moroccan food

All posts tagged moroccan food

Plus None: Amazing Dishes Just For You and Only You

Published August 17, 2014 by The Feminist

plus

It will probably come as no surprise that I know my way around romantic comedies and fluffy television series. And if there is anything that I have learnt from watching the Zoe Harts, Carrie Bradshaws and basically all the movie characters Katherine Heigl has ever played, is that it is one of the most awkward and embarrassing moments in your entire life to show up at an event without a so-called “plus one”. Fancy gallery openings, grand weddings and even stupid office parties: no one wants to go to these things alone.

I can’t blame them, though. Even I – as a non-fictitious person – would never want to end up at the singles’ table at my cousin’s wedding, forced to make friendly conversations with Garry, the crazy uncle with the often acute viscous coughing fits, and funny Margret, who believes that wearing corduroy pants is the prerogative of chemistry students. *

However, apart from these horrid events, there are moments when I think that not having a “plus one” is actually pretty awesome: when you are cooking.

Without a plus one, you can cook whatever you like. You can empty your entire pantry, throw in your whole spice cupboard, without having to worry about the dish being too spicy or too “all over the place”.

More importantly, without a plus one, you don’t need to share.

So yes, having a “plus one” can indeed be wonderful, comforting, loving and all that fuzzy, heartwarming jazz. But when it comes to food, I like being selfish.

 I am a greedy chef.

And I am guessing there are some greedy foodies among you – my dearest readers – too.

So how about we start our own new movement? Instead of promoting “plus one”, let us advocate “plus none” instead.

Who is with me?

*note: the people in this fragment are purely fictitious, so any resemblance to actual people is nothing but a funny coincidence.

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Fragrant Mango Curry

Your entire spice cupboard in one dish: Fresh, fragrant, healthy and 100% vegan

Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef):

  • ½ mango, diced
  • 70gr white beans (cooked)
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 red chili, sliced
  • 1cm piece of fresh ginger
  • ½ red pepper, cut into thin stripes
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh Thai basil
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp asafetida
  • ¼ tsp nigella seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 125ml coconut milk
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • fish sauce

 

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add all the spices, together with the shallot, red chili and ginger. Let it sauté for a couple of minutes on a low heat until all the fragrances of the spices transform your kitchen into an oriental bazar.
  2. Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the flavours have multiplied. Now toss in the red pepper, white beans and mango and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes until everything is heated through.
  3. Finally, stir through the beans sprouts, spring onions, the juice of half a lime and the fresh coriander and Thai basil. Season with a splash of fish sauce.

Moroccan-style fried eggs with sumac and spicy tomato sauce

The definition of comfort food. Delicious fried eggs seasoned with tangy sumac, served on top of a bed of steamy tomato sauce with carrots, onions and peppers. The soothing comfort of the tomato sauce and the runny egg yolks works wonders with the freshness of some mint and coriander.

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Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef) :

  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of sumac
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 carrots, finely diced
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp za’atar
  • Drop of rose water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Fresh mint and coriander

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in pan and add the vegetables and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Add the can of tomatoes and honey and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is fragrant. Just before serving, add a drop of rose water and stir in some chopped mint and coriander
  2. Fry the eggs in a pan and season with salt, pepper and sumac.
  3. Serve the eggs on top of the tomato sauce and finish with some extra mint and coriander.

 

Vegetarian Hustle

Published January 21, 2014 by The Feminist

hustle

Did I just make a not so subtle reference to the most hyped and award-deserving movie of the moment? Whatever. Just humour me for a second here, because just like American Hustle, this post is an explosion of fun and great acting skills.

I would like you to meet the Bradley Cooper of Veggie World:

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Moroccan Aubergine and Harissa Soup with Marinated Seitan

Whereas Bradley Cooper’s character Richie DiMaso relies on his curlers to make him sexier, this soup doesn’t need any embellishments. It stands on its own.  The smooth and comforting texture of the aubergine is a match made in heaven with the exotic blend of spices. Add to that some zingy and sharp seitan croutons and you’ll understand why this soup does not require a perm to make a lasting impression.

bradley

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout
  • 250ml vegetable stock

For the marinated seitan:

  • 100gr seitan, cut into chunks
  • ½ tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp harissa

Method:

  1. Put the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and toss in the seitan. Marinade for at least one hour.
  2. Fry the seitan dices until crunchy and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile make the soup. Put the aubergine under a hot grill for about 40 minutes. Turn it around every 10 minutes. Remove the aubergine from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cool, cut an opening along the aubergine and scoop out the soft flesh. Discard the skin.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauce pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the tomato puree, harissa and spices and cook for another minute before adding the stock. Simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  5. Transfer the scooped aubergine flesh to the soup and blitz to a smooth liquid. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Serve hot, with the crunchy seitan on top and garnish with some extra sesame seeds and spring onions, if you like.

Now on to the Amy Adams of light meals:

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Cauliflower Frittata with Feta Cheese

Just like Amy Adams’ cleavage in American Hustle, this frittata is anything but subtle. Boldly spiced cauliflower, smooth and creamy eggs and punchy feta cheese: it doesn’t take much to understand that this ambitious lunch doesn’t need a British accent to seduce every man on her path.

amy hustle

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4-6 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Bunch of fresh parsley
  • Bunch of chives
  • 200gr feta cheese, cut into chunks
  • 9 eggs
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Blanche the potatoes and cauliflower florets until just al dente.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the spices. Toss the vegetables in the spicy oil and fry for a couple of minutes. Put the vegetables on the bottom of a round baking tin.
  4. Whisk together the eggs and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley and chives.
  5. Pour the egg batter on top of the vegetables and scatter the feta chunks on top. Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

For the grand finale we go to the Jennifer Lawrence of vegetarian patties:

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Spicy Kidney Bean Burgers with Herby Cauliflower Bulgur

In contrast to Jennifer’s character Rosalyn, I have to admit that this dish is anything but the”Picasso of passive-aggressive karate” but more of a “Dali of otherworldly extravagance”. Crunchy burgers served with refreshing homemade Tzatziki  and accompanied by fragrant bulgur with roasted cauliflower: completely bonkers but definitely Oscar-winning material!

jennifer-lawrence-hustle-thankgod

And with a bit of imagination the dish resembles Jennifer’s exploded hairdo.

Ingredients (serves 1)

For the burgers:

  • 200gr kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ chili
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp coriander stalks
  • 2 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 egg
  • Corn flour

For the Bulgur:

  • 60gr bulgur wheat
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander
  • 2  tbsp mint
  • ½ tbsp za’atar
  • ¼ cauliflower , cut into florets

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Blitz all the ingredients for the burgers together, except for the corn flour, egg and sesame seeds. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Make small patties out of the bean mix and roll them in corn flour. (The patties will be very fragile so be careful) Put them on a baking tray and brush them with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top.
  2. Put in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and fry the cauliflower until just cooked. Stir through the za’atar.
  4. Cook the bulgur according to the instructions on the packet and stir in the cooked cauliflower and fresh herbs.
  5. Serve the patties with the bulgur and a generous serving of tzatziki

Mintspiration: Secrets to a life full of fragrance

Published October 16, 2013 by The Feminist

mint

I was sipping on a hot cup of fresh Moroccan mint tea the other day and I kept thinking to myself: “What is it about mint that makes it so damn tasty?”

The answer to that question is both elaborate and very straightforward at the same time. Of all the fresh herbs out there, mint is probably the herb most associated with cleanliness. One bite of a minty product and your mouth is immediately coated in a refreshing layer of mountain breeze. Chewing gum or tooth paste manufacturers know this but too well, but this doesn’t mean we should limit our mint intake to just the daily brush. On the contrary, mint can be enjoyed in so many different ways, it almost seems as if its uses are limitless.

There are the wonderful minty drinks, like fresh mint tea (so good on a cold winter evening) or mojito (so good on a hot summer day). And let’s not forget how beautiful mint tastes when rubbed on meat, fish or vegetables. And what about mint gravy! Mint yoghurt dip! Drop-dead outrageous mint desserts! (chocolate and mint is such a winning combination!)

So should you still be one of those people who prefer mint on their toothbrush and not in their food, please go away. I do not want to spend my time wasted on people like you who don’t appreciate the awesomeness that is mint.

You heard me.

get out

Move!

whatever

Glad I got rid of that! So dear mint-loving readers, shall we go on celebrating our love for the chosen herb?

The following two dishes are two flavour bombs. I believe the Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern cuisines are not only among the best in the world, but I also adore how they all mix fresh mint in lots of dishes. Inspired by these cuisines, I conjured up these two beauties:

Mint crusted salmon with South African sweet potato and avocado mash with mint yoghurt sauce

Mint is practically everywhere in this dish! It’s in the crust, in the yoghurt sauce, in the mash,… And still it is not overpowering. It just lifts everything up to an unseen level of splendidness. The herb crust on the salmon is full of spices and flavour… the mash is smooth, comforting and delectably sweet and sour… and the mint yoghurt sauce gives that refreshing zing to make an already yummy meal absolutely delicious.

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Ingredients (serves 2)
• 2 salmon fillets, skinned
• 3 tbsp bread crumbs
• 1 tbsp za’atar
• ½ tsp sumac
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
• 2 tbsp olive oil

For the South African mash:
• 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into dices
• 1 avocado, peeled
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• Juice of half a lime
• Lots of black pepper

For the mint yoghurt dip:
• 150ml of yoghurt
• 2 tbsp of fresh mint
• 1 tbsp coriander
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• Juice of half a lime
To serve: some mini green asparagus (perfect!)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Make the crust by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and put them both in an oven-proof dish. Press the mint mixture on top of the salmon fillets and bake into the oven for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make the mash. Cook the sweet potatoes in some salted boiling water until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes together with the avocado flesh and the lime juice to stop the avocado from turning brown.
3. Season with cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir in the mint and spring onions.
4. Mix all the ingredients for the mint yoghurt dip together and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Sweet parsnip and dried fig stir fry with mint

I cannot express enough how much I absolutely loved this dish. The chilli gives a good boost of heat. The turmeric turns it into a fest of golden hues, the dried figs are so intensely sweet and blend so well with the earthy sweetness of the parsnip and then in the end the mint kicks in and balances out all those warm spices and sweetness. It is -in every possible way- perfection.( I served it with some store-bought falafels and although they were really good, I refused to put them in the picture since I didn’t make them myself. It’s a matter of principle.)

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Ingredients (serves 1)
• 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into cubes
• 4 dried figs, cut into small chunks
• ½ tbsp honey
• ½ tbsp turmeric
• ½ large chilli, finely sliced
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground cumin

Method:
1. Cook the parsnips in salted water until they are almost soft.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the drained parsnips, chilli, spices, honey, figs and a splash of water.
3. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Finally stir in the mint.
4. Be amazed!

All Hail to Halloumi: Cooking with the most wonderful cheese in the world!

Published October 3, 2013 by The Feminist

halloumi

Dear All,
I am a woman on a mission. A halloumi mission. Because just like my career that is skyrocketing (well, not really, but humor me for a second 😉 ) this wonderful Cypriot cheese has the most heavenly salty flavour that it will literally send you off into space, without ever wanting to come back down to earth. Yes, it is that good.

Moreover, halloumi is a wonderful product to work with if you don’t have a lot of time – this is the wannabe career woman talking now- because it can be ready to serve in a whim. It’s fast food, but without all the nasty and unhealthy side-effects. (Eat this McDonald’s!)

If you’ve never worked with the awesomeness that is halloumi – though I would be really disappointed if this were indeed the case- here is a quick description of how marvelous it feels to cook with halloumi:
As soon as you open the packet, you are greeted by a virgin white rock of pure beauty. It is almost too beautiful to cut into, but then again, you’re hungry so you obviously do.

This leads me to the following factor of pure awesomeness: halloumi squeaks. Yes, you’ve read that correctly, it squeaks. If the cheese doesn’t squeak when you cut into it, it means that you’ve just got ripped off by your cheese monger, having sold you the low quality commercial stuff with a high percentage of cow’s milk instead of sheep or goat. (How dare he!)

Anyway, so on to the frying. The biggest advantage of halloumi cheese is that it can be fried. Admittedly, you could dip any cheese into a batter and throw it in the deep-fryer but let’s face it: that’s all a bit greasy and most of the time you end up with a gloopy clump of fat on your plate.

With halloumi it’s different. Thanks to its firm texture it can be cooked, fried or grilled ( without even a single drop of fat if you want)without it losing its shape.

It is easy. It is quick. It is yummy. What more could you possibly want?

A skyrocketing career maybe?

Well, I’m working on it 😉 .

So let’s celebrate!

cameron diaz

And cook halloumi!

Here is some inspiration:

Beetroot couscous with za’atar spiced halloumi

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I can’t repeat it enough: beetroot and cheese are a match made in heaven! The sweet earthiness of the beetroot and the saltiness of the halloumi were made for each other like Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Add to that the wonderfully warm spices and you have a winning dish! (And doesn’t the fuchsia couscous look absolutely scrummy?!)

Ingredients (for one hungry person)
• 100gr halloumi, cut into 0,5cm thick slices
• 150gr cooked beetroot, cut into cubes or thin slices, whatever you prefer
• 1,5 dl beetroot juice
• 70gr maftoul couscous
• 1 tbsp za’atar
• 1tsp ground cumin
• 1 tbsp, finely chopped fresh ginger
• ¼ tsp cinnamon

Method:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the maftoul to the boil together with the beetroot juice. Once it starts boiling, put it onto a medium-low heat and add the cumin, ginger, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 10 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated and the couscous is tender.
2. Stir through the cooked beetroot and heat through. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
3. Coat the halloumi slices with the za’atar and fry for 1 minute on each side in a tiny bit of olive oil until golden brown.
4. Dig in!

Artichokes all’arabiata with grilled halloumi

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This is a super quick flavour bomb par excellence! When I got home the other day, I was so tired I didn’t even have the courage to set the table. As a result I ate straight out of the pan and used some squidgy Turkish bread as cutlery. It was heaven. You simply have to try it!

Ingredients

• 200gr cherry tomatoes, halved
• 100gr halloumi, cut into 0,5 cm slices
• 5 cooked artichokes hearts (if you don’t cook them yourself, make sure it’s HIGH quality store-bought stuff!)
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes

• 1 long red chilli pepper, finely chopped

• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
• 1 tsp dried oregano

To serve: some gorgeous Turkish bread to dip into the spicy sauce!

Method:
1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the halloumi slices. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and now add the cherry tomatoes and chilli. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, oregano, paprika and thyme. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Lightly press the artichoke hearts into the sauce and cover with a lid and allow the steam to work its magic.
4. Finally put the halloumi back into the pan for a few minutes.
5. Eat straight out of the pan! It’s a must!

Dinner for one! Cooking for that one special person: yourself!

Published September 25, 2013 by The Feminist

I was walking through the grocery store a couple of days ago when I came across a woman, roughly the same age as myself, pushing a cart filled with microwave meals, Ben&Jerry ice-cream, Twinings Earl Grey Tea and a box of Tampax. Nothing else. She might as well have worn a neon flashlight around her neck that flashed “Single. Single .Single”. Our eyes met and I could clearly see the desperation in her eyes. Obviously her singlehood has led to some morbid self-pity and gloomy depression. I can only assume what she might have been thinking at that exact moment -pushing her cart past all those large chickens lying on display- staring at a large poster hanging on the wall beside those frighteningly big chickens. The poster showed a happy couple with a glass of wine in their hands, sitting at a beautifully decorated table with a gigantic roast chicken ready to be carved. To all the single ladies out there, let me ask you something: Have you ever tried making a single serving of a roast chicken? It is downright depressing. Not to mention impossible, if you really want to create that comforting sensation of unctuous and soft chicken flesh, carved straight off the bone. At that particular moment, the single lady pushing the cart must have been thinking something like this:
“Look at me. So pathetic. Living alone in a small flat. Probably going to die alone as well. With my decomposing body lying there for months until my landlord finally realized- or smells- something is not entirely right.”

And then there I was. The single lady pushing the cart could have easily been me. Except that it wasn’t, because I like being single and living alone. Sure, cooking for one may sound really depressing and boring but it is actually quite the opposite!

During the week, when I’m at university, I cook for me and only me. I find that to be an exhilarating experience. When I cook for my family at the weekends, there is always the possibility that my cooking is not entirely appreciated. Especially when I’m cooking vegetarian. Especially when my brother is staying for dinner. (He’s still this ultra-conservative nitwit when it comes to food. He keeps asking for meat, I’m starting to feel sorry for his environmental retardedness. No offence, bro!)

However, when you cook for yourself, you can cook whatever the hell you want. (In my case: cook as much vegetarian experimental food as I like) No one is looking over your shoulder. No one is making dietary commands. It’s just you and ,for once, you don’t have to make compromises.
There is only one person you have to take into account: you, the most special person on the planet.

So forget the microwave meals, beans on toast or – horror!- eating cereal for supper. Dinner for one is full of possibilities! The following recipes couldn’t be more different from one another. The first one is really quite fancy, it looks good on a plate and it takes quite some stages to prepare. (It’s an excellent dish for when you have absolutely nothing on your hands and want to feel the satisfaction of being culinary creative)The second dish is easy, quick and looks –quite frankly- a mess. But it is the most comforting, packed full of flavour, plate of stickiness you’ll ever eat. It’s wonderful. The only thing these two very different recipes have in common, is that they are vegetarian, they are rather experimental in flavour (I mean, not to me, but my brother would say otherwise. “You’re totally bonkers, big sis’” Well, yeah, deal with it) and they are one hundred percent for me and only me.

If you want to look inside my culinary brain and want to give these dinner-for-one dishes a go, here are the recipes:

Moroccan Aubergine pie with grilled aubergine slices and cottage cheese.

This pie is what I like to call “the spice bomb”. Not because it’s super hot, but because it is bursting with aromatic spices. Look at it as the edible and exotic version of Disney Land: colourful, with so many things going on you don’t know where to look first, but still so harmoniously balanced. Something that just makes you exuberantly happy.
By the way, I used no salt in this dish. Weird, huh? I used dried seaweed instead, which gives a salty flavour but adds a distinct aroma as well. (Though you have to be careful not to overdo it)

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Ingredients
For the pie
• Filo pastry
• ½ aubergine, finely chopped
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp honey
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ¼ tsp mustard seeds
• ¼ tsp nigella seeds
• ½ tsp cumin seeds
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp coriander seeds
• ¼ tsp fenugreek
• ¼ tsp chilli flakes
• ¼ tsp rose water

For the little extras (because-let’s face it- the pie is really the star of the dish)
• ½ aubergine, cut into ½ cm slices
• 1 tsp dried seaweed
• 1 tsp sumac
• 1 tsp honey
• Cottage cheese
• Dried seaweed and sumac to decorate, optional

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Use a large coffee cup as a pie mould and grease it. Layer the filo pastry in the cup so that the sheets overlap slightly and there’s pastry left hanging over the edges.
2. Make the filling. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and sauté the onion and aubergine together with all the spices until soft. Add the rose water.
3. Spoon the mixture into the filo pastry cup and lift up the edges of the pastry and fold over to cover the filling. Brush with a melted butter and flip the pie upside down onto a baking tray.
4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile mix the seaweed, sumac and honey together with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and spread it onto your aubergine slices. Fry them on medium heat till soft.
6. Serve your aubergine slices and pie with a generous amount of cottage cheese (to balance all that spiciness) and sprinkle on some dried seaweed and sumac for extra flavour.

Sticky soy and honey glazed Brussels sprouts and smoked tempeh

This is one of my ultimate go-to dishes when I’m starving to death and am looking for something that warms me up, literally and figuratively. The combination of Brussels sprouts with soy sauce, honey and peanut butter may sound incredibly disgusting, but I can guarantee that it most certainly is not. It’s probably the best Belgian-Asian fusion dish I have ever conjured up, so you can imagine that I’m presenting this dish to you with a huge amount of pride. Do it justice, people. Do it justice!(Serve it with some sticky rice or a bowl of noodles)

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Ingredients
• 200gr of Brussels sprouts
• 100gr smoked tempeh, cut into chunks
• 1 tbsp honey
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tbsp peanut butter
• Pinch of chilli powder
• Splash of water

Method
1. Blanch the sprouts for 2 minutes in boiling water. Cut them in half.
2. Fry the tempeh golden brown in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the halved Brussels sprouts and stir in the peanut butter, honey, chilli and soy sauce. Stir-fry until everything is coated in a lovely glaze of brown stickiness. Add a splash of water if the mixture gets to dry.

Bake the stress away with these 3 crowd-pleasing, confidence-boosting dishes

Published September 19, 2013 by The Feminist

bake

In exactly four days, I will start my final year at university. This would be a rather joyful thought, were it not that I had the ambitious idea of enrolling in a Master program in American Studies, which is something entirely different from what I’ve been studying –and rocking!- so far: languages. Until recently I was truly convinced that after four years of having studied the English language, I would have a solid foundation for this new American adventure, but now I am totally freaking out. What if all the other students are annoying, big-mouthed and opinionated America-loving geeks and I’m just… well… me?

legallyblondeaccessorize

You know what I mean?

legally

Anyway, I think you can all imagine that my stress level is through the roof at this moment. And what better way to relief stress than to bake? Everyone finds himself in a stressful situation at some point in life and we all have different ways of coping with it, but I personally find that the rhythmical stiring of cake batter and the sweet aromas filling my kitchen are way more stress relieving than the typical workout at the gym. I’ll choose the fresh-out-of-the-oven smell over sweat-dripping armpits in a heartbeat. Who’s with me?

high-five-eccbc87e4b5ce2fe28308fd9f2a7baf3-196

So under the guise of “stress reduction” and “at least I’m being productive”, I decided to wreck the whole kitchen baking up not one but three smashing dishes. These recipes are incredibly easy to make but look fantastically impressive on the dinner table. “I can’t believe you made that!”-comments are likely to follow. Like I said, these are both crowd-pleasing and confidence-boosting bakes.

So whether you’re looking for a way to deal with your rising stress-level or whether you just want to surprise your family with a brilliant bake: these are my three show-stopping dishes!

Moroccan chicken filo pie

A magnificent filo parcel filled with North-African spices and moist chicken, it’s hard to think of anything more delicious. Add to that the incredible crunch of the filo pastry, the pretty yellow gloss of the turmeric and the dainty sprinkling of za’atar on top and you are literally in baking heaven!

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Ingredients
• Approx. ½ pack of filo pastry
• 3 carrots, finely chopped
• 2 red onions, finely chopped
• 2 chicken breasts, cut into small dices
• Juice of half an orange
• 4 dried apricots, chopped
• 4 dried dates, chopped
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nigella seeds
• ½ tsp ground coriander
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp allspice
• 1 large chilli pepper, finely chopped
• (large) Knob of butter, melted with 1 tsp of turmeric

To decorate:
• Coriander leaves
• Za’atar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a bundt cake tin. Arrange the pastry squares in the tin, so that they overlap slightly and cover the whole ring of the tin with lots filo left hanging over the outside edges.
2. Brush the pastry with the melted turmeric butter.
3. For the filling, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken pieces. Remove from the pan and set aside. Now add the onions, chilli and carrots to that same pan and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the orange juice and dried fruits and let it simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken and all the spices back to the pan and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pack the filling inside the bundt tin. Lift up the edges of the pastry and fold over to cover the filling. Brush with some of the turmeric butter and now flip the whole lot upside down unto a baking tray. Brush the pastry all over with more turmeric butter and sprinkle on the za’atar.
5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Just before serving sprinkle on the fresh coriander.

Sticky orange and date cupcakes

There is just something gloriously decadent about a sticky date pudding. That warmth of the spices, that palate-clinging moistness of the dates… Sigh. Can it get any better than this? Apparently it can! If you turn your date pudding into a princess-like cupcake and add orange to create an extra zingy dimension. And to top it all off, I even whacked in some cointreau! (I was – after all- trying to reduce my stress 😉 )

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Ingredients (makes 4 large or 6 smaller cupcakes)
• 1 egg
• 60gr dried dates, finely chopped
• Juice of one orange, approx. ½ dl
• ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• Pinch of cardamom
• 50gr muscovado sugar
• 70gr plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 60gr butter
• Cointreau, 1 tbsp per cupcake
• Orange marmalade, to glaze

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix in the butter until you get a sandy consistency.
3. Stir in the chopped dates and whisk in the egg.
4. Add the orange juice and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Pour the batter into a prepared cupcake tin and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
6. When the cupcakes are still hot and are still in the tin, pour one tablespoon of cointreau over each cupcake. (Pierce the top of each cupcake a couple of times with a toothpick to make sure the cointreau seeps through). Leave it in the tin to cool slightly before removing.
7. Once cooled, spread a generous layer of marmalade on top of each cupcake.

Courgette galette with tomato tapenade

This recipe is so ridiculously easy, it almost seems embarrassing to write about it, were it not that is so damn delicious! Crisp puff pastry… topped with a generous amount of tomato tapenade… and grilled, juicy courgette slices…with a salty parmesan crust. Mmmm. Things like that really make me salivate!

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Ingredients
• One sheet of puff pastry
• 2 small courgettes, in 0,5 cm slices
• Parmesan cheese
• 100gr tomato tapenade

For the tomato tapenade:
• 100gr sundried tomatoes, on olive oil
• 1 clove of garlic
• 2 anchovy fillets
• ½ tbsp capers

Method:
1. Make the tapenade by blitzing all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Use some of the olive oil from the tomatoes to create a more unctuous texture.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out your sheet of puff pastry on a baking tray and prick it with a fork.
3. Spread a good layer of tapenade on top of the pastry, leaving a boarder around the edge.
4. Meanwhile, grill your courgette slices on a searing hot grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Layer the slices on top of the tapenade, so that they overlap slightly and cover the whole sheet of puff pastry.
5. Fold the outer edges of the pastry over the filling and grate parmesan over the top of the galette.
6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Around the World in 4 Vegetarian Dishes

Published May 28, 2013 by The Feminist

Take a food trip around the world and you will soon realize that vegetables are undeniably the most versatile ingredients on this planet. Every country, on every continent, has at least one special vegetable dish of which it is extremely proud. So let us all honour these dishes and remember that the humble vegetable is –and should be- the centre of our food pyramid!
Furthermore, vegetarian dishes allow us to combine ingredients from one country with the recipe from another, creating fusion cooking at its best. What about a very English radish in a very Moroccan tagine? Why not? I tried it and it worked out brilliantly! It is time to get out of your comfort zone and try combinations you would normally never try! Who knows, you might discover some new favourites while you’re at it!
If you know other fantastic vegetarian dishes from around the world, feel free to share them, since we’re all global citizens 😉

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Moroccan date, orange and radish tagine


Putting radishes in sweet tagines may sound really disgusting, but put your prejudice aside for a moment and absorb the brilliance of this dish. The fresh and peppery taste of the radishes marries so well with the sweetness of the sticky dates and the fruitiness of the orange! Serve with a bowl of couscous or some flatbread.
Ingredients(serves one):
• 1 bunch of red radishes, tops removed
• 1 tbsp runny honey
• 1 tsp red wine vinegar
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 2 pieces of confied ginger, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp ginger syrup
• 4 tbsp water
• 1 orange
• 6 dried dates, stones removed and cut into strips
• Pinch of ground cumin
• Fresh mint
• Toasted almond flakes
Method:
1) Heat a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan, add the radishes and honey and sauté for a couple of minutes.
2) Add the vinegar, ginger, ginger syrup, turmeric, cumin and water and let it all simmer until the radishes are al dente.
3) Peel the orange à vif and cut out the segments of the orange between each membrane. Squeeze the juice of the remaining orange on top of the radish tagine.
4) Stir in the dates and orange segments and heat through.
5) Finish by sprinkling over some chopped fresh mint and almond flakes.

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Mexican sweet corn pancakes


The sweetness of the corn blends perfectly with the spicy depth of cumin and chilli! Serve with home-made guacamole or a tomato salsa.
Ingredients (serves 4) :
• 300gr canned sweet corn
• 1dl rice milk
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 120gr plain flour
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• 3 tbsp cornflour
• 1 egg
• Pinch of dried chilli flakes
• 1 tsp ground cumin
Method

1) Mix 200gr of sweet corn in a blender with the milk, sesame oil, chilli, cumin and a pinch of salt until you get a smooth paste.
2) Add the egg and sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.
3) Finally stir through the remaining sweetcorn.
4) Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, then drop spoonfuls of the pancake mixture into the pan. Cook them for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown.

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Indian Potato and Cauliflower curry


Nothing beats the aroma of a home-made curry! Moreover, it doesn’t just smell and taste delicious, the bright yellow curry specked with tomato red and minty green makes me instantly happy! Serve with naan bread.
Ingredients (serves 4)
• 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
• 5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
• 4 tbsp turmeric
• 4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 3cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp tomato puree
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 3 tbsp garam massala
• 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
• 1 tsp fenugreek
• 400ml coconut milk
• Fresh mint and coriander
Method:
1) Blanche the potatoes and cauliflower in some salted water together with 2 tablespoons of turmeric. This will give the cauliflower and potato a lovely yellow colour.
2) Dice the tomatoes into small cubes. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, all the different spices and the tomato puree. Fry for a couple of minutes.
3) Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
4) Add the blanched potato and cauliflower and simmer for a couple of minutes (the cauliflower and potato should be cooked through but still al dente)
5) Finally sprinkle on some chopped mint and coriander.

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Italian multicolour carrot risotto with feta and capers


This risotto is a wonderful explosion of flavours! The richness of the risotto rice, the sweetness of the carrots, the saltiness of the feta cheese and tangy taste of the capers: what a match made in heaven! Add to that the fragrant mint and sage and the beauty of the yellow and purple carrots and your meal couldn’t be better!
Ingredients:
• 350gr risotto rice
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 400gr yellow carrot, finely chopped
• 400gr purple carrot, chopped into large chunks
• 50gr fresh sage
• 50gr fresh mint
• Pinch of chilli powder
• 250gr feta cheese, roughly chopped
• 100gr capers
• Mix of different nuts and seeds
• 40gr pecorino cheese, grated
• 1dl white wine
• Vegetable stock (approx. ½ liter)
Method:
1) Heat some olive oil in a large pan and fry a couple of sage leaves until they start to release a heavenly scent. Add the purple carrot and sauté with a pinch of chilli until they are al dente. (the reason why I cook the purple carrot separately is because the purple would otherwise completely ruin the beautiful yellow hue of the risotto)
2) For the risotto, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the yellow carrots and the rice and stir well, then add the wine and simmer until reduced completely. Add a good ladleful of the hot vegetable stock and stir continuously. When all this has been absorbed, add more stock. Continue adding more stock, stirring continuously, until the rice is cooked. Stir in some fresh sage and grated pecorino.
3) Spoon your beautiful yellow risotto on a plate, top with the sautéed purple carrots and finally sprinkle on some crumbled feta, capers, nuts and chopped mint.