Friday, February 24, 2012

Week 10: Tunisia

For using such normal American ingredients our meal certain turned out different than a typical American meal.

 Wouldn't mind having it again. I think my toddler liked it the most. It certainly was inexpensive.

It was also exceptionally quick, and easy, to make. I literally could throw it together for lunch. No double checking the recipe or making sure the amounts were just right. Shakshuka is so simple all I had to do was read through a couple recipes on-line and I was good to go.

Tunisian Shakshuka

1-2 tsp cumin
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 chopped bell pepper
large can crushed tomatoes (about 28 oz)
salt and pepper to taste

chili paste to taste
eggs (1 per person)

Chop the bell pepper. I used about 1 1/2 bell peppers. If I didn't happen to have pre-chopped onion I would've chopped 1 onion at this point.

Cumin in the skillet over low heat. Just until it released the aromas.

Added the onion and some olive oil. Just until it started to soften a little.

Next the chopped bell pepper, and continued cooking until softened.

 Once the onion and peppers were softened I added a large can's worth of crushed tomatoes from my ziplock bag. Also added a little chili paste, salt, and pepper to taste. Then I covered it and let cook on low for about 20 minutes. Had to add a little water to get a nice texture.
For the final step I added 1 egg per person. There are two techniques commonly used to cook the eggs in Shakshuka. You can either scramble the eggs or cook them sunny side up on top of the vegetables. I chose to scramble.
As you can see, even with the added green onion to garnish it just looked prettier without the scrambling. I think, if I do make this again, I'm going to leave the yolks unbroken on the eggs.

Not bad for an easy, cheap, and rather interesting lunch!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Market Meets Pantry- Guess What I'm Making (Tunisia)

Don't you love it when you can make your entire meal from things you already have on hand? For our planned Tunisian meal, that's exactly what happened.  Our pantry was the market!

Can you guess the meal?

Bell pepper, onion, garlic, eggs, salt, pepper, tomatoes,  chili paste, and cumin.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week 9: Our Moroccan Dinner

 By now you've probably read about the delicious Moroccan dessert that looked fittingly like footballs. If not, check it out here. But dessert wasn't all my family enjoyed for our Moroccan adventure. We also enjoyed a hearty stew and a crisp, and rather unique tasting, salad.

Our salad was simple, healthy- and not a big hit. We didn't dislike it. It just wasn't something any of us fell in love with. Perhaps it would have been better if I'd spent the money on Argan oil. I substituted sesame oil per the original recipe. Or, it might be better served with something other than a vegetable curry.

 Slice apples.

 Slice cucumbers. Section oranges.

Toss in a dressing of oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve.

The stew was actually a vegetable curry. Personally I never would have considered combining the involved ingredients together. It really worked! The flavors were delicious. I would definitely serve it to guests if I knew they were adventurous. We were all disappointed when the last bite was eaten. Marakesh Vegetable Curry is just that good.

Diced sweet potato placed in a pot
Cubing eggplant to add to the pot.

Added to the mix are bell peppers, carrot, onion (I was out so I cut a corner and used onion powder!), and sautéed in olive oil.

By now the kitchen was starting to smell pretty nice. Adding a few more spices really kicked it up a notch. My home started to fill with a mouth-watering aroma.

In olive oil, garlic, turmeric,  curry powder, and cinnamon were heated with some salt and pepper, and then added to the pot of vegetables with some


sliced zucchini,




Orange Juice!

At this point I had to cover the pot and let it cook. While it cooked I made the couscous. Here's my secret recipe for couscous.

Once the couscous and the salad were prepped, the stew was about ready. 

The smell made my mouth water, despite the odd combination of ingredients. Walking in, my husband called out "What's that wonderful smell? Whatever it is, I'm hungry! Is it ready!?"

  I added some frozen chopped spinach and served.  Here's the link to the original recipe if you're interested in trying it yourself.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Planning Day: Tunisia!

I am so excited at the prospect of cooking a Tunisian dish. Food seems to be quick and easy to make, using ingredients pretty much always found in cupboards and pantries. Also nice and cheap.

from Free Retro Graphics
Tunisian food is supposed to be very spicy. Yeah, that sounds great! Unfortunately not for the whole family. May have to tone it down for my toddler. He used to appreciate spice but for the past month has been wanting his food mild.

Couscous is again often a featured dish. It seems to be fairly universal in that norther region of Africa. Since couscous is so enjoyed by my family I have no problem serving it again if necessary. Rather like we eat dishes with rice or pasta, the couscous becomes a bottom layer upon which to serve vegetable and protein (bean and meat like lamb) based stew-like dishes.

Seafood seems to be fairly common in the northern region. There's one dish called Brik that's rather like a meat pie except it's stuffed with tuna fish and egg. I've been thinking we need to include more fish and seafood in our diet.

Tunisia also has a quiche like dish called a tajin. I suppose another comparison for the tajin would be the Spanish tortilla. Yet another home-style dish called shakshouka is made by simmering various vegetables on the stove top and adding eggs to the top. Thinking the "tajin" sounds the least daring.

The ingredients are mostly very normal. The results, well, different. Will we enjoy it? Sure hope so. What would you make if you were crafting a Tunisian supper for your family?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl finger food dessert: Moroccan Honeyed Dates

If you're going shopping for food for a Super Bowl party tomorrow, or even if you've already finished shopping, you might want to consider picking up some dates for a fabulous and easy to make Super Bowl friendly dessert.

Dates. Sweet and filled with fiber. A healthier treat to have around when you want something sugary, for sure. Almonds. Who will argue the health benefits of eating a few almonds? Now picture coating the almonds in honey, carmelized, and stuffing the honeyed almonds in some plump, juicy dates. Sounds pretty good! It sure is.

My whole family devoured this easy to make Moroccan dessert the other night when we had our Moroccan dinner adventure. My husband when he saw the stuffed dates commented "These look like footballs!" I laughed "Perfect for a superbowl party!" He agreed.

They do look rather like footballs...
But the taste. Wow. What an explosion of sweet chewiness! These are addictive!

Here's how my son and I made them.

Dates Stuffed With Honeyed Almonds

Put the almonds in a pot. You'll use as many almonds as you have dates. If you want to caramleize a few more for your kids to much on when they're cool, it's not a bad idea.

Adults only here! Cook the almonds with a couple tablespoons honey until caramelized. Cool on parchment paper.

Split the dates lengthwise and remove the pits.

Now comes the fun part. Feel free to let your child(ren) help stuff the honeyed almonds in the dates.

Yum! A tasty healthier dessert perfect for a superbowl or any party!

Find the recipe here at Maroque.