Eid Mubarek – Time for Coffee & crepes!

So today marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Moroccans & most Muslims, but not Turkish or Malaysians who celebrated Eid yesterday? I don’t know why there is a difference in the days, I have learnt it’s not to question… It’s just how it is, anyway we’re having 1000 hole pancakes for breaky and Hubby is thoroughly enjoying a lovely cup of coffee!

Vital start to the day in our house, before anything else happens in the morning I put on the coffee, in a stove top coffee maker – we get our coffee from Caffe Romeo in Greythorn (North Balwyn) (check them out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Caff%C3%A9-Romeo/114949288566206?ref=ts&sk=app_4949752878) and it’s worth the trip from Preston. $15 for 500g of Premium Coffee is a very good buy especially as it’s sensational coffee & being from Melbourne – the most liveable city in the world I am a coffee snob! No instant coffee here thanks, one day we’ll get a Gaggia but in the mean time I can hear the coffee brewing and its time to eat!

Veal Shanks with Onions & Preserved Lemon

My Mum is having people for dinner on Saturday night and she asked me to cook for her. I had made her some Osso Bucco a couple of weekends ago and they loved it so we were intending to make the same again, but then on Saturday night I cooked the Cauliflower & Carrot Tajine (the one with Lamb but this time we did it vegetarian) and she decided she wanted me to do a Moroccan Feast, they’d already purchased enough Osso Bucco aka Veal Shanks for 10 people so I thought I need to come up with a way to cook them that’s Moroccan Inspired & this is what I came up with. Serves 10.

You will need

10 pieces of Osso Bucco

6 medium to large brown onions, sliced

6 large cloves of garlic

2 1/2 preserved lemons (1/4 per person)

1 Tbsp ground cumin

2 heaped tsp smokey paprika

handful of lemon thyme

4 bay leaves

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Flour for Dusting

500 ml vegetable stock plus extra water if required.

You will need either a large roasting pan with deep sides, a large cast iron pot or something similar ideally with a tight-fitting lid. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Dust the osso bucco with flour and set aside, heat a large frying pan or cast iron saucepan, add about 2 Tbsp olive oil and brown the meat on each side, you will need to do this in batches of about 3 or so depending on the size of the pieces of meat.

Set the browned pieces of meat aside as they’re done in a bowl so you can retain the juices and add to the dish with the stock. Once all the meat is browned add some extra olive oil and fry the onions, garlic, spices, pepper & thyme. Cook for about 5 mins add the meat back into the pan and cover with stock, divide the preserved lemon into quarters and tuck in and around the meat. Don’t add any salt at this stage as there will be salt from the preserved lemons and it’s better to need to add more at the end than it be too salty.

Ensure everything is covered with liquid and cover with lid or a couple of layers of tin foil and place in oven and cook for at least an hour before moving the pieces of meat around, return to oven and cook for another hour or more, until the meat comes away from the bone.  I have made this in advance and will skim the fat once it’s cooled. The flavours will develop over night so you will end up with a lovely rich casserole. Re heat in the oven for about 30 – 40 mins ensure you remove the stalks of the thyme prior to serving. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

We are going to serve this with crusty bread and a Carrot & Cauliflower tajine. You could serve it with Mashed Potatoes, Polenta or Couscous.

Which came first the Chicken or the Eggs?

I have to just add that I am with Jamie Oliver on this one – if you are going to eat chicken, please buy the best you can afford and make sure it’s at the very least free range, we have some great suppliers of free range & or organic chickens here and having done my research they’re also Halal which won’t matter so much to the masses but does to Hubby.

Woolworths have Macro who do free range & free range organic, there’s Lilydale who do the same, La ionica which I can get at the Preston Market & so on, you just have to keep an eye out and shop around, if you’re on a tight budget like we are then when you see one marked down buy it and stick it in the freezer until you need it!

Eggs again in my opinion should always be free range & despite what you may see at Coles or Woolies you DON’T need to pay $9 a doz for them, I get 700gm free range eggs from the Cramer St Market in Preston for $4 a doz, there is also an egg shop at the market who has organic eggs as well. I don’t buy free range eggs from companies like Pace etc on principle as they are predominantly battery hen egg producers.

If you don’t live near a good market like the Preston, Vic, South Melbourne or Prahran Markets then check out a Farmers Market or something similar, I have decided because we are on a budget that rather than eating crap food we’ll always buy the best we can afford & therefore I don’t always use a lot of chicken but when we do it’s always free range & where possible organic.

You will taste the difference, the chickens will be happier & healthier and it’s just much better for you and the world, think of it as good Karma!

Missing in Action – Chicken with Chermoula

We’ve had hopefully the final wave of dreaded lergy in our house, it was bound to happen given it’s Ramadan and one of us is fasting, but really it should have only been him that got sick and not me! I think having 2 kidlets under 3 and not having slept through all night in such a long time has to eventually take it’s toll.

Anyway, I am sorry for the lack of recipes that have been coming your way. I am going to take you back to the days I when I was living in Marrakech with an oldie but a goodie!

Chicken with Chermoula

1 Free Range Organic Chook (or pieces depending on how many you want to feed)
2 Tbsp Chopped Italian Parsley
2 Tbsp Chopped Coriander (Cilantro)
1 finely diced spanish onion
2 tsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Paprika
1 Tsp Tumeric or Saffron
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (or something similar)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Preserved Lemon
Juice of 1 small to medium Lemon

Green Olives, Crusty Bread & Green Salad to Serve

If you are using a whole chicken then remove the skin across the breast & back, also remove the pope’s nose. Marinate in the spices and juice while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Heat some of the oil in a frying pan and pan fry the chicken so it’s golden.

In a large saucepan add the onion, herbs etc and the remaining oil cook over a medium heat. Add the chicken and marinade with approx 3/4 cup of water, you can always add more if needed as you go. Cover and simmer for about 20 mins, check inside the legs to see how it’s cooking, if you need to add more water do (making sure it’s hot) you want the sauce to be quite thick. Add the preserved lemon at this stage and check your seasoning. Traditionally Moroccan’s like it quite salty, so season to your taste buds, just be aware that the preserved lemon will increase the saltiness as well.

Depending on the size of your chicken or amount of pieces will really determine the cooking times, but ours was a fairly small chicken and it took about 30 – 40 mins. If you are cooking for 6-10 people then just double the spices, herbs etc.

We also served ours with crispy potatoes, but I think it’s best with crusty bread and a salad or green veg if you fancy them. YUMMMMMMMMMMMM

Chermoula

In a Moroccan kitchen there are some essential ingredients and equipment just like there are in any kitchen. One of the main things you must have are the ingredients which go towards making chermoula.

If you’ve been following the blog, or my recipes you will notice a bit of a trend especially since the 1st of August which marked the start of Ramadan & the start of Moroccan month in our house. The trend being mainly Moroccan inspired cooking. As part of that you need a recipe for Chermoula.

It’s a bit like Pesto but perhaps more versatile in that it can be added to almost any savoury dish from Fish to Carrots. We will quite often marinate chicken thigh fillets, wings, drumettes or spareribs in chermoula before barbequing.Lamb fillets, steaks or chops & rump steak for kebabs. You can also put chermoula on sardines, all over a whole snapper or any white fish before either barbecuing or pan frying.

Add a teaspoon or two to boiled carrots with some olives and you have a classic Moroccan salad. You could also use it as a dressing for roasting vegies or a vegetable tajine.

This quantity will make a fairly considerable amount and it can be kept in a glass jar covered with olive oil for at least a month.

You will need:

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley

1 bunch of coriander (Cilantro)

4 large cloves of garlic, crushed

2 Tbsp ground cumin

2 Tbsp Paprika (smokey is great too)

Juice & zest of 1 large lemon

Good pinch of Sea Salt & 4 grinds of black pepper

1/2 – 1 Cup of extra virgin olive oil

You can process this in a food processor if you wish, but it’s not essential.

Fill your sink with cold water and thoroughly rinse the parsley & coriander to ensure all the dirt & grit has been removed – this is particularly important with the coriander. Drain and dry lightly with a tea towel. Place on a chopping board and chop until fairly fine. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Add the all the other ingredients and mix well to combine, depending on how large your bunches of herbs are will depend on how much oil you need, you don’t want it to be drowning in oil, but you need it to look wet. Check the taste, you want the lemon/olive oil ratio to be similar to a salad dressing and be able to taste all the other spices as well.

Store in a glass jar and cover with olive oil. Place in the fridge and use as required. Generally speaking I would cook about 500g of protein for a meal and therefore use about 2-3 large spoons of this chermoula mix as a marinade.

 

RDO Dinner – Chicken Kebabs

Today was Hubby’s RDO so we’ve had a very relaxing day together, sleeping in, snoozing in the afternoon and general fun with Daddy. The best thing about an RDO is it extends the weekend so with the aim of maintaining the relaxed atmosphere we love a BBQ to complete that feeling. Tonight we made one of our favourite meals, this is something we have at least once a week through summer and will be a fantastic addition to your repertoire. Oh & if you have a little rascal like us you can put them to work with the “Squishing” of the marinade into the chicken. If they’re a bit older you can get them to thread the meat onto the kebabs.

Chermoula Chicken Kebabs – Makes 8 kebabs

600g Chicken Thighs diced & fatty bits removed

Chermoula Marinade

Handful of flat leaf Italian Parsley & Coriander, chopped

2 tsp Ground Cumin

2 tsp Paprika

2 large Garlic cloves, diced

Zest & juice of 1 lemon

Salt & Pepper

3 Tbsp Olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and allow to marinate for at least 30 mins, ideally for 2 or more hours.

Prior to cooking, thread meat onto either bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water or metal skewers. BBQ for approx 5-7 mins on each side or until golden brown & cooked through.

Tonight we served ours with bread, a tomato & cucumber salad, black olives & hot homemade chips. We also have it with Rice, but these make a fantastic addition to any BBQ in fact you could triple your chermoula mix and use it to marinate BBQ Chops, chicken wings or chicken spare ribs as part of a platter.

Winter Warming Loop the loop aka Soup

We have been enjoying the early signs of spring all week and it looks like it’s coming to a crashing end with rain predicted for every day this week so I thought this recipe would warm you up. In Morocco Harira is mainly eaten during Ramadan (which we are in at the moment) this soup is eaten at any time of the year including Summer, for me though it makes a great lunch or dinner and I think during winter there is nothing nicer than having some yummy soup simmering on the stove. It takes no time to prepare but about an hour or so to cook.

Harira

You will need:

½ Bunch flat leaf Parsley, chopped

1 bunch coriander, chopped

1 large brown onion diced

4 tsp Ground cumin

2 tsp Paprika

2 cinnamon quills

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 400g tin of lentils

1 400g tin of chickpeas

2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes or 1 700ml bottle tomato passata

6 cups of water

100g cooked rice or spaghetti broken into small pieces

Ensure you rinse the coriander prior to chopping it up in a sink filled with water as for some reason there is always lots of sand or grit in the bunch.

In a large saucepan or cast iron pot heat the olive oil, onion, spices and herbs. Cook gently for about 5 mins. Puree tinned tomatoes with flour in a blender and add to the pan, if you are using Tomato Passata then just add that to the soup and mix the flour with some water until you have a runny paste, add this to the soup and stir well. Add water and season with Salt & Pepper, simmer for ½ an hour and season again to taste. Add rinsed lentils & chickpeas & continue to simmer gently for another hour, add the rice or pasta & return to a gentle simmer. You want the soup to have a hearty flavor but not be too thick. This will make more than enough for a couple of meals & as it reheats it will become thicker as the pasta etc will absorb some of the liquid.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and freshly chopped parsley. During Ramadan we will serve Harira with fresh dates.