Category Archives: Moroccan

Chicken Tagine with Spinach, Olives & Preserved Lemons

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Whale received multiple Moroccan themed ingredients and a tagine for her birthday so naturally this is the result. On a side note we’re also going to Marrakech in the summer. I’m sure you could do this without using a tagine – a large casserole dish would probably suffice. Recipe modified from a gorgeous book – The Food of Morocco.

Ingredients

Marinade

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp garlic paste or 1 clove crushed
good pinch of salt and pepper
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp of lemon juice

Tagine

4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
3 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pickled lemons, quartered
few strands of saffron
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
good handful spinach
200ml chicken stock
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon
handful pitted olives
large handful fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Make up marinade in a large sandwich bag (or a plastic bowl). Add the chicken, give a good squidge around and stick in the fridge for a few hours.

When ready to cook, put the saffron in 2 tbsp warm water. In a large frying pan sweat the onions over a medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the garlic for and sweat for a further 2-3 minutes. Tip half the onions into the tagine (put the other half to one side) add the chicken stock and saffron water, then layer over with lentils and spinach.

In the frying pan fry the chicken with the cinnamon and turmeric then once sealed add on top of the spinach, with the preserved lemon quarters. Stick the tagine in a cold oven and put on 160oC/320oC/gas mark 3 for 45-60 minutes. 5 minutes before serving take the tagine out, top with the remaining onions, olives and chopped coriander and stick back in the oven. Serve with a side order of tagine bread (recipe to come).

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Is Cumin Safe For Cats?

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WordPress is a source of some fairly trivial but occasionally useful and interesting statistics. I just happened to be perusing these in an attack of mid-essay procrastination when something rather unexpected caught my eye. A question. One to which I do not know the answer but more intriguingly, one to which I’m unsure anyone would know.

Or possibly more pressingly, why they would want to know.

Or possibly most pressingly, why on earth did it lead here?

The question in question? Well, lift your gaze and you shall see that it just so happens to be the title of this post. Is cumin safe for cats?

Of course now I am curious. Nearly 3.5 million Google hits tells me that quite a few other people are curious too. And somewhat chastises me for thinking what a ridiculous question it was. On closer inspection however quite a few of these hits appear to be Google showing me results for various other tenuously linked searches. Maybe not quite the 3.5 million hit behemoth to place alongside “where did we come from?” and “why are we here?” an initial glance would suggest but then again maybe not quite as ridiculous as I first concluded. So…why did it lead here?

I realise we use a lot cumin. It makes it into approximately 1 in 7 of our posts on this site according to our tag-cloud and probably a lot more in our every day cooking. We’ve probably also mentioned our shared fondness adoration for cats once or twice. However I hardly think those two facts constitute a reason for highlighting our blog which is clearly limited on the feline herbal remedy front. Maybe it’s something we should look into. So much for search engine optimisation! I might as well post about badgers and their predilection for toasted peanut butter marmalade sandwiches or why termites absolutely hate courgettes.

(Don’t ask me why by the way, they just do.)

A quick browse through the other search terms which have directed traffic our way throws up some other amusing morsels, two of my favourites being “paratha is dangerous” (to what, vegetables?) and “picture of manky old banana” (which I admit, we do have on our Banana Cupcakes recipe).

I’m intrigued to know now if anyone else has noticed odd search terms leading to hits on their sites – feel free to have a gander and share below.

J

The answer by the way appears to be yes, cumin is safe for cats, according to its absence from the ASPCA “Plants Toxic to Cats” list. But that doesn’t mean you should start supplementing your cat food or arranging a pet passport for your next trip to Morocco…

Turkey Tagine

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So my dad got given a 16lb turkey for Christmas by his work and bearing in mind there are only 4 of us in my family it’s safe to say we had a little left over. Some has gone into left-over pies (recipe coming soon) and some into this tasty tagine. Luckily we went to see family today so a good chunk of turkey got gobbled up but somehow the carcass is still not bare!

I have to say this is probably the best thing I’ve had with Christmas dinner remains. I like how it’s completely different to a rehashed roast. It’s also very straightforward, essentially a one-pot stew.

This recipe is completely adjustable to whatever you have leftover from Christmas. For example we had half a cabbage and half a butternut squash so I threw them in. To be honest I’m not entirely sure on the quantities I used myself, it was somewhat thrown together…

Serves 10 (with rice and naan breads)

Ingredients

1.2kg cooked turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 litre turkey stock
4 red onions, cut into wedges (halve then halve then halve again)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tins of chopped or plum tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
golden syrup
few handfuls raisins
5-10 dates, chopped
10-15 dried apricots, chopped

Spice Mix

2 tsp Ras El Hanout*
2 tsp whole cumin, roughly ground
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
LOTS of black pepper
good sprinkling dried coriander leaf
4 thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger, grated
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh turmeric, grated

*in no way essential but I got given some for Christmas, hence why I used it. It’s essentially a combination of all the other spice mix ingredients; paprika, cinnamon, ginger etc. I realise that’s a LONG spice list and I would say so long as you had cumin, coriander, paprika & cinnamon you’re pretty well set.

Method

Put the turkey in a large bowl with the apricots, dates and raisins then drizzle with a good glug of olive oil, the lemon juice and a tablespoon of golden syrup. Add two of the garlic cloves. Mix up the spices in a separate bowl and pour half over the turkey. Get yer hands in there and squish it all around, ensuring a good coating/fairly even distribution. Cover the bowl with cling film and stick in the fridge (preferably overnight).

When you’re ready to cook the tagine heat some oil over a low heat in a large casserole dish (in fact, in the end I had to use two, but it’s probably easier to start with one). Once hot, add the onions, a tablespoon of golden syrup and sweat/stir for 5 minutes before adding the remaining spice mix and garlic cloves. Sweat for a further five minutes – if the spices start to stick to the pan just add a dash of water and keep stirring.

Add the chopped tomatoes and turkey stock and simmer with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for half an hour. Fetch your turkey and throw in (this might be the point at which you need to divide into two pans (unless of course your pan is sufficiently well-endowed…). Simmer and stir with the lid off for a further half hour or until the sauce is sufficiently thickened.

Serve and enjoy, preferably in the merry company of others!

Moroccan Spiced Burgers

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Blimey it’s been a while. Sorry to keep all you cool cats waiting. Charlotte’s been doing a mighty fine job with the last few posts though (MAN I want one of those mince swirls!) but it’s finally time for me to get back in the game.

Stolen, fairly blatantly from good ol’ Hugh-of-the-Fearnley, these make a tasty step-up from your standard burger. Well, I say step-up, but it’s more of a step sideways – I’m never one to scorn a good old-fashioned burger!

Serves 3 very well.

Ingredients

4-500g beef or lamb mince
1 onion, cut into quarter rings
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250ml natural yoghurt
1 lot of Hugh’s Flatbreads, adapted to taste – I added fennel seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper, fresh thyme and whatever was in reach, really!
salad

Spice Mix – Burgers

1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
3 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli
salt and pepper

Spice Mix – Yoghurt

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp ginger
leaves from a few sprigs fresh thyme
few sprigs fresh coriander
10 or so mint leaves, ripped
pepper

Method

I made my burgers in this order and it seemed to work out quite well.

1. Mix up burger spice mix. Tip mince into a bowl then the spice mix of the mince and get your hands dirty! Well…don’t…and make sure you WASH THEM THOROUGHLY AFTERWARDS. Common sense, innit? But yeah, mix it all up and stick in the fridge while you…

2. Make your flatbread dough. Leave to rest under the bowl on an oiled or floured work-surface.

3. Pour out the yoghurt into a bowl and throw in all your herbs and spices, bar the coriander. Give a quick stir then use the coriander as a garnish. Stick in the fridge.

4. Sweat your onions with whatever spices you fancy, after a couple of minutes adding the garlic. Once cooked, set to one side.

5. This part is easier with two people:
a. Start rolling out/cooking your flatbreads, sticking them on a plate under a tea towel to keep warm
b. Mould  your burgers into your desired thickness and start frying. 3-4 minutes each side did mine nicely, though they were relatively small. I suppose it’s all down to taste really – though if you’re like me, i.e. really paranoid about food poisoning, check the inside is cooked before you serve (even if it does mean cutting your burger in half!)

6. Grab a plate. Grab a flatbread. Spread sumptuously with yoghurt. Make a nest of salad. Lay your burger on the nest. Sprinkle over your onions. Drizzle over some more yoghurt. Fold in half. Frame it. EAT IT*.

*bonus points for whoever comes out of this dinner not looking like they’ve been involved in some kind of minor yoghurt-related explosion.

Here’s a picture of my yoghurt. ‘Cause I was too damn greedy to take a picture of the actual dinner. D’oh.

Lamb & Sweet Potato Tagine

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Otherwise known as THE BEST DAMN RECIPE IN THE WORLD, EVER. (Especially after you’ve received a right royal soaking.)

We cannot claim to be the inventors of this recipe – it’s been stolen and borrowed and edited from many sources, from Rachel Allen to Antony Worrall Thompson. However it has quickly become a firm favourite and is one of the most regular dinners we rustle up. As a bonus it gives us an opportunity to break out the Le Creuset casserole dish, wahey!

This is an extremely versatile recipe and prone to tinkering every time we make it depending on what spices we have and what’s in the cupboard. The only question is how did it take so long to reach our blog? Well who cares, it’s here now!

Serves 4

Ingredients

300-400g diced lamb
2 red onions, chopped (quarter rings)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large sweet potato, chopped (2cm cubes)
1 tin chick peas, drained
1 tin chopped tomatoes
handful flaked almonds
handful chopped dates and/or apricots
1-2 tsp honey

Spice Mix

1/2 tsb hot chilli powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander

Method

Chop everything that needs to be chopped, open all your tins, make up the spice mix in a small bowl. Put your chopped lamb in a large bowl and add half the spice mix, using your hands to coat the outside. Heat a little oil in a casserole dish (that has a lid), add the onion and, after a couple of minutes, the remaining spice mix, then after a couple more minutes the garlic. Sweat for a further 3-5 minutes, adding splashes of water when the spices start to stick to the pan. Remove from the pan and set aside for a few minutes

Brown the lamb in the same pan by adding a little more oil and then the spice-covered lamb, stirring to ensure sides are sealed. This keeps all the meaty juicy goodness in the lamb so once it’s cooked it will be incredibly tender and melt in your mouth. Omnomnomnomnom.

Add the onions to the browned lamb, along with everything else apart from the sweet potato. Put the lid on the dish and leave to simmer on a low heat for…well, an hour, ish…as long as you want really, so long as you check it every so often, adding water if it looks like it’s drying out. A lower heat for longer will lead to juicier, softer, melty meat.

About half an hour before you plan to eat, add the chopped sweet potato and top up with water so everything is covered. Replace the lid and simmer away for 20 minutes, taking the lid off for the last 10. Keep checking your potato, it might not need that long, it might need longer. Basically take the lid off when they are soft and then cook for a further ten minutes just to reduce the sauce down a bit.

Serve with couscous or our personal favourite; Hugh’s flatbreads.

J&W