Archives for posts with tag: Marrakech

When I returned to my apartment from my vacation, the fridge was practically empty and nothing was in the cabinets.  I had to do a major grocery haul.  My grocery cart was exploding like a volcano and yet when I came home and put everything away it looked like I had bought very little.  Isn’t that always the case :).  But, I did stock up on olives, lemons, mint, and other Moroccan ingredients.

Oh, and guess who’s *thinking* about going back on P90-X…you guessed it, the husband.  He bought salmon filets this time instead of chicken breasts.  I think his culinary mind just might be expanding.  But, thankfully instead of 30 chicken breasts, he picked up 1 salmon filet.  Of course, he wanted me to saute the salmon and give him a side of asparagus with it.  But no!  I did not yield to the p90-X ways!

I decided to make salmon cakes slightly influenced by my Moroccan vacation.  (That is so me, I’ll probably be cooking Moroccan for 2 weeks now, hehe).  Well, Morocco was definitely sensory overload and makes you feel all inspired to bring the beauty of the cuisine into your own kitchen.  Though you probably will not find salmon cakes available in Morocco, I used Marrakech as inspiration for my dish.

My attempt at a Moroccan spice pyramid ;)

I was ready to cook up the salmon cakes and then my husband’s friend calls him to go out for dinner.  His wife was not joining them so I decided to stay home.  Therefore, I made some salmon cakes for my husband’s lunch the next day.  Much to my absolute dismay, when he got home and I asked him where they went for dinner he told me it was an Italian chain restaurant that I have not even thought about going since I was probably 7 years old.  He left my dinner for that!  I know we live in a small city, but still, there are many better options out there.  There are men for you ;).  At least he told me it was not good.  Anyway, here’s the recipe for Moroccan Spiced Salmon Cakes.  Enjoy!

Moroccan Spiced Salmon Cakes

Serves 4-5

adapted from Ina Garten’s Salmon Cakes Recipe

Ingredients

3/4 pound wild salmon filet

1/2 a yellow pepper

1/2 an orange pepper (use any colored pepper you like)

2 jalapeno peppers (seeded if you don’t want it very spicy)

7-8 baby carrots or 1 whole carrot, peeled

3 scallions

1/2 cup pitted olives

1/2 a small red onion

1 small shallot

3 cloves garlic

15-20 sprigs of chives, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano (probably the only case in which I will use dried herbs)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 egg

1/2 cup bread crumbs ( I just used old bread and toasted it and crumbled it up.)

2 tablespoons mayo

2 tablespoons creme fraiche

1 heaping teaspoon stoneground Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

salt to taste (1/2 tsp or so)

pepper if needed

olive oil for frying

lemon wedges for serving

lettuce of your choice for serving (I used red and green Bibb lettuce)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the salmon on a baking tray and lightly salt and cover with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until almost done.  Meanwhile, take all the vegetables (including the olives and except the chives) and pulse them in a food processor until they still have some texture.  If you don’t have a food processor, just finely chop them all.  Lightly saute the vegetables on medium heat with the salt and a little pepper in olive oil for about 10 minutes.  Place the vegetables in a bowl and allow to cool slightly.  Next, combine the mayo, creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice together in a bowl.  By this time the salmon should be ready, allow it to rest for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes flake the salmon (remove skin) and combine it with the vegetables.  (If the salmon is still hot then allow it to cool down a little more.)  Next, mix in half of the mayo/sour cream mixture (reserve the rest for drizzling afterwards), the egg, and the chives with the salmon and vegetables.  Combine and add in the bread crumbs.  Allow the whole mixture to cool for at least an hour.

Heat a pan and just lightly coat it with olive oil.  Form into cakes, about the size of your palm (they don’t have to be perfect) and fry on each side until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Plate on top of lettuce or greens of your choice and with a wedge of lemon.  Drizzle a little of the remaining mayo/sour cream sauce on top, garnish with chives and serve.

Marrakech personified

My husband and I recently returned from a vacation to Morocco.  We spent most of our time in Marrakech.  Morocco is somewhere I’ve wanted to go for ages and when the opportunity arose I was set on traveling there.  Marrakech, in some ways reminded me of Pakistan–the haggling shopkeepers, the crowds, the homes, and the hospitality.  We were lucky enough to do a great deal of exploring despite the rainy weather boooooo!  The few days when the sun was out were amazing!  But, more than anything we ate and ate and then ate some more.  I have fallen off the healthy eating boat and am going to get back on it now that I’m back *fingers crossed.*

Moroccan Salads at Le Tanjia

Chicken Tagine with Citrons Confits

The Djemaa el Fna or the central square in the old city of Marrakech is bustling with food stalls serving up traditional Moroccan fare such as cous cous, sujok, tagines, and pastilla.  If you enter one of the many alleys you are led to different quarters; one for spices, meats, vegetables, fruits, seafood.  It is like manipulating a maze.  My husband and I had no idea where we were going exactly but without fail stumbled upon a multitude of food “destinations.”

Djemaa el Fna

I loved the spices available there.  Sacks full of spices topped off in a pyramid shape were at every corner perfuming the air.  The fragrant aromas of cumin, saffron, ginger, and ras el hanout permeated the city.  Vibrant colors always catch my eyes and Marrakech was definitely bliss for my senses.

Bright, vibrant colored lemons and oranges were a daily staple for me.  I have never loved eating oranges on their own but being served fresh tree picked clementines and oranges daily can change a person’s perspectives.  The citrons confits or preserved salted lemons also utterly transformed my food journey.  The flavors exploded in my mouth– mellow yet tangy, bright and pungent.  Oh and the olives!  How can I forget the olives.  I have never consumed so many olives on a daily basis in my life.  Let me tell you, the olives in Morocco taste so much better than any other olive I have ever tasted.  My husband who *detests* olives was chowing them down like they were bon bons.  They were mild and not as vinegar laden as many other olives you find in North America.  Often times, they were marinated in lemon, thyme, garlic and other spices I could not quite discern.

Mint tea was another thing I consumed in enormous quantities.  Making mint tea is a real art.  Holding the teapot then raising your arm in an acrobatic motion and pouring just so the right amount of froth can cover the tea and then discarding the first glass so that all the impurities are taken out of the tea is almost scientific.  Huge bunches of mint were used in this tea creating such a pronounced yet delicate flavor.  Another thing that tasted like a completely different thing was honey.  Mind you, I only buy local and organic honey but this honey in Morocco beats any other honey I have ever tasted.  The bread was also another highlight of the trip.  Carb counters beware!  This bread is thick, dense, and chewy.  There is also a little honey added to it, creating a phenomenal taste.  Absolute heaven!

One thing I must say is that my perception of Moroccan food was a little off.  My husband and I took a cooking class with Lala Nazha, a famous cooking instructor in Marrakech.  I was speaking with her about how I would prepare cous cous.  First of all it would probably be instant whereas in Morocco they use a couscoussiere and is about a three hour process of steaming, and fluffing with olive oil and water.  Also, stewed meat is served on top and nothing is mixed in with the cous cous itself.  When I make cous cous I stir in nuts, dried fruits, herbs, vegetables and so on.  I told Lala Nazha this and she labeled my version “false cous cous.”  (Truth be told, I think I prefer my version of cous cous better, this could be because I felt the cous cous needed more flavor and texture.)  But, other than that the food in Morocco was truly memorable and I most certainly wish to return at some point because I only dipped my toe into the ocean that is Morocco and Moroccan cuisine.

Oh yes!  Before I forget, if anyone is traveling to Marrakech you must stay at Riad Dar One.   It was an absolute delight.  The owner, Jean Peres, and his staff are so friendly and helpful.  I have never had such a pleasant stay at a hotel.  The Riad itself is gorgeous and the rooms are modern yet have a distinct Moroccan flair.  I have nothing but praise for this establishment!

Here are  more pictures of the trip.  Enjoy!

Delicious honey, butter, and marmalade

Tagines

Eggplant and Tomato Dip

Cafe Arabe


Saffron growing in Ourika

Fresh Salt harvested outside Ourika by a Berber family

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