Thursday, October 26, 2006

bills Yoghurt Pannacotta

In a resumption of normal programming, can I just say that I love yoghurt. I love plain yoghurt, I love yoghurt drowned in fruit coulis, I love frozen yoghurt and I love this yoghurt pannacotta.

I needed a dessert suitable for a gluten-free friend. So I turned to my old friend Bill Granger and his fabulous book bills open kitchen. Although, I have to say, after seeing him on TV for the first time thanks to the free DVD attached to this month's Delicious magazine, I am less enamoured. My respect for his recipes remains, but his TV persona left me a little cold. He smiles too much or something. And yes, I am far too critical and I'm working on it.

This pannacotta was perfect. Quick and easy to make. Lovely, light and refreshing to taste. I used full fat greek yoghurt, which was perfectly fine. I also used vanilla extract, given the prohibitive cost of vanilla beans. As usual, I struggled to get them out of the ramekin moulds. I am the world's worst at doing this.

bill serves it will rose-scented plums. No plums in sight at this time of the year. So, I served it with blueberries, and I have since made it again with a passionfruit sauce. Yummy. Thoroughly recommended.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Food of Morocco

Let's get back to food. Moroccan food to be precise. I can't have a food blog and not talk about what I ate on my holiday.

Moroccan food can be summed up in three words tajine, couscous and brochettes (skewered meat, kebabs, whatever you want to call them). Cheap restaurants have cheap tajine, couscous and brochettes. Expensive restaurants, like the one below in Essouira, have expensive tajine, couscous and brochettes. Okay, maybe a bit of an oversimplification, but generally true.

This is couscous with chicken. I was lucky enough to enjoy this while staying in Imlil in the Atlas mountains. It was cooked by a lady from the village. The plate was massive, it could easily have fed twenty people. The couscous was light and fluffly, the taste of the chicken and vegetables was fresh and flavourful. It was served with a sidedish of chicken broth as a sauce. So good.

Dining in the Djemma El Fna in Marrakesh is quite an experience. Dozens of touts following you around yelling out lubbly jubbly as a way of getting you to sit down at their cart. This is Cart 81. As usual, you have the choice of tajine, couscous and brochettes. I went for chicken couscous, again. I have to say the couscous was delicious - lovely and buttery and tasty.

This was a typical dessert, available absolutely everywhere. Oranges with cinnamon. That's all there is to it. So simple, but always good. The other feature of Morocco is fresh orange juice. Yet, I never saw a single orange tree anywhere. Admittedly, I wasn't looking.

Spice are a huge part of Moroccan life. One of my greatest treats was to wander through the spice markets and rummage through the herbalist shops. This is a range of wares from a herbalist in the Fes souqs. We were taken there by a guide so it was a bit touristy, but fascinating none the less.

This is the spice market in Essouira, again a touristy town. All spice stalls have their own spice concoctions for tajine, fish, chicken and many other dishes.

Here we are in the fruit and vegetable market in Chefchaouen. This is a typical scene from throughout Morocco.

This is a local communal bakehouse in the Jewish quarter of Fes. The dough is all homemade by the family. It's brought to the bakehouse and cooked for a fee. The baker has quite a job in ensuring everyone gets the right loaves back again. This a flatbread that is served with every meal in Morroco. Dense, chewy and flavourful.

This is one of the few variations I came across. A baked bean dish that was served for lunch in Midelt. It was tasty, much like homemade baked beans.

Omelettes are always available for breakfast. The other choice is flat bread with apricot jam. This was an interesting variation - a berber omelette - enjoyed at the Todra Gorge. Eggs cooked with vegetables and spices in a tajine. The tomato sauce is not a requisite, it was added by the actual owner of the omelette before I could get the photo.

Berber is a considered a huge selling point in Morocco. You can buy Berber everything. I was waiting for someone to offer me a Berber banana.

Morocco has fantastic bakeries, a relic from the French I'm sure. I stuffed myself with all kinds of pastries from palmiers to fruit salad custard tarts. This delicacy came from a particularly good patisserie in Essouira. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a huge peanut. The inside was a kind of soft ground peanut mix. Yummy.

There you have it. I could go on and on. I have even metioned harira soup (yum) and pastilla (variable but generally good). It was fun, I enjoyed it. But I won't be eating any tajines, couscous or brochettes for quite a while.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Patterns of Morocco

I love photographing patterns as you can see. There is something appealing about symmetry and continuity. Morocco is bursting with colour and texture and repitition, a real assault of the senses. Here is a fraction that I managed to capture on film.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Morocco

Here are a few more pictures from Morocco.

A carpet weaver from the souqs of Fes.

The souqs of Marrakech.

The bus station at Ouzazate.

Morocco in Blue

Putting food aside for a minute, I have been in Morocco. Three weeks of winding alleyways, colourful shops and 'where are you from'?

Here is a photographic tribute to my favourite town - Chefchaouen. A small town in the Rif Mountains notable for its narrow winding streets of white and bluewashed houses. I took dozens of photos and could have taken dozens more. If interesting doors are your thing, it's heaven.

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