Blog Archive

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Demystifying the Avocado

It seems we are reaching a stage that the kitchen can become the smallest room in the house since its use is becoming almost obsolete. We blame our busy lives so as not to bother to cook or to even prepare simple salads. Supermarkets make money off of our lack of desire to chop up lettuce, providing it already chopped in a plastic bag. Fruits and its various combinations are provided in plastic packaging. All of this so called convenience comes with a price, and not only at the cash register. Plastic packaging in the end has to find its way into the garbage. Recycling plants do not take plastics that have been in contact with raw foods but pick it out and send it to landfill. The reason is simple – the possibility of contamination. Our news services periodically carry announcements of contaminates in packaged salads warning of recalls.

Now we have a new face on the produce prepackaged shelf, the avocado. Sobeys Supermarkets are selling one avocado cut in half with its pit removed and fully peeled. It is packaged in a sexy tight plastic seal with thin colourful wrapping displaying the manufacturer's name and all kinds of information on the back. Sobeys sells this avocado for $3.99, and at today's price a fresh whole avocado sells at Sobeys for $1.99. This newly packaged avocado has caught the attention of many, even across the border in the US. Maybe the Sobeys corporation will see this as beneficial publicity promoting its brand name to the public, without question they will not think of the potential environmental impact of thousands of packages heading towards landfill.

So as a chef who has cooked for so many years and as someone who has peeled enough avocados to have lost count I simply want you to see how easy it is.

First take the fresh avocado in your hand, with a sharp knife cut down to the pit and run that right around the full circumference of the avocado. Then in one quick and easy move give it a twist and it will come apart in your hand.

Now you have the avocado in two halves. Second act is to get the pit out. Again it truly is simple. Using the knife you had to cut the avocado, tap the pit with the blade across the length of the pit so the knife is actually piercing into it, then again give it a slight twist left to right and the pit comes out on the knife. Give it a light tap with something like a spoon and the pit freely falls off the knife.

Here it is halved and pitted, the decision on how to eat it up to you. Many people enjoy the avocado with a spoon straight out of its natural bowl, its skin. I have used a small melon baller to drop lovely round shaped bombs of goodness into a salad. For breakfast, I take the two halves and with a teaspoon open the hole a little more where the pit was. Then I break an egg into each half of the avocado and cook it under the boiler till the egg is done. Looks fantastic on a plate and tastes out of this world.

Still if you prefer to peel then here is the third and final act. A small incision at the edge of the skin will allow you to peel away this outer natural protective layer as easy as the plastic off the prepacked one sold at Sobeys. If you prefer you can take a butter knife and run it all around just inside the avocado half between the layer of skin and its flesh. Then you are ready to slice away; put it on a burger or into a salad, your choices are only limited by your imagination.

The reality is simple, there is nothing difficult in chopping lettuce or mixing various greens for variety and taste in your salad. So-called busy lives in the final analysis comes across as a simple excuse. After all how long does it take to peel an orange, 30 seconds? An avocado is no different. If you don't care about the packaging and the environmental impact, that is your choice. If you don't care for the fact that one packaged and peeled avocado costs as much as two natural ones, that is your choice, but do hang onto that job for dear life! Though think about this: that prepackaged avocado has a shelf life for 55 days! I had one very strange comment on Facebook about this where an individual had spoken of some mystical 30 minute window of perfect freshness. My response is simple: on day 55 after purchase (or best before date) some 1320 hours had passed and their theory blown out of sensibility.

Finally, think about this, those who package and sell this avocado only resent the so-called 'most perfect' ones. How many do they throw out into the garbage before the perfect one appears?

An island breakfast with Avocado & Egg

4 avocados
8 eggs
8 slices genoa salami, hot
balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Cut the avocados in half and take the pits out.
With a spoon gently remove some of the avocado flesh to open up the holes more,
keeping the flesh aside.
Place avocados on baking dish, crack one egg at a time and drop into the hole making sure the avocado doesn't tip over and spill the egg out.
Season to taste.
Place the egg and avocado under the broiler and cook till egg is done.
Use the left-over avocado flesh with a spray of fresh lime or lemon juice and a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar and create a paste or spread with a spoon, mixing everything together.
On a plate cut the genoa salami into quarters, place two halves of cooked avocado with egg and drop salami around, drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.
Toast some slices of baguette and spread avocado paste and serve.

(Serves 4)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Recipe Formula: Fresh not frozen, the very best Seafood

A recipe is only one piece of the puzzle.

In most of Canada winter has its hands on the land and on our bones, but that does not mean the only seafood available is from ice fishing. Markets have a plentiful supply of fresh seafood and fresh is always the very best. In this collection of recipes I have pickerel, salmon, balls made with shrimp and yes, pickerel. The taste of the sea is a light, yet filling fare good for both your body and your mind. The salmon has been dressed up in a summery fashion with mangoes, cherry tomatoes and baby cucumbers. A warm fresh salsa has been tossed in with the soft and gentle flesh of pickerel. Finally balls, fish balls of any kind, seem to be favourites with both young and old. Here the balls are a mix of shrimp and pickerel, keeping them light yet full of flavour. They can be paired with Thai Rice Noodles, linguine drizzled with a little olive oil and dusted with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or as leftovers on a sub sandwich. So yes it may be a little cold in Canada but seafood, well it has a way of reminding of us of the ocean and rolling waves on a beach. Anyhow winter will be over soon.

Crusted Pickerel with Fresh Salsa

2 lb fresh pickerel fillets
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 tbsp roasted garlic & pepper seasoning (Club House)
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
2 red onions, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
227 g sliced mushrooms
2 cups fresh chopped pineapple
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2/3 cup pineapple juice
1 bunch asparagus, chopped

Mix Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, roasted garlic & pepper seasoning and fresh basil.
Lightly rub fillets with a little oil then generously layer the parmigiano mixture
over fillets and gently pat down.
Pan fry the fillets on medium heat.

In a fry pan add onions and mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of oil.
Cook till onion turns translucent, then add bell peppers and green onion, cook for five minutes.
Add pineapple chunks, pineapple juice and asparagus. Cook for eight minutes till sauce thickens.

Serve the crusted pickerel over the salsa.

(Serves 4)

Summery Salmon

2 lb salmon fillets
½ cup each, fresh basil & dill, finely chopped
2 tbsp roasted red chili paste
2 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine
6 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced at length
2 mangoes, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Place salmon fillets on baking dish, season to taste with salt and pepper, place fresh basil and dill on top and bake for 15 minutes.

In a bowl combine red chili paste, lemongrass, fresh ginger, olive oil and red wine.

On a platter arrange sliced cucumbers, mango and cherry tomato.
Place salmon fillets over the top and drizzle with chili oil.

(Serves 4)

Shrimp & Pickerel Balls

30 medium shrimp, deveined and peeled
1 ½ lb pickerel, broken
¼ cup each, finely chopped basil and sage
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper to taste
fettuccine pasta
white truffle oil, for drizzle
½ cup basil, finely chopped
baby bok choy


¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ cup red wine


¼ cup each fresh basil & sage, finely chopped

In a food blender combine shrimp, pickerel, chopped basil and sage, begin to blend,
add egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper.
Blend till all ingredients are well mixed and smooth.
Form into balls.

Heat oil in a pan and begin to brown the balls.
Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine and fresh basil.
Pour over browning balls and cook till balls are fully cooked, approximately eight to ten minutes.

Boil fettuccine, drain and drizzle with white truffle oil, sprinkle with chopped basil.
In a fry pan pour ½ cup oil, place baby bok choy in and let bok choy wilt only a little.

Serve the balls over wilted bok choy and fettuccine.

(Serves 6)

Nippon Salmon

2 lb salmon fillets
sweet & smoky Hibachi seasoning
2 lb spinach, chopped
1 bag carrot stix
1 broccoli crowns
500 g shiitake mushrooms, chopped


1 cup soy sauce
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine or sake
¼ cup fine brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Season salmon well with sweet & smoky hibachi seasoning
and cook skin side down for ten minutes.

Chop the spinach coarsely. Cut broccoli into small individual crowns.
In a frying pan begin to cook the carrot stix for about three to five minutes, add broccoli and mushrooms, cook for another five minutes.
Add spinach and cook only to wilt the leaves down not to overcook.

In a separate small pan combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, white wine and brown sugar.
Over low heat cook till the sugar fully dissolves, stirring constantly.

Plate the spinach mix and salmon fillet over the top and pour two tablespoons of the sauce over it.

(Serves 4 - 6)

Orange Chipotle Salmon

6 salmon fillets
orange chipotle sauce (Braswell's Select)
6 whole corn on the cob
2 mangoes
2 white flesh peaches
1 cup sweet red chili sauce

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Spread foil over baking tray and lay the salmon skin side down.
Pour generous amount of orange chipotle sauce over fish and bake
for approximately ten minutes.
Check to see if a little more sauce would be required and cook till desired doneness.

Cut the kernels off the cobs and boil covered in
salted water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, till corn is soft.
Cut mangoes and peaches into chunks.
Drain the corn then add mango and peach, pour sweet chili sauce and mix.
Keep over medium heat stirring gently to coat everything well and only to warm through
the flesh of the mango and peach.

Serve salmon over the fresh warm salsa.

(Serves 4 - 6)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Recipe Formula: An Asian Mix

A recipe is only one piece of the puzzle.

Who doesn't like Chinese food? Whether or not you still feel hungry half an hour later, it was fantastic whilst you were eating it. Today Asian culinary influence can be found imprinting its myriad of flavour and magical taste on everything from French to Greek recipes. Cooks are no longer afraid to mix it up in the kitchen, using spices and sauces that many years ago would never be thought as complimentary. Personally I have a favourite in the sweet red chili sauce which I found to be a fantastic burst of flavour in any meatball recipe. Be adventurous and see how easy it is to bring the taste of Asia into your own kitchen, and the best part will be when your family or friends ask for seconds.

Zesty Thai Thigh

8 chicken thighs
2 packs Thai kitchen rice noodles
1 pound shiitake mushrooms
zest of 1 lime, 1 lemon, 1 orange
½ cup each fresh cilantro, Thai basil and dill, finely chopped
½ cup sweet red chili sauce
juice of 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1 orange
¾ cup red wine

Heat some oil in frying pan and begin to brown the chicken thighs.
Cook till chicken is at least three quarters done.
Drain off excess oil and set aside
Saute the mushrooms and set aside.

In a small pot combine the zest of lime, lemon and orange with fresh cilantro, Thai basil and dill.
Add sweet red chili sauce, red wine and juice from lime, lemon and orange.
Let it come to a soft boil then remove from heat.

Place chicken back into frying pan, add sauteed mushroom and sauce mix from pot.
Cover and simmer till chicken is done.

Boil water, place rice noodles in and remove from heat,
stir the noodles and leave in boiled water for five minutes.
Drain and serve with chicken over the top.

(Serves 4)

Peking Pizza

2 ½ tbsp Blue Dragon Szechuan Pepper Stir Fry Sauce
1 tbsp mayo
½ tbsp white wine


1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
6 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Chinese five spice seasoning


Galbani Mozzarella


baby spinach & arugula

Mix the pizza sauce ingredients. Roll out pizza dough.
Spread three tablespoons of sauce evenly over the surface of the dough.
Layer a mix of baby spinach and arugula over the surface.
Cover all the spinach and arugula with cheese.
Galabani mozzarella can be sliced or if you prefer a different mozzarella do so.

In a bowl combine the onion, mushrooms and tomatoes,
season well with Chinese five spice seasoning, lightly tossing to get good coverage.
Layer the mix evenly on top of the cheese.

Place pizza on a preheated oven at 400° F and bake till base is golden brown.
You can also substitute pizza dough with Naan bread.
(Everything remains the same except that the oven is set on the broil function
and baking time is less, only needing to melt the cheese evenly)

Grilled Asian Wraps

1 ½ lb steak
1 sweet onion
1 bunch green onion
1 bag baby bok choy
¼ cup fresh chopped ginger
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
tortilla wraps


2 tbsp mayo
3 tbsp Club House roasted garlic & pepper marinade
1 ½ tsp soy sauce

Cook steak to desired doneness, cut into strips.
(Remember to cut meat against the grain for tenderness)

Slice sweet and green onion thinly, add half of fresh ginger
and saute till onion is no longer translucent.
Add bok choy to onion and allow to wilt, not to over cook.

Spread sauce mix onto tortilla, add onion and bok choy, two slices of tomatoes and steak strips.
Roll and grill for sixty seconds and serve with a smile.

Chicken Phyllo

1 packet phyllo sheets
1 cup melted butter
4-6 chicken breasts
½ tsp Chinese five spice seasoning
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
6 cup baby spinach
1 ½ cup ricotta cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Pan fry chicken breasts till golden brown and well done.
Cut into even thin strips and set aside.
Wilt baby spinach with fresh basil, green onion, garlic and Chinese five spice seasoning.
Add ricotta cheese, salt and pepper to taste and mix all ingredients well.

Take one sheet of phyllo pastry, spread melted butter
all over then add another sheet on top.
Cut to make two rectangle pieces.
Place two tablespoons of chicken and ricotta as a filling at the end of sheet.
Fold left and right side into middle then roll end to end.
Before finishing brush a little melted butter on edge and press down to seal.

Place wraps onto baking tray and bake at 375° F till golden brown.

Massaman Curry Balls


2 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs
3 tbsp Massaman Curry Paste (Thai Kitchen)


400 ml coconut milk
3 tbsp sweet red chili sauce
zest of 1 lime and 1 lemon


2 bags baby bok choy
2 bags bean sprouts
green onion, chopped for garnish
sweet & smoky Hibachi seasoning (Asian Creations Simply Asia)

Mix beef, pork, egg, bread crumbs and curry paste to form meatballs.
Begin to brown the balls in a pan and cook till half done then set aside.
Mix separately coconut milk, chili sauce and zest of lime and lemon.
Discard any excess oil from pan, replace meatballs and add sauce.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium,
cooking for approximately eight minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Separately in a pan begin with bean sprouts, after three minutes season with sweet & smoky Hibachi seasoning, then add baby bok choy and cook till the green leaves wilt a little.
Do not overcook the bok choy.

These meatballs can be served over rice noodles, rice or stir fry noodles.

(Serves 6)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's All About Love

Today is both Valentine's Day and the second anniversary for Unleash Your Taste. In the Niagara Region we are experiencing a true taste of winter with temperatures only reaching -19° Celsius for a high, but the air warms beautifully with the joys of Valentine's Day and the love we share.

Unleash Your Taste has had absolutely wonderful support from readers in the past two years. Now embarking on a third, more articles are being planned, adding to the recipes and the joy of cooking.

For Valentine's Day I have two simple treats which take only minutes to prepare. The first has my favourite thing of all – wonton wrappers – cut into heart shapes and deep fried. These tasty treats will bring a smile on anybody's face especially when offered with a glass of champagne. Using a larger heart shaped cookie cutter I rolled out a sheet of puff pastry and baked the Puffed Hearts in my BBQ of all things, they took only 8 to 10 minutes. 

Anyone can buy a box of chocolates or some heart shaped cake, but nothing is more precious than making something yourself for the one you love. And I promise you it is very easy.

My Deep Fried Heart

1 pack of wonton wrappers
small heart shaped cookie cutter
1 cup chocolate pieces (I used Lindt)
icing sugar
oil for deep frying

Take wonton sheets in pairs, cut out heart shapes,
and run your finger with water all around the edge of one cut out heart.
Place a piece of chocolate cut to size in the middle.
Cover with second heart cut out and pinch firmly all around to seal.
Heat oil for deep frying, drop four hearts in at a time.
Turn over in ten seconds and remove as soon as a little browning appears, and drain.
Then dust with the icing sugar and serve.

(A twin pack of wonton wrappers makes 28 hearts)

Heart Puffs

2 sheets of puff pastry
1 large shaped cookie cutter
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup chocolate pieces (I used Lindt)

Preheat oven to 375°
Roll out puff pastry sheet and cut out heart shapes.
Place on a cookie baking tray covered by parchment paper.
Place cut out puff hearts, brush with melted butter and bake
for approximately ten minutes or till light brown.

Now creativity can come in with Heart Puffs and your own garnishments can be used. I put chunks of chocolate simply on top. Another alternative is when the hearts come out of the oven you simply cut a small portion out of the centre and fill it with a jam or fruit, even top off with freshly whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Morocco's Richly Flavoured Gifts

image: Wikimedia Commons; "Pottery wares at Sidi Bousaid" by Emna Mizouni.
A cook's journey requires no passport or visa, it has no borders to constrain its creativity and no traditions which can stifle its direction. For me personally as a chef, there has always been immense pleasure to travel anywhere in the world, discovering new fragrances and tantalising the taste buds with exciting and fresh morsels previously undiscovered. So it was that I decided to travel to a land of sand and desert where the elegant stride of a camel can cross the hills for days without needing a drop of water.

There I stood at the gateway to North Africa, a beret stuffed in my back pocket and with my pots and pans at the ready. My mind buzzed with memories of the wonderful Casablanca when Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is looking into those gorgeous eyes of Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and says, “Ilsa I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” Okay, I have no idea what this scene from Casablanca has to do with cooking, except that the film was set in Morocco and it is a favourite of mine. Oh, and beans are used in Moroccan cooking, as well as chick peas, peppers, fish, lamb, and spices that bring anyone's taste buds to a new level of exhilaration.

Morocco played host to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians – Romans and Byzantines in ancient times. In the Seventh Century, the forces of Islam erupted in Arabia, bringing with them the most lasting and enduring influence. In 711 the Arabs invaded the Liberian Peninsula, today's Spain and Portugal, dominating this region for the next seven Centuries. The Arabs renamed the Liberian Peninsula to Al Andalus. This peninsula and Morocco was ruled by the Burber dynasties of Almoravides and Almohades through to the Thirteenth Century.

New spices were introduced by the Arabs and the use of fruit for the sweet-sour flavours evolved into dishes that can only be Moroccan. The Ottoman Empire passed on some influences from Algeria with its stuffed vegetables and the kebabs which are now found all over Morocco.

Spain found itself free from the Moorish invasion in 1492, forcing Moors and Jews packing who were not willing to convert to Catholicism. Many of the Jews settled in Morocco, bringing with them influences that enriched the diversity of the local cuisine. As the 'New World' was discovered, so was the tomato, potato, squash, and both sweet and hot peppers.

Just as the tapestry of Moroccan cuisine seemed to be filled to perfection, la belle France burst onto the stage; the French Foreign Legion settled in Morocco from 1912 through to 1962. No Frenchman can stay for long without his baguette, croissant, wine, and coffee, and fifty years was a rather long visit. But it was not only the very tasteful influences on cuisine that can be attributed to the French; in their intrusion on Moroccan life, they had improved infrastructure and agriculture, planted vineyards, and introduced viticulture. Upon leaving, the French left behind a strong influence on Moroccan cuisine, and that is why French style coffee is sold more often in Moroccan coffee houses than Turkish coffee today.

Morocco can be divided into four distinct regions, each with its own character adding to a cuisine bursting with fragrance and flavour. The North, with cities like Tetuan and Tangier, Andalusian influence is evident in tortilla-like omelets and rice dishes. Here, olive oil, peppers, tomatoes, saffron, and wild artichokes find their way into daily dishes. Tangier also has both Mediterranean and Atlantic fish in plentiful supply. North-west of this region, Seville oranges are commercially distilled to make zhaaran orange flower water. Sebou Valley and the Sais Plains lay between the cities of Fes and the west coast at Rabat. Here it is agricultural land with wheat, pulses, barley, sunflowers, olives, vegetables, citrus fruits and grapes.

Traveling to Central Morocco and the City of Marrakesh, with its famed walls surrounded by date palms and orange groves, aromas shift to the famous tangia. This slow cooked meat stew is traditionally cooked by men and has been known throughout the region for centuries. Growers of roses cannot miss the incredible gardens at Kelaa el M'gouna where fresh roses are used for rosewater and the dried buds for the spice stores. In Ouarzazate the Rose Festival is held annually in mid-May which rocks the socks off any Englishman.

The Chaouia region of the West Coast, from Rabat to Casablanca, also produces fruits, vegetables, sweet corn, vineyards and almond groves. As one continues down the Atlantic coast, fish and different kinds of seafood is in copious supply, with the town of Safi famous for tassegal, or blue fish.

Finally, reaching the South or pre-Sahara region, the homelands of the Berbers and the nomadic Tuaregas, tastes change as the hot sands stand guard nearby. Meat is most likely to be camel, hedgehog or wild fox. Couscous is made from barley, maize, or millet, with milk and buttermilk, while dates, pulses and bread made from barley, millet or wheat are widely used as their staples.

Regardless whether one's journey of discovery takes them to the cities of Tetuan and Tangier in the North, to Rabat and Casablanca on the Western shorelines, or to ancient Marrakesh in Central Morocco, each one will find the Souks; marketplaces in the medinas, or old Arab quarters. Entering a Souk is like entering a time warp and being transported to the Middle Ages. Its buildings, type of goods on sale, the jumble of shops and stalls, blankets on the ground with baskets filled and brass scales at the ready, even the cobbled streets with the clatter of cartwheels drawn by donkeys all take you back in time. Simply stop at one of the outdoor cafes for a coffee and a pastry, or a mint tea hot and sweet, and soak in the flavour of Morocco.

Whether one enters the Souks or walks the streets of any city, no food journey in Morocco can be complete without paying homage to the spice shops. In Moroccan cooking, eight spices rule supreme; cinnamon, cumin, saffron, paprika, turmeric, black pepper, felfa (similar to cayenne pepper), and dried ginger. It is the spicing skills of Moroccan cooks that is the true unique essence of their cuisine, as these eight leading spices are blended and mixed with so many others, like allspice berries, nutmeg, lavender, thyme, and rosemary. Each of the spice shops has a rasel hanout, translating to 'the shopkeeper's choice.' This mixture can contain up to two dozen different spices and herbs depending on the skill and experience of the shopkeeper.

Walking through the spice souks, or spice shops, seeing the perfectly mound cones of ground spices with their earthen colours, and taking in the aromas leaves a heady sensation. Among all the blended and individual spices available, one spice rules supreme; saffron is the queen and the most expensive, its delicate texture and presence will change the flavour of any dish with only a pinch.

Centuries ago, the Berbers created the tagine, an earthenware cooking vessel made of two parts. The dish used for cooking is glazed, but the lids are usually unglazed. A tagine cooks all the ingredients of a meal together, as steam condenses in the lid and drops back down onto the food, keeping it from drying. Whether you decide to use a tagine or simply a roasting pan, it is the flavour of Moroccan recipes that will bring a new dimension to your table.

For a period of five days I had prepared a number of recipes, ranging from seafood, vegetables and meat. Street food like the Kefta Kebabs or Tagine Kefta Mchermel-Meatballs with Herbs and Lemon left mouths watering and opened the doors to a gastronomic spirit of adventure. So climb onto a camel and ride it into your kitchen for a new taste sensation.

Kefta Kebabs

1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp cilantro
1 ½ lb ground lamb or beef
1 tsp cumin
1tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper

Put onion, parsley, and cilantro in food processor to puree.
Add meat, cumin, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and one teaspoon salt. Process to paste.
Divide the Kefta mixture into sausage-like shapes about 3 ½ inches long.
Place on tray and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Cook on a hot BBQ grill and serve with lemon wedges.

Saffron Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce

1 ½ lb white flesh fish
1 egg
2 green onion, chopped
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp cilantro
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
pinch saffron threads


1 ½ tomatoes
1 brown onion, coarsely grated
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic loves, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp harissa or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp caster sugar (superfine)

Roughly chop the fish and put into food processor with egg, green onion,
herbs, breadcrumbs, saffron, ¾ teaspoon salt, and black pepper.
Pulse into a paste.
Make balls size of large walnut and set aside in fridge.

Peel tomatoes and chop.
Cook onion for 5 minutes, add garlic, harissa or cayenne pepper, and cumin.
Stir, then add tomatoes, sugar, 1 cup water, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add fish balls, shaking the pan side to side to cover the balls with sauce.
Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve with crusty bread or over couscous.

Chorba Bil Hout Fish Soup

2 red peppers
1 long red chili
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp harissa
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin
3 cups fish stock
14 oz tin diced tomato
2 lb boneless white fish fillets, cubed
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp cilantro

Cut and clean red peppers, then clean seeds and membrane from chili.
Place skin-side up under a broiler and cook till skin blackens.
Remove and place into a plastic bag and steam till cool enough to touch.
Remove the blackened skin and cut into thin strips. Set aside.

Heat oil and cook onion till softened.
Add tomato paste, harissa, garlic, cumin, and ½ cup water, stir to combine.
Add stock, tomato and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil.
Turn down to medium heat, add fish and bay leaves.
Simmer for about 8 minutes or until fish is cooked.
Then remove fish with a slotted spoon. Discard bay leaves.

When soup has cooled a little, add half of the cilantro,
then pour into blender and puree until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Return soup to pan, add fish and peppers, and warm gently.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with crusty bread.

Briouat Bil Hout – Fried Pastries with Seafood

white fish or prawns/shrimp
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil


6 sheets filo pastry
1 egg white, lightly beaten
oil for deep frying

Cook white fish or prawns/shrimp till pink, let stand cool and cut into small pieces.
Put prawns into bowl, add parsley, green onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper,
lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss well to combine.

Using a ruler and sharp knife, cut filo sheets to 4 ½ inches wide, and 11 ¼ to 12 inches long.
Stack the sheets in a folded dry dish towel to keep from drying.
Take a strip with narrow end towards you, fold it in half to make it 2 ½ inches wide.
Place a generous teaspoon of filling ¼ inch from the base of the strip,
and fold the end diagonally across the filling so as to form a triangle.
Continue folding till near the end, brush the filo lightly with egg white to seal.
Then place on a cloth covered tray and keep covered with dish towel till ready to fry.

Heat the oil for frying and fry four at a time, turning over once for even browning.
(An easy test to check if oil is hot enough for deep frying is to drop a piece of bread into the oil,
and if it browns in 15 seconds, then you are ready to start.)

Meatball Tagine with Tomato & Harissa

2 lb ground beef
1 brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp Italian parsley
2 tbsp cilantro
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 egg


1 brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
2 400g (14 oz) tins chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp harissa


125 g (5 oz) red chili, stem removed
1 tbsp mint
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ cup olive oil

For harissa, combine all ingredients with 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon salt in food processor.
Process for 20 seconds, scrape down sides, then process for 30 seconds more.
With motor running gradually add rest of the oil. Spoon into jar.
Will keep in fridge for 6 months.

Combine onion, garlic, herbs, and egg in food processor to form a paste.
Add to meat, then add spices and roll into balls.
Heat oil in pan and cook balls for 8 to 10 minutes,
rolling over till fully browned. Set aside.

For the sauce, heat oil in pan and cook onion till soft, for about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, cinnamon, cumin, and paprika, cook for about 1 minute,
stir in tomato and harissa, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add meatballs and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in cilantro, simmer for 2 minutes more and serve.

Moroccan Meatballs with Herb & Lemon Sauce

½ brown onion, chopped
2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
2 slices white bread, crust removed
1 egg
1 ½ lb ground beef or lamb
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp black pepper


1 tbsp butter or oil
½ brown onion, chopped
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp tumeric
¼ tsp cumin
1 red chili, sliced or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ½ cup chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp lemon juice

In food processor, put onion and parsley.
Tear bread to pieces and add to processor with egg.
Add to meat, cumin, paprika, black pepper and 1 tsp salt.
Shape into balls and set aside.

Heat butter or oil, cook onion.
Add paprika, tumeric, cumin, and chili, cook for 1 minute.
Add stock and coriander then bring to boil.
Add meatballs, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Add parsley and lemon juice, return to simmer for 20 minutes.
Add lemon zest and serve.

Baked Fish with Harissa & Tomatoes

2 ½ lb whole white fish or fillets
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp harissa
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
2 large firm tomatoes, sliced
4 thyme sprigs

Preheat oven to 400° F, lightly grease a baking dish.
If using a whole fish, make diagonal cuts at the thickest part of the fish on both sides.
Combine garlic, harissa, and oil.
Spread the harissa mixture over the fish.
If using a whole fish place 2 teaspoons of harissa mixture and 2 slices of lemon inside the fish.
Arrange the onion slices in a layer in the baking dish,
then the tomato slices and thyme with the remaining lemon slices.
Place the fish on top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Transfer the onion and tomato slices to a serving dish and place the fish on top.

(This can also be cooked on a barbecue by placing the tomato and onion slices into the cavity of the fish together with the thyme sprigs.)

Couscous with Chicken & Vegetables

3 ½ lb chicken
3 tbsp smen (purified butter) or butter
1 brown onion
½ tsp tumeric
½ tsp cumin
8 small onions
½ tsp saffron
1 cinnamon stick
4 cilantro & 4 parsley sprigs tied in bunch
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 carrots, cut into chunks
4 zucchini
1 ½ cups shelled green peas
15 oz tin chickpeas
3 tsp harissa

Heat the smen or butter or oil in large pan.
Cut the chicken into pieces and brown all around.
Add onion and cook till soft.
Stir in the tumeric, cumin, and small onions.
Pour 3 cups of water then add saffron, cinnamon stick, herbs, and tomato.
Season with 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and black pepper.
Bring to a boil and cook for 25 minutes. Add the harissa.
Add carrots and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Add zucchini peas and chickpeas and cook for 20 minutes more,
or until chicken and vegetables are tender.

Fish with Harissa & Olives

4 – 6 firm white fish fillets
seasoned plain flour to dust
1 brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
14 oz tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp harissa
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup black olives
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Italian parsley

Dust the fish fillets with flour.
Cook each side for 2 minutes or until golden. Set aside.
Cook onion and garlic for 5 minutes.
Add tomato, harissa, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick, cook for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Season to taste.
Return fish to pan with olives, discard bay leaves and cinnamon stick,
and cook for 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Add lemon juice and parsley, cook for 1 minute and serve.