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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Chilies

Spices are very important in Moroccan cuisine. Common spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, saffron, mace, cloves, fennel, anise, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper, and sesame seeds. Twenty-seven spices are combined for the famous Moroccan spice mixture called “ras el hanout”.

Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in natural resources and meals are usually built around seafood, lamb or poultry. The Moroccan national dish is a tagine or stew named for a special pot that is used for cooking. Common ingredients include chicken or lamb, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices that may include saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. Give this Moroccan inspired recipe a try.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili paste (harissa or sambal oelek)
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 orange, zested, then cut into segments
2 tablespoons oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup green olives
1/4 cup chopped preserved lemon
Couscous, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a wide, deep braising pan over medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine the chili paste, paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, allspice, cardamom, cayenne, orange zest, and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir to form a paste.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper; rub half of the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the heated pan. Sear the chicken skin-side down until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the garlic, onion and remaining spice mixture to the same pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan along with the tomatoes, chicken stock, olives, preserved lemon, and sliced oranges. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to braise until the chicken is tender, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Couscous

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ cups no salt added chicken broth

Directions

Bring the chicken broth and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour in the couscous and the olive oil, give a quick stir, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork to break up any lump and serve.

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1 English cucumber, sliced thin
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl. Mix well, cover the dish and refrigerate several hours before serving.

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Taco Flavored Zucchini

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon of your favorite taco seasoning
1 hot pepper (serrano), seeded and minced
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-inch shells. Brush with oil; set aside. Chop zucchini pulp.


In a skillet, saute pulp, hot pepper, and onion in oil. Add garlic and taco seasoning; cook 1 minute longer. Add salsa; cook and stir for 1 minute.


Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the cheese. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells.

Preheat an outdoor grill. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. You may also bake the stuffed zucchini in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Carne Asada

Epazote has a sharp, herbal flavor, reminiscent of oregano and fennel with minty, pine notes. It is commonly found in Mexican cooking.

Ingredients

1/2 pound skirt steak or flank steak pounded thin
Marinade
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried epazote
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Combine the marinade ingredients in a shallow glass dish. Cut the steak into 4 pieces and pound them to an even thin thickness. Marinate beef in the refrigerator, 2 hours to overnight.


Preheat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Grill beef over direct heat until firm and pink in the center, 2 minutes per side. Remove steak to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Coleslaw

Ingredients

1/4 of a large head of savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion

Dressing
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Place the dressing ingredients in a serving bowl and mix well. Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion. Thoroughly combine and refrigerate covered for several hours.


Appetizer

Arugula Salad

2 servings

Dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salad
1/2 cup toasted pecans halves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
3 cups baby arugula

Directions

Toast the pecans in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.

Whisk in a medium mixing bowl: balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard. Add olive oil slowly, while whisking briskly, then season dressing with salt and pepper.

Place the arugula in a salad bowl; add some dressing and toss to coat. Add the pecans and cranberries. Divide the salad between 2 serving plates; top each with the crumbled blue cheese.

Main Course

Seafood in Creole Sauce

Serve with Crusty Bread on the side.

2 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 small bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small fresh chile pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken or fish stock or water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (Store-bought or see recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional (depending on how hot the chile pepper is)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or low carb flour
4 U.S. sustainably caught raw shrimp, 16-20 per pound
4 large sea scallops
8 oz red snapper, redfish, cod or haddock fillet, skinned and cut into 2 portions

Directions

For the sauce

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper and chile; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, wine, creole seasoning, hot sauce if using and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until very thick. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and return to a gentle simmer.

Peel shrimp and set aside. Wash scallops and remove side muscle and set aside.

For the redfish

Whisk flour with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge fish, shaking off excess flour. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the simmering sauce. Cook shrimp and scallops in the same pan, turning once or twice, until pink and curled, 1 to 2 minutes adding the remaining oil if needed.

Transfer the shellfish to the sauce; simmer for 1-2 minutes. Serve in individual bowls.

Creole Seasoning

Ingredients

2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, or Jar and stir so that all the ingredients have been fully combined. Store in an airtight container or zip lock bag.

Dessert Course

Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and with cream.

For Valentine’s Day, I use a heart-shaped layer cake pan.

Ingredients

4 eggs
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
6 tablespoons (2 oz./60 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb. (750 g) fresh cherries, pitted, or 1 1/4 lb. (625 g) frozen cherries, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream for serving (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F
Grease a round 9-10″ baking dish and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit on the bottom. Arrange the cherries on the bottom of the pan in a single layer and then set aside.


Combine the rest of the ingredients – except for sliced almonds – in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process on high speed until thoroughly blended; the mixture will be similar to a thin crepe batter.
Pour the mixture over the cherries and then sprinkle the sliced almonds across the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. If you find that the clafoutis browns too quickly, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Remove the pan from oven and let cool for a few hours then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

To make this dessert gluten-free and low carb:

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar substitute
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup arrowroot powder flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh raspberries or blueberries
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Follow the directions in the recipe above.


Serve with coleslaw and any other Mexican side dishes that you like.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups New Mexico Hatch Chile Pepper Sauce or any green chile sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs or chicken tenders
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups canned finely chopped tomatoes
One (8 ounces) package shredded Mexican cheese blend
Tortillas

Directions

For the chicken


Melt butter in a large deep skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour chicken broth over thighs and bring to a boil. Cover skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook the chicken thighs until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove the pan from the heat. Remove chicken from the chicken broth to a plate, reserving any broth in the pot in a small bowl. Shred the chicken and set aside.

For the sauce


Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook and stir onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper in hot oil until onion is soft about 6 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, reserved chicken broth, and the Green Hatch Chile Sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until thickened.
Stir the shredded chicken into the pot with the chile tomato sauce.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spread half of the chile chicken sauce on the bottom of an oiled 9-inch pie dish and sprinkle with half the Mexican cheese blend over the sauce. Repeat with a second layer of chicken tomato chile sauce and cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
Serve on heated tortillas and top with sour cream.

Coleslaw

Ingredients

6 ounces shredded cabbage
1⁄4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 cup shredded carrot
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw, carrots and green onion.
Put aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the honey, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, whipping cream, vinegar, and lemon juice, using a whisk.
Pour over the vegetables, stir gently to mix.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir before serving.

 


I have family visiting, so this week I will share with you some of our main dish entrees.

Pulled Pork Tacos

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 carton Pomi Tomato Sauce — 17.64 oz
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) boneless pork butt roast
10-12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

New Mexican Green Hatch Chili Sauce, see recipe below

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to a lower-middle position and heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Brown the pork on all sides. Remove to a plate,

Add the onion and cook until lightly browned 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce. orange juice, vinegar, Worcestershire, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits.

Return pork to the pot and bring mixture to a boil. Transfer the pot to the oven, uncovered, and cook until pork is tender about 3 hours, ­stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove the pot from the oven and shred the pork with two forks.

Serve the shredded pork on top of the tortillas with Green Chili Sauce, cheese and other toppings of choice.

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons masa harina flour (corn flour) or regular flour
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock, see above
1 cup chopped roasted and peeled New Mexico Hatch green chilies
1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

To prepare the peppers:

The peppers need to be roasted on the grill or under a broiler before making the sauce.

Place the chiles on an outdoor grill or under the broiler and roast until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Avoid completely blackening the chiles; you’re looking for them to be about 40% to 50% charred.

Using tongs, turn the chiles over and roast on the other side until the skin is charred and blistered about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the chiles from the grill or broiler and place them in a paper bag, food-safe plastic bag or heat-safe bowl.

Close the bag or cover the bowl, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The steam will help loosen the peel from the chiles.

When cool enough to handle, pull the skins off and set aside.

To prepare the sauce:

(I do not like the sauce chunky, so I puree the chopped peppers with half of the chicken broth first and then add it to the sauce.)

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium-high heat, until tender (about 3 minutes).

Stir in the flour, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock and simmer until thick and smooth.

Stir in the chiles and oregano.

Cool the sauce and store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to one day or the freezer for several months.


Classic Texas chili doesn’t include beans or tomatoes, only beef, homemade chili paste, and a few flavorings. It’s what Texans call a “Bowl o’ Red” and tastes intensely of its two main ingredients. I like to add tomatoes, so I call this dish Texas style.

Chili

Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 lb lean ground beef cup finely chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups beef broth
26-28 oz crushed Italian tomatoes
1 tablespoon honey
Topping Options
chopped avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, onion or scallions

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef and lightly brown on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining beef. Reserve. Repeat with the ground beef and add to the bowl with the sirloin cubes.

Add the remaining olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the bell peppers and jalapenos and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the browned meat and the spices and salt. Stir well. The add in the broth, tomatoes, and honey. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Cook for 3 hours until the liquid is reduced and the chili becomes thick and the meat is very tender.

Corn Muffins

12 muffins

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Butter the insides and the top of a regular muffin pan.
In a large bowl thoroughly combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg with the milk and melted butter.
Combine with the dry ingredients until just evenly moistened.
Do not overmix.
Immediately spoon the batter into the muffin pan.
Bake 18 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.


For a low carb/gluten-free version:  “No-Corn” Bread Muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

2 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons honey substitute (such as Sukrin Gold)
1 teaspoon Amoretti sweet corn extract
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
Combine the almond meal, salt, and baking powder.
Add the cream, water, sweetener, and eggs, stir to combine.
Add the melted butter, stir to combine.
Divide the batter equally into the muffins cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until the edges are slightly browned and the tops are firm to the touch.

 


The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Libya. This series continues with the country of Tunisia.

Tunisian cuisine is a combination of French, Arabic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. Seafood is eaten in the coastal communities and features recipes like fettuccine with fresh seafood and a green harissa dressing, grilled mullet with lemon and celery salad, and fricassee salad with grilled cedar plank salmon. The spicy paste harissa is a staple side to every Tunisian meal. It’s made from chilies, garlic, lemon and a combination of caraway, cumin and coriander seeds. Tunisian sweets are also impressive. Their doughnuts, called “yo-yos”, are soaked in honey, lemon syrup and orange blossom water.

The diverse blend of flavors in Tunisian cuisine is representative of the country’s past and location. While the cuisine varies by region, Tunisian food usually combines French and African flavors with spicy seasonings. Couscous, the main staple in Tunisian dishes, is often topped with fresh seafood or hearty lamb depending on local availability. A melting pot of cultures, Tunisia doesn’t just feature local food but all types of international cuisine can be found in the country’s larger cities.

Though the country’s Mediterranean climate and rich soil make it an ideal location for wine production, it’s often overlooked as a wine region. But Tunisia has a rich wine history and a modern cultivation of numerous grape varietals. Tunisians first began producing wine over 2,000 years ago, but Arab control in the eighth century nearly eliminated the practice. French colonization brought winemaking back to Tunisia in the late 1800s.

The Foods of Tunisia

Couscous

Couscous is derived from semolina and is present on nearly every dinner table in Tunisia. Couscous is prepared in endless ways across the country. In coastal regions, cooks prefer to serve it with fish, while interior regions opt for lamb and dried fruit. A local favorite, Sfax Couscous, is named for Tunisia’s second largest city, which is filled with freshly caught seafood.

Briks

Briks are another staple and can be found in little shops throughout the country. Similar to a samosa, a brik is made from wrapping pastry dough around a variety of fillings, including potatoes, eggs, or tuna. The packets are then fried in grapeseed oil and served piping hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Harissa

A thick, spicy paste made from hot chili peppers and garlic, harissa is a condiment for grilled meats and fish or stirred into soups and stews for added flavor. It is often served as a dipping sauce alongside bread. Harissa’s heat level varies depending on the number and type of chili peppers used. The peppers are typically smoked to add a complex, deep flavor.

Ojja

While typically a breakfast dish, ojja is often considered fast-food by Tunisian standards. Traditional ojja combine eggs and merguez, a spicy lamb sausage, in a savory tomato sauce for a hearty, filling meal. Ojja is served with a side of grilled bread in place of a spoon or fork.

YoYos

Tunisians take dessert seriously and they are routinely served after a large evening meal and accompanied with mint tea. Some local desserts include sweet cakes, fried almond pastries, and ice cream. But the Tunisian doughnuts, YoYos, are the favorite.

Mint tea

The melding of many cultures and flavors is apparent in Tunisia’s most popular drink, sweet mint tea. Served hot or over ice, this beverage is topped with pine nuts, a twist of flavor and texture, especially for those not accustomed to nuts in their tea.

Wine Regions

Muscat

Tunisia has seven distinct controlled designation-of-origin regions known locally as AOCs (for their French name, appellation d’origine controlee). The naming of wine regions is modeled after the French, with whom Tunisia shares many of the same grape varietals, such as Muscat.

Sidi Saad

Sidi Saad is a wine blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Produced using traditional methods in the Gran Cru Mornag region, Sidi Saad is corked in a distinctively shaped bottle.

Gris de Tunisie

Gris de Tunisie, or grey Tunisian wine, is the country’s most famous and unique wine. The wine is a dusky rose in color and tastes like a fruity rosé. It is best served on hot days paired with a spicy seafood dish.

Chateau Mornag Rosé

Chateau Mornag Rosé is the country’s most popular. Produced in the Mornag area in Northern Tunisia, it is light, crisp and tastes best with the region’s Mediterranean-influenced cuisine.

Make Some Tunisian Recipes At Home

Tunisian Harissa

Ingredients

100 g dried long red chilies, seeded
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Directions

Soaking time 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Place chilies in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Place a small plate directly on top of chilies to keep them submerged then set aside for 1½ hours or until very soft. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat, add the spices and fry, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Finely grind spices in an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Combine the drained chilies, spices, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and the remaining ingredients in a small food processor. Process to a smooth paste, occasionally scraping down the sides. Push mixture through a food mill, extracting as much purée as possible; the solids should be dry. Transfer mixture to a sterilized jar and seal. Harissa will keep for up to 1 year stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)

Tunisian breakfast. Capers, chopped almonds, chopped olives, yogurt and some mint can all be added at the end, and the soup is commonly served ladled over cubes of day old bread. Tuna is often added also.

Ingredients

100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Large pinch saffron
1 tablespoon harissa
2 liters (8 cups) chicken stock
4 (400g) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tomatoes, cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4-6 eggs (depending on the number of servings)

To serve

Large handful coriander leaves
Slices of baguette, extra harissa, and lemon wedges, to serve
2 tbsp baby capers, drained
2 tbsp chopped blanched almonds

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes or until softened. Add the cumin and coriander and saffron and cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes. Stir in the harissa then add the stock and chickpeas and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan then cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer and add the vinegar. Crack each egg into a saucer then add them, one at a time, to the simmering water. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Carefully remove each using a slotted spoon to a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain excess water.

Divide the hot soup among large bowls. Place an egg in each bowl. Scatter over the coriander, capers, and almonds. Serve with the baguette, extra harissa, and lemon wedges to the side.

Broiled Red Mullet with Celery Salad

Ingredients

4 red mullets, cleaned (each 340 g net)
12 g mixed fresh bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoon salt

Lemon and Celery Salad

4 long, thin green capsicum (peppers), or 1 regular green capsicum (pepper) (140 g gross)
50 ml olive oil
1 lemon, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 cm dice (35 g net)
3 tender celery stalks, cut into 1 cm dice (120 g net)
10 g tender celery leaves, finely chopped
15 g parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
30 g black olives, pitted
½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sumac

Directions

To make the salad, place the capsicum in a baking dish. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil and roast in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes ( or longer for regular capsicum), or until the skin is blistered and the flesh is soft. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cool enough to handle, peel, cut into 1 cm dice and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, the lemon, celery, and leaves, parsley, garlic, olives, chili flakes, and salt. Stir well and set aside.

Score the red mullet 2–3 times on each side in parallel lines at a 45-degree angle to the fish. Slice the bay leaves into fine strips and stuff into the incisions, followed by each of the other herbs. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with foil. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, olive oil and salt. Drizzle or brush this over the fish.

Preheat a broiler on high. Once hot, place the fish underneath and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, or until the flesh is firm and cooked through. Serve the fish with the salad on the side, garnished with sumac.

Tunisian Doughnuts (yo-yos)

Ingredients

7 g sachet dried yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
60 ml (¼ cup) orange juice
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra, to deep-fry
300 g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted

Honey syrup

2 tablespoons lemon juice
110 g (½ cup) white sugar
360 g (1 cup) honey
2 teaspoons orange blossom water, optional

Directions

Place yeast, sugar and 125 ml (½ cup) lukewarm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles. Add orange juice, zest, and 2 tablespoons oil, and stir to combine. Place flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture into the well and stir until combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.) Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.

To make the honey syrup, place the lemon juice, sugar and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Add honey and orange blossom water, if using, then reduce the heat to low–medium and cook the mixture for 35 minutes or until the consistency of a runny honey; watch syrup to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.

Fill a deep-fryer or large pan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds). Working in batches, tear off a piece of dough about the size of a plum and flatten slightly with your hand. Tear a hole in the middle and stretch the dough to make a 12–15cm ring. Gently drop the dough into the oil and deep-fry, turning halfway, for 4 minutes or until crisp, golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Using a skewer, pierce yo-yos on both sides, then soak in honey syrup for 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.



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