Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Moroccan (inspired) Meatballs w. Fennel

I'm just back from a quick holiday in Marrakesh with a bag full of spices and a head full of inspiration from the Moroccan cuisine. It's a highly recommendable city to visit for any food lover as their cooking is something quite unique. As you probably know, most of their dishes are cooked in a tanjine, an earthenware pot with a kind of chimney lid on. But although they sold them in almost every second shop, I got tired of haggling in the end and never got round to buying one. But you can easily cook with out it. Here are some meatballs with fennel and chickpeas. I don't know if it's an original recipe, but it's delicious nonetheless and already takes me back to the food stalls in Jamaa el Fna.

400g. minced beef or lamb
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. harissa (or chili powder)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. Ras el Hanout (North African Spice mix, a bit similar to Garam Masala)
Small handful of fresh parsley
2 medium sized onions
1 fennel bulb
3 carrots
1 can of precooked chickpeas
1 can of peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup of water
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the spices and add 1/3 of it to the minced meat. Add a bit of the parsley. Mix it in well (best done with the hands). Form small meatballs 3-4 cm in diameters.

Fry the meat balls in olive oil and set a side when brown all over.
Chop and fry the vegetables in the same frying pan with the oil from the meatballs. Add the rest of the spice mix and a teaspoon of salt. Fry at medium temperature until all the veggies are soft and translucent.

Then drain the chickpeas and add them to the vegetables along with the can of tomatoes (I like to blend my tomatoes first, but that's up to you). Let it simmer 15 minutes at low temperature.

Finally add the meatballs, and the fresh parsley. Keep a bit of the parsley for sprinkling on top. Heat the meatballs through and serve.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Tarta de Santiago (Dedicated to my sister)

Hi. It's been a while. I've been setting up a new computer and working quite hard lately so I haven't really had much time to blog. But I'm back with a very easy cake recipe dedicated to my sister. Whenever she's in Spain to visit me she usually asks for Tarta de Santiago which is a traditional almond pie from Galicia in the North of Spain. We've usually bought it but one day surfing the net I came across the recipe which turned out to be really dead simple. And not only that, it's also an officially regulated recipe by the Consejo Tarta de Santiago, which provides the one and only acceptable way to make it. For example it states that you have to use 1 of 6 sorts of Spanish almonds for it to be a true recipe. The only "free choice" you have is about the seasoning and how coarse you want your almonds.

Here's what you need:
250g sugar
250g almonds (ground finely to a flour. You can do it n a food processor)
5 eggs
Shredded lemon zest from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

A bit of butter for the form
Icing sugar for decoration
A cut out Santiago cross (click the link and print)

Preheat the oven at 200ºC. Mix the sugar and the ground almonds with the lemon and cinnamon. Just use a fork to make sure all the sugar is evenly distributed.

Mix in the 5 eggs until it's homogeneous. No need to over mix or blend.
Grease a spring form with a bit of butte and dust it with flour. Pour the cake batter in. Bake at 200ºC for 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Take it out and let it cool down completly before cutting the sides loose.
Place the cut-out Santiago cross on top and sprinkle it with icing sugar.

Carefully remove the cross and enjoy.