Monthly Archives: December 2013

A tagine of seasonal vegetables

IMG_5226One pot dishes are all I want when the weather turns nippy (bit of a euphemism here) and the days are sooo short you feel like putting something to simmer away at half past four!

Tagines are slow cooked dishes, made in the eponymous conical pot: they can be meat or fish based but they can also be wholly vegetable based as in thisrecipe  I brought back from Marrakech. It is the tastiest way of cooking your vegetables; I promise you will not want your potatoes and carrots  any other way after feasting your tastebuds on this… No amount of boiled veggy will now ever do with the sunday roast…

Colours and fragrances

Colours and fragrances

Ingredients list:

  • onion,1
  • tomatoes, 3 grated
  • celery stick, 1
  • carrots, 3
  • fennel, 1
  • sweet potatoes,1 small
  • potatoes, 2
  • cabbage, 1/2
  • olive oil
  • sunflower oil
  • sweet paprika
  • cumin
  • grated ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • water
  • garlic
  • saffron

For the marinade :  Mix into a bowl 50ml of olive oil, 50ml of sunflower oil, 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika, same of cumin and grated ginger plus salt and pepper. Crush 3 cloves on garlic in the mix and add a pinch of saffron. Cut up a bay leaf and grate the two tomatoes on a flat grater so you just get the flesh and discard the skin once finished. Mix it all well.

First,  soak the flat bottom of the dish in water to avoid cracking on heat. This is a very important step if you want to keep on using the tagine!

Slice the onions finely and lay at the bottom of the dish.

Cut up the carrots, celery and fennel in sticks and put a layer over the onions.

Cut large chunks of the cabbage and then thick slices of the potatoes and arrange them on top. You can use any seasonal vegetables so next summer it might be courgettes, aubergines or anything else you fancy for that layer just before the potatoes.

Slice one fresh or preserved lemon and some black olives on top.

You can also add a handful of pre-cooked chickpeas instead of olives.

Pour the mix over the vegetables arranged in a pyramid shape.

Add a glass of water.

Put the dish directly on low heat (or using a heat diffuser) for about 2 hours – ideally without opening the lid but do if no more steam is coming out!

The vegetables will be melting in your mouth and the flavours are unreal…

Sprinkle with parsley and coriander  before serving in the dish – pipping hot.

Seasonal is the word

Seasonal is the word

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My Xmas favourites

Christmas count down… We are all going through with it! It is hectic, it is fun ; stressful, emotionally  challenging but also incredibly rewarding… I do not (sadly) have the recipe for a stress-free holiday but a few good recipes might help create just the right mood up to Boxing day, at least. So to ease the pain on the food side, here is a list of my festive favourites from the archive.

Above all: be merry, relax and don’t even try to make it picture perfect!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS    JOYEUX NOEL   FELIZ NAVIDAD

Click on the pictures to get the links:

Handmade Stollen

Handmade Stollen

Melting waffles

Melting waffles

Picture perfect fruit cakes

Mini fruit cakes

The perfect winter meal

The perfect winter meal

Rum babas

Rum babas

Ginger bread house to build

Ginger bread house to build

Can’t cook without it: The beauty of Ghee!

I discovered Ghee last summer when attending an Ayuvedic cooking workshop with a lovely friend in Putney, and I fell under its spell for both taste and health reasons. Here I tell you how…

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Ghee is simply butter that has been allowed to simmer for at least 20 minutes, so all water and cream have either evaporated or have caramelised at the bottom and on the sides of the pan: The result is a honey-smelling liquid gold that can be used for cooking – even at high temperatures when butter would quickly burn.

Once strained, you can keep Ghee in a jar and it will remain fresh for a few good weeks, but not as long as oil will. I keep mine in the fridge  where it solidifies but it can be kept in its liquid state at room temperature.

Star with two or more packets of unsalted butter and let them melt then simmer in the pan for at least 20 minutes. Skim impurities off the top at regular intervals. Towards the end, raise the heat for a few minutes to allow the last impurities to burn off. Then strain the butter through a fine sieve or muslin into a few clean jars. Label and store in the fridge.

I use it to pan fry vegetables, to cook lentils, tofu, rice or really anything else… It gives a subtle, honey taste to the dish, never burns or smell, and is much better for your heart and arteries than straight butter. It lasts a long time and looks so beautiful that you could even package it with a nice label and bow to give away at Christmas!

Learn more about le health benefits of Ghee by visiting http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=newtip&dbid=9

Which ingredients are on your “can’t cook without it” list? Tell me and you might get a jar of Ghee in return!

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