Warm lentil salad with haloumi

Now that the weather is starting to warm up it's a great time to transition from the hearty dishes of winter to slightly lighter dishes.

Tonight's dinner fits the bill:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut in half and sliced into half moon shapes
  • 1 red capsicum, skin blackened over gas burner and then skin rubbed off when cooled, core and seed removed, chopped into pieces
  • 400g can green lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves (I used home grown silverbeet instead)
  • Fennel wedges baked with olive oil until caramelised at 180 degrees celsius (this is optional)
  • Haloumi cheese, chopped into small wedge shapes

  1. Heat half the oil in a large frypan and add the onions and cook over medium heat until golden and starting to caramelise.
  2. Add the capsicum, fennel and cook until warmed through.
  3. Add the drained lentils.
  4. Combine remaining oil, garlic, vinegar and mustard, then stir into lentils with parsley and spinach (or silverbeet).
  5. Meanwhile, fry wedges of haloumi cheese with a little olive oil in a frypan until golden on both sides.
  6. Assemble dish with lentil mixture garnished with haloumi and a little extra parsley.

Recipe: Spanish Tortilla

Serves 4 as breakfast, entree or light lunch with salad

  • 1 large onion
  • 275g desiree potatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Peel onion and cut in half. Slice into thin half moons.
  2. Wash the potatoes and slice into thin pieces using a mandolin.
  3. Dry the potato slices in a clean tea towel.
  4. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a deep fry pan and when it's hot, add the potatoes and onion.
  5. Stir around in the oil to coat them and then turn the heat down to low. Add a sprinkling and salt and pepper, and then cover the saucepan with a lid.
  6. Cook gently for 20 minutes or until tender. Do not let them colour up too much. You want them to gently stew in the oil.
  7. Meanwhile break the eggs into a bowl and lightly break them up with a fork.
  8. When the potatoes and onions are cook transfer them to the eggs in the bowl.
  9. Put the frypan back on the heat on medium and add the rest of the olive oil and turn up to medium.
  10. Stir the eggs and potato mixture to combine and then pour into the frypan. Turn the heat down to its lowest and then leave to cook for 20-25 minutes. Every now and then draw the edge in with a palette knife to create a lovely rounded edge.
  11. When there is virtually no liquid left on the top surface of the tortilla, place a plate over the top of the frypan and gently invert he pan to flip the tortilla onto the plate.
  12. Once it is on the plate, gently slide it back into the pan so the other side can cook.
  13. Cook for about 2 minutes and then remove from heat for 5 minutes to settle.
  14. Serve hot or cold, cut into wedges.

Recipe: Brodetto (Seafood Stew)

Serves 2

  • 3 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil, plus extra to brush the bread
  • 450 grams of seafood marinara mix (mix of squid rings, chunks of fish, prawns, salmon)
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped up
  • 4 spring onions thinly sliced
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) white wine
  • 2 cups (500ml) fish stock
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat lead parsley
  1. Cut a small cross in the base of each tomato and plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds and then refresh in cold water. The peel will then come off easily. Halve the tomatoes, remove the seeds and slice the flesh into thin strips.
  2. Heat oil in a wide, shallow saucepan over medium to high heat.
  3. Ass the marinara mix and cook for 3 minutes or until it starts to colour.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and then add the sliced garlic, spring onion and chilli.
  5. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  6. Add the tomato, tomato paste, saffron, wine and stock.
  7. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes or until the seafood is cooked through.
  8. Meanwhile, heat a chargrill pan over high heat. Brush both sides of the bread with oil and grill for 2 minutes on each side until well coloured.
  9. Rub each side of the bread with the whole garlic clove, then divide among the warmed serving bowls.
  10. Lift the seafood out of the pan and place on the toast. Stir in the parsley. Boil the sauce rapidly for 5 minutes until reduced by half.
  11. Pour over the seafood and bread and then sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Note: I served this with steamed green beans and roast sweet potato.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 20

  • 125g (4 oz) butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 250g (8 oz) chopped chocolate or chocolate chips


  1. Place butter, vanilla extract and sugar in a bowl and then beat until creamy.
  2. Beat egg into mixture and then stir through flours, coconut and chocolate.
  3. Roll 2 tablespoons of mixture at a time into balls.
  4. Place balls on lined baking trays and flatten a little.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 190 degrees celsius.
  6. Cool on trays if you can bear to leave them to cool!

Review: Hu Tong Dumping Bar, Melbourne

Having been absent from my food blog for a while (but not absent from fantastic food adventures), today's dim sum stirred my passions to again post.

The venue was Hu Tong Dumpling Bar at 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne.

And the dumplings were to die for! Yes, up there with something that wouldn't be far off a "last meal on earth" selection.

The absolute highlights were the Shao-Long Bao (or "soup dumplings"). Yes, delectable little meat filled dumplings that contain soupy liquid. After dipping in vinegar and garnishing with ginger you nibble a little corner off the dumpling and suck out the soupy liquid. Sexy food indeed!

And then for some spice, wontons with hot chilli sauce.
Made the lips tingle and the mouth sing. Divine.

The other dishes we ordered (including pork belly, boiled pork dumpings, boiled dumplings stuffed with spinach, spicy squid, and prawn dumplings with chives from the specials menu) were also most enjoyable but had tough competition in the first two.

We were seated on the top floor amidst beautiful chinese wooden carvings and highlights of red.

Service was generally good and the price was definitely right for the 12 or so dishes we shared - $18 each for the six of us.

We will definitely be returning here again. And tonight I know what I'll be dreaming of!

Recipe: Rosemary Flatbread Tarts filled with Coriander Pesto, Tomato and Onion


  • Rosemary Flatbread dough (see recipe below)
  • Coriander Pesto (see recipe below)
  • Ripe tomato (with seeds removed)
  • 1/4 red onion
  1. Take some thinly rolled out Rosemary Flatbread (see recipe below).
  2. Cut out a circular shape large enough to cover the inside of an oiled mini-muffin tin.
  3. Cook according to the recipe below.
  4. Once cooked, cool down and either use or store in an airtight container.
  5. To make a great finger food, fill tart cases with Coriander Pesto.
  6. Top each tart with a mixture of finely chopped tomato (with seeds removed) and finely chopped onion, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Recipe: Rosemary Flatbread


  • 3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • 120ml lukewarm water
  • 1 & 3/4 cups plain or bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon salt flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Combine yeast, sugar and 1 tablespoon of water, and set aside in a warm spot for 3-4 minutes or until foaming.
  4. Mix together the flour and sea salt in a large bowl.
  5. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture, remaining water, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the rosemary.
  6. Stir until a sticky dough forms.
  7. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 4-5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  8. Shape into a ball and then cut into eight pieces.
  9. Cover the pieces with cling wrap and work with one at a time.
  10. Lightly dust the first piece of dough with extra flour and roll it out as thinly as possible.
  11. Place onto a baking tray (cut if you need to make it fit).
  12. Brush with a little of the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with some of the salt flakes and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden and the bases are crisp.
  13. Cool on a wire rack while you repeat this process with the remaining dough, oil and salt.
  14. Will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Recipe: Coriander and Cashew Pesto

Makes 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup)

  • 60 g (21/4 oz/2 cups) fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 80 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) cashew nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped (use less if you don't like things spicy)
  • olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Mix the coriander, cashew nuts, garlic, ginger and chilli in a food processor until well blended.
  2. With the motor running, add olive oil a little at a time until the pesto has a smooth consistency.
  3. Add the lime juice and season with salt and black pepper.
  4. Either use within a day or so, or spoon into a sterilized jar and keep in the fridge.
  5. Once you’ve opened the jar, pour a thin layer of oil over the top of the pesto to keep it fresh.
Sterilise a jar by washing in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher, and then rinsing well. Place the jar and lid on a baking tray and dry in a warm oven for at least 20 minutes. Leave jar to cool before using.

Review: Yum Cha at Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant

The beginning of the yum cha odyssey

While I have never been a smoker and experienced the shakes and agitation of withdrawal, I get what I can only imagine must be a similar deep sense of need when I haven't had yum cha for a while!
Fortunately I have some friends who are also yum cha aficionados (or should that be "addicts") , and together we have commenced an exploration of Melbourne's yum cha scene. I hope you'll come along for the ride... just be sure to keep a tight hold on your chopsticks and keep the lazy-Susan a-spinning!

Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant
Address: 155 Burwood Highway, Burwood East
Phone: 9802 3788
Yum Cha daily, open 7 days

With six dining companions - including one hardcore vegetarian - we take our place at the 11am yum cha sitting. The large room is already buzzing with yum cha trolleys and the happy hum of diners taking their first bites.

Almost before we've had a moment to settle at the table, the trolleys descend upon us en masse and the battle of the yum cha begins. The "pushers" reel off what they have on offer: "You want prawn dumpling, prawn and chive dumpling, prawn and pork dumpling, steamed bun, steamed vegetables..." and a string of other things my ear doesn't quite capture. But these are not so much questions as assertions. In a court of law you are innocent until proven guilty. In this yum cha restaurant you are assumed to be wanting one of everything on the trolley unless you manage to shake your head or say no in time!

Needless to say we have soon assembled a wealth of steamer baskets and plates on our table. The dumplings are delightful - the steamed pastry thin but toothsome and the seafood, meat and vegetable fillings succulent and fresh.

A pan fried tofu-like skin encasing a vegetable filling is enjoyed by the vegetable and meat-lovers alike, as is a white latice-like pastry encasing a crunchy filling of vegetables, and squares of fried tofu dressed in a soy and chilli sauce. And while the pork buns are not of the typical white and fluffy variety, their denser bready texture and glazed top are a pleasant change.

A heaving plate of chinese brocolli provides a refreshing break in proceedings. But before long we are tucking into a plate of little whitebait encased in a crispy batter that is a little on the heavy side but lifted with the addition of thinly sliced chilli, garlic and spring onion.

And what looks like crumbed cutlets with a bone sticking out turns out to be a minced meat mixture encasing part of an egg, with a celery stick masquerading as the bone. In yum cha things are often not what they seem - but that is half the fun.

Unfortunately chinese desserts are often a bit of a disappointment. The one consistent exception I have found is the custard tart. Gold Leaf does not disappoint - the tart comes with a delightfully flaky pastry (that I am convinced travels straight to my hips - but to hell with it) and a still-warm filling of eggy custard. Divine.

Two other intriguing desserts capture our interest enough to liberate them from their trolleys. The first is a plate of balls - a little smaller than a tennis ball, encrusted in sesame seeds and deep fried. But once a chopstick is poked into it, it rapidly deflates and all that remains is a sticky paste with the dominant taste being the deep fried sesame seeds.

The other dessert of interest presents as three small pastries shaped and coloured to resemble cobbs of corn, still in their husks. But as one of our party observed after tasting these, they look a lot more interesting on the outside than they taste on the inside (which for the record, turned out to be some sort of sweetened bean paste filling). Ah well - you can't win them all.

While Gold Leaf restaurant may be out in the 'burbs, it is well worth a trip for a fun lunch with friends and lots of great taste sensations, including enough for vegetarians. Just be sure to bring a sense of curiosity and a good balance of assertiveness to fend off the trolley pusher advances lest you end up like one of the sesame encrusted balls!

Cost: Approx $20 pp for a stomach full of yum cha

The experience in a sentence:

Mouthfuls of delectable steamed and fried delights amongst the frenetic pace of yum cha trolleys jostling for attention.

Marvellous Morocco Dinner Party

Since returning from Morocco a month ago, I have been reliving the wonderful experiences I had there by cooking up a storm of Moroccan food. Last weekend I hosted a Moroccan dinner party for friends.

Below are the recipes from my dinner party - all highly recommended by my taste testers!

Recipe: Moroccan spiced nuts

  • 40 grams unsalted butter
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g mixed nuts
  • 4 large cloves garlic, bruised with the back of a knife
  • 4 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (or to taste)

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large fryng pan over medium heat.
  2. Add mixed nuts and garlic.
  3. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Drain on paper towels, discard garlic and place nuts in a bowl.
  5. Place salt in a mortar and pestle and grind to a powder.
  6. Add sugar and remaining spices and mix well.
  7. Combine mixed nuts and spices and toss together.
  8. Spread on a tray to cool before serving.

Recipe: Christine's Zesty Cocktails

  • 1 bottle of Ocean Spray Cranberry Pomegranate Juice (1.5 litres)
  • 12 iceblocks (and extras to serve)
  • 1/2 bottle ginger beer
  • 1 lime sliced thinly
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Knob of ginger - peeled and roughly crushed in a mortar (so it stays whole but releases its flavour)
  • 1 thinly sliced hot red chilli (with seeds removed)
  • Generous handful of mint - chop some up finely and tear the rest up
  • A few sprigs of coriander chopped finely
  • 1 bottle gin (my favourites are Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray)

  1. Combine all the ingredients except for the gin in a large glass jug.
  2. When ready to serve, pour gin into cocktail glass to taste, add a few iceblocks and pour in mixture.

Recipe: Briouat B'Kefta - Lamb and Filo Cigars

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 brown onion finely chopped
  • 350g lean minced lamb
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of saffron, soaked in warm water
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 8 - 12 sheets filo pastry
  • 90g butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

  1. Heat oil in large fry pan, add onion and cook over low heat for 5 minutes until onion is soft.
  2. Increase the heat and then add the lamb and garlic, breaking up any lumps of meat with a wooden spoon and cooking for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the spices and coriander and parsley.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute stirring continuously.
  5. Transfer the lamb mixture to a sieve and drain to remove the fat.
  6. Put the mixture in a bowl and allow to cool a little before mixing in the egg.
  7. Remove 8 sheets of filo pastry from the pack.
  8. Stack on a cutting surface with the longest side in front of you.
  9. Measure and mark pastry into 3 even sized strips and cut through the 8 sheets with a sharp knife to give strips around 12cm wide and around 30 cm long.
  10. Put the strips in folds of a dry tea towel.
  11. Place a strip of filo on your work surface with the narrow end towards you.
  12. Brush the strip with the melted butter.
  13. Top with another strip.
  14. Place 1 tablespoon of filling about 1xm in from the base and side of the strip.
  15. Fold the end of the filo over the filling, fold in the sides and roll to the end of the strip.
  16. Place on a greased baking tray, seam side down.
  17. Repeat with the remaining mixture and filo.
  18. Brush the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  19. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. (It's best to do this after the rolls are completed so that the kitchen stays cool while working with the filo).
  20. Back the pastries for 15 minutes or until they are golden.

Note: Can be frozen, wrapped separately in gladwrap and stored in a container.

Recipe: Kesra - Moroccan Bread

  • 3 teaspoons active dried yeast
  • 500g (3 1/3 cups) strong flour or plain flour, preferably unbleached
  • 200g wholemeal flour
  • 125 ml lukewarm milk
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Makes 3 loaves


  1. Dissolve the yeast in 125ml (1/2 cup) lukewarm water.
  2. Sift the flours and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture into the well, then add 250ml (1 cup) lukewarm water and the milk.
  3. Stir sufficient flour into the liquid to form a thin batter, cover the bowl with a cloth and set aside for 15 minutes until bubbles form.
  4. Gradually stir in the remaining flour, then mix with your hands to form a soft dough, adding a little extra water if necessary.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. The dough should spring back when you make an impression with your finger.
  6. Knead in extra plain flour if the dough is sticky after a few minutes of kneeding.
  7. As the dough requires only one rising, divide into 3 even sized pieces.
  8. Shape each piece into a ball and roll out on a floured work surface to a round of 23 cm in diameter.
  9. Sprinkle cornmeal onto 3 baking trays. Life the rounds onto the trays.
  10. Brush tops lightly with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  11. Cover the loaves with clean cloths and leave in a wam, draught free place for 1 hour to rise.
  12. While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  13. The bread is ready to be baked when a depression remains in the dought after it is pressed lightly with a fingertip.
  14. Just before baking, prick the loaves with a fork.
  15. Bake the breads in the hot oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the base is tapped.
  16. Cool on a wire rack.
  17. Cut in wedges to serve.

Note: Best eaten on the day of baking but can be frozen and reheated later.

Recipe: Boudenjal Maqli - Fried eggplant jam

  • 2 x 400g eggplants, cut into 1cm thick slices
  • olive oil for frying
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Serves 6 - 8

  1. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and drain in a colander for 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse well, squeeze gently and pat dry.
  3. Heat about 5mm of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the egllplant in batches until golden brown on both sides.
  4. Drain on paper towel, the chop finely.
  5. Put the eggplant in a colander and leave it until mosr of the oil has drained off, then transfer to a bowl and add the garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander and sugar.
  6. Wipe out the pan, add the eggplant mixture and stir constantly over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Serve with bread as a dip, or with other salads.

Recipe: Matisha Maasla - Sweet Tomato Jam

  • 1.5kg ripe tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 coarsley grated brown onions
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cinammon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

Makes 625m (2 1/2 cups)

  1. Halve the tomatoes crossways and squeeze out the seeds.
  2. Coarsley grate the tomatoes into a bowl down to their skin.
  3. Discard the skin and set the grated tomato aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan over low heat and add the onion.
  5. Cook for 5 minutes and then stir in the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick and pepper. Cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the saffron, together with the tomato paste, tomatoes and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.
  7. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 45 to 50 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates.
  8. Be sure to stir often as the sauce starts to thicken to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  9. When the oil begins to separate, stir in the honey and ground cinnamon and cook over low heat for 2 minutes.
  10. Adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary.
Serve with bread as a dip or as a salad. You can also use this as a base for some tagines.

Note: Can be stored in a clean, sealed jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Recipe: Sweet Lamb Tagine

  • 3 white onions
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
  • 8 lamb forequarter chops
  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup (75g) roast blanched almonds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

If possible, start this recipe the day before you want to serve it.

  1. Chop two onions into rings and set aside.
  2. Chop the other onions up into small pieces.
  3. Combine the chopped up onion with the paprika, saffron, ginger, bay leaves, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  4. Cut the chops in half and coat with this mixture.
  5. Marinate for at least 4 hours - overnight if possible.
  6. Brown chops in a heavy-based pan for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  7. Add water, bring to the boil and simmer for a few hours (the longer the more tender the meat comes). The meat in the photo was cooked for about 4 hours and fell right away from the bone.
  8. Add onion rings, orange juice, honey and cinnamon.
  9. Simmer a further 15 minutes.
  10. Towards the end of cooking add the prunes.
  11. Stand for 15 minutes then transfer the meat to a tajine (if you have one).
  12. Pour the sweet onion sauce from the pot over the top and garnish with almonds and sesame seeds.

Recipe: Tagine Kefta 'Mchermel - Meatballs with herbs and lemon


  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 slices whitebread
  • 1 egg
  • 500g minced lamb or beef (I used beef)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Herb and lemon sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 finely chopped brown onion
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and sliced or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 375ml (1 1/2 cups) chicken stock (plus a little more if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 preserved lemon

  1. Put the onions and parsley in the food processor bowl and process until finely chopped.
  2. Tear the bread into pieces and add to the bowl with the egg and process briefly.
  3. Add the meat, cumin, paprika, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Process to a thick paste, scraping down the side of the bowl occassionally.
  5. Alternatively grate the onion, chop the parsley, crumb the bread and add to the mince in the bowl with egg, spices and seasoning. Knead until combined.
  6. With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a tray.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until required.
  8. To make the herb and lemon sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion.
  9. Cook over low heat for 8 minutes until softened.
  10. Add the paprika, tumeric, cumin and chilli/cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  11. Add the stock and coriander and bring to the boil.
  12. Add the meatballs, shaking the pan so that they settle into the sauce.
  13. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  14. Add most of the parsley and the lemon juice and season if necessary.
  15. Return to the simmer for 2 minutes.
  16. Rinse the preserved lemon under running water, remove and discard the pulp and membrane. Cut the rind into strips.
  17. Add the preserved lemon to the meatballs.
  18. Cook for a few more minutes and then transfer to a tagine or bowl. Scatter with the remaining parsley.

Recipe: Cous Cous

Both regular cous cous and instant cous cous should be prepared in the same way - steaming the grains to make them light and fluffy.

  • 500g instant cous cous
  • 90g diced ghee or butter
  • ground sea salt

  1. Line a steamer saucepan top section with muslin cloth.
  2. Put the cous cous in the steamer.
  3. Cover with cold water, stir with a balloon whisk and strain the water off through the muslin and holes.
  4. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the cous cous to swell, stirring occassionally with the whisk to seperate grains.
  5. Place the steamer over a saucepan of boiling water or a pan of food being cooked.
  6. The base of the steamer must not touch the top of the water.
  7. Cook until steam rises through the grains and then cover and steam for 10 minutes.
  8. Fork through cous cous occassionally to steam it evenly.
  9. Add the ghee and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  10. Sprinkle with 125ml (1/4 cup) of cold water.
  11. Stir again with the whisk to seperate grains.
  12. At this stage, cous cous can be covered with a damp cloth and left several hours if necessary.
  13. About 10 minutes before you want to serve the cous cous, return the steamer over the boiling water or pan of food.
  14. Do not cover it and fluff up with a fork.
  15. Once the 10 minutes have passed, turn the cous cous out into a bowl, stir well with the whisk and serve.

Recipe: Mhancha - Sweet almond and pastry spiral

  • 500g blanched almonds
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmegg
  • 16 sheets filo pastry
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 200g honey
  • icing sugar and ground cinnamon to garnish

Serves 8-10

  1. Preheat the over to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. To make the filling, put the almonds into a food processor with the caster sugar and blend to a paste.
  3. Add the orange blossom water and blend briefly to combine.
  4. Place the butter into a saucepan with the almond paste and stir over moderate heat for 5 minutes, making sure it doesn't burn.
  5. Leave to cool and then add the egg yolk and cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Shape the almond mixture into 8 long sticks the thickness of your thumb.
  7. Brush a pastry sheet with egg yolk and place another sheet on top (the egg will make it stick.
  8. Place oe of the almond logs in the centre and roll the pastry around it to look like a snake.
  9. Continue this process until you have 8 snakes.
  10. Join the snakes end to end, shaping into a tight spiral, onto a buttered round baking tray.
  11. Brush evenly with butter. Bake unti golden.
  12. Remove from the over and brush with warmed honey all over.
  13. Cool before serving and sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon.