Moroccan Bread

Have you ever had something disappear into the abyss of the internet? That's what happened to this Moroccan bread recipe.

You'd think I'd be less likely to find a recipe on paper…especially since I'm known to scrawl information on magazine inserts or any scrap I can find…but there it was: the bare bones directions for Moroccan bread, unlabeled and in between notes from an interview I conducted and a page of rhymes (knead, read, seed, feed, proceed, decreed, agreed, ID'd, IV'd…vibe, bribe, subscribe, diatribe…).

So that's a little insight into who I am.

This bread, to get back to the point, is meant to be served with tagines or other saucy dishes so you can use it for mopping up all that flavor. I wish I had some tonight. My mom has some Moroccan chicken simmering away right now.

Alas, bread takes a little more forethought. You can think about making it with Saffron Chicken Tagine with Prunes, Tunisian Lamb Stew or Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken.

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Five Spice Squash Soup

A “He Cooks” post from my friend Mike, who introduced himself last week with Fried Beer-Battered Pickles.

After seeing Brittany’s squash soup post, I decided to make one myself. I thought the distinctive flavor of five spice would go great with the sweetness of the squash. (Five spice is a Chinese blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechwan pepper and ground fennel seeds.) The five spice was wonderful with the squash, but the soup was a little sweet. I’ll definitely skip the roasting to cut down on the sweetness next time I make it. (The recipe below takes that into account.)

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a photographer, and was in a bit of a hurry to get this one on the table, so the picture doesn’t really do it justice. I also made some spicy shrimp to go on top, but the spoonful of crème fraiche, fresh chives, and pickled ginger I had on the leftovers complemented the flavors of the soup much better.
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Cranberry, Pecan and Dulce de Leche Tart


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People always seem to come up with a reason why they think they wouldn't like this tart. I don't like pecans. Dulce de leche is too sweet. Cranberries aren't my thing. But somehow, everything comes together in a way that just works. The cranberries and dulce de leche balance each other out, and the whole thing is so delicious the pecans probably won't even bother you…unless you're prone to anaphylactic shock upon contact with them.

Anyway, this is a dessert I've made several times since I saw cranberry caramel almond tartelettes on Smitten Kitchen years ago. I go to Argentina often so I always think of dulce de leche instead of caramel. And since my sister is allergic to almonds, I've started to use pecans instead. I also make one big tart instead of several smaller ones like Deb did.

What is amazing about this recipe besides the trifecta of nuts, cranberries and dulce de leche is the rich crust that tastes like a shortbread cookie. The dough comes from chef/owner of City Bakery, Mary Rubin, and it's…divine is the word that comes to mind, even though I'm not the type of person who normally says divine.

But this tart is, whether you follow the original City Bakery recipe or try my version. I'd say Valentine's Day would be a prime time to get one in the oven. It makes a nice holiday tart — I made it for Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve — but, hey, any day ending in Y is occasion enough.

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Fried Beer-Battered Pickles

(This is my friend Mike’s first post on He Cooks, She Cooks. Let him know how much you enjoyed it.)


Fried pickles are one of my favorite deep fried foods. They’re kind of a mess, but pretty easy to make. They’re crispy on the outside, a little soft on the inside, and have a nice, mild pickle flavor. And they go great with a good pale ale or bitter brew. They are great plain, or with a spicy dipping sauce.

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Saffron Chicken Tajine and Eggplant-Tomato-Herb Salad

The theme of the night was ambiance.

My friend and fellow foodblogger Ally came over to help make a warm and hearty Moroccan meal for my family. As the vegetables roasted and the chicken simmered, we dimmed the dining room lights and adorned the table with candles and tiny tajine pots. We made a pot of hot mint tea.

During the meal, my family tried to remember Moroccan restaurants we had been to around the world.

What was the one with rose petals on the floor?

Oh yeah, it was downstairs and had candles on the wall?

Remember that one with all the pillows?

Bereber?

No.

That one has pillows too. The one on Robertson?

No.

That one had pillows.

404?

I think it was in New York.

Ok, so they all have pillows.

Homemade Moroccan bread — the recipe I used seems to have disappeared from the Internet

Then it clicked. Earlier in the week I read the Morocco chapter of New American Chef:

“The real beauty of Moroccan cuisine, however, is the hospitality that is as engulfing as the flavors and aromas.”

Several times the book mentioned the importance of comfort while eating. I know we must have had delicious and filling meals of couscous, merguez, tagines and other Moroccan delights, but what we all remembered most about those restaurants was the ambiance. The low tables, the heavy curtains, the rustic walls, the ceremonious pouring of tea, the rose petals, the pillows…

The meal Ally and I prepared was definitely tasty, and equally important, served with just the right ambiance.

North African meals previously: Tunisian Lamb Stew, Moroccan Roast Chicken and Algerian Carrot Salad
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The Perfect Cookie Dough

(This is my friend Alex's first post on He Cooks, She Cooks. Let him know how much you enjoyed it.)

A brief introduction: I’m a 21 year old college student at the University of Missouri. I’m an untrained (dangerous, I know) and often confused cook. I like just about all eatable things if they’re put together in the right way—which happens to be the tricky part and what I’m generally interested in finding out.

I love snacks. They’re the practical, any-time-of-day dessert. Moreover, they’re portable and easy to eat. If you can’t eat it out of your hand, it’s not a snack. I mean, desserts are great—it’s hard to beat warm pie after a filling meal—but they’re more ceremonial and require plate and fork. Cookies bring the best of both worlds into something sweet, portable and generally circular.

If I say there are a thousand different cookies, there’s probably a thousand and one. So, universal perfection is really something impossible to achieve—or claim. Really, it’s about individual food preference: if you like cherries, make a cookie with cherries, if you like peanut butter, find a great recipe for a peanut butter cookie. If you like it, you can probably find a way to put it into a cookie.

Here's what you need, the beer is optional…and for the chef, not the cookies. If you want beer cookies see here.

So, although I’ll never believe in an “ultimate” cookie, I did believe in finding an “ultimate” cookie dough to receive any number of delicious culinary delights (for me, nuts and chocolate). Really, I was trying to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe; but what you decide to put in the dough doesn’t matter, it’s the dough itself I was concerned with. It seemed simple, but every recipe I found claiming to be the “World’s Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie” with references to grandmothers or Eastern Europe fell flat. They were too thin, or too puffy—too dense or too light. I’ve probably made 15 different versions of the same cookie.


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What follows is the surprisingly simple, combined-from-many-cookies recipe for walnut-chocolate chip cookies. But I’d say throw in whatever you like, or whatever’s in your pantry.
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