MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

A revelation I had during this trip to Morocco was that our diet has clearly changed.  While we were once eating meat at every meal we have really relaxed a lot on the quantity and types of meat eaten.  If we do eat meat it’s most likely chicken or turkey.  You might find red meat on our table once a week.  Maybe.  Within 3 days of our trip I felt like I had meat coming out of my ears. No one wants meat coming out of their ears.  Not kidding I was almost in tears I wanted a salad so bad. I cobbled together a little meal and trust me cucumbers and tomatoes never tasted so good.

This is not that meal.

Ha!  I almost had you!  This little meal I put together before we left and I was trying to use up all of our CSA veggies so that they wouldn’t spoil.  The salad is really very simple with just some spicy mixed greens, sweet cherry tomatoes, very thinly sliced yellow heirloom tomatoes and red peppers and a good smattering of goat cheese drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.  Yum.

I put my very favorite side dish with the salad.  Gratin Dauphinois or Potato Gratin.  Potatoes and Cheese.  You really can’t go wrong there especially on a chilly fall night.  Check out this recipe for them from Gratinee.

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I’ve blogged my recipe for zaalook at least once but with limited pictures.  This isn’t a new recipe but it will give a little more insight into what the recipe looks like as it comes together.  Original Recipe.

Eggplant, Tomatos, Spices ready to start sizzling

Add a little bit of water

Cooking Down

Ready to Serve - Eaten Warm or at room temperature

 

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    Our summer is full of picnics, BBQ's, and this year iftars. We have spent many of our days on the run and having fun! Last month I participated in #TheSaladBar, a group of bloggers who share their salad recipes each month. This month's theme was potluck salads. Potluck salads where I grew up were either…
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Eid al-Adha Celebration

Culture November 21, 2010 1

Please forgive my absence the last week or so.  My day job has had be putting in many many hours at the office and at home we’ve been eating dinners that I’ve made ahead of time and frozen.  (Thank goodness for that!).  Things should be settled down now, and I am so grateful.  Mixed into last week was the celebration of Eid al Adha or “festival of the sacrifice”.  Some of you might not be familiar with this holiday.

Eid al Adha comes on the 10th day of the 12th lunar month of the Islamic calendar and start after the completion of the Hajj (pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia).  The tradition comes from the story of Abraham’s sacrifice.  Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience.  Instead God replaced Ishmael with a ram after seeing how obedient Abraham was.  Every year Muslim families commemorate this by sacrificing a ram.  The meat is then distributed; 1/3 for the family, 1/3 for friends or other family members and 1/3 for charity.  There are many more smaller details about the activities of the day, but the major events are attending Eid prayers and making the sacrifice of the animal.





Early in the morning we wake up and get dressed in nice clothing.  My boys are wearing traditional Moroccan djalabbas.





Eid breakfast is usually something simple but not something that you would make everyday.  Some meals are very elaborate and some are simple.  Ours was simple due to time constraints.  I made batbout the night before with several different toppings.  My favorite dish for Eid is Harabil but it takes a little more time.
We went to the mosque for Eid Prayers and then to a friend’s farm for the sheep.



Normally we would have had a big dinner Tuesday night after the days activities we had to postpone that until Wednesday.  Tuesday night I made the spice mix and rubbed it into a cleaned lamb leg.  I let this marinade over night and then put in a low 250F oven for about 6 hours.




This dish is called Mechoui and is incredibly delicious.  A friend of ours that came over to celebrate with us was certain she didn’t like lamb.   She loved this!  I did alter the original recipe and used this spice mix;

2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp ginger powder
5 tbsp butter cut into pieces and kept cold until needed.

Cooking this on a low temperature for a long time ensures that the flavors get into all of the meat.  Using the butter helps keep it moist.


I served this with two salads;

A simple steamed carrot and vinegarette salad (literally steamed baby carrots with a dressing of 1 part olive oil, 1/2 part white vinegar and crushed garlic and a little black pepper)



A roasted pepper and preserved lemon salad.  To make this salad;
Roast a green pepper and red pepper until the skin is charred.  Remove skin and clean inside of the pepper.
Cut the pieces into small squares.  Take a quarter of a preserved lemon and clean the inside so only the rind remains.  Chop into similar size squares.  Top with 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp crushed garlic.  Serve room temperature.


Although not as ambitious or overly creative as some celebration meals it was satisfying and everyone enjoyed it.  This might become our new traditionally dinner due to its simplicity and great results!!

Are you thinking of spending Eid in Morocco?  Check out Hotels in Casablanca for great hotel deals.

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    Eid al Adha is right around the corner (Sunday) and is perhaps most well known as the "sheep holiday".  Muslim families purchase a live ram and on the morning of Eid sacrifice the animal.  This is done as a remembrance of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's command.  At the last minute God…
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    One of my favorite Moroccan salads is Taktouka, a very simple but flavorful salad.  The key to making it is charring the outside of bell peppers so that the skins can be removed.  In the summer placing them on a charcoal grill that is just smoldering is the perfect way to char them extremely well. …
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I recently was having a conversation with a friend of mine about Moroccan salads.  In the American sense a lot of dishes labeled salads in Morocco are more similar to our concept of side dishes.  However in Morocco the salad course is one unto itself, served before the main dish.  In a multi-course meal they would be first followed by a “side-dish” and then 1 or 2 main dishes.  During his last trip to Morocco, Youssef brought me home a beautiful large serving platter (and one for my mom too..man he knows the way to our hearts!).  It’s big and I can’t use it too often because we wouldn’t eat that much without having guests over.  You might have caught a glimpse in a past post.  Now I present you the true purpose of the platter…..

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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Welcoming Fall with Crumb Soup

Tonight marks the beginning of fall, even though the last few weeks in the Midwest have felt very fall-like.  I packed away most of our summer clothes in the beginning of September and my kids don’t leave the house without a sweatshirt in the morning.  Even though the temperatures are dipping, I am happy to welcome the change.  Fall has always been my favorite time of the year.  In my life it has always meant sweaters and football games, early evening sunsets and weekends raking multi-colored leaves, and soup (I love soup!).  

Fall leaves

See those pesky leaves are already changing colors!  The trees are a mix of reds and yellows right now, but it won’t be long before the oranges, browns and other color variations start to appear.  I have so many memories of this time of year that every day feels like a bit of nostalgia in the fall!  

Yesterday I was feeling a little bit under the weather and knew that there was only one kind of soup that would make me feel better.  We call it Crumb Soup.  I don’t know where the name came from all I do know is that it’s my favorite.  When my sister and I were growing up we were blessed to have all of our grandparents very geographically close to us.  We’re talking a few blocks away and the next town over, close.  My grandma on my dad’s side was your run of the mill stereotypical grandma.  She baked with us, always had little projects for us (she was also a school teacher for a long time), and I can never remember her ever raising her voice to either of us.  But back to my soup.  If my sister or I were ever sick we always would call grandma to bring us crumb soup, and guess what, she always did.  ALWAYS.  Within an hour of a phone call she would be there with the soup or she would come over after our call and make it for us at home.  The older that I have gotten the more I have appreciated this and realized how blessed we were to have such a loving family!  


I share a lot of Moroccan recipes here and as much as that is a part of my life now, I also have to consider that the base of my food knowledge came from my experiences prior to Morocco invading my life!  Without further adieu…crumb soup!  

(Disclaimer….This is not a gourmet recipe by any means!!)

I am going to preface this by saying there is no wrong way to make this, sometimes I add other spices to the dumplings, or chicken pieces, more pepper or less – it’s a great recipe to experiment with!)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (do not use self rising!!)
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1/2 cup of warm water (may use a little less or a little more)
  • salt and pepper to flavor
  • Chicken Broth (3-4 cups)

Directions

In a pan begin to heat the chicken broth to bring to a boil.  While it is heating add flour, eggs, salt and pepper to a large bowl.  Mix well.  Start to add water slowly.  The mixture should be similar to a drop biscuit.  Not too thick but it should be sticky.  Once the broth has come to a boil, use a spoon to drop the dough into the broth.  The size of the dumplings will depend on your preference (it really doesn’t matter!).  A trick is to dip the spoon first in the broth, then to scoop the dough.  Dip and scoop.  The heat from the broth will make the dough come off the spoon easier.  Boil for about 5 minutes.  When the dumplings are cooked they will float.  

 

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pepper3
One of my favorite Moroccan salads is Taktouka, a very simple but flavorful salad.  The key to making it is charring the outside of bell peppers so that the skins can be removed.  In the summer placing them on a charcoal grill that is just smoldering is the perfect way to char them extremely well. 
peppers2
Once the skins are fully blistered and black they can be placed into a plastic bag and left alone for 5-10 minutes.  The steam that is created will begin removing the skin from the flesh of the pepper, making them very easy to remove. 
 veggies
The skins should easily peel off but running them under a little cold water will help to pull any smaller pieces off.  You can find my taktouka recipe here.   Another variation of this recipe is a simple roast pepper in vinegarette.
peppers
Slice the peppers into small strips and mix a vinegarette that is 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar or lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add garlic for additional flavor.  Toss peppers enough to coat them with the vinegarette.  Serve at room temperature.

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Soup(s) are not big in our house.  At least they never seemed to be but lately I’ve been hitting on something that is appealing.  I had a bunch of dried beans in the cupboard and was really craving soup – actually I was craving Pasta e Fagoli, you know the kind from Olive Garden with those tasty buttery garlicky breadsticks?  If I went for the soup I’d end up eating half my weight in bread and that’s just not in the cards.  So instead I came up with this recipe.  It’s a bit of an adaption of harira but a bit more substantial and flavored differently.  It got a thumbs up from kids, husband and my mom and step-dad who were over for a visit.  I also served it with oat biscuits with garlic butter – not as good as those breadsticks but less fattening.  I’ll be sharing that recipe soon.

Ingredients:
1 medium onion grated
3 tbsp garlic chopped finely
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp white pepper
handful each of italian parsley and cilantro chopped finely
1 14-20 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp tomato paste
3 medium tomatoes grated
1 64oz carton vegetable broth
1/2 lb ground beef, chicken or turkey
1 cup lentils (pre-soaked)
1/2-1 cup white beans (pre-soaked)
1 cup chickpeas (pre soaked)
1 egg yolk
3 tsp flour
water
Your favorite pasta, rigatoni, orzo, vermicelli work well
**Note – you can use any type of canned bean in this recipe.  Dry beans are more economical and I think taste better but that’s just me.  

Directions:
**If using dry beans, allow to soak overnight before preparing this recipe.  Optionally you could add them to a pressure cooker with enough water to cover the beans.  Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes to soften up.**

In a large pot add the olive oil, grated onion and garlic. Allow to saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add 1/4 of the vegetable broth to lower the temperature.  Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and grated tomatoes.  Add all of the spices and herbs.  Allow to simmer while browning the meat.  In a separate pan brown the meat until no longer pink.  Add to the pot and remaining vegetable broth.  Next add the same amount of water as broth.  Lastly add the beans.  Cover and keep the heat on medium heat   If using dry beans, continue to cook for up to 2-3 hours until beans are soft.  If you like them softer, cook longer – for a firmer bite cook a bit less.  If using canned beans or pre-softened beans (from pressure cooker) the cooking time need only be 30-45 minutes.
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As cooking time nears an end, in a seperate bowl add the flour, and enough water to combine – creating a slurry.  Hold this bowl above the cooking pot to allow the contents to warm up and then slowly combine in the soup a little at a time.  You will see the soup thickening.  Do not add the entire bowl at one time or the soup may be more thick than you would like.  Dump any remnants that were not combined.  In the bowl add one egg yolk.  Again hold this over the pot to warm up the yolk.  Slowly drizzle this into the soup.  

If using a full pasta, such as fussili or rigatoni cook in a seperate pot beforehand.  This way you can control how much pasta is combined and the starch from boiling will not affect the body of the soup.  If using vermicelli or orzo, it is easier to mix into the chili itself.  Do not over cook or it will begin to stick.  

Serve hot, with bread and a salad!

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I gave Julia another shot, but this time it was just a sauce and a method for cooking mushrooms.  All in all this was a really great dinner.  I paired the fish with a whole wheat couscous and vegetable side dish.   Me and the husband really loved this.  The best part was it was fast and tasty!

I used some orange roughy that was in the freezer, defrosted and topped with salt, pepper and lemon.  I put two small pats of butter on each fillet.  Then I broiled in the oven until cooked through.  The mustard sauce starts with a roux of butter and flour, combined with vegetable stock and some more butter and a little bit of mustard.  Stewed mushrooms are also a part of this dish although no wholly visible.  These are easily done by combining a 1/2c of water, 1/2 of a lemon squeezed, salt and pepper and 2 tbsp butter.  Once they are cooked through, about 5 minutes.  I further reduced the liquid and used it in the mustard sauce.

For the couscous salad I used an instant whole wheat couscous (Moroccan friends don’t lambaste me!  I only did it to save time and I’m sure if I would have cooked it properly it would have been much better!)  I picked up some Ziploc steamer bags to try them out.  I LOVE them!  I tossed in some broccoli and carrots, with 2 tbsp of water, and microwaved for 3 minutes.  I chopped up the veggies and tossed them with the cooked couscous, topped with 1/2 lemon squeezed, salt and pepper, and a tsp of hot paprika.

This whole meal took less than 30 minutes to get together and was very good!  It’s pretty open for many different interpretations and I’m sure just changing the sauce would change the entire dish.  

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