Now that I’m back, there were some long-overdue things that needed my attention. One being my laundry, it has piled up ye high (hand gestures to the height of her hip) and I am gradually running out of clean clothing. This probably wouldn’t be such a problem if I were male, but seeing as that I am not, my laundry desperately needs doing. Boring household chores aside another thing that I needed to tick off my to-do list is this shamefully tardy meme that I was tagged with by not one, but three other bloggers almost a month ago.
Jeff, Ellie and Brilynn all tagged me for the Food Blogger’s Dinner Menu and after several weeks of no response, here I finally bring to you my menu. You probably thought I had brushed it off and forgotten all about it, however with last month being Good Food Month and having the most hectic work schedule, I just couldn’t give it the earnest attention that it deserved. Appalling really, but that's my excuse and I am sticking to it.
The menu is nothing spectacular, but it is something I would gladly serve my nearest and dearest, to wrap them in the comfort and goodness of a home-cooked meal. I love Moroccan cuisine and North African flavours, and whenever I get the opportunity to share in my fondness for such fare it is always met with giddy anticipation, mostly on my part.
So to start off our feast is a small serving of Carrot, Chermoula and Ricotta Fritters with garlic aioli. Chermoula, is a North African spice mix most commonly used in Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian cuisine. Spicy and earthy its main components are cumin, paprika and coriander, it adds a spicy dimension to these typically sweet and mild fritters.
Carrot, Chermoula and Ricotta Fritters
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp chermoula spice mix*
sea salt and cracked pepper
20g unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 medium carrot, sliced into thin strips
vegetable oil for shallow frying
baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
Place flour, chermoula, salt and pepper, eggs, butter and milk in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Fold in ricotta, coriander and carrot strips.
Place a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and heat over medium heat.
Add two tablespoons worth of the batter to the pan and spread into a small, neat circle.
Cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until the fritters are golden brown and bubbles have appeared in the surface.
Set aside and cook the remaining batter.
Serve with some baby spinach and a dollop of garlic aioli.
To make sure your bellies are filled to the brim, next up is a Lamb Tagine with couscous. I love tagines, if there ever were to be a meal I am forced to live with for the rest of my life, then it would have to be the tagine. The myriad of flavours, from spicy to sweet, to herby and tangy all encapsulated in the one mouthful is pure ecstasy. I also love how the process of stewing in the tagine renders the meat meltingly tender. It's hard to go wrong with a tagine, it's a crowd pleaser if there ever was one.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground black pepper
1½ tsp paprika
1½ tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cinnamon sticks
1kg shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 5cm cubes
1 large onion, diced
4 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
120g dried apricots, chopped in half
60g dates, chopped in half
90g flaked almonds
1 tsp saffron stamens, soaked in 1 tablespoon cold water
500ml lamb stock
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
Place cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon into a small bowl and mix to combine.
Place the lamb in a large bowl and sprinkle over half of the spice mix. Toss the pieces of lamb together to ensure that all pieces are coated with the spice mix.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 150˚C.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large oven proof casserole dish and add the onions and remaining spice mix.
Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the crushed garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
In a separate frying pan, heat the remaining oil and brown the cubes of lambs on all sides, ensuring not to cook the meat completely.
Add the seared meat to the casserole dish.
When all the meat has been seared, de-glaze the frying pan with some of the stock and add these juices to the stock.
Then add the chopped tomatoes, apricots, dates, currants, almonds, saffron and remaining lamb stock to the casserole dish.
Bring to the boil, cover and place in the oven and cook for 1-2 hours or until the meat is tender. Check the meat halfway through.
When cooked, sprinkle over fresh herbs and serve with couscous.
Lastly, who could forget dessert, it's the last stop on any menu and rightly so. If this meal were to be your last at least you die having had your dessert. It completes any meal and really a meal without dessert is an incomplete one. I am one of those people that plan their whole dining experience around dessert and always have room in their belly for something sweet. It's as if I have an entire other stomach just for it, some may call it a defect, but I call it a blessing.
And in case you were wondering, yes, I knew I was making these Warm Fig and Caramel Puddings even before I knew what the entree was. This cake is quite dense, although the texture is delicately soft. In every mouthful you will hear the crunchy resonance of fig seeds still intact after baking. Served with some vanilla ice cream and a drizzling, or a drenching of caramel sauce, which ever you prefer, this dessert is heaven in a cup.
Warm Fig and Caramel Pudding
250g dried figs
¾ tsp baking soda
100g unsalted butter, softened
130g brown sugar
130g caster sugar
270g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp Cointreau
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Prepare a baking tin with parchment paper.
Place figs, water and baking soda in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Cool to room temperature then blend until smooth.
In another bowl, beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fir in fig mixture and sift in flour. Combine until the flour is just incorporated.
Pour into baking tin and bake uncovered for 1 hour.
Stand cake for 5 minutes.
Tip out cake onto a wire rack and cool further.
FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE
Place sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes or until the sugar changes colour.
Remove from heat and stir in cream and Cointreau.
Serve pudding with vanilla ice cream and top with caramel sauce.
So I hope you enjoyed this virtual feast, and come over anytime soon!!