Monthly Archives: July 2012

Operation Rosewater

Standard

Now THAT sounds cool. Operation Rosewater. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. That’s a great book, you should read it. It’s by Kurt Vonnegut.

Moroccan desserts frequently include ingredients like rosewater, orange flower water, and other such floral…waters. Well, I hiked all over the hill and couldn’t find a DROP of rosewater, orange flower water, or ANYTHING. The closest I came were the shelves upon shelves upon shelves of COCONUT water, which is a craze that I still can’t quite wrap my head around. I didn’t particularly like coconut water when I tried it, though I do like coconut milk. Whatever.

Anyway, after a grocery store, Trader Joe’s,anda natural foods co-op yielded no results, I decided to screw it. I’d make my own. So here’s my makeshift rosewater operation:

Big pot is on stove, with water and rose petals a few inches deep. Empty mug is sitting on top of a thingy inside pot. Lid is on pot upside down. Ice cubes added to top of lid. Is this making sense? Basically, as the rose petals simmer, the steam rises, cools, condenses, then drips back down into the cup sitting, empty, inside the pot. Here’s hoping that it’ll turn out to be rosewater! I mean, that’s basically how distilling works, right? Well, steam distillation. I’m pretty sure there’s around 39,045,802 ways to distill stuff.

I should probably get a job. I’m spending days making makeshift stills and boiling rose petals. HAH! Well, anyway, if this works I’ll be able to make some Moroccan desserts, which nearly always involve almonds, sugar, and rosewater. Cool. Go me. OH! The spiced eggplant was delicious, except it gave me a wee bit of an upset tummy. Huh.

I’ll let you know how the rosewater turns out! If it’s good, then all you need to make rosewater is a bouquet of roses and a little ingenuity. Science is cool. Peace out, friends!

Spiced Aubergine (and zucchini) and Ghobz, sorta…

Standard

HEYA, Morocco-foodies! Today, I’m attempting ghobz (bread), which didn’t turn out all that great, and a spiced aubergine (eggplant) recipe to which I added that wilting zucchini I’d forgotten about. And tea, duh.

This my first time ever baking bread from scratch, so I’m forgiving myself for the strange consistency. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’d post pictures, but my camera’s in California. Imagine those round loaves of bread we ate every day in Morocco, except baked by a total newbie. Yeah, not super interesting.

The spiced eggplant I’m excited for, though! EEE!

Before I tell you about that, though, this is the cookbook I’m using: Made in Morocco: A Journey of Exotic Tastes & Places, by Julie Le Clerc and John Bougen. I bought it at that big ol’ book fair we attended in Casablanca, back in February. It’s a pretty good cookbook, full of beautiful pictures and information about diverse cities and regions of Morocco and their varied cuisines. It’s great because it’s full of Moroccan recipes adapted for the Western kitchen, which is a blessing for this clueless college student cooking in her under-stocked kitchen with a temperamental oven and a motley pile of pots and pans.

The book’s not exactly full of the food we ate on a day-to-day basis; after all, it’s a “journey of exotic tastes & places.” It’s full of special-occasion food, though a few of her recipes are SPOT ON. I’m going to be tweaking her beghrir recipe, perhaps with a little baking soda and a bit more water, and probably simplifying some of the fancier recipes. Anyway, as a bemused beginner taking baby steps into the world of Moroccan cuisine, I wanted to share with you my home-base cookbook. You’re welcome for the plug, Julie Le Clerc and John Bougen.

So, for example, this eggplant stuff is out of her cookbook. The couscous I made last time was my own improvised recipe based on what I’d seen my family cooking. The tea I make is also based on what my family made. Have I told you how to make it?!? Here’s Katie’s Moroccan Mint Tea recipe!!!

Stuff you’ll need:
Sugar
Loose leaf green tea, gunpowder pearls
Fresh mint leaves
…Water. Duh.

What to do:

Heat up some water in a saucepan on the stove. Add green tea. Steep that mo’fo.

Fill a glass jar/cup/whatever with mint leaves, enough to fill up the glass. Don’t stuff them in and leave no room for the tea, just fill the glass and leave some space. Add 2 tbsp sugar to the glass. Yes, to each glass. I’m serious. Or, add sugar to your taste, but know that back in the day sugar was extremely expensive in Morocco, which is why mint tea is so sugary: it’s meant to honor the guest/family/whoever. The sugar is pretty essential. Sugar: the taste of Morocco. ANYway!

Once the green tea’s steeped, pour it into the glasses with the mint and sugar in them. Stir. Enjoy! You can use the mint for multiple servings, I just keep adding tea and sugar. Mint is potent stuff.

If you have rose water, you can add a little bit of that in with the tea as well. My fambam did. It’s awesome. I haven’t found/bought rose water yet, but if you have it, go for it!

YUM YUM YUM The spiced eggplant/zucchini is simmering away happily on the stove, and it smells pretty good in here. The bread’s weird, but I’m sure it’ll be much better with this spicy veggie stuff!

I’ll let you know how it goes. Over and out, homeskillet! (GET IT!?!?!?!!? HAHA!)

Day 2: Breakfasty Couscous and BEGHRIR MADE CORRECTLY!

Standard

I think I need to slightly modify the name of this particular project. Operation Cook Moroccan Food and Feed it to Caroline is a bit too specific, especially because today I cooked Moroccan Food and Fed it to Joe, Zoe, and Ernie. Joe, Zoe, and Ernie are pretty much the best people on the planet. Heather and Amanda too, but they were at work (SOME people have jobs, Katie). Today was a phenomenal, wonderful, fabulous, tiring day, and I now find myself in that classic conundrum: I’m too hungry to go to sleep, but too tired to want to get up and eat. As you’ll know if you know me or have ever read this blog before, hunger won out.

Katie, you’re unemployed and all you do is cook food and nap all day. Hungry and tired?!

ANYWAY!

Today’s menu featured my first crack at couscous and second attempt at beghrir. The couscous turned out decently well–I sauteed some pears, cooked onions and raisins in sunflower oil and added as many spices as I could to form a sort of ras al-hanout (I know I can buy it, but I was having fun just throwing in different spices. Wheeee! It makes me feel like a real cook! You know, not a holographic one!), and topped the whole thing with some dates and a sprig of mint. If I’ve learned anything from the dishes I ate in Morocco, it’s that presentation matters. We ate it out of a baking dish because I don’t have a tagine or anything. Anyway, it was a bit of a take-off from the sweet couscous served on special occasions in Morocco, only done on a smaller scale and with a lot less knowledge of what I was doing. Uh.

Speaking of couscous, I hear that you sort of have to use instant couscous in the US, which is dumb. I don’t think it turned out as well using veggie broth as it does using chicken broth–I usually make my instant couscous with chicken broth and orange juice to give it flavor. I probably could’ve gone the extra dollar and bought real, not from-concentrate OJ, but I’m cheap. Anyway, I’m going to start looking for a better way to make couscous here, because instant really isn’t the same.

ANYWAY, note to readers, when doing seat-of-the-pants couscous, always make more sauce than you think is necessary. In my case, I should’ve made sauce. Couscous can get a bit dry if there’s not enough goopy stuff to go with it. Still, I shouldn’t be TOO judgy-judge with myself, because it was also pretty yummy. I kept some Moroccan tastes and definitely made it in the spirit of Morocco: fruit and onions cooked together! Woohoo!!!!

Also, beghrir is the SHIT when made correctly. Each batch makes enough for…a lot of people, so I put them on the table with a note to my housemates to dig in, and they were GONE in two shakes. I’m going to try to tweak the recipe so that they turn out spongier and a bit thinner, but I’m new to baking and cooking (I’m not a cook, really. You know this, right?), so I have absolutely no idea how to go about that. I’ll probably google something like “how to make spongier beghrir” and see what comes up.

Okay, now you google it. There is ONE result, a page of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food that mentions it. I’m going to google–oh. Yeah. Googling “beghrir recipe” is a bit more productive, huh?

Well, I’ll go back to my red beans and rice, take my nap, and leave you in peace. When I decide to stop being a lazy fart, I’ll upload pictures.

Peace and happiness, yo.

(oh. Maybe I’ll start posting some recipes or something. That’d be useful, huh? Might give a bit more purpose to this blog, which is currently me telling you about what I cooked today? Hmmm.)

And now I’m cooking.

Standard

Have you ever noticed how breaking up summers makes them go by faster? A little time here, a little time there, WOOHOO I’M UNEMPLOYED, let’s go ride bikes, holy shit this room needs a rug. That’s sort of my summer. For the next two weeks, though, I’m holed up in Seattle: beautiful weather, big library, not much to do, Moroccan cookbook. I’m SET.  Two weeks to keep myself busy: LET’S COOK MOROCCAN FOOD (and feed it to Caroline)!

Today was Day 1 of Let’s Cook Moroccan Food and Feed it to Caroline, and it was a bit of a flop. I came decently close to making beghrir/galettes/those spongy-bread crumpet-like things that you drizzle with melted honey and butter and it’s the SHIT–but I (dumbly) decided “screw it, I’ll try it with whole wheat flour instead of white flour because I’m too lazy to run to the grocery store!” and, well, the consistency wasn’t at ALL what it’s supposed to be. Caroline would never have known, because they were still pretty good (I mean, what could be bad about a fried pancake drizzled in butter and honey?!), but I’m going to try again soon and use the right flour.

So, uh, I’m not a good Moroccan cook. What kind of blog IS this, anyway?! OH WAIT! I did successfully make BOMB Moroccan mint tea, as close to my family’s as possible. Got some loose leaf green tea, some fresh mint (I want a mint plant. I want potted mint. It grows like a weed in my mom’s garden), and a buttload of sugar, and POOF. AHAHAHA. It was this instant portal back to the whitewashed house behind the high blue walls, where we sipped endless cups of tea and traded stories about our lives.

I’m going to try to find some rose water to put in it too, my fam did that.

ANYWAY, that’s my plan, update this blog with tales and pictures of MOROCCAN DINING! Operation Cook Moroccan Food and Feed it to Caroline is a go.

HaHA! And you thought this blog would WIND DOWN once I got home! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!

Peace out, scouts.