Moroccan lamb shak with wheatberry kernels

Moroccan lamb shank with wheatberry kernels

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Slow-cooked lamb shanks with wheatberry is a dish cooked the same way as Moroccan trotters recipe. In fact, you could make it a vegan dish by omitting any form of rich meat and just use chickpeas instead.

There was a old lady I used to visit when I was still living in Morocco and she would serve the wheatberry on their own, accompanied with a classic Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad. 

Being from a modest background, she always apologised everytime she served it, but all what I had in mind was ” can I finish the plate without looking bad? is there enough for everyone?”. 

My old friend was twice my age actually, so I used to call her “khalti” or Auntie. She used to prepare her wheatberry at night and serve it the next day, very reminiscent of Dafina or Skhina, a Moroccan-Jewish dish for Shabbat.

 

Moroccan lamb shak with wheatberry kernels

Moroccan lamb shak with wheatberry kernels. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Khalti was again another person who can tell you stories about Muslim and Jewish Moroccans living side by side and growing together looking after each others’ kids and properties. 

The result of this symbiose was a transfer of recipes and habits which transcend generations up to now. 

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Moroccan lamb shank with wheatberry

Slow-cooked lamb shanks with wheatberry is a dish cooked the same way as Moroccan trotters recipe. In fact, you could make it a vegan dish by omitting any form of rich meat and just use chickpeas instead.

  • 150 g wheatberry kernels (washed and left to soak in cold water overnight)
  • 1 lamb shank
  • 1 onion (medium, finely chopped)
  • 1 tbps ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika (optional)
  • ½ tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt (to taste)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic (3 crushed and 3 with skin on)
  1. Mix the spices and grated garlic with oil



  2. Mix the drained wheatberry kernels with 2/3 of the spice mix. Mix well so all kerners are coated. You will particularely need to do this if you cook them in a cheesecloth pouch (We usually do that).

  3. Prick the lamp shanks with the knife and thoroughly rub the meat.



  4. Use a heavy pot to cook on top of a stove/cooker, in a oven or over charcoal. Pressure cooker will do as you halve the time.



  5. Place the chopped onions in the bottom of the pot (it shouldn't stick whilst cooking), Add the lamp shank to one side and the wheatberry kernels in a pouch next to it.

  6. Depending on pots and methods of cooking, you may need less.

Slow-cooking in an earthenware pot

  1. Add enough water to reach no more than half of the lamb shank and seal the pot.



  2. Cook for 90-120 min on medium heat or for 2h30-3 hours in a 170 degrees oven. The time depends on the quality of the meat and its thickness.

  3. Remove whichever cooks first and make sure all liquid has evaporated before serving.

Cooking in a pressure cooker

  1. You will need less water to cook and may need to cook this dish under 1 hour depending on the type of pressure cooking and setting used.

Serving

  1. Serve warm

  • If you choose to prepare Moroccan wheatberry kernels on the vegan side, use presoaked chickpeas (not canned).
  • Depending on the origin and type of chickpeas, adjust the cooking time. 
  • When cooked without meat, this recipe can be served as a side dish.

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A small slice of date cake dotted with chopped dates and candied clementines

Moorish Moroccan shortbread: Ghrieba Msseoussa

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Unlike many Moroccan ghriebas (sort of macaroons) which come on the chewy and soft side of the baked good, today’s traditional ghrieba from the North of Morocco is more on the shortbread-like category with an indulging melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Butter, oil along with nuts gives a delicate texture to ghrieba.

Some definitions

Before going further with the recipe, I must explain the meaning of “msseouess”. It’s actually the state of something damaged by worms and therefore reaching a weak crumbly state.  Do not let this rather unappealing description put you off. This remains  one of the best shortbread recipes you may come across.

Moroccan ghrieba msseoussa or ghriebat el khalit (khalit in Arabic refers to mixture) is a rich mix of leftover nuts. Its other name is halwat laqita (bastard sweet) due to the use of leftover nuts hanging around with no major “rule”. However, to make it easy on you, I’ve put equivalent weight to all the nut components.

Ghrieba msseoussa is a  nutty shortbread with Moroccan flavours perfect for Eid and other festive days

It’s worth mentioning that apart from raisins and sesame seeds, the rest of the nuts listed in the ingredients are interchangeable and replaceable. Again, the idea behind this recipe is to use leftover nuts from Achoura/Ashura (a Muslim version of Christmas in Morocco).

Having said that, nothing stops you from making it anytime you fancy a treat.

Handling ghrieba

I find these ghriebas very delicate as they break while still warm. So I urge you to handle them with care.

You may need to wait until they cool completely although the icing sugar may not stick very well in this instance.

I tend to wait for 10 minutes after they are out of the oven and give them a good layer of icing sugar, sifted above them while they are still in the baking tray. When they’re cool I move them to the icing sugar plate so they also get covered from the bottom.

Just find a way to have them all covered, whichever way you go.

Storing ghrieba msseoussa

Although they are usually kept for a few weeks in an airtight container at room temperature, I found that keeping them in the fridge is not a bad idea and they even freeze and last longer. This also help with their texture as they hold a bit before melting in the mouth.

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Moroccan shortbread with nuts: Ghrieba msseouessa

Ghrieba msseoussa, a nutty shortbread with Moroccan flavours perfect for Eid and other festive days such as Christmas,

Apart from raisins and sesame seeds, the rest of the nuts listed in the ingredients are interchangeable and replaceable as the idea behind this recipe is to use leftover nuts from Achoura/Ashura or, as we are approaching christmas, the loads of nuts left after this occasion. However, nothing stops you from making it even before and gift it to your beloved ones. We all love a treat made with love.

  • 75 gram almonds (fried or oven-roasted and cooled)
  • 75 gram raisins or sultanas (rinsed with hot water)
  • 75 gram sesame seeds (unhulled )
  • 75 gram walnuts kernels (ideally oven-roasted for a few minutes and cooled)
  • 75 ml vegetable oil
  • 125 gram butter (soft at room temperature)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 gram baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp orange blossom water
  • 300 gram flour (sifted)

For decoration

  • 300 gram icing sugar

Make-ahead

  1. Toast the sesame seeds and set aside.

  2. Mix raisins with orange blossom water and set aside for 30 min, covered.

  3. Blend or chop them to a rough texture. Set aside.

  4. Crush the fried or oven-baked almonds to a rough texture, not too fine but not big either. You could use peanuts instead

  5. Do the same for the rest of the nuts.

Make the ghrieba mix

  1. Mix butter with sugar to a creamy texture. You could use a whisk or your hands

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients leaving the flour last.

  3. Do not overwork the dough, you just need to bring it together and combine it homogeneously.

Shaping and baking ghrieba msseoussa

  1. Preheat the oven at 170 C. Line baking sheets with baking paper.

  2. Shape ghriebas: roll small dough balls and flatten them no less than 1.5 cm thick. Ghrieba should be between 5 to 7 cm in diameter.

  3. Line ghriebas slightly far from each other.

  4. Use a cookie press and slightly press on top. If you do not have it, use the forks or those pastry tweezers to pinch the top of each ghrieba. Use the end of a manual whisk to get that rose-shape.

  5. Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15 to 18 min until slightly golden.

  6. Let cool.

  7. Meanwhile, fill a deep plate with half of the icing sugar, delicately place a few ghriebas and sift some icing sugar on top. Do the same for the rest of the batch.

Almonds and walnuts can be replaced with oven-roasted and skinned (or not) peanuts, crushed.


French Brussels sprouts en gratin- Gratin aux choux de Bruxelles et saucisses

[su_spacer]Brussels sprouts! I hear you! What an awful vegetable. You don’t like it, you don’t know what to do with it and with all the good will in the world and you trying to eat your green, you just can’t get it down your throat.

I have to sell this recipe to you because my Brussels sprouts en gratin goes down really well with grilled meat as a side dish. Besides, it’s my Dad’s recipe. That on its own brings so much to the plate.

You can double the quantity of brussels sprouts (I tend to go the opposite way)

Well I say it’s my Dads’ but he initially got it from the French magazine “Femme Actuelle” sometimes late 80’s early 90’s I reckon. He worked on a few substitutes on the meat addition.

This recipe dates a bit in our family..

So let’s get on with the recipe.

Ingredients

Serves 2-4 people
Prep: 10 min/ Cooking: 5 min (pan) and 30 min oven time

For the base
– 400- 500g of brussels sprouts (if fresh, parboil them for 3 min, if frozen, just use straight away)
– 200 g of sausages of your choice, You could use steak strips or 50 g of bacon (or a mix of all this)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cube of bouillon (or equivalent)
– 50 g of comte or gruyere cheese
– 1 tbsp of oil

For the Béchamel sauce (you could get away with half the quantity)
– 60 g (2 heaped tablespoons) of flour or cornstarch
– 60 g of butter
– 400 ml of milk, at room temperature
– 1 egg yolk (optional)
– 1 tsp of mustard (optional)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– A generous pinch of nutmeg

The glorious brussels sprouts gratin on an Iftar table

 

Preparation

Cook the brussels sprouts in a bouillon for 10 min max (water + the cube). Having parboiled them should remove some of that strong taste they usually have.
Drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven at 200 C.
Poach the sausage if you are going that path. Do not forget to prick them in the water. Set aside.
If using the steaks, cut into strips and sautee in butter or olive oil over high flame. Season to taste.
If using bacon, cut into strips and fry. Set aside. I use Turkey bacon when I have them around.

Prepare the Béchamel sauce

In a deep pan, melt the butter. Add the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and let the flour “fry” for a couple of minutes.
Grad and manual whisk and gradually add milk as you whisk along. The trick is to reduce the heat to a bare minimum, add the milk by 1/4 cup (ish) and whisk to homogonize. Do that ask you go along and get to half the quantity of milk. Then you can pour the rest of it into the pan and bring to heat to medium.
Stir from the bottom of the pan to ensure no sticking is happening on your watch.
Cook for about 10 min then add the yolk and the mustard. It should have thickened by now and bubles would have surfaced.
Knock of the heat and set aside. Stir regularely the first 5 min otherwise you get an umpleasant crust.
Assemble the gratin

Fold all ingredients in the sauce and stir. Grate the cheese on top and place in the oven for 15-20 until dark specks of gratinated cheese appear.

Serve warm with a salad or a nice grilled piece of meat.

My Dad’s original recipe cutout 

 


Ultimate blueberry muffin recipe

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This is the ultimate recipe for a moist muffin that you need to keep. This is not an empty promise. I have been using this recipe, initially adapted from King Arthur’s department store blueberry muffin recipe.

Now, I stress on “adapted” because, if you are familiar with my blog, you would know that anything British or American is too sweet for my palate. So I tend to cut on sugar and enhance the flavour with more “exhausteurs de goûts “.

I also replaced butter with oil because we all know oil brings moist.

I replaced milk with buttermilk because we all know it works better with bicarbonate (which I have added as well).

This recipe I’m sharing today is the basic for any fruit muffin you want to make and the topping is not even mandatory. It does add some contrast and some texture though so I would not advise to leave it out.

So bring a bowl and a whisk and let’s get started.

 

Coffee and a blueberry-loaded muffin

A blueberry-loaded muffin with coffee. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Ingredients

For 6 muffins, medium size
Prep: 5 min/ baking: 25 min at 170 C

For the base
– 1 egg, at room temperature
– 1/3 caster sugar (1/4 also works for me)
– 1/4 buttermilk
– 1/4 vegetable oil
– 1 tsp of vanilla extract
– A good pinch of salt
– 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
– 1/4 tsp of bicarbonate of soda]
– 1 tsp of lemon zest
– 1 tsp of ginger or 1 tbsp of cinnamon if using apples

Fruit addition
– 1 cup of banane in small cubes (goes well with cinnamon, white chocolate in small bits and a bit of chopped walnuts or pecans)
– 1 cup of chopped apples or rhubarb (goes well with lemon zest and bergamote oil)
– 1 cup of blueberries or raspberries (fresh or frozen, toss in flour before adding), goes well with lemon or orange zest.

For the crumble
– 2 or 3 tbsp (levelled) of oat

–  1 heaped tbsp of demerara sugar

Blueberry muffins just out of the oven

Blueberry muffins just out of the oven. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 170 C (160 C fan oven).

Place the muffin cases in the muffin tin.

In a bowl, whisk the egg and the sugar for a couple of minutes.

Add in the liquids, salt, baking soda and baking powder, whisk for another second.

Finish off with flour and fruits (nuts, flavourings, chocolate…) and mix loosely for a second.

Fill the muffin cases to 3/4 and sprinkle with the topping mix.

Place the muffins in the middle of your oven. At the end of the baking time, check if it’s done by inserting a knife or any probe you have to check if it comes out clean and no batter is left uncooked.

Pull out of the oven, let cool for 10 min before moving them out. I like to drizzle some maple syrup on them to add more moist but that’s another story..

The muffins keep well for a couple of days. You could put them in the fridge as well. Just take them out 10 min before eating them.

 

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