Sunday, 24 April 2016

Chilled Moroccan avocado juice

Avocado juice is one of Moroccan street food fixes that you can order in any coffee shop or Mahlaba (dairy shop).

It's a great breakfast option for many in the major Moroccan cities. It really fills one in and its proper fuel for a busy morning!

Although I prefer avocado on the savoury side (in a salad) and I find the avocado juice a bit heavy for my stomach, I still take a sip or two whenever I get the chance to find one in front of me. Then I ask for more, then I finish the whole glass..


When I lived in Qatar, I found a Lebanese Juicing shop selling this and I wondered if this was also found in Lebanon? Apparently yes, on its basic side (avocado, sugar and milk).

And for me, avocado juice is a legitimate combination which had nothing weird about it until I met some American connections who found it "weird". Then I discovered that warm avocado toasts and warm avocado recipes being a common thing in California. I thought that was weirder! How do we define weirdness anyway?

I still can't pass beyond the idea that avocado can't be eaten warm or hot, but I'm sure I'll do it one day. I might be missing on something! It might become my second favourite after my beloved avocado/shrimp combo...


Ingredients
Serves 4
Prep: 10 min

  • 500 g of peeled avocado
  • 50 g of sugar or to taste (see optional below)
  • 1 l of milk (adjust it according to the consistency you prefer)

Optional

  • 1 tsp of orange blossom water
  • 4 to 5 big soft meaty dates, pitted (can replace the sugar)
  • 3 tbsps of almonds with skin





Preparation


Blend everything in a liquidizer. Add more milk for a thinner texture.

Serve chilled and drink within 15 min.


Stuffed dried apricots - Mechmach mâammar

-Guest post-

Today's post has been put together by a friend of mine who shares with me the love for everything Moroccan. We share similar interests when it comes to finding the origin of Moroccan recipes and how they're done across the country.

She is a very knowledgeable person who constantly looks for ways to promote Moroccan culture and traditions and she does it so beautifully.

When I asked her to write a guest post for the blog, she was so kind to accept and come up with a wonderful recipe from the magical word of Moroccan Sephardic Cuisine. Happy reading and cooking!



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Stuffed dried apricots or
mechmach mâmmar is a very old Jewish Moroccan recipe. 


Moroccans jews are known for having a rich repertoire of stuffed fruit dishes, such as stuffed fresh medlar (mzah), dried apricots, dried prunes and so on. 

Moroccan Jewish cooking is mild and uses spices which are different from the usual ones used in the common Moroccan cuisine. The main spices used are cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, bay leaves and white pepper.

This recipe was adapted from the book : "La cuisine Juive Marocaine", by Lévy-Mellul Rivka.




Ingredients
Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 served as an appetizer 
Prep: 10 min - Cooking: 25 -30 min

  • 500 g dried apricots, well washed
For the stuffing (meatballs)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 yellow or white onion, medium, chopped finely
  • 200 g minced meat 
  • 1 full tbsp. of parsley, finely chopped 
  • Salt to taste 
  • ¼ tsp of each : ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper, mace 
  • ½ level tsp of black pepper 4 tbsp. water (it makes the minced meat softer)

For the sauce 
  • 2 tbsp. clarified butter (smen, or ghee) (You could also melt the butter in the pan until to a brown-hazelnut colour, without burning). 
  • 1 pinch of each : ginger, white pepper, mace, nutmeg, saffron threads 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks 
  • 1 ½ cups water (enough water to cover the apricots).

Preparation

In a pan, melt the butter and fry the onion until translucent.

In a bowl, mix the fried onion with the rest of the ingredients for the meatballs. Make small balls (hazelnut size) with the minced meat mixture.

If the apricots you are using are large, make larger meatballs.

Open the apricots with a sharp knife, along one side so they 
partially resemble to open clam shells.

In a pan, reheat the clarified butter. Add the stuffed apricots and the rest of the ingredients. Cover with enough water. Cover the pan and cook until the apricots are soft.


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Moroccan Stuffed cardoons with kofta

Stuffed cardoons or Dolma of cardoons is an interesting Sephardic dish found in a few areas of Morocco. However, it's even more interesting that not all Jews of Morocco seem to cook it.


Although stuffed cardoons is a recipe that can be found in some Jewish Moroccan cookbooks. It's only while watching some old episdes of Ch'hiwate bladi that it caught my attention.

In "Ch'hiwate Bladi" , our famous Choumicha went accross Morocco to showcase traditional regional cooking to the Moroccans. The show had such a success because of the things each of us learned about the rest of us. A brilliant show where many of us discovered the multigrain couscous and a few other goodies from remote regions throughout the country. The whole thing got picked by Non Profit associations to promote rural women's work; the rest is history...



The episode I mentioned earlier covered some of the recipes from Ksar Lkbir; a Northwester  city of Morocco with Portuguese and Spanish fingerprint due to a tumultuous colonial past. So like many other cities in Morocco; they have an interesting Moroccan repertoire!

The sauce or marqa is usually cooked with chunks of meat in it, which makes it rather a broth for the cardoons that will be cooked it later. But you don't have to do that as you can use any form of stock you have.

When I posted pictures of this recipes on the facebook page, I was surprised to read posted insults from some of our Algerian neighbors claiming that the recipe is solely theirs. It turns out that Algerian cuisine does have a variation of this but with different set of spices and usually with the addition of an egg to thicken the sauce.

In one of the recipes published in her old magazine, Choumicha refers to a fried dolma of cardoons. She mentions the addition of an egg and flour to coat the cardoon sandwiches before placing them over a meat stew

This one was prepared with chard. Equally delicious although missing the
artichoky taste of cardoons

Ingredients
Serves 2
Prep: 30 min - cooking: 45 min

  • 1 head of cardoon (use chard (*) as an alternative)
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced and one in quarters
  • A string

For the kofta filling
  • 200 g of minced beef (or lamb, from the shoulder part)
  • 1 glove of garlic, crushed or grated 
  • 1/2 medium-size onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tbsps parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of salt or to taste 

 For the sauce
  • 1 l of stock (beef or chicken)
  • 1 glove of garlic, crushed or grated 
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • A few sprigs of parsley thighed together
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 preserved lemon, use the pulp only (leave the skin for decoration)
  • 1 tsp of Moroccan smen (my addition, totally optional)
  • ¼ tsp of ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

Prepare the cardoons

Mix water and lemon juice in a large bowl where you will be placing cardoons while you are cleaning them. They will turn dark in contact with air so make sure this is handy.

Use the other quarters to rub each piece of cardoon after you would have peeled it off.


Discard the leaves and remove the stringy bits from each side and all around the cardoons.


Cut the cardoon stalks into pieces about 5 cm long.

Mix the ground beef with the rest of the ingredients and start pinching small balls which you need to roll into thin “fingers” or small sausages which would fit inside the cardoons you’ve cut previously. Set aside.


In a cooking pan, add a few tablespoons of water and add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce.

Place the pan over medium heat and let simmer for about 3 minutes. until the onions are partially cooked and then place the cardoons in. Add enough water to cover them and place the lid on.

The cardoons have to be cooked to tenderness so we can work with them at a later stage of the recipe. This should take about 25 min (**).  

Once the cardoons are tender. Couple each 2 bits to fit each other in size and place the minced beef inside. Tie up each sandwich cardoons with a string (or on the lazy side, use a toothpick from each end)

Place the sandwiched cardoons into the sauce. Cover with the lid and cook for further 10-15 min. The sauce should have reduced by then too.

Discard the string and place the cardoons sandwiches/dolma delicately in the serving dish.

Serve hot with a drizzle of lemon juice for extra freshness.


Notes


(*) I have used chard a few times because it's relatively hard to find cardoons where I live. You could use the leaves for other dishes and keep the stalks to make the dolma.




(**) Initially, cardoons are parboiled in salty water before stuffing them with minced meat but I find cooking them in the broth/sauce/marqa more interesting.

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