Ottolenghi’s Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

These cod cakes in tomato sauce from the Ottolenghi cookbook ‘Jerusalem’are one of the many recipes I cooked to convince some of my hardcore carnivore friends that a meal with fish can be as delicious and sometimes even more delicious than the red meat option. I have some friends who believe that a dinner is not complete without a piece of red meat. I’m not a vegetarian but I don’t like to eat meat every day. My husband is a meat lover too, but I like to think I convinced him with my cooking that it’s not necessarily the meat that makes a meal complete. Nowadays I can even get away with serving him a vegetarian meal twice a week. Getting away sounds like he doesn’t like it, but he assured me that he loves the vegetarian dishes I cook for our family. He sometimes even makes vegetarian requests now.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

I have made these cod cakes in tomato sauce many times for dinner and they surely are a huge hit with everyone who eats them. People always ask me for the recipe afterwards. Calling these gems cakes though doesn’t do them justice in my opinion. Fishcakes are defined in the Oxford Dictionary of Food and Nutrition by chopped or minced fish. The fish is then mixed with potato, egg, and flour. The seasonings consist of onions, peppers and sometimes herbs and spices. The potato and flour are the main reason why I’m not really fond of the traditional fishcakes. They tend to make them dense and dry, while these cod cakes in tomato sauce are moist and succulent.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

For this recipe, you can pretty much use any fish you like, but I would recommend a nice flaky white fish. I have made it with fresh cod or tilapia but I have also made it with cod from the frozen section. Though the fresh fish is better the frozen option is pretty decent if you need to watch your budget and can’t afford to buy fresh fish. Another great tip I learned from someone is before you shape and refrigerate the cakes, fry off a small piece of the mixture. Taste it, add seasoning if needed and add a little bit of panko/ breadcrumbs when it’s too sloppy.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

By the way, these cod cakes in tomato sauce are perfect for freezing to save for a rainy day. When freezing them separately (without the sauce) be sure to put some greaseproof paper separating the patties. When freezing them with the tomato sauce make sure you defrost overnight and heat them up very gently. Be careful as this is one of those dishes that you will eat too much of and regret it later…………and then end up having one more…………

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

I always serve them with a simple couscous seasoned with salt, pepper, some extra virgin olive oil, some parsley (or coriander) and some slivered almonds for the crunch. The children always ask me to make broccoli to go with this dish. It’s their favourite combination.

Do you want to hear a lame joke about fishcakes?
A man walks into a fish shop with a fish under his arm and says “Do you have fish cakes?”.
The fishmonger says, sorry, we have no fish cakes today!
The man says: that’s a pity, ……… it’s his birthday today!

Thank cod 🙂 I’m better at cooking than at telling jokes, right?

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

4.8 from 5 votes
Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 40 mins
 

Source: ‘Jerusalem’ – Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
Cod cakes
  • 600 g cod (or any other white flaky white fish) skinless and boneless
  • 60 g Japanese panko crumbs (or 3 slices white bread, crusts removed)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 150g in total)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 30 g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 30 g coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • tsp salt
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
Tomato sauce
  • tbsp olive oil
  • tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 125 ml water
  • 700 g the best passata you can get
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Start with the fish cakes so they can firm up prior to frying. Chop up the fish very finely and place in a bowl with all the other ingredients except for the olive oil. When using bread instead of panko you need to blitz the bread in a food processor to form breadcrumbs. Mix well and then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes, about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. The mixture should make 8-12 cakes, depending on how big you want them. I always refrigerate the cakes for at least 30 minutes to firm up, but when you have time one hour is even better.

  2. While the cakes are firming up in the refrigerator you can start on the tomato sauce. Heat up the olive oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid. Add the onion and cook for 5-8 minutes until soft and translucent. Then add the spices and fry for another minute. Add the water and keep simmering for another 3 minutes. Add the passata, chili, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp of salt and some black pepper. Simmer on low heat for about one hour and taste to adjust the seasoning when needed.

  3. While the sauce is cooking add the remaining oil to a frying pan and fry the cakes for about 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce. Carefully add enough water to partially cover the cakes, about 200ml. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cakes to settle, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with mint.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Sometimes I get the question if I have a good recipe for Moroccan tagine. But what do we mean by tagine, the pot or the dish? I usually use the word when I talk about the pot. Nowadays the word tagine is used for both the terracotta conical pot as well as the food that’s served in it. Historically the nomads in North Africa used the tagine pot as a “portable cooking vessel”, allowing them to prepare food on a charcoal fire while moving around.

Moroccan Tagine Tajine

The traditional tagine consists of two parts: a round bottom unit that is flat with low sides and a cone- or dome-shaped top that serves as a lid during cooking. The lid is designed to return all condensation to the dish. That way less liquid is needed and food cooks slowly until completely tender. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot large bricks of charcoal. More convenient methods of cooking with a tagine nowadays are in an oven or on a gas or electric stove top. Make sure you use the lowest setting when using the stove, just enough to keep it simmering gently. Resist the urge to increase the heat or you may damage your tagine or scorch the food. I always cook my tagine on my gas stove and use a heat diffuser to evenly distribute the heat. A heat diffuser is a round utensil placed between the tagine and the flame.

Moroccan Tagine heat diffuser

Be careful as many ceramic tagines are purely meant as decorative serving dishes. You will need to make sure you can also use yours for cooking. Also, there are people who advise you to soak your it overnight before using it. The soaking is supposed to make it less susceptible to thermal shock. I never soak my tagine before using it simply because I was never taught to do so. My tagines are glazed so I think water would not penetrate the terra cotta anyway. One thing I do know is that you always hand wash your tagine and never put it in the dishwasher.

So, if I had to choose a favourite tagine recipe, it would most definitely be my mums Moroccan chicken tagine with dried prunes. Believe me………..nothing beats homecooked Berber tagine. My mum used to make us all kinds of tagine dishes (lamb, beef, kofta, vegetables), but her Moroccan chicken tagine with dried prunes was our favourite.

Moroccan Tagine Tajine

I remember we would gather around the dining table with my parents and my siblings with one tagine in the middle. Everyone got a piece of ahrom (Berber word for Moroccan bread) to eat the tagine, no cutlery needed. We used the bread for scooping out bites using just our fingers. The trick is to only use your first three fingers cupped together. Use these fingers in a scooping up motion, helping to get the food onto the bread. Then you can use your thumb for putting the food into your mouth and to avoid licking your fingers.

Licking your fingers is very impolite because everybody is eating from the same serving dish (the tagine). Another no go is to reach for a bite on the other side of the tagine, you only eat from the part closest to you (the Berber word for that part is ‘lili’). If you want the last prune and it’s not in your ‘lili’ you can always ask the ‘owner’, but you never reach for it yourself. As long as we are talking rules, don’t use your left hand when eating tagine as that is the hand you (should) use in the bathroom for wiping certain body parts.

Maybe you want to stop reading after the previous paragraph: there are many people who can’t imagine themselves eating with their hands. Don’t worry, you can always use cutlery if you are not comfortable eating with your hands. I remember people coming over to our house and my mum would just fix them a plate and give them a fork and a knife if they did not want to eat with their hands. I also remember that lots of those people eventually wanted to try to use the bread instead of the fork and knife, just because they were curious if they could manage.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Moroccan Tagine Tajine

5 from 6 votes
Maroccan Chicken Tagine
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½ tsp salt, or more to taste
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp raz-el-hanout
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 300 ml water (approximately)
  • 250 gr little potatoes
  • 1 small carrot, sliced in circles
  • 150 gr dried prunes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in stripes
  • 1 large tomato, sliced in rings
  • 1 large red onion, sliced in rings
  • One hand full of peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Chopped coriander for garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the tagine on the stove on medium heat. I like to use a diffuser to evenly distribute the heat over the bottom of the tagine. A diffuser is a round utensil placed between the tagine and the flame (see above). Coat the bottom of the tagine with the 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the finely chopped onion to the tagine and fry until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Arrange the chicken in the tagine and cook it for 8 minutes turning the meat occasionally to lightly brown it.

      

  2. Add the spices, salt, and tomato puree and keep turning the meat until it’s completely coated. Arrange the chicken flat on the bottom of the tagine, leaving the rim free. Add enough of the water so it doesn’t overflow and keep the rest for later. Let the water come to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary. If at any point throughout cooking it looks like there is not enough liquid in the saucepan, add in a few tablespoons of water.

      

  3. Now you add the vegetables carefully on top of the meat, fully concealing the meat. I always use the same order. First I add the potatoes and the carrots as close to the liquid as possible. Then I put the dried prunes in between the potatoes. The stripes of bell peppers go on top of them and then you carefully add the tomato rings and onion rings. It will look like a lot of vegetables, but it will be fine. The peas go last and they go everywhere they want to go. There is no way of orchestrating them. I finish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper because the vegetables are not touching the water enough to be seasoned by it.

      

  4. Cover with the tagine lid and leave the heat low. Leave to simmer gently for 2 hours. Try not to disturb the tagine other than checking the level of the liquids occasionally and adding a little water when necessary.

      

  5. After 2 hours take the tagine of the heat and let it cool down for 10 minutes. When you are ready to serve, remove the lid and garnish with cilantro (or parsley if you prefer) and serve with bread.

      

  6. If you don’t have a tagine you can also make this recipe in a large deep-sided pan with a lid. 

      

Baghrir (1000 holes crêpes)

I read a post on Instagram of someone asking to share a vivid childhood memory. It got me thinking about my own childhood. How the world feels and looks different when you are a child. The park in your neighborhood feels like a never-ending forest, playgrounds are immense and every day is a new adventure. I sometimes miss that in my adult life. That feeling that you view the whole world through eyes of excitement and wonder. The way a child takes the time to see amazing things in life that you don’t notice anymore as an adult. Like the excitement you felt when you found a sow bug and other crawling creatures when you lifted up a rock for the first time 😉 .

Thinking about my childhood I remembered a playground in Alkmaar (The Netherlands) where we used to go with my niece and nephews when we visited them. This playground had a few arches made out of concrete and we played tag or catch with a ball while climbing on the arches. I used to come home with my legs and arms full of abrasions from climbing these arches, but I didn’t care. They looked something like this, only with graffiti sprayed all over them:

playground concrete arches

The arches were immense in my memories, they may well have been as high as the Mount Everest. Sometimes I even needed help to climb on top of them. We had so much fun playing there that every time we visited them we went to that same playground. We never got bored playing there even if (or maybe because) it forced us to be imaginative because the arches were all that was there. There was no swing or sandbox or anything else in that playground. We made up all kinds of games to play on the arches and stayed there until the sun went down.

Fast forward 25 years and I went back to that same playground when I was visiting my sister who lives in Alkmaar and found the arches were still there. Only: they were really small! I could easily look over them as they were shoulder height. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In my memory they were at least 3 meters high. Something tells me I will always remember this playground. I will always have memories of that magical playground where I climbed arches as high as the Mount Everest. Being back on that playground filled me with so much nostalgia that I found myself sitting there for over half an hour just reminiscing. All of a sudden I was 10 years old again and I saw my sisters, my niece and my nephews running around on the playground, screaming and laughing at each other. I just sat there with a smile on my face…………

You will probably want to know what above story has to do with food and more specifically this recipe? Well, nothing to be honest. It was just something I wanted to share with you. I promise next blog post will be about food again and there is always the ‘jump to recipe’ button if you’re only here for the recipe 🙂 .

Ok, let’s talk food then………..You know what also brings back vivid memories from the past? The smell, taste, and sight of particular food. I already told you about my memories of msemmen. A similar breakfast treat from my childhood is Baghrir, also called 1000 holes pancakes. Baghrir is actually a Tamazight word (Berber language) that means “too soft”. The texture is so soft and luscious that you will understand why they are called that way when you eat them. My mum used to make this on the weekends for us and there is nothing like it. Please try the recipe and be amazed, like a child eating something new and exotic that sounds like something from a fairy tale of 1001 nights. I would love to hear what your most vivid childhood memory is. You can leave me a comment below if you want to share it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

5 from 5 votes
Baghrir (1000 holes crêpes)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
 
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Moroccan, North African
Servings: 12 pancakes
Ingredients
  • 300 grams of fine semolina
  • 100 grams of flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbs vanilla sugar
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tbs active dry yeast
  • 550 ml lukewarm water
  • 50 ml lukewarm water (extra)
Instructions
  1. Sieve the semolina and flour into a large bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add half of the water and mix until it’s incorporated. Pour this mixture into a blender and mix it for 5 minutes at the highest setting until there are no lumps and the batter is smooth. The long blending time allows the semolina to become finely ground so it thickens the batter. Add the remainder of the water and mix it for another minute in the blender. If you don’t have a blender place all the ingredients in a large bowl and use an immersion blender instead. Pour the batter back into your bowl and cover it with cling film. 

  2. Let the batter rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes. The batter is ready when you see bubbles on the surface. Take off the cling film and add 50ml of water and mix/fold this in very carefully making sure not to pop all the bubbles. 

  3. Heat the oven to 160°C and line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel. Heat an non-stick skillet over medium heat. Wait for the pan to be very hot to start baking the baghrir, otherwise you won’t get many holes on your pancakes. As soon as your skillet is ready pour the batter into it. The honeycomb holes will start forming immediately. Cook the baghrir, undisturbed, until holes set on the surface and there are no more wet spots visible. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes. Be sure to keep the heat low enough so the bottom just barely turns colour (you want it to stay as light as possible). 

  4. When fully cooked you transfer the baghrir onto the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the batter. Don’t pile up your baghrir while they are still hot, as they will stick together. 

  5. When ready to serve, arrange the baghrir on a serving platter and serve hot, drizzled with a mixture of melted butter and warmed honey. Some people choose to top it with olive oil, orange blossom water, sugar, jam, or amlou paste (toasted almonds, argan oil and honey). I however still prefer the traditional butter and honey mixture which my mum always used.

Spicy chicken drumsticks with p’titim salad

Have you ever seen the movie ‘The Pineapple Express’ where Seth Rogen is driving in his car and says: ‘Couscous: the food so nice they named it twice’. Being a Berber Moroccan myself who is brought up eating couscous like the Italians eat pasta I can only agree with Seth on this. Couscous is delicious, convenient and very versatile and I make sure I always have it in my pantry, ready to be turned into a salad or served with a fragrant brothy stew. It’s a great vehicle for all sorts of flavour combinations.

Couscous is a traditional dish of the Berbers who actually call it ‘Seksu’ which means ‘well rolled’ or ‘rounded’ in Berber. The more common name ‘couscous’ comes from the Arabic language. For years, couscous-preparing knowledge was passed on from mother to daughter in the Berber society. Knowing how to prepare couscous was an important element of a young woman’s dowry. So my mum did her duty and taught me how to prepare couscous the proper way 🙂 . Little did she know that her daughter would have such a busy job, that she rarely would have the time to cook the couscous the proper way. Instant couscous is just too convenient, especially when you come home and dinner needs to be on the table in an hour, max.

Spicy chicken drumsticks with p’titim salad

Couscous is no longer an important meal just for Moroccans, Algerians, and Tunisians. Nowadays it’s enjoyed all over the world. When I say couscous, I mean the traditional small granules that look like grains, but are actually tiny ground pasta made from semolina (a type of wheat). Couscous is made by rubbing semolina between wet hands until minuscule little balls are formed. The couscous is then dried and later steamed in a couscoussier (unless of course  you use the instant version). A couscoussier is a traditional double-chambered food steamer. It is typically made of two interlocking pots made of metal. The bottom part, which is the larger one, holds water or broth used to produce steam. The smaller pot, which is designed to be placed on top of the first, has a lid, and a perforated bottom. It holds the couscous in place while allowing the steam to enter and reach the couscous.

couscoussier steaming couscous

So, when I say couscous I don’t mean giant couscous. Who ever thought of that name? There’s no such thing as giant couscous. Don’t get me wrong, there is something which kind of looks like couscous, but is much bigger than the normal couscous, but I would never call it giant couscous or pearl couscous or Israeli couscous, simply because it’s not couscous. These products are not as similar as their names lead you to believe. Let me give you some of the differences: whereas couscous is traditionally dried before it’s cooked, the big ‘couscous’ (which is actually called p’titim) is toasted in the oven, giving it a slight toasty flavour. Where the real couscous is prepared by steaming, p’titim is boiled, like pasta or prepared in a way risotto is also prepared.

Spicy chicken drumsticks with p’titim salad

Having said that……………….I love p’titim, we just need to stop calling it couscous. I read an article saying that experts in Algeria are working on a project to include North African couscous on UNESCO’s world heritage list. That’s the other extreme in my opinion, but I understand why they would want to do that.

Spicy chicken drumsticks with p’titim salad

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

5 from 1 vote
Spicy chicken drumsticks with p’titim salad
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
For the chicken
  • 120 ml honey
  • 2 tbs rose harissa
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 8-10 (1.2kg) free-range chicken drumsticks
For the salad
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (2 for frying and 2 for the 'dressing')
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 300 g P’titim (or pearl couscous for the ignorant 😉 , read my blogpost)
  • 400 g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 15 g parsley, chopped
  • 15 g mint, chopped
  • 120 g pomegranate seeds
  • 100 g almonds, toasted and chopped
Instructions
  1. Add the honey, rose harissa, crushed garlic, lemon zest and half the lemon juice into a large bowl. Season with a 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper and stir to combine. Add the chicken and turn to coat and let it marinate for at least 2 hours.

  2. Preheat oven to 220°C when ready to cook. Line a baking tray with baking paper and transfer the chicken to the baking tray. Roast the chicken for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through and golden, basting every 15 minutes with the mixture from the bowl.

  3. Cook the p’titim according to packet instructions (mine took 10 minutes), then drain in a colander, cool under cold running water and let it drain thoroughly.

  4. Fry the onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and spring onion and fry them for another 3 minutes. Then add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and season well with 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper. Fry for one more minute and then add the chickpeas also for one more minute. Take off the heat and add the other half of the lemon juice and the chopped parsley and mint (save a little bit of the herbs for garnish). Tip everything in a shallow salad bowl that will also fit the cooked p’titim. Add the p’titim to the salad bowl when it’s completely drained. Peel the pomegranate and toast the almonds and add them to the bowl together with 2 tbsp of olive oil and combine until everything is mixed.

  5. Arrange the p’titim salad on a large platter, top with drumsticks and scatter with extra herbs.

Shallot tarte tatin

Oh là là ! Don’t you just love a good tarte tatin. The famous tarte tatin is definitely and indisputably one of France’s most beloved and cherished tarts. There are two things I always eat when visiting France: crêpes with sugar and lemon and tarte tatin. Especially the latter as it’s both one of my favourite desserts (with apples) and one of my favourite side dishes (with shallots).

Le Château de Varambon     Le Château de Varambon

We were in France 2 weeks ago where we spent a week in ‘Le Château de Varambon’. My husband booked the accommodation and I had no idea what it was until we pulled up onto a grand driveway to the château. It’s built on top of a hill at the edge of a small town called Varambon so the view from the château was spectacular. We were greeted very warmly by the count Henri de Boissieu and the countess Monique Gabrielle de Boissieu. They gave us a double room in the lefttower on the top floor. I could not believe my eyes as we walked through the château on our way to our bedrooms. It was like I was walking through a museum, but this time I was allowed to touch everything, to sit in every chair and even sleep in the beds. Henri and Monique Gabrielle told us that they had opened the château to the public in the summer of 2017. It was built by the ancestors of Henri and maintained its original charm over many generations. The bedrooms were incredible; they looked like we were transported in time to the era were Napoleon was still ruling over France. Don’t worry, the toilets and bathrooms were up to the standards of the 20th century 🙂 .

On the fifth day we were there, Henri and Monique Gabrielle invited us for dinner. We started in the library with drinks and hors d’oeuvres and Henri was telling us about the château and how his family had built it and lived there. I loved how he was telling us stories like we were old friends. It’s a rare thing meeting such kind and genuine people. After the drinks we moved to the dining room where Monique Gabrielle herself had cooked us a fabulous dinner. These people were absolutely wonderful, very welcoming and nothing was too much trouble when asked. We had a great time in the château and in France. We had never been to that region and we were pleasantly surprised by the people, the nature, well basically everything there. The only negative thing I can think of during that holiday was the fact that this was my first time I did not eat a tarte tatin during my stay in France 😉 . I’m sure if I had asked Monique Gabrielle to make me one she would have, but she had already been so nice to us that I just couldn’t.

Shallot Tarte Tatin

To satisfy my tarte tatin craving I started thinking about making one when I got home. While driving home I dreamed about a savoury version with shallots, a sprinkling of fresh thyme and salty feta to brighten everything up. Just thinking of it made my frown turn upside down, just like the tarte tatin. So that’s how I came to make and now share below recipe.

Shallot tarte tatin
It’s a very simple recipe, but guests will think you spent hours on this gorgeous tarte tatin. I won’t tell if you don’t! You can make it even easier by using shop bought puff pastry if you want. I served it with a rack of lamb with a coriander and honey marinade.

Shallot tarte tatin     Shallot Tarte Tatin

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

I submitted this recipe to the May Foodblog Event of the Facebookgroup ‘Foodbloggers Benelux’. Check all the recipes for the event on the Pinterest Board of the group.

Shallot tarte tatin
Servings: 3 people
Ingredients
  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 160 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm dice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 70 g ice-cold water
  • 400 g shallots
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 g butter
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 16 thyme sprigs
  • 100 g feta cheese
Instructions
  1. Make the pastry by sifting together the flour and salt into a large bowl. Take the butter from the fridge and cut it into small cubes. Add to the flour mix. Using your fingertips and thumbs, rub the butter into the flour until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the ice-cold water and stir into the pastry mix with a fork until it starts to resemble a soft dough. Tip on to a clean surface and bring the pastry together with your hands until you have a smooth ball. Wrap this in cling film and chill it in a fridge for at least 1 hour (I usually do this the night before).

  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan.

  3. Peel the shallots and slice them in half lengthwise. Heat the butter in a frying pan large enough to fit the shallots in an even layer. Add the shallots and cook over a medium/low heat until they start to brown and are cooked through (about 10 mintues). Add the balsamic and sugar and keep cooking, adding some water if you need to until the balsamic and sugar has become sticky and caramelised around them (about 1 or 2 minutes). Take off the heat, mix in leaves from 8 thyme sprigs and season.

  4. Cover the base of a 24cm ovenproof shallow pan, cake or tart tin without a loose base with baking paper (cut out a round shape). Tip in the shallots with all their sticky juices and turn them cutside down. Tear 4 thyme sprigs into pieces and scatter over the shallots. Crumble the feta over the shallots, leaving a little bit to decorate when it comes out of the oven.

  5. Dust a clean surface with flour and place the pastry from the fridge on to it. Roll out the chilled pastry until it’s big enough to cover a pan of 24cm. Be sure to add extra flour to the surface if it sticks. This pastry is incredibly forgiving and any cracks or tears can be easily repaired by using a piece of dough you tear of a spot where you don’t need it to fix the gap. Lift the pastry circle onto the shallots, then tuck the edges down the inside of the pan. Bake for 25-30 mins until pastry is golden.

  6. Leave tart for 5 mins to settle, then turn out of the tin. Sprinkle with the leftover feta and the 4 remaining sprigs of thyme and slice into wedges. Enjoy immediately.

Spring Salad

There are people that love winter, but I’m not one of them. I tend to be a bit grumpier during the winter and I hate how it gets cold and dark really early. I leave the house to go to work and it’s still dark. When I come back from work to pick up the kids from day care it usually is dark again. The only things I like about winter is Christmas with my family, building a snowman with my children, having a snowball fight or just enjoying the winter scenery. In the Netherlands it can be really cold in winter, but we don’t often have enough and good quality snow to enjoy these kind of things. It’s more like a slushy kind of snow which causes traffic jams and accidents and ruins your new shoes when you get out of the car. So that leaves Christmas as the only perk in winter. If we would move Christmas to Spring we can cancel Winter alltogether, what do you think? Are you with me on that?

Ok, ok, ok…………..hold your horses. I know that’s not a good idea. I know we need winter, nature needs winter, some people need winter to shake off the heat of Summer. We need Winter as much as we need Summer and Fall and Spring. So every year I patiently sit and wait for the cold to disappear so Spring can start, because Spring is my favourite season…………….my solace. I love it when the grass in the garden gets a bright green and all leaves start growing on the plants and trees. The fruit trees start to blossom and the flowers pop up from the ground and last but not least the weather finally turns warmer. It’s so nice to feel the sun on your skin while sitting outside, but it’s not too hot yet, like in summer. Spring just makes everything prettier, happier and more alive. Every year I get so excited I nearly wet my plants…….……..but the garden is my husband’s territory. He does the watering of the plants, weeding, mowing the grass and pruning the trees and he does a great job doing it (see below).

0ur garden

Another great thing about Spring is the amazing vegetables and fruit that grow in this season. Of course you can get things like artichokes, peas or fennel all year round nowadays, but nothing beats the taste of so many spring produce when you actually buy it in springtime. I like to eat a lot of fresh salads in Spring; from fresh asparagus to radishes to green beans and all kinds of fruit. A lot of people find it difficult to incorporate salads into their meals. These are the same people who think salads are boring, because they think salads are just some green leaves, cucumber and tomato’s. Well, think again……….……..try to use other ingredients. You will be amazed by how many ingredients you can toss into a salad. By including a variety of ingredients, salads can often turn into a nutritional power bomb chucked full of vital vitamins and minerals.

That’s why I just love a big bowl of this Spring Salad recipe. This salad puts green veggies like spinach, asparagus, haricot vert beans and broad beans together. Then you add a dressing of shallots, lemon juice, olive oil, sesame oil and chili. You make it nice and pretty with some nigella seeds and white and black sesame seeds. It made a fabulous side dish to the chicken curry we had tonight. The kids had a version without the asparagus, chili and shallots.


I like to leave the podding of the broad beans to my ‘sous chef’, because it’s a tedious job and he still thinks of it as a challenge. I tell him that I need small hands for the job and that his hands are perfect for it. He likes the fact that he can do something I can’t (hihihihihi). My other sous chef used to do it for me, but she is no longer fooled by my words 🙂 . She still helps a lot in the kitchen, just not with the beans anymore. There will be a time that I have to do the podding myself again, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

As much as I love this season, there is one thing I don’t like about Spring; I’m not really into Spring cleaning. But come to think of it, I’m not into Summer, Fall or Winter cleaning either. If you are one of those people who can’t wait to start your Spring cleaning, going through the whole house all excited while listening to music, I have one solid advise: whatever you do, your toilet brush is never the microphone!!!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

 

Spring Salad
Source: ‘Plenty’ – Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 300 g asparagus
  • 200 g French beans (haricot verts)
  • 200 g broad beans after podding (fresh or frozen)
  • 50 g baby spinach leaves
  • 1 shallot, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white and black sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Trim the asparagus and slice them in an angle into 3-4 pieces. Fill a large pot of water with water and bring that to a boil. Blanch the asparagus for two to four minutes, depending on thickness. You don't want them cooked too soft. I added the tips of the asparagus only in the last minute so they don’t turn into mush. With a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice-cold water. Then you add the French beans to the boiling water, blanch for five minutes and transfer to the asparagus bowl. Drain both well, then dry on a clean kitchen towel.

  2. Take the pan of the heat and add the broad beans in the same water. Leave them in there for 2 minutes and then drain them. Transfer to a bowl of water and remove the outer tough skin by making a incision with the nail of your thumb on the top and then pressing them between finger and thumb so the beans come out gently. Don’t press to hard or they will turn into a mush.

  3. Mix the sliced shallots, the red chili, the sesame oil, the olive oil, the lemon juice and half a teaspoon of salt in a jar and shake thoroughly. Put all the greens in a large bowl and add the dressing, stir gently, taste, add more salt if you like. Put everything on a serving dish and sprinkle the salad with the black and white sesame seeds, the nigella seeds and serve at once.

  4. If you want to keep some of the ingredients separately like I did with my children, then you mix half of the remaining ingredients in a jar and leave out the ingredients you don’t want to add. You use this dressing on the kids version and you make a separate dressing for the adults.

 

Pear and almond frangipane tart

Let me start by saying I just love pears. I love them poached, baked, freshly peeled in a salad with some rocket and balsamic glaze………oh my god……yum. So this weeks blog post is about these delicious gems.

A few weeks ago I took my daughter to her gymnastic lessons. Parents are not allowed to stay and watch so I always go the library with my son during her lessons (the time we have before picking her up again is too short to go back home). So he reads the latest Donald Duck while I read a foody magazine, a win-win in my opinion. As I was reading my magazine I came across a recipe of a gorgeous pear and almond frangipane tart. It looked so good, I wanted to run home immediately and make it. That was not going to happen of course but I made a picture of the tart and filed it to make it another time. At least that’s what I thought I did. Because when I was looking for it this week I could not only find the picture anymore, I also did not remember in which magazine I found it. Have you ever heard of momnesia? I know a lot of people have dismissed it as a myth, but I like to think I’m the living proof of the existence of ‘maternal amnesia’ which continued even after birth. If you don’t believe me, just ask my husband.

Anyway, I had set my mind on making a pear tart so I started browsing the internet for a similar recipe and after reading a dozen of them I found out they basically were all alike. It’s relatively similar to the traditional French pear tart, where sweet poached pears are nestled in a frangipane filling surrounded by a crunchy crust. So I just took a few recipes and combined them into the recipe below.

Frangipane is an almond filling for tarts, cakes or other pastries. It is made of creamed butter and sugar, with eggs and finely ground almonds added in. Frangipane purists have to look away, because they are not going to like what I did in this recipe: I also added flour to the frangipane simply because I like the texture………….sorry, not sorry 🙂

The result of this recipe is a wonderful combination of sweet, tender pear, a nutty filling surrounded by crisp pastry crust and topped with a crunchy layer of flaked almonds. Because the pears will be exposed you best choose pears that are firm with no soft spots or blemishes. It will make the end result look pear-fect.

There are quite a few steps required to make this tart; but if I can do it, so can you. Pear-pressure can be quite stressful, can’t it? Today I put my hand in my bag and felt a stress ball. So I was like ‘oh, didn’t know I had a stress ball in my bag….’. After I squeezed it I found out it was a pear and it exploded in my hands thus in my bag. Now I’m much more stressed then I was earlier. Does anyone have a stress ball for me?

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

5 from 4 votes
Pear and almond frangipane tart
Ingredients
Poached pears
  • 5 pears
  • 500 ml water
  • 40 g of sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp corn starch (for the glaze)
Crust
  • 300 g flour
  • 200 g butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
Flaked almonds mixture
  • 55 g flaked almonds
  • 55 g sugar
  • 1/2 egg white
Frangipane
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 125 g sugar
  • 1/2 egg
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100 g almond flour
  • 25 g all-purpose flour
  • 10 ml milk
Instructions
The pears
  1. Combine the water, sugar, star anise and the cinnamon stick in a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. In the meanwhile halve the pears from stem to blossom end and remove the core using a melon baller for a clean look. Also remove the fibrous cores at either end, then peel the pears.

  2. Add the pear halves to the simmering syrup and reduce heat to low. Cover, and let pears poach for about 15 minutes, turning them halfway. The pears will become slightly translucent, very tender, and easily pierced with a knife or skewer. Be careful not to overcook the pears as they will continue to cook in the oven. Carefully remove the pears from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and allow the pears to cool and drain. 

  3. Stir the cornstarch with a dash of the cooled cooking liquid into a paste. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and add the corn starch paste. Cook the liquid down to yogurt thickness. Save this cooking liquid for later, because you will be using it to glaze the tart. Glaze is a thin, liquid, sweet coating that adds both shine and colour to pastries. When brushed on fresh fruit, a glaze serves as a protective coating to prevent the fruit from drying out.

The tart shell
  1. I always make the dough by hand and use a large bowl (you can use a standing mixer if you want). First stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Then using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour until mixture becomes crumbly. Add the egg and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. It should come together easily without being sticky. Flatten ball slightly with your hands to form a thick disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to a month and then thaw overnight in the fridge.

  2. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out big enough to fit a 24cm tart pan lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from counter. Then place gently into the tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom) by flouring a rolling pan and rolling the dough loosely around it, then unrolling it into the pan. Brush away any excess flour on the surface. With a sharp knife, trim the edges of the pastry to fit the tart pan. Prick it all over with a fork and don't forget the sides. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Flaked almonds
  1. Put the flaked almonds with the sugar and the eggs in a bowl, mix and set aside.

Frangipane
  1. Use the creaming method to beat the softened butter and sugar for 2 minutes on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Creaming is a mixing method where sugar and butter are beaten or mixed together until light, fluffy and lighter in colour. Add the ground almonds and beat on medium speed until blended, approximately 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the egg to the mixture on medium-low speed. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and add the flour and the salt. Beat on low speed until just incorporated, approximately 1 minute.

Assembly
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC.

  2. Take the crust out of the refrigerator and spread the almond filling evenly inside the crust. Arrange pear halves, cut-side down, over the frangipane mixture. Start with one pear in the middle from which you have cut of the stem to make it kind of round. Then arrange the rest of the pears around the one in the middle pointing the stems to the middle. Sprinkle the edge of the tart with the flaked almonds mixture. Bake the tart until golden and tester inserted into centre of filling comes out clean. That will take about 55 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down on a wire rack. Push the pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the fruit with the glaze you made with the cooking liquid.

  3. Serve as is or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Parmesan Cookies

Who says cookies have to be sweet? I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so I prefer nibbling on a savoury snack over drinks. As I wrote in another post, I have a lot of siblings. When we were little, we had a rotation schedule for chores like doing the dishes or setting the table. Like any kid I hated doing my chores, but I knew my mum would be mad if I didn’t do them. So I thought of an inventive way to do as little chores as possible. How? When my mother gave us candy I would not eat it, but store it in a container in my closet instead. Whenever it was my turn to do a chore I would take out my container and bribe one of my sisters or brothers to do it for me in exchange for a sweet (or two). One of my sisters, let’s call her K, who had the biggest sweet tooth of all of us would always be willing to do my chore for a sweet. There was one time I managed to go all summer without doing the dishes, setting the table or doing any chore whatsoever. Am I genius or what…….?

So let’s go back to my original question…….….. Who says cookies have to be sweet? I don’t! These tender, crumbly, buttery Parmesan Cookies from Ottolenghi ‘The Cookbook’ are a delicious savoury snack. They are a twist on the traditional sweet slice-and-bake shortbread cookies. The savoury twist on this cookies is the use of lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some spices. Because they are sliced with a knife before baking you don’t even need cookie cutter. They are great for entertaining as most the dough can be made in advance, rolled into logs and left in the freezer until needed. When frozen take the log out of the freezer a couple of hours before you want to bake them and just slice and bake when your guests arrive. They are the perfect companion to your favourite appetizer bites and a refreshing drink.

Parmesan Cookies Ottolenghi

Parmesan Cookies Ottolenghi

By the way, there is one exception to my ‘not-so-sweet-tooth’ and that is homemade cakes or pies. You can safely leave a bag of candy or chocolates in front of me and find it untouched when you come back. However, leave a deliciously smelling homemade cake or pie with me and there won’t be a crumb left when you come back. Forced to choose though I will always go for the savoury option. I once read that people who prefer savoury snacks over chocolate and other sweets are called ‘supertasters’  This means that the flavours they taste are stronger than how most people perceive them. I have no idea what the pros and cons are of being a ‘supertaster, but I just love the thought of being a super anything…… 😉

I did not try it yet, but I can image you can get creative and customize your own savoury cookies with different spices and cheeses. Maybe add a pinch of smoked paprika or some fresh chopped rosemary. How about using some spicy cheddar or aged Gouda?

The amount of Parmesan in the recipe is perfect. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re putting too much Parmesan in your cookies. If that ever happens: stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. I don’t always make jokes, but when I do they are pretty cheesy.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me if you liked it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Parmesan Cookies Ottolenghi

Parmesan Cookies Ottolenghi

Parmesan Cookies

Source: “The Cookbook” – Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Servings: 35 cookies
Ingredients
  • 210 gr plain flour plus plenty extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 165 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 165 g Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 80 g poppy seeds
  • 1 free-range egg beaten
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, paprika and cayenne into a bowl and add the salt and pepper.

  2. Mix the softened butter with the freshly grated Parmesan until they are well combined (by the way, don’t even consider using the so-called Parmesan cheese you find in the pasta aisle of your supermarket) . You can do this either by hand, using a spatula, or in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until a soft dough is formed.

  3. Put the dough on a well-floured work surface and divide it in two equal parts.

  4. Use plenty of flour, both on your hands and on the work surface, to roll each piece into a long log, 3–4cm in diameter. Wrap each log in cling film and place in the fridge for about 1 hour to firm up.

  5. Scatter the poppy seeds over a flat plate or tray. Brush the logs with the beaten egg and then roll them in the poppy seeds until covered.

  6. Refrigerate again for 1 hour (at this stage you can also wrap the logs and freeze them).

  7. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Cut the logs into slices 5–8mm thick and arrange them on the tray, spaced 3cm apart. Bake for 12 minutes. The biscuits should be dark golden and smell amazing!

  8. To ensure their crunchiness, leave to cool completely before serving, or store in a tightly sealed container.

Soba noodles with aubergine and mango

I love to cook and eat and what better person to share this passion with then the love of my life. Not that he’s much into cooking new recipes, but he definitely loves to eat. The best part is that he shares my enthusiasm for exciting food, textures and flavours. It’s such a joy to cook for someone who loves to eat as much as I do. He is always willing to try new things and is not fussy about certain ingredients. I don’t know if I would love cooking as much as I do if I had to adjust all recipes to fit his preferences.

I’m also lucky that my kids eat a lot of the dishes I cook, but kids will be kids and of course my kids are fussy sometimes. I do teach them that they are not allowed to say that they don’t like something when they have never tasted it before. That means they always have to taste everything I make. I have surprised them on a few occasions where they did not expect to like what I had put in front of them, and then they ended up having seconds. The first time that happened was when I made the green couscous from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Of course, what kid likes green fuzzy stuff on first sight, right? It’s now their favorite couscous recipe. I will share that recipe on another occasion.

There is one exception to the ‘tasting’ rule. If I use chilies in a dish then they don’t have to taste it if they don’t want to. They are not accustomed to spicy food (yet). So, the first time I made the soba noodles with aubergine and mango I also made a separate dish for them because the recipe called for red chili in the dressing. However……..when the kids heard our mumbles of joy at the dinner table they both asked for a bite despite the chilies. Which was ok because the vinegar in the dressing had made the chilies less spicy. After one bite of our salad they shoved their plate of pasta away and asked for a bowl of this salad. Go figure……….. They said the salad tastes like sushi 😆 and they love sushi.

This salad is very simple and nutritious; it has the perfect balance of flavours and a great mix of textures. It’s a salad that keeps you going back for more and more and more………………

After I made it the first time it quickly turned into one of my favourite summer salads which you can also easily take to potlucks or BBQ parties. If you want to keep it all to yourself (which totally makes sense to me) just store it in the fridge for a perfect easy lunch during the week. It’s so refreshing, especially when the temperatures are warm and the sky is sunny. The mango might seem weird in this recipe, but it’s an absolute must. Just make sure your mangoes are of the juicy and delicious variety.

The original recipe has you frying the aubergine in 220ml sunflower oil, but besides the fact that all that oil is not that healthy I don’t like it when the aubergine soak up a lot of oil. I only use just enough oil to ‘bake’ the aubergine in a skillet on the stove. I think I don’t use more than 2 tbs per batch (2 batches).

   

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me if you liked it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with aubergine and mango

Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with aubergine and mango

5 from 2 votes
Soba Noodles with Aubergine and Mango

Source: “Plenty” – Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 120 ml rice vinegar
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 4 tbs sunflower oil
  • 2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
  • 250 g soba noodles
  • 1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm dice
  • 40 g basil leaves, chopped
  • 40 g coriander leaves, chopped
  • ½ red onion, very thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. First make the dressing. In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice. 

  2. Heat up 2 tbs of sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry/bake the aubergine in 2 batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain. Repeat with the remaining aubergine. I have to say that when I do this it never releases any fluids so I don’t do this anymore. Maybe because I don’t use a lot of oil.

  3. Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 4–5 minutes to become tender but still retaining a bite (check your package for instructions). Drain and rinse well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a tea towel.

  4. In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, aubergine, half of the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1–2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.

Stuffed Moroccan bread

Being Moroccan, love for homemade bread is in my blood. It’s something I grew up with. I vividly remember the aroma that filled the house as my mum was baking bread. We used to eat bread with almost every meal when I was growing up so we baked it every other day. If you consider that the house smelled amazing when mum used to make her ‘plain’ bread you can only imagine what it was like when she made her famous stuffed bread for us. We called this bread ‘boegensoe’ which simply means ‘stuffed’ or ‘with something inside’.

My mum would make Moroccan harira soup and this stuffed bread to go with it and we would be in heaven. Slices of this golden loaf would disappear in a hurry and if you didn’t pay attention you would be too late to grab a piece. I have a lot of siblings so one had to be quick at the dinner table. Kind of like survival of the fittest, or better yet, fastest. Every Moroccan mum probably has her own stuffed bread recipe, so there is not ‘one recipe’ but my mum’s recipe is so good you’ll want to stuff your face with it.

When I make this recipe for my kids it brings back so many memories, I only need to take one bite and I’m there again! Funny enough this bread is as common for me as pizza is for most people and I did not consider it a special recipe until I shared a ‘how to’ on Instagram. It turned out to be my most liked post ever. Especially the video where I show how to close the dough after putting the filling on it. I had so many requests for sharing the recipe after posting it, that of course I had to share it on my blog as well.

The filling in this version is made with minced beef, leeks, bell peppers and lots of fresh herbs and spices. However, you can vary your choice of filling. You can use different meat (lamb, chicken, even fish is possible) and you can also use different vegetables. It’s a very forgiving recipe…..… you can include almost anything, the bread makes a great ‘carrier’ for all the flavours. The only thing you will need to keep in mind is that you should cut the filling as small as you can. This ensures that the filling cannot poke holes in your dough causing it to leak on your baking sheet. You should also make sure you use enough, but not too much filling. What I’m talking about here is ratios. You need to have the right ratio of filling for your stuffed bread.

My Mums stuffed Moroccan bread

If you have made bread before than making this bread is relatively easy…………………..Remember the theory of relativity? Take this recipe for example. The bread gets stuffed, you get stuffed, but you’re relatively better off.

If you haven’t made bread before than you will need some practice to get it right. Make sure you use strong bread flour to get the best results. My mum always made it with regular all-purpose flour from the supermarket, but then again I don’t have my mum’s magic hands. I rely on good flour and a lot of practice. You will see that the more you bake bread the better it will turn out.

My Mums stuffed Moroccan bread

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

My Mums stuffed Moroccan bread      My Mums stuffed Moroccan bread

 

Moroccan Stuffed Bread
Servings: 8 people
Ingredients
Dough
  • 600 gr flour
  • 11 gr salt
  • 10 gr sugar
  • 5 gr commercial dried yeast
  • 400 gr of water (yes, in grams not ml)
Filling
  • 500 gr minced beef (or any other meat you fancy)
  • 1-2 leeks, about 400gr, chopped finely
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped finely
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground koriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp raz-el-hanout
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 10 grams of koriander
  • 10 grams of parsley
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Knead for 15 minutes in your stand mixer or knead the dough by hand until it’s nice and elastic. See how elastic mine was after proofing in my Instagram video. Let it proof for 45-60min until it doubles in size.

  2. Chop all the vegetables finely otherwise it will poke holes in the dough when you use it as a filling. Heat up some olive oil in a large casserole and fry the leeks over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the meat and break it up with a spatula, than add the bell peppers and spices. Cook until everything is soft and cooked through. Make sure the filling is not too wet, if so then cook a bit longer so the moisture evaporates. Taste and add salt or any of the other spices until it tastes good. Take it off the heat and mix in the parsley and coriander and let it cool before you used it in the dough.

  3. Divide the dough into 4 balls of approximately 250gr. Let it rest for 15 min. Press it down a little, enough to be able to add the filling. Put the filling on top and close the dough over the filling. See how I do that in above video in my blogpost. Close the dough firmly, let it rest for 20min to relax the gluten and then carefully flatten it into circles. Be careful not to tear it. Let the flattened disks proof for 30-45 min and bake in a hot oven 200C until golden brown.