Well Brian and I haven't gone away on holiday this year, so I thought I would treat my self to a new kitchen gadget and maybe have an exotic meal right here at home. So I bought a Tagine from Lakelands. First off for those who don't know what a Tagine is, it is a Moroccan stew and you cook it in this funny shaped pot. The purpose of this weird shape is to keep the stew moist because the liquid steam actually ends up running back down into the cooking vessel keeping the food moist while it is cooked slowly. While I was at it I also treated myself to a new spice blend. It comes from Bart and is called Baharat. If you haven't tried this spice blend I can recommend it. Wow!!!! It is spicy and sweet and exotic all wrapped up into one. I have fallen for it in the short time I have used it and I know it will be used more often in my cooking.
I read the little pamphlet that came with the tagine. And one of my French cooking magazine to see how you go about using this pot and cooking a tagine. And came up with my own recipe with things I had on hand. Alot of tagines combine meat, vegetables and fruit it seems.... So this was my very first one....
First I made some meatballs by taking a packet of mince and putting the mince in a bowl. To this I added about a tablespoon of the Baharat spice blend, a teaspoon or so of cinnamon, some smoked paprika, a crushed clove of garlic and about 1/4 cup or more of bread crumbs and mixed all together by hand. Shape into meat balls and fry in a non stick skillet with a little olive oil.
Now in the base of the tagine, I opened a can of chopped tomatoes and put those in and sprinkled over some sultanas. Then put the cooked meatballs in. Then next I added some sliced onion wedges and some green and red pepper slices. A handful of green olives that had been pitted and the juice and zest of a lemon. I cooked this at 190 for about 45 minutes. I think it could have gone for a bit longer, but it was really lovely served up with some hot basmati rice. And some fresh garden vegetables served alongside.
These lovely beans are from my friends allotment. She asked me to watch over it while she was away and to pick some of the veg. Aren't these beans just a beautiful colour!!!!
The next night I had to try this tagine cooking again. Brian wasn't overly keen on the first recipe, but this one he complimented me on it, saying he would have that again.
Pork Chop Tagine
Okay this one I started by coating the pork chops in some of the Baharat spice blend and pan frying them in a little olive oil. While they were browning I chopped up three carrots and put in the base of the tagine. The added chopped onion, some dates, some dried apricots, some lemon slices some whole almonds, sprinkled over some of the baharat spice blend and then added two quartered tomatoes. Then the chops on top. The pan I deglazed with a little brandy and water. Poured this over the chops and vegetables and then baked in a 180C oven for about 1 and a half hours. This I served with mashed potatoes. And it was a definite winner!!!!
I think possibly this combination would also be nice with lamb. And as if this weren't enough to eat we had some summer pudding for dessert. Let's just say I had a very hard time sleeping that night from being over stuffed.
Just for information the tin of Baharat spice blend says it contains Paprika, Coriander, Black Pepper, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, and Cardamom.
Little Yellow Plums
Last year, my friend Fiona over at Cottage Smallholder had written a blog about hedgerow gathering and plums that made me envious. I had spied some little yellow globes of fruit that year too on one of our walkways around the estate, noticing them just rotting on the ground. So I questioned her and her commenters as to what these could be. I had never seen yellow plums. To me plums are purple or red. These little gems are upon closer study are called Mirabelles or Mirrabelles in German cooking. I think either Fiona or a friend called them Cherry plums. Well this year I wasn't going to let them all rot on the ground. Brian said I would get into trouble taking them as they belong to the school whose property they are growing on. But they overhang the fence and these were on the pathway. To me fair game, besides school isn't in session and I don't think they even know they are there if they did want to come in and pick them. Besides I only had about a cup or two of them. Not like I picked all the trees clean.
Once I brought my little treasures home the thinking of what to do with them started.... Fiona said back then why not pick them and do something special..... Well I did. I found a recipe for a plum chutney and I cut it in half. Besides if it wasn't going to taste very nice who would want all that chutney?
So here is my recipe for my special plums. The original says it makes 2 lbs of chutney, but I got one and a bit of a jam jar with my version.
151 g. cooking apple (I used 2 small to med sized braeburns)
76 g. onion chopped
76 g. sultanas chopped
227 g. chopped plums
95 ml malt vinegar
1/4 tsp nutmeg(I probably used a bit more)
1/4 tsp each ground ginger, cayenne pepper and dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
2 whole cloves
30 g. soft brown sugar
Peel and core and chop roughly the apples. Peel and chop the onion. Place each in separate sauce pans with lids and put in a bit of water and boil at a simmer until they are translucent and soft. Chop the sultanas and stone and chop the plums. Place onions, raisins, plums and apples into one of the saucepans(I used the larger of the two pans). Add 1/2 of the vinegar, all of the spices and salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer very gently, uncovered, stirring frequently for about 45 minutes.
Next add in the remaining vinegar and the brown sugar and continue cooking as before for a further 45 minutes to an hour, or until thickened. Remove the cloves. (I still have mine in!!!)
Pour the hot chutney into hot dry jars and seal.
Now I know you need to let chutney mature..... so I have stuck mine into the fridge for a week or so before we try it. But if the pan scrapings are anything to go by.... This is going to be very nice with a bit of cheddar cheese and biscuits and a nice glass of wine.