Wednesday, May 04, 2011
A delicious end to a Moroccan dinner!
Our church, Immanuel Lutheran, has a system of connection groups, with the purpose of getting folks together who might otherwise just say "hi" on Sunday mornings. Of course there are Bible study groups, and mission groups, but there are also lots of interest groups: golf, theatre, walking, gardening, and the one I'm part of, a gourmet cooking group.
Last night we met and the culinary focus was North African. The food is rich and spicy so, in my opinion, needs a light dessert. I set out to do an orange dessert but found some blood oranges as well. Which I found odd because in my mind I thought the blood orange season was in the winter. But I still had to have them. It made a beautiful dessert. I tossed slices of regular and blood oranges with dates and a typical Moroccan seasoning, ras el hanout. This is sort of like the Indian curry spice blend, in that no two folks make it the same way, or maybe even the same way twice.
It's easy enough to mix it up. I'll give you a suggested starting point and then you can fiddle with it a bit if you want. It's great on lamb or chicken. Actually it's also great on pork but you'd be less likely find that in Moroccan cuisine. I think you'll find all kinds of uses for it: sprinkle on apple pie filling before baking. Or cut fresh peaches in half and remove the seeds. Put a spoonful of butter in the center, sprinkle with ras el hanout and bake in a hot oven for about fifteen minutes. Serve with a spoonful of whipped cream or a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. Or sprinkle on the foam on a cup of cappuccino, or just stir a pinch into your regular breakfast coffee.
Orange flower water adds a wonderful exotic flavor to this. Although still quite tasty without it, it's easy enough to find in middle eastern markets most anywhere, or although more expensively, in Fresh Market or Whole Foods.
This will be equally tasty the next day but I don't think that's a problem you'll have to deal with!
ORANGES WITH RAS EL HANOUT
For the dessert:
8 large juice navel oranges
2 tbsp orange flower or rose water
2 tbsp sugar
6 sprigs fresh mint
1/2 lb pitted dates, diced
Pinches of ras el hanout
Peel oranges, removing all membrane. Cut in half vertically, then into half-moon slices. Put into a serving bowl and add orange-flower water or rose water and sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour. When ready to serve, shred the mint leaves and chop the dates. Scatter over the oranges with big pinches of ras el hanout. Dust with powdered sugar and serve shortly. Serves 8.
Ras el hanout:
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground white pepper
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamom1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Keep in a tightly capped jar.