Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to eat an Artichoke

An artichoke is a wonderful thing, but if you have never eaten a fresh artichoke, it can be hard to know where to begin.
The best way to cook an artichoke to enjoy its natural flavor is to steam them.  Use one artichoke per person.
First wash the artichokes, and trim the stems. Drop them into a large pot of boiling water, with 1 tsp salt and 1 tblsp of lemon juice.  Let them cook until you can easily pierce the base with a fork - about 30 minutes, depending on the size.   While they are cooking melt 4 tblsp butter, with 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 tblsp lemon juice.
When the artichokes are done, drain and place each one on a plate, with a small dish of the garlic butter. Then the fun begins.  You pull off each leave individually, dip the base in the butter, and bite down on the end, then pull.  You will scrape off the meat with your teeth. Then on to the next leaf.  When you get to the center there will be tiny inedible leaves, and the hairy choke. Scoop that off with a spoon, and you are left with the prize. The tender tasty artichoke heart. Dip in the butter and enjoy!

Mechoui - the Tandoori of Morocco

For an experience not to be missed, in Marrakech be sure to try Mechoui, the slow pit roasted lamb.  Tender and succulent, falling off the bone, not even a fork is necessary.  Served with a sprinkling of freshly ground cumin and some sea salt, a simple and satisfying meal. 
Baked in a below ground oven, similiar to a tandoori, you will find it near the main square in Marrakech.
The very traditional take-out meal for those lucky enough to be in Marrakech.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Moroccan Style Lentils

A hearty vegetarian dish for a cold winter day.
Rinse 2 cups of brown or green lentils,
Add to 4 cups of boiling salted water (1/2tsp) in a heavy large saucepan.
Cook over medium heat about 15 minutes.
2tsp paprika,
1/2 tsp black pepper, or 1/4tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
1tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large or two small cloves of garlic
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups cubed squash(optional)

Cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes- this should be a gentle boil. Add more water if necessary. Cooking time will depend on the lentils - they should become soft - tender to bite, but not mushy.
Then add
1cup sliced green or red pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Cover and cook another 10 minutes
Taste to check seasoning, and serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 2 or 3 as a main dish, 4 to 6 as a side dish.