Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Moroccan Mystique

It has been an age since my last post. I've been adapting to my new single life, me new flat and I have to admit, I have yet to use my new oven. I'm still not particularly enamored by the thought of cooking anything exciting for one, and so I am satisfying my food porn needs by helping out at the cookery school.

Saturday evening found me at La Cucina Caldesi, helping out a Moroccan themed cookery course for the tamest hen party I have ever encountered, with possibly the largest appetites I have ever witnessed amongst a group of women. How very refreshing.

The chef for the evening hailed from Essaouria(where I had to admit I suffered the worst food poisoning of my life so far) and having been taught to cook by his mother, he holds the secrets of the honeyed flavours, rich spices and silky flavours that make Moroccan food so wonderfully appealing. One of the most memorable flavours I have ever encountered was a fresh date, warmed by the shimmery heat of the sun and picked fresh from a tree on the banks of an oasis in the Moroccan desert whilst stroking the rough hair of a donkey.

On Saturday I learnt a couple of very useful lessons. The first - how to make preserved lemons in a hurry. In theory these citrus ingredients should take a minimum of three weeks to develop their flavours, however if you have run out or cannot find them in a local shop, this is the fast-track recipe:

Preserved Lemons in a Dash
Two lemons
Salt
Water
Oil

Make four cuts into each lemon as if you were going to quarter them but without cutting right through the flesh so that the fruits remain intact.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and add a good handful of salt. Add the lemons and boil for approximately 30 minutes or until soft but not falling apart.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle with more salt and drizzle with a good glugging of olive oil. Leave to infuse for an hour.

The hen party sipped their champagne, rolled up their sleeves and started to dip their fingertips into the ingredients. Between them and with our direction they made the following sumptuous feast:

Baked aubergines with paprika and preserved lemon dressing
Kefta balls with a hot tomato sauce
Lamb tajine with prunes
Baklava

The long list of ingredients for the meat dishes belie how easy they are to prepare. Never have I smelt such a jumble of spices to tickle one's nose in one room, the air of which was heavy with the fragrant fug. Try these delicious nuggets and see if you agree.

Kefta Balls (serves 4) - Ghalid Assyb's recipes
500g minced beef
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 onion, grated
1 red chili, finelychoppedd
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 bunch of flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon

It couldn't be easier. Tip all the ingredients into a bowl and use your hands to mix everything together until well combined. Roll the meat into equal sized balls (roughly the size of a walnut). Fry in a pan for a matter of minutes, ensuring that they don't overcook.

Healthy, fast and delicious food which couldn't be simpler to make.

And the second lesson I learnt that night? I'm afraid that only readers of my other blog are privy to that little revelation............

1 comment:

Denzylle said...

Coincidentally, I'm also a female Capricorn Londoner living alone.

I set up a food blog and have never done anything with it. Altho' I do cook just for myself a lot of the time, I also cook for and with friends and, of course, eat out, so there *is* stuff to talk about.

I read many food blogs and a few of these are by people who live alone. In fact, as there are books about cooking for one, I'm sure there is room for blogs on that subject.

Good luck in adjusting to your new status. I know it's not easy.