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Last Sunday we were spoilt by Mer & Stu with a magnificent Moroccan feast! It was AMAZING!! It felt so unbelievably indulgent to sit down to an exciting, home cooked, 3 course meal on a Sunday afternoon! and the fact that it was utterly delicious was a welcome added bonus!! Even served with freshly squeezed OJ – reminiscent of a morning in the Djemaa el Fna.

Moroccan food tops my favourite cuisine list – fabulous flavours, great combinations & textures, the mix of sweet & savoury – it all combines to make something really special.

Mer, Stu & Isobel recently visited Marrakech (one of my all time favourite places) and came home laden down with the most aromatic spices and kindly unloaded many in our kitchen – awesome! Beats store bought every time!!

Gorgeous Isobel in Marrakech

Mer’s menu for our Sunday feast came from Feast Bazaar by Barry Vera – which graces my bookshelf also and will definitely be put to use over the coming months. Just hope it lives up to Mer’s efforts!!

Beetroot & Yoghurt Dip

Ingredients:-

500g beetroot

500g plain yoghurt

1 Tbsp tahini

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Finely grated zest of  1 lemon

2 Tbsp lemon juice

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

20 mint leaves, tinly sliced (optional)

EVOO, for drizzling

Peel the beetroot and trim the ends. Cut into chunks and place in a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cook for 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Use the point of a sharp knife to test of the beetroot is cooked – the knife should slide through, but the beetroot should still be firm. remove from the heat, drain and refresh under cold running water, then drain again.

When cool enough to handle, coarsely grate the beetroot into a mixing bowl, then fold in the yoghurt, tahini, garlic, cumin, lemon zest and juice. Season to taste, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours until chilled.

To serve, fold in the sliced mint, if desired, and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Place in a serving bowl, drizzle with a little EVOO and serve with warm bread.

Served with Pitta Bread and Grilled Trout with Chermoula

Olive, Orange & Onion Salad

Ingredients:-

5 oranges

20 black olives

1 red onion, sliced into rings

2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp argan oil or olive oil

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

pinch of ground chilli powder

1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Peel the oranges and make sure you remove any pith, then cut each orange into eight wedges. Lay the oranges on a large flat plate, then scatter over the olives and red onion.

To make the dressing, mix the lemon juice, oil, cumin, paprika, chilli powder and parsley. Season, to taste, and drizzle over the salad to serve.

Main Course - Duck & Peach Tagine with Couscous

And finally, when we could barely move let along eat another bite Mer presented the piece de resistance – Apple & Fig Bastilla. Somehow we found room to devour it and it was perfect!

Apple & Fig Bastilla

Ingredients:-

9 granny smith apples, peeled & thinly sliced

30g butter

60g caster sugar

12 dried figs, soaked in warm water until plump, drained and thinly sliced

20 sheets filo pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten

Icing sugar, to garnish

Ground cinnamon, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put the butter, apples and sugar in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook for 5 mins, or until the apples are tender. remove from th heat, drain off any juice and dscard. Set aside and allow to cool.

Place 5 sheets of pastry in the bottom of a bowl with a 20cm diameter and about 5 cm deep. Leave the pastry to overhang the edge – this will later be used to wrap and cover the bastilla.

Spread a thin layer of apple over the patry base, followed by a layer of fig. Press down gently and cover with 2 layers of filo which have been cut to fit snugly inside the bowl.

Repeat this layering with the apple, figs and pastry four more times, finishing with 5 sheets of pastry that have ben cut to fit the bowl. Finally, fold over the overhanging pastry from the original base layer and seal. Turn out the bastilla and invert onto the prepared tray so the base is now the top.

Brush all over with the beaten egg. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 mins, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, dust liberally with icing sugar and cinnamon and serve immediately.

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