Friday, October 29, 2010

Moroccan style carrots

Well, this year I grew 2 kinds of carrots, both heritage varieties. Both are traditional French types.
'Jaune Obtuse de Doubs' a yellow carrot and 'Lisse de Meaux' a long orange carrot.

Most people don't realise that orange carrots are a modern invention. Carrots naturally come in a range of colours - white and yellow from Europe, and purple from the Middle East where agriculture originated about 11000 years ago.

Jaune Obtuse is an old traditional French variety has yellow roots with blunt ("obtuse") tips that are easy to dig up with no risk of snapping, and a good strong (but sweet) carrot taste.

I selected the Lisse de Meaux as a late-season carrot, that has very long-keeping qualities once harvested, although for now they are fine in the ground until needed.

This recipe is a great little side dish, and just adds a touch extra to a meal.
I love North African food, and this is a favorite of mine, typical of Eastern Moroccan ports like Nadoor.
Its a great way to serve carrots, rather than just steamed or boiled.
It only takes 15-20 minutes so can be worked into most meal plans.
If you can't get Harissa paste, then Tabasco or piri-piri will do, but the harissa paste adds to its richness.
Fresh mint really sets off the dish, but a teaspoon of mint sauce is an alternative.
Excellent served with lamb, poultry or whitefish.
With the mint, cumin, chilli and sweetness, this really is a flavour of Maroc.
2 lbs Carrots; scraped, slice diagonally;
1/2 ts Harissa paste or hotsauce;
2 tbs light olive oil or butter;
3 Garlic cloves; thinly sliced;
1 Lemon; juice only;
2 tsp Cumin seeds; toasted and crushed;
1/2 tsp Salt;
1/2 tsp Sugar or honey;
2 tblsp Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped.

Put the carrots in a steamer basket set over boiling water.
Steam for about 5 minutes, until barely tender.
Reserve the cooking water and mix 5 tablespoons of it with the Harissa paste.

Dry roast the cumin and crush roughly in a shallow pan.
Remove the cumin, put oil or butter (I prefer this) in the pan and heat up to a medium heat.
Add the garlic, diluted Harissa paste, lemon juice, salt and sugar/honey. Mix well.
Add the carrots, then partially cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes,
until the liquid is reduced.

Stir in the mint and serve at once.

Please take the time to comment, I appreciate the effort.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Carna Carragheen et Coulis

Hello readers, well - it's been a few weeks since the last article, but work needs to be done to pay the bills. This is a straight forward little recipe, a seaweed surprise from the shoreline that was collected and dried during the summer.
Carragheen - (Chondrus crispus) is an edible seaweed found on North Atlantic coastlines.
Also known as carageen, carrageen and Irish moss.

It is quite a distinct purple with cream / off white tips to the leafy fringe and dries out to a brown/yellow colour.
It grows in fairly dense, shortish clumps at the mid-tide range, i.e. it likes to dry out a bit on occasion.
It also tends to attract a tiny white barnacle at the stem.
It has a slippy feel when fresh. Just pick it, rinse off with warm water and leave to dry.
Try to cut the upper fronds cleanly, leaving the root to grow back and provide you with future crops.

It is used to create a mild, creamy gelatin with milk.

I collect my own out here but there is a company in Donegal who sell this and other seaweed products in called seaveg. In Ireland their distribution is getting more widespread, and in other places you can normally find some type in health stores.
The carragheen can be plain, with a little sugar or easily flavoured with the blend of your choice - cayenne, baileys, lemon, ginger, vanilla etc can all be used.

10 gm carragheen
500ml milk
½ tsp caster sugar
½ tsp grated lime rind

Take about 5 or 10 grams of dried carragheen, rinse and soak in lukewarm water for approx. 10 minutes.
Bring 500 ml of milk to the boil, add carragheen and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
At this point I added a ½ tsp of caster sugar and a ½ tsp of grated lime rind.
Its generally ready to set when the simmering becomes like a fast boil without boiling over.

The mix can be strained into a jug to remove the seaweed bits, but they really do no harm, and don't taste of anything in particular.

I poured the still warm milk over the coulis base, then added a few drops of lime to the top.
Then it gets chucked in the fridge to cool, and can be made well in advance of a meal.

500g blackberries
25g honey
½ tsp vanilla extract

Coulis is simply a berry melange, a mixture of berries that can be sweetened as desired.
I used black berries, but there are other variations - any berry, cooked rhubarb, an apple or citrus sorbet blend.
This is a very adaptable recipe, the only reason for presentation was the availability of local black berries.
The other aspect is the dark and white contrast giving an impression of an Irish stout.

Put 250gm blackberries and 25gm of honey into a small pan with 100ml water.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins until the fruit is soft. Stir in the vanilla, remove and cool a little.

Tip the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, and whizz to a puree, then strain through a sieve, rubbing it through with the back of a ladle or spoon
Mix with remaining blackberries and any other flavour you wish to incorporate, like ginger.
Add to base of serving dish - in my case a martini glass

To add texture, I made some very thin oat and honey cakes.
It is probably as easy, if not a little better to use shop made crisp cookies.
Take about 50 gm oats, 10gm honey and a little flour and mix.
Bake in the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes
These were then removed from the oven. They will still be pliable while warm, so you can roll them or shape them to create your own style.

As always, comments are welcome and I always apprieciate the feedback

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