Admittedly not having much knowledge of Moroccan cuisine, I was excited to recently receive a copy of Mourad: New Moroccan. The author, 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.
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. These are some of my favorite parts of a cookbook: learning about someone else’s experiences in another country and culture in relation to food.
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 it is helpful that he includes homemade versions. After this thorough introduction, he delves into the recipes: Bites to Begin, The Dance of the Seven Salads (7 means wholeness in many Muslim cultures- there doesn’t always have to be seven salads available at a meal, but it must be an odd number), 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.
This book is probably not best for someone who has just started cooking or has very little time to cook. I don’t see myself pulling this one off the shelf if I only have 30 minutes to prepare a meal. This is a book I will turn to when I want a challenge and have Chad around to help tend to the kids. 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). Most of the recipes have multiple steps and just as many ingredients. Upon a second look, I became more excited. Even though many of the recipes are labor-intensive, the steps can often be broken up. With some planning, I was able to find quite a few recipes to try. I look forward to experimenting even more with the recipes now that Claire is getting a little older. This will be a great book to pick up when I am in a cooking rut and need a little inspiration. I particularly enjoyed the tips, variations, and menu ideas he offers throughout the book to help expand the recipes.
Some of the first recipes I tried were Moroccan Bread, Spinach Rolls with a Caper-Pine Nut Sauce, and Moroccan Mint Tea. The Moroccan Bread was a huge hit with Evan. There is a lot of rise time, but not much needed in the way of prep. I made the Spinach Rolls with phyllo since I was unable to locate Warqa (and haven’t attempted using the recipe in the book to make it myself yet). To be honest, I was a little skeptical of the recipe with first glance of the ingredients. Half a cup of thinly sliced garlic seemed like quite a bit. Regardless, I made everything exactly according to the recipe and it came out delicious. The rolls were not overly garlicky at all and they paired perfectly with the salty caper-pine nut sauce. My mother in law was here visiting at the time and there was not a single roll leftover. 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. I wasn’t sure about the Moroccan Mint Tea at first either, but it definitely grew on me. I don’t drink a lot of sweet teas and this one is quite sweet (though Mourad points out he decreased the sugar compared to authentic Moroccan tea). I made it for friends and the tea was a huge success. There wasn’t a drop left.
While flipping through the book, the Burnt Honey Ice Cream immediately stood out to me. I have never had honey in ice cream, especially honey that has been caramelized. This is quite the rich ice cream, with the inclusion of the caramelized honey and nine egg yolks, but perfect for those who love a deep caramel flavored dessert. Mourad recommends serving it with Beghrir or warm apple pie. For those who want something a bit different, there is a recipe for Curry Ice Cream on the opposite page.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Artisan for review. All opinions stated are my own. I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program and earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Burnt Honey Ice Cream
Adapted from Mourad: New Moroccan
9 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup creme fraiche, chilled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pour ice water into a large bowl. Gently place a medium bowl inside the large bowl, making sure the water level isn’t too close to the top of the medium bowl.
In another medium bowl, beat together egg yolks and sugar.
In a medium saucepan, add honey over medium heat. A foam will develop. Cook until the foam decreases and develops a deep amber color, about 5 minutes.
In a small saucepan, heat cream and milk over medium heat. Once warmed, gradually add to the darkened honey, 1/2 cup at a time, while continuously whisking. Remove from heat once it starts to simmer again.
While continuously whisking the eggs and sugar, slowly pour in the heated cream and honey, 1/4 cup at a time. Once thinned and heated, slowly pour back into the saucepan with remaining cream and honey while constantly whisking. Place over medium low heat and continue to stir until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Pour through a fine mesh strainer into the chilled medium bowl. Whisk in the creme fraiche and salt until smooth. Allow to cool until room temperature, stirring occasionally. Remove from the ice bath, cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, 2 hours to overnight.
Pour into chilled ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer safe container and chill until the mixture reaches desired texture.