I’m on Tajine #3….the two others that I have, have cracked bottoms. Not cracked so bad that I can’t use them to serve but I can’t actually cook in them. So this year I got a new tajine from Morocco. It’s bigger, and a little different shape from the other two. It’s also unglazed. I swore that this time I would not crack it. I would take care of preparing it before I actually cooked in it. If you’re thinking of picking up a tajine in Morocco or purchasing one in the United States make sure that you find out if it’s ready to be cooked in, or if needs to be primed.
The process isn’t hard, it does take time and space. Depending on how the tajine was made will impact how it needs to be prepared. This is an unglazed clay tajine from southern Morocco. A glazed tajine from Northern Morocco may have a different way to prime. Always ask! This technique however is a safe bet if you’re unsure how to prepare yours.
First the bottom of the tajine needed to be rubbed down with a good douse of olive oil, making sure to rub it all over and into the lip where the cone sits. Then I added warm water. Allow to sit for at least 24 hours. Mine ended up sitting for 2 days (hey I’m trying not to crack a third one!) I allowed it to then dry out. Lastly fill with salt water and place into a cold oven. Turn heat on to 250F and leave for 30 minutes. At this point it should be good to cook in. It’s always best to use at low temperatures for longer periods of time. If using on an a stovetop that is electric make sure to have a heat diffuser and don’t place directly onto the coils.
If you’re looking for a tajine make sure to check out Tagines.com and Clay Coyote.
Special thanks to Paula Wolfert the clay pot queen for her hints and tips on preparing my tajine!! Gift giving? Give your foodie friends a tajine and Paula’s fantastic Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share cookbook! They will love you for it!
Doesn’t it just look so tasty with the thyme mixed in??
I’ve finally worked up enough courage to start playing around with my basic Moroccan bread recipe to come up with some variations. On my first attempt it’s safe to say it was a success! This is a much more rustic bread than the white bread version I make. However most bread in Morocco is made with a blend of another whole grain. This bread is a little sweet and a little savory. I think that if you have a little bit of bread leftover it would make a great bread crumb once dried up!
2 c white flour
|These quantities will make about 3 8″ diameter loaves|
1 c wheat flour
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves (stems removed)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tbsp good olive oil
Directions: You can use the same instructions as the traditional khobz recipe. Just add in the additional ingredients before kneading. Check out the tutorial here.
Have your favorite Mediterranean Winter/Holiday Dessert ready for tomorrow? Food of the Sun Blog Carnival starts tomorrow – have your links ready!!
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Looks like a lot of work…guess what I took a few shortcuts! I was inspired by Christine however took my own shortcuts to speed up preparation.
- Moroccan Carrot Salad
- Baby carrots steamed in Ziploc Steam fresh bag, chilled and topped with a vinegarette
- Moroccan Green Beans in Vinegarette
- Green beans steamed and chilled with a vinegarette
- Moroccan Rice and Tuna Salad
- 1 bag of frozen rice (in the steam’s itself bag) cooked and chilled, with 1 pouch of Tuna mixed in. 1/4c vinegarette + 2 tsp mayonaise combined and mixed in. (may not use all of the dressing). Place into a bowl and inverted onto platter. Sprinkle top with cumin.
- Mixed Vegetable Salad (I added in green peppers and mangos –not authentic!)
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It would be highly unlikely to find this recipe on a table in Morocco. It’s origins are in the Middle East, mostly Turkey or Greece where there is plenty of cheese consumed! This is a fast and easy appetizer or great accompaniment to a big bowl of soup. As the weather here turns cooler I am looking forward to lots of soups.
- 1 package of filo dough (I love this one).
- 8 oz Greek Feta
- 8 oz shredded mozzerella
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- melted butter to brush between layers
- 1 egg yolk beaten for brushing on top before baking
Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl combine the feta, mozzerella, 2 eggs, garlic and pepper. Mash to combine and break apart the feta. The result should be a thick filling.
Thaw and roll out the filo, and cut in half by the width. Remove one sheet of filo, and brush the layer with butter. Add another sheet of filo on top of this and repeat. Do one final layer (3 total). When the 3rd layer is down, place a tablespoon of filling along the bottom.
Fold over the side ends and then small lip on the bottom and make a 1/2 roll. Make sure to keep the sides tucked in as you roll. (just like a burrito).
Continue to roll until the end and use a little bit of butter to seal the end of the briouat. Place onto a baking sheet. Repeat the process until you’re out of filo, or out of filling. This recipe should make about 15 but it depends on how much filling you are adding. Brush the tops of the briouats with egg yolk before placing in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and starting to flake.
You can also bake these part way, cool, and pop in the freezer. When you want to use them simply remove from the freezer, thaw and finish baking them!
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A staple in Morocco for Ramadan is the chebekia a flavored cookie that is fried and then soaked in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I love these cookies but they are a little difficult to make. I attempted to extract the exact recipe from my mother in law but they don’t measure anything and they also make these in HUGE batches – and by huge I mean about 10-15kg at a time. Because they are so time consuming many families will get together to split the work and then share the bounty. I’m going to use Christine’s recipe to share with you because it’s really good and why re-invent the wheel? This recipe will make about 2 kg of cookies (or a little over 4 pounds).
- 1/2 kg (about 4 cups) flour, plus additional if necessary
- 1 soup bowl full (about 200 g or 7 oz.) of golden unhulled sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon ground anise
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant
- pinch of Gum Arabic grains (gum acacia, mastic) – mix with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and crush to a powder
- 1 extra-large egg
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange flower water
- 2 teaspoons yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 kg (about 3 lbs.) honey
- 2 tablespoons orange flower water
- 1 1/2 liters vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup golden unhulled sesame seeds, toasted, for decorating
Ahead of time, pick through the sesame seeds to remove any debris. Spread them on a baking pan and toast the sesame in a 400° F (200° C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sesame seeds are crunchy and nutty-flavored. Allow them to cool thoroughly, and then store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Make the Chebakia Dough
Grind one bowlful of toasted sesame in a food processor until it turns powdery. Keep grinding until the powder becomes moist enough to press or pack.
Mix the ground sesame with the flour and other dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands to form a dough. Add more flour if necessary to achieve a dough that is rather stiff but pliable.
Knead the dough by hand for seven to eight minutes or in a mixer with dough hook for four to five minutes. Divide the dough into four portions, shape each into a smooth mound, and place the dough in a plastic bag to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Roll and Cut the Dough
The rolling out and folding process is described below, but if you’ve never made Chebakia, it will be helpful to see the photo tutorial How to Make Chebakia.
Take one of the portions of dough, and roll it out to the thickness of a thin piece of cardboard. Lightly flour your work surface if necessary.
Use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into rectangles approximately the size of your palm. Make four evenly spaced cuts lengthwise in each rectangle. These cuts should be almost the length of the rectangle, but should not cut through to the edges of the dough. The resulting rectangle will have five strips of attached dough.
Fold the Chebakia
Take a rectangle, and thread the middle finger of your right hand through alternating strips of dough. This enables the rectangle to drape over your finger.
With your left hand, pinch together the outer corners of dough which hang over the tip of your finger. This will form the center of the flower shape.
While holding the pinched corners with your left hand, allow the strips of dough to slide down off your right finger while gently turning them inside-out around the pinched portion. Gently pinch the opposite corners closed once the dough is turned inside out. If done correctly, you’ll have formed the dough into an elongated flower shape.
Place the folded piece of dough on a baking sheet or tray. Repeat the process with the remaining rectangles and mounds of dough. Gather together the scraps of dough as you work, mold them together into a mound, and return them to the bag to rest before you try rolling them out again.
Use up all of your dough in this manner. Cover the trays of folded dough with a towel until ready to fry.
Frying the Chebakia
Heat one inch of oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. At the same time, heat the honey almost to boiling in a large pot. When the honey is frothy but not bubbling, add the orange flower water to the honey and turn off the heat.
When the oil is hot, cook the chebakia in batches. Adjust the heat as necessary to slowly fry each batch of chebakia to a medium brown color. This should take about 10 minutes if the oil is the correct temperature. If the oil is too hot, the chebakia will color quickly but the insides will not be cooked crispy.
Soaking the Chebakia in Honey
When the chebakia are cooked to a medium golden brown, use a slotted spoon or strainer to transfer them from the oil directly to the hot honey. Gently push down on the chebakia to submerge them in the honey, and allow them to soak for 5 to 7 minutes. They’ll turn a rich, glossy amber color as they absorb the honey. In the meantime, you can begin frying another batch of cookies.
Note: The longer you soak the chebakia, the more honey they will absorb, and the sweeter and less crispy they become. How long to soak them is a matter of personal preference. However, too short of a soaking will result in pale-colored chebakia that eventually lose their glossy coating.
When the chebakia have finished soaking, remove them from the honey to a strainer or colander, and allow them to drain for only a few minutes. Gently transfer them while hot to a large platter or tray, and sprinkle the centers with sesame. As you finish soaking other batches of chebakia in the honey, simply drain and add them to the platter in a mound, garnishing each batch with sesame.
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Instead I’m opting for light and healthy meals. This was one of those meals. Basic. Kefta meatballs in tomato sauce, diced mangos, avocados, a cucumber and yellow tomatoes. No dressing, just healthy, yummy summer goodness. The meatballs were especially good. They weren’t as heavy as most meatballs and I add some cayenne pepper for an extra zing.
Kefta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
1/2 pound ground beef
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 c bread crumbs
1 large tomato halved and the inside grated
3 tsp olive oil
Using a large mixing bowl, add the meat, egg, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, and bread crumbs. Combine well and shape the mixture into ball shapes.
In a large saute pan heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the grated tomato and 1/2c of water.
Place the meatballs in and cook on medium heat until the meat is cooked through. Serve hot and eat with bread or over rice.
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