Mourad: New Moroccan, written by Mourad Lahlou, features over 100 innovative recipes with Moroccan flavors. A few highlights include Almond Cookies, Fennel and Tomato Stew, Steamed Lamb Shoulder with Saffron Butter and Cumin Salt, Sesame Parfait, Chicken Skewers, Carrot Soup with Citrus Salad, and more. I will also be sharing his recipe for Burnt Honey Ice Cream following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Artisan Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Mourad Lahlou came to California from Marrakesh to study economics at San Francisco State University in 1985. With no formal culinary training, he started cooking as a way to recreate the dishes from his childhood. His passion grew into a career and his restaurant, Aziza in San Franciso, is currently the only Moroccan restaurant in the United States to have a Michelin star.
Mourad: New Moroccan
Mourad begins the cookbook with seven basics that will give you an in-depth lesson on the foundation of Moroccan cuisine: Spices, Preserved Lemons, Couscous, Warqa, Harissa, Charmoula, and the Tagine. Moroccan spice mixes are often difficult to find in the United States, so I especially appreciated his inclusion of a few homemade versions. After this thorough introduction, he delves into the recipes: Bites to Begin, The Dance of the Seven Salads, If Soup Could Talk, Daily Bread, Fish Story, Back to Beldi, Rite of Spring, Sides Front and Center, The Sweet Spot, and Tea and Me.
Those who have been exposed to Moroccan cooking will find some familiar dishes and flavors, but Mourad takes the cuisine a step further. He is continually evolving and adding elements based on his surroundings and experiences. Some common ingredients in Morocco are hard to come by in California, so he has learned to adapt his dishes accordingly. He offers glimpses into his life in Morocco that helped shape him into the chef he is today.
The photography is provided by Deborah Jones. Photos are scattered throughout the book of the finished dishes, food, people, and beautiful scenery. Titles are written in English. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, helpful tips, menu ideas, and serving size.
This book is a great pick for more experienced cooks looking to incorporate Moroccan flavors into their kitchen in fun and exciting ways. When I first flipped through the pages, I was a little intimidated (and still feel that way a bit about particular recipes- looking at you Warqa and Homemade Couscous). Even though many of the dishes are on the more labor-intensive side, the steps can often be broken up if you are short on time. I especially enjoyed the tips, variations, and menu ideas Mourad offers throughout the book to help expand the recipes.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store, but having a market with North African ingredients nearby will be helpful in locating items such as saffron, Marash pepper, fava beans, orange blossom water, green cardamom pods, piquillo peppers, and more. A list of sources has been included for helpful searching.
Burnt Honey Ice Cream
While flipping through the book, the Burnt Honey Ice Cream immediately stood out to me. Orange blossom honey is simmered on the stove until caramelized with a distinct scent similar to toasted marshmallows. It adds an incredible layer of flavor to the rich and sweet ice cream. Mourad mentions, “the first time you make it, keep your caramelizing fairly light. If you like the effect, you can go darker next time.”
This is indeed quite the rich ice cream, with the inclusion of the caramelized honey and nine egg yolks, but it comes together relatively easily. Just be keep an eye on the honey as it simmers (it will quickly darken) and when mixing in the eggs. After adding the eggs to thicken the cream, take care to not increase the heat to try to speed up the process. Stir constantly and heat just until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Otherwise, you may end up with cooked, curdled cream. If the mixture does curdle, I have been able to save ice cream by blending it until smooth in a stand blender or with an immersion blender as a last resort.
Pairing recommendations for the Burnt Honey Ice Cream include Beghrir or warm apple pie/tart. For those who want something a bit different, Mourad also features recipes for Curry Ice Cream and Fig Leaf Ice Cream.
Looking for more ice cream recipes?
I also tried the White Bread with Sesame Seeds, Spinach Rolls with a Caper-Pine Nut Sauce, and Moroccan Mint Tea.
As a bread-lover, I particularly enjoyed the Daily Bread chapter. I started with the White Bread with Sesame Seeds, but can’t wait to attempt a few of the others. This comforting bread has a decent amount of rise time, but there is not much needed to prep. A basic yeast-based dough is formed into discs, slashed across the top in a crosshatch pattern, topped with sesame seeds, and baked until golden. They are best the day they are made warm from the oven.
I made the Spinach Rolls (a play on Briwat) with phyllo since I was unable to locate Warqa (and have yet to try the homemade recipe in the book). To be completely honest, I was a little skeptical of the recipe with first glance at the ingredients. Half a cup of thinly sliced garlic seemed like quite a bit (but it does make 3 cups of filling altogether). The results were incredible. The rolls were not overly garlicky at all and they paired perfectly with the salty caper-pine nut sauce. Mourad gives two options on preparing the rolls, baking or frying. I went with baking since that is what he recommended when using phyllo wrappers.
The Moroccan Mint Tea was another huge hit and there wasn’t a single drop left. This one is quite sweet (though Mourad points out he decreased the sugar compared to the original) and doesn’t require the use of a traditional metal teapot. Water is simmered with gunpowder tea, granulated sugar, and fresh peppermint or spearmint with the optional addition of verbena. It is definitely the perfect way to use up the extra mint from our backyard.
Burnt Honey Ice Cream Recipe
Excerpt from Mourad: New Moroccan
Burnt Honey Ice Cream
- 9 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (170 grams) orange blossom honey
- 2 cups (528 grams) heavy cream
- 1 cup (250 grams) whole milk
- 1 cup (110 grams) very cold crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- Fill a large bowl with ice water. Put a medium bowl with a fine-mesh strainer in the ice water.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl.
- Heat the honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until darkened in color. The honey will foam up initially, then the foam will lessen and the color and smell will intensify (it will smell like burnt marshmallows).
- Meanwhile, combine the cream and milk in a medium saucepan and warm over medium heat.
- Slowly, because it will bubble up, whisk the cream mixture into the honey about 1/2 cup (125 grams) at a time. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, then remove from the heat and, whisking constantly, pour the hot cream mixture into the eggs and sugar, whisking until combined. Pour back into the pan and whisk constantly over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, until steam begins to rise from the surface, the bubbles in the center of the pan will begin to lessen, and the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Strain the custard into the bowl over the ice water. Whisk in the crème fraîche and salt. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably, overnight.
- Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and spin according to the manufacturer's instructions. The finished ice cream will have a soft texture. If desired, transfer to a freezer container and freeze for a firmer ice cream.