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Beghrir_First

These tasty treats resemble English crumpets in both flavour and texture. Please click here to see my attempt at making the English treats.

Six years ago, we visited Morocco  My how time flies. During our visit, JT and I took two cooking classes, one at our Riad and the other at a very famous restaurant, Maison MK with Chef, Omar El Ouahssoussi. Both lessons had us making popular Moroccan main courses which we have made several times since our return. All of the food in Morocco is exceptional, a wonderful contrast of savory and sweet, carefully paired. Even breakfast in Morocco was something special. Breakfast always had a bit of a continental leaning but with Moroccan specialties, like this pancake. I’ll never forget the first time I tried Beghrir, on the rooftop patio of our Riad. It came with a little pitcher of syrup that tasted like honey and melted butter, you drizzle this syrup on the little cakes and the holes soak up all of the wonderfulness. I was instantly delighted with the unique texture and flavour of these interesting yeast-based pancakes and loudly declared that I would make them as soon as we returned. Yes, that was SIX years ago. We’ve made most of the dishes we learned how to make in our cooking classes but I let this one fall off my list. Better late than never, eh?

Part of my hesitation to make this wonderful pancake was the prep and rest time, some recipes rest for one and half hours! I just didn’t have the time for that, so when I found My Moroccan Food blog’s Baghrir recipe, with only 30 minute resting time, I knew it was for me! As luck would have it, I only had about half of the required semolina in my pantry so I had to improvise. I also rather liked an ingredient I saw in the New Moroccan cookbook (please see notes below) so I altered the proportions of the original recipe to include almond flour. I am going to give this a try making it gluten free and hopefully, I won’t drag it out another six years.

Beghrir, THE Moroccan Pancake

Makes about 42 little pancakes about 5-6 cm (3-3.5″) diameter.  For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 120 gr of fine semolina
  • 120 g AP unbleached flour
  • 50 g almond flour
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 500 mL (2 cups) warm water
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and blend well with a stick/immersion blender. Allow to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes you should see the yeast taking action. Give the batter another blending and prepare your pan by spraying well with non-stick spray.
  3. Preheat the pan (see notes below). Using a 4.5 cm (2.75″) ice cream scoop, scoop a scant helping of batter and pour from the centre out on the hot pan. The Beghrir will cook from the bottom up, you do not flip this pancake. Cook until the batter is no longer wet. Repeat until all of the batter is gone.
Beghrir_2

These tasty Moroccan breakfast cakes are very similar in texture and flavour to English Crumpets.

Beghrir_3

The honey butter syrup makes this breakfast a treat and extremely moreish.

Notes:

  • The pan must be very hot for the batter to bubble, but not hot enough that the batter burns before it cooks, it’s a bit of a balancing act.
  • I used a well-seasoned cast iron pan (the one I use to make crêpes) so I had to keep turning the heat down so the beghrir doesn’t burn.
  • Beghrir will stick together while hot, so cool them laying out in a single layer.
  • Beghrir freezes very well. I plan to repurpose them with a little cream cheese, smoked salmon and fresh dill during the holiday season, although JT really loved them with the syrup.
  • To reheat Beghrir, steam them for a few minutes. Steaming maintains the crumpet-like texture. (updated October 15, 2016)
  • The original recipe is a synthesis of Chef Mourad Lahlou’s 2011 cookbook, New Moroccan, (page 196) and this blog. I found Chef Mourad’s recipe a tad complicated for first thing in the morning so I simply borrowed the almond flour he adds, I figured it would add texture and flavour. Next time I may try his recipe for contrast.
  • Chef Mourad used a flat indented silver dollar pancake pan (like this one) but I did not have one and I do not think it is needed, the pancakes turn out beautifully round on their own.
  • The syrup is an equal combination of butter, honey and about half the volume of water, heat gently to melt butter and whisk to combine, serve warm.

  • Beghrir can be topped with anything, try some jam, or even maple syrup, but I’ll stick to the traditional honey and butter, it’s so good!
  • Beghrir can be spelled Baghrir or Beghrir, or so says the internet.

I can’t believe I didn’t post a pic of the new table yet! This is the newly improved table, havent decided to paint the legs yet!

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This weeknight meal started out to be a navy bean curry, but I went a little overboard on the spices and it ended up with the flavouring of our holiday in Morocco. If you please you could add some raisins, currents or even dates. Perhaps a nut or two for some crunch. All in all a very flavourful recipe that I hope you will enjoy.

Moroccan Inspired Navy Beans with Mushrooms

Serves 1 (just multiply by the number you need). I eyeballed this recipe, so if you decide to make it, make sure you alter it to your own taste! The only important bits are to soak the beans and cook them all the way through, the rest is really up to you!

The beans were cooked in the ‘curry’ until creamy

Ingredients:

  • 75 g dried Navy Beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic finely minced (I like my microplane for this)
  • 1/4 cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted in warm water, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cremini and white mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp Meat Masala
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger (I used the powdered Moroccan ginger)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Water, as much as the beans will absorb
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp green onions
  • Hot pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Non-stick spray

I like to add pepper flakes for a bit of heat

Directions:

  1. Lightly spray a pressure cooker with non-stick spray and heat. Add onions. Cook the onions until they are brown, you’ll have to watch this as the spray doesn’t really give you enough fat so you’ll need to add very little bits of the stock. We don’t want to steam the onions, we want to BROWN them.
  2. Add 1-2 minced cloves of garlic and ALL of the dry spices and cook until you can smell the wonderful aroma (you are cooking the bitterness out of them). Add the drained beans and cook for a minute or so.
  3. Add the white vinegar and mix well. Add the remaining stock and about 2 cups of water. Close the lid and put the timer on for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, check to see if the beans have absorbed all of the water (how fast they absorb will depend on how dry they were…and how long you soaked them. Cooking the beans can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour). Keep adding water, or the reserved mushroom liquid until the beans are soft.
  4. In the meantime, heat a skillet and spray lightly with the non stick spray. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are cooked (even the rehydrated ones). About half way through the cooking, add the remaining minced garlic. Set aside.
  5. When the beans are fully cooked, add the mushrooms, chopped celery and tomatoes and heat through.
  6. Serve garnished with the cilantro, green onions and hot pepper flakes.
  7. Enjoy.

This photo shows just a small portion, 75 g of dry beans is actually quite a lot of food

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I’m always intrigued as to what draws a person to a recipe. It’s so personal and subjective, yet the food made from the recipe tantalizes taste buds whether you chose the recipe or not. Friday night JT wanted to make mussels, but we were a tad tired of the same old white wine sauce and we had just had a green curry so that was out. He scoured the net and was drawn to a Moroccan style mussel which included chick peas. Now I am trying to cut carbs down considerably (that’s actually JT’s bread he snuck onto my plate for the photo) and when I read the recipe I was immediately drawn to the chick peas…would they be satisfying enough that I wouldn’t need bread? That was the question.

When I first announced that we had planned a trip to Morocco, Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide kindly emailed me a link to an article that discussed the merits of  traditional Moroccan cuisine in comparison to Modern Moroccan cuisine and we were so intrigued that we bought the cookbook. It’s been sitting on my kitchen desk and when I have any moment, I page through the lovely photos. Sadly, the recipes are very complex, often involving mixes of pastes and such that I do not have ready (a traditional Moroccan household would) so I have been unable to find something easy enough to make. Fast forward to Friday night: JT scouring the net for a recipe for mussels. He finds one on Epicurious. We have all the ingredients at home and it sounds like it would be fantastic. The spices were definitely a tip of a hat to Morocco.

HEY! Who snuck that piece of bread in my shot?

Moroccan Style Mussels with Chick Peas

Original recipe is from Epicurious, JT modified his version, of course

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (preferably hot)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 (15- to 19-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 lb cultivated mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken stock

Directions:

  1. Cook onion, garlic, and spices in oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in vinegar and simmer 1 minute.
  3. Add chickpeas, sugar, tomatoes, raisins and chicken stock and increase heat to moderate and gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add mussels and return to a simmer. Cover tightly with lid and cook until mussels just open wide, 3 to 6 minutes. (Discard any mussels that remain unopened after 6 minutes.)
  5. Serve Immediately.

The verdict? A M A Z  I N G! I not only did not NEED the bread, I did not WANT it. The chick peas were satisfying and filling AND the broth? What can I say, pass that spoon over please. This is going to make repeated appearances in our house, for sure!

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Happy Saturday, dear readers! This is a full weekend of chores…some more fun than others, but you shall have to wait for tomorrow to find out. Plus, tomorrow I am going to introduce you to a dear friend who has just started blogging, we’re going to make one of her first blog-recipes tomorrow! I am very excited about it.

Today is my blogging friend, Charles of Five Euro Food, birthday, so I’d like to take this moment and wish him a very happy birthday. Charles has been a loyal commenter since I have discovered the pleasure of reciprocal commenting (OK, it only took me 4+ years!). You have certainly enriched my blogging experience beyond my expectations. Happy Birthday Charles, and many many more!

If you have made any of the Moroccan Salad recipes, you will by now understand the mass quantity of salad you are left with. We have been eating Morrocan salads all week; dallop on this, mixed into that, etc, etc, etc. You can well imagine that we are now a little tired of the same thing :-(!

This week we decided to reinvent our Quinoa Tabouleh recipe; we used RED and regular Quinoa which added colour to an already beautiful salad. And we added the left overs of the Carrot and Courgette (zucchini) Moroccan Salads. We grilled our shrimp and then I made a very simple green sauce with lemon juice, parsley, cilantro and garlic (a tip of the hat to Chimichurri Sauce). It was DELICIOUS. I loved the added flavours that the Moroccan carrot and zucchini brought in and I loved the colour of the red quinoa. If you haven’t already tried tabouleh, you MUST. And making it with quinoa just adds the extra healthiness that we need (and it’s gluten free!).

Reinventing Quinoa Tabouleh

Some other Quinoa recipes I’m sure you will love (sorry if I missed your recipe, some of you didn’t have ‘search’ built into your home page!):

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Continuing on the Moroccan dinner party we had on the weekend, I made an inspired Crème Brulé and by inspired, I just mean I took some Moroccan flavours and put them into a tried and true Crème Brulé recipe. I found this recipe on line about 9 years ago and have long since lost the link. A guy wrote it, no idea his name but I really liked its simplicity and that you are virtually guaranteed a perfect Crème Brulé that will never taste like scrambled eggs!

Orange Crème Brulé

Crème Brulé

Makes about 3 servings 2/3 cup each

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups half and half
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 tsp orange flavouring (you can use orange blossom water but I find it a little too perfumey)
  • pinch of freshly grated cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp of light brown sugar to ‘brulé’

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F.
  2. Whisk the half and half, egg yolks, sugar and falvourings together in a bowl. Mix it all up until it gets nice and creamy.
  3. Pour this mixture into ramekins. My ramekins were about 2/3 of a cup each.
  4. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and fill the baking pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the pan with the ramekins in the oven for 30-45 minutes to an hour or so. You’ll know they’re done when you can stick a knife in one and it comes out clean. Remove the ramekins from the baking pan, set them on the counter, and let them cool. (The deeper your custard is the longer it will need to bake)
  5. Sprinkle a thin layer of the light brown sugar on the top of each. Make sure it’s a THIN layer, but also make sure it completely covers the custard. Now torch it!

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You may recall at Maison MK we made Lamb Tajine, our guests Kevin and Barb with whom we are traveling down memory lane don’t care for Lamb; fortunately, the recipe deck from Maison MK included the same Tajine except using beef! Perfect. We decided to cook the dish the same way that we did at Maison MK, in a pressure cooker and only present in the Tajine.

Beef Tajine

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg stewing beef in large cubes
  • 50 g almonds with skins on.
  • 50 g prunes
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp 5 spices (a Moroccan blend our Chef gave us as a gift)
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp turmeric (for colour)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 2-4 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Add the pitted prunes to a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 8-10 minutes (this is to soften the prunes and not disintegrate them!)
  2. Strain the prunes and return to heat, add the honey and cook until the prunes are glazed and all of the water has evaporated. Set aside.
  3. Add the almonds to a small saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 3 minutes. Strain and cool immediately with cold water. Remove skins; the skins should come off very easily.  Our Chef deep fried the almonds but we roasted them in a 375°F oven for 5-10 minutes.
  4. In a very hot pressure cooker with a bit of oil, brown the meat on all sides, set aside.
  5. Add a bit more of the oil and cook the onions until a little brown. Turn down the heat and add the garlic and stir until you can smell it. Return the beef to the pan.
  6. Add the ginger, saffron and turmeric and 1 cup of water. Stir well. Put the pressure cooker lid on and cook on a medium level flame for 10 minutes.
  7. Give the meat a stir and add 1-2 cups of water and cook with the pressure cooker lid on for another 40 minutes. Check to see how the meat is, after about 40 minutes it should be tender enough that you don’t need a knife to cut it. There should be enough ‘gravy’ to serve with the meat.
  8. Add salt and cinnamon and stir well. Stir in the cilantro and parsley. Serve in a tajine with couscous.

The beef turned out incredibly well, falling apart, no need for a knife! How do you like the tip of the hat to the 1970’s propping? What is that in the background? A bedspread? or is it curtains? Not sure either — I was just having a little fun!

Beef Tajine with Prunes and Almonds

This is the tajine that Hayat gave us as a gift!

Our new tajine

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As the second course of our 4 course Moroccan meal this past weekend, I present the Trio of Moroccan Salads; these salads came out of our second cooking class at Maison MK. Our Chef, Omar El Ouahssoussi ran a very professional kitchen and both JT and I were equally impressed; colour coded cutting boards, one for meat and one for vegetables!

Chef Omar El Ouahssoussi

The class started out meeting the chef and the guide (not sure why, our chef spoke near perfect English) and we headed out to the souks to buy the food for our class. Our first stop was the vegetable vendor, where we bought onions, carrots, aubergine (egg plant) and courgette (zucchini). Then off to the spice vendor; I thought this was for our entertainment as the kitchen would be well stocked with the required spices, but the chef actually bought spices to give us as a gift! Then we stopped at the meat vendor where we bought our lamb and lastly the fresh herb vendor where we picked up some mint. But I digress, back to the salads.

Our shopping excursion

As our starter we have chosen to prepare the three salads that Chef Omar taught us to make, Aubergine, Courgette and Carrot Salads. We will serve them as close to the way Chef Omar served them to us. While preparing the salads, the one thing Chef Omar mentioned is that in Morocco, it is better to over cook than under cook, so the salads are all cooked vegetables richly flavoured with spices. I imagine this was originally done to rid the food of bacteria and if the food had spoiled a bit, the spices would make them palatable…but not in our case, the salads were unbelievably delicious! Over cooking reminded me of an article Greg sent over about a month or do ago from the New York Times. Click here for an interesting read.

Chef Omar generously gave us printouts of each of the recipes we cooked; sadly the translation is not as good, but I will fill in the gaps with my memory!

Trio of Cooked Moroccan Salads

Aubergine Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium aubergines, chopped evenly into 1 cm or 1/2 inch cubes with the skins on (recipe calls for 1kg, which is too much)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and paper to taste
  • 1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

Directions:

  1. In a large pot cover the chopped aubergine with water, add the lemon juice and stir well (the lemon prevents it from turning brown)
  2. Cook over a medium simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the aubergine is soft.
  3. Drain water well and return to hot pot and cook off as much liquid as possible.
  4. Add garlic, tomato paste and spices and simmer for another 10 minutes, mashing the soft aubergine with a fork. Mix in both oils.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Once cooled to room temperature, add the fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley and mix in well. Serve cold or at room temperature, shaped into little molds garnished with arugula and spinach.

Courgette salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 smallish courgettes, coarsest grated it cut into small even cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp white vinegar (to help maintain the bright green colour)
  • Salt and paper to taste
  • 1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a medium sized frying pan and stir fry the courgettes until soft.
  2. Add the vinegar, garlic and the spices.
  3. Mix in both oils and season with salt and paper to taste.
  4. Once cooled to room temperature, add the fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley and mix in well.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature, shaped into little molds garnished with arugula and spinach.

Carrot salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 large carrots cut into small even cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and paper to taste
  • 1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, cover carrot cubes with water and simmer until they are soft.
  2. Strain water off and return to pan and cook the remaining moisture off.
  3. Add the lemon juice, garlic and the spices and cook for about 5 minutes longer (carrots should be cubes but soft enough to squash – but don’t squash them), remove from heat.
  4. Mix in both oils and season with salt and paper to taste. Once cooled to room temperature, add the fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley and mix in well.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature, shaped into little molds garnished with arugula and spinach.

Courgette is top left, carrot is top right and the aubergine is front and centre

And I’ve finally got all the photos up on Shutterfly, so if you’re interested (and I am beyond flattered if you are), you are welcome to view our humble vacation photos in this link.

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This past weekend we had our good friends Barb and Kevin over and we thought what better way to give them a taste of our Moroccan experience than to serve a variety of Moroccan delicacy’s that we learned how to make in our cooking classes. The hors d’œuvres for our Moroccan meal comes from our very first class in our Ryad Dar Les Cignones (The Storks – we had an old dilapidated palace across from the hotel where actual enormous storks made their nests!).

This is our lovely Chef at Dar Les Cignones

Our beautiful Chef (sadly, I cannot recall her name) at our Ryad showed us how to make these delicious pillows of Phyllo Pastry (which she actually made herself, although I won’t!) stuffed with a richly spiced shrimp mix. She did not give us a little printout like Maison MK did, so I had to go by memory and find a similar recipe on line and made some minor alterations. The photo below is the one taken with the iPhone4 with the flash at the Ryad. I tried to fix it a bit in Photoshop so it doesn’t look as cold and harsh. The funny story around the briouats is that the Chef specifically asked me if I wanted them deep fried or baked, and I opted for baked ‘pour la santé’ I said. And low and behold, we are served deep fried briouats! They were very tasty non-the-less!

Our baked Briouat with Dar Les Cignones Fried Briouat in the background

Baked Shrimp Briouats

Makes 26 5 cm (2 inch) triangles

Ingredients:

  • 300 g shrimp, peel on
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Large pinch of saffron threads, revived in a little water
  • 1/4 cup fresh panko (or bread crumbs, I had panko)
  • 5 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Chop the shrimp into 1/2 cm bits, doesn’t have to be even or pretty.
  2. Heat a splash of oil in a pan and sauté the onions, add the shrimp and cook through.
  3. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spices and stir until you can smell the aroma.
  4. Remove from heat and add the panko, mix well.
  5. Allow to cool completely and add the fresh parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix well.
  6. Take 1 sheet of phyllo at a time, cut into 4-5cm strips. Drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Add about 1 tsp of the cooled filling to one end and fold tightly as shown in the diagram.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 350 ° F. Bake triangles for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately or allow to cool and freeze.

Folding takes practice, make sure you have lots of phyllo on hand!

Baked Shrimp Briouat

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We’re back to the old grind as they say; 10 hours of laundry, and a little grocery shopping later I’m back in my kitchen ready to cook up a storm!
Both JT and I picked up head colds while we were away; you know, the nasty, sneezey, sniffley, coughy kind? Chicken soup to the rescue! Everyone has their cold-cure secret recipe handed down from generation to generation so I won’t blog about it now, but what I will blog about is the amazing olive bread I made to accompany the cold cure soup! WARNING: you have to really LOVE olives, it will be too olivey if you’re just so-so on them!
We had this particular olive bread several times (almost every time) during our trip, it’s addictive. You just can’t stop! Not sure if I mentioned this before, but Moroccan food is not well salted, which is good because most of the time I find restaurant food too salty. This bread, on the other hand, is on the salty side, which goes perfectly with Moroccan food, or cold cure chicken soup. I found the recipe at Cooking with Alia please recall I made her Sellou as one of my Trio of Moroccan desserts. Since it worked so well, I thought I’d try her Moroccan Olive Bread. We made a typical Moroccan Bread at Maison MK in Marrakech and I discovered that Moroccan bread tends to be ‘shaggier’ than Western bread (looser and sticky to start). Then, after a rising, you add flour little by little to pull in the dough until it is no longer sticky. I think I used an additional cup of flour for this step! Bottom line it worked like a charm! Light, fluffy very olive tasting bread. DELICIOUS!
Another thing I should mention is that I used real Moroccan olive oil and its taste is so unique and delicious, I don’t think normal olive oil will do. But if you can’t find the genuine Moroccan olive oil, be sure to use the darkest and richest olive oil you can find, it will make a difference. Also, I halved the recipe but left the olive oil as full quantity! The technique is what we learned in Maison MK.
Thanks Alia, this recipe will be definitely made again in our home.

Moroccan Olive Bread

Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups of flour (keep extra flour on the side for kneading)
    • 3/4 cup of warm water
    • 3 oz of black olives cut into small pieces (I used 1/2 sun dried and 1/2 kalamata)
    • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
    • 1 tablespoons of thyme (I had only 1 tsp and it was fine)
    • 1/2 tablespoon of dry yeast
    • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions:

  1. Activate the dry yeast (I used instant) with the sugar and warm water. Let the yeast mixture rest for 5 minutes. The yeast is active if the mixture expands and bubbles up.
  2. Add the olive oil, thyme, and salt to the yeast mixture.
  3. Gradually add the flour to the mixture until the flour is completely absorbed. You will end up with a very sticky/shaggy dough.
  4. Fold the olives into the dough.
  5. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, the dough doubles in volume. Sprinkle your workspace generously with flour and place the dough over it.
  7. Sprinkle the dough with flour and knead for the next 10 minutes using the palm of your hand. Add flour to the dough until you end up with a malleable non-sticky dough. It should just be non-sticky, not shiny like regular bread dough. You will know when the dough stops sticking to your hand.
  8. You can make round breads by flattening the ball of dough with the palm of your hand and then pinch the edges up and in to make a nice ball.
  9. Transfer the bread pinched side down onto a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Flatten a little with the palm of your hand.
  10. Cover the boule and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat your oven to 420° F degrees.
  12. Place your baking pan in the lower third of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until done. I like a slightly crustier crumb, so next time I will brush with egg white, like you do with a French stick! Or you can also put a pan of water in the oven with the bread for the first 15 minutes.

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We had a great sleep! And no ill effects from the jet lag…yet!
The first thing we needed to do is change our Travelers cheques to cash. Both trip advisor and a recently published book on Morocco said ‘everyone’ does this ‘everywhere’. You must see where I am going with this? Read NO ONE, NO WHERE. No bank, no exchange bureau, no where! They LIED! One more spot, the last one, a credit bureau; no the girl clerk does NOT do this, but that hotel on the corner does! So we go there, and low and behold, they DO! And it was not a rip-off, they were quite pleasant and reasonable. We met our Berber Souk tour guide there; a nice gentleman about my age born to a Berber Mom and an Arab Dad. He generously guided us through the souk highlighting areas we might have interest in, of course stopping at the ‘non-touristy’ honest shops (likely where he gets commission). Non-the-less a good experience. The shops expect bartering, which I love! And we did end up buying some Morrican saffron, cinnamon, cumin and a Moroccan spice mix.
This is our lunch place.

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He took us through the mazes of the souks for about two and a half hours. So nice. I did end up also buying a leather purse and a very cool fossil for my nephew (a disgusting bug, he will love it!).
The afternoon we booked a cooking course with our Riad; we were to be guided through the market to buy the food we will cook. Sadly the weather turned viscous and the winds were atrocious, so we turned back, but the cooking lesson prevailed! Our gracious translator Said Hayat and our wonderful Chef took us through the next two hours of traditional Moroccan cooking. Forget about that instant couscous, we made real couscous that took an hour, with our hands! So cool (actually, it was pretty hot!). We made Shrimp Briouat, (we will biy their actual cookbook and will remake the entire dinner in Toronto on our return for Barb and Kevin!) Chicken Tangine and Stewed Lamb (minus the lamb for Kevin!). We made grapefruit brûlée and apple tart tatin. And then we had it ALL for dinner! Our hosts were amazing! We had such a great time. It’s a must do in Marrakech! Here are some photos of our first culinary adventure!

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A traditional flavour base in Moroccan cooking is called smen it’s a very pungent, cheesy smelling butter. Think fish sauce in Thai cooking – its a flavour base!
Tomorrow we have hired a guide to takes us to the Atlas mountains! Bon nuits mes amis! (it’s all coming back to me now!)

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