Wednesday, May 20, 2009

OMG! Fatiha's Tajine

So my friend Fatiha came over about a year ago and made, what I thought was the best Tajine ever. This was when Mona was my housemate and she was learning how to cook some items she could make when she returned to America. I didn't really pay attention then; I just ate. And boy did I eat! It was soooo good!

A year later and it's getting to be closer to my time to leave. I decided I needed to learn how to cook more things Moroccan. Fatiha came over and showed me and my new sitemate Jeremy how to make the same Tajine step by step.

Now this was something I was going to keep to myself because I'm sure it will become my specialty at home, but I made it tonight and decided it is just too good not to share. It will be difficult for you to make if you do not have access to a Tajine, so perhaps you'll have to wait for me to come home. For those here in Morocco and those with a Tajine on hand, ENJOY!!!

Fatiha's Zwin Chicken Tajine

-This is for a small-medium sized Tajine. If you have a larger one, just add more vegetables and layer it the same way I discuss here. You may want to add more chicken as well(how many people are you serving?). Just make it fit properly and it's fine.

1 medium sized zuccini peeled
1 onion
2 tomatoes peeled
1 large potato peeled
1 small bunch celantro- leaves chopped
1/2 lb chicken (1/4 kg) (Use chicken with bones... While I'm sure it could be done with boneless chicken breast, I've never seen a Moroccan do it and it should be fairly intact the whole time. It's ok if it's in several pieces though like a leg and a breast.)
1/8th cup vegi oil (or enough to cover the bottom in a thin layer)

-Saffron (Zaffron dyal duez- the bright orange stuff that comes in packets)
-1 Chicken Boullion Cube
2 cloves garlic

Start off by washing the chicken and salting the outside. Pour the oil in the Tajine. Place the chicken in the Tajine and cover the top. Place the Tajine directly on the burner at medium high heat (or however you normally do yours with a clay Tajine- mine is metal) and let it sizzle. Start slicing and peeling(if you haven't already) your vegetables. Slice them all to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Check on the chicken- does it look done on the outside?

Turn the burner off and place the chicken on a plate. If there is still skin on the chicken, you can take it off but it is optional to do so. Start layering your vegetables. Place one layer of sliced onion on the bottom of the Tajine- you want to cover as much of the bottom of the Tajine as possible. Next, place one layer of sliced tomato on top of the onion. Place the chicken on top of the tomato layer.

Now for the spices- Use ~1/4 tsp of saffron sprinkled all over the top of everything. Do the same with 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cumen, 1/2 tsp tumeric, and 1/4 tsp ginger. ***Take half the chicken boullion cube and break it up on top sprinkling it around.

Next stack potatoes around edges and on top (1 layer like the other vegis); then come the zuccini slices on top of that. If there are any more tomato slices, put them on top to finish it out. ***Crumble the rest of the boullion cube and sprinkle it over all the vegis. Sprinkle chopped celantro on top. 1/2 tsp paprika sprinkled on top and then press or finely chop 2 garlic cloves and sprinkle on top.

Pour water around the edges until it reaches about 1/2 inch below the edge of the Tajine. Place the cover on top. Turn burner on medium, put the neck of a spoon in the edge to lift the lid slightly. Cook for about 25 minutes checking it periodically. If the water level is too low, add some more until it's back up to a half an inch away from where the cover closes. Cook for about another 10 minutes. Test the vegetables by pushing a potato on the top. If it falls apart without too much effort, it's done. If it's not quite ready yet, check it at 10 minute intervals until it's ready.

And... you're done. Let it cool for a few minutes and enjoy with bread.

***This adds quite a bit of salt. If you're doing a small Tajine, you may want to cut back on the amount of this. Perhaps start off with 1/4 and finish with 1/4. For a smaller Tajine, I found that 3/4 was a pretty good amount. Give it a taste test half way through cooking to see.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Transport Strike Cheese Sauce (i.e. no milk in my town)

So as those of you here in Morocco know, there was a transit strike over the last week. This means that there is no milk in my town. I had a recipe for cheese sauce and some Swiss cheese I found awhile back when I was traveling through Ouarzazate. The recipe, by the way, was copied from Kevin and Kimberly Stout (which I copied when I was up in Germany for Christmas).

Here's my modified version:

4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt (plus a little more to add to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups water
7 triangles laughing cow cheese(i.e. vache qui rit)
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups grated cheese of your choice (pcv's will probably use Red Ball which I think would work well though like I said, I found some "fromage emmental" or something like that- same as swiss cheese which was fabulous)

Start by melting the butter on low heat in a sauce pan... mix in the flour, salt and pepper with a whisk. Add 2 cups water and bring up to temperature so it's close to a boil adding the laughing cow cheese triangles and whisking in till it's mixed in the water. When the water is really hot and nearly boiling, add the grated cheese, worcestershire sauce and stir constantly until sauce is relatively thick (it will thicken as it cools as well so a good way to tell is as your stir, is it sticking just a little to the sides of the sauce pan before running down into the pot slowly?)

Taste it- I added a large pinch more salt to mine to bring out the flavor but this probably depends on the cheese. If it tastes awesome and looks done, then you're finished.

The unmodified recipe uses milk instead of the water and laughing cow cheese and I've had it... it's also delicious. (2 cups milk in my recipe) My version was also cut down by 1/3 from the original due to the quantity of cheese I had.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hello Danon Bla Skkar- stuffed peppers

Wow, delicious. So I've been trying to go lower carb... not no carb and I'm not being super good about it. I just cut out rice, bread from the hanut, pasta and potatoes. The potatoes are the toughest part.

So today I had a craving for stuffed peppers but I usually do a rice mixture. Because of my no rice rule, I thought a vegi mix would be good instead. Here's what I did...

Cut up and sauteed 2 small tomatoes, 1 green pepper, 1 small chili pepper, celantro leaves and 1 large scallion. I did it in this order on low heat: the white part of the scallion, the chili pepper and the green pepper, the tomatoes, the celantro leaves and then at the end, the green part of the scallion. I sauteed these in sunflower oil though vegetable oil would work as well. I added through out, a few pinches of salt (to taste), a shake of cheyenne pepper, a shake of black pepper and a shake of garlic powder.

When this was all looking good, I added about a tablespoon of fromage blanc (white cheese) and a tablespoon of natural yogurt and mixed it up letting it cook together for awhile. At this point, it starts to get thicker as you let it cook.

So for those of you not familiar with Fromage Blanc, it has the consistancy of a light cream cheese and a taste similar to natural yogurt. If you can't get your hands on any, use a few tablespoons (heaping... not exact here) of natural yogurt and let it cook together until it's thicker.

Now you have a delicious filling! I then stuffed the pepper. Normally I'd then place it in the oven, but this time I got impatient because I was really hungry and smelling all the stuffing! I just ate it like that and it was delicious! I would however recommend for anyone trying it, that you put it in the oven until the pepper is hot and just slightly softened. A good way to do the pepper is to cut the top off straight across (find a pepper that can stand on it's own), stuff it and then put the top back on.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Honey Wheat Wraps

This is a pretty basic one. I've been trying to eat healthier lately so I based these off my knowledge of torillas.

1/3 c oil
2 c wheat flour
1 t Salt
2 T Honey
Approximately 1/2 c water

Mix together oil, wheat flour, salt and honey, and then start adding water till it blends together as a dough. Separate them into small balls (golf ball sized) and start rolling out into flat circles. Heat a skillet on medium heat and place the rolled out dough directly over the heat. Turn over after a minute.

***I'm going to continue to refine this recipe. They worked and tasted good but the dough was a bit flimsy. I think next time I'll add just a little regular flour.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Carb Belly!!!

So it's the winter and rather cold here in my house. 50 degrees is certainly livable, but hardly comfortable. I find if I eat lots of things, I stay warmer... Nooooo!!! Now it's spring and I've loaded up on carbs. I have a sweet little carb belly to start out swimsuit season.

So, I'm going to cut 4 things out of my diet: bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. I'll miss the potatoes the most since they're my number one comfort food.

Stay tuned for some creative ways to cut those things out!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Time We Spend for a Craving- Sesame Crackers

So this evening, I really wanted some crackers to eat with some cheese that I had in the fridge. Unfortunately, these things don't exist except in big cities. "What?!?" you say. Crackers? No crackers? None. They prefer sweets here in Morocco so the only salty snacks available in my town are popcorn and chips. Neither one really works as a good crackers and cheese snack. I thought about buying some bread, but I eat bread everyday and even toasted, it's still not a cracker. Bread and cheese is good, but I didn't want very many carbs... just a thin cracker was all I wanted.

Hmmm... What to do? I looked through our Peace Corps cookbook. I thought perhaps a very thin bread you could do on the stove would work. I looked through. I didn't want anything that needed time to rise. That eliminated many recipes. Finally I saw one for Sesame Crackers, discovered I had all the ingredients and set off to make them.

The dough was easy, though I did mess it up a bit. I added too much water and it was a sticky mess by the end. I had to add significantly more flour to balance it out. It worked.

Here it is:

Sesame Crackers- copyright the PC Morocco cookbook

2 cups flour
2 T sesame seeds toasted
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 T butter melted
2/3 C ice water
1/4 C Yogurt (I used the plain kind though it doesn't specify)

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together 2 times. Cut in the yogurt. Add the sesame seeds and melted butter. Mix it all up with the water until it forms a dough. Roll it out to 1/8th of an inch. Lightly greese cookie sheet and then bake it in a preheated oven- medium heat- until brown and crispy.

I found there was a lot of dough for one cookie sheet, so I slightly greesed aluminum foil and pulled it off the top of the cookie sheet for each one. This worked especially well as even the non-greesed parts didn't really stick.

These are really good. I recommend them to everyone who has a craving for sesame crackers. I will say though to all of you at home... if I were home, I would just go buy some sesame crackers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Goat Cheese Bites! I cook again...

So, I decided that this entry needed 2 parts to the title...

I cook again...

Yes, I'm back. I didn't really cook during the summer because it got up over 110 degrees in my concrete oven of an apartment. Then my friend Diana moved here and she's a much more experienced cook than I. I learned a few tricks from her, but stopped being my usual experimental self. So, now that it's me here almost by my self (the new guy is in home-stay with a Moroccan family), I am cooking again! Tonight I made... Goat Cheese Bites. :-)

So this was a total experiment on my part. I had some idea that you could make a batter out of an egg white and some flour. Here's what I did:

  • Took a round of goat cheese and cut it into 18 little wedges- not too thick, not too thin.
  • Separated the egg white from the yolk.
  • Beat the egg white until nice and frothy all the way through.
  • Add a tablespoon of flour and a pinch of salt and pepper and beat them all together. It looks nice and thick when it's done.
  • Use a spoon to carefully dip the delicate piece of cheese in the batter.
  • Heat up some vegetable oil for frying (so get it pretty hot first).
  • Drop it in the oil. When you see the bottom get a nice golden brown, flip it over.
  • When the other side gets brown, it's done... stick it on a paper towel to absorb the excess grease.
Then I proceeded to experiment. I tried different kinds. Here are my favorites:

  1. Goat Cheese and Herb bites- I whisked basil, oregano and thyme in the batter. Enough so that you could really see it in there but it was all mixed in well. Really good, but it gets better...
  2. Add heated up confiture (jam) to the top of the Herb bites. I used apricot and it added a yummy dose of sweetness to balance out the sour goat cheese.
  3. Mix a little bit (maybe a half spoonful) of honey into the batter for Honey Goat Cheese Bites. This is good too with the sweetness inside.
Here's an idea that my friend Jeremy had... I unfortunately cannot try this as we don't have raspberries here in my town. These would make a tasty and attractive appetizer if you put a little raspberry sauce on top with 1 or 2 fresh raspberries. Or maybe strawberry slices, or perhaps other fruit... You'd have to experiment to see what's your favorite.