Eight Bells

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Date and Almond Loaf

Free range eggs are fairly expensive so when we broke one making poached eggs for breakfast this loaf was the answer. It is adapted slightly from a recipe in Alison Holst's 'Good Food' book. Alison's recipe contains walnuts instead of almonds and has no banana.

75g of butter, cubed
1 cup of dates, pitted and chopped
3/4 of a cup of brown sugar
The zest of an orange or lemon, chopped
1 cup of boiling water
1 egg
2 1/4 cups of plain flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
1 70g packet of almonds, chopped
1 banana, mashed

Put the cubed butter into a mixing bowl with the dates, brown sugar and orange zest. Pour over the boiling water and leave to stand for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the butter melts. Cool to room temperature before adding the other ingredients. While the date mixture is standing prepare the tin and the other ingredients. Beat the egg in a small bowl until frothy. Measure the remaining ingredients into a bowl and combine well. Tip the beaten egg and combined dry ingredients on top of the cooled date mixture and fold in until just combined and damp (do not over mix).
Line the bottom of a loaf tin with baking paper and tip the mixture into the tin. Bake at 180C for about an hour until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Yum.

Preserved Lemons and Limes

You may have noticed the link to the St Andrews Limes company website in the post below, they have some great products that you can order online, try the hot lime pickle it's a cracker. Preserved lemons are an integral part of Moroccan cooking (as are tagines) and if you want to have a go at preserving your own lemons and/or limes this is how you do it.

Rock salt
Bay leaves
Jars and lids

Sterilise your jars and lids in boiling water and dry.
Scrub your lemons and limes and then slice them into quarters without completely seperating the quarters. Stuff rock salt into the cuts (about a tablespoon per lemon/lime) and then place a tablespoon of rock salt in the bottom of each jar. Add three peppercorns and a bay leaf then place 1 lemon or lime in the jar. Add another tablespoon of salt, three peppercorns and a bay leaf and then another lemon/lime. Finish off with another tablespoon of rock salt, three peppercorns and a bayleaf and then squeeze the juice of half a lemon or a whole lime over the contents of the jar and seal. We have used small jars so that when we come to cook with the preserved fruit we can open the jar and use all the contents for a recipe rather than resealing. The fruit can be used after one month and left unopened will last for many months.

Lemon Chicken Tagine

I know these tagine recipes don't look like much on the plate but they are incredibly tasty and very easy to prepare. Again you don't have to cook this in a tagine, it could be done in a crock pot or just a normal casserole dish. This will serve 3-4.

2 tablespoons of rice bran oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 chicken thighs, bone in
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
2 tablespoons of fresh coriander, chopped
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder
1 preserved lemon or 2 preserved limes, flesh discarded and peel cut into thin strips
Black pepper

Heat a little oil in the tagine base and cook the onion and garlic until soft and turning translucent. Remove the onion and garlic from the tagine and set aside.
Add a little more oil and cook the chicken thighs until browned.
Return the onion and garlic to the tagine and add the rest of the ingredients. Make sure to wash the preserved fruit to get rid of any excess salt and discard the flesh before cutting the peel into strips and adding to the tagine. Do not add salt to this dish while cooking.
Cover and cook very slowly for 2-2 1/2 hours. You may need to remove the tagine lid towards the end of cooking and turn up the heat to reduce the liquid. Serve with couscous and green beans.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Moroccan lamb with fennel and dates

I can't write this blog today without sending out our best wishes to the firefighters hurt in yesterdays blaze in Hamilton and to their families. Our deepest sympathies go out to the the Lovell family for their tragic loss and our thoughts are with the families of those others that were injured.

This new toy arrived by courier on Friday courtesy of Julia's in-laws (thanks mum and dad). We have been looking at the Le Creuset tagine for some time but as we have had no experience of using tagines we had relegated them to the interesting but non essential list of cooking utensils. After having cooked just one meal in it I can safely say that it is a piece of equipment we will use often. After two hours slow cooking in the tagine the lamb almost melts in your mouth and while I know that there won't be many of you that own a tagine this recipe can be made in a normal casserole. You need to start cooking this about three hours before you want to eat it. Serves four.

2 tablespoons of oil (we are using rice bran oil for almost everything these days. It has a very high smoke point and adds almost no flavour)
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
800g of lamb, cut into thick chunks (we bought lamb leg steaks)
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground corriander
1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
1 cup of chopped dates
2 cups of water
Fresh coriander to garnish

Heat a tablespoon of oil in the tagine base over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and garlic and cook until almost starting to turn brown. Remove from the tagine and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil and fry the lamb pieces until they are evenly browned.
Add all the spices and the salt to the tagine and stir into the lamb. Cook for a further minute or two.
Add the onion, fennel, garlic, dates and 1 cup of water. Stir well.
Cover and cook very slowly for 2-2 1/2 hours. Stir and add a little water occasionally as the dish thickens.

We use Tipiak brand plain couscous and just follow the instructions on the packet. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of chicken stock powder to the water.