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Lemon tagine with eggplant

Tagine is one of Morocco's most famous dishes. I had it at least once a day during my trip, which could have been a bit monotonous, had it not been for the fact that there are tons of different varieties.

The name 'tagine' refers to both the dish and the earthenware pot in which it's cooked. The conical shape of the lid is designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. When the water is turned into vapour during cooking, it condenses on the inside of the lid and runs down to the edges of the bottom, and not dripping on the ingredients. Because of that, they bake and brown instead of being cooked in liquid.

If you don't have a tagine, you can still make this recipe in any ovenproof dish with a lid. The effect won't be exactly the same, but it will be delicious. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal, but we can use a stovetop or an oven. We'll cook it over low heat - slow cooking allows the tomato sauce to caramelize and reach a full flavour.

Recipe: Lemon tagine with eggplant

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • one onion
  • 2 garlic clove
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3-4 hot peppers
  • 2 tso ras el hanout
  • 2 tsp harrisa
  • one piece cinnamon
  • 5-6 cardamom seeds
  • one eggplant
  • 3-4 preserved lemons
  • juice of one lemon
  • tbsp honey
  • 250 ml tomato passata
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 160C.
  • Slice onion and garlic, cut the eggplant into large chunks.
  • Heat one tbsp of coconut oil in your tagging (or, if you don’t have one, any other ovenproof dish).
  • Brown the eggplant chunks so that they’re golden on all sides, but not yet soft in the middle. Set aside.
  • Heat another spoon of coconut oil.
  • Brown onion and garlic over medium heat.
  • Add ras el hanout, harissa and whole chilli peppers.
  • Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add remaining ingredients: browned eggplant, tomato passata, preserved onions (cut into halves or quarters), lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and cardamom.
  • Cover and place in the oven.
  • Cook in the oven for 2 - 2,5 hours, gently stirring every 45 minutes.
  • Serve with bread or couscous.

Hot lemonade

Warming hot lemonade, perfect for cold evenings and rainy afternoons. And let's face it - ther's no avoiding those. Luckily we have the lemonade. Great on its own or, to make it even more warming, with a drop of rhum.

Recipe: Hot lemonade

Serves:
Ingredients
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tangerines
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 7-8 cardamom pods
  • 400 ml water
  • Optional: 40 ml rhum
Method
  • Slice half of an orange and squeeze juice from the other half.
  • Slice one lemon and one tangerine and squeeze juice from remaining two.
  • Place citrus slices and juice in a pot with spices and water.
  • Bring to boil and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add rhum, if using.
  • Transfer to two mugs and serve hot.

Oysters with mignonette sauce

Do you like oysters? For me it was love at first sight. Or even love before first sight. People seem to eat oysters all the time in books and I was sure I was going to do the same. The sound of the word 'oyster', together with a somewhat vague idea of what an oyster could be, always resulted in serious oyster cravings. I saw myself enjoying an oyster platter and a bottle of fine champagne in a noisy Parisian restaurant. Do I need to mention that I was about 11 at the time?

I have a history of craving the unknown and it hasn't always been a success path. The same crazy feeling responsible for my love towards oysters, made me think that roasted chestnuts and I were made for each other. My first time with chestnuts turned out to be a bitter disapointment - they tasted like potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I love potatoes with all my heart. But I excpected something more from chestnuts. I like chestnuts, but it's a relationship without fireworks.

Oysters, however, that's another story. I have instantly fallen in love with their delicate texture and the briny taste of the sea. I usually eat them simple, with a dash of lemon juice. The mignonette sauce is a traditional condiment for oysters, made of shallots, vinegar and black pepper. Try a platter of oysters with mignonette, a fresh loaf of bread and champagne (prosecco or cava will do) or beer. It's better than chestnuts and better than potatoes.

Recipe: Oysters with mignonette sauce

Serves: 2 (or one eager oyster lover)
Ingredients
  • 6 fresh oysters
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup apple vinegar
  • one tsp frehs thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients of the sauce and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
  • Shuck the oysters and place on ice.
  • Serve with mignonette sauce and lemon wedges.

Broad beans and asparagus salad

This asparagus and broad beans salad is extremely easy, takes very little time to prepare, but still is a truly satisfying Spring meal. It’s green, crispy and delicious. Makes a great quick lunch or a perfect addition to your picnic basket.

Recipe: Asparagus and broad beans salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • a bunch green asparagus
  • 1/2 cup broad beans, shelled and cooked, skins removed

Recipe: Lemon dressing with chili flakes

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
Method
  • Cut off the asparagus tips, cook them in boiling water with one tbsp of sugar for 3 minutes.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, hinly slice the asparagus lengthwise into strips. Cook them for 30 seconds.
  • Whisk the ingredients of the dressing together.
  • Combine broad beans and asparagus with the dressing.

Coconut chia pudding

Chia seeds seem to be the new in the foodie world. Listed as , they are praised as an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You can read more about their superpowers at many professional nutrition websites.

Personally, I became a fan of chia seeds for far more prosaic reason. Namely: the coconut chia pudding. All you have to do is to combine some chia seeds with coconut milk and place the mixture in the fridge before you go to sleep. When you wake up, your delicious breakfast is waiting for you and it's filling, vegan and gluten-free.

Recipe: Coconut chia pudding

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • one cup of coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup of chia seeds
  • one tsp. of honey
Method
  • Stir together the coconut milk, chia seeds and honey.
  • Refrigerate for at least four hours (you can leave it in the fridge overnight).
  • Place into two bowls and top with fruit of your choosing.
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