Stop in any patisserie in Morocco and you’ll find a back counter lined with all varieties of fruit. You’ll likely hear the whiz of blenders and frothy cups of thick liquid on the tables. While some patrons sip the infamous avocado smoothie that Morocco is known for, others choose a panache or a smoothie blended with whatever fruit is in season. But one of my choice drinks is almond date milk.
Salads in Morocco are a big deal. No matter what you will always find at least one, but usually several different small plates with salads served. Lately, I’ve been eating them simply as my meal. There’s a rice, potato, and corn salad (I know it sounds like a bad combination but it’s not!) that I gobble up with a fork, and then my favorite za’alook, a cold eggplant and tomato mashed salad eaten with pieces of warm, fresh bread. Most salads are light and made up with fresh, seasonal vegetables. I never get tired of them. A few weeks ago I got a comment on one of my posts from someone looking for a recipe for an orange salad.
I knew exactly what she was talking about and so took to my archives to find the link. But it wasn’t there and I realized I had never blogged this recipe. How could it be?!? Mandarins are in season right now, and large oranges are trickling in. I decided to show you how to make this using the delicious, sweet little mandarins that we can’t get enough of.
Really, this couldn’t be any easier. I peeled mandarins taking care to leave the oranges in tact. Then I carefully peeled open each orange so that the bottom was still held together by the membrane, creating this flower appearance. It’s just for looks, so feel free to pull all the segments apart and forego this added step. If you’re using whole, large oranges, remove the skin but leave the orange whole. Use a very sharp knife to cut rounds out of the orange. Now how to dress them?
- Squeeze some orange juice over the top
- Sprinkle with cinnamon (more or less depending on what you like)
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar
That’s it. So simple. So delicious.
What’s your favorite Moroccan salad? (Find my salad recipes here)
Desserts and breakfast treats have, by far been the hardest items for me to replicate in a gluten-free version. They also are the things that MarocBaba misses the most. I think we all miss it. I haven’t felt like it’s fair to enjoy these treats when I know he can’t. Instead I’ve been flexing all of the culinary skills I can muster to try and make gluten-free copies. There used to be a bakery in our town that had the most amazing French pastries including an apricot galette that I went crazy for. I had some free time one weekend, lots of apples and pears in my fridge that needed to be used, and a fresh stock of gluten free flours on hand. There was only one thing to be done – BAKE!
2 cups coconut flour
1 cup almond flour
11/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xantham gum
1 stick or 4oz of cold butter cut into cubes
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
1/4 c Jarlsberg cheese grated finely
1/4 c ice water
2 apples peeled, cored and sliced thinly
2 pears (use a firm variety) peeled, cored and sliced thinly
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
A few shakes of cinnamon (add it to your taste – we’re not big fans)
To Make the Crust
Add the coconut flour, almond flour, xantham gum, sugar and salt to a food processor. Begin to pulse and add the butter and vegetable shortening. Continue to pulse until there are no large pieces left and the dough looks like bread crumbs. Mix in the grated Jarlsberg cheese and slowly add the water just until the dough comes together.
Warp the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours but up to 24 hours.
To Make the Filling
Preheat oven to 400F
Mix the apples and pears with the cornstarch to ensure that all of the apples are coated. Then add the lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and mix well.
Remove dough from the fridge and divide into four equal parts. You also could make one very large galette. Allow the dough to warm up a little. Lightly dust a cutting board with coconut flour or almond flour and press out the dough. I found that using a rolling pin caused the dough to stick too much. You will want to create a round disc shape.
In the middle of the disc layout the apple/pear mixture. You can lay it out in a circular design or just pile in the fruit – either way it tastes great!
Fold up the edges of the galette. It WILL NOT cover the full top of the pastry – it’s not supposed to. If the dough buckles or even crumbles a little bit it’s ok. This is a rustic pastry.
Slide each galette onto a baking sheet that it will not stick to. I like to use a silpat liner when baking things like this to ensure it does not stick. A sheet lined with parchment paper will also work.
Once all galettes are ready to bake, place in the oven for 20 minutes and check. The crust should be a toasted brown color and the fruit soft when you poke with a fork or knife. If they are not done at this point, continue checking every 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook – gluten-free dough is unforgiving when overcooked – you will have galette dog biscuits!
Allow the pastry to cool some before serving. I think these taste best when warm. You can top them with some more Jarlsberg cheese for an added bite!
It might seem odd to use cheese in a crust but I think it’s a great addition to a gluten-free baked item. One of the things that I have struggled with when baking gluten-free is that the consistency is either too dense like a cake or too crumbly and not binding together. Xantham gum helps to bind together the flours but the cheese in this recipe helps to stick the dough together! It also adds another flavor. Jarlsberg cheese has a mild and nutty swiss flavor. It’s not overpowering like a cheddar might be but it has enough of a tang to give a really nice flavor when paired with a flour like almond. I’ve also thought of recreating this and laying a layer of cheese on the bottom inside of the pastry. You can find more great recipes using this cheese on the Jarlsberg blog (where I played around for recipe ideas before making this!)
I am entering this recipe to win a scholarship from Jarlsberg to attend Eat, Write, Retreat 2012 in Washington DC. I was not compensated in anyway for this post and all opinions are my own. I’ve been eating Jarlsberg cheese for years and this opportunity in no way reflects my opinions of the product.
It seems like Ramadan has gone as fast as it crept up. Today is the last day of fasting . This week M starts 2nd grade and MarocBaba is back at school too. I’m looking forward to a more regular schedule but it’s only a few weeks before we take off again for Morocco. I’ve been busy planning for the trip, making sure to make the most out of every second. I hope to come back with lots of new information, recipes, photos, and highlights of our trip to share.
The recipe I’m sharing today I’ve been dying to share since I first made it. This was the first time I’d ever tried grilling fruit, mostly because we have always had a charcoal grill and I just didn’t think that the charcoal taste would work with fruit. I made them instead in a grill pan. You could certainly make them on any outdoor grill as well.
- 2 peaches halved, pits removed
- 4 oz marscapone cheese
- chopped almonds (or any nut)
- 4+ tsp honey
- Grill or grill pan
Halve two peaches and remove the pits. You may also want to scrape out the pit area in case there are any hard bits left behind.
Place the peaches flesh side down into the grill pan or onto a regular grill. Do not move them around. They will need to cook for about 5 minutes to soften up and for the sugars of the fruit to caramelize. Remove them from heat with the grill side up. Scoop about 1 tbsp of marscapone into the middle of each fruit.
You will need to work quickly because the heat of the peaches will begin to melt the cheese. As soon as the cheese is in top with chopped almonds and drizzle warm honey all over the top. The amount is up to you. Serve and eat immediately. Having eaten one hot and one just lukewarm — you’ll want to eat it hot!
This is a very fast and easy dessert that looks a lot more complicated than it is. It can be done with any stone fruit (like plums, nectarines, or apricots) Feel free to mix up the toppings as well. I’m already envisioning apricots and pistachios in my future.
I hope that you’re final day of fasting is easy! If you haven’t had a chance yet – I’d appreciate it if you could stop by and do a quick poll about this website. Your answers will help me improve and get you the information you want to see! Just click here to do the fast survey.
Over the weekend we spent a lot of much needed time with family, enjoying each other and being outside. I even took a technology break. I rarely checked my phone, wasn’t emailing or checking in anywhere. It really was a great vacation. One of the things that we did was to visit my dad at his campsite. MarocBaba is not a camper. I’ve tried and tried to talk him into tenting but he refuses. My dad doesn’t camp with a tent but a pretty nice camper, that includes beds, a kitchen and air conditioning. Even with this MarocBaba was pretty sure he wouldn’t spend the night. So a day trip was as good as it got.
Is there anything better than cooking over a real fire? I don’t think so. We made an easy dinner, the kids had fun and no one freaked out about germs, bugs, dirt, dust and all else that is outside. My piece de resistance was a blueberry cheese pudgy pie. If you’re not of the camping set, a pudgy pie is a sandwich — made in a contraption that looks like this;
- 2 pieces of bread
- spoonful of blueberry pie filling
- 1-2 tbsp cream cheese
- handful of mozzerella cheese
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I am a little nervous posting this recipe. You see, until this weekend I never realized the level of reverence Moroccans have for couscous. It’s the “national dish” of Morocco and in a recent Twitter conversation I was shocked to discover Moroccans take offense to the term “Israeli couscous”. To me it’s semantics but apparently not so – the crux of the argument was that there is no such thing as any couscous other than the Moroccan version and anyone that says otherwise is trying to steal a part of Moroccan culture. I think this is a hard concept for an American whose culture is influenced by hundreds of different ethnic and cultural groups that call my country home.
So maybe you can see why I am a little nervous to share a breakfast couscous. I’ll just disclaim this: This is not a traditional Moroccan couscous, nor something anyone in Morocco would probably make. Heck I didn’t even steam the couscous I used the instant version. But guess what, it’s good. It’s really good. I’ve never liked breakfast preferring to eat a bowl of pasta before grabbing an egg or cereal. This was perfect for me.
- 1c of quick cooking couscous
- 3-4 dates chopped
- blueberries or other seasonal fruit
- almonds chopped
- 1/2 c heavy cream
- 1/4c milk (whatever you have)
- 1 tsp brown sugar
Cook couscous according to package directions. When cooked, add the cream and milk slowly leaving the burner on low heat. Make sure to stir while adding the milk to separate the couscous grains. Once all of the milk is combined, add in the brown sugar, dates, almonds and blueberries. You can certainly add more or less of any of the items depending on your taste and wants. This is best eaten hot.
I think one of my very favorite Moroccan foods is beghrir. They are light airy pancakes that are cooked only on one side and are incredibly versatile. I have toyed with the idea of making them savory instead of sweet something like an accompaniment to moo shu chicken (since we don’t do pork). It hasn’t happened yet but it’s on the back burner! For now I will stick with the sweet version.
One of the great things about living in the Midwest is wild fruit. It’s that time of summer where the bushes are full of wild raspberries, huckleberries, thimble berries, blackberries, blueberries, and soon to come pears and apples. I remember that picking wild fruit was a big part of my childhood and I spent a lot of time with my grandpa and my dad picking fruit. This past week I was in Upper Michigan with my grandparents and found the raspberries and blueberries in full bloom. I can’t take credit for the raspberries as my cousin and uncle picked those but the blueberries I did help with! (I’ll be sharing a recipe for almond blueberry scones with those soon!)
Onto the beghrir. I’ve always struggled with the consistency of this batter. It’s a difficult thing to get right. This time I used this recipe from Dinners and Dreams with a few minor changes. It was simple and had a great result.
2 cups fine semolina or cornmeal (preferably semolina)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp dry yeast
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup milk, warm but comfortable to the touch
2 cups water, warm but comfortable to the touch
s="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;">Mix all of the ingredients together and beat until blended well. I didn’t use a blender just a wire wisk and mixed until it started to form a lot of bubbles. Allow it to rest 20-30 minutes. Heat a non stick skillet on medium heat until hot, I add a little butter on the first batch to make sure the pan is ready. Cook on one side until the exposed side is full of little bubbles and dry. These pancakes only cook on one side. Traditionally they are served with honey butter but I used nutella and rolled them up and served with some raspberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
*waves* Hi there! Remember me? Probably not it’s been so long since I’ve come by! It’s been busy around here and the kitchen is the last place that I’ve been. You see my husband and kids have gone home to Morocco for a few weeks (7 actually), and I’ve been like a bee getting everything together for their trip. Who knew it could be so much work? I wish I could say that I was going to – I still think a research trip is in order! Do they make travel grants for researching blog writers?
Now however, I will have more time to spend here and also in the kitchen with new ideas! This recipe is a twist on the Beef and Prune Tajine, pretty much the same recipe, but switching out the prunes for apricots – you could really use any dried fruit in the recipe like dates, or even cherries (that’s a combination I have to try!)
- 1-2 lb. beef or lamb bone in or bone out– cut into 3-4’” chunks
- 1/2 lb. onions finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoon ginger
- 5-10 saffron threads
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil (if the meat you are using has more fat then decrease the amount of oil
- 1 palmful of chopped cilantro
- 1/2 lb. dried apricots
- 1-2 tablespoon honey (fresh, organic if possible)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup blanched, fried almonds
In a large pot or pressure cooker, add oil to bottom of pan and add onions and garlic, saute until translucent. Mix in the meat and brown, then add spices (salt, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, parsley, saffron)
If using a pot on the stove, add enough water to cover the meat. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until meat is very tender and falls away from the bone. You may need to add more water if it cooks off too quickly. Add the cilantro. Bring the meat and liquids to boil. When the meat is cooked removed, and allow the remaining water to reduce to a thick sauce.
If using a pressure cooker, cover the pressure cooker after adding water and cilantro. Cook on medium heat for between 45-50 minutes. Release pressure and open cover. Remove the meat and reduce the sauce uncovered.
For the apricots: (this can be done while meat is cooking)
Add dried apricots to a small pot with honey and some water, simmer on medium heat, checking to make sure there is enough liquid and they are not burning. Continue simmering until very tender. The length of time for this step depends on the oven as well as the apricots. Towards the end add some cinnamon (more if you like it). Cook until they are sitting in a thick syrup.
This is often topped with fried almonds. To fry almonds: using blanched almonds add some oil to a saute pan and put the whole almonds in. This will only take a few minutes once hot. Be sure to watch as they will burn quickly.
Once complete turn out meat and sauce into a large serving dish. Top with the apricots and sauce, and then the almonds. This is eaten with pieces of crusty bread.