Last week K casually came to me and asked, “Mom, can you make some Lego marshmallows, please?”
Lego marshmallows? What are those?
I promised him that I would look online to see if such a thing even exists. (A friend later told me that yes, they do exist and can be found on YouTube.) But we got busy with our trip to Fez and the marshmallows never happened. But, he didn’t forget. Monday he asked for soft pretzels with cheese sauce. You probably won’t be surprised to find out neither of these exist in Morocco so I had to make them from scratch. Yesterday at 4:30 I realized I’d better get in the kitchen and figure them out before he came home from school.
I didn’t know before I started looking for different ways to make these that pretzels have special significance this time of year. They were often made during Lent in the past because they contain simple ingredients that were permissible to eat during fasting times in the Christian calendar. I applaud this contribution to the world because there’s really not much better than a hot, buttery, salty pretzel. Plus I always find the history of food really interesting. I’m kind of nerdy that way.
My pretzel making verdict? They were a lot easier to make than I thought, and I will be making them many more times in the future. Try your hand at a batch and let me know what other types of toppings you add. Cinnamon and sugar is next on my list. I might try some grated parmesan and garlic too. Oh the possibilities!
- 5 cups of all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
- 1 cup warm water + 1 cup for yeast
- 3 Tbsp yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 2 liters water
- sea salt for topping
- melted butter
- In a cereal bowl, add 1 cup warm water to yeast and sugar. Allow to bubble and activate the yeast for approximately 5 minutes.
- In a very large bowl mix together flour and salt.
- Slowly begin adding yeast water to the flour mixture. You can mix with your hands or with a stand mixer using dough hooks. Once the 1 cup of yeast water is incorporated begin to add the other cup of water. You may not need all of it and you may need a little bit more.
- Mix and knead until the dough is soft and elastic. It should not stick to your hands. Rub with a little bit of butter or oil on top and cover.
- Let the dough rise for 45 minutes.
- Divide into equal pieces. You can make 12-15 large pretzels or 20+ smaller pretzels. Your call!
- Roll each piece of dough into a long snake and twist. You can create a pretzel shape or just a twist. Use some water to secure the ends of the dough.
- Preheat oven to 475F
- Meanwhile heat 2 liters of water and 1/2 cup of baking soda on the stovetop.
- When the water has started to boil add pretzels 1 at a time and let boil for 45 seconds.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the pretzels in a single layer.
- Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until brown on top.
- Immediately drizzle (or dunk) in melted butter and add more salt if desired.
- Continue until all your pretzels are made!
As a child, each Valentine’s Day my mom would make my sister and I something special for breakfast, like heart shaped pancakes or pink milik and had always put together a big Valentine gift. It wasn’t something fancy, not even a toy but usually some of our favorite candy and a card letting us know how much she and I my dad loved us. It was always my favorite Valentine. School parties were fun and writing out Valentine’s to friends was always a process I had to start weeks before; selecting just the right cards, picking the best candy to attach, perfect. I have to say as a mom I fail miserably in this category. I’m just not very good with details. I can make my kids delicious things to eat but the rest of it, not so much.
My kids love muffins and so I have been playing with different techniques, ingredients, and sizes. So far, I haven’t made a batch that they disliked – these are no different.
Our family in 2005 (top) and 2014 (bottom)
- • 2 cups all purpose flour
- • 2 tsp baking soda
- • ¼ cup oil
- • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- • ½ cup sugar
- • ¾ cup milk
- • 1 egg
- • 1 tsp vanilla extract
- • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1 cup strawberries, tops removed
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and sugar.
- Whisk, oil, greek yogurt, milk, egg, and vanilla extract and combine with dry ingredients.
- In a pan add strawberries,1 Tbsp sugar, and 1/4 cup water.
- Heat on low until the strawberries begin so soften and fall apart. You can leave them in pieces if you like chunks, or blend to a liquid.
- Blend strawberries into batter.
- Grease muffin tins or line with parchment paper and fill each ½ way with batter.
- Roughly chop hazelnuts and sprinkle the nuts onto the tops of the muffin batter.
- Bake for 25min – 30 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
In Morocco, bread is cheap – really cheap. Just today I got 2 big loaves of French bread for about 15 cents. Granted, the average income here is much lower this is still a very affordable staple. Bread is on the table for every meal and every snack. Try telling someone in Morocco you don’t eat bread – they’ll look at you like a six-headed alien. This has created a big problem for us. Gluten allergies are largely unheard of here, and MarocBaba’s family is still struggling with understanding all of the things that have gluten in them. I haven’t been able to find all of the flours I usually use so the bread I’ve made didn’t work out too good. Before we left I worked on this recipe to create a round, gluten-free bread similar to the traditional Moroccan loaves.
We were really happy with how these turned out. Now if I can just procure the right ingredients here…or else it’s back to the drawing board to figure out a new recipe with the things we have. A note of interest – if you’re in Morocco, we’ve found that going to the dry good store, you can ask to have things ground for you. We had rice ground into flour. They might look at you odd because it’s largely unheard of, but it is possible.
- 1 cup white rice flour
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 3/4 cup gluten free oat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp milk
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- olive oil
- In a large mixing bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, add white rice flour, cornstarch, oat flour, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix well.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water. Leave yeast to activate 5-10 minutes (will have a frothy appearance).
- Once yeast has activated, add to the dry ingredients along with 1 egg, milk, and the remaining warm water.
- Mix well to combine everything. The dough will remain wet and sticky.
- Pour enough olive oil into your hands to make them slick.
- Coat the dough with olive oil, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and leave to rise 30-45 minutes (note if your kitchen is cold, it may take longer).
- When the dough has doubled (or almost) in size, divide into 2-3 equal sized balls.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Coat your hands again in olive oil, and place the rounds one by one onto a peel floured with white rice flour or oat flour.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes.
- The bread is ready when it makes a hollow sound when tapped.
- Flatten each round and transfer to a pizza stone or floured cookie sheet.
This is an exciting week for me and MarocMama, it’s a full week of olive love! It should come as no surprise to many that we eat a lot of olives. Morocco is well known for their olives and olive oil. I always come home with kilos of them in my suitcase. But they only last so long. My go-to olives have always been the Lindsay brand, just like they were for my mom and grandma. I didn’t even realize until I was a grown-up and doing my own shopping that there was another brand of olives! So when I headed to Washington DC a few months ago for Eat, Write, Retreat and learned Lindsay was one of the sponsors I was so excited. After gushing about my love affair to the lovely Lindsay ladies we put together a great idea for posts featuring olives and summer parties. So get your party hats on because I’ve got some great ideas for your summer parties.
Olives are great for summer or winter but I think they are an obvious choice for summer entertaining. All of the recipes I’ve created can be made without turning on your oven or range (but you certainly can use your oven if needed). But you will need your grill and a slow-cooker. (Who wants to be inside in summer? Not me!) They also are all recipes that can be done quickly and made for a large crowd.
I’ve used a variety of Lindsay Olive products that I got in my local grocery store. So if I can find them in my rural Midwestern grocery you’ll be able to find them in your local stores as well.
So let’s get the party started! Today’s recipe is for a Cheesy Olive Spread Crostini. You can make the spread ahead of time and store until ready to put together.
- 1/2 can Lindsay Black Olive Naturals
- 3 oz cream cheese
- 3 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- pinch of salt and pepper
- French Baguette
- melted butter or olive oil for brushing bread
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- 1 c flour
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- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1c milk
- 1/4c melted butter
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- grated parmesan cheese
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