What's Cooking in Carolina?

Mainly creative menus and recipes (usually healthy) and always from scratch with tips for party planning, theme parties, weddings and decorating tips so you can give swank parties or dinners to delight your guests from a part time caterer, owner/operator of a coming soon Entree Vous, but mainly a cook and eater who grows much of her own food and loves to laugh.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Harissa

I have been inspired by Morocco of late. Specifically Joanne Weir's From Tapas to Meze. I suppose if you follow this blog, or just stumble upon it, we hunger for something until the hunger gets satisfied, then we move on to the next hunger. It's all about the food.



One night we had spiced grilled tuna with roasted peppers and onions and (more) fresh asparagus from our garden. The tuna only marinated about 45 minutes but I used one of those sealing devices to suck the air out which is supposed to make the marinade penetrate quicker. It was very flavorful so I think it worked. The spice combination was very complex, not the same as Indian cooking but the same kind of complexity. We liked it very much! And I want you to know that fresh asparagus, I mean freshly picked asparagus, has a totally different texture than what you buy at the store. I did a post a good while ago on asparagus. You should check it out!



Last night we made a lamb and lentil stew. It's cold again. Last night it got down to 28F and there is a dusting of snow on the ground. Since the vines are out, we think there is surely some damage; particularly on the vinifera. It's going to get colder tonight and probably have a significant impact on the industry state wide this year. Fortunate for us, our vineyard is a research vineyard since he (the hus) is a grape breeder working to develop better grape varieties for the southeast. So tests like this one let us know that we have something special. If we have vines that survive unaffected, then we know we've come closer to having a grape to replace the current varieties being marketed & planted. You'll be the first to know if there is a seedless muscadine out there that is resistant to freezing temperature. In 1997 we got down to 23 on April 11th. Most of the vines were leafing out, even more than they are right now. All of the vinifera were affected but most of the muscadines were unscathed, save Carlos, the most widely planted grape in the south. The cold killed the shoots that year resulting in little or no crop. All this cold weather made us want warming foods and this lamb and lentil stew was the perfect thing, warm, brothy and spicy with harissa. Harissa is a spice mix used frequently in Moroccan dishes.

It is quite easy to make yourself. I get small dried peppers. We can find them loose to purchase by the pound. I used small red ones, about an inch and a half long. Start with a generous 1/4 cup dried peppers. Bring peppers to a boil in about 1 cup water. Simmer 10 minutes. Let sit one hour. Drain. Put in a food processor with 3 large cloves garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Process well. Move to a storage container with a lid. Cover with enough olive oil to cover, about 3 or 4 tablespoons. Adding only 1 teaspoon to 6 cups of broth in this stew, highly flavored it. It was very, very good. For a green vegetable we had the hus's favorite asparagus: pan roasted in sesame oil and served with toasted sesame seeds.

Our spice this week is a spice mix, harissa, and is being submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this weekend by hosted by Anh from Food Lover's Journey. Be sure to go to her site on Monday evening and read about food from all over the world! It is always inspiring.

For more recipes, go to the website. Until next time, cheers!

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4 Comments:

  • At 7:56 PM, Blogger Anh said…

    I love Morrocan dish and do make harissa occasionally. I think the home-made version is much better than the commercial variety found here in Australia. Your Morrocan dishes are so delicious! Thanks for participating in WHB!

     
  • At 3:50 PM, Blogger Katie said…

    Too bad about your cold. We are finally having some warm and it's wonderful.
    I'm so sorry to hear that freshly picked asparagus are wonderful...I was hoping they were the same. Now I'm going to have to try an asparagus patch again...sigh...

     
  • At 8:50 PM, Blogger Kalyn said…

    This is something I'm very curious about. I've actually been to Morocco, but didn't try anything with this sauce. I have some in a jar, which I'm sure is not as nice but maybe a good place to start.

     
  • At 3:08 PM, Blogger JMom said…

    What a coincidence! I just saw Joanne Weir cooking moroccan food on PBS and thought to my self that I needed to find that recipe so I can try it. I think it was some sort of lamb stew. I'll have to go look. Love all the dishes you posted here!

     

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