Monday, January 16, 2012

Moroccan Mezze

On Friday night we had the pleasure of lovely folk Hannah, Gray, Kat and Rob joining us for dinner. We decided we wanted to do a three-course Moroccan meal to relive our summer holiday adventures from last year and to get some use out of the lovely new tagine my mum bought us for Christmas.

For our starter we decided we wanted to have a bash at making a selection of traditional Moroccan Mezze, very much inspired by the Mezze we had at Restaurant Riad in Meknes and the gorgeous Morccan Tapas I had at Café Clock in Fez.

We ended up making quite the selection and for everything we stuck completely faithfully to the traditional recipes from the Cuisine marocaine book I bought from a little old man in the street in Rabat.

Our Mezze consisted of the following:
Two types of bread lovingly handmade by Bailey: Khobz and Msemen.

Maakouda potato cakes.

Harissa marinated Chicken and Tofu.

Moroccan Lentils and Zaalouk aubergine dip.

Moroccan Carrot Salad.

We served all this with plenty of chopped corriander, some dates and a nice block of curd cheese.

Everything apart from perhaps the Msemen bread, was really easy to make but because there were so many elements we had to be quite organised. We made the Makouda and the breads in advance and also marinated the chicken and tofu the night before, which made putting everything together on the night a lot easier, even though our pokey kitchen was stretched to its full capacity...

I really enjoyed the Mezze and hope our guests did too. I was super impressed with Bailey's breads as they turned out exactly like the ones in Morocco and I think my favourite dip was the Zaalouk as I adore aubergines. We'll definitely be having Mezze again and I can't wait to have Bailey's spot on Msemen bread again sometime soon.

For the Msemen bread:
3 1/2 cups flour (340 g)
1/2 cup fine semolina (90g)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 cups warm water (approx. 1/3 liter)
For folding and cooking the msemen:
A couple of glugs of olive oil
1/2 cup fine semolina
Half a block of very soft unsalted butter

First of all you need to throw the flour, the first half cup of semolina, sugar, salt and yeast in to a bowl and mix. Add the warm water to the mixture and combine until you have a nice dough consistency.It should be easy to knead so if its too dry add a bit of warm water if its too sticky just drop in a bit of flour. Knead the dough for ten minutes on a floured surface.

Now for the messy bit that takes a little bit of practice. Before you start make sure you have three bowls all filled with the butter, the second cup of semolina and the olive oil.  You do not want to start messing around with bags or bottles once you start this process. Your next job is to separate the dough into balls, I went for a size slightly bigger than a golf ball to make mine but you can go bigger or smaller which produces different size msemens.

Let the dough rest for a few minutes before you move on. While you are waiting you can oil the surface that you are going to be working on, its important throughout this that the surface and your hands remain well oiled.

Take the first ball and dip it into the oil and flatten the dough with the palm of your hands. Once it's quite flat start to spread and thin the dough from the middle pushing to the edges. Ideally you want to end up with a very very thin squarish shape so its best to push horizontally and vertically. As it thins in the middle start moving closer to the edge until it is very thin across the entire msemen.

Next take a knob of butter and dot the dough with it followed by a sprinkling of semolina.

After this you can fold the dough. Take one side and fold it over the middle third then take the other side and fold it over the middle third so you end up with something like a folded pancake. Repeat this folding but vertically taking the top and folding over the middle third then bottom and folding it up to form what is hopefully a tidy little square.

Don't worry too much if they aren't looking great first time around, mine looked super shoddy at first but it only takes a little practice before you are knocking out good looking shapes. Also there is another opportunity to manipulate their shape during cooking.

The next bits the easy bit. Just before cooking take your dough squares and flatten with the palm of your hand until it has doubled in size then place in a frying pan cooking on each side for a few minutes until they get plenty of colour.  As long as you have used a good portion of butter there is absolutely no need for any oil in the pan.  The outside should be crispy and golden while the inside is still quite chewy.

For the Khobz bread:
4 cups plain flour + a little extra for kneading
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp oil
1 1/4 cups warm water

Cover two baking trays with foil, spray with cooking spray and dust down with a sprinkling of semolina. Mix the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Make a large well in the centre of the dry ingredients and put the yeast in the bottom of the well.

Add the oil and water to the yeast in the well and mix well. Slowly start to incorporate the rest of the dry ingredients to make a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is elastic. Cut the dough into three pieces before leaving to rest for another 10 minutes.

Flatten the lumps of dough with the palms of your hands until you have circular mounds about a quarter of an inch thick. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225 degrees C. Transfer the loaves to the baking trays, score on top with a knife and place in the oven for 20 minutes, turning the pans halfway through baking. Remove from the oven when the loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

For the Maakouda:
4 large Cyprus potatoes
1 egg
2 tbsp fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves
1 dessertspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes into cubes before adding to a large pan of salted boiling water and cooking until soft.

Meanwhile beat the eggs in a bowl and finely chop the coriander and garlic cloves.

Add the garlic, coriander, cumin and turmeric to the bowl and stir well.

Once the potatoes are soft, drain and mash them.

Pour the eggy mixture into the mashed potato and leave to settle for a few hours - we left ours overnight. When you're ready to fry your Maakouda cakes, take a large dessertspoonful the mixture and form into little round patties before adding to a hot pan to fry.

Flip the Maakouda until golden on both sides and serve or keep to one side for reheating in a warm oven ready to be eaten with the rest of the Mezze.

For the Harissa marinade:
1 red pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves
2 red chillis
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp natural yogurt
1 tbsp harissa paste

As there was no harissa recipe in our Cuisine marocaine book, we loosely followed an Ottolenghi recipe with a bit of an added kick of actual harissa paste.

Toast the red pepper over a lit gas ring until the skin starts to blister and go black. Peel the skin off and discard the seeds. Toast the cumin in a frying pan until fragrant before grinding up.

Fry the onion, garlic and chillis in a pan for around 8 minutes before blitzing together all of the ingredients with a blender. You can now marinate whatever you like - chicken, veg, whatever. We did tofu and chicken. For the tofu, Bailey squeezed all the liquid out of a good quality block of tofu, cut into chunks before frying it on its own first and then marinating overnight.

For the Lentils:
250g tinned lentils
1 onion
1 tomato
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tinned tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
A pinch of saffron
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
150ml water
1 tablespoon coriander

Wash the tinned lentils well before adding to a saucepan. Chop the onion, tomato and garlic cloves and add them to the pan. Sprinkle in the paprika, cumin seeds and saffron.

Add the water to the pan and place over a medium heat. Stir sporadically, making sure the ingredients aren't sticking, adding a few more drops of water if it dries out too much.

Eventually the dish will take on a stew-like texture and will be ready to serve, sprinkled with the coriander, to have delicious Moroccan bread dipped into it.

For the Zaalouk:
2 aubergines
4 garlic cloves
4 tomatoes
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander

Chop the aubergines into small cubes and finely chop the garlic.

Place the aubergine cubes and garlic in a large pan and cook over a low heat. Cover the aubergine while it cooks so it goes lovely and soft, this may take some time. When the aubergine is totally soft, remove from the heat and put to one side.

Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and place in a pan with the paprika and cumin and cook until soft and mushy. Season. Once the tomatoes have reduced, add the cooked aubergine to the pan, mix well and continue to cook until all the ingredients are combined. Serve hot, sprinkled with coriander - delicious with Khobz!

For the Carrot Salad:
250g carrots
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander

Chop the carrots into bitesize chunks before adding to a pan of salted water over a medium heat.

When the carrots are soft, remove from the heat and drain the water. Meanwhile, chop the garlic and coriander. Sprinkle the carrots with the chopped garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and coriander. Mix and serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for dropping by and leaving us a comment!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...