stayed until a little after 11 work beckoned; sadly the TIFF party that reserved the other half of the patio did not start before we left. Oh well, perhaps I’ll bump into Mr. Clooney some other time (in my dreams, perhaps)!

DEQ Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4.5/5, service 4.5/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Back to cooking! We are having good friends over for dinner on Saturday, and to help jump start our Moroccan adventure, we decided to have the theme as Moroccan food. I tested this recipe and it turned out pretty good. I am planning to have three little dessert samplers for Saturday night, Sellou is one of them.

“Sellou (or sfouf) is a unique unbaked Moroccan sweet made from toasted unhulled sesame seeds, fried almonds and flour that has been browned in the oven. Packed with calories and nutrients, it’s traditionally served during Ramadan and after childbirth, when there’s greater need to restore energy and maintain good health. It’s also served at Eid, weddings and other special occasions.” from About.com

Since I am not familiar with Moroccan cooking, I decided to not venture too far from to the recipe, which I picked up from Cooking with Alia. I did add a little lemon rind, you know how much I love almonds and lemon together. It is not as sweet as it sounds, and it’s got some very complex flavours going on. Although I restrained the amount of Cardamon I added, it was still very perfumey but it mellowed out on day two – I suspect by the weekend it will have rounded out beautifully. I also cut the recipe into 1/3, because I am serving three desserts I didn’t want too much of it. I suspect it will be very rich with all the nuts after a meat laden meal. The baked flour is a very strange thing indeed, and although it is rather stinky while baking, it really added some earthiness to the flavour. Not sure if I would add it again, trying to refrain from carbs, but it was interesting. The recipe below is pretty much verbatim from Alia, with the exception of the parts I’ve altered in brackets.

Sellou a traditional Moroccan Dessert

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams of flour
  • 125 grams of roasted almonds – you can also buy raw blanched almonds and roast them or fry them yourself
  • 100 grams of sesame seeds (I used both black and white for interest)
  • 125 grams of honey
  • 75 grams of powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of anise powder
  • 2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground mastic gum (I did not have this, so I omitted it)
  • 113 grams of butter (1 stick)
  • 1-2 tsp grated lemon rind (this was not part of the recipe)
  • Secret Ingredient 1: 125 grams of roasted peanuts (I only had natural crunchy peanut butter, so that is what I added instead)
  • Secret Ingredient 2: ½ teaspoon of cardamom powder (pinch or less)

Directions:

  1. Browning the flour:
    1- preheat your oven to 350° F
    2- place the flour in a baking pan and spread it evenly
    3- cook the flour in the oven for about 30 minutes
    4- To avoid smoke in your house, and for the flour to cook evenly and not burn, you need to stir it every 5 minutes until it is done
    5- You will notice that the color of the flour will start changing and the flour is done when it has a deep golden brown color
    6- Sift the flour – use a spoon to break the flour lumps
    7- Let the flour cool down before using it.
  2. Preparing the other ingredients:
  3. 1- while the flour is cooking, you can actually start roasting the sesame seeds in a skillet on medium-low heat. Stir frequently so they do not burn.
    2- This will take about 20-30 minutes. remove the seeds from the heat when they darken and become fragrant – you can taste them, they should have a nutty flavor.
    3- Using a food processor, mix the roasted peanuts and the roasted almonds together.
    If you prefer sellou to have a fine texture, then mix the nuts until you get a powder.
    I personally prefer my sellou to be crunchy, so I only half mix the nuts to keep solid parts.
  4. Mixing the dry ingredients:
    Now that we are ready, we are going to mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, spices, sesame seeds, almonds, and peanuts).
  5. the last step then is to add the melted butter and honey. And at the very end, mix in the lemon rind.
    Mix well using a spatula until all the butter and honey are incorporated into the mixture.
    Now, if you want to preserve the moist sellou, just put it in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to 1 month. Just make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
  6. Serve the Sellou in little cups, or shape a dome out of it, cover it with powdered sugar and decorate roasted almonds.

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