Cookbook 163: Orange Blossom & Honey

Orange Blossom & Honey by John Gregory-Smith was on sale when I bought it recently, and given I love Moroccan food and this book was all about Moroccan food, I thought I’d give it a shot (because I really need another Moroccan cookbook). Gregory-Smith travelled extensively throughout Morocco, spending time with the locals and learning about their recipes. He then went home and adjusted the recipes for Western/Anglo kitchens – swapping in replacement ingredients for things that can be hard to find in the UK, all without sacrificing taste. I would say he succeeded, the recipes we cooked were delicious, and I already want to make them again.

The instructions are good, the recipes tasty and there is definite revisit potential with this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Zaalouk with Crispy Halloumi (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggplants
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or crushed)
  • 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (passatta)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of sugar
  • juice of 1/4 a lemon
  • Handful of finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 300g halloumi, cut into 0.5cm slices
  • Warm pitta bread to serve

Method:

  1. Prick the eggplants all over with a skewer (or fork). Carefully plcaes each one over a medium gas flame and cook for 3 – 4 minutes each side, turning four times, or until tender. You should be able to poke a skewer into the charred skin and straight through the flesh when they are cooked. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once cool to the touch, remove and discard the burnt skin. Cut off the top and finely chop the flesh. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Tip in the tomatoes, tomato puree, cumin, paprika, chilli flakes, bay leaf and sugar. Season with a good pinch of salt. Add 100ml of water, mix well and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the tomatoes have broken down.
  3. Transfer the eggplants to the tomato sauce. Mix well and check the seasoning. Cover and cook for a further 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is lovely and thick. Add the lemon juice and coriander and mix together.
  4. While the eggplants cook in the sauce, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Carefully place the halloumi slices into the pan and cook for 1 – 2 minutes each side until golden and crispy.
  5. To serve, spread the zaalouk in a serving dish and top with halloumi. Give a final drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately with pitta bread.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Cooking the eggplants as described gave a lovely smokiness to the dish. If you don’t have a gas stovetop (fair enough), you can cook the eggplant on a BBQ the same way, or for 15 minutes in the microwave. You must pierce the skin or the eggplants explode. Cooking the eggplants in the microwave means that you won’t get a smoky flavour, but c’est la vie.
  • We cooked extra halloumi, because we’re halloumi fiends
  • This dish was really tasty and I loved it. Would totally make it again.

Harissa Carrots (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 500g Carrots, peeled and sliced into 1cm pieces
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp harissa
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • handful of finely chopped coriander leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Put the carrots in a large pan of boiling water and cook for 7 – 8 minutes until just tender but still with plenty of bite. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, mash the garlic to a paste and add the cumin, paprika, harissa , red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season and stir
  3. Tip the warm cooked carrots into the bowl with the dressing and toss together. Leave to come to room temperature, mixing every few minutes. The carrots will soak up the flavours beautifully.
  4. Once at room temperature, add the coriander, stir and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • These spicy carrots were delicious and not too vinegary (as I was concerned). Do recommend if you want to literally spice up some carrots.
  • I forgot the coriander – it didn’t really matter

Pulled lamb Mechoui (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tsp ras el-hanout (available from any Middle Eastern grocer)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1.5kg lamb shoulder
  • handful of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • handful of roughly chopped mint leaves
  • 50g feta cheese
  • 80g pomegranate seeds
  • sea salt

Method:

  1. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Add the butter, followed by the spices, olive oil and a little more salt, mixing until smooth. Prick the lamb all over with the tip of a sharp knife and place in large mixing bowl. Rub the spice paste all over the lamb. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 2 hours, which is what we did).
  2. Preheat the oven to 220C and take the lamb out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Place in a roasting tray and pour 100ml of water around the sides. Cover with foil and put in the hot oven. Reduce the heat to 200C and cook for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and can be pulled apart with a fork. Remove from the oven, cover and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Using two forks, shred the lamb. Transfer to a serving plate, season with salt and mix together. Scatter over the herbs and crumble over the feta. Finally add the pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I was so incredibly suspicious of this recipe because I thought there was no way that meat cooked at 200C for 3 hours would be able to be pulled-apart. I was completely wrong.
  • This dish was incredibly tasty and we want to cook it again, this time letting it sit in the spice paste for the 20 or so hours prior to cooking (I misread the recipe).

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