5.20.2014

Algerian Makrout with Dates

As-Salaamu Alaykum,

Makrout with Dates - a north African cookie made from semolina, filled with dates, traditionally fried (you can bake them if you prefer) till golden then soaked in honey. This sweet is popular to serve on special occasions such as Ramadan and Eid but can be enjoyed all year round.

Orange blossom water used throughout the making ensures a well balanced flavour between bitter and sweet.
The flattened diamond shape and decoration can be achieved with the use of a special mold or by hand/using a knife as I did.

At some point i would like to post a photo tutorial but if you struggle with my written instructions this how to make makrout may help.
Having tested 2 recipes the one I'm sharing is my family's favourite. It uses less butter resulting in a firmer cookie but if you prefer a softer, richer version try Makrout with Dates and Honey by Christine Benlafquih.

Makrout with Dates (fried)

Recipe taken and slightly adapted from sihem at bonoise recettes
Yields: approximately 30 

Ingredients

400 grams coarse semolina
80 ml melted salted butter
+ or - 120ml orange blossom water (depends of absorption quality of semolina)
200 grams pitted dates or date paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (cassia)
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
Oil (i used sunflower) for frying
Approximately 300 grams runny clear Honey with 1 tablespoons orange blossom water

Method

  1. In a small pan melt butter over medium heat, set aside. Measure semolina into a large bowl add the melted butter and mix (using right hand) until butter has coated every grain. Cover and set aside for 2 hours (1 hour minimum).
  2. Meanwhile pit dates and place in basket of couscousier and steam uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and place into medium sized bowl along with cinnamon and orange blossom water mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. After 2 hours uncover bowl of semolina and slowly add orange blossom water in the same manner as you added the butter mix / rake with your hand/fingers DO NOT KNEAD but gently press together until you get a smooth dough adding more water (tap) if needed. Cover and set aside to rest for 1 hour. 
  4. Shape cookies by dividing date paste into 3-4 pieces,  oil your hands and work surface then roll into thin logs. Divide dough into 3-4 pieces.Taking 1 log of dough make a deep indentation that runs the length of the dough and place the date log inside. Carefully close the dough around the filling, then roll  the dough back and forth a few times on your work surface to seal and make the dough smooth again. Gently flatten dough with your hands and divide by making 1 inch / 2 cm diagonal cuts. To decorate score each makrout using the back of a knife.
  5.  In a wide frying pan place oil until it's about 2.5cm deep . Heat on a medium to high heat until hot, (test a scrap piece of dough it should quickly bubble and come to the surface). Place a small pot on stove and heat honey until it's hot then turn heat off and add orange blossom water, stir and set aside.Fry cookies in batches (5 cookies per batch) until golden brown this should only take a few minutes so keep your eyes on the pan. Once cooked immediately transfer to pot of honey and leave a few minutes whilst you fry another batch of cookies. Transfer honey soaked cookies to a strainer/sieve with a bowl underneath, leave to strain then transfer cookies to a large baking sheet to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. 
Left over honey can be stored then used to drizzle over pancakes!

WARNING:-i apologise for any ads that may appear when clicking the sihem at bonoise recettes link above.
5.18.2014

My First Crème Caramel/Flan/Caramel Custard

As-Salaamu Alaykum,
Crème Caramel, A French classic that is sweet, soft, smooth and so satisfying!
For the most part I followed James Martin's recipe but instead of using dariole moulds I used ramekins.
As firsts go generally the results were pleasing  and I'm so glad I didn't burn the caramel as i used a non stick pan and to most that is a NO NO.
My crème caramels tasted slightly eggy which after some research could mean they were overcooked or my eggs weren't so fresh.
Useful Notes-
  1. Make sure oven temp is correct and check if cooked after 30 minutes instead of 40 minutes.
  2. Caramel - do not stir but tilt the pan to swirl the caramel and achieve even colour.
  3. Use fresh eggs for custard, older eggs = more eggy taste
  4. Do NOT whisk custard before pouring into ramekins but DO stir. Whisking = more bubbles = rubbery texture instead of silky smooth.
5.10.2014

Photos A Month

As-Salaamu Alaykum,
Have any of you ever given a child a camera/smart phone? try it (at your own risk) set the settings to auto and tell him/her no pics of people, animals etc...you will be surprised what beauty they can capture in the most ordinary things.
Here are some foodie photos by me, as well as some random ones by my son.
Makouda - Algerian Fried Potato patties, i followed this recipe

One of my favourites - Roast Chicken Legs

Nutella Milk (Edit: Idea came from Karima's Crafts)

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