Category Archives: Moroccan

My own Salted Lemon Couscous

A good few months ago I did up two big jars of Moroccan Salted Lemons as a bit of an experiment and finally they are ready! Imagine the scene when Doctor Frankenstein wakes his monster for the first time. It was nothing like that.
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The first thing that I noticed when I opened the jar was the smell. It smelled not like any lemon I had ever experienced before. It was more like stewed fruit. Sweet and fragrant but with a warm spicy twang. The cinnamon and bay had clearly done their work.
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Taking them out they had turned dark, and almost rusty in colour. The preserving liquid was now thick. Clearly the sugar and juice from the lemons has been brought out to create a silky syrup. I have always thought that there was something familiar about preserved lemons. Like something that I used to have a child. My sister thought the same but we still couldn’t figure it out. If you ever figure it out, do let me know.
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I aim to do a fair few recipes with these bay boys over the next few weeks so keep an eye out. Firstly though, a basic grilled vegetable and preserved Lemon couscous.

300g Couscous
1 Courgette
Half a Red Pepper
1 Red Chilli
Small handful of sultanas
A Quarter of a Preserved Lemon
2 Spring Onions
Small bunch of Coriander
2 Radishes

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-Get a griddle pan onto a high heat and boil the kettle.
-First slice your courgette into 1cm slices. I do them diagonally so they look a bit more interesting.
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-Place the slices of courgette onto the griddle pan and grill off for about two minutes on each side.
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-While they are cooking, place the couscous into a large bowl.
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-Cover over by 1cm with boiling water.
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-Flip the courgettes over. They should be starting to colour nicely.
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-Chop up the radishes, spring onions, sultanas and preserved lemons. Add these all into the bowl with the couscous.
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-Take off the courgettes.
-Half and deseed the red chilli and the pepper.
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-Place the halved chilli and the red pepper onto the griddle pan.
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-Again about two minutes per side is perfect for these.
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-Finely slice coriander leaves.
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-When the chilli and pepper are cooked, remove them a chopping board and then chop them up a bit.
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-Add the courgettes, the chilli, the pepper and the coriander leaves into the large bowl.
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-Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and mix everything together. Taste it and see if it needs more seasoning or lemon. Maybe a little extra chilli if you are feeling adventurous and you are good to go.

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Shakshuka – Moroccan Baked eggs. An alternative brunch option.

The jury is still out on how I feel about brunch these days. All too often it’s the same dishes done over and over again in every restaurant on a Sunday morning. On the flip side there are also a plethora of establishments doing various new fusion takes on the classic but they just reek of being different just to be different and are rarely based in any kind of culinary common sense.

I do actually love brunch though, I’m just not sure what we can do to keep people interested. Eventually we are all going to get tired of eggs benedict and French toast. Both of which are great dishes but variety being the spice of life and all that here is a dish I have seen in a few places that I cannot get enough of.

It’s wholesome and hot and rich and a hell of a good way to get yourself out of the bed on a lazy weekend morning. It was traditionally a dish made from leftover dinner, reheated and a fried egg on top so the underlying sauce can be anything you fancy. This was an assembly job of detritus left in my fridge. Really open to interpretation. Enjoy.

1 Courgette
1 White Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Bunch of Coriander
300g of Chorizo
Half of a Red Pepper
1 Red Chilli
6 Sprigs of Thyme
1tbs Smoked Paprika
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
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-Preheat your grill to the highest heat it will reach.
-Start my chopping up the courgette. Take off the ends and then quarter it, run your knife along the centre to remove the soft spongy bit and dice it up.
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-Finely dice up the onion.
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-Chop up the garlic.
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-Chop the coriander stalks finely but leave the leaves for garnish.
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-Slice the chorizo into 1cm slices. I like to do this diagonally as it gives the dish more texture.
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-Take the core, seeds and pith out of the pepper and slice it as thin as you can.
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-Do the same with the chilli as you just did with the pepper.
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-Strip the leaves from the thyme.
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-Add the chorizo with a tablespoon of sunflower oil into a large pan on a medium heat. Leave it to fry for about two minutes on each side. It should start to go a little golden and as the fat renders out it should colour the oil a vibrant red.
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-Next go in with the onions, garlic, thyme and coriander stalks. Keep mixing everything together as it cooks over the medium heat for about five to ten minutes.
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-When they onions have started to sweat off and everything has taken on the colour of the chorizo add in the chilli, red pepper and courgettes.
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-Fry them off on a high heat for about five minutes and then add in the tinned tomatoes and about half a tin of hot water.
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-Allow the tomatoes to reduce a little, this should take between five and ten minutes.
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-Portion your tomato sauce into individual ramekins, leaving about two centimetres from the top for the egg.
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-Crack an egg into each one then place under the grill.
-Depending on how hot your grill is and what shape your ramekins are etc. these will take a different amount of time. Just keep checking them every few minutes to make sure they don’t overcook and remove them when they are done to your liking.
-Serve them up with toast or just on their own for an incredible new breakfast.
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Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

When I tried these at first I wasn’t sure but after the initial test I couldn’t get enough of them. They are a Moroccan staple and can be found on every street corner. I use them in so many different things now. Zesting up couscous or folding through salads, they also work incredibly well in Tagines, finely diced and added a the end to give the whole dish a kick.
It is hard to give exact measurements for a recipe like this. It depends entirely on how many of these you want to make. How big your jars are. How big the lemons are. I will say that I made two, two litre jars, each jar housed about 6/7 small lemons. Also to save a little time and cash I cheated and used pre-juiced lemon juice but you can squeeze your own if you are so inclined.

10/15 lemons
2 Cinnamon Sticks
4 Bay Leaves
Sea Salt
Lemon Juice

-First sterilize your jars but placing them in a 100° oven for 20 minutes without their seals. Place the seals in some boiling water for ten minutes. When handling don’t touch anywhere near the rim of the jar with your hands, use tongs or a clean dish cloth.
-Cut a cross in the top of each lemon, cutting almost down to the base but leave a little bit attached.
-Using your hands (you can wear gloves if you like) force large bunches of salt down into the cuts and into contact with the flesh. You want at least a tablespoon of salt in each lemon.
-Force the salted lemons into the jar as tightly as they will go. The tighter the better. Don’t fill the jars more than 1cm below the rim.
-Once your jar is full add in one cinnamon stick broken in half and two bay leaves.

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-Next fill the jar with the lemon juice to 1cm below the rim.
-Seal the jar tightly and store in a cool, dry place. Your lemons should be ready to go after about four to five weeks.