What I love about food is that it can transport you to different places or recall memories of places you visited and meals you enjoyed.
I visited Marrakesh six years ago and the place was an assault on the senses. The heat was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and the onslaught from traders left me a little stunned. What I did love was the food, which was too delicious and varied to cover in one post.
What I still crave was the delicious freshly made bread that was served everywhere. Perfect with tagines if you can’t face couscous, or great with houmous and olives, or soup for lunch.
I found a recipe from Cooking the Globe which is pretty much spot on for recreating what I remember. The ingredients and methods are straight forward. It does require a decent amount of kneading , but I don’t mind this as it allows me to burn off some stress and do some rage baking.
250 ml Warm Water (about skin temperature or luke warm, not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
500 Grams Plain flour (you can also use strong bread flour if this is what you have)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Sugar
2 & 1/4 Tsp or 7 Gram Sachet of dried yeast
In a small bowl add the warm water, sugar and yeast and stir. Leave in a warm room for 10 minutes, it should start to foam (if it hasn’t done this your yeast is dead)
In a large bowl combine the flour and salt, then gradually add the yeast mixture and work together until you get a soft dough (you may need to use a little more or less water)
Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth (this is time to let your rage baking take hold) or if you’re well adnusted and have a stand mixer ou can use the dough hook. Divide into two equal size balls, cover with a slighlty damp tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Transfer the bread to the baking sheet, flatten slightly to about 2-3 cm thick, and and cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm room for an hour to rise
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Uncover the bread and knick each loaf 4-5 times with a knife if you want to be totally authentic you can sprinkle with cornmeal or semolina. I didn’t have this and it was still fine
Bake for 25 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them
Sometimes I make things simply because the name tickles me, (blue moo pie, hummingbird cake etc).
I heard of this cake when reading about the legendary foodie and promoter of French cuisine, Julia Childs, and decided I had to make it.
This is a single layer cake, and is quite light, unlike some super rich dense chocolate cakes. It’s perfect if you don’t want something too heavy at the end of a meal, but is also delicious with a coffee if you feel the need for a little afternoon pick me up.
This recipe has some rum in it, but if you don’t do alcohol or just don’t like rum you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of strong coffee.
For the meringue
Pinch of Salt
3 Eggs (separate the yolks and whites)
1 Tbsp Sugar
For the cake
115 Grams Butter (Softened)
150 Grams Sugar
115 Grams Dark chocolate (melted)
2 Tbsp Rum, or strong black coffee
25 Grams Ground Almonds
1/4 Tsp Almond extract (optional)
60 Grams Plain Flour
For the decoration
2-3 Tbsp Flaked almonds
60 Grams Dark chocolate (melted)
60 Grams Butter (melted)
Preheat your oven to 180 degree (Celsius), and prepare a 9 inch cake tin, but rubbing it with butter and then dusting the inside with a little flour (this will stop your cake sticking to the tin)
Add 3 egg whites and a pinch of salt to a bowl, and either in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk, whisk until they start to froth before adding a tablespoon of sugar. Whisk until the egg whites are firm, and you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue stays in the bowl (be careful doing this so you don’t end up with meringue all over your floor). Set to one side
For the cake melt the 115 Grams of chocolate in the microwave, (I use blasts of 30 seconds at a time to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn), and allow to cool slightly
In another bowl, slow whisk the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, gradually add the egg yolks. Add the slightly cooled chocolate, and then the ground almonds, and flour until well mixed
Add 1/3 of the meringue mix to the chocolate mix, and mix in with a spatula, with help loosen the chocolate mix. Add the next 1/3 of the meringue mix and gently fold this into the chocolate mix with a spatula (this will help keep the air in the cake mix to keep it light. Fold in the remaining meringue mix ensuring it is thoroughly folded through before transferring to your prepared cake tin
Make for 16 minutes (there should still be a little wobble in the centre) . Allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool
When the cake is cool, toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, keep moving them around so they toast evenly and be careful as they can burn easily.
Melt the chocolate and butter for the topping in a bowl in the microwave (try blasts of 30 seconds and stir in between blasts to make sure it melts evenly), mix well when finally melted
Pour the chocolate and butter mix over the cake and spread evenly to make sure it runs down the sides evenly (I put a plate under wire wrack to catch any icing that runs of the cake and save mess)
Sprinkle the edges and sides of the cake with the toasted almonds (store in an airtight box if not eating immediately)
With the weather improving it’s time to eat a little lighter, and make use of all the delicious veggies that are now coming in season. If you want something healthy full of crunch and protein, then this is the perfect salad.
Ideal for lunch or as a side dish, this salad has lots of colour and fresh flavours (don’t skimp on the herbs). If you don’t already do it, window boxes full of herbs will transform how you cook and eat. The dressing has some Asian flavours for a little extra zing, but if it’s not your thing you can leave out the miso and ginger.
75 Grams Green lentils (dry weight, or use 1 Can of ready cooked lentils)
150 Grams Bulgar wheat, dry weight (you can also use cous cous, barley or whatever grain you prefer)
2-3 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Courgette /zucchini (grated)
75 Grams Cucumber (seeds removed, and chopped into 1 cm chunks)
1 Apple (chopped into 1 cm chunks and cover with some od the lemon juice for the dressing to stop it going brown)
1 Carrot (grated)
1 Handful Parsley or mint (chopped)
1 Handful Coriander (chopped)
I Tbsp Pumpkin seeds
Salt and pepper
1 Lemon (juiced)
2-3 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Grated ginger
1 Tsp Miso paste
Cook the lentils and Bulgar wheat according to the instructions on he packaging, set aside and allow to cool. If you are using pre cooked lentil just drain them
Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad ingredients
Mix well and add salt pepper if you think it needs it.
This pie is very satisfying but still quite light and a good way to get your daily dose of veggies.
I use frozen spinach, because it’s cheaper and a kilo of fresh spinach will take up half your kitchen, make sure to squeeze out as much water as possible so the pie won’t be soggy. Fresh herbs add flavour, and while dill is traditionally used, I used parsley and mint which are also used in some parts of Greece.
Filo pastry can be bought in most larger super markets. Make sure to cover the pastry with a slightly damp tea towel to stop it drying out when you are making the pie.
The pie can be eaten hot or cold and can live in your fridge for 2-3 days. It’s great as a lunch dish served with some salad or as a side dish.
1kg Frozen spinach (defrosted, and all excess liquid squeezed out)
Handful of finely chopped parsley and mint
250 Grams Filo pastry
200 Grams Feta style cheese (crumbled)
1 Leek or bunch of scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Oil
25 Grams Butter (melted)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 Tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a large pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the leek until soft. Set to one side and allow to cool
Add the drained spinach to a large bowl and loosen up with a fork. Stir in the eggs, feta, herbs leeks and seasoning. Stir until combined
Grease a 6 x 9 in baking tin and line with sheets of filo pastry, brush each sheet lightly with butter before topping with another sheet (lay 5-6 sheets of filo pastry as a base)
When the tray is lined, spread the spinach mixture evenly across the base. Fold in any overlapping pastry and top the pie with the leftover sheets of pastry (brush each sheet lightly with butter before topping with the next.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until brown and crispy