Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tagine of spicy meatballs and pomegranate

This is another warming winter Tagine and this time it is beef and little else but also very quick and easy when you have ran out of ideas and you need a hot meal in 30 minutes! Some dishes carry a little dream after them and this one will transport you in whichever exotic oasis you choose to visit…

The pyramid shape is magic  for flavours

The pyramid shape is magic for flavours

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Ingredients list: for 20 meatballs

  • Ground beef, 500g
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes – or 2 fresh ones in season!
  • Passata, 200ml
  • Half a jar of chickpeas
  • Seasoning: harissa, thyme, sage and hot paprika to taste
  • More seasoning: M’rouzia or Ras El Hanout, 1 Tbsp
  • Light olive oil, 1 Tbsp
  • Salt and pepper to finish
  • Chopped fresh parsley, one handful
  • Pomegranate seeds, a small handful

First mix the ground beef and the seasoning (harissa, thyme and sage or other flavours) and roll small ping-pong ball sized chunks into oiled hands.

Chop the onions, diced up, and fry them in a little oil (1 Tbsp). Do not let the olive oil smoke, keep the heat under control.

Fry the meat balls in the oil for a few seconds.

Add the chopped tomatoes, M’rouzia or other Tagine spices, some hot paprika and the passata with a little water if needed.

Add the rinsed chickpeas – and frozen peas as well if you wish!

Only add salt towards the end as the stew will reduce and only very little salt will be needed, if any.

Cover and put on low heat for 30 minutes. If you can, use a pointy Tagine dish as the condensation of flavours is unmatchable by any other method.

Present with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and parsley. I love rich colour in food – it enhances the appetite.

Serve with steamed rice and vegetable or some couscous. Or just big slabs of flat bread to mop up the sauce…

A nomad's tent near Marrakech

A nomad’s tent near Marrakech

This tent is my dream place, and represents the best place ever to taste the sort of Tagines that I am raving about… This photo was taken at dusk, just before dinner was served. You are in an oasis, in the middle of the desert… I can just imagine I am back there as if lifted by a magic carpet and everything suddenly tastes so much better…

 

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Burn’s night haggis and duck egg tartlet

Tonight is Burn’s Night, in which the Scots eat Haggis and drink whiskies, recite Burn’s poetry to the sound of bag pipes and generally have a song and a dance around one of the weirdest food stuff possible!

I happen to really enjoy Haggis and I share with my Franco-English brood a very candid love for the full flavours of this ancient and mythical dish. So we usually share at least one Haggis with friends during the months of January or February.  The Haggis itself is best bought from your butcher and if you follow the instructions you should be set ! What I suggest here is what to do the next day with the left-overs – I always buy generously and so the left-over is quite plentiful. You could always just purchase a small haggis, cook it for the time required and use it in this recipe. I reckon this starter is an easy and user-friendly introduction to the real thing…

A sausage shaped haggis ! Perfect

A sausage shaped haggis ! Perfect

Ingredients for 6 tartlets:

  • 500g of Haggis (cooked and cooled)
  • one egg, beaten
  • Fine oatmeal or brown flour
  • Duck eggs, 6
  • Maldon salt
  • Little glass of whisky

Poach the duck eggs directly in boiling water (with a spoonful of vinegar added) or in small darioles moulds stood in one inch of boiling water. Count 3 to 4 minutes after boiling point to get soft boiled eggs. Rinse under cool water, peel and reserve.

Put one spoonful of rapeseed oil in a skillet and heat up.

With oiled hands, shape 100g of haggis in round tartlet shape or flat pat tie and brush both sides in the beaten egg. Add a bit of water with your fingers if this helps. Sprinkle the fine oatmeal over and then fry both sides in oil. Repeat for 6 rounds.

Drain the excess oil on some kitchen towel then serve the Haggis base with one poached egg on top and sprinkle some salt over.

Serve with a sprinkle of whisky on the haggis base.

Each guest will cut the egg : the soft yolk mingling with the spicy haggis meat and the alcool gives a lovely and very unusual mouthful. Some bag-pipe music might always be enjoyable at that point but if you want to really get the full experience of Burn’s Night you can always try reciting the traditional address or heading to a Scottish pub during the next three or four weeks and seeing how it is done properly!

In any case, this is a night for loud and rowdy fun and for eating things you never thought you would love! Never miss an opportunity to party, is my honest advice for this new year. And may the memory last long after Burn’s Night is over…

I took no picture of the starter sadly but here is a picture of the whole Haggis, ready to be cut up, the night before…

A robust and fragrant Haggis

A robust and fragrant Haggis

Chicken lemon in tagine dish

Tagines make ideal winter dishes

Tagines make ideal winter dishes

As a child, I used to spend most of my Christmas holidays in Morrocco where my maternal grend-parents used to live. So Christmas is not necessarily associated for me with snow or Fir trees but more often with donkey rides in the garden, fish for supper and an exotic, tenderly arranged nativity scene or crèche in the ‘salon’ where my parents and grand-parents would take us to on Christmas morning. Tagines were served to us as a warming winter dish and they are the perfect antidote to cold and dark winter evenings. With warming spices to suffuse the soul and limbs, they  also represent the easy option of a perfect one-pot no-fuss meal.

Chicken lemon in tagine dish – Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients list:

For the marinade:

  • 1 frozen chopped chilli cube or two pea-size drops of Harissa paste
  • 200 ml water
  • 70 ml olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ras el hanout or M’rouzia mix, 1 Tbsp
  • Cumin 1 Tbsp
  • Ground Coriander 1 tsp
  • Pinch of safran
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh parsley

For the stew:

  • Cubed skinless chicken breast with wing bone (2/3 breasts) or oyster thighs -ask a good butcher!
  • 1 large red onion cubed
  • 2 / 3 lemons in brine quartered
  • Zest of half a fresh lemon
  • 2 big handful of garden peas, fresh or frozen

Note that a few quartered potatoes can be included as an option, as in the image above –  I tend to give those a miss if I am trying to recover from excessive festive indulgence… Check the water if you have added potatoes and add if necessary towards the end.

Lay all the meat and put the vegetables in the dish, then mix the marinade in a small jug and pour on top of the dish. Cover and cook on medium to low heat for 45 min. Do not open the dish too often, if ever. Chuck the peas towards the end. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

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All the world’s spice under a tent