Posts tagged ‘tajine’

Beauty and the Feast Tajine Debut in Life Choices Magazine

Debut of new feature in Life Choices Magazine

Debut of new feature in Life Choices Magazine

The Spring Quarter issue of Life Choices Magazine pp 30-32 features a new article by me on making killer tajines and setting beautiful tables.

Check out pages 30-32 for my now-not-so-secret recipe for tajine (also spelled tagine). This is a basic recipe that can be adapted to any kind of protein  – or just veggies – mixing up the spices and herbs for a different result each time. You’ll also find ideas for what to serve with a tajine and tips on how to set a drop dead gorgeous table.

Link here – See pp 30-32: Life Choices Magazine feature Beauty and the Feast

Lamb tagine

Lamb tagine

Two of my tajine dishes

Two of my tajine dishes

A leopard dinner to go with a wild meal.

A leopard dinner to go with a wild meal.

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April 7, 2016 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Pork Loin Roast Tajine with Preserved Lemons & Rosemary

Brined Lemon, onion, pork loin roast tajine with rosemary and garlic

Brined Lemon, onion, pork loin roast tajine with rosemary and garlic

Using a pork loin roast in a tajine would be utter sacrilege in North Africa. Here in California, I can be creative. This tajine was not spiced as usual;  I wanted to preserve the delicacy of the onions, pork and lemons.

I started, as always, with the sauteeing of onions (2 huge white) and garlic (many cloves very fresh) in virgin olive oil (the heavier the better for a tajine.) When the onions/garlic were soft, I removed them from the pan and browned the roast on all sides at high temperature.

The onion mixture went back in around the meat, which I left as an experiment in one whole piece instead of cutting into chunks. Sprigs of fresh rosemary pierce the roast. The lemons, which I preserved myself with salt, clove, bay leaf and cardamon, were scattered around. Rock salt and fresh ground black pepper came last.

To ensure there was plenty of sauce for my gravy-loving husband, I added one cup of white wine (also a big no-no in North Africa) with a dissolved heaping teaspoon of condensed chicken stock.

Put on the tajine lid and cook on low heat for a couple of hours. note: You can feel the top of the tajine lid to make sure it’s hot and all is cooking as it should.

The meat came out especially moist and tender. I think the center might still have been a bit frozen which turned out to be a plus.

Served with wholewheat coucous and a crisp Chardonnay.

September 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm 1 comment

Memorial Day Venison Cookoff with Apicius Roman Sauce

Memorial Day at my house with a Venison cookoff. That's tagine under the lid. The roast was prepared with an authentic Roman recipe translated from the Apicius cookbook (3-4th century AD).

Memorial Day at my house with a Venison cookoff. That’s tajine under the lid. The roast was prepared from an authentic Roman recipe translated from the Apicius cookbook (3rd-4th century AD). The Romans used a conical ceramic cooker like the tajine dish of North Africa.

This is a meal Elektra could have eaten in Roman North Africa, only instead of venison, the host might have served a young Barbary stag or oryx. Of course, my guests would have been reclining on lounges and served by slaves. And the Zinfandel would have been watered.

The recipe for the sauce comes from one of the most famous cookbooks of antiquity. Today it is known simply as the Apicius.

There is disagreement about whether the famous epicure of the Tiberian reign (1st c AD) Marcus Gavius Apicius was the original collector or the inspiration. Most probably, he had nothing to do with the book, De re coquinaria “On the Subject of Cooking,” which eventually became known by his name.

Most scholars believe the collection of Roman cookery recipes was compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century. The language in which it was written is closer to Vulgar than Classical Latin.

An Apicius manuscript from 900 AD.

An Apicius manuscript from 900 AD. The codex was originally in the monastery of Fulda, Germany but acquired by The New York Academy of Medicine in 1929.

Venison tagine. Spices: Cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, ginger, smoked paprika

Venison tagine. Spices: Cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, clove, ginger, smoked paprika, black pepper

A huge hunk of frozen venison turned out to be three roasts when defrosted. I marinated all three for 24 hours in red wine, fresh rosemary and cloves of garlic.

The smallest roast was cut into chunks for a tajine (see photos) with onions, fingerling potatoes, chunks of carrots, and tons of peas topped with baby bell peppers. Spicing: cumin, cardamon, ginger, cinnamon, clove, smoked paprika and fresh ground black pepper.

The middle-sized roast was coated in cajun spices and slow-cooked on the charcoal grill. Real charcoal please with mesquite chips! I served the Cajun venison with cherry sauce.

The large venison roast (see photo at top) was browned on all sides in olive oil and then put in a 350 oven with a few strips of bacon on top. Venison is very lean.

Now we come to the sauce from a recipe translated from the original Apicius. [Thank you to the food blog Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook]
I had to substitute a couple of herbs. And I used the reduced marinade for a base. I’m sure Apicius would have approved.

Ingredients for the sauce
note: all herbs are fresh, some from my own garden.
rue (I used fresh rosemary)
lovage (I used celery leaves)
oregano
mint
parsley
garlic
onion
Thai fish sauce (in place of Roman garum, the salty cured fish sauce Romans used with almost all meats and that they stole from the Greeks)
honey
sweet wine (I used Port)
salt and pepper

Not having a slave to grind the herbs into a paste, I threw them into a small food processor. You use the goodies from the bottom of the roasting pan to make a sauce much like gravies are made today. The end result should be something between a liquid and a syrup.

Salty and sweet with tons of herbs. That was the Roman taste. Also black pepper – lots of it. Even with syrupy pears.

Not sure if the Romans had cous cous, but they definitely had grain, so I suspect they might have discovered this primitive way of making pasta long before Marco Polo. I toasted slivered almonds and soaked giant raisins in brandy (until they are plump and soft) to put in the cooked cous cous.

In addition to remembering our own fallen heroes on a splendid Memorial Day, we stepped back a little further in history to remember the Romans. To borrow from the gladiators, “We who are about to eat, salute you!”

The table setting is my vision of Roman North Africa. Need to get some silver chalices!

May 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm 3 comments

Sandra’s recipe for Wild Boar Tajine

Last night some friends were dropping by with a bottle of good Merlot to see the sunset. As life has been more than hectic lately, I wasn’t up to a full-on meal.  Greg and Jess live in North San Luis Obispo County where hunting abides, so I pulled out a wild boar shoulder from the freezer and invented a new dish inspired by my years in North Africa.

The nomads cook their tajines (also spelled tagine) with camel or goat, so wild boar seemed a logical progression.

This stew was designed to eat around the bar. Instead of dipping into the sauce with chunks of bread in the North African fashion, I rolled up the shredded boar with a couple of spoonfuls of sauce in whole wheat tortillas to create a North African, Mexican Moo-Shoo wild boar.

Where do you get wild boar? Either you need to hunt yourself – or have generous friends that do. In this case, a friend of a friend passed the meat to me. P.S. Our wines are listed at end of post.

ON TAJINE DISHES:

traditional tajine dishes by photo.net

traditional tajine dishes – photo by photo.net

My favorite tajine dish (of 3) that I purchased at IKEA for $60. Bottom is aluminum made to look like cast iron. Lid is ceramic.

My favorite tajine dish that I purchased at IKEA for $60.
Bottom is aluminum made to look like cast iron. Lid is ceramic.
note: I also own a 2-persons silicon dish bought at Marshall’s for $15
plus a yellow glazed ceramic dish from Portugal ($50).

There are many kinds of tajine dishes on the market now. I prefer ones with metal bottoms with one-step cooking on top of the stove. Ceramic tajines (traditional ones) do not do well for stove-top cooking. The ceramic was designed to be placed over charcoal. In Morocco, the circumference of the bottom dish fits exactly its own charcoal cooker.

The web shows many pictures of ceramic dishes on a gas fire, but as I’ve had a couple dishes break while cooking, I feel obliged to caution you. If you have a ceramic or silicon dish, then I advise you to do all the sauteing in a frying pan, then transfer to tajine dish and cook in oven. The temperature should be medium heat.

This stew could also be made in one of those French-style iron cookers with heavy lids (also called Dutch ovens).  But I’m a firm believer that the conical lid of the tajine dish adds a dimension in savory moistness.

For a little history note, the Romans cooked stews in pots with conical lids. I’m wondering which came first, the Romans’ introduction into North Africa, or the Berbers teaching the Romans?

Wild Boar Tajine (Moroccan stew)

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

shoulder of wild boar, cut into big chunks with the bony piece left whole
tortillas, strongly advise whole wheat for texture and flavor
garlic, 5-6 cloves, minced
onions, 2 large yellow, cut in 2-3 inch wedges
olive oil, enough to generously cover bottom of pan
tomato paste, 2 Tblsp
salt, rock, sprinkle generously
black pepper, fresh ground over all
apricots, dried, generous handful
raisins, big and black, generous handful
carrots, 4 large, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced in narrow wedges
red wine, 1/3 bottle
Guinness, ½ bottle
diced smoky bacon, 1 Tblsp
***Please note: You will never find wine/beer or bacon in a traditional Moroccan recipe
beef stock (paste), heaping Tblsp
spices:
cumin, 2 heaping Tblsp
paprika, 1 generous Tblsp
cardamon, very generous pinch
ginger, very generous pinch
cloves, very generous pinch
cinnamon, 2 generous pinches

Tajine

Take a Tajine dish and set on medium fire
Sauté garlic, onions and bacon in olive oil until onions soft and starting to clear
Add in tomato paste, turn well
Sprinkle with salt
Add wild boar
Sprinkle meat with spices, one at a time, turning the pieces to make sure coated
Salt more if desired
Pepper
Add apricots and raisins to pan, distributing evenly
Add red wine
Add beef stock paste, turning well
Add Guinness
Mix in carrots
Put on lid, reduce heat to low – as low as possible while still cooking.
Cook 3-4 hrs – longer is best – removing lid and turning meat chunks every 45 minutes or so for even soaking in sauce.

Let sit as long as you want and reheat with lid on to serve.
note: the longer the spices sit, the better they taste. The flavors meld together with time.

  • Remove boar meat onto carving board and shred.
  • Warm tortillas in microwave.
  • Spoon on shredded meat, then sauce from Tajine dish. Amount of sauce subject to taste. I recommend each guest building their own.
  • Wrap tortilla like moo shoo pork so doesn’t drip.

Enjoy!

Sandra adds “This is simply marvelous (ain’t it grand to love your own cooking!) if you want exotic spicing combined with the wild taste of the boar. You could use any meat, but the very long cooking is especially good for tougher cuts.

The Secret:  USE FRESH SPICES! I get mine from Penzeys Spices. If you use from grocery store, then DOUBLE at least the above. Also LONG slow cooking vital to bringing out flavors. www.penzeys.com

SUGGESTED WINES: We started with EOS Estate Merlot, Sonoma,  2009 and finished with Red Carpet Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, 2011.

April 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm 2 comments


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