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Archive for April 30th, 2010

April ‘Meanderings’ …

Pictured (top to bottom)
North African Style Pickled Lemon & Lime
Moroccan Style Beef Stew with Oranges & Beetroot
Coriander & Chickpea Couscous Salad
Moroccan Style Plum Pudding

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

This month, after posting Chocolate Rice Krispie Cakes, which were an Easter treat, I have been adding dishes from North Africa and enjoying using the jolly striped Tagine I received for my birthday back in February.  Firstly, though, I added my personal spice mixture for Ras el-Hanout plus a simple recipe for preserved or Pickled Lemons (or alternatively lemons and limes).  These, along with the spice mixtures of Za’atar and Harissa are some of the distinctive flavours of North African food.  I posted several main course dishes: using chicken, lamb and beef.  I also included Coriander & Chickpea Couscous Salad our favourite recipe for couscous and finally a delicous dessert that is flavoured with rosewater, a fragrant and often used ingredient in the food of the region, particularly in sweet dishes.  Orange flower water is also commonly used in both sweet and savoury foods and was an ingredient in my Beef Stew Tagine (pictured right).  (See further down for a full list of dishes posted in April.)  There is one more North African dish (North African Style Fish Fillets) which will be posted during May when I will be adding fish recipes.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

I found a very helpful book in the library, Illustrated Food and Cooking of Africa and the Middle East: A Fascinating Journey Through the Rich and Diverse Cuisines of Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey and Lebanon by Josephine Bacon and Jenni Fleetwood.  There are so many attractive recipes and I was sure I would be making more.  In fact I loved this book so much I ordered my own copy!  It is a book I will enjoy leafing through, particularly for the excellent regional ingredient and cooking information at the front.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Easter is a busy time in our household, mostly centred around our church and its family as we celebrated Jesus’ death and Resurrection.  On Easter Monday it was good to take a break after the busyness of the previous week and to share dinner with our own family. For this meal and I cooked a Roast Beef dinner with all the trimmings (Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Potatoes and vegetables).  For dessert I made a recipe which I recently rediscovered when hunting through some recipe books: Delia Smith’s Lemon Surprise Pudding (remembering that this recipe is so delicious it always has to be doubled!)  Alongside I served some Sliced Caramel Oranges, which made a really refreshing accompaniment.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

On television I have just finished watching Sophie Dahl’s new cookery programme, The Delicious Miss Dahl. Sophie Dahl and her recipes were both attractive to watch, but I was not really sure about the format of the programme, which I found rather irritating.  I just wanted to see and learn about the food!  There were some lovely and not too difficult recipes, though, including: Arnold Bennett omelette, Peanut butter fudge, Rich chocolate pots with brandy-soaked cherries, Rhubarb and rosewater Eton mess (BBC site recipe no longer available), Toffee apple and pear crumble, Cardamom rice pudding with spiced plums, Borscht and Flourless chocolate cake.  The one recipe I have tried so far from the series is Lentil shepherd’s pie with champ, which I adapted very slightly and was much enjoyed.  I will post my version in due course.

April Recipes 

Chocolate Rice Krispie Nests

Coriander & Chickpea Couscous Salad
North African Style Pickled Lemon & Lime
Ras el-Hanout

Moroccan Style Beef Stew with Oranges & Beetroot
Moroccan Style Lamb & Rice Pilaf
Moroccan Style Lamb Stew with Pumpkin & Preserved Lemon
North African Spiced Baked Chicken with Pickled Lemon

Moroccan Style Plum Pudding

Meanderings Revisited (links to original post):
Fruit Curds
Prawn & Tomato Korma
Sausage & Courgette Pasta
Sliced Caramel Oranges

Read Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months  

‘For what we are about to receive…’ May 2010 and beyond

Food Focus – Fish & Bananas, though not together in the same recipe!
Recipe Book(s) used:
…from my shelf
Taste of the Sea by Rick Stein & Fish for Today (John West) 
…from the Library – 200 Fab Fish Dishes: (Hamlyn) by Gee Charman
Non Fiction Food book (still reading) Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey

Coming up next month are some delicious and relatively uncomplicated fish recipes alternating with banana recipes.  These will be especially useful if you have a bunch on the dish that are a bit past their best and starting to brown.  I will also be dipping into some books of recipes from the Far East: Far Eastern Odyssey by Rick Stein and Far Eastern Floyd by Keith Floyd, being just two.

Also this month I am off to Paris for a few days.  This is not my first visit, so it will be a chance to visit some places not previously explored: we are particularly interested in seeing the Marais area, Pere Lachaise Cemetary (better than it sounds!) and Parc des Buttes Chaumont.  Apart from sampling the food I am especially looking forward to a visit to the Musée d’Orsay, the major art gallery housing Impressionist paintings. Wonderful! We always look forward to visits to France, home of wine, cheese, patisserie and lots of other good things beside!

Happy Cooking & Eating!

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It is possible to detect the influence of France in Moroccan cuisine, not unsurprising as the countries have historical links.  This dessert feels as if it is closely related to the French dish Clafoutis (or it’s close relative Flognarde), although the egg custard is replaced by a sweet ground rice pudding mixture.  However the addition of rose water (or orange flower water, which is listed as an alternative) firmly connects this dish with the southern shores of the Mediterranean.  The suggestion of rice pudding might make the casual reader feel that this is a rather homely dish, as they are usually linked with nursery food rather than dinner parties.  However this would make an unusual and delicious dessert as part of N African style meal, especially made in individually sized portions.

The recipe comes from a wonderful book I found in the library, Illustrated Food and Cooking of Africa and the Middle East: A Fascinating Journey Through the Rich and Diverse Cuisines of Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey and Lebanon by Josephine Bacon and Jenni Fleetwood (to give it its full title).  The ingredients are all as listed in the book, except I found it necessary to increase both the ground rice and sugar by 1tbsp.  This increase of the sugar content  is, of course, optional but is recommended for those with a sweet tooth as plums can often be acidic.  I made the original suggestion of Plums combined with Rosewater, but other fruits could also be used.  Orange flower water is a suggested alternative addition and I can imagine that this would be delicious used in combination with Apricots or Peach.  The addition of flaked almonds adds a lovely crunch to the smooth texture of the ground rice: don’t be tempted to omit them. Finally, I added a generous dusting of icing sugar, which enhanced the cracks in the surface of the plums and where their juices had run into the whiteness of the rice.  I further handful of toasted flaked almonds on top would be a good addition, athough not included in the original recipe, particularly for a special occasion.  I am sure this recipe could be made a short while in advance and reheated just before serving, although I would add the sifted icing sugar and additional split almonds just before taking it to the table.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Moroccan Style Plum Pudding
(Serves 4)

450g/1lb fresh plums (alternative suggestions – apricots, cherries or greengages)
600ml/1pt skimmed or semi-skimmed (half fat) milk
60ml/4tbsp ground rice
45ml/3tbsp cold water
45ml/3tbsp caster sugar (15ml/1tbsp extra for those with a sweet tooth)
75g/3ozs flaked almonds – reserve a few to toast for decoration (or add a few more)
30ml/2tbsp rosewater (alternatively orange flower water)
icing sugar to dust

1.  Preheat the oven to 190oC/370oF/Gas 5.

2. Remove the stones from the plums and halve them.

3.  Bring the milk to the boil in a pan.

4.  Blend the ground rice with the cold water, a little at a time, mixing well to remove the lumps.  Pour the hot milk over the rice and return it to the pan.  Simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

5.  Stir in the caster sugar and flaked almonds.  Continue to cook for 5 more minutes.  

6.  Stir in the rosewater (or orange flower water).  Simmer for 2 minutes.

7.  Butter a shallow ovenproof dish.  Carefully pour in the almond rice mixture.

8.  Gently arrange the prepared plums (or other fruit) on top, spacing them as evenly as possible.

9.  Bake for 25-30minutes, until the fruit has softened.  As it cooks the fruit juices will run slightly into the white almond-rice mixture, which is unavoidable.

10.  Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with a little pouring cream or crème fraîche if you like a slightly more sour taste.

11.  Scatter with a few toasted split almonds to decorate.

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