The "1001 nights" breakfasts of my childhood

November 6th, 2007 § 3 comments § permalink

Moroccan pancakes have the taste of my childhood. It tastes of my summer holidays in moroccan paradise, at my lovely aunt Mina, my mum’s little sister. The whole summer, she would spoil us like kings…  Her modest house was our palace.

summer_in_morocco
That’s me, a long time ago: a little gourmande in moroccan paradise…

Among all, the gourmande that I have always been can’t help but remember the breakfasts and tea-time, back then…  True feasts of the 1001 nights. There were fountains of mint tea, fresh orange juice and milk, croissants, fresh bread, almond cookies, homemade jams, and so many more treats.  I had only eyes for the pancakes! The flaky Msemen* and the airy Baghrir** were my favourites.  My grandma or my aunt would wake up before sunrise to prepare them so that they would be just ready and warm, bathed in honey and butter sauce, when the little princess girl that I was would dare to get up for breakfast. Burning the tips of my fingers in the warm honey when reaching for my favourite treats was my only worry…

baghrir1

When nostalgy catch me off guards, I search my all house for the little piece of paper torn out from an old agenda where my mum lovingly wrote the family baghrir recipe when I left home to live my grown-up life. Yet, it is always a disappointment. After all these years of trying, I never managed to reach the perfectness of my grandma’s, aunt’s and mum’s heavenly pancakes. Mine are always desperately compact.

Lately, after yet another heartbreaking and disappointing attempt, I sinned (please don’t ever tell my mum about it): I drooled in front of the photo of Requia’s baghrir. Shameless, I put aside the precious piece of paper and adapted the sacred recipe inspiring myself from Requia’s delicious french blog. It was like my childhood’s breakfasts all over again… Everything had just became clear: in her emotion, my mum had forgotten one of the ingredients when writing down the recipe… the flour!

Thank you so much, Requia, for bringing back the taste of my childhood on my breakfast table!

baghrir2baghrir3
Raising dough,  and bubbling pancake

Baghrir
Crêpes milles trous**

~18 pancakes
prep: 10 min + 1 hour raising. cook: 30 min

Ingredients:
1.5 package active dry yeast (or 5g fresh yeast if you have more luck than me in finding some),
500 ml lukewarm water,
250 ml lukewarm milk,
1 egg, beaten,

300 ml all-purpose flour, sieved,
300 ml thin semolina,
1/2 tsp salt
To serve:
50g butter,
15 cl honey,
2 Tsp water


Read the instructions on the yeast package: if it needs to be delayed, delay it with a little bit of the lukewarm milk (do so if you use fresh yeast).
In a large bowl, pour the lukewarm milk, water and the salt. Then pour the beaten egg, add the yeast, the flour and semolina. Mix until smooth (as a lazy gourmande I use an electric blender or mixer).
Cover with a clean cloth and leave to raise at room temperature for about 1 hour. The dough should almost double volume and start bubbling.Cook the pancakes a couple of minutes on one side only, on low heat in a warm pancake pan. Holes will form at the top. They shouldn’t colour. Leave the pancakes to cool on a dry cloth, smooth part under (and not on top of each other if you don’t want them to stick together). To serve, warm up in a frying pan with a mix of butter and honey.

Eat them right away, with your fingers…

Bon appétit!

* Msemen are actually my true favourites. They are a work of art and patience… I’ll tell you more about them soon. If you can’t wait and want to practise your french have a look in Requia‘s kitchen, you’ll fall for them too!
** As you can see from the pictures and recipe, the yeast give Baghrir it’s airy texture: thousands of bubbles form during baking, hence their french name: the thousand holes pancakes or “crêpes milles trous”   

The “1001 nights” breakfasts of my childhood

November 6th, 2007 § 3 comments § permalink

Moroccan pancakes have the taste of my childhood. It tastes of my summer holidays in moroccan paradise, at my lovely aunt Mina, my mum’s little sister. The whole summer, she would spoil us like kings…  Her modest house was our palace.

summer_in_morocco
That’s me, a long time ago: a little gourmande in moroccan paradise…

Among all, the gourmande that I have always been can’t help but remember the breakfasts and tea-time, back then…  True feasts of the 1001 nights. There were fountains of mint tea, fresh orange juice and milk, croissants, fresh bread, almond cookies, homemade jams, and so many more treats.  I had only eyes for the pancakes! The flaky Msemen* and the airy Baghrir** were my favourites.  My grandma or my aunt would wake up before sunrise to prepare them so that they would be just ready and warm, bathed in honey and butter sauce, when the little princess girl that I was would dare to get up for breakfast. Burning the tips of my fingers in the warm honey when reaching for my favourite treats was my only worry…

baghrir1

When nostalgy catch me off guards, I search my all house for the little piece of paper torn out from an old agenda where my mum lovingly wrote the family baghrir recipe when I left home to live my grown-up life. Yet, it is always a disappointment. After all these years of trying, I never managed to reach the perfectness of my grandma’s, aunt’s and mum’s heavenly pancakes. Mine are always desperately compact.

Lately, after yet another heartbreaking and disappointing attempt, I sinned (please don’t ever tell my mum about it): I drooled in front of the photo of Requia’s baghrir. Shameless, I put aside the precious piece of paper and adapted the sacred recipe inspiring myself from Requia’s delicious french blog. It was like my childhood’s breakfasts all over again… Everything had just became clear: in her emotion, my mum had forgotten one of the ingredients when writing down the recipe… the flour!

Thank you so much, Requia, for bringing back the taste of my childhood on my breakfast table!

baghrir2baghrir3
Raising dough,  and bubbling pancake

Baghrir
Crêpes milles trous**

~18 pancakes
prep: 10 min + 1 hour raising. cook: 30 min

Ingredients:
1.5 package active dry yeast (or 5g fresh yeast if you have more luck than me in finding some),
500 ml lukewarm water,
250 ml lukewarm milk,
1 egg, beaten,

300 ml all-purpose flour, sieved,
300 ml thin semolina,
1/2 tsp salt
To serve:
50g butter,
15 cl honey,
2 Tsp water


Read the instructions on the yeast package: if it needs to be delayed, delay it with a little bit of the lukewarm milk (do so if you use fresh yeast).
In a large bowl, pour the lukewarm milk, water and the salt. Then pour the beaten egg, add the yeast, the flour and semolina. Mix until smooth (as a lazy gourmande I use an electric blender or mixer).
Cover with a clean cloth and leave to raise at room temperature for about 1 hour. The dough should almost double volume and start bubbling.Cook the pancakes a couple of minutes on one side only, on low heat in a warm pancake pan. Holes will form at the top. They shouldn’t colour. Leave the pancakes to cool on a dry cloth, smooth part under (and not on top of each other if you don’t want them to stick together). To serve, warm up in a frying pan with a mix of butter and honey.

Eat them right away, with your fingers…

Bon appétit!

* Msemen are actually my true favourites. They are a work of art and patience… I’ll tell you more about them soon. If you can’t wait and want to practise your french have a look in Requia‘s kitchen, you’ll fall for them too!
** As you can see from the pictures and recipe, the yeast give Baghrir it’s airy texture: thousands of bubbles form during baking, hence their french name: the thousand holes pancakes or “crêpes milles trous”   

Missing mum's magical cooking

October 6th, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

I might not have told you yet: I am blessed with a morrocan mother and a wonderful cook. She can cook about anything and always makes it magical. I still remember when my bro’ and I would go to a fancy restaurant with my parents when I was little. We would of course always try the dishes from one another and comment passionately on our favourite… A couple of weeks later it would usually come out of our own kitchen right into our plates, more delicious than ever. Our favourite game back then was to make her guess the secret ingredient of the chef and observe his surprised look. She hardly ever failed! I wish one day I can do that too.

When it comes to her specialty dishes and in particular morrocan ones, I always have an hesitation before I decide to cook it.  Could I stand the comparison? Couscous, tajines and pastillas hardly ever come out of my kitchen, partly because of that. Last weekend, I realised that it was at least a year since I took out my tajine from the top shelf. I missed it (plus I remembered the little of envelope full of saffron that one of my girlfriend’s mom brought me back from morroco). So, I gave it a try thinking of my mom and her magical fingers. The empty tajine and my guest satisfied looks after the prunes and veal tajine I cooked that evening left me with the dreamy thought that maybe one day, I could be a magical cook too.

tajine_pruneaux1
No way I’ll be a magical photograph though
It was impossible to find any correct picture of my cooking…
Caught in the action, I forgot to adjust the manual settings of the camera!

Tajine de veau aux pruneaux
Prunes and veal tajine

main dish
serves 5 to 6. cook: 1h15

Ingredients:
1.5 kg of veal (lower leg or pieces to stew),
600 g oignons,
500 g prunes (with or without pit, it’s your pick),
3 shallots,
50 g butter,

1 tsp ginger pouder,
1 tsp cinnamon,
a couple of coriander seeds,
1 tsp of peppercorns
1 Tsp sea salt
1 generous pinch of saffron
1 large bowl of warm tea.
1 cocotte or a large tajine (keep the decorated ones for serving, they don’t handle the fire well. Mine is one for cooking but it was slightly too small, so I only used it to serve)

tajine_pruneaux2tajine_pruneaux3

In a bowl, pour the warm tea over the prunes, and set aside. Clean the meat an cut it in large pieces (~6×6 cm). Peel and chop the oignons and shallots. In a pestle, pour all the spices, salt and pepper and grind them thinly. Put 2/3rds of the butter to melt in the cocotte on high fire. Season the meat with 2/3rds of the spices and brown it on all sides (it’s better to proceed in two times). Reserve and pour the remaining butter, the oignons and shallots and the remaining spices.

tajine_pruneaux4

When the oignons get transparent pour back the meat and cover with the tea in which you marinated the prunes and if necessary a little bit of water, just enough to cover the meat. Lower the fire, cover the cocotte and leave to simmer for 1 hour. Have a look from time to time to check the fire isn’t to high. After one hour, add the prunes and a tablespoon of honey and leave to simmer for 15 more minutes. You’re done. You can serve write away or warm up later.

In morroco, we usually eat tajines all together from the same dish, with our hands and a lot of fresh morrocan bread, and salads on the side. However I usually choose for a more european version as my dutchie cannot part from his cudlery. If you recognise yourself or your guests in him, serve the tajine with fragrant basmati or thai rice. It’s a perfect match.

Bon appétit!

Missing mum’s magical cooking

October 6th, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

I might not have told you yet: I am blessed with a morrocan mother and a wonderful cook. She can cook about anything and always makes it magical. I still remember when my bro’ and I would go to a fancy restaurant with my parents when I was little. We would of course always try the dishes from one another and comment passionately on our favourite… A couple of weeks later it would usually come out of our own kitchen right into our plates, more delicious than ever. Our favourite game back then was to make her guess the secret ingredient of the chef and observe his surprised look. She hardly ever failed! I wish one day I can do that too.

When it comes to her specialty dishes and in particular morrocan ones, I always have an hesitation before I decide to cook it.  Could I stand the comparison? Couscous, tajines and pastillas hardly ever come out of my kitchen, partly because of that. Last weekend, I realised that it was at least a year since I took out my tajine from the top shelf. I missed it (plus I remembered the little of envelope full of saffron that one of my girlfriend’s mom brought me back from morroco). So, I gave it a try thinking of my mom and her magical fingers. The empty tajine and my guest satisfied looks after the prunes and veal tajine I cooked that evening left me with the dreamy thought that maybe one day, I could be a magical cook too.

tajine_pruneaux1
No way I’ll be a magical photograph though
It was impossible to find any correct picture of my cooking…
Caught in the action, I forgot to adjust the manual settings of the camera!

Tajine de veau aux pruneaux
Prunes and veal tajine

main dish
serves 5 to 6. cook: 1h15

Ingredients:
1.5 kg of veal (lower leg or pieces to stew),
600 g oignons,
500 g prunes (with or without pit, it’s your pick),
3 shallots,
50 g butter,

1 tsp ginger pouder,
1 tsp cinnamon,
a couple of coriander seeds,
1 tsp of peppercorns
1 Tsp sea salt
1 generous pinch of saffron
1 large bowl of warm tea.
1 cocotte or a large tajine (keep the decorated ones for serving, they don’t handle the fire well. Mine is one for cooking but it was slightly too small, so I only used it to serve)

tajine_pruneaux2tajine_pruneaux3

In a bowl, pour the warm tea over the prunes, and set aside. Clean the meat an cut it in large pieces (~6×6 cm). Peel and chop the oignons and shallots. In a pestle, pour all the spices, salt and pepper and grind them thinly. Put 2/3rds of the butter to melt in the cocotte on high fire. Season the meat with 2/3rds of the spices and brown it on all sides (it’s better to proceed in two times). Reserve and pour the remaining butter, the oignons and shallots and the remaining spices.

tajine_pruneaux4

When the oignons get transparent pour back the meat and cover with the tea in which you marinated the prunes and if necessary a little bit of water, just enough to cover the meat. Lower the fire, cover the cocotte and leave to simmer for 1 hour. Have a look from time to time to check the fire isn’t to high. After one hour, add the prunes and a tablespoon of honey and leave to simmer for 15 more minutes. You’re done. You can serve write away or warm up later.

In morroco, we usually eat tajines all together from the same dish, with our hands and a lot of fresh morrocan bread, and salads on the side. However I usually choose for a more european version as my dutchie cannot part from his cudlery. If you recognise yourself or your guests in him, serve the tajine with fragrant basmati or thai rice. It’s a perfect match.

Bon appétit!

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