I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dining at the Kasbah

We went on a huge nature hike with the baby today (team coverage to follow). After the hike we were hungry for something tasty yet healthy. I was at Sam's Club and I found a 3.5 pound boneless leg of New Zealand lamb for $13.

Long term readers of this blog will remember a Moroccan food bender I went on several years ago. I found an excellent cookbook Cooking at the Kasbah and I have made a lot of the food out of that book. Recently we were walking through the mall and found a huge display on Moroccan cooking at Williams Sonoma. A few years late, but it was still nice to find a source for a few key Moroccan ingredients.

I decided to make my favorite recipe for Moroccan Kabobs, with a new little trick. One of my old general surgery attendings was from Iraq and he recommended mixing beef chunks in with the lamb. I also made a Moroccan eggplant dish, some special couscous, a Moroccan bread, grilled vegetables and garlic yogurt sauce. I didn't have time to make any harissa, the quintessential North African Hot Sauce, so I bought some at Willams Sonoma. If you have time, I recommend making your own well ahead of time.


The chilies from which this sauce is made are not indigenous to the region. Spanish conquistadors introduced them to the Old World in the early 1500's upon their return from the Americas. How about them apples?

Makes 1 cup

12 dried chilies
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 t salt, or to taste
1 t ground cumin, or more to taste

Open the chilies and remove the seeds. Cut into small pieces, place into warm water and soak until they soften, 25 to 30 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the chilies. Place everything in a blender and blend until very smooth. Transfer to a clean pint jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil.

Hobz Belboula (Barley Bread with Cumin)

1 package yeast
1/2 t sugar
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups barley flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 t salt
2 t cumin seed, toasted in a skillet and coursely ground

Mix yeast, water and sugar in the mixer and let sit until the mixture bubbles. Add everything else and knead very well in the mixer. At the end of kneading, the dough should be slightly tacky. Divide the dough into two equal balls. Spread some parchment paper out on a cooky sheet. Squash doughballs down so that the dough forms about a 6 inch circle. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until about double in size. Preheat oven to 450. Bake on a baking stone until crusty and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Zahlouk (cooked Eggplant and Tomato Salad)

1 firm eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 T olive oil
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 t Hungarian paprika
1 t ground cumin
2 T flat leaf parsley, minced
2 T minced fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1 T fresh lemon juice

Roast eggplant in oven until soft. Let the eggplant cool. Split it and scoop out the flesh. In a saucepan, cook the tomatoes for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except lemon juice, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid evaporates - 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and season with lemon juice. Serve at room temperature.

Fancy Couscous

1 diced red bell pepper
1/2 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro
1 t paprika
1/2 t cumin
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 c instant couscous

Saute the onion, red pepper and celery in olive oil in a pan with garlic, paprika and cumin. Transfer the pan juices to a measuring cup. Set the pepper, onion and celery aside. Add enough chicken broth to make 1 1/2 cups liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil. Gradually add the couscous, stirring and remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir the peppers, celery and onion into the couscous along with the cilantro. Let cool to room temperature and serve.

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

For garlic yogurt sauce, take 1 cup yogurt and add 2 cloves garlic, pressed. Add a little salt and refrigerate to combine the flavors.

Shish Kabobs Marrakesh Style

3 pounds of lamb cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T minced cilantro
2 T minced flat leaf parsley (or regular)
1/2 onion, grated
1 T paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 t pepper

Combine everything in a ziplock bag and marinate overnight in the fridge or for as long as you want. When ready to grill put onto skewers and grill away!