Wordless Wednesdays

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Image taken at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Hoedspruit, South Africa

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Market Day….

Alozaina is a small village situated on the edge of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, about 45 minutes inland of Marbella, Spain. It’s not a well known tourist town at all, with a population of about 2,300 people, but the village is charming with an interesting history and the surrounding area has some absolutely fantastic scenery.  There are no tourist shops and life here is typically Spanish, it takes me forever to get into the rhythm of the way things work here, nothing opens until at least 10:00am, and then closes again for lunch at 14:00 before reopening at about 17h00. You cannot get lunch in restaurants before 14:00, but you can get a drink and tapas before that. Always small plates of something, different on most days…little plates of red pepper salad, potatoes and green beans, pork in tomato sauce and mugs of gazpacho.blog-market-day-6

Most small towns in this region of Spain have a market day. The village of Alozaina has its market on Tuesday’s. Sadly I think, like a lot of places in the world, what used to be a traditional place to bring your produce for sale seems to have turned into an outlet for cheap clothing, shoes, toys, fake toiletries and handbags. It is however an extremely interesting place to people watch, have a wander around the village and there is always an enticing stand of fresh, colourful, seasonal fruit and vegetables. Oh, and of course the buckets of marinated olives and other pickles which make it worth the trip!

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We found some gorgeous looking “ensalada” tomatoes…….

blog-market-day-3and tiny little pears that we also get in Morocco for a very short period of time.

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So after a long hot day, the best way to use up all the seasonal fresh ingredients, a lovely al fresco dinner with an amazing view.

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Tomato Salad

1 Large Salad Tomato

1 pack of mixed cherry tomatoes

1 red pepper

½ cup caperberries

1 small bunch of chives, chopped

1 small bunch fresh basil, shredded

Dressing

2 Tbs Jerez Sherry Vinegar

4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 small shallot, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Chop tomatoes and mix together with the herbs and caperberries.

Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Pear and Serrano Ham “Bruschetta”

1 small baguette, sliced diagonally into about 1 cm slices

Olive oil

Few slices Serrano ham

50g Gorgonzola or other Blue Cheese

50 Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese

A few slices of pear, use normal pears if you can’t find the small ones

Small amount of butter

Rocket leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

Drizzle the sliced baguette with olive oil and grill for about a minute on each side. Put aside.

Mix together the blue and cream cheeses, set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan and when bubbling, add the pears. Cook until slightly golden.

Assemble the bruschetta by placing a few rocket leaves on the baguette, followed by the cheese, Serrano Ham and finally the pears.

Season with some sea salt and black pepper.

Serves 4

Served with a beetroot and baby mozzarella salad and cracked green olives.

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Dusting off the cobwebs….

Haul out the feather duster, dust off the cobwebs……how can it have been 2 months since I last did a blog post????

Thank you to everyone who popped in during my long absence!

Well I can tell you that other than rushing around after children for the last term, I have been using these last few months to take a look at my attitude towards food and the dreaded exercise and have been embracing a whole new way of life, healthier….involving numerous trips to the gym and it has all been worth it as I feel much better, healthier and a few kilos lighter!!!

So….for us our very long school year is over and we are currently in Spain for a few weeks, enjoying the tranquillity of rural life in Andalucía.

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Long walks, days by the pool and fresh orange juice from oranges picked from the orchards below the house! I love this little part of the world, overlooking the Guadalhorce Valley, in amongst the almond, orange orchards and olive groves!

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So hopefully I will get inspired and manage a few blog posts before we head to South Africa in a few weeks for our annual trip. The kids are so looking forward to it and whilst very disappointed they will be missing the soccer they all have lists as long as my arm of things they want to do…Including seeing a cheetah, cape buffalo, eating biltong and boerewors rolls and going to Ushaka…can’t wait!!!

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Mondays and Moorish Mezze Platters……

So I think it’s time I posted more than my standard weekly Wordless Wednesdays which seems to be symbolic of my mindset and life at the moment!!! Too much going on and too little time for blogging!

I recently purchased a copy of Greg and Lucy Malouf’s gorgeous book, Moorish! In fact I fell in love with the covers of all their books and wasn’t sure which one to choose, but settled on this.

It is a beautiful book with exactly what the name suggests lots of recipes of Moorish origin with a slightly modern and refreshing twist to them!

We celebrated our Easter a little non-traditionally this year and whilst the Easter bunny did visit the far corners of Morocco and we had lamb,  it all had a slightly Moorish twist!

For starters we had little Spicy Green Gazpacho Shooters which were refreshing and just tasted of spring!

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And a Mezze platter with the following:

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Green Split Pea Dip with Black Olives and Goats Cheese

Tzatziki

Herb Labne

Labne with Harissa

Hummus with Pistachio and Sumac Dukka (basic hummus with some Dukka added in)

Baba Ganoush ** my own recipe at end of post

Roast Red Pepper, Chili and Feta ** my own recipe at end of post

Charcuterie

Olives

Crudites

Artichokes in Olive Oil and Lemon

All served with some toasted pita breads.

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For the main course, (sorry no pics, too many hungry mouths!) I made the Roast Leg of Lamb with Baharat which was lamb marinated overnight in Baharat Spice Mix and oven roasted. As he quite rightly describes in the recipe, the aromas wafting around the house were really quite irresistible!

And then for desert the Chocolate Pistachio Cake which is really as good as it sounds. Now I’m not having a good run on the baking of late so it didn’t look quite like the one in the book (do they ever??), but this came out really nicely, smothered in some honey and orange water flavoured cream and covered in a chocolate ganache, delicious!!

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I can’t wait to try some more of their recipes out and definitely have their other books on my wishlist!

Baba Ganoush

Traditionally Baba Ganoush and Hummus have tahini as an ingredient but we aren’t wild about it so I generally omit it from these dishes. You can add it if you like.

3 large aubergines, cut in half and scored

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

4 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 cup flat parsley, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

½  red chilli,  finely chopped with seeds removed (or add more if you like it hot!)

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Score the cut sides of the halved aubergines and place on a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Cook in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. They should be completely soft when you prick with a fork.

Remove and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Discard the skins. Puree the pulp in a food processor for a few seconds; add the garlic, chilli and parsley and pulse a bit more. Season to taste with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Roast Red Pepper, Chili and Feta

3 red peppers

3 cloves garlic

½ red chilli finely chopped

¼ cup olive oil

Fresh thyme leaves

1 cup goats feta

Roast the peppers in the oven at a high temperature or on a grill for a few minutes until the skins are blackened. Place in a plastic bag for a few minutes to rest. Remove from the bag, draining the seeds and liquid and peel the outer skins away. Slice the flesh of the peppers into strips.

Gently heat the olive oil and add the garlic, chilli and thyme for a minute or two. Don’t let the garlic burn. Add the peppers, remove from the heat and leave to cool. Add the feta once the mixture has cooled.

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Wordless Wednesdays……

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Meknes and Meat Free Mondays…..

There is no Moroccan city, town or village which does not have a souk or at least in the smaller villages a weekly market where people can do their shopping for food supplies. On our recent trip to Meknes we visited the covered food hall which is by far one of the nicest I have been to in Morocco.

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There are rows and rows of sweets and pastries, olives, fruit and vegetables, many varieties of dates, spices and various meats.

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Morocco is all about fresh ingredients and I think fresh fruit and veggies probably make up most of everyone’s weekly shopping basket. It is relatively easy then to make nutritious meatless meals with good seasonal ingredients.

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This is a perfect Meat Free Monday meal, an easy vegetable and barley dish using seasonal vegetables.

Barley or “belboula” is a common grain in Morocco, used to make soups, breads and couscous or in dishes like this cream of barley soup. Barley is a wonderfully healthy grain, full of valuable nutrients and a great source of fibre and selenium.

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The amounts are not specific, but use any veg you like and you could very well add some meat or chicken if you so wished.

1 small onion, sliced

1 red pepper, sliced

Handful of mushrooms, sliced

A few beans, sliced

Small bunch of celery, finely chopped

Courgettes, sliced

Small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 cups quick cooking barley

2 cups stock

3 Tbs Olive Oil

3 garlic cloves, sliced

½ teaspoon each  : ground pepper, cumin, paprika and ground ginger

Fresh Thyme

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Heat the olive oil in a flat pan or large saucepan. Gently fry the onions until translucent then add the garlic, thyme and spices. Fry for a few minutes before adding the rest of the veggies. Fry these for about 5 minutes; you don’t want them too soft. Add the barley and mix through. Add the stock, cover lightly with some foil or a lid and cook for about 10 minutes. Season to taste.

You could also serve this as a side dish. These quantities served 4 as a light meal, so adjust accordingly.

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Wordless Wednesdays….

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Spring….

Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate. Hibernating animals conserve food, especially during winter when food is short, tapping energy reserves, body fat, at a slow rate.” – Wikipedia

Do you think it’s possible for humans to experience the same thing…..I honestly feel like this during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere! But, the end is near and b’shwiya b’shwiya the thermometer is slowly climbing and the days are getting longer and despite the fact that it is still rainy and windy, the perpetual lethargic feeling of the last few months seems to be making way to a somewhat more energetic mood! Thank goodness.

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The one thing that there is an abundance of at the moment is wild flowers! They are everywhere! A sure sign that spring is slowly nudging its way in!

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Have a wonderful week!!

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Wordless Wednesdays….Chellah Ruins, Rabat

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Blue Mondays and Muffins….

I had planned a post on the wonderful city of Meknes that we visited last weekend, but in view of the tragic events that happened there on Friday I will save that for another day. The 16th Century minaret of the Bab Berdieyinne mosque in Meknes, collapsed during Friday prayers killing 41 people and injuring many.

 Another humanitarian disaster which has long disappeared off the front pages is the after effects of the devastating earth quake in Haiti. Relief operations are ongoing and will be for many months/years to come. For those of you still wanting to donate to Haiti, there are two fantastic non-profit organisations operational there at the moment, being supported by great fundraising initiatives.

 First on my list is Partners in Health, an organisation that is operational on the ground in Haiti. Our school has successfully raised close about 80,000 Dirham in only a few weeks for Partners in Health. To assist the school in raising even more towards their goal for Partners in Health click here.

 Second up: Concern Worldwide; Jeanne from Cooksister.com is holding a raffle with fantastic prizes over on her site, raising funds for Concern Worldwide’s response initiative in Haiti. Click here to check out the wonderful prizes and donate.

 We all seem to be fighting off colds and flu at the moment and what better way to do it than with a good dose of Vitamin C.

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Morocco is full of oranges, always! There are not many times you will walk into a restaurant or cafe here and ask for jus de orange and get it out of a carton, it is almost always freshly squeezed!  In season you will find the carts of oranges in the souks, dirt cheap and very juicy.

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Here is a quick and easy orange choc-chip muffin that I made over the weekend.

Adapted from Chocolate-Source.co.uk

 

400g Self Raising Flour

60g Butter

120g Castor Sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

2 Eggs

½ cup Milk

½ Cup Orange Juice

Rind of 1 orange

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Preheat the oven to 200°C

Place paper cups in a muffin tin. Sift the flour into a bowl and run the butter in. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Fill each cup about three quarters full with batter. Bake for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they cook quite fast.

Makes 12 large muffins or 18 smaller ones.

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