ras-el-hanout

Ras el Hanout (رأس الحانوت, “head of the shop” as in top shelf, best spices in the shop) is a Maghrebi spice mix. It’s used in many savory dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish, or stirred into couscous or rice. The mix is generally associated with Morocco, although neighboring countries use it as well. There’s no definitive composition of spices that makes up Ras el Hanout. Each shop, company, or family may have their own special blend. The mix usually consists of over a dozen spices, in different proportions, although some purists insist that it must contain exactly 12 items. Commonly used ingredients include cumin, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, dry turmeric, and fenugreek. Some spices may be particular to the region, such as ash berries, chufa, grains of paradise, orris root, monk’s pepper, cubebs, dried rosebud, fennel seed, aniseed, galangal, or long pepper. Ingredients may be toasted before being ground or pounded in a mortar and mixed together. Some preparations include salt or sugar, but that is generally not the accepted practice. Garlic, saffron, nuts or dry herbs are generally not included, as they’re added to dishes separately, but some commercial preparations, particularly outside the Maghreb, may contain them. In the past, Ras el Hanout sometimes included cantharides for its aphrodisiac properties, but the sale of cantharides was banned in Morocco in the 1990s.

Look Mum, No Hands (or, how I learnt to roast a chicken)

Just back from tour and CRAVING vegetables, despite the fact that we ate pretty well and had some pretty rad cook-offs in our two tour apartments (one of which was haunted by a ghost…but that’s another story).  So here’s my simple (i.e. can’t really be fucked cooking but am hungry for good food) recipe for Roast Chicken and Spiced Cauliflower.

           

Roast Chicken

I had a mate tell me the other day he didn’t know how to roast a chicken.  I laughed in his face.  Seriously, there is nothing easier.

-       1 x 1.3kg free-range organic chicken (size 13)

-       50g unsalted butter

-       2-3 tbsp ras el hanout spice mix (or mix together your faves)

-       1 medium orange

-       Salt and Pepper

Take the chicken out of the fridge and sit at room temperature, 40 minutes before you plan to start cooking.

Preheat the oven to 240 degrees.

Wash the chicken (inside and out) and pat dry.  If there are any giblets or bits inside the chicken, give them to your dog or set them aside to make stock (an excellent way to rid yourself of your roast chicken carcass).

Rub the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper, slice the orange in two and stuff it inside the chicken.  Close the skin over the opening and hold closed by placing a toothpick through the skin, or tying the legs together with some kitchen string.

Rub the outside of the chicken with the butter, then rub in the spice mix and sprinkle some salt and pepper over.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes at the high heat (to crisp the skin).  Turn the oven down to around 180 degrees and roast for a further 45 or so minutes, basting every 20 minutes with the juices from the pan.  When you’re basting (brushing the juices on or pouring them over with a spoon), check the skin isn’t getting two brown.  If it is, cover it loosely with foil.

When the chicken is cooked (test it by piercing the chicken between the drumstick and the body – the thickest part – if the juices run clear, you’re home, if they run pink, it needs more time).  Place the chicken on a wooden board, cover with foil and a teatowel and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving, to allow the juices to distribute themselves through the meat.

Yay!  You just roasted a chicken.


Spiced Cauliflower Salad

I kind of made this up as I went along and forgot to write anything down.  I’m sure it will work though as it’s pretty straightforward….

-       1 large head of cauliflower, leaves removed and cut into small florets

-       2 tbsp ras el hanout

-       2 tbsp olive oil

-       Salt and pepper

-       Juice of one lemon

-       ½ cup currants or ruby-red sultanas

-       Juice of one orange

-       2 tbsp Ximénez sherry

-       ¼ cup pine nuts

-       4 tbsp sesame seeds

-       Large handful parsley, finely chopped

-       100g feta, crumbled

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, and cut out the stem.  Then use your hands to break the clumps into smaller florets (I find this much easier than cutting them up).

Pour over the spices, olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Mix together and place in a shallow baking dish.  Cook at 180 degrees for around 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked.

Meanwhile, mix the currants/sultanas with the juice and sherry.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes then drain.

Toast the pine nuts and sesame seeds in a non-stick frying pan, over a medium heat, until lightly browned.

Mix the roasted cauliflower, currants/sultanas, feta, parsley, pine nuts & sesame seeds together in a large bowl.  Serve!

Halloumi-Nektarinen-Couscous

Zutaten für 2:

175g Couscous

1 Packung Halloumi

3 Nektarinen

2 rote Zwiebeln

1 Zweig Thymian

1TL Ras el-hanout

Pfeffer

Salz

Olivenöl

½ Zitrone, in Scheiben


Zurbereitung:

Couscous nach Packungsanleitung zubereiten.

Nektarinen vom Kern befreien. Zwiebeln schälen. Halloumi aus der Packung

nehmen und alles in große Stücke schneiden.

Pfanne mit etwas Olivenöl erhitzen.

Zwiebeln mit Thymian anbraten. Nach etwa 2 Minuten die Nektarinen dazu.

Mit Pfeffer und Ras el-hanout würzen.

Etwas Salz dazu ( ACHTUNG: Halloumi ist ziemlich salzig)

Nicht zu lange in der Pfanne lassen und dann zur Seite stellen.

Halloumi von beiden Seiten knusprig braten.

Mit frischer Zitrone und Olivenöl anrichten.

Tip:

Wer anders als ich, nicht bei 13° in Antwerpen sitzt, kann das Ganze

ganz gut aufgespießt auf den Grill hauen.

Moroccan Spice Mix (Ras el Hanout)

Add a pinch of North African sorcery to your saucery.

An authentic Ras el Hanout spice mix can have over 100 ingredients. Luckily, this version originally found on Food.com is a bit more manageable and almost as tasty!

Makes: Approx 1 cup/ 10 tablespoons

Ingredients:

  • 3 ¾ teaspoons of nutmeg
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons dried coriander leaf
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons of turmeric
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons of salt
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons of paprika
  • 3 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of cardamom powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves.

Method:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and decant into an airtight container. Store somewhere cool and dark to prevent the flavours fading.
  2. Hop over to Fez, buy a hat and get working on that Tommy Cooper impression.

Why not try…

  • Spicing up nuts, popcorn or homemade crisps?
  • Cooking up a batch of Emi’s magic Moroccan Stew?

Cooked up by: Nick (via Food.com)

Couscous, sneller dan snel!

Ingrediënten (voor 2 personen)

- Couscous (eender welk merk)
- Moroccan Tagine Sauce: Apricot & coriander
Merk: Al’féz (Delhaize €2,52)
- Quorn*

 

Bereiding

1. Bereid de couscous zoals beschreven op de verpakking (vaak gewoon water bij doen, afsluiten en klaar is kees!)

2. Bak de quorn kort aan in een beetje olijfolie, kruid met peper en zout.

Extra: je kan de kruidenmix Ras el Hanout, ook van het merk Al’féz of eender ander merk, bij de quorn laten meebakken.

3. Meng de inhoud van de Moroccan Tagine Sauce: Apricot & coriander onder de quorn en laat een vijftal minuutjes sudderen.

4. Meng de saus onder de couscous en smullen!
(Naar smaak kan je hier ook nootjes, rozijnen, verse koriander, … toevoegen)

 

* Je kan quorn van het merk Quorn nu ook in de diepvriesafdeling kopen, oa in de Colruyt. Voordeliger in prijs dan wanneer je ze in de koelruimte in kleinere pakjes koopt!

OMG! I Made Truffles!

So yum, so easy and so cheap. Well, cheap compared to luxury truffles. See, I have this obsession with a little company called, Vosges. I never really liked chocolate till I tasted, owner, Katrina Markoff’s creations. Also being a local company, I was in love. She has a line of exotic truffles and flavors that challenge the palette and induces a calm almost meditative state of mind for me. She does use cream, sugar and emulsifiers. I have been dreaming about chocolate and truffles that are free from those. Yesterday, I made it happen even tho I had no idea what I was doing and just kinda winged it. I thought I was a genius when I ate them but haven’t had any taste testers yet so will be interesting to get feed back. These might be a love it or hate it kinda thing. I didn’t write down the quantities so I’ll have to do that next time but I started with some coconut milk, maple syrup, orange zest, orange oil, vanilla extract, almond extract then added 100% chocolate. Cooled, rolled into balls and coated with homemade almond flour mixed with the following spices (oh, and I made around 30 organic truffles for less than 15$):

  1. North = Sumac and finely grated green peppercorns
  2. East = Micro ground almonds and black lava sea salt
  3. South = Spicy Ras El Hanout (Pinch Spice Market) with an almond in the center
  4. West = Coconut flour and curry with saffron