Welcome to January! Hope you have all had a nice long break and are ready to start the new year. I spent most of my break going room to room in my house emptying closets and drawers, making bags for donation and bags for garbage. I purged quite a bit and still feel I could make one or two more rounds and will probably spend a few more weekends doing so. It’s amazing how much you accumulate!
In purging, I also culled my cookbook collection down to a mere 206 books. But of course, this leaves several emptyish shelves which I am sure will be filled again as so many terrific books came out last year that I am still in the process of acquiring. (But, I am trying to purge a few more in the process as well. Must keep a balance you know!)
One book that arrived recently is Ruth Barnes’ Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors from My Kitchen to Yours. The title is was what drew me in. I love Moroccan food and hoped that this book would guide me in making traditional fare at home. Like so many home cooks, the author, Ruth Barnes, is a busy spouse, parent, and professional who cannot spend all day in the kitchen preparing complicated meals. Her goal was to make the cuisine accessible to the home cook. In the book she shares tips and techniques for preparing Moroccan classics like bastilla, lamb with apricots and prunes (my re-creation above), and chicken with preserved lemons, as well as more familiar dishes like baba-ganoush, baklava, and kebabs.
The recipes have been quite simplified and she identifies several common ingredient substitutes and breaks down the complex spice combinations so often found in Moroccan cuisine into manageable formulas. What is left are such easy recipes that anyone can make these dishes in their own home.
I made the Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Prunes. It’s a fairly quick “stew” that doesn’t require a lot of preparation but figure about 2 hours and 15 minutes total cooking time-so it’s better for a weekend dinner than a midweek meal. I hardly expected the kids to like the flavors but was pleasantly surprised when they all did- even my pickiest eater. While not so pretty to photograph, the dish tasted very good and I would make it again. I served it with a side of Israeli Couscous that was cooked in beef broth with sauteed onion.
- 3 tbs. olive oil
- 3 lbs boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1½ cups low sodium beef broth
- 3 tbs honey
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 cup dried, pitted prunes
- 1 tbs sesame seeds, for garnish
- ½ cup walnut halves, for garnish
- In a cooking tagine or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and brown the lamb on all sides. Remove the lamb to a platter.
- Saute the onion for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Return the meat to the pan and add the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 2 minutes.
- Add the beef broth. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Stir in the honey, apricots, and prunes and cook for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove the lamb ad fruit from the tagine and place on a serving tagine or platter. Spoon the sauce over the meat and fruit.
- Garnish with the walnut halves and sesame seeds.
I would consider this book to be a good entry level experience to the flavors of Morocco and one that would fit any home cook just learning about Moroccan foods. You can buy it here on Amazon:
Disclosure: Thank you so much to the Lisa Ekus Group for sending me this copy of Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors from My Kitchen to Yours by Ruth Barnes. Recipe reprinted with permission.