I visited Morrocco last year and picked up some recipes on the journey. We started our Morocan adventure in the walled city of Teroudant, an hours drive from where our plane landed. There was a large bustelling market being held over the few days we were there, farmers had travelled long distances from the surounding villages and mounains to sell their livestock. We wandered around looking at the bleeting lambs, braying goats and noisy chickens. The food stalls were selling piping hot bowls of steamed cous cous and lamb was cooked over open fires and of course there was mint tea.
Very little happens in Morocco without a glass of mint tea in your hand. It is poured from a height into pretty, painted glasses through the spout of an ornate silver tea pot. Fresh mint is mixed with green tea leaves and alot of sugar, it is offererd in shops, restaurants and stalls on the street. Morrocan tea glasses are available in many Middle Eastern shops or Mosques around the country. In Morroco you often see them used as vases, filled with bunches of fresh aromatic roses.
Here the cous cous was steamed in an unuasual contraption called a couscoussier, which is very traditional to Morroco. It allows the cook to make a type of stew in the bottom half as the cous cous steams above, infuseing it with the flavours from below. Each grain of cous cous swells up due to the steam without getting heavy and wet.
When leaving Teraudant we decided to take a shared taxi across the Atlas mountains to Marakesh. Packed tightly into an very old and rickety Mercdius we left the orange groves of Terodant behind us and climbed into the foothills of the mountains which were dotted with olive trees and pumpkin patches. As we climbed further the whispy white clouds burnt off and the blue azur sky shone down on the mountain tops revealing all their rugged glory. There were short scrubby herb bushes growing everywhere and now and then our amiable driver would pull over to the side of the windy road and pick a bunch for us. The thyme here smelt like none other I have ever smelt, it was strong and pungent. We climbed higher and higher around hairraising bends. My heart was in my mouth many times, I kept telling myself that our driver wants to get home to his family so he will get us there safe and sound.
Morrocan mint tea
you will need: a small tea pot and serving glasses
a small bunch of mint leaves
1 tsp of green tea
2 tsp of sugar or honey
Put all the ingredients into a small tea pot and fill it with boiling water. Leave it to brew for a few minutes and then serve, in small glasses or tea cups..
Moroccan preserved Lemons
you will need: a knife, a sterilized jar with a lid
1 tbs of salt per lemon
Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Squeeze it open slightly and add a table spoon of salt to the centre of each one, rub the salt in then push the lemon back together. Press the lemons very firmly into the jar, squash them down so that the juice is starting to coming out. Top up your jar with a little water so that the lemons are completely covered with the juice and water.
Place the jar in a cupboard and forget about it for at least three months when they will finally be ready for use. They get stronger as the months go on and can last up to a year
A friend of mine, Kaethe sent this great image of our tea towel made into a pillow. I love it.
Another customer Sarah sent a photo of one of our plates on her (lovely) kitchen wall.
THE CAKE CAFÉ
I made myself a wonderful bottle of saffron vodka. I stuffed half of a packet of saffron into a half bottle of vodka and sat back for three week, to see what would happen. It has made the most beautiful amber drink with the warm flovours of saffron and the kick of a good vodka.
Roll on the saffron Martinis, my new Christmas tipple.
Wow what a week in Dublin. The snow has continued to fall. The city has been covered in a quiet white blanket for days now. It is magical waking up every morning and opening the curtains.
Once I make my way across town, as the cold gray sunlight starts to peep through the clouds, I look forward to arriving at the gates of the cafe, to the warm welcoming smells from the oven. In fact as I turn into Pleasants Place the smell of bread starts to waft out to meet me. Monika our baker is nearly finished her day as I arrive to set-up. She is usually taking the final loaves out of the oven and putting the finishing touches to the cakes before she makes her way home.
Warm Bread Rolls
you will need: 2 lb loaf tin, a scales, a tea spoon, a mixer and an oven.
400g strong flour
50g coarse whole-meal flour
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
10g fast action yeast
300ml warm water
Put all the dry ingredients into the mixer, and use the dough hook to mix the flours. Add your warm water and continue to mix it minimum speed for a minute, then turn your mixer up to medium speed and mix the dough for a further five minutes .
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and leave it to prove in a warm place for just under an hour.
After it has risen knead it lightly, break it into golf ball size pieces and roll thm gently between your palms to make rond balls. Place them on a baking tray lined with parchement.
Let them prove for another half an hour, on the tray before baking it for 15 minutes on 210 degrees. They should sound hallow when you tap them on the base.