Monday, 13 February 2012

Love is.... sharing food together

I had this vision in my head for this post of a big Moroccan spread. What could be a more sensuous food for Valentines day than Moroccan food. The pungent aroma of spices in the air had me picturing bedouin tents under the stars, lavish silks and satins, beautiful lanterns that only sparks of candlelight escape from, dark desert nights, camels and castles.

When I got down to actually making the food, it took longer than I anticipated, I had distractions throughout the day, was missing some ingredients and forgot to photograph one of the dishes. I was kinda frustrated. Moroccan food is perfect for Valentines day, theres no need to be prim and proper with it. Get right in and eat with your hands, sit on the floor if you wish. It clears away a lot of the formality surrounding sharing a meal together. That's when I realised that actually it wasn't that important that I made a perfect meal. Just the act of sitting down together and sharing food, that's what matters.

If you think back to the best foods you've eaten, they were probably shared moments. Also some of our most cherished memories often involve food. From childhood, love and food become inextricably linked and wrapped up with one another. It doesn't have to be a husband, wife, girl or boyfriend. Share a meal with your grandmother, your friend, your baby, your hamster! Happy Valentines day!


For the flatbreads

200g plain flour plus extra for dusting
3.5g dried yeast
300ml tepid water
pinch of salt

Add 40ml of the water to the yeast in a bowl and leave for a few minutes until it becomes frothy. Add the flour to a separate bowl, make a hole in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Stir slowly, bringing in a little flour at a time. When the flour starts to get a little craggy add the salt. Add the rest of the water and bring the rest of the flour in, until a dough is formed. Continue to knead for about five minutes, then cover and leave somewhere warm for 30 minutes.

When you return, knead the dough again for another few minutes, then pull off small pieces about the size of a golf ball. Flatten with your hands and place under the grill at 160C until golden on both sides.

For the briouats

These are little handheld parcels almost like springrolls. I made ras el hanout vegetable briouats.

2 medium carrots
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
ras el hanout
filo pastry
olive oil
sunflower or rapeseed oil for frying

Dice all the vegetables and add to an ovenproof dish. Drizzle over a little olive oil and cover with the ras el hanout. Stir well. Add to the oven at 140C for approximately 30 minutes. When they are ready get the filo pastry out. Line one sheet up on top of another and cut the rectangle into 2 squares. Here is a pretty good step by step explanation on how to roll them. Add the sunflower or rapeseed oil to the pan and when add add the briouats. Fry until just golden, probably 2 or 3 minutes on each side.

For the yoghurt dip

6 tbsp greek yoghurt
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

This one is quick and easy! Add the lemon zest and coriander to the yoghurt. That's it and it makes a great dip that's so light and fresh

For the falafel

100g dried chickpeas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
half tsp each of :
dried parsley
fresh coriander
white pepper
juice of half of 1 lemon
a little gram flour or semolina to help bind the mixture
sunflower or rape seed oil for frying

The chickpeas need to be soaked overnight or at least eight hours. Rinse well, then add to a medium pot filled halfway with water and add the bicarbonate of soda. Cook according to the packet instructions. When they are tender, drains the chickpeas and rinse well.

They are now ready to be added to a food processor along with the herbs and spices and the lemon juice. Blitz until smooth. Check the seasoning and add a little flour to give it a little help in sticking together. Add the oil to the pan and when hot, add the falafels. Fry until golden on both sides.

For the hummus

100g dried chickpeas
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp of tahini
half tsp of cumin
pinch of salt
few strands of saffron
paprika and olive oil to drizzle over

Again, the chickpeas need to soak overnight and boil until tender. Add to the food processor with the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, cumin, saffron and salt. Blitz until smooth. Spoon into serving dish and drizzle with a little parika blended with olive oil.

For beetroot, pomegranate, pistachio salad

This was the one dish that I forgot to photograph. But it really is worth while to make and its quick and easy.

1 beetroot, grated
sprinkle of pomegranate seeds
sprinkle of pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp of olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

Add everything together to a serving bowl and stir thoroughly.

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