Published On: Sun, Sep 3rd, 2017

Sugar and spice: Recipes for an exotic Moroccan menu | Food | Life & Style

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FoodS MAG

Soak up the flavours of the souk with an exotic Moroccan menu

Moroccan chicken salad

Serves: 4

Cooking time: 1 hour

Preparation time: 30 minutes 

3 chicken breasts

2 tbsps ras el hanout dry spice mix

2 tsps olive oil

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes

1 tsp cumin seeds

1x400g (14oz) tin chickpeas

200g (7oz) Tenderstem broccoli

For the dressing:

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tsp ras el hanout paste

10g (¹/³oz) parsley, chopped

10g (¹/³oz) mint, chopped

10g (¹/³oz) coriander, chopped

2 preserved lemons

l Place the chicken in a zip-lock bag. Sprinkle with the ras el hanout dry mix and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Rub all over the chicken and seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

l Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/gas mark 6 and line a large roasting tray with baking paper.

l Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into 1½cm (½in) cubes then toss in a bowl with the cumin seeds and the other tablespoon of olive oil.

l Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas then add to the sweet potatoes.

l Toss together then spread out on the prepared roasting tray.

l Roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until golden and the sweet potatoes are just tender.

l Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for 1 minute. Drain and spread out on a rack to steam-dry.

l Heat an ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat 15 minutes before the sweet potatoes are ready. Pan-fry the chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes on each side then add the broccoli to the pan and put in the oven for 5 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

l Remove everything from the oven and allow to cool a little.

l Meanwhile, for the dressing, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, molasses, ras el hanout paste, chopped parsley, chopped mint and chopped coriander.

l Quarter and thinly slice the preserved lemons then mix in with the dressing.

l Slice the chicken then toss together with the broccoli, sweet potatoes and chickpeas.

l Serve on a large platter and drizzle with the dressing.

Orange polenta cake with saffron cream

Serves: 10

Cooking time: 1 hour

Preparation time: 40 minutes 

225g (8oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

225g (8oz) soft brown sugar

4 medium eggs

200g (7oz) ground almonds

1½ tsps baking powder

115g (4oz) polenta

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Zest of 2 oranges

60ml (2fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice

For the orange syrup:

200ml (7fl oz) agave syrup

150ml (5¼fl oz) orange juice

6 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

For the saffron cream:

8 saffron strands

400ml (14fl oz) double cream

l Preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F/gas mark 2½. Lightly grease and line a 22cm (8¾in) springform cake tin with baking paper.

l Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth.

l Mix the ground almonds and baking powder in a separate bowl then stir in the polenta.

l Mix these dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients and fold together.

l Fold in the vanilla paste, orange zest and 60ml (2fl oz) of juice.

l Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes.

l For the orange syrup, place the agave, 150ml (5¼fl oz) of orange juice, cardamom and cinnamon stick in a saucepan then simmer for 10 minutes or until it becomes a sticky aromatic syrup.

l Flake the saffron into a bowl and pour over 50ml (1¾fl oz) of warmed double cream. Infuse the saffron then allow to cool.

l Whisk the remaining cream into the cooled saffron cream until it forms silky light peaks and place in the fridge.

l Remove the tin from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes then remove the cake from the tin and cool it fully on the rack.

l Spoon the saffron cream all over the top and drizzle with orange syrup.

RecipesS MAG

Pomegranate spritzer

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes 

2 pomegranates

3 limes

1 litre (1¾ pints) sparkling water

4 mint sprigs

l Cut the pomegranates in half. Put each half over a big bowl with the cut side down in the palm of your hand and tap the back of the pomegranates with a rolling pin or spoon to knock out the seeds.

l Make sure there is no pith in the seeds then blend the seeds for 15 seconds. Pour through a sieve until all the juice has run through then discard the seeds. 

l Allow the juice to settle for 20 minutes before pouring equal amounts into 4 glasses.

l Roll 2 of the limes under the palm of your hand to soften the flesh. This will make it easier to juice and get more out.

l Squeeze half a lime into each of the 4 glasses then top up with equal amounts of sparkling water.

l Slice the remaining lime and add a couple of slices to each glass with a mint sprig.

l For a more grown-up version, substitute half the sparkling water for white or rosé wine.

Chermoula mackerel

Serves: 4

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Preparation time: 30 minutes

8 mackerel fillets

For the chermoula:

1 tsp toasted coriander seeds

1 tsp toasted cumin seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp smoked salt

1 garlic clove, peeled

½ tbsp chilli flakes

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

20g (¾oz) parsley

20g (¾oz) coriander

10g (¹/³oz) mint

150ml (5¼fl oz) olive oil

For the bulgar wheat:

Salt and pepper 

200g (7oz) bulgar wheat

1 red onion, peeled

1 red pepper

1 red chilli

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to brush the mackerel

200g (7oz) cherry plum tomatoes

l Blend or crush in a mortar and pestle all the chermoula ingredients, gradually pouring in 150ml (5¼fl oz) of olive oil. This can be a little chunky or smooth as you prefer, but don’t over-blend as it will get warm and lose its green colour.

l Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil and simmer the bulgar wheat as per pack instructions.

l Meanwhile, dice the onion, pepper and chilli. Sauté in tablespoon of oil for 2-3 minutes until softened and aromatic. 

l Chop the tomatoes and sauté for a further minute. 

l Drain the bulgar wheat and mix with the sautéed vegetables then cover with clingfilm.

l Preheat the grill to high.

l Brush the mackerel with a little olive oil then season.

l Lay on a baking tray skin side up and grill for 3-4 minutes or until fully cooked through.

l Fluff up the bulgar wheat with a fork and serve on 4 plates.

l Add 2 fillets of mackerel to each plate and drizzle with chermoula.

FoodS MAG

Z’atar halloumi fries with harissa dip

Serves: 4 as a starter or nibbles

Cooking time: 3-6 minutes

Preparation time: 20 minutes 

450g (1lb) halloumi cheese

300ml (10½fl oz) buttermilk

200g (7oz) plain flour

2 tbsps za’atar dried herbs mix

1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable oil

10g (¹/³oz) mint 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

100g (3½oz) harissa dip

300ml (10½fl oz) yoghurt

l Remove the halloumi from the packaging and dab off the liquid. Cut the halloumi in half – there is usually a natural fold in the middle that you can follow. Slice each halloumi half into 6 chip-sized pieces and place in a bowl.

l Pour over the buttermilk and cover with clingfilm. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or preferably 2 hours.

l Remove the halloumi from the buttermilk and dab off any excess liquid.

l Mix the flour and 1 tablespoon of the za’atar in a bowl.

l Heat the oil in a large frying pan to 170°C/325°F.

l Toss the halloumi fries in the bowl of flour and za’atar, making sure that each one is fully coated.

l Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. You may need to do this in batches.

l Roughly chop the mint then mix with remaining tablespoon of za’atar, salt and pepper.

l Mix the harissa and yoghurt.

l Remove the halloumi and dry a little on kitchen towel. 

l Sprinkle with the za’tar and mint then serve with the harissa yoghurt. 

Recipes written and devised by home economist Dominic Hoile

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