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Christine Benlafquih

Moroccan Food

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Fava Beans in Tomato Sauce

Monday April 14, 2014

Almost everything tastes good in a zesty Moroccan tomato sauce, and fava beans prepared this way are an ideal dish to present while fresh fava beans are in season. Although normally served as a side, you may be tempted to double the Fava Beans in Tomato Sauce Recipe and make it a vegetarian entree.

You'll need lots of fresh, ripe tomatoes if doubling the recipe, but there's no need to go to the trouble of peeling the fava beans. In many Moroccan fava bean dishes, the skins are left on and those who don't like them simply remove the skins at the table.

Serve with Moroccan bread for soaking up the delicious sauce.

Photo © Christine Benlafquih

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Ghoribas with Sliced Almonds

Monday April 7, 2014

This little cookie is a good example of how Moroccans creatively come up with new presentations of a basic recipe. In this case, classic almond ghoribas are given a dressed-up look by adding a sliced almond garnish and glaze. The Ghoribas with Sliced Almonds are easy to prepare and offer fun steps for young kitchen assistants, such as rolling balls of dough and brushing on syrup glaze. If your kids are put off by nut garnishes, you can opt to make the simpler Almond Ghoribas with Powdered Sugar instead.

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Moroccan Sausage and Egg Tagine in Tomato Sauce

Friday April 4, 2014

What's not to like about comfort food that can be served for brunch, lunch, dinner - or any time in-between?! This Moroccan Merguez Sausage and Egg Tagine in Tomato Sauce is the kind of dish you'll return to time and again simply because it is deeply satisfying, delicious and easy fare. Making it even better, of course, is the fact that it's Moroccan protocol to dig right in by hand, using crusty Moroccan bread to scoop up the savory goodness.

If you don't have access to merguez sausage and don't want to trouble yourself with making your own, simply replace the merguez with another spicy sausage of your choice. Slow-cooking the dish in a clay tagine is recommended, but a skillet will work just fine if you don't own a tagine.

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Semolina Sweet Rolls

Monday March 31, 2014

The black seeds in the photo aren't poppy seeds - they're nigella seeds, known as sanouj or habbah sauda in Morocco. Along with golden unhulled sesame seeds, they add crunch and mild flavor to versatile Moroccan Semolina Sweet Rolls.

Nigella seeds have limited culinary value in Moroccan kitchens, as they're much more popular as a medicinal treatment. Nonetheless, they're quite delicious when added to breads as a garnish, and they're also a tasty, key ingredient in a classic Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Nigella Seeds.

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Strawberry Orange Juice

Friday March 28, 2014

We're fortunate to be in the middle of strawberry season in Morocco. The sweet, juicy berries are at their peak, making them an affordable indulgence.

This quick and easy Strawberry Orange Juice is just one way I might serve strawberries to the family. Although it can be prepared any time of the year with frozen fruit and store bought juice, it's truly best when made with freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh berries. Fabulous and refreshing!

Looking for other simple strawberry treats? Try a Strawberry Milkshake or Strawberries with Yogurt. For a more decadent dessert, try your hand at making a French-style Strawberry Tart with Pastry Cream.

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Mille-feuille

Monday March 24, 2014

Although you might know this pastry as Napoleon, its traditional French name is mille-feuille, meaning "a thousand leaves." Mille-feuilles are quite popular in Morocco, with prices varying greatly according to quality of ingredients and serving size. They're incredibly delicious freshly made, when the contrasting texture of baked puff pastry dough and creamy custard filling is at its peak, but I found even after two days in my fridge, my homemade result remains superior to many versions bought at Moroccan bakeries.

How to Make Mille-Feuille shows you the processes involved. Each step isn't difficult, particularly if you start with frozen puff pastry dough, but you will, of course, need to allow ample preparation time.

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How to Make Gazelle Horns

Friday March 21, 2014

There is a seemingly endless variety of Moroccan cookies made with almond paste, and Kaab el Ghazal (literally "gazelle ankles" but known in English as Gazelle Horns) is perhaps the most famous among them. These crescent shaped cookies are made by enclosing almond paste flavored with cinnamon and orange flower water within a thin pastry. They're very popular, especially at special occasions, and might be plain as shown here or dusted in powdered sugar.

Making kaab el ghazal is not something that every Moroccan cook knows how to do. The cost of the almonds might be prohibitive for some families, while others simply prefer to buy them since they're time-consuming to make. Freshly made, however, the quality and taste is often superior to what is sold in many bakeries.

A Moroccan friend taught me her recipe for Kaab el Ghazal many years ago. The photo tutorial How to Make Kaab el Ghazal shows how it's done. Aside from a few minutes learning curve for getting the hang of molding the cookies into their classic shape, it's really not that difficult.

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Chicken Bastilla

Friday March 14, 2014

Among my favorite do-ahead dishes are the savory Moroccan pies known as bastilla. Chicken Bastilla, shown in the photo, is the most famous bastilla, featuring a wonderful combination of saffron chicken, fried and sweetened almonds, and omelet stuffing. Originally bastilla was made using squab, which some traditional cooks still favor. How to Make Chicken Bastilla shows how to assemble the pie.

Bastillas can be shaped large enough to feed a crowd from a single dish, or they can made into individual-sized pies. Also try Seafood Bastilla, a favorite with my kids.

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Tagine with Peas and Fennel

Monday March 10, 2014

Years ago, fennel was one of those mysterious vegetables that I read about but never cooked. After my mother-in-law first prepared them for me in a tagine, I was hooked. In Morocco, fennel is called bisbas. The bulbs have a mild anise flavor that is more  pronounced when raw but quite subtle when cooked.

The Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Peas and Fennel shown here is a seasonal dish I make this time of a year, and it's great way to try fennel if you're not familiar with it. The fragrant nuance of the fennel complements the ginger and saffron seasoning without overwhelming it.

As with other Moroccan tagines, this one is best eaten with authentic Moroccan Bread for scooping up the meat and vegetables.

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Lamb Tagine with Olives and Argan Oil

Wednesday March 5, 2014

This Moroccan Tagine Recipe with Lamb and Olives calls for argan oil, a light, nutty oil which is produced almost exclusively in Morocco. Argan oil will impart a unique flavor to the dish, but it can be prepared with olive oil or walnut oil instead. Beef or goat meat may be substituted for the lamb.

You may have heard that culinary grade argan oil should not be used in cooking since high heat will damage it; accordingly, this delicate oil is typically added to finish a dish at the end. However, with care, you can indeed cook with it over low heat as called for in the tagine recipe here.

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