Cook N Bake Moroccan Series: Harira {soup}

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Moroccan Series Harira

Rometti is excited to announce that this week we are going to take you back to the Mediterranean, to a mesmerizing country that will enchant you with colors, textures, mystique smells and natural beauties. Its cuisine is quite refined, although very simple, and reflects all the characteristic of the culture through its combination of spices and contrasting ingredients. For the next five weeks our Cook N Bake blog will feature Moroccan cuisine.

Thanks to its location Morocco has always been exposed to foreign interactions that contributed to influencing along with the culture also the cuisine. Regardless of the harsh climate which changes from North to South, especially going towards the interior regions of the country, Moroccan coastal side allows the development of agriculture which remains one of its main financial resources. Fruits and vegetables are fundamental in Moroccan cuisine, and so are beef, lamb, chicken, rabbit, pork (prohibited during Muslim restrictions), camel and seafood. But the main culinary characteristic is to attribute to the use of a large variety and heavy quantity of spices like kefta (cinnamon), cumin, turmeric, saffron, coriander, mint, lemon and orange flavors. These are present both in food and beverages. As a matter of fact meals, especially if formal, usually end with a cup of sweet mint tea.

To start our journey we selected a delicious starter to a Moroccan meal: Harira, a tomato and lentil soup seasoned with pepper, cinnamon, ginger, onion, celery, cilantro, and parsley. A nutritional, healthy, yet extremely flavored dish typical of Ramadan, when it is served at sunset.
Moroccans prepare this soup in a lot of different ways: ingredients may include chick peas, vermicelli or rice, as well as lemon juice or men (preserved butter). Eggs and meat can also be added, it really depends on the regions, local tradition and preferences.
Harira can be served with dried fruits like dates (very popular in Morocco), homemade bread, and hard-broiled eggs.

You can pick your own ingredients, we pickd ours and hope that you will enjoy this warming Harira soup as a starter or as a delicious meal.
Ingredients:

– 1 lb. lamb, cut into small cubes
– 1 teaspoon turmeric
– 1 teaspoon pepper
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon ginger
– 2 Tablespoons butter
– 3/4 cup chopped celery and leaves
– 2 onions, chopped
– 1/2 cup parsley and cilantro, chopped
– 1 2-lb. can of tomatoes, chopped
– salt
– 3/4 cup lentils
– 1 cup chickpeas (canned are fine)
– 1/4 cup fine soup noodles
– 2 eggs, beaten with the juice of 1/2 lemon

Put the lamb (or beef), spices, butter, celery, onion, and parsley/cilantro in a large soup pot and stir over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomato pieces, and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes. Salt lightly.
Add the juice from the tomatoes, 7 cups of water, and the lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
When ready to serve, add the chickpeas and noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Then, with the soup at a steady simmer, stir the lemony eggs into the stock with a long wooden spoon. Continue stirring slowly, to create long egg strands and to thicken the soup. Season to taste. ladle into bowls and dust with cinnamon(optional). Squeeze in some lemon. Before serving makes sure that the meat is tender.
Serve with some dates (Medjool dates are recommended).

~Enjoy!
Recipe from http://www.grouprecipes.com
Image fromĀ www.bbcgoodfood.com

Cook N Bake Greek Series: Baklava

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Greek Series Baklava

Dear Readers,

I know you have been waiting and wondering for a whole week about what the next series will be! Well, time has come to unveil the mystery and introduce.. the Greek Series!

Located in the Mediterranean area, Greece’s traditional cuisine was very much influenced in history by the Romans, thus is very similar to other Mediterranean cuisines, such as Italian and Turkish. Olives, eggplants, zucchini, herbs, grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine are the main and most recurrent ingredients. The use of honey, nuts and phyllo pastry are characteristic of Greek cuisine. And it’s on these ingredients that we are focusing our attention this week: phyllo pastry, chopped nuts and honey are in fact combined together in a sweet dish called Baklava.

The word Baklava seelms to be of either Turkish or Persian origin. The origin of the word is still unclear, but it most likely means “to tie, to wrap up”. And it’s inTurkey that the dish Baklava seems to have originated, although many documentations date it back to the ancient Mesopotamia. There are different versions of dishes similar to Baklava throughout Iran, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Armenia, Syria and India. If you remember our past blogs, you might remember the Italian Torta Salata, which is not too much different either! Gastrin, made with nuts, seeds and pepper between two sheets of dough was the ancient version of Baklava as known in the island of Crete.

Baklava is a deliciously flaky and sweet dish, where phyllo alternates in layers and gives a crunch to this unbelievable crunchy treat. Used either in weddings or as Easter treat with 40 layers of phyllo (yes, the preparation of Baklava differs from region to region!), we are sure that you’ll enjoy it anytime of the year!

Ingredients (serves 24):

For the filling:
1 lb. of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios are best, or use a combination of them)
1 lb of phyllo dough
olive oil
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon of ground cloves

For the syrup:
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
Finely ground pistachios for garnish (optional)

Warm up the oven to 350 F.
Take the thawed phyllo and cut it in half to fit in a 9×13 pan that you have previously greased with olive oil. While preparing the filling keep the phyllo covered with a damp towel so it won’t dry out.
In a food processor put the nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
Place the first sheet of phyllo into the pan and spread some olive oil on top of it. Place 7 more and brush some olive oil on top of each sheet. Spoon on a thin layer of the nut mixture, on top of which you’ll put two sheets of phyllo, and repeat until you finish the filling. Make sure that the last layer is 8 sheets of phyllo, each one greased with some olive oil on top.
Use a sharp knife to cut 24 squares, and bake for 30-35 minutes until slightly crispy.
While baking, prepare the syrup by combining cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, honey and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low heat and let it simmer for 7 minutes. The syrup needs to be a little thick. Remove the cinnamon stick and let it cool.
Sppon the syrup on top of the Baklava and let it cool for 4 hours. Garnish with some nuts or crushed pistachios.

~ENJOY!

Image by David Loftus Limited